Sunday, 12 April 2020

Just took a week

Last Saturday was a key moment in Labour history, the day that the members decided (by a large majority) that the party needed to return to it's main core function- getting elected to govern this country.

However with the current Corona crisis, it may take longer for Keir Starmer and his new Shadow Cabinet to start to show the public that we are now serious about wanting to govern, because it is obvious to many of us at the moment that the public do not just want to see the opposition attacking the Government but in fact they want politicians to work together, to help us get out of this crisis as quick as possible. that does not mean the Shadow Cabinet should not highlight the failings of Ministers, and today both Starmer and Raynor have highlighted again the lack pf PPE and that the daily press briefings held by Ministers, are failing to give the public honest answers.

But Corbyn supporters, the so called 'left' of the Party, (or as they describe themselves ' the only true socialists in the Party) have decided today to use a leaked internal report into how the Party handled antisemitism, to show that antisemitism was used as a weapon to attack Corbyn and that the right of the PLP cost us the election in 2017. Yet again the 'left' of the Party show they have no rivals for top spot. when it comes to rewriting history

Antisemitism was used by some to attack Corbyn, I think that is obvious to many but he himself could have put a stop to that very easily, his failure to defend or even speak to Louise Ellman, his inability to openly criticise Livingstone and Williamson and then his failure to follow the report by Chakrabarti with immediate action, were just indications that he put misguided loyalty to former comrades ( like Livingstone) and keeping the support of the 'far left' above making the Labour Party electable.

The fact is, as highlighted by Starmer in his leadership speech, "Anti-Semitism has been a stain on our party" - and to go forward as a united party we all need to accept that as fact.

However instead we have some members, a vocal group picking up on this internal report (helped by the support of Owen Jones) and trying to deflect away from the true facts, John McDonnell admitted antisemitism was a problem in the Party, why cant others who supported Corbyn?

I never liked Jeremy Corbyn but I continued to campaign hard for a Labour Government, I was publicly critical of him at times and that often meant Labour members, some local attacked me, told me to leave the Party, but iI stayed, I kept campaigning- it was hard, I was not sure Corbyn could be a good Prime Minister, however I wanted Ipswich to have a Labour MP, and even if I thought Corbyn was weak, he was still better than Johnson and I hoped others in The Shadow Cabinet would step up and the PLP would act as a brake on any stupid policies that the likes of Milne, McClusky were likely to come up with.

Even when I was critical of Corbyn, it was not after just one week of him being leader, I kept campaigning - but after just 8 days we have a local Suffolk member calling on all party members to go on strike! We have others highlighting the lack of BME members in the Shadow Cabinet, but it is just one less than under Corbyn, and we have now have Nandy as Shadow Foreign Secretary, the likes of Lammy in important roles, but what they really mean is we do not have Corbyn supporting BME MPs  on the Front Bench. But how could Starmer have Dawn Butler on the Front Bench ( or Burgon) when they would not sign up to the pledges from the Board of Deputies that he had? Even if Rebecca Long-Bailey had won she would have had the same problem.

So will those already calling for Starmer to resign, stay in the Party? I am sure most will, they know that to leave they will never be elected themselves again, just look at how Williamson did in December or how the Militant left overs have done in Coventry, where they stand each year. Respect did get some seats, and those same seats could see rival left groups prosper again but in most towns and villages, the Labour Party is the only show in town.

I may not be happy that they are critical of Smarter, However I would be a hypocrite to say they must leave it they are not 100% behind the leader, I was often critical of Corbyn, but I still went out and campaigned hard, and I would still expect them to campaign for a Labour Government, not to call for a strike of members, and I would also hope that they would have given him more than a week to prove himself as leader!

I have found that often those most shouting about how we are no longer a socialist party (after just 8 days of getting a new leader!), are the same people who hardly ever campaigned, happy to go to a socialist book club, or wave  a banner at a mass rally in London, but knocking on doors, talking to voters on Ipswich council estates, was something they were never going to do. For those people the Party is probably better off without you.

For those who are elected members, I would expect nd hope you to join us when the Corona crisis is over by campaigning hard for a Labour Council and Labour Government, if you do not want to you should then think of standing down as a Councilor. We all need to be out there talking to voters, rebuilding their trust so that we can yet again have a Labour Government, so we can make real changes, like we did when we were last in power - Surestart, minimum wage, more investment in education and the NHS - rather than as now, where all we can boast of is that we had a good manifesto or if you are still living in a Corbyn dream world, that we won the argument!

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