So, it’s no secret to my friends (or those that used to count me as a friend) that I’m a Corbyn sceptic. I’m very disappointed that he has been re-elected as the leader of the labour party.
I am disappointed because I think he has no chance of winning the next election, as well as some real policy problems. I do think that a third way is a good way to deliver many positive changes in public service, and I don’t want to see re-nationalisation of public services, or the banning of the private sector from public service provision. I also want to remain a member of the European Union, and I support the right of Israel to exist as a sovereign state.
I see online that many people with whom I normally agree have decided that they cannot remain in the party – many of them citing the aggression and antisemitism that they have perceived in some of Corbyn’s supporters.
I’m not leaving – and I want to explore why in this post. I’m indulging in some self-analysis here, feel free to agree, disagree, ignore as you see fit.
The main reason I’m not leaving is that I left before – and spent seven years as a member of and doing some campaigning for the Liberal democrats. I joined the LDs because we moved to Newbury, and they were the second party. I left the Labour party because of the war in Iraq. I never really felt at home in the LD’s – especially given the rise of the Orange Bookers. I left just after the Rose Garden press conference, when it became clear that the LD leadership was naive in allowing the tories to spin the line that Labour had ‘failed to fix the roof’, and that the economic problems after 2010 were a result of Labour’s fiscal policy. It became clear to me that policy wise Labour was the place where I fitted best.
The second reason I’m not leaving is that I agree with Corbyn’s analysis of the way that Labour needs to change at a local level. It does need to be a local campaigning party. We need to be doing things to improve life at a local level, and to campaign for better and fairer public services – especially where we control councils. A good example of this is the closure of the Arthur Hill swimming pool in East Reading, which a Labour council is closing on the promise of building another pool nearby – at some point in the future. Labour members should be free to organise against closures like these (and many others) that have happened around the country.
Finally I’m not leaving because things will change – and this bubble will burst, eventually. Longer serving members of the party will need to be around to help the party recover when the hangover kicks in. This may be in 2019, or it may be following a series of defeats in 2020 or 2022. However, by then we will have either come to a working compromise with each other, or the arrivists will have drifted away, or who knows – we might be proved wrong and there will be a Labour government.
I’ll continue to deliver leaflets and go to meetings, and I’ll wait. If I’m wrong and momentum’s death grip on the party cannot be dislodged even until death itself, that will be the point to think about leaving.