It’s worth sharing this experience of one Labour Party member who voted in favour of Jeremy Corbyn last year attending a meeting of her local Bristol Labour Party last night. It’s getting very rough in there. To the point at which the Labour party no longer looks like a going concern:
Labour’s problem is that it doesn’t seem to know enough to make the arguments needed to preserve itself, any more than it has been able to defend European democracy, or even representative democracy (as I argued here). I don’t believe social democracy deserves to die in the UK, but it’s hard to argue that The Labour Party deserves to live much longer.
It seems to be going nowhere for the party’s public representatives, especially now the big Unions have turned on them and told them they have to run a candidate in the leadership election, final outcome over which the rebels entertain few illusions:
One senior MP told The Telegraph: “It’s finished. He will win easily in a second contest if he is on the ballot, it’s everything we wanted to avoid.”
They added: “He is losing support of the membership by the day, there is no doubt about that, but they just sign up new members to replace them. He is Teflon in that sense.”
There is nothing else on the business agenda for the Labour party, except ‘are you one of us or one of them’. The paranoia is palpable, as this report from a young female activist in Bristol who voted for Corbyn just last year:
At one point I did speak up out of sheer frustration, and point out that those who shout the loudest aren’t necessarily the majority. The man next to me then pounced on me, telling me that “your lot” are trying to oust Corbyn.
He called me a traitor and a conspirator, without even bothering to find out anything about me. If he had, he would know that I voted for Corbyn last year, but have had my reservations and now feel that he’s not the right leader for our party.
I tried to explain that I wasn’t interested in taking sides on the Corbyn issue, that I was just trying to call for some respectful and tolerant discussion, but he continued to patronise me and shout me down. I could feel the angry tears pricking the corners of my eyes and I knew that if I cried I would be dismissed as a weak young woman, so I shut up. Which is exactly what he and the others like him wanted.
All’s fair in love and class war, it seems. All civil wars are nasty, and this is only going to get worse. And it’s only going to go one way, with the actual Labour party taking up the role of the old SDP.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty