Former Labour MP Ian Austin has exposed the rot at the heart of the Corbyn Project
BY JAMES BICKERTON
At no point in its history has the British radical left, those who challenge the core liberal-democratic-capitalist values of a western society, been in a position to achieve power on its own. For the vast majority of the past century they have been, at best, a footnote to the great dramas that have traversed our politics. Confined to the margins of the Labour Party, and a host of electorally insignificant minor factions, they have provoked as much laughter as fear.
This started to change when Jeremy Corbyn, a man who rarely stumbles across an anti-Western dictatorship or terror gang he won’t befriend, seized the Labour leadership in September 2015. Yet the fundamental calculation remained the same. The Corbynites could not plausibly win an election, nor form a Government, without the connivance of centre-left MPs and voters. In an act of historic folly, with a few honourable exceptions, this has been consistently provided.
In fairness for the first years of Corbyn’s reign a plausible defence could be made for this decision. The Corbynite takeover was regarded, all but universally amongst the centre-left, as temporary. It would inevitably collapse on contact with British voters, or turn in on itself, allowing the moderates to retake their party. Why hand the Labour Party, with its powerful brand and apparatus, to zealots when you could simply recapture it?
This argument held for a while, but overtime became first unconvincing then ridiculous. Activists from the radical left flooded Labour’s membership, whilst moderates left, allowing Corbyn to hold off a post-Brexit referendum leadership challenge in 2016. The 2017 General Election, which saw a surge in Labour support, destroyed the comforting illusion that Corbynism was electoral kryptonite. As time went on Corbyn’s backers captured increasing chunks of the Labour bureaucracy, most notably with Jennie Formby becoming party general secretary in 2018. Tom Watson’s announcement this week that he will resign as deputy leader should, but probably won’t, put the final nail in the illusion that Labour can swiftly be restored to sanity.
Moderate Labour MPs, in so far as its still possible to use that term, are increasingly fighting not to retake their party but for their careers. Boxed in by Corbynite activists, and powerful Momentum groups, they have largely learnt the value of silence. Overtime their propensity for outrage has been depleted. Two of their Jewish colleagues, Luciana Berger and Louise Ellman, have been bullied out of the party citing anti-Semitism. Labour is now only the second party in history, after the neo-fascist BNP, to be placed under formal EHRC investigation over alleged institutionalised racism. A Survation poll carried out last month found 47 percent of British Jews would “seriously consider” leaving the UK if Corbyn becomes PM.
Whilst this has taken place centre-left Labour MPs, with a few exemptions, have done next to nothing. The odd outraged Tweet is about the extent of their anti-racist resistance. The Labour moderates have gone from uncomfortable to captive to complicit with the Corbynite project. Some honourable MPs, the likes of Ian Austin, Frank Field and Joan Ryan, have quit. But the vast majority have stuck limpet like to Labour, even as the party was transformed into something truly ugly. In 2017 they crossed the Rubicon of campaigning to make Corbyn Prime Minister in a General Election. A little over two years later they are doing so again, this time with the knowledge that Corbyn could quite plausibly end up in 10 Downing Street.
If you live in anywhere in Great Britain the only reliable way to prevent a Corbyn premiership is to vote Conservative. The SNP have already suggested they could back a Corbyn Government in exchange for a vote on Scotland quitting the UK. The Liberal Democrats may have ruled out any coalition with Labour whilst Corbyn is in charge, but its hard to see them voting down a Corbynite administration that offers a second Brexit referendum. The fundamental binary choice, Boris Johnson or Corbyn, was acknowledged by Ian Austin on Thursday. The former Labour man, who pledged to “do everything I can to stop Jeremy Corbyn getting into power”, explicitly endorsed the Prime Minister.
As voters face down the barrel of the first radical left Government in Britain’s history they must remember there is only one Labour Party. No matter how decent or sensible their local MP seems, if they run under a red rose they are campaigning to hand control of our control to Corbyn and McDonnell. There simply isn’t an option to vote Labour, but minus the anti-Semitic and terrorist apologist bits. It all comes as a part of the package.
Much of the UK left has concluded institutionalised anti-Jewish racism is a price worth paying for nationalisation and rent controls. We can only hope the British public reach a different conclusion. The Corbynite movement simply cannot achieve power without the support of the centre-left. If this continues to be provided, as looks almost certain, they will bear much responsibility for what follows.
James Bickerton is a writer and journalist. Follow him on twitter: @JBickertonUK