Rebel MPs are Labour's Real Problem

13/07/2016 11:35 | Updated 13 July 2016

"The thing about Corbyn is that he is nearly always proved right - after the event."

So wrote a Guardian interviewer last year, early in the election campaign, when Corbyn was still the political outlier who only got his name on the ballot with minutes to spare. What happened next was completely unexpected for the Westminster and mainstream media bubble--he won with the biggest mandate in Labour history, invigorated party membership to the tune of hundreds of thousands and mobilised a youthful movement of fresh political activists.

It was then that the upper crust of politicians and media editors in our country realised that something had gone terribly wrong.

A principled, anti-austerity, anti-war campaigner leading the left? This wasn't part of the script. Since then, both the broadcast and print media have been viciously attacking him, quietly embarrassed by a steady stream of Labour victories in by-elections, local elections and opposition under his leadership. But the sighs of discontent never ended. News of a coup planned for after the referendum appeared in the Telegraph 10 days before it, undermining the claim that the coup was a reaction to the Leave result. At the same time Angela Eagle was praising Corbyn's efforts, saying he was, "...pursuing an itinerary that would make a 25-year-old tired, he has not stopped."

Of course, her resignation letter implied quite the opposite, meaning she was either being dishonest before the referendum or afterwards. The allegation is bogus anyway: 90% of Labour members and ~63% of Labour voters opted to Remain. The real party leader to blame is of course Cameron.

But the coup began on this false premise, and since then we have been subjected to endless absurdities. Corbyn is unelectable as a leader! He's just won 60% of the leadership vote and eight general elections. The trade unions are turning against him! They're staunchly for him, and the much-touted poll of Unite sampled 0.0005% of unverified members. Angela Eagle/Owen Smith will connect with the people! An MP who consistently voted for the Iraq War, and another who is an ex-Big Pharma lobbyist aren't exactly flavour of the month. A truly left party won't win an election! If the last election has taught us anything, it's that no-one will vote for the Tory B team when they could just vote for the Tory A team. Corbyn compared Israel to ISIS! Corbyn lunged at a reporter! Etc, etc.

There is a reason this is happening. It is no secret that Corbyn's economic and social policies take real steps to reverse the transfer of wealth and power from the many to the few. Thus the establishment--the political and media class satisfied with the status quo--is taking action. The fact that Corbyn has just been elected 9 months ago by an overwhelming majority doesn't give them pause. It seems the PLP and their media backers think that democracy is something that should be sampled in small doses-and flushed out when needed.

The party line of course is that MPs have lost confidence in Corbyn, though when pressed they are unable to tell us why. The reality is that their reasoning is patently circuitous: the PLP has no faith in Corbyn as a leader because he is unable to give the PLP faith in him as a leader. The phrase: physician, heal thyself comes to mind. Has it occurred to the PLP rebels that perhaps they are the problem? Perhaps they should not they expect hundreds of thousands of Labour members to change their position on Corbyn, when they are unwilling to do the same? Perhaps respect for democracy demands that they subject their egos to the will of the Labour party they ostensibly represent, rather than demand Corbyn subjects his mandate to them? Evidently not.


Courtesy of Momentum

This coup did not have to happen. The wounds of the Labour party that Eagle says she will heal are entirely self-inflicted. By challenging Corbyn, the rebels will fall on their own sword. Since the coup has started, the Labour membership has swelled by 25% to reach half a million. Huge Pro-Corbyn rallies have been held throughout the country, with 'Saving Labour' rallies remaining conspicuously absent. Without significant anti-democratic fixing of the ballot, Corbyn will stand again, and win again, probably galvanising more of the public in his populist cause. It is high time the Labour rebels realised that, and fell on the side of the British people.

In the lens of history, Corbyn will be seen as being right--again, after the event.