I didn't join The Labour Party just to see it waive through a spiteful Tory Welfare Bill. How did it come to this?
I've resisted making a post until the Labour Leadership race started to take shape. I've waited for a theme to emerge, something to rally behind. What's emerged from the bland contenders (with one exception) and senior Labour people is a campaign to stop the one contender that isn't bland, Jeremy Corbyn.
What's his crime? He's too left wing.
Corbyn only just managed to get enough Labour MPs to nominate him to stand in the leadership election. Even then, it was only to have a left winger stand and be thoroughly defeated to finally put the left wing of the Party in its place as an unpopular and out of touch fringe. The same thing was done five years ago when David Milliband "lent" Diane Abbot nomination votes so she could stand as the "left" candidate in that leadership election.
The trouble is, the Party's ordinary members, the people who actually get to vote for the leader, quite like Jeremy Corbyn and what he stands for. The latest poll puts Corbyn on 43% with the next nearest contender, Andy Burnham, on 26%.
This reveals a real schism in the Party between the Parliamentary Party and the members. It also brings into sharp focus the issue of what The Labour Party is for: to win elections or to represent the views of its members.
It seems the majority of MPs first and foremost want to win elections. They see the way to do this is to move to the right and all that means, i.e. follow a conservative agenda. The members seem to want a Party to represent their views and beliefs.
I can see the point of both views. You can't change things unless you win elections, but then, what's the point of winning elections if you don't change things in the way your principles might suggest? We want a Labour Party in power that is more than just a pale imitation of The Conservative Party. Let's face it, if people wanted a Conservative government, they would, and mostly do, vote for the real thing - they're much better at it than we are.
The Party does have a dilemma: do they represent their members or the general populace? When they enter government, they govern the populace, not just their members. It is a legitimate point.
This brings us the to hurdle The Labour Party has to clear: how does it reconcile a left wing membership with a right leaning populace. Let's face it, this country would seem to be a right wing country.
I'm of the view that a party must promote and campaign on policies that represent its core values and convince the electorate to vote for it. The electorate then know what sort of government it's getting. To campaign and garner votes based on what you think the electorate wants to hear is, I think, dishonest.
With Jeremy Corbyn riding high in the polls there are now calls from senior Party members, including Tony Blair, to vote for anyone but Corbyn. There have even been calls for one of the candidates, Liz Kendall, to withdraw from the leadership race and throw her support behind Andy Burnham. Blair even went as far as to say that if this leadership election is a choice between the head and the heart, then some people need a heart transplant.
The trouble is that any campaign against Corbyn, especially by Blair, just seems to strengthen his support. When Corbyn speaks he is very appealing, and comes across as actually having a personality and charisma. This is in contrast to the other contenders who come from an Oxbridge, Special Adviser/Researcher background and are totally lacking in personality and charisma.
More importantly, Corbyn is proposing policies that to my ear are perfectly reasonable and are totally different to the "Tory Lite" utterances of the other contenders. This in manna from heaven for the average Party member.
This is a very important leadership contest for The Labour Party. I don't know if the winner will become the next Labour Prime Minister, but the winner will set the agenda for defining what The Labour Party stands for. The Labour Party was founded to represent the working-class, the poor and those that could not represent themselves, that's why I joined. This being so I will vote for the contender that best represents what I believe, and that person is Jeremy Corbyn.
The alternative is a party with a leader that instructs its MPs to waive through a spiteful Tory Welfare Bill that will reduce thousands of families and children to poverty, and all because we need to appeal to Tory voters. How did this happen?