So, we’re a couple weeks past Jeremy Corbyn receiving his second mandate to lead the Labour party and I would have hoped that all the talk now would have been about taking the fight to the Tories but, almost certainly depressingly predictably, it’s not. We knew the warchests were laden with millionaire gold and there were still outstretched palms but you have to live in hope.
The majority of the PLP would rather Saving Labour, Luke Akehurst, Progress, Lord Sainsbury et al would all just disappear into a hole so that Labour can get on with rebuilding its credibility. It doesn’t appear to matter to the idiots who plotted the coup to oust Corbyn that their continued efforts are not going to get rid of Corbyn and are only hurting Labour. Just as Mandelson happily sold Brown down the river and Miliband was cast adrift, putting the ghosts of Labours past out of our misery is a thorn that just keeps on making Labour a lame lion.
MPs in the PLP have had issues with Corbyn’s leadership but public opinion, the thing affecting Labour in the public’s eye, is solely down to a handful of relics from Labour’s failed Third Way experiment. The calamitous Ed Balls was happy to trade any self-respect to flog his autobiography by chundering around on Strictly Come Dancing. I’d forgive a man his midlife crisis and the lack of self-awareness that sees an unfunny person gooning around on a stage on Saturday evening prime time but someone should have reminded him why he no longer works in the House of Commons. By all means, flog your book but let’s not pretend you’ll be remembered as one of Britain’s defining politicians or political heavyweights. You had a legacy, you’ve tossed it in the bowl and flushed, find and display some humility and move on. I speak as someone who considered Balls a loss to Labour when he lost his seat, my opinion of him now was one he formed through his own behaviour.
It does appear that, following Labour’s conference, that Corbyn’s leadership are grasping the nettles and clearing the patch. A round of selecting the new Shadow Cabinet has complemented Labour’s loyalists with faces from the rest of the PLP, providing sure signs that the mass of the party is settled in to take the fight to the Tories and put the nonsense of the coup behind them. Of course, the same dreary leaks from the PLP meeting have seeped into the public sphere via the usual coterie of media correspondents. I believe Owen Jones advocated that the rest of the party could isolate the disruptive voices within Labour by getting on with the job at hand and acting as a team; I was skeptical that those among the 172 of the PLP would do this but it does appear that playing the politics of a couple of millionaire donors isn’t half as appealing as getting your teeth into the real Parliamentary politics. I hope I continue to be proved wrong.
After the first wave of much needed changes blown through by Corbyn’s leadership I hope we see the majority of Labour pulling in the same direction and those other voices either taking stock and throwing in with Labour again or taking their show elsewhere, jumping or pushed. I’d expect further tweaks will be required to tackle some of the structures that have been shown to simply not be rigourous enough to protect Labour’s democracy and there’s still the matter of members who were unfairly purged from the party in the attempt to gerrymander the leadership election.
Labour has had a bleak year and the past few months have counted among the most ignoble but I have to believe that the fight against the Tories won’t be traded in for internal Labour party politics, when Britain most needs a strong opposition. The membership has been resolute in their support for the current leadership; that support was tested and passed muster, further attempts to hobble Labour by the ghosts of a discredited regime should be deflected into irrelevance by the combined leadership, PLP, CLPs and membership.