Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 09 Aug 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Labour, Corbyn and exile

For my whole adult life and a bit before, I’ve positioned myself relative to the Labour Party. Was I to the left or right of them on whatever issue there was and how I felt about that were a natural part of my mindset. I saw Labour, when I was growing up, transform themselves from a cabal of unelectable loons under Michael Foot, mainly under the leadership of Neil Kinnock, who always struck me as a man with a certain integrity, to the insanity of the Blair years, through to Brown and, regrettably, beyond.

I’ve always stayed in pretty much the same place politically, but Labour have moved relative to me, firstly to pretty much where I am and, latterly, much further right. And now, under Corbyn, they’re swinging further left again. Events involved in this mean that I’ve finally abandoned the idea of Labour as being my political locus as they are, simply, too unstable. Watching a party slowly eat itself in public is not an edifying spectacle and the reactionary, uber-left lunacy of Corbyn and his online acolytes means any sense of ownership I had has long since gone.

Twitter users who stand in the Corbyn camp regularly post pictures of Their Sainted Leader speaking to crowds of people at rallies and other events as though it’s evidence of a wider groundswell of support which will carry him into Number 10 and build socialism anew. These people typically address each other as ‘comrade,’ as though they’re living in the days immediately after the Russian revolution or, heaven help us all, in a Ken Loach film complete with wooden acting and pious speeches.

Of course, the rallies mean diddly squat. You can find plenty of pictures of Michael Foot addressing hundreds of people before he was wiped off the electoral map, just as you can find plenty of shots of other people, who similarly had plenty of popular support and who never got anywhere near real power because other people had worked out that they were mad with idealism. The real story is told in the polls, where May is opening up the kind of lead that promises the Tories will be in power for the rest of my life and Labour will eventually split, as it did with the SDP.

A snap election now would devastate Labour permanently. They’ve become a party that no longer knows what it’s for, now that the circumstances that led to its foundation have changed forever. It’s fighting with UKIP for northern votes, in a areas where racism and petty xenophobia are common currency and where people are too stupid or ignorant to believe that the outside world has done them any favours, and in the south it’s trying to be the party for aspirational people who say they have a conscience. None of this works.

Whatever the outcome of what happens next, it’s finished as a credible political force. The only people who are persuaded by it will be malcontents who wish it was 1950, for whatever reason, either because they think that Clement Attlee should still be a political force or because they’re afraid of Asians. That’s not a base for a political party, it’s a bizarre special interest group which doesn’t have any MPs.

My alternatives, at least under the present system, are not impressive. I’d no sooner vote Tory than I would eat my own leg, the Greens are good people but have one MP and no chance of holding power and the Lib Dems were a busted flush the moment Nick Clegg took his pants off and got into bed with David Cameron. There are, therefore, no repositories for my vote, which moves me to do something I’ve never done before. I declare myself apolitical.

I haven’t watched TV in weeks or listened to the news on the radio, simply because it presents me with a series of things I can’t do anything about, such as the pending Labour schism, and Jeremy Corbyn’s insistence on ideology above electability. My radio is now tuned permanently to Radio 3 and the only TV I watch is Netflix or iPlayer if I’m minded to watch a documentary. I find that members of the Cabinet are strangers to me and I’m starting to find that I just don’t know who people in public life are anymore. So much the better. My focus is on getting away from this country, either for extended stays abroad or permanently, with some kind of job that sees me come back occasionally and eventually take out a different citizenship. More than anything else, Brexit and, latterly, the clusterfuck that the Labour Party has become have made me realise that while I love the landscape, I don’t love the people. My locus is gone, and I’m better for it.

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