Friday 1 July 2016

What do the Labour coup and Brexit have in common?

It struck me when reading yet another comment stating that Jeremy Corbyn is not a good enough leader that listed all of the ideal qualities that a Labour Party leader should have (charisma, nicely presented, a good orator, experienced, engaging, no baggage like Iraqi blood on their hands, not too left, not too right ... ).

People who still support the cynically premeditated coup against Jeremy Corbyn are a lot like Brexiters.

I opposed Brexit on the grounds that bailing out of the European Union under a hard-right Tory government would likely be a classic "out of the fire, into the frying pan" scenario. However I understand the concerns people had about the EU, after all, I've probably written more critical analysis of the EU than 99% of the people who actually voted for Brexit.

What I couldn't understand was the naive optimism that things would somehow get better without any kind of plan of action for what comes next. I confronted right-Brexiters and left-Brexiters about this alarming lack of anything resembling a coherent plan of action. right-Brexiters tended to howl that they do have a plan (not that they ever got around to explaining it in any detail, and whatever it was seems to have crumbled into dust now) and left-Brexiters tended to answer the query with stony silence.

Now that the Brexit vote has happened it's clear that neither side did actually have a plan. The deceitful Vote Leave mob rowed back on their pledges lies within days and the Tory government was paralysed with inaction as David Cameron decided to leave the pressing of the self-destruct button to whoever picks up the poisoned chalice of succeeding him (mightily pissing off the other 27 EU member states in the process). The lack of an Article 50 notification and the power vacuum in government has left the country in a bizarre state of limbo.

The Labour Party reaction to Brexit was even more bizarre. Instead of laying out their plans for what a Labour Brexit would look like, high profile Labour Party Brexiters like Kate Hoey and Gisela Stuart jumped on the lynch Corbyn bandwagon. There's something awfully distasteful about Labour MPs who actively campaigned for Brexit jumping on the idiotic "sack Corbyn because of Brexit" bandwagon, but that's what they did.

So people on both sides of the political spectrum campaigned for Brexit with nothing but rose tinted optimism about what was to come next. They threw the country into turmoil to achieve a situation they didn't even know how to handle.

The premeditated coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn displayed the exact same kind of thinking. The objective was to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn. The "blitz" of negative news items fed to the media by dodgy Blairite PR companies, the furious condemnations, the carefully stage managed sequence of resignations, the crocodile tears. 

Just like the Vote Leave shit-show, it was all designed to get an outcome, but the exact details of the outcome are unclear, not least because Corbyn was weakened, but not destroyed by the operation. He still has a small band of loyal MPs and he still has the backing of the party membership, which actually counts for a lot in a political party with a democratic constitution. Corbyn's refusal to resign and his determination to re-fight and re-win his democratic mandate to lead the party has thrown a big spanner in the works.

The Labour MPs who conducted this coup operation clearly value their membership of the Westminster Establishment club above the interests of the Labour Party, the party membership and the country in general (which could have benefited from a unified opposition rounding on the Tories who created this mess, instead of their own leader who clearly didn't), but their ruse failed to work out as they planned meaning that they now have to find a candidate they think can beat Corbyn in a democratic election.

They're now looking for this mystical political superhero within their ranks who can oust Corbyn in a fair fight, when they surely know as well as anyone that they're a very limited bunch. If an insincere, gaffe-prone, Iraq war approving, political water carrier with virtually no public or social media profile like Angela Eagle is anywhere near the top of the list they're in very serious trouble indeed.

The same goes for the country. Unless Jeremy Corbyn somehow manages one of the greatest political resurrections of all time, the next Prime Minister is going to be one from a rag-tag bunch of five universally unappealing Tory leadership candidates:

  • Angela Leadsom: Serial tax-dodger, but probably the pick of the bunch because she's not as smeared in shit as the other four.
So there we have it: The Labour coup plotters are left to pick a patsy from an uninspiring bunch of MPs to face almost certain defeat to Jeremy Corbyn in a re-run of the leadership election he won so handsomely just 10 months ago. And the UK will be left in the even more precarious situation of almost certainly being led by whichever one of the five woeful candidates the Tory party choose to select.

The conclusion "be careful what you wish for" seems apt, but it's too cliched and not quite right. Brexiters were on the whole wishing for a better Britain (well maybe a few just wanted to watch the world burn?) and the Labour coup plotters were wishing for a better Labour party leader (even though they had a pretty decent one anyway in my opinion).

The problem isn't that people wish for things, but that life is never as simple as wishing for things and having your dreams immediately come true. Life just doesn't work like that. Making improvements takes a lot of time, and effort, and planning, so it's no good tearing your unsatisfactory house down when you don't actually have anything resembling a decent plan for building a better one.

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