Keeping Corbyn out is not enough

A cartoon of what looks like a red-faced adult sitting in a pram and throwing a mobile phone, laptop, camera and other electronic devices out of it. The signature "Adams" is in the top right-hand cornerYesterday I came across a blog post by Nora Mulready, one of the most sanctimonious anti-Corbyn agitators among the centre-Left, welcoming the announcement of a “new party” in last Sunday’s Observer — which, as you might discover if you read the whole article rather than just the headline, hasn’t been founded yet. The same article was tweeted out by John Rentoul, a columnist for the Independent and biographer of Tony Blair, with a quote which really sums up the attitudes of many of the supporters of this “new party”:

In response, I asked Rentoul, Mulready and a third person (who retweeted it, which is how I found out) if they knew anyone using food banks, or who had been a victim of lying by benefits assessors, or whose disabled children had no school to go to or who had had to wait months or years for vital surgery. One person said she was in that position herself but could not bring herself to vote Labour under Corbyn but “obviously … won’t vote Conservative either”. Mulready responded:

So that’s all right then. You won’t vote Tory, presumably because there’s a safe third option in your constituency (Lib Dem probably, or maybe a Labour MP who is anti-Corbyn), but will carry on publicly throwing your toys out of the pram so that enough people know that the Labour party is divided within itself and vote for anyone but — which usually, in many swing constituencies, means the Tories. They will then proclaim that it’s Corbyn’s fault if the Tories win the next election — exactly what Blair’s allies said about dissenters who failed to vote for him in 2005 or 2010, so it is always the Left’s fault and never anyone else’s. They complain about anti-Semitism or weakness towards Russia, yet along with their policy of harassing elderly Black people to leave the country after being here for 50 years or more, the Tories still keep Boris Johnson in high office despite a long history of racism and, only this week, endorsing the racist Hungarian president who has made barely-concealed anti-Semitic conspiracy theories part of his platform for years:

I get the impression that the majority of people agitating against Corbyn are those who can personally afford a few more years of Tory rule: it’s no secret that the British media is dominated by people from private schools or at least grammar schools (never forget this boast by Nick Cohen on Twitter); only this week Sarah Montague, formerly of Radio 4’s Today programme, was said to be “incandescent with rage” at discovering that her £133,000 annual salary was the only Today presenter’s salary that was not above £150K per year (the highest was John Humphrys, which was between £600K and £649K, though another female presenter’s was above £200K), so their unjustly discriminated against are considerably better off than most of us. Most of them are not poor or disabled; most of them are not Black; none of them are Muslims, the major target of right-wing hate and suspicion, and Mulready herself has posted distinctly Islamophobic articles on her blog, for example calling for “the Left” not to use images of women in hijab to represent Muslim women — effectively, calling on them to be made invisible, for Labour to disassociate itself from them. Effectively this is the so-called decent Left — the pro-war, anti-Muslim soft left — of the mid-2000s raising its head again. Mulready calls anti-Semitism “the prejudice that led to the most terrible period of inhumanity and mass murder” but any prejudice can lead to mass murder, whether by the machete, the gun or the gas chamber. Examples of right-wing Islamophobia in this country recently far outweigh anything found in the Labour party in terms of their viciousness, their tendency to violence, even their reliance on tropes of conspiracy and takeover.

Dividing the Labour party so that the Tories win is not a price worth paying to keep Jeremy Corbyn out. It will not achieve any progressive objective, even what should be at the top of their agenda, namely staving off Brexit. Any party which could divide both the Labour and Tory votes to cream off Brexit opponents could stand a chance if it did not stand against other pro-EU candidates at the next election, but will power-hungry Labour right-wingers take a stand on this issue or will they put their ambitions first even if they defect to this new party? A new party without a strong anti-Brexit stand is pointless and stands no chance of doing anything except keeping the Tories in power. They can blame Corbyn for that if they like, but the Corbyn-supporting membership will blame them, and the divisions in the Labour party will not heal any time soon.

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