Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Resetting the Labour Party: Jeremy Corbyn gets criticism from rebel Labour MPs after making a simple call for unity, one rebel screams, "We're 17 points behind in the polls. I'm going to lose my seat, most of the people in here are going to lose their seats. What's the plan, Stan?", the plan is you were selected to work, so get on with it

Dear All

You all know that people can be criticised for being factions, but in a new twist the rebel Labour MPs who are ardently opposed to Jeremy Corbyn have been criticising him for calling for unity.

As I previously blogged the Labour Party is in a strange place at the moment, and given what is going on, will still be there for a considerably time to come.

One bright note in the stormy sea is that there will be a bit of unity kicking about the place on Wednesday 19 October, a Scottish delegation will travel down to Batley on Spen to show support for Jox Cox, her family and the people of Batley on Spen as they go to the polls to elect a new MP.

This is an unusual by-election because of the circumstances that led to it, Jox Cox, a rising Labour star was brutally murdered. It is expected that there will be a high turnout of Labour members from all over the UK.

The Scottish delegation will be led by Kezia Dugdale, by-elections are generally quite good, they can be an opportunity to learn about the wider party, meet people and get a sense of how campaigning is done in other areas.

I enjoy by-elections because they are generally done as specials and tend to have a special vibe, in fact as readers know; I stood in the Govan By-election in 2013. I came 7th out of a field of 14 candidates.

So, what should the rebels have done when the leader called for unity, well, they should realise that there is a wider picture beyond their own personal agenda. The Labour Party is split, the fact this is public, severe and deep will not help those who rebel or Jeremy Corbyn. In effect they whether they like it or not are tied together by fate and circumstance.

So, they better learn to suck it up.

The options for the rebels are rather limited.

Jeremy Corbyn as the Labour leader emailed colleagues urging them to unite and "move forward" to take on Theresa May’s Tories.

Standard practice after an election, however, as the leader he has responsibilities and in some of his stances, he needs to do a re-think.

And he needs to do this now, an opinion poll gives the Conservatives a substantial 17-point lead, and in Scotland, the dominance of the SNP remains the major stumbling block. If anyone thinks that the bad news would be less so under Owen Smith, they aren’t very observant when it comes to politics.

Owen Smith would have buried the Labour Party, being slick and using catchy phrases and buzzwords don’t cut it.

A misstep by Jeremy Corbyn just recent was the sacking of chief whip Dame Rosie Winterton, one bright spark commented when Corbyn praised her:

“Why did you sack her then?”

I wouldn’t have sacked Winterton unless she wasn’t capable even if she didn’t hold all of my opinions or values, the ability to do the job would be my first concern.

Another disgruntled Labour MP said:

"We're 17 points behind in the polls. I'm going to lose my seat; most of the people in here are going to lose their seats. What's the plan, Stan?"

Well, I would have replied in a comradely fashion, ‘the plan is that you work your constituency and prove to the people that you are worth keeping, do the grunt work in the trenches and build a team which is why you were selected in the first place’.  

A third backbencher made clear he was distinctly unimpressed by the leader’s address, describing it as the “usual patronising crap".

It is a tough life at the bottom especially if you are on a downward spiral and don’t understand that part of the way to reverse it is by your own efforts. It was the MP who was elected to serve the people, not the party, and that means graft!

One thing I would advise Corbyn to do is not to attend Socialist Workers Party-backed rallies, he is the leader of the Labour Party, his duty is to lead and advance that cause; the days of being a trendy lefty are over when you assume leadership. In the past Jeremy Corbyn rebelled against the Labour whip hundreds of times, but his position requires an overview and different way of thinking.

At the present moment, the Labour Party has a polling figure of 26-points, that figure is only one point higher than its lowest ICM rating of 25 per cent, which it got in June 2008 and in August 2009.

Yesterday’s post I mentioned that campaigning at the ground level was a ton of work and a hard slog, at the top of the party, they seem to be in for a long hard slog if the PLP doesn’t get a grip, bite the bullet and give Corbyn’s leadership time to make a decent go of it!

It takes years for a party to turn around when it gets in a mess, and Labour doesn’t have years, perhaps the Batley on Spen is an ideal opportunity for the rebels and the leadership to adopt a new approach.

If you can’t have unity you must by default have removal, something the PLP need to wise up to.

Yours sincerely

George Laird 
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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