Siobhan Tolland: Ousting Corbyn would leave a political vacuum for the ultra-right to fill

08/07/2016
angela

CommonSpace columnist Siobhan Tolland says the Labour leadership crisis has been like watching a bad soap opera

WHY am I so fascinated by English Labour? Looking to the future of Scotland I find myself drawn to it, almost transfixed. I want to crawl out of my own skin just to avoid watching it.

Yet I still I watch and watch, and consume myself. Fulfilling my supressed desire to watch soap operas, I think. Or is it my slight penchant for the Schadenfreude? Both, perhaps.

Other countries looking in will easily mistake our political machinations for a bad soap, though. All poor acting and subtitles. Set in Westminster. Starring Jeremy Corbyn. And introducing the parliamentary labour party as Iago. How will Jeremy Corbyn survive? Big drum beat – dum dum dum!

I am glad Jeremy Corbyn gave the parliamentary Labour party a nice but firm affirmation of his position. Very politely put, but basically a 'put up or shut up'.

I mean, good God, have you ever seen anything like it? Well, apart from the Tories. Both have factions that want to drag the other half to the right – or more right. They definitely must see a nation in crisis. Ripping itself apart.

I am glad Jeremy Corbyn gave the parliamentary Labour party a nice but firm affirmation of his position. Very politely put, but basically a 'put up or shut up'. I hope it is resolved soon, otherwise Angela Eagle will definitely, maybe, sometime soon, if the weather is nice, challenge him. Iago had more courage, for sure. He was at least competent.

The PLP are functioning like Manchurian candidates. Sitting in waiting for the trigger words 'Tony Blair' and 'Tory crisis'. Every time, a Labour robot immediately jumps into action. Overthrow Corbyn, overthrow Corbyn.

It’s like they are tied to the Tories with a huge permanent elastic band. They just cannot move too far from the the rightwing-ness of the Conservatives or they get an almighty elastic twang on their arm.

I hope it is resolved soon, otherwise Angela Eagle will definitely, maybe, sometime soon, if the weather is nice, challenge him.

Westminster is in crisis. The ultra-right stirred up a hornet’s nest that was Brexit and didn’t bother with any plan. If it was on a soap you’d moan that that 'would never happen'.

And as the Tories are in disarray and the shift to the right threatens to tear them apart, what do the opposition do? They have the biggest public bar fight you can ever imagine. Oh God, it’s like an Eastenders Christmas special.

To be fair, it is very difficult to avoid the three million-watt spotlights of the media when they pursue microscopic analysis of Corbyn’s every move, shouting the tiniest blemishes from the rooftops. You know, like they do with SNP. Affording respect and privacy to the Conservative party in-fighting, however, is something they can do very well.

So here were are facing a deep, 9.8 seismic shock of Brexit and instead of trying to heal any wounds, the PLP seems intent on throwing Corbyn under the rubble. I feel for England now. We can’t avoid the reality that many voted Brexit out of desperation. 
Austerity is gripping and people are terrified. But the political 'solution' on offer is a rightwing xenophobic one. And this is winning, as many people in England have grabbed on to that.

I feel relieved, though, that we, in Scotland, have a healthier, social democratic and more focused alternative. But England needs that, too, even more so now. Corbyn could facilitate this. We know this from the way tens of thousands became invigorated by the politics of Corbyn’s emerging leadership, and the 100,000 people who have joined since this fiasco began.

Westminster is in crisis. The ultra-right stirred up a hornet’s nest that was Brexit and didn’t bother with any plan. If it was on a soap you’d moan that that 'would never happen'.

Corbyn – and the movement behind him – is the only credible hope England has of channelling the mass discontent of the existing social system into a positive, equal and social democratic structure, and a strong and genuine Labour party is genuinely the only hope of that country not descending into neo-fascist authoritarian rule.

And so as these choices become ever too apparent in the Brexit chaos, the parliamentary Labour party chooses to dismantle and destroy the one chance of building the alternative. It is a betrayal of Ramsay MacDonald proportions.

Shame on you, parliamentary Labour party. This is not about destroying Jeremy Corbyn, and it’s not just about trying to avoid a whole host of morality and justice being thrown at Blair after Chilcot. This is about destroying the one avenue for a positive political vision that England has. The Corbyn movement gave hope very distinct from a Nigel Farage-type hope.

The destruction of Corbyn would create a political vacuum that only the right would fill – to the brim. England would exist on a single rightwing and xenophobic structure, with only varying degrees of rightwing-ness. Xenophobia for everyone. Roll up, roll up!

And that will be down to the PLP. The one chance, the one focus England has of defeating the ultra-right and the PLP, to its utter shame, wants to destroy it.

Corbyn – and the movement behind him – is the only credible hope England has of channelling the mass discontent of the existing social system into a positive, equal and social democratic structure.

I don’t know whether Corbyn is the best person to carve out a social democratic model in England: his leadership skills may be somewhat lacking. But I think we can now definitely say that the parliamentary Labour party definitely cannot, or should not, lead the party – morally as well as strategically.

You know what is totally sad? Like a typical soap, we saw this plot coming a mile off.

Picture courtesy of Clara

Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.