Corbyn needs to be crushed in the vote. If he’s not, we’ll be out of power for decades and deserve it

by Ian McKenzie

This whole “should Corbyn be on the ballot paper or not” thing is now out of hand. It is really very simple. The left in the Labour party has not been crushed since the mid 1980s around the end of the last era during which they were a malign influencing force. Unless the left are crushed Labour can’t win a general election. Unless Labour wins a general election the Tories will carry on running the country doing things the left and centre left don’t like.

Contrary to popular mythology (including my own at the time), Tony Bair didn’t vanquish the left. Sure, in 1994-5, there was the months-long Clause 4 national tour, I was at its last rally at Crofton Park’s famous Rivoli Ballroom, but the left knew the game was up and faded away. It was all a bit inevitable. What we really needed then, and desperately need now, was to be locked in a room until the fight was won. Blair’s true opposition inside the Labour party wasn’t the left. It was Brown. And we all know how that turned out.

In a few weeks, about a quarter of a million members of the Labour party will receive leadership election ballot papers. Sadly, membership numbers will be swelled by rather too many Trots and Tories to whom some idiot decided to give a vote for the sum of £3, but we will all have a vote.

I expect that Jeremy Corbyn will come last. A lot of people don’t agree. They include some pollsters who told us that a Tory majority was impossible in May 2015, and some bookies, including the one who had to pay me £450 because I thought a Tory majority wasn’t impossible but rather impossible to avoid.

On 12 September, once Jeremy Corbyn has been trounced and the soft and hard lefts humiliated, the Labour party can get back to doing its job of trying to work with and among the vast majority of the British people to bring about a Labour government in the interests of everyone.

But, if I am wrong, if collective amnesia among those who lived the through the 1980s, coupled with the ignorance of those too young to have suffered such times (and who haven’t learned from wiser souls), means that Corbyn and the left are not trounced, and he either wins or fails to come a poor last, then so be it.

If that happens, Labour will not deserve to be taken seriously and certainly not deserve to win anything. We will just have to deal with the consequences. It will be a short while, a couple of years at most, before we are in a position to be able to start rebuilding and preparing for the 15-20 further years in opposition it will usher in.

I wish that the left had been able to see the Blair and early Brown New Labour formula for the Tory-bewildering common sense it was. All they had to do was understand how political compromise works and they could have had an awful lot of the things they wanted along with the National Minimum Wage, 50%+1 trade union recognition, 4 weeks paid holiday, the renovated public infrastructure and much, much else that New Labour achieved.

I wish it but they weren’t able to see it. The left are never happy unless they are wishing for everything and winning nothing. Marching past, and shouting at, empty government office buildings on a Saturday is so rewarding for them and all the more conscience-assuagingly so if the government in question is a Tory government.

This current Corbyn Fest will kill or cure. And what doesn’t kill us will make us stronger. 11% of Labour members are on Twitter and many of them haven’t logged in to Twitter for months. Labour members: have faith in your comrades and colleagues. Trust their common sense. But if they have temporarily misplaced it and Corbyn wins, then follow the example of Labour’s most successful leader ever, the 1982 by-election loser Tony Blair, and dust yourself down, remember you are Labour, and get on with the job of making Labour electable again.

Ian McKenzie was a Special Adviser to Ann Taylor MP and John Prescott MP

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30 Responses to “Corbyn needs to be crushed in the vote. If he’s not, we’ll be out of power for decades and deserve it”

  1. Tafia says:

    Sadly, membership numbers will be swelled by rather too many Trots and Tories

    In Scotland, the Labour Party are claiming that the supposed infiltrators are from the SNP – no mention of trots or tories or UKIP or minions or whatever.

    Starting to look like Custer’s Last Stand or The Downfall.

  2. Paul says:

    Embarrassing stuff. There is a wall of denial around these so called centrists. What is happening is that all those left behind (the welfareless, the young, the renters, the ripped off, the unioners) by Thatcher, New Labour and lately Cameron and co are getting their revenge If Corbyn wins what you gonna do?

  3. steve says:

    It’s not any supposed “collective amnesia” of the those who lived through the 80s that’s the problem – I remember the period very well, and the 70s.

