When I first started writing this post, I used ‘Blairites’ in the title. I didn’t change it because Blairite is an insult. I’ve even consulted with MP Mike Gapes on this in the past and he assured me it isn’t. I changed it because as soon as you call someone a Blairite they accuse you of making assumptions. Mike Gapes for instance, refers to himself as a Kinnockite. Other MPs prefer to think of themselves as Brownites, or ‘moderates’ or ‘modernisers,’ and so it goes on. Besides, not all Blairites are seeking to wreak havoc on the party. Since Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader some have just put their heads down and got on with it. The cynic in me says they are waiting quietly in the wings whilst their less restrained colleagues bring the party to its knees, and then they’ll make their move, reputations intact, but right now I’ll settle for them staying in the shadows.
In the end I decided upon Bitterites, because if there is one thing this particular group of MPs have in common it’s bitterness over the direction the members have steered the party in; a bitterness they love to leak into the ever eager receptacle that is our main stream media.
And now its time for me to make a confession. When it comes to babying the Bitterites I’ve been one of the worse offenders; an epiphany that came to me at four in the morning when I was abruptly woken by an inexplicable one sided head pain; a nagging pain that brought to mind certain MPs. I can already hear the howls of disbelief as the Bitterites read this. ‘We haven’t been babied!’ They’ll cry. ‘If anything we’ve been trolled mercilessly.’ And it’s true that some of these MPs have been subject to online abuse, and I condemn anyone who has engaged in it. Not only is it out and out wrong, it is often used by the targeted MP to tar all Corbyn supporters with the same brush; weakening our case whilst strengthening theirs.
So when I say babied what do I mean? Let me give you an example. A few months ago I started a petition calling on Sky News to apologise for referring to Jeremy as ‘Jihadi Jez’ in one of their headlines, and to remove the article. According to the article, the nickname was leaked to the reporter by (bitterite) Labour MPs. But instead of turning my fire on the MP’s (and I never doubted they existed), I turned my fire on Sky News. If I’d called for an investigation into the offending MP’s identities it would have most likely proved fruitless – whereas at least Sky News took the article down – but that’s beside the point. By focusing my rage and disgust on Sky, I let these MPs off the hook. At the very least, a 56,000 strong petition calling on these MPs to be named and shamed, would have shone a whopping great spotlight on their disgraceful and disloyal behaviour.
Now I come to a more recent example – the Stephen Doughty on air resignation. While Doughty has no doubt received a fair amount of flack for the timing of his resignation – which was calculated to inflict maximum damage on Jeremy Corbyn and the party he is paid to represent – he’s not received as much flack as he deserves. That’s not me advocating online trolling. That’s me saying we should be calling for Doughty to step down as an MP. Yes, Laura Keunssberg and Andrew Neil behaved abysmally and unprofessionally, and we should complain in the strongest terms, but they are not Labour MPs – Stephen is.
I’ve read Stephens protestations on Twitter; something to the effect of, ‘It’s ridiculous to suggest the BBC coerced me to resign. I’d already reached the decision to resign.’
No one is saying they did Stephen. You made the decision alone; and you decided to resign live on air, just prior to PMQs, handing David Cameron; the prime minister who is presiding over one of the cruelest, most regressive governments in modern history, a stick to beat Jeremy Corbyn with. Let me say this in the least abusive way I can. Your actions disgust me. I can’t even look at a photo of you without trembling with rage. And the same goes for your fellow bitterites, so clearly and obviously trying to set the timer for Labour to self destruct.
And you know something. That’s how I should be feeling. There are people suffering, even dying, because of this government, yet you chose to help them humiliate your leader. You are not a Labour man. You should not be an MP, and I urge anyone who feels the same to email the parliamentary commissioner for standards to complain about your conduct.
So now you know what I mean when I say we need to stop babying the Bitterites.