By the time Tony Blair had come around to his third term I had had enough. Without a shadow of a doubt, no one can fault his accomplishments in tackling child poverty, pushing for the minimum wage, the Northern Ireland Agreement and his steering of a lot more spending on the NHS than the previous Tory governments had done.
But then there was Iraq, opening up the same NHS to PFI and PP agreements, willfull neglect on migration and the scrapping of Clause 4 in his desire to create New Labour. For me that left very little to distinguish between a party who I had historically supported because they supported the working man to one which was now as individualistic as the Tories.
That election was also a turning point where I realised I would not subscribe to the folly of being aligned with one single party because of a historical context. Labour was the party that most people of Caribbean descent like myself voted for as default. You couldn’t see the likes of Bill Morris, Paul Boateng, Dianne Abbott and other prominent black faces in a Tory or Liberal platform they way you would Labour, but for as I got older that wasn’t enough. Times change.
In 2010 the Labour party got a wake up call. People were fed up with New Labour. Some of that can be linked to the ineptitude of Gordon Brown’s leadership, but there was also a groundswell of support for not just the Tory and Liberals who formed the coalition government, but UKIP too. This was at the expense of the Labour party vote. The chickens came home to roost in the 2015 election when the Labour party not only lost again but took some stunning defeats in Scotland, and UKIP scored their biggest gains. The latter would have been even more significant if first past the post was not a thing.
Labour have traditionally seen themselves as the working class party. Defending workers rights. Upholding the basics as defined in the original Clause 4 before Blair scrapped it. With the decline of manufacturing, a neutering of unions and a rise in nationalism this is no longer the case. UKIP slowly but surely has edged into their domain, stoking fears but more importantly winning votes. So much so that their gains have literally reduced the Liberal Democrats as well to outsiders on the political stage.
Given this knowledge you would have thought that those in positions of party leadership would rally to make a difference, but again and again, they seem to be making gargantuan mistakes around leadership and cohesion. Regardless of him being Blairite, many Labour faithful would have preferred to see David instead of Ed Milliband as leader of the opposition. The unions paid put to that but had to endure the ignominy of defeat at the last election. Enter the newcomer.
Jeremy Corbyn was never going to be an election winner for Labour.
Let’s put that out there now.
The media’s obsession with his appearance, sympathy with Palestine (which some wrongly interpret as anti-semite), his views on taxation, renationalising industries and other deeply held socialist views were never going to win him friends with the populace or an international audience. Which looking at the G7 for example tends to lead to a more centrist type of leadership. That said Corbyn was what Labour needed to steady the ship.
Under Corbyn’s tenure the membership has rocketed.
He brought a less combative style to the dispatch box in Parliament.
He assigned the first shadow Cabinet that had more women than men
He has consistently pushed back against austerity measures in opposition
Under his leadership 63% of Labour members voted Remain in the BREXIT vote
There is now doubting that his showing in the latest BREXIT vote was lukewarm. He was quoted as 7/10 for staying in Europe and was not very vocal as were the many others on the right wing of politics who got almost all the spotlight in this campaign. That said in the grand scheme of things any sensible group would want to build on the momentum of growth and engagement with the party faithful rather than trying to launch a coup.
Here’s the thing. If there is a leadership challenge whether Jeremy stays or goes, Labour are screwed.
Conspiracy theorists will state that Blairites have been planning this mass resignation for ages.
Local party activists will be fuming at their candidates, like Angela Eagle, for the same kind of treachery levelled at Tory leadership hopeful Michael Gove.
Instead of riding the current storm and looking at options to build credibility from within, those who mounted the coup, like the sore losers in the leadership campaign, will be deemed irrelevant. Labour may be gaining members but they are losing credibility, especially as the party of the people.