Moderates must wait to challenge Corbyn

by Atul Hatwal

Friday 6th May  2016 could be the date that Labour’s slow awakening began.

For moderates, the electoral consequences of Jeremy Corbyn have  always been obvious. This dreadful set of election results is confirmation of the expected.

But it doesn’t matter how angry moderates are at the loss of English council seats, the reverses in Wales or the devastation in Scotland. Corbyn, or a hard left alternative, can only be beaten in a vote of the membership and supporters.

What matters most is how Labour’s internal swing vote, the soft left, react to the results.

At last year’s leadership election, their position could be characterised as apathy at a return to Brownite grind with Yvette; outright opposition to the late-Blair confrontation proffered by Liz and scepticism at Andy Burnham’s all too effective impression of Ed Miliband’s muddled equivocation.

In the absence of an alternative, Labour’s largest grouping voted for the only choice not to have failed them in the past twenty years – Jeremy Corbyn’s hard left dreaming.

It’s quite a shift to go from there to defenestrating Corbyn, eight months later.

Until now the soft left stance has largely been to give Jeremy Corbyn the benefit of the doubt.

“Sour grapes” is a phrase I’ve heard frequently used to describe the moderate response to the leader. The narrative about “Bitterites” and internal division undermining Labour’s message has gained some traction.

But given the paucity of Labour’s performance, to blame everything on the enemy within, a phantom army of Blairites, simply isn’t credible.

The Conservative party has been in a state of open civil war over the EU referendum but they still performed amazingly strongly for a government that is in it’s sixth year.

Up and down the country, local Labour parties have seen months of doorstep effort count for nothing when the votes have been tallied.

If the best that Jeremy Corbyn can say about these results is that “Labour hung on,” questions will start to be asked by those who have been supportive if not convinced.

For the first time under in Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure as leader, moderates have permission to speak within Labour’s grassroots debate.

To paraphrase Churchill, in the moderates’ battle for the party, this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

Atul Hatwal is editor of Uncut

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15 Responses to “Moderates must wait to challenge Corbyn”

  1. John Kelly says:

    You Bitterights get worse. All serious and especially independent observers thought that as 2012 was such a high water mark Labour would lose 100 to 200 seats and control of a few Councils.

    The results are much much better than that (admittedly not all the results are in, but) Labour (council seat) losses can be counted in the 10s, not hundreds. We have only lost 1 Council, Dudley but only to NOC. All other councils that were thought to be at risk (Crawley, Southampton, Exeter etc) have been held. The real question that should be asked is why, as the 2012 results were such a disaster for the Tories, they haven’t been able to make many gains? You, the rest of the right wing and the media are letting them off the hook.

  2. TCO says:

    The aroma of the fine-ground Arabica is circulating around the room; the moderate, liberal members and elected representatives are starting to stir … when will their olfactory senses start to twitch, I wonder?

    The Labour membership isn’t going to return to an electable leader anytime soon. Never would be the closest estimate.

  3. Peter Kenny says:

    I am always interested in the label “moderate” – since it is usually claimed by people in favour of or responsible for: having weapons of mass destruction, invading other people’s countries, crashing the economy through failing to regulate the financial sector, cosying up to oligarchic press barons and generally giving the ultra rich an easy time, while being willing to visit cuts and marketisation to the rest of us – I must say they seem pretty extreme to me!

    What I would say is for god’s sake don’t wait – if you’ve got something to do to “save” us (when you can’t save yourselves!) get on with it! Margaret Hodge? Dan Jarvis? The Lone Ranger? Whoever they are please let them stand, then we can have a debate!

    Oh by the way the results were mixed – disaster in Scotland, holding on to 2012 elsewhere, probably excellent in London. Scotland aside pretty good for a radically different kind of leader, surrounded by baying hounds, 8 months in.

    What would you have said of these results said if Liz Kendall had won? – “time, slow process, building on successes, blah”

    Now, Scotland has been a long time coming – however the key ‘over the cliff’ point was Labour leading the cross party ‘No’ campaign, finally convincing a key section of our support after years of patronising taking for granted that we really were ‘Red Tories’. Just the kind of elite huddle ‘moderates’ really like, all establishment pals together being ‘responsible’.

    It’s why Corbyn is exactly right to keep the Tories at a long arms length for the EU referendum. It’s done now but in Scotland we needed a distinct Labour ‘No’ campaign. Looks like we’re screwed there until the SNP mess up.

  4. TCO says:

    To add – you seem to presume that the membership prefers pragamatism to ideological purity. I don’t think that presumption holds.

  5. paul barker says:

    Genuine Labour “Moderates” dont have to wait, they can join The Libdems today. The Libdem recovery is already well under way but we would welcome Social Democrats from Labour. The promised Labour Coup has already been put back till next summer, my feeling is that like a rainbow, it will keep receding.

  6. It must be gut-wrenching, Atul.

    Labour social democrats put their heart and soul into getting Labour councillors elected. You know from the sore feet treading the doorsteps of Britain, how out of touch Corbyn is with ordinary people’s concerns.

