Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Tim Wilkinson: The Expected Ambush

The Labour grassroots' strategy in backing Corbyn has come to a head.

New Labour's one trick was the tactic of accepting the Tory agenda and hoping that the 'good cop' role will at least sometimes be preferred to the Conservatives' bad cop. By the summer of 2015 that tactic had demonstrably and decisively failed by every measure. The 'wisdom of crowds' embodied in thousands of various and disparate Labour members delivered its judgement: a realignment was needed if the party was ever to regain, and make use of, office in government.

This view was of course not shared by the NuLab tendency, entombed as it was after twenty years in a sealed chamber of self-serving groupthink. From the start it was clear that a sizable faction - or axis - in the Labour Party would go to any lengths to stop Corbyn. Disruption, non-co-operation, sabotage, malicious 'leaks', staged resignations, vicous smear campaigns, several aborted coup plans: Corbyn, put in place and maintained there by the grassroots, has survived them all.

Now the Parliamentary Labour Party has chosen the moment when the Conservatives are most exposed, and a general election may yet be on the cards, to precipitate the long-awaited final coup attempt. This is no coincidence - those implacably opposed to the Corbynist brand of soft-left politics fear a Corbyn general election win above all.

The hardcore plotters - mostly members of the strictly-defined 'Blairite' sub-faction rather than any of the other New Labour and right-wing groupings - must be concerned too about the supposedly imminent publication of the Chilcot inquiry. Perhaps they are feeling some urgency to install a new leader who is either implicated in bloody misdeeds, or disposed to cover up for those who are.

The wider New Labour-habituated PLP seems disorientated and almost traumatised by the Brexit result (as if they had tossed a coin while discounting the possibility that it would present 'tails'). In some fit of mass neurosis they seem to have have found themselves engaged in a last-ditch all-or-nothing coup attempt, and a strangely inept and chaotic one at that.

A too-obviously stage-managed variety-show of non-entities and nepotists all performing the same resignation act, a guilty, furtive secret ballot, a desperate last minute search for the viable challenger they have been vainly seeking for the past ten months...

Somehow the PLP right has managed to catch itself off guard in mounting the very ambush they had been planning. Everyone expected it except, when it actually eventuated, the bushwhackers themselves. Meanwhile all around the high horizon appear the silhouetted figures of half a million Labour members.

The attempt at reforming