What is the main reason for the Labour Party’s internecine war…and does it sound familiar?
One explanation is that at the heart of the troubles lies a single factor, which is that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, and those who support him, have an unshakeable belief that they are absolutely right. While some might regard this as unwavering dedication to a cause, its uncompromising nature can be a dangerous characteristic and often leads to anyone who holds a different view, even members of the same political party or group, being branded as an enemy.
The brick thrown through the constituency office window of the erstwhile Corbyn challenger Angela Eagle pales in comparison to the death and rape threats sent to various Labour MPs who have dared to suggest that their leader is not up to the job. A letter to Corbyn signed by 44 of his female Labour MPs saying that he is not doing enough to stop this abuse and intimidation does not seem to have any effect on him, but it doesn’t stop there; an MP critical of Corbyn claims she had her office illegally entered by one of his aides. Each day brings further accusations of events and hypocrisy that would not be out of place in some fledgling government in the third world – and talking of the third world, the revelation that campaign shirts for Corbyn were produced in a Bangladesh sweatshop in which workers were paid 30p per hour is a classic case of hypocrisy for someone who claims to be the champion of the poor and downtrodden.
But then Jeremy Corbyn is not like previous Labour leaders, most of whom, if not all, would have stepped down by now given the wave of criticism he has faced. He fails to understand that a political leader, if he or she is to become prime minister, doesn’t just need to appease the membership, but has to bring together Labour’s parliamentary party, the average Labour voter and indeed the floating voter who will determine the next government. Threatening re-selection of all his MPs before the 2020 general election is hardly going to help in that regard. It seems that Corbyn couldn’t care less about anyone other than those who have paid £3 or £25 to join his club and he doesn’t seem too bothered either if a third party pays for it, despite it being against Labour Party rules.
It’s all symptomatic of a blinkered, self-righteous view that often expresses itself in very unsavoury terms. Shortly after Corbyn’s election as Labour Party leader last September, he said that he wanted to see a “kinder, more honest form of politics”, yet just the next week, when he had addressed his followers at a meeting in Manchester where the Conservative Party was holding its annual conference, we saw those attending verbally abused, spat at and intimidated. Anyone queuing to go into the conference, whether an ordinary Conservative member, reporter or fringe meeting organiser, was fair game for obscene comments or threats.
The noises coming from Corbyn and co are reminiscent of a class struggle of yesteryear in which the rich are to blame for everything (conveniently ignoring the fact that some 27% of the total tax income is provided by the top 1% of high earners). They play the social media game of inferring mass support, when in reality they are mainly talking to themselves, though the messages are attractive to the naïve, the ignorant and those sympathetic to anti-establishment causes. As so often is the case, they highlight what they see as injustices without giving thought to the consequences or offering any realistic solutions.
Whatever the outcome of these difficulties, one has to recognise the importance of the need for a proper parliamentary opposition party. It’s worth considering those decent Labour parliamentarians who are now facing the type of bigoted spite that another group has encountered over the years – by that I mean the hunting world. It is no exaggeration to say that there are clear parallels in the way the Corbyn’s class warriors go about their business and the manner in which anti-hunting groups operate; the absolute self-belief in their cause; ignoring inconvenient truths; eschewing reasonable debate; reducing arguments down to simple, exaggerated extremes; regarding detractors as traitors; demonising any opposition as ‘the enemy’; playing down links with extreme groups and turning a blind eye to violence and intimation.
If there is to be some sort of re-alignment of the Labour Party perhaps those who have witnessed the tactics of these extremists (or have been on the receiving end of their exploits) will see a similarity in the type of politics they may have supported, albeit unwittingly, in passing the Hunting Act; each and every one of those tactics mentioned above has been employed in reaching that end. Predictably, it resulted in a law that has been widely criticised, not saved a single animal’s life, made wildlife management more difficult and now is regarded, even by anti-hunting groups, as a failure; the only ‘successful’ aspect being that bigotry and prejudice won in this instance due to the public’s lack of understanding of hunting and the consequences a ban inevitably entails.
A cursory examination of comments made in the press and on social media reveals just how many anti-hunters support Corbyn and, adding to their naivety, consider him to be a suitable future prime minister. At least one prominent committee member of the League Against Cruel Sports , a former Labour MP currently being criticised for using thousands of pounds of public money to fund his constituency office, falls into that category.
The surprising thing is that there are some Conservative MPs who can’t see that they’ve been duped into thinking a hunting ban is good for animal welfare and oppose overturning this legislation. It surely is no coincidence that shortly after making clear her view that the Hunting Act should be repealed, MP Andrea Leadsom was made Environment Secretary by new Prime Minister Theresa May. This is a positive move and indicates discussions on the future of hunting with hounds will be meaningful and on the basis of evidence. Those shaky Conservative MPs who have cosied up to the ‘Blue Foxes’ really should consider who their bedfellows are and stop playing into the hands of people who have ulterior motives and will never be genuine supporters of their party, no matter what is claimed or offered in the never-ending stream of e-mails the antis are so fond of sending.
If Corbyn’s people look, sound and act the same as those who oppose hunting… it’s because they are one and the same.