    The problem is presented by those whose amnesia prevents them from remembering events of just a few months ago. Miliband’s Tory-lite austerity, non-alternative was rejected. And Blairite Jim Murphy was devastatingly trounced in Scotland.

    It’s time for a change of direction. After losing two general elections Labour can’t carry on doing what it has been doing and expect a different result 2020.

    Corbyn as leader offers the best chance for renewal of an out-of-touch Labour Party and for a Labour victory in 2020.

  4. Adam Gray says:

    Oh Ian. Ian, Ian, Ian.

    Why on earth do you imagine it will be possible to “rebuild” the party if Corbyn wins the leadership? You make it sound like it’s just something that you’ll be able to do, just because it was possible to do last time the loonies were let loose in the sweetshop.

    What’s the crucial difference between the 1980s and today – or, put it another way: what stopped Benn winning the Deputy Leadership and the Bennites, who’d already overrun many CLPs, from taking full control of the party? It was the union barons. Today, the unions are in the vangard of the loony left (that’s where most of the nutters scuttled to after being booted out of Labour). And, as you note, the CLPs are being re-entered by that repugnant filth some of us battled hard to drive out.

    What lesson did the leadership learn from the 1980s? It was that never again should so much power be invested in constituencies and in conference. So what did they do? They invested it in the leadership and the NEC. Both of which will be in the control of Neo-Militant (yes I mean you, Simon Fletcher) should Corbyn win – and be heavily represented should he not. So that’s the unions, the CLPs and the party machine in the hands of the loony left. And, that being the case, you’ll be right back to the time of MPs having to spend time worrying about whether they’re sufficiently pure enough to get re-adopted rather than persuading the country to vote Labour.

    And then there’s the grassroots right without any convincing leader (sorry Liz, sorry David), incapable of organising a putsch in a brewery (sorry Progress), still in thrall to Tony Blair (move on, for god’s sake) and weaker than it’s ever been. Don’t rail against the loony left when the right has nothing to say of any inspiration whatsoever. Where’s new-new Labour’s shining city on the hill?

    In short, those who want an electable Labour Party aren’t numerous enough to rebuild a party that doesn’t want to be rebuilt. That’s one of several reasons why Liz Kendall is lagging and why barely a quarter of the members polled think electability should be something a leader should pay any attention to.

    I wish you well in the two decades that loom of spending hours, days, weeks and months in CLP meetings battling – and losing to – Neo-Militant over whether paragraph 7 on page 3 of the minutes of the Property Sub Committee of the Executive Committee of the General Committee are accurate; or whether 95% tax on anyone earning anything over the national average wage should be levied or such greedy bastards shouldn’t just be banned from the Socialist Utopia. But as I believe that was one of the circles of hell Dante wrote about please forgive me for not making the same choice. Wasted far too much of my life on that last time round.

  5. David Walker says:

    Chaos, disaster, meltdown. People should try being a little less melodramatic.

    It’s not the end of the world, if the Tories win in 2020. The Tories usually win. What follows is the NHS stays firmly in place and most people keep a roof over their head, food on their table and hold down a job. Life just goes on.

    I’ve always found the Conservatives to be a fairly moderate party and the same could be said about New Labour. I also accept that, for most readers of Labour Uncut, that statement borders on blasphemy.

    I just think that a lot of people have had enough of moderation and want to embark on a journey that offers both risk and potential reward. I’ve got no idea if Corbyn could be successful, but I desperately want to find out. Then again, I would also like to see how things went under UKIP.

    Both a Corbyn-led Labour Party and UKIP offer drastic change to how we live. I should probably just be sensible and accept things how they are. I’m not well-off, but I don’t want for anything much.

    I’m bored with how things are though. I want to see something new, just for the hell of it. Nothing in my life is really going to change, if a moderate Labour Party replaced the Tories in 2020.

    Let’s raise the stakes and give the wheel a spin. Ryan-Air offer cheap-enough flights, should things not turn out so well.

    I’m ready for an adventure!

