The Labour Party is about to expire. In a few short weeks' time this once-proud political force will be officially reduced to an ineffective, screeching ball of 'passion', chanting 'Tory Scum' and crying foul from the sidelines. Meanwhile, the vast majority of the voting public will shrug their shoulders and get on with their lives, safe in the knowledge that there's one less credible choice to be made at the next general election.
At the moment, genuine Labour supporters are still clinging on to the idea that perhaps, by some miracle, Jeremy Corbyn won't win the leadership contest. But they're kidding themselves. I hope I'm wrong but Ed Miliband's restructuring of the voting system means that Corbyn will win and probably by a long margin. So come the 12 September, we'll have one man to thank for the death of the Labour Party: Ed Miliband.
It Started With The Collins Review
Ed Miliband instigated The Collins Review, published in February 2014. This document was the turning point for Labour, but not in the way we thought. All the debate at the time was around how it would reduce the power of the Unions and make people's choice more transparent. But what we failed to see was the inherent danger of its real aim: to vastly increase party membership. Like almost everyone else, I just assumed this was a reasonable idea.
However, when Harriet Harman announced on 18 May that the leadership election would be conducted under the terms of the Collins Review, I was frankly surprised. And pretty annoyed. I've been a party member for 20-odd years, was a parliamentary adviser, a Labour councillor in York for six years, and I stood for parliament at the 2005 general election, gaining the largest vote increase in the whole country. I've done my bit, and then some. Why were we removing the barrier to entry and allowing just anyone to vote for the princely sum of £3? After all, when I joined you had to be a member for a whole year before you could even vote at your local branch to select the candidate for the local council! How giving literally anyone off the street the chance to select the leader honour those who have put many years of service to the party?
But we'd just suffered a bad general election defeat - it was time to try something different - so I could see the point. However, at the back of my mind I wondered how this would play out in the world of social media. These days you can whip up a Twitterstorm in about five minutes; get thousands of people to take action instantly. Sadly while everyone was talking about Conservative voters joining to sabotage the election, I was beginning to hear noises from the far left across all social media. And then a few well-meaning MPs nominated Jeremy Corbyn. At that point, for me, I sensed it was game over.
Ed and Jeremy just handed the next two decades' elections to the Tories
If you believe Owen Joneses and rest of the far left-wing commentariat, it's brilliant that so many new people have signed up to Labour.
But it's not.
The people who are joining right now are not living in the real world - or in many cases they're just too young to understand how the real world will inevitably impact their future. They are desperate to indulge their fantasies of a utopian socialist state; and many really do believe that it's actually possible to create it in the 21st Century. Jeremy Corbyn resonates with people who don't want to govern. They just want to protest.
And for every single person who joins the Labour Party now, more will leave, never join or never vote Labour again because the stark truth is that people in this country don't like far-left politics. People are innately aspirational and they will fight anything that threatens their ability to control their own lives. The middle-classes who voted for Blair in their millions did so because they could see that the Tories had gone nuts, society was unequal and that Blair could form a credible centrist government - one that would leave them alone to get on with their lives. Now, they'll just vote Tory.
And that's the real problem. Politics is about winning elections. You have to win in order to change things for the better. You can do nothing without power. If Corbyn becomes the leader, the Labour Party will spend the next 20-plus years in the wilderness. The Tories will win every single election. And how does that help the UK? So, thanks Ed Miliband. You lost the election and killed the party. Well done.
Where will we find a new home?
I've never been a Mili-fan and made no secret of my dismay that he was our leader. I'm a Blairite - and, yes, of course that makes me 'Tory Scum'. I'm content for people to call me what they want. I'm big enough to accept that not everyone likes me - or likes Blairites in general. But despite not being an Ed fan, I hung in there because I assumed that once Ed had lost the election, we'd get our party back. I assumed that Ed was a blip - a mistake, and that the next leader would be someone the general public could warm to, view as a real leader and vote for in 2020.
But I was wrong.
So where do Labour people like me go from here? If Corbyn becomes the leader then I'll have to think about resigning my membership. I can't support the man or his politics. And I'm not alone. Don't forget that David Miliband scored a majority within the Parliamentary party and the members, and - but for the Unions' influence - Ed would never have been leader. I can't see that across the party that this innately centre-left constituency has been replaced to any huge extent. That means there are going to be a very large number of Labour members, councillors, activists and MPs who have no real home come 12th September.
There's no way I'm joining the Lib Dems, and though I joked on Twitter about reforming the SDP, it appears that they never went away - they still exist, and that shows you how much good joining them would do. So to date, I'm not sure what to do. Hopefully, if Corbyn wins, a new home will be created outside the party for us centrists. But it's far from clear what shape it will take. And for a committed, genuine long-term Labour supporter, that's a really frightening thought.