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Remember, With Political Party Membership Comes Responsibility

05/07/2016 16:26 | Updated 05 July 2016

I firmly believe that with political party membership comes responsibility.

Responsibility, of course to the party, but also responsibility to the country. As the custodian of a political party it is left to us, the members, to select those who represent us and, if you're a member of a mainstream political party, possible the country at large.

It's a responsibility that may not even register with some party members but it's one which, at this time of unprecedented unrest and upheaval at Westminster, should weigh a little heavier.

I'm a member of the Labour Party because I honestly believe that a Labour Government - and that is the key term here - is the right choice to ensure we have a Britain in which every part of society succeeds.

Increasingly over the last few weeks, as warring factions within the party have begun to tear it apart from within, I've been left wondering how many other members - old and new - truly understand the impact their decisions they have beyond their constituencies.

We're told there's been a ground swell of new members and many in the pro-Jeremy Corbyn camp are saying that these new members have joined the Labour Party to support the beleaguered leader.

But, if that is the case, then I do fear for the party because the dynamic of what we are and what we have always been is changing beyond recognition.

I've a lot of admiration for what Jeremy achieved when he stood for the leadership last year and I think his election to the top job - whilst a surprise probably even to him - allowed us to move on from the ill-fated Ed Miliband 'era'.

But the problem since then is that the new regime just hasn't been very good. Ineffective as an opposition, Labour risk becoming a complete irrelevance with this lurch towards a far left agenda that no-one outside of the small pocket of people really has the stomach for.

There's accusations on social media that the press - and more centre-leaning members of the party - are misrepresenting the size of Jeremy Corbyn's support but the numbers are pretty simple.

He polled just over 250,000 votes last year which was roughly 60% of the Labour Party's membership at the time. I do not doubt that is a big mandate. Inside the Labour Party.

Let's, for argument's sake, say that he's pretty much retained that level of support even though some polls - remember them? - are suggesting his support has dipped a little since last September.

The party has also seen a surge of around 60,000 new members in the week since this 'coup' against Corbyn began. Of these new members, 20,000 have so far been checked and over half are those are believed to have signed up in support of him.

That gives him a supporter base - within the Labour Party's grassroots let's not forget - of around about 270,000 to 300,000.

Elsewhere within the movement he's losing friends and fast. And we've not even come onto the country at large yet.

There's growing union unease in his leadership, especially among rank and file members if not yet the top brass, and 172 of his MPs - more than 80% in old money - voted in favour of a motion of no confidence in him.

More than 600 councillors have also urged him to step down and support for his continued leadership is split among constituency Labour parties, albeit with a couple of high profile supporters including the Wallasey CLP of Angela Eagle who had been expected to be the one to trigger a direct challenge.

Heck, even David Cameron - who knows a thing or two himself about coups - urged Corbyn go at another lacklustre PMQs last week.

The list goes on. But for some reason Corbyn - backed up by his band of Momentum buddies - ploughs on.

I like grassroots movements but the problem with them is that they're not always going to necessarily appeal to everyone.

As we have seen in the Democratic Party US presidential nomination contest, great things can happen when lots of people swell behind a cause.

There's no doubting that Bernie Sanders emergence has been good for US politics but it was never going to have the legs to carry him to the White House.

What it has done is dictate the agenda and made Hilary Clinton, the now-presumptive nominee, sit up and take notice. It's changed American politics for the next generation.

The trouble with Corbyn's grassroots movement is it risks setting the Labour Party back a generation or destroying it altogether.

The behaviour of some within the movement has been shameful at best and downright disgusting at worse, targeting MPs and anyone who dares to speak out against Corbyn with anti-Semitic smears and threats of physical violence towards them and even family members.

A new type of politics eh?

The longer Corbyn hangs on the more the support for Labour outside the party walls is going to wane and what's the point of a Labour Party in opposition, let alone one in opposition in which the leader's performances never quite hit the bill and where 80-odd percent of its MPs have the knives out?

The country, I firmly believe, needs a Labour Government and, if the leadership challenge does materialise as expected, every single member of the party needs to exercise their responsibility very carefully indeed.

Do we want to be a protest movement that never looks beyond the outer ring or do we want to be a party in power where real changes to people's life can be made?

If we decide the latter then the Jeremy Corbyn experiment, which swept through like a breath of fresh air initially nine months ago, needs to be brought to an end, however bloody that may be.

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