One Year On From Corbyn’s Win And We Have Bloody Toughened Up

A year ago today Jeremy Corbyn became the leader of our party.
I remember that day with joy, but it was a joy that was soon to become marred by the anger and bitterness of a large group of Labour MPs who couldn’t accept this seismic shift. Their put downs started during the campaign. We were told to end the madness, get a heart transplant. Our passion for change was attributed to nothing more than an emotional spasm in response to the election defeat.

After Jeremy’s stunning victory several experienced MPs invalidated his leadership by refusing to serve in his shadow cabinet. In doing so they were invalidating us, and the choice we had made.

Then came the smears. Female MPs pointed to sexist tweets from unknown and clearly idiotic individuals, then pointed at all of us. “Sexists” they said. Ironically these same MPs seem unperturbed by the sexist remarks that fall from their preferred candidate’s own mouth; a silence that confirms what we knew all along – their outrage is selective, only to be deployed if it proves useful to their anti-Corbyn agenda.
Then came the anti-semitism, trotskyite arm-twisting and thuggish rabble smears.
It has been relentless!

Just as relentless have been the attacks on Jeremy himself by the PLP, always gleefully reported by a hostile media, and I include the BBC in that. We have spent the last year either defending Jeremy or defending ourselves.

image

It’s not all been bad of course. We won 4 by-elections and 4 mayoralties and performed far better in the local elections than many expected, but even then none of the credit was given to Jeremy Corbyn or the party’s new anti-austerity position. It was either down to the ‘centrist candidate’ or the fact Jeremy was barely mentioned. On the local election night tv specials, Labour MP after Labour MP was wheeled out to bemoan the ‘terrible’ results, with no mention of the 7% swing to Labour from our General Election results just a year before. So even our victories were tainted by the bitterness of others.

Despite how hard this year’s been I am celebrating Jeremy Corbyn’s first anniversary as leader because it’s worth celebrating. I just don’t feel like popping open a bottle of bubbly when my messenger inbox is filled with messages from devastated friends who’ve been purged from voting with no clear explanation given. I’ve even cried over them; overwhelmed by a feeling of impotence, frustration and anger.

This party – so beloved by many of us for all its incredible achievements over the years – has scoffed at our choice of leader, smeared us all in revenge for voting for him, and then revelled in its power to strip away our democratic right to vote. This year has been a real eye opener but not in a good way. Except maybe there is something good in having our eyes opened if you subscribe to the view it’s better to have the truth out in the open, than to believe things are ok when they are not.

This past year has revealed one truth above all others. The Labour Party is NOT a broad church.
It’s a nice label, but it only holds true if all sections of the party are treated with equal respect; and I don’t mean a respect that’s reliant on them staying on the back benches. If Dennis Skinner, Jeremy Corbyn and Diane Abbott were considered too far left to lead the party, the party should have expelled them all years ago. The only reason they didn’t is because these ‘political dinosaurs’ served a purpose. They were essentially the party’s token lefties. Expel them and it would have killed both the concept of Labour as a broad church and a democratic socialist party in one fell swoop.

The illusion of a broad church was an important one to maintain because it helped the party hold onto those tribal working class voters New Labour love to take for granted. They knew that as long as Dennis Skinner was being irreverent to the queen and Jeremy Corbyn was speaking at a stop the war rally, people would assume Labour couldn’t have moved too far from its roots. The premise of the broad church wasn’t enough to stem the haemorrhage of five million voters under Blair and Brown, but it will have stemmed the flow. But then the membership went and did something that exposed the illusion for what it was. We voted for Jeremy Corbyn. And the PLP have been trying to restore ‘order’ ever since.

So yes, our eyes have been opened. That’s not to say many weren’t aware of this state of affairs long before now. I know many were. But I also know many weren’t, and have been genuinely shocked and horrified by the way the PLP have behaved since Jeremy’s win. Thankfully most of us understand the motives driving the actions of the PLP. Break the membership and you break Jeremy, and vice versa. That awareness might not be enough to spare us from feelings of frustration, depression and even occasional bouts of despair, but it is enough to stop us from breaking.

Gone is the optimistic joyful membership of a year ago. In its place is an angry determined membership, under no illusions they have the respect of most of the PLP, some of whom hold us and our politics in contempt. It’s a painful truth, but it’s a truth nevertheless, and it’s a truth that will better prepare us for what lies ahead should Jeremy win again.

But what if Owen Smith wins? What then?

That depends on the size of the win. Any margin smaller than those disenfranchised by the vote freeze or the purge will be a Pyrrhic victory. The only way it becomes a real victory is if we respond in a way that brings our movement into disrepute – which I trust us not to do – or if we left the party in disgust.

Jeremy Corbyn has attracted hundreds of thousands of socialist members into our party. Now we are here we must stay. Why? Because with the numbers on our side, we can change our party from the bottom up. We can stand as councillors and MPs in the future; we can elect our preferred candidates to the NEC in the way we have just done, and send our delegates to conference.

Jeremy was the beacon that drew in that new enthused membership. We must never let the legacy from September 2015 go to waste. Nothing would play into the plotters hands more, and no ending could be more tragic.

So one year on we should make this pledge. What ever happens on September 24th 2016, we stay.

As the late great Tony Benn once famously said, “There is no final victory, as there is no final defeat. There is just the same battle. To be fought, over and over again. So toughen up, bloody toughen up.”

