Having been forced to suffer the debate between pro and anti Corbyn campaigners, and found myself summarising the content into an exchange between two imaginary people, Tom being in favour of Corbyn, and Jennifer being firmly against. If it were recorded as a transcript, it would have read something like this:
JENNIFER: "The Tories are failing Britain. Inequality is rising, and the Eton elite don't care! Those at the top of the tree seem to override the needs of the ordinary working man and woman! We need change!"
TOM: "Absolutely. That is why I support Jeremy Corbyn. He offers something different. Like you said, we need a change."
JENNIFER: "What? Why? You can't support Corbyn! He's unelectable!"
TOM: "Is he? Says who?"
JENNIFER: "Oh come on! You know he is! People voted for Tony Blair! They don't want Corbyn!"
TOM: "No, seriously, hang on. Who is saying he is unelectable?"
JENNIFER: "Are you not listening? He won't win!"
TOM: "No, I understand what you're saying, I just don't know where the claim comes from."
JENNIFER: "He's not the type of leader we want"
TOM: "But you just said we need a change! Jeremy offers something different!"
JENNIFER: "Well, I know, but..."
TOM: "So why is he not the type of leader we want if people have stopped voting for the ones we've had recently?"
JENNIFER: "Because, okay??? Look, we need to appeal to Middle England. Cameron did that. We need to fight the Tories in the southern shires"
TOM: "So do we need a different leader, or do we need one similar to previous ones?"
JENNIFER: "Of course we need someone different. Blair has had his time. We need a new leader for a new era"
TOM: "But you still haven't answered my question. Why is Corbyn wrong because he's different, if different is what we need?"
JENNIFER: "You're just being ridiculous now! We DO need someone different. Corbyn is a little bit too...
JENNIFER: "Yes! I mean...no, that's not what I'm saying! Look at the facts! He won't be Prime Minister! We'll be in opposition forever under Corbyn!"
TOM: "Show me the facts. Show me where it has been proven that Corbyn will never win an election"
JENNIFER: "This is why I detest talking with people like you! You just won't listen to fact and reason! Can you imagine Labour winning a parliamentary seat in Worthing?"
TOM: "Did they win in Worthing under Blair?"
JENNIFER: "Well...no, but...you're missing the point!"
TOM: "So what is the point?"
JENNIFER: "You know very well what the point is! Corbyn will never appeal beyond the Labour heartlands!"
TOM: "Isn't it true though that we lost a lot of core votes in heartland areas because people felt neglected by Labour sharing the middle ground with the Tories?"
JENNIFER: "I suppose a number of voters may have claimed that"
TOM: So, how can we be different if we elect a leader who is the same as the ones who went before? I don't get it."
JENNIFER: "That's obvious! Otherwise you would have realised long ago that people don't see Corbyn as a leader!"
TOM: "Actually, a democratic majority of eligible voters said the opposite"
JENNIFER: "Oh please! As if the grassroots actually know what they want!"
TOM: "Aren't you a member of the grassroots?"
JENNIFER: "Yes. I suppose I am"
TOM: "So by definition, you don't know what you want either?"
JENNIFER: "Hey! Don't twist my words! I'm just agreeing with what the senior officials and Parliamentary Labour Party are saying"
TOM: "But, isn't that the same thing you're accusing the Tories of?"
JENNIFER: "I don't follow"
TOM: "You're devaluing the democratic desire of the grassroots majority, and overriding it with the aims and wants of those at the top of the tree"
JENNIFER: "You're just a communist bullyboy!"
There has been, from day one, a sustained and pronounced disgust at the fact that someone of Corbyn's ideological hue has managed to conquer the electoral snake pit of the Labour machine. The party has long been steered by upper echelons of public school educated career politicians, and the prospect of a leader who does not prescribe to the usual beige, Blairite fayre has enraged the very jowls of those within the Labour elite.
Jeremy Corbyn is not perfect. He may not be the most consummate administrator, or the greatest organiser. The members of the PLP, my own home city MPs included, have shown themselves to be FAR from perfect in all this too. They have surrendered their flag, and know not where to focus their thrust as they frantically search for a new standard to lobby behind, when they should be searching out the flaws of the enemy. Every leader has weaknesses. Great leaders are the ones who address those weaknesses by installing the right people around them. Great parliamentarians are the ones who can see the true enemy, who can see beyond the mist of churlish outrage, and who can hear beyond the throb of tribal drumbeats, and fight back against an increasingly nasty, high handed and arrogant government.
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