I received a message from my local MEP this weekend outlining why she was backing Owen Smith in the Labour leadership contest. No surprise there considering that the person in question is equally bland and has been as obscure previously as the man she believes is capable of leading The Labour Party to success in the 2020 General Election [GE]. Personally, I can’t see “Viagra man” improving the performance of Labour at the next or any future GE. He reminds me very much of Neil Kinnock, a Labour leader so out of touch with public opinion that he failed to woo voters away from the Tories even whilst Mrs Thatcher was at her most unpopular. Kinnock could talk the hind legs of a donkey, still can it seems but people weren’t listening to him therefore he did the next best thing to becoming PM and grabbed himself a seat in the European Parliament. Smith however, is not going to be able to emulate the former Labour leader so he might as well make the most of his fifteen minutes of fame playing this silly game of “I’m more left than Corbyn, I am”.
What I fail to understand though, is why those MPs who campaigned alongside Jeremy Corbyn in 2015 to become Labour leader are not standing again now? I respect Andy Burnham’s view that becoming Manchester’s newly elected Mayor is a much more attractive proposition than remaining in a Westminster bubble that he claims is both elitist and prejudiced against anyone with a regional accent. I like Andy Burnham and my hope was that he would take over from Corbyn prior to 2020 [ without a coup] and lead the party into government. However, that’s not going to happen. The Parliamentary Labour Party [PLP] is, by it’s own doing, between a rock and a hard place. They refuse to back Jeremy which in effect is a slap in the face to all those party members who voted for him in 2015 and then they stop all those new members inspired by Corbyn’s leadership from voting for Jeremy in 2016. Where is the fairness in that, they are happy to take the money but they don’t want to let members engage in the party’s affairs? It’s a farce and the sooner the curtain falls the better. I’m not saying that Corbyn is doing a wonderful job because he isn’t. He messed up [again] by nominating Shami Chakrabati for a peerage, she deserves to be in the House of Lords but this wasn’t the right time to propose the human rights activist. Corbyn should have attacked Cameron’s cronyism instead but perhaps, with all the criticism over “Brexit”, Jeremy wasn’t ready to risk another mauling from The Tories aided by his own seditious back-benchers. However, with ever more revelations coming out about the true nature of the EU, history is certainly bound to prove that we did the right thing in voting to leave.
The future for the Labour Party is looking less rosy as the post-brexit weeks pass and the nation’s eyes remain fixed on the new PM, Theresa May. The details surrounding Article 50 are likely to be a long drawn out affair and quite rightly so, Britain has nothing to gain by rushing it. The homegrown movement to remove us from the EU has grown steadily since it began in 1993 so a few more months is hardly going to spoil the celebrations. However, despite the efforts of the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel to appear supportive of Britain’s position there are others inside the EU such as Martin Selmar, Chief of Staff to the commission’s president, John-Claude Junker, who see Brexit as an opportunity to fast-track the EU’s federalist agenda. Nigel Farage may have seemed a little churlish, uncouth perhaps when speaking to his colleagues in Brussels following the result of the UK referendum but at least he was being honest. The party he worked tirelessly for had achieved everything that it set out to do without actually gaining any more MPs than the Green Party that Farage supported before leading UKIP. However, the party appears to be going through a rocky time at the moment with no one in charge and a steering group that doesn’t appear able to make up its’ mind about the kind of person they want to replace Nigel with. Perhaps, the Labour Party will stop fighting itself long enough to realise that there are UKIP votes going begging especially in the North. So, let’s stop whinging about the brexit vote and start putting policies together that will attract voters back to the Labour Party. Remember, that in 1993 a Mori poll found that 74% of the electorate were in favour of Britain leaving the EU but it appears that no one took any notice of the public’s mood back then which, of course, gave the Referendum Party and then UKIP, the opening it needed to make its’ mark on British politics. Now, there’s a lesson for Labour to learn and quick.