It has been a roller coaster of a year politically as we head towards the end of this Parliamentary session. I don’t really know where to start on all that has happened and what is still to unfold as the Tories announce who our next Prime Minister will be. (Spoiler Alert – it’s Mr Johnson)
The main theme for me though has been utter depression at the state of politics with the surge in populism and the continued inability of Corbyn to show any form of Leadership of the Labour Party in relation to #Brexit or Anti-Semitism for example. I knew from the start he was not a leader but how on earth it has taken so long for others to realise is beyond me.
Which brings me to the title of my update. I have stayed in the Party despite Corbynism not because of it. At each twist and turn – every botched Brexit policy, every lame excuse for the inaction on ant-Semitic behaviour or every poor showing in the local or Euro elections and the pathetic polling levels I still keep hanging on waiting for ‘something’ to happen that will make it alright again
My rationale for staying (despite offers to switch) is that I have been part of the Labour Party for 30+ years and I am not giving up on it that easily. I shouldn’t be forced out by people who have only just joined from the Communist Party or SWP at the top of the Party. I need to stay to use my solitary vote when the time comes for us to fight back. But as more of my moderate friends keep leaving and no action seems to be coming from those we need to lead the fight I wonder when my cry of “one more Chance” will end and I will resign.
The reaction of the Party to the BBC Panorama programme was another final straw – as was the speech from Len McCluskey describing the Deputy Leader of the Party in expletives I won’t use in a blog at the Durham Miners Gala. These may well be twitter storms most people don’t get caught up with (sensibly) but they give an insight into the battles that are taking place for the soul of the Party. It isn’t pretty or a pleasant place to be.
Despite the wonderful sporting success at the weekend I was ready to join the thousands leaving the Party every week. I didn’t vote Labour in the Euros for the first time in my life. I am at the end of my tolerance levels. But once again I decided to stay and follow through on some discussions I have been having outside of the Party.
But what does staying mean. It isn’t just a passive action. It needs to mean something to justify staying. It means – doing nothing to physically help Corbyn into No 10. It means being a critic from within and working with friends and colleagues to bring the Party back into the broad church it used to be. It means staying so I have a vote when the chance arises to elect sensible moderate representatives and replace Corbyn as Leader at the first opportunity, before its too late and our Party has been destroyed. It means being as openly critical as I can within the Party rules. I want those of us who are neither Corbynites or Blairites to feel there is something worth fighting for.
I have had enough. If i was a quitter I would have gone a long time ago. But i can be quite stubborn. This country more than ever needs an opposition ready to fight the most Right Wing Tory party in a generation aided and abetted by the Brexit Party and their media friends. This is not the time to have abandoned the centre ground. It is the time to reach out across the centre. (In a further blog I will argue that being in the centre doesn’t mean not being radical or transformational in our politics – its not just a triangulation of left and right)
As I head into semi- retirement this Autumn I want to be using my new found freedoms to recreate the energy and zeal that brought me into politics in my teens – but now with 35 years experience under my belt.
I am heading off for a break over the Summer to recharge the batteries – and ready myself for the battles ahead.