Advertisements

11 comments

  1. Christine.dallas · September 13, 2016

    Well said Comrade, well said from one of the very bruised and bemused foot solders !!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Florence · September 13, 2016

    If Smith wins? If that happens the membership will rise up, stop being polite, stop being gagged by fear of disenfranchisement, and the election will be declared void for reasons of corruption and gerrymandering on a breathtaking scale.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Alan Ingram · September 13, 2016

    Magnificent.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Colin (@colin_odr) · September 13, 2016

    I don’t Smith will win. The Right is shifting towards Plan B – trying to fix the shadow cabinet through a rule change, and Plan C setting up local Labour First/Progress group to try to prevent deselections of heir PLP MPs.

    Like

  5. Silvi Veale · September 13, 2016

    As another struggling foot soldier hoping that, despite everything, Jeremy Corbyn still wins the leadership election with a resounding victory, this remark actually brought tears to my eyes: “Jeremy was the beacon that drew in that new enthused membership. We must never let the legacy from September 2015 go to waste.”
    Great article!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Maureen Cooper · September 13, 2016

    Thank you. A clear sighted way forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Trotsky Jools (@openjools) · September 13, 2016

    Another fantastic article, but I have to disagree with the idea we should stay in a party if they manage to fix the election. Why? It’s all very well saying ‘so we can change it from the bottom up’ but the last year has demonstrated we will never be allowed to do so. It’s not just smearing and election rigging that you have mentioned in this article – they’ve already began fixing conference, banning CLPs from meeting and are busy purging pro Corbyn delegates. They will NEVER let working people and/or democratic socialists have their party back!

    So we’ll sit around for another 25 years, watching our numbers and enthusiasm continue to wane as they trot out more neo-liberal crap that we are impotent to fight against.

    If they steal the leadership election we must find the courage to break free from the corrupt News Labour machine. We will never achieve any change with an increasingly deflated membership. They have all the power, but we have all the momentum! Will it mean a Tory government in 2020 if the party splits? Probably, but if it doesn’t, it means another 40 years of blue and red Tories acting out their democracy pantomime while they continue to channel our money into Richard Bransons pockets, killing brown people for the war machine while failing to build houses, protect services and weakening our rights and liberties.

    Let New Labour die!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Terry Casey (@tcliverpool) · September 13, 2016

      The Labour Party name is said to be worth 20% of the vote on it’s own, if we leave we leave them free rein to carry on as before, we need to stay and fight the corner, to give in will lose the left any kind of representation, stay strong and fight for what you believe, we have been walked over for far too long, We can win!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Terry Casey (@tcliverpool) · September 13, 2016

    As one who hasn’t had his ballot paper and also condemned the actions of the PLP I think I have been purged, no Email or letter to say so but going by others experience who nave been purged it seems that is what is happening. Many people do not understand what is happening in Labour but it is a power shift from a group that have taken control over 25 years, the OP by Chelleryn states how the left has been tolerated to give the Right cover while they transformed the party and they certainly have, but it was starting to be obvious they were not a Party of the left anymore with pronouncements from Reeves, Flint, Danczuk and several others about welfare and forcing our kids not in education or work onto Workfare. this following years while in government of quietly strengthening union laws, introducing tuition fees, private rented bedroom tax, privatising the NHS, shutting down Remploy and many other things that Socialist governments just do not do. I do think the final straw came over the abstentions on the worst welfare bill in history, that for me and I think many Labour members forced me to admit these people do not represent the ideals or the ethos of the Labour Party, they are not socialist they are not even to the left, in my opinion they are an Establishment protection for when the Tories lose an election, they will carry the torch against the best interests of those who vote for them. We didn’t put up a Party wide fight against the parachuting of candidates into CLPs, we allowed our party to be taken over by the right, although when the right had sufficient strength they just steamrolled the party into submission, I hope Corbyn is successful, I hope we can grab back what the Labour Party is supposed to be about, protecting the working poor and those that cannot protect themselves.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. crazytrucker1951 · September 13, 2016

    At the moment I’m driven by anger and a bewilderment that “THEY” are getting away with this election rigging and the Electoral Commission is a party to McNicol’s machinations, driven by no doubt in the background by Meddlesome and Tory Bliar, discredited politicians, discredited men with discredited policies.
    I had an online vote, though I don’t know if my vote was even counted as it was a vote for JC who I see as our Party’s only hope of getting our Party back from the Red Tories who have butchered the Party I joined as a 17 year old in the 60’s, and only left when Bliar hoodwinked his way into the Leadership and into #10.
    I remember where I was in ’98 when I tore up my card. I was parked up for the night in my truck in a Forest just north of Dunblane waiting to load Christmas trees in the morning, I’d heard on the news Bliar and the Tory-Lites were abandoning Clause IV!
    I rejoined the Party on May 8th 2015, yes the day after Hamoron lied and fooled and tricked a nation into making him Prime Minister, the worst one we’ve ever had since the post was created, though it’s a title he won’t hold for long as the Mad Old Bag will surely outdo him as the worst ever.
    However, I digress, when it came to electing a new leader until JC made his way onto the Ballot I was genuinely considering voting for “None Of The Above”! Wish I’d done that for Deputy Leader though as I voted for Eagle.
    For the first time in decades JC has given me faith in the Party that had been AWOL since 1979. He gave me and many thousands of others hope after the decades of Tory Misrule and that includes the Bliar/Brown years as there was no difference. What was it Thatcher was alleged to have said that her biggest joy was Tory Bliar becoming PM?
    And now “THEY” the faceless ones want to take all that away from us by any foul means possible? By god they pulled some stunts last year but they’ve excelled themselves this year. I suspect the vote has been rigged, but if Smiff still loses I suggest he asks for a recount!
    Oh and an excellent article by the way Chell, though there was a really good piece by Charley Allen in yesterday’s Morning Star that actually said all the things I’ve been thinking, mainly has my vote even been acknowledged?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Dominique · October 24

    Brilliant! Well said Chelley. x

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s