  6. Vote for Jeremy Corbyn and bring back Labour’s roots to the people that has been missing for 18 years. Vote Jeremy Corbyn for a great ‘new start’ and a future of hope for the UK. For Colbyn is not Cameron who is for the rich and not for the 90% of people who suffer his policies. Corbyn is for the 90% and that’s why he should lead a new resurgent Labour Party as the Country is now ready for it –

    Other than the people moving away, they will join to provide the alternative to Toryism.

  7. John R says:

    Much of what has been written by Ian McKenzie reflects my own pessimism along with what Andy Gray says about the lack of a convincing right-wing contender.

    I’ll just have to explain to my kids that no matter how many demos they go on, how much they “care” or how angry they get about injustice, they will have to realise that we will probably be facing the prospect of 15 years of Conservative Govt.

    And plan their lives accordingly.

  8. JAC says:

    Entryism: None of the organised Trots want to join your party. To them, at the leadership level, you’re a bunch of Tories with trade union funding. The hard left’s main aim these days is to end union funding of your Toryism in the distant hope that they will build a force to the left with the sidelined trade unions.

  9. Mike says:

    In 1976 Callaghan and Healey asked the IMF for a loan because the country had run out of money.

    Thatcher had no choice to implement the IMF reforms from 1979.

    The Left do not understand this or even know this. James Callaghan

    We used to think that you could spend your way out of a recession and increase employment by cutting taxes and boosting government spending. I tell you in all candour that that option no longer exists, and in so far as it ever did exist, it only worked on each occasion since the war by injecting a bigger dose of inflation into the economy, followed by a higher level of unemployment as the next step.

  10. Paul says:

    What’s the point of articles like these? Making the writer feel better about themselves? Have these persuaded a single Corbyn supporter to change their mind? I’m left but pragmatic (voted Burnham last time), and while tempted to vote for Corbyn am worried about his electability and will prob vote AB or YC. Having read this article I now see that a vote for anyone other than Jeremy is a vote to ‘crush’ the left and bring joy to the likes of the writer who mocks the likes of me. We’re all meant to be comrades here, there isn’t a need to attack one another as deranged lefties or Tories. I’m sore tempted to vote for Jeremy after this and similar articles.

  11. Madasafish says:

    Dr David Hill says..
    “For Colbyn is not Cameron who is for the rich and not for the 90% of people who suffer his policies.”

    To comment upon politics and be believable, it helps if you don’t exaggerate.. and do get your sums right …:-)

    Some 38% of those who did vote , voted Conservative,, and 34% of those eligible to vote cared so little that they did not bother to vote..

    So your “10%” is a number plucked out of thin air..

  12. John Stone says:

    The Ian McKenzie’s of this world need to understand why the Corbyn candidacy has inspired so many. The people flocking to Crbyn aren’t entryists and stop pretending they are. They are people like myself who are utterly pissed off at the failure of the labour leadership to offer a structured opposition to the radical conservatism of Osborne and Cameron, at the takeover of the party by naked careerists, triangulators and people whose ambition trumps any vestige of conviction, who speak in some weird code and have no connection with the ordinary folk their party was built to represent. And the failure to tackle inequality and address the growing gulf in social mobility.

    Is it that much of a surprise that a politician speaking their mind using a consistent and simple critique is so popular? Now how can some of Corbyn’s honesty and radicalism rub off onto the other campaigns? The person who responds most effectively to Corbyn and recognises the truths he speaks can win.

  13. tim says:

    Why not split-what’s the big deal? You have two opposing sets of views residing in the same party, and you cannot claim to have roughly the same views on many things. As such, residing in one party just seems stupid and counter productive. If it’s real conviction politics rather than just being obsessed by winning, then the labour party should split in the same way that it did in the 80s.

  14. paul barker says:

    Corbyn is probably set to win big, with around 50% of the vote so wouldnt it make more sense to think about where Labour centrists go next ?
    You could all spend years fighting a civil war – unpleasant & pointless.
    You could set up a “New SDP” – without your own “Gang of Four”.
    Or (drumroll) … you could join the Libdems. OK we are smaller & poorer than Labourites are used to but we are fairly united & we are (mostly) polite to each other; that would make a nice change surely ?

  15. Tafia says:

    Akira Origami – Makes no difference who Labour’s welsh MPs vote for – none of the four candidates will ever be PM.

    Labour’s big mistake is not accepting that they won’t win in 2020. If they acceoted that and concentrated instead on picking someone who will be an effective Leader of the Opposition then they would find things a lot easier.

    The next Labour PM will be in 2025 at the earliest and won’t be any of those four. In addition, 2025 is not a God-given. It will all depend on how effective the next Leader is in Opposition.

  16. john P Reid says:

    Paul barker,i think we’ll spend a few years away come back pick up the pieces in 2020 and hope our kids can win by 2050

  17. Pete Smyth says:

    Another article by another old man haunted by the spectre of 1983 and still in thrall to the spirit of 1997. Corbyn isn’t a trot or an extremist. He’s pragmatic, principled and popular with the young. He offers a genuine alternative to the Tories and policies that have been trialled and succeeded in other European countries like Germany.

  18. swatantra says:

    B*lls! Live with it.

  19. Benjamin Mackie says:

    I think what is happening is that people are realising how radical the Tories are.

    They aim to demolish the welfare state, privatise the NHS (and make it fee paying – see their latest inquiry to do this) and sell off as much of the public realm as possible. This is the radical right in action and its happening now.

    Blairite accommodation with this agenda – an agenda far more radical then when Major was in power – seems far less palatable to the party than when nice Mr Major was in power.

    And yet the Blairites say the same thing: triangulate, triangulate, triangulate! Moderation, moderation! But moderation and compromise in the face of an extremist and powerful enemy does not result in some sort of acceptable compromise – we just end up with more extremism.

  20. Derek Robinson says:

    ” Contrary to popular mythology (including my own at the time), Tony Blair didn’t vanquish the left. ” …….
    So you were wrong then, what makes you think your judgement is any better now ?

    I lived through the eighties thank you and know well the result of it.
    A lot of repair and good was done by Labour but it all went wrong because of the abandonment of any structured move to the left and Blair’s grandeur. Rather than use the success wisely Labour just sucked on it for all it was worth and became like the pigs they were supposed to usurp.

    What you are defending is a party who cannot win even against the most divisive, hateful and right wing party this country can remember if ever.

    The election of any of the right wing dullards that are standing for Leadership would be a greater disaster than Corbyn could ever be.

    Labour need to capture their spirit and we may then have a chance of getting our missing millions of votes back.

    As for ‘membership numbers will be swelled by rather too many ‘Trots and Tories’: I believe they number around 18,000 that is a lot less than the number that have joined as full members since the last election. The ‘Trots and Tories’ are in fact probably rather less than the hysteria suggests. Many are just people who think Labour need to show some sort of mettle and many of which will join fully if Corbyn is elected.

    Their is only so much a party can do if the public turns against it. New Labour turned itself inside out and still got dumped. Being eventually viewed unfairly as at fault for the recession rather than than the act of putting us back to growth inside two years, a truly remarkable feat.

    Their is a line in the sand that Labour shouldn’t cross, people had their chance to elect Milliband but chose not to. They are going to have to learn the hard way, and eventually they will, because if there is one thing we can rely on is that the Tories will decimate everything in sight……
    A right wing Labour party is not going to be able to pick the pieces up so easy after this mob. We will need to be really really radical to sort this mess out and none of the three stooges are remotely up to the job. All we can do now is rebuild, plan and wait for our time, for it will come.

  21. Sam says:

    Well, someone needs to take a valium.

  22. Robert Jones says:

    Obviously sad stuff, but I want to deal with just one part of it. I was a Labour Agent in 1983, in the most no-hope constituency in Britain (the Isle of Wight). We had a Militant Tendency candidate, but she was quite a capable one: of higher calibre as a person than any of those opposing her, with whom she could wipe the floor in argument: however – Militant was a disaster; our vote was squeezed by the fierce competition between Tories and Labour; we had the manifesto of the day; we had a commitment to unilateralism; we thus – didn’t stand a chance.

    That should have made me bitterly anti-left; in some respects, it did – I led the moves to expel Militant in my CLP, and by the way, I don’t regret that at all in political terms; I do regret the sundering of personal relationships. But I’d do it again if I had to.

