Following a far-less-disastrous-than-predicted set of election results today – some might call it a strong performance! – Labour are the hot topic once again. Voters and commentators alike are calling for “Blairite MPs” to stop throwing their tantrums over Corbyn’s leadership and to get behind the man for the sake of the party – and the country in 2020.
Of course, his critics don’t like the idea of him winning at all – indeed, some anti-Corbyn Labour supporters have been very vocal in their disappointment that the party didn’t crash and burn, simply to spite him. This, I believe, is unforgivable and the clearest indication of “not being in line with Labour values” as we’re ever likely to see.
These critics say that it is hypocritical of Corbyn and his supporters to suggest MPs get behind his unprecedented mandate and push forward as one united force toward election victory in 2020, what with Corbyn being such a rebel during his years on the back benches. But there’s a massive difference between rebelling on principle, based on moral decency, against a policy you believe will do harm and anonymously briefing against your leader in the right-wing press in order to undermine his democratic mandate for one’s own benefit.
MPs are elected democratically by constituents, given a duty to represent the people who elected them in Parliament. It is important to remember that, when you elect an MP, they work for you. That’s not to say that, if they think a policy is harmful, unfair or detrimental to society, they can’t “rebel” against the party whip and vote guided by their moral compass. Corbyn did this a lot, over changes to social welfare, over the Iraq war, over many things. History will show that he was right to do so; it is showing so already.
But that’s not what Blairite MPs within the Labour party are doing, is it? What they’re doing is giving anonymous interviews to the Mail and the Sun, smearing Corbyn and his allies, pushing to destabilise his leadership – a leadership given a democratic mandate unlike any that has come before it, remember – in a bid to “overthrow” their leader, not for the sake of society, or for the sake of decency, but for their own personal and professional gain.
Rebelling against illegal wars, against a policy to turn away refugees or against policies that will harm the most vulnerable in society is EVERY POLITICIAN’S RIGHT! Some might say DUTY! Nobody’s saying that all MPs should do exactly as Corbyn says and vote how he demands they vote, regardless. What is being suggested is that MPs who have been throwing their toys out of the pram ever since Corbyn was elected by a landslide stop the infighting and dirty tricks and concentrate on providing a united front against a dangerous and ballsy Conservative government! That’s not a lot to ask.
And if those MPs have moral issues with decisions in a Corbyn-led government (if they ever stop the squabbling and help get us to that!) then they can and should rebel! They have every right to do so, for their constituents! Just what kind of policy Corbyn would ever put forward that would require a moral rebellion of, however, I can’t begin to predict.
Put bluntly, ALL Labour MPs should get behind their leader (you don’t have to like him!) and respect the mandate his has. They should work tirelessly to improve on the actually-not-bad-at-all performance in yesterday’s elections and provide an opposition to the Conservative government that is destroying this country. 2020 is just around the corner and it will have a general election Labour CAN win, if only those on the right of the party would stop their backstabbing and infighting.
As a united front, a progressive movement set on obliterating the cruel and unnecessary attacks on society from the Tories, a solid opposition Labour – I honestly believe – can position themselves as the much-needed alternative to the Conservative’s unrelenting, ideological asterity. We can win in 2020; we will win. But only if we stand as one. Those unwilling to do so are acting against the wishes of the vast majority of the party membership.
“But we need to please all voters, not just party members,” they will cry. And yes, we do. And we will. But not if all they see is a Labour party being torn apart from within. I believe the electorate wants something new, something else. There is a thirst for change (as cheesy as that sounds) and Labour could be it! I believe the country is ready for a pull to the left. I believe the fog is lifting and people are seeing that we, as a society, are being punished. We aren’t all in this together after all. And I believe Corbyn will be the Prime Minister the UK chooses in 2020.