How can the poor old Labour Party have got itself into this mess? For a mere three pounds, I can join the Party and cast a vote to elect the new Leader. Tories for Corbyn are encouraging everyone to do so and split the opposition apart. Why on earth did not anyone think to close the electoral list when the last Leader stood down?
The contest still has seven weeks to run. All through the silly season, every Labour loud mouth will be paraded on the Today programme . The candidates will have every opportunity to make a fool of themselves. The clever Yvette Cooper is keeping her head down. Why did not anyone think about a tighter timetable?
It is difficult to argue against one member one vote but I wonder if both major parties rue the day they extended the franchise. My brother in law, an insider on such matters, tells me that if Boris is one of the two names put to party members when Cameron retires, he will romp home regardless. Those were the days when a few Tory grandees took soundings in the safety of their gentlemen’s club.
Margaret Beckett admits she was a ‘moron’ to nominate Jeremy Corbyn when she has no intention of voting for him. Apart from Jeremy’s lack of experience and even interest in holding office, he will be 71 by the time of the next election. Is a septuagenarian electable? Large numbers of young people apparently think so.
Prophets do not often make effective leaders in the rough and tumble of politics. Two of my greatest political heroes, Nye Bevan and Michael Foot, found this out but the Labour Party always needs a champion of its socialist ideals to fight and not win the day. No one does infighting better than the Left. They wear their hearts on their sleeves and that is why we love them.
The trouble is that Corbyn has a really attractive platform – taxing the rich, stopping welfare cuts, scrapping Trident and abolishing tuition fees. He talks straight, rides on trains, wears beige and wont smile inanely at the camera. But is there a place at the top for the campaigning nice guy?
The trouble is also that none of the other candidates stand out in terms of policies or personality. They seem too concerned with saying the things that will get them back into power at any price. No one has even a whiff anything as inspiring as the “white hot heat of technology” from Harold Wilson’s days.
What a shame that Ed Miliband did not hang around to let the Party come to terms with its defeat. What a shame so many Blairites jumped in so quickly to condemn him. What a shame that Harriet Harman caused a fiasco over the welfare bill. What a shame the candidates are now subject to personal innuendos. What a mess.
As the honourable members set off on their holidays, with the promise of a few extra pounds in their back pockets that nurses and teachers deserve far more, the one man who will be striding across the beach to build the grandest sandcastle is George Cameron.
The emergency budget was a political tour de force even though the economics was despicable; giving more to the rich through changing inheritance tax thresholds, denying young people housing benefit, penalising large families and cutting tax credits. It had a narrative (to use a horribly fashionable word) about the hard working class that went unquestioned by hardly anyone except the enthusiastic members from north of the Border. No one has a cunning plan for prising those seats back for Labour. No one can tell how Labour can be elected without them.
Then on the day that the Commons is demob happy, the Chancellor slips in spending cuts by government departments of 40% or £20bn by 2012, which will hit local authority budgets again. He said:
“We’ve shown that with careful management of public money, we can get more for less and give working people real control over the decisions that affect them and their communities”.
Do you laugh or cry? This is a rampant government putting its cronies on a panel to dismantle the BBC and shredding the Freedom of Information Act because it shows them up. How else would we know about John Bercow’s expenses? Only the foxes have survived to fight another day.
John McDonnell said he would rather “swim through vomit” than vote for welfare cuts and a good number of North East MPs agreed with him. Will it catch on as a fundraiser? We need a vocal and coherent opposition and, to my mind, we need a Labour Party that will stand up for the poor and underprivileged even if it is not popular in middle England. That’s why we love them.
Give politicians August off. Muzzle the opinion polls and pull the plug on the radio interviews. Keep the paparazzi off the beaches. Breathe in fresh air and come back in September to elect a Leader, any Leader, and get into battle.