Why the Labour leadership contest reminds me of the Scottish Referendum…

by Pseud O'Nym

I know. It does on the face of it seem farfetched. But suspend your disbelief for just enough time as it takes for you read this post. This post won’t be a long one because instead of typing this, I should be re-editing a radio play I’m submitting to the BBC’s Writers Room, the deadline for which has the all of the approaching imminence of old age. In two weeks in fact. Also, with time being of the essence and all that, there are no links that you can click on to verify my claims. This is because a) I can see from my stats that hardly anyone clicks on them and b) much more importantly, I can’t be rsed.

Anyway. One thing that the Scottish Referendum proved was that young people aren’t apathetic about politics; it’s just that they don’t see it as having any real relevance to their lives. The political class and the media were agog at this seemingly sudden transformation, proclaiming that in order to capitalize on this activism by the young that there couldn’t, there mustn’t be a return to the old way of doing things. Young voters engaged with the political process was a good thing – as long as the engagement didn’t lead to a marriage.

Fortunately the ‘yes’ campaign lost, and by that I mean it’s all well and good people being enthused in large numbers, but only if they have the good manners to be on the losing side. And then the politics that could never go back to how it was, went back to how it was. The promises that were made at the last minute resembled nothing more than a panic stricken husband, who seeing his wife’s suitcase packed at the door promises to change, to give up this, to start that, anything to stop her leaving. Knowing even as he makes them he has no intention of carrying them out.

Another similarity between the Labour leadership vote and the Scottish referendum was the overwhelmingly negative campaign orchestrated by those who wanted to maintain the status quo. The ‘better together’ campaign might as well have had the funeral march as their campaign theme song; so unrelenting were the dire warnings of the terrible consequences of a ‘yes’ vote. Or at any rate, that’s what the media in England were feeding us.

The Labour leadership campaign has been run in a way that firmly embeds in the electorates mind that not only that here is a party at loggerheads with it’s founding principles, but more worryingly that three of the four candidates will say anything to cravenly appeal to them. That’s if the electorate can work out what they’re saying in the first place, as this clip demonstrates giving a simple answer to a simple question is somehow beyond three of them.

The Labour leadership has also demonstrated a quite breathtaking contempt for people – mainly young, who’ve never felt enthused by politics before – in claiming that people are only joining the Labour party to undermine it. If anyone is guilty of undermining the Labour party it’s the existing Labour leadership, Labour MP’s and grandees who are helpfully given media exposure to spread fear and uncertainty.

Tony Blair advising people not to vote for Jeremy Corbyn is a de facto endorsement to many who feel that under Blair, Labour saw winning as more important than doing and therefore moved so far the right they became wrong. Mandelson? Campbell? Their egotism in thinking they have any credibility with anyone is matched only by the platform they given in the media. If one were cynical one might think that an almost exclusively right wing press has a vested interest in running these stories with such prominence.

If you haven’t already guessed, I joined the Labour party as a supporter specifically to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. And I immediately got bombarded with emails from all of the other candidates asking me if I’d voted for them. Keen to do the very thing that the leadership and media verbwhores have been banging on about, I told them all I’d voted for them. In a way, this typifies why I’ve never joined a political party before, mainly because of what politicians say when they want your vote is watered down when they win. At least with Corbyn, any watering down he will make, will still make him more of a socialist than the other three.

And in what universe is Corbyn a radical? He’s only radical when compared to his rival candidates, who, lest we forget, all voted for the governments’ welfare cuts. This in itself proves how unfit they are to lead a party which champions – in theory – social justice, not just because they voted for it in the first place, which is unforgiveable. But also for the contempt inherent in such an act, contempt for the people whose vote they would later rely on. They knew a leadership contest was in the offing and still they did it?

One more thing before I get back to what I should be doing. Is it possible that young and old people have joined the Labour party because they finally hear someone articulating thoughts they knew they had and thoughts they never knew they had? And furthermore, is it possible that if Corbyn wins the Labour leadership and after five more years of toiling under the Conservative yoke, that the electorate might see things in a different light, and replace the farmer?

So much for this being a short post…..