Yesterday, David Lammy issued a statement that suggested Parliament should overturn the Referendum result; in case you weren’t aware, David Lammy is a Labour MP who became a minor household name via an appearance on ‘Celebrity Mastermind’ in which his grasp of general knowledge revealed his belief that Henry VIII’s successor as King was Henry VII. As buttons go, it’s fair to say he’s not the brightest on offer. Then again, he’s hardly unique where representatives of ‘the people’s party’ are concerned, by imagining that a mandate delivered by the electorate can be reversed because it doesn’t fit with his own cosseted view of the country. Some metropolitan parliamentarians clearly haven’t learnt a bloody thing from what happened at the end of last week.
Jeremy Corbyn is not part of the metropolitan parliamentary elite, of course; nobody could accuse him of that, at least. If, as some have claimed, Nigel Farage wants Britain to return to the 50s, Corbyn wants us back in the 80s; his cult popularity rests with survivors of that decade’s vicious ideological battles as well as their Millennial offspring who are by nature ‘lefty’ while ever they are still registered as students. It’s the comfort zone of many veteran Labour backbenchers for whom the worst event in their political careers was the deposing of Margaret Thatcher. Corbyn’s unlikely appearance on a podium alongside Blairite Labour hopefuls during last summer’s leadership campaign was so incongruous that his outsider status swung it. A break with the recent past via a return to the distant past – one so distant that it has nostalgic connotations for those who were there, and novelty value for those who weren’t.
The problem with yearning for the class wars of old is that the class Labour once spoke for has moved on; and Corbyn hasn’t. His selling point is that he isn’t like Cameron or Gideon or Boris – and he isn’t; but that doesn’t necessarily mean he means anymore to an unemployed 30-year-old in Doncaster than Cameron or Gideon or Boris. If anything, an unemployed 30-year-old in Doncaster is more likely to know Boris than he is to know Corbyn, whose invisibility during perhaps the most important post-war political campaign this country has ever seen helped bury the message of the party he presumes to lead.
Sunday morning opened with the news that Hilary Benn – one of the few leftovers from the last Labour Government still occupying the opposition front bench – had been fired from the Shadow Cabinet. This had been on the cards ever since his grandstand speech in support of military intervention in Syria last year; but it apparently came about due to Benn’s criticisms of his leader’s lacklustre and fairly unconvincing efforts at getting Labour’s Remain position across to the people the party allegedly represents. Eleven other members of Team Corbyn left of their own accord on the same day as Benn’s dismissal, and this means the country’s top two political parties are in simultaneous disarray.
As messy as things currently are for the Tories, however, their difficulties are considerably eased by the fact that the party whose role it is to hold them to account and exploit their perilous position is in an even more abysmal state than them. The election of Jezza as leader was portrayed as a people’s coup by the membership, a grassroots groundswell facilitated by the disastrous, naive new rules that saw thousands able to join the party online and manipulate the voting process; and then Corbyn’s shock triumph was declared as a victory for erasing the dark days of Blair from the map. A man who won the party three consecutive General Elections clearly tore up the sacred rulebook stating that Labour’s proper place is as Her Majesty’s Opposition, and – whatever else he has to answer for (and, let’s be honest, it’s quite a long list) – as far as Labour internal politics are concerned, Blair’s success with the electorate way beyond the party’s traditional fan-base was unforgivable. So, the party is now comfortably defined by what it stands against rather than what it actually stands for.
The anti-Semitic issue was only belatedly addressed when it went public, though recent revelations of the way in which female Muslim Labour council contenders have been bullied, blacklisted and mistreated by their male Muslim peers in some of the party’s stronghold Asian neighbourhoods haven’t been addressed at all; and this utter inability to deal with a serious problem within the party is as pathetic a response as Labour’s utter cluelessness as to why the party has been rejected by a white working-class who provided Labour with its founding raison d’être. When the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg had the nerve to criticise Corbyn on air, the Messiah’s online brown-shirt bullyboys targeted her in the same petulant manner as Twitter trolls, upholding Corbyn’s blinkered belief that every media outlet is out to get him because he’s not a member of ‘the elite’. Dare to criticise him and you may as well hold up your ‘elite’ membership card. No wonder The Kids love Jezza; he shares the same infantile mentality.
Unlike the Tories, Labour has no outstanding candidate to lead a coup that will depose the party’s lame duck leader; and the longer the anti-Corbynites dither, the quicker Boris or Gove or May will take control of the Conservatives, call an Election and condemn the country to five more years of austerity policies. The crash at the polls that Labour experienced in 2010 was something the party has yet to come to terms with and if Corbyn remains at the helm should Cameron’s successor go the country in the autumn or next spring, I foresee what happened to the Lib Dems last year being repeated in Labour circles, the kind of electoral apocalypse that will make 2010 feel more like 1997. And that leaves Britain – or England – as a one-party state. At this extremely uncertain moment in time, that is not good; and unless the party gets its act together soon, Labour as a political force is doomed; mind you, if fatty Paedofinder General Watson fancies his chances, the party really is over.
© The Editor