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The Politics of Fear: Why I'm Getting Sick of the Labour Leadership Contest

19/07/2015 19:59 BST | Updated 19/07/2016 10:59 BST

There is no doubt about it: The Labour leadership race has turned ugly. The politics of fear that was so ruthlessly utilised by the Conservative campaign during the general election is now being used by its previous victims. Some Labour members, supporters, and even MPs from camps of different candidates have resorted to trying to demonise the opponents of their chosen candidates simply because they don't agree with them. I'd like to start by saying that many of the supporters I am referring to are obviously a minority and that most involved in the debate are acting in a perfectly dignified manner, but I have seen enough of it that it has begun to rather annoy me.

Firstly, Liz Kendall. I don't know how many times I can say this, but I wish people would leave Liz Kendall alone, it is not helpful to anyone at all to brand her a "Tory" and tell her to "go and join the Conservative Party!" simply because she disagrees with you and has different ideas to your chosen candidate. In fact, it is actually rather unhelpful, as it just gives the actual Tories and the media more ammunition with which to vilify Labour.

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but isn't this sort of what a leadership contest is all about? Different people, with different ideas, and different plans, debating while members and supporters decide which of the (different) candidates would be best? Therefore, it seems rather silly to me to attempt to insult Kendall with the "you're a Tory" thing, simply because she doesn't agree with the candidate you support - of course she doesn't agree with them, it is a leadership debate, different ideas is what it is all about!

Of course, it is okay to disagree with those ideas and say why, but I think acting like Kendall and her supporters are lacking in morals or decency, whilst telling them to go and join the Conservative party, is not really an acceptable way to behave in a leadership debate when a debate about leadership is exactly what they are contributing to.

Next up, Jeremy Corbyn. Amazingly, some members, supporters, and even MPs have developed the ability to time travel in 2020, read the minds of the entire electorate, and have come back to the present day having discovered that they would not vote for Jeremy Corbyn. Or at least, that is what you would imagine they have done, given the sheer confidence with which certain people have declared that Jeremy Corbyn is "unelectable".

I get it, people don't think that he would get elected, and that is fine, it is of course perfectly acceptable to say "I don't think that Jeremy Corbyn would get elected" as that is a personal opinion. What annoys me is when people brand him as unelectable as though this is a pre-determined fact.

Branding Corbyn "unelectable" is a shameful example of the politics of fear. Some people are trying to scare others into not voting for Jeremy Corbyn, and this is not what the leadership contest is about. If you agree the most with Jeremy Corbyn and see his politics as most similar to your own, you should be allowed to vote for him and go with your gut without being told that you will be personally be held to blame should the Labour party lose in 2020.

People may not agree with Corbyn, but instead of spending all their time trying to convince people not to vote for him and explaining why they think he would be bad, would it not be better for everyone if they dedicated their time to convincing people why the candidate they supported would be good? I am ashamed that some people within the party have now chosen the politics of fear over the politics of hope.

Personally, all of this demonisation of those who don't support the same candidate as you is putting me right off getting involved. If I agreed with Corbyn on something I would be bombarded with "unelectable", if I agreed with Liz Kendall on something I would be told to "go and join the Conservative party!", and if I agreed with Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham I would be told I am being resistant to change and that I want to stick to the ideas that we lost with in 2015, I can't say anything in agreement with anyone without someone condemning me for it.

And if I agree with any candidate that isn't Jeremy Corbyn, a minority of his supporters then seek to condemn me for what they see as a lack of morals, as though you cannot be a good person unless you back Corbyn. In a leadership contest where disagreement, debate, and different ideas is what it is all about, I'm getting pretty sick of the people who are constantly condemning those who don't agree with them simply for not agreeing with them. Can we please try and sort it out?