It’s hard to imagine, considering the dismal last days of Ed Miliband’s term of office but the contest to elect a new leader of the Labour Party has ignited a flame of interest in the party that hasn’t been seen since – well, since Tony Blair [Boo, hiss] stepped into the same shoes. The media, which as we all know to our detriment, is predominantly Right Wing, has probably given more column inches to the current Labour leadership election campaign than it gave to the same party’s campaign in the run up to the May General Election. However, I doubt that the pollsters have got it wrong this time around which brings me to my question, WTF is going on at Labour’s Head Office and why are people who should know better, telling party members not to vote for Jeremy Corbyn? Do they really think it wise to dictate to their supporters, many of whom like myself, want to see the party return to its’ core values albeit without actually going backwards to an age that has most certainly passed. Like it or not, we live in the Post-Modern age and it would be a mistake to think that reinstating Clause IV would be a universal benefit whereas the renationalisation of the railway and the Royal Mail would be a huge step forward.
The first person that I ever voted for was Harold Wilson who I remember as being quite radical – the white heat of technology and all that guff. He was a Yorkshireman like myself and he was married to a lovely woman called Mary who both wrote and collected poetry just as I did at the time. However, that is where the similarities end, as far as I know. Wilson was both a highly intelligent man and a popular Prime Minister but like every other Labour PM before or since, his every move was always subjected to the most ruthless scrutiny by the Right Wing Press to the extent that he didn’t always make the right decisions. I never understood, for example, why Wilson did not revoke the Beeching Plans for reducing the rail network especially when it was rumoured and since shown to be correct, that Beeching was acting in the best interests of the construction industry [road builders] and the road transport industry [ motor manufacturers and hauliers] when he sold his plans to the previous Conservative government. However, if there is one thing that we should all be grateful to Harold Wilson for, it is that he refused to allow British troops to become involved in America’s greatest folly, the Vietnam War. Which brings me back to an even more popular Labour leader albeit not one that I ever voted for, Tony Blair. To quote today’s LabourList “…say what you want about Blairites, but they have a canny knack of knowing which way the wind is blowing.” Well excuse me if I appear a little cynical but try telling that to the families both military and civilian who lost their loved ones as a result of waging war on either Iraq or Afganistan.
Alastair Campbell, Cromwell to Blair’s Henry VIII has blogged against voting for Jeremy Corbyn and claims that the choice for Labour leader is as simple as ABC , Anyone but Corbyn . And this from a man who started his “journalistic career” writing smut and ended it by attempting to defend the indefensible in his account of The Blair Years. However, no amount of blogging by Campbell or any of his former Blairite cronies, Faulkner, Milburn et al will make the slightest difference to the leadership campaign apart from perhaps increasing Jeremy’s lead. I know from meetings that I have had with Labour supporters from the South of England and those nearer to my home in the North that the support for Corbyn is genuine and whatever people think, he is bringing new members into the party. More importantly, he has inspired young people to take a fresh look at the Labour Party in the same way that Tony Benn did in his later years. I have followed Corbyn much more closely since I attended the Leeds hustings where I first saw his potential and whilst I remain loyal to Vyette Cooper, my second preference goes to Jeremy. And if he does win the leadership I will definitely be celebrating however, before we get carried away, there is one thing to consider and that is, how do we ensure that Labour takes office in 2020? Jeremy, if he becomes leader will be in his seventies and I can’t imagine that the public would ever elect a septuagenarian Prime Minister. So, bearing this in mind, by all means vote for Corbyn but then get to work on how to make the Labour Party electable again and with the right plans in place we could hold on to power for two or three terms at least.