Friday, 6 May 2016
The Morning After
Feeling somewhat optimistic this morning. As Corbyn says the party seems to have hung on and grew support in yesterday's local elections which is fine by me. The crowing right wing media, still spun by the Blairite 'Red Tories' within the party, seemed to want to make a story out of Corbyn's Labour needing huge gains - which was frankly pie in the sky thinking after last year's general election performance - and that, if they did not, the writing was on the wall for Corbyn who, they claim, is a socialist dinosaur unable to suppress anti-semitic thinking within his party.
Well if you ask me the results coming in suggest that the electorate are happy with the leader who won by the largest mandate. As the shadow chancellor John McDonnell said earlier, it's time for these Red Tories to 'put up or shut up' if they want to stage a coup against Corbyn, otherwise to stop 'carping' and 'get behind' their democratically elected leader and start looking outward and not inward.
Let's be clear here, Labour have lost Scotland once again in accordance with the nationalist spirit that is clearly and understandably on the rise there (and now in Wales too it seems) and the UKIP vote is depressingly on the rise. But the Tories haven't made the great gains Cameron et al predicted, and it seems a foregone conclusion now that the Tories, who fought a London mayoral election campaign on Islamaphobia which the media seemed to conveniently ignore to focus instead on the Tory/Blairite smears against Labour, will lose London to Sadiq Khan; a disaster for outgoing Boris Johnson and his protege Zac Goldsmith. Labour have continued to hold and grow support in urban English and Welsh towns, making them 4% up on last year's election whilst the Tories are 4% down. This can only be a good thing. Not spectacular granted, but did we really expect that in the wake of the General Election last year and the spin against Corbyn like the Shah/Livingstone row?
This week I have been reading Bernadette Hyland's excellent Northern ReSisters, a series of conversations with radical women in the north west. One quote struck a chord with me, it was from a woman who explained her reasoning for leaving the Labour party some years ago and she said that it was because they had lost interest with the issues facing the working classes to concern themselves totally with how they would play in the next election. I feel this is the case with the dissenting voices within the party right now. The Blairites believe the middle ground is the only place to win elections from, and they are far more concerned with clinging on to their own comfortable Westminster lifestyles than they are with the people they are supposed to represent.
It's still early days, not all the results have come in and the media and the Tories (both Red and True Blue) are going to continue to spin this to make Corbyn's position look untenable. But my message is, stick with Corbyn. The performance here seems as well as expected. There's a long slog ahead of us, but we must start fighting the Conservatives in the name of the people we represent rather than ourselves if we want to start making gains in subsequent elections. We need to wrest control of Party HQ from the naysaying Blairites and use Momentum to ramp up the existing support for Corbyn within the party. We also need to use the younger, forward thinking Corbyn supporters and mould the party around them - after all, it's their future.