“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
On 12th July I paid my £3.00 and registered as a Labour supporter so I could vote for the leader. A week or so earlier Jeremy Corbyn had scraped onto the ballot at the last moment after having just received one over the 35 nominations from fellow Labour MPs that he needed to be included in the race with Liz Kendall, Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper. Nobody believed that Corbyn had a chance, he didn’t believe it himself. The three MPs who backed him at the last minute said they did so to broaden the debate. They would let him have his moment as a sop to the party’s left wing and then put him back in his box so they could get on with the proper business of politics, that is, doing and saying whatever would please an electorate whose beliefs were shaped by a mainstream media owned by the corporatocracy.
No one believed he had a chance, not even Jeremy himself, but from the moment he planted his standard an army of supporters, people who were invisible in the party of Blair and Brown and Miliband, gathered around Jeremy and it soon became clear that this would be no token opposition and he wasn’t going to be put back into his box any time soon. Suddenly Jeremy was the only candidate anyone was talking about. The princes of Labour were calling him ‘unelectable’ in tune with the Tories and the Tory media. But then United and other unions gave him their support, Constituency Labour Party organisations (CLPs) and local councillors started backing him. The princes panicked; Chuka Ummuna described the support for Jeremy as the Party “behaving like a petulant child who has been told you can’t have the sweeties in the sweet shop … running around stamping our feet, screaming at the electorate [who had supposedly rejected a Left agenda] when ultimately what we need to do is meet people where they are at, not necessarily where we would want them to be”.
The way Chukka frames this is that he wants the party to ‘box clever’ so they can get back into power but he comes across as a man without moral principles believing that the public has no moral principles and have to be tricked into voting for what’s in their own interest. He talks about warfare and welfare like a Tory and epitomises what I intend when I use the term ‘princes’ (generically to include ‘princesses’ also.) to describe the current leaders of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Tony Blair has also intervened to give the same message as Chuka Ummuna and he is even less convincing:
The problem for the princes is that while they talk about Corbyn he talks about principles and policy. In this friendly interview Afshin Rattansi of the excellent RT programme ‘Going Underground‘ asks Jeremy Corbyn why he has been consistently right on issues where his rivals were wrong:
Corbyn’s interview with Channel 4’s Krishnan Guru-Murthy was more difficult. Guru-Murthy could hardly be called anything less than rude. I must admit that watching Jeremy lose his temper was, embarrassingly, like looking into a mirror. Jeremy is not much older than I am and I wondered if it was an age thing but I think I might have been like this for a long time so it’s probably just a personality thing. Still, despite Guru-Murthy’s approach Jeremy got his points across and to my mind looked like the rational speaker. Guru-Murthy’s aggressive, quick fire, questioning, though extremely irritating, were easy to bat away and did not challenge Jeremy’s position in any depth:
Although I favour Jeremy I would like to see his positions much more thoroughly tested and I am disappointed that this is not happening. If, as his rivals claim, he is sending the party and the country in the wrong direction then they need to be more explicit on what is wrong with his positions. It’s not enough to say he ‘unelectable’ they need to show why he should be unelectable, they need to show why his principles and policies won’t work. They haven’t come close to doing that in reasoned debate and I can only think it’s because they can’t.