Many if not most of the MPs in the Labour Party who want to get shot of Jeremy Corbyn have more in common with Tory MPs across the chamber in the House of Commons than with either Corbyn or most of the people who vote for them. They are the sturdy backbone of political Britain, and Jeremy Corbyn is -in the words of a New Statesman columnist- ‘a cancer‘.
This is not merely a matter of policy. You only have to look at the annual Spectator garden party pics and see the likes of Harriet Harman and Liz Kendall sharing a Pimms in the company of David Cameron and Theresa May to realise that for them, politics is both an elite profession and a social clique. It is a role and vocation for the cultivated and enlightened.
The hapless Angela Eagle was likely pushed forward to challenge Corbyn because, among other things, she went to a comprehensive before she went to Oxford. Hence the Parliamentary Labour Party coup plotters view her as the kind of figure who ought to know how to bridge the gap between elite political society and working class Labour voters, in a way that a braying calamity like Tristram Hunt, say, could not. The trouble is she hasn’t a notion. Leading media voices think she’ll do just fine, of course, but that’s because they haven’t a clue either.
Despite Jeremy Corbyn’s appeals, the time of kinder, gentler politics has passed. Gone are the days when a Labour politician could vote to bomb a country or to privatise elements of the health and education services or to punish welfare recipients, and feel insulated from public anger.
In this new climate of nastiness, when people sometimes seem more vocal in speaking out against such matter-of-course procedures as bombing the Middle East and impoverishing poor families, it is hard for people who, in bygone days, could pass themselves off as ‘conviction politicians’ who want to give shape to such nebulous concepts as ‘aspiration’. Their credibility has plummeted because they find it impossible to come straight out with it and say without qualification or prevarication that they’re against austerity. For them, when Jeremy Corbyn proposes that austerity is a political choice and not a self-evident necessity, it makes the task of convincing the Tory-voting parent in their head all the more difficult.
In truth, the only real conviction they do have is that it is they who are entitled to be where they are, and no-one has any right to deprive them of that. No-one has the right to get in the way of the succulent sinecures that await when they move on from the political profession, least of all the kind of crumpled socialist throwback they learned to laugh at when they started climbing the greasy pole 20-25 years previous.
The Labour membership? They can all get stuffed too, because if they were worth anything, or if they knew anything, they’d be MPs or peers already. And anyway, isn’t it their job to speak on behalf of others because they’re too dimwitted and untutored to do it for themselves?
In this, the Labour MPs seeking to oust Corbyn are at one with the Tories too: their conception of democracy is that of Churchill: “the little man, walking into the little booth, with a little pencil, making a little cross on a little bit of paper”, and nothing more.
But even that is too dangerous for them these days, when there is every chance that the ‘little man’ -and there are hundreds of thousands of them!- is no more than a mindless member of a personality cult whipped up by wealthy Trotskyite public schoolboys.
And it is certainly convenient to think of them in that way, and to present them as if the sum of their desires is best encapsulated in a solitary brick hurled through a constituency office window.
‘Talking socialist and acting fascist‘ – Labour Party grandee Peter Hain’s description of Corbyn supporters. Where have we heard things like that before?
The Enemy Within, an account of the Miners’ Strike written by one of the ‘public schoolboys’ referred to above by Caius College Cambridge graduate Alastair Campbell (loyal assistant to Tony Blair, Fettes College and St. John’s, Oxford), recalls a
‘multiplicity of other similar episodes during the dispute, such as the Sun’s attempt to publish a front-page picture of Scargill appearing to give a Nazi salute – which Fleet Street print-workers refused to typeset – under the legend: ‘Mine Führer’’.
But it might be even worse than that. Imagine if they were something else other than brick-throwing terrorist bully-boys and fascists, the like of whom have not really appeared in British politics since the Miners’ Strike. Imagine if they were in fact witnesses to the social devastation wrought by Thatcherite and Blairite governments. Or if they were ordinary members of the public who see a Corbyn-led Labour Party as the best chance for obtaining the kind of things a majority of voters desire, such as renationalising the railways, taxing the rich, banning nuclear weapons, rent controls, a proper public health system. Or people who can think for themselves.
That would undermine democracy as Britain has known it, and that is why every sinew of every right-thinking person must be strained to the limit, every avenue to democratic participation must be shut down, every conceivable financial obstacle to voting erected: to stop these mindless drones from realising their desires, lest the garden party come to an end.