    Having been through that – having been indeed through perhaps the very worst of that, since our vote on the Isle of Wight was a rout – I know just what 1983 felt like, what caused it, what it entailed. And no element of it, none at all, bears the least resemblance to 2015; it is so totally different that no inference can be drawn: many people around then are dead now, to start with. Attitudes were different. All the objective circumstances were different.

    You are trying to frighten people with a spectre which is wholly irrelevant to the circumstances of today, either because you don’t understand, or because you do but trust others won’t. If you had an argument, you would deploy it: you don’t, so I conclude you haven’t – you’re just wallowing in ad hominem abuse.

    Those whom you favour deserve better than you are capable of delivering for them. And it isn’t going to work, I suspect: can you really do no better than insult,bully, and attempt to dispirit? If yours is the way forward, it’s a cynical, soulless, vacuous way – a way which despises argument, dismisses hope, insults others and demeans you.

  23. Cheryl says:

    The Labour party are unelectable in their current state. That’s why they failed to get elected. Again.

    Corbyn offers hope, of an end to pandering to the right and politicians who all sound the same and who abstain rather than having the courage to oppose.

  24. Al Lomax says:

    What a bitter and poisoned article from Ian McKenzie. Not surprisingly, this isn’t the first, “Vote Corbyn and put Labour out of power for the next 20 years” type-article, I’ve read today. The right-wing of the Labour Party are going flat out to scare the membership back into the status quo.

    McKenzie talks about crushing the Left. I was there when Kinnock betrayed the miners in 1984, and I remember the Blair years, in the Labour Party well, when we turned up to policy forums organised by the Party apparatchiks, where we were simply told what the Party’s policies where, no debate, take it or leave it, was the polite sub-text. Yes, New Labour did some good things, and I’m not knocking them, but they came at a cost. What we have know is a Party that was turned into a power-grabbing spin machine, disconnected from its grass-roots, run by middle-class entryists.

    What Ian McKenzie and the rest of the Progress people don’t get is that ‘New Labour’ is now dead. The ‘Keep to the Centre ground’ narrative is a narrative the electorate no longer want. That’s why we lost the last election. Get it?

    The present crop of leadership candidates, apart from Corbyn are singularly unimpressive, seeming to stand for nothing in particular. A pointless ‘Which Blair Project’.

    The most important thing is that Corbyn is galvanising the grass-roots membership, and the Blairite wing of the Party must now accept that they have their day and are no longer in control.

  25. Simon Lee says:

    What is most revealing about this article is that it makes no mention of a single Corbyn policy. Instead, the author makes sweeping statememts about “the left” in the same way that American right-wingers mindlessly dismiss anyone to the left of themselves as “communists”. It is tribal and rather childish.

    A more helpful analysis would take stock of what the factors and circumstances were that made Blair and the so-called “third way” policies of New Labour so distinctive and appropriate at the time (which I agree they were), how the social and economic context has shifted since, and what solutions are now best suited to renewing the New Labour mission of social justice with economic stability and success. What was right in 1997 may not be right 18 years later.

  26. ailybee says:

    We have simply claimed our party back from the Tory lite – who spout this rubbish. You are out of touch with what people want

  27. chris hankinson says:

    As on older Labour voter who remembers Hugh Gaitskill, a fiery Benn, Wilson etc. I can only look on and wonder at the lack of principles at work within the current party. Labour should represent a real alternative, not just be Tory lite, the current crop seem to be he’ll bent on re-election by pandering to the basest instincts of the Middle Class right. True Labour supporters vote with passion and compassion because they know what is right. My father was a high level executive with an international company, yet our house was the Committee rooms for the local Labour Party, his view, which I echo is “from each according to their capacity, to each according to their needs” a true Labour member, not a career grabbing, back stabbing member of the political elite who want power for itself without regard to the consequences.

  28. John P Reid says:

    Al lomas, we swung from the centre ground to the left at the last election, and if the public dint want the centre ground,apart from scotlandhy didn’t the greens do better.
    There is more to the centre ground than Blairites Progress.

    Well said Ailybee

  29. simon cockerham says:

    you anti corbyn people are insane, you want to win an election by being the same grey party as everyone else.
    labour is supposed to be socialist, and i for one have registered to vote for the first time in the 20 years i have been able to, just in case corbyn gets in.

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