    If only you could get the followers of Corbyn not just to deliver leaflets, but to join you in doorstep conversations in key marginals, talking to the kind of people Labour would need to win over to take power.

    But instead, too many Labour members stay in their political echo chambers, both online and offline. They are simply unaware of what the average voter thinks.

    If you could persuade every Labour member to come canvassing in marginal wards, maybe you could turn things around. But how can you possibly get them to do that?

  7. Peter Kenny says:

    Hi Paul Barker – congratulations on your magnificent fightback.

    Please take as many of this lot as you possibly can.

    Actually you’ll get none because there are few real prospects in your party but keep on trying, even one would be a help.

  8. Rob W says:

    I mean come on – Jeremy’s had his chance. Right?

    He’s had an entire eight months to turn the party’s fortunes around.

    I can’t believe he hasn’t fixed in eight months what it took our New Labour friends thirteen years to screw up.

  9. Anne says:

    Leadership is difficult, and there are very few perfect leaders – having good leadership qualities is a good start and yes appearance does matter – it is how people perceive that leader. Being a good speaker, commanding an audience, being personable, able to present an idea and argument – having good, workable policies is helpful. These are all qualities of a good leader. Labour has yet to find this person who has these qualities and until it does it will fall further and further down into a big black hole. Divided parties do not win elections. Even with the right leader it will be an uphill struggle to win back public trust – not impossible – look at the rise of Nicola Sturgeon in Scotland – difficult to see anyone knocking her off her pedestal.

  10. John P. Reid says:

    In all fairness to Kendal she understood the challenge in Scotland is so far way,it would be better to target seats that we didn’t even win in England in 1997 to win.
    Outside of the Mayor election,but this even includes labour on the Assembly, the share of the electorate voting was down 45%, to the 45.5% in 2008′ so it wasn’t labour a vote held or went up, out share may have gone up due to lower turnouts
    So the idea it would translate well at a general election is based on the idea, we hope those Tories who abstained Yesterday,will abstain in 2020

    There are elections next year but the 2018 ones will be more Decissive, I even saw Richard Dugher MP saying labour lost in Scotland due to the New labour years in power, without thinking Scottish labour,said they’d put the basic rate of tax up,and have swung labour to the left
    The result in Scotland, saw the SNP vote the same,and labour fall, and the Tories go up,as such the only possible explanation,Is some ex Labour in Scotland voted Tory, WHY?, because they feel labour is too left wing so voted Tory.

  11. John P. Reid says:

    Rob W what do you men labour had 13 years to screw up,how e et bad labour so 2010 result was,it was still better than 1983 and Kinnock, Blair brown, increased labour a vote from that time
    What was really bad was labour had, the right vote split with Ukip, the ex libdem vote coming over to U.S.,due to the coalition in 2010, and boundaries in our favor,and we spent 2010-2015 denouncing new labour and its achievements,and praised the second biggest mistake we made while in power spending too much money, to the point, we lost every argument in 2015 and only held on due to loyalty, having a fighting sprint, and some of the fruits we’d achieved while in power like the Olympics coming to fruition,

  12. Mike Homfray says:

    The right wing will have to find a candidate who will be able to beat Jeremy in a contest.
    So far the names mentioned have been absolute non starters. Anyone who voted for attacking Syria is out for a start. Anyone who has slagged off Jeremy won’t gain the votes either.

  13. Anne says:

    There is far too much energy devoted to looking back into the past and attributating blame- let’s concentrate on the here and now. What are the issues facing the UK today – what are our policies to address these issues – have we got the right people in place to deliver. Until the Labour Party begins to move on and think about today and plan for tomorrow – other parties will fill that vacancy.

  14. We have to right off Scotland for the conceivable future. Politics in Scotland is no longer really about left and right but about being pro-independence or pro-union.
    As Paul Mason puts it

    “Scottish politics have polarised between a project of left-led independence and conservative unionism. Labour is trapped in the middle and needs to decide which side it’s on. Meanwhile it looks like some of unionist vote has now switched to the Tories. “

    The Tories official name in Scotland is “The Conservative and Unionist Party” The switch of the unionist vote to the Tories is most obviously seen in the collapse of the Lib-Dem vote in what used to be one of their areas the Scottish Borders. The Borders is very pro-union and it seems to me that all the pro-union votes there went to the Tory.
    Jeremy Corbyn has made no difference in Scotland, but neither would any of the other candidates. Politics there has moved on and I don’t think there is anything that we can do to catch up. There doesn’t seem to be a space for a left-leaning pro unionist party.
    So we need to focus our attention on how to gain seats in England and how to forge alliances with the Nationalists, Lib Dems and Greens in order to form a Government in 2020. I’m not sure Jeremy Corbin is capable of doing this, but as he was democratically elected I am willing for the time being to let him try. If he can’t then we need someone new in place by 2018.

  15. John P Reid says:

    Mike Homfray,anyone who slagged off Jeremy,so that’s Abbott over sex workers, or Sadiw out the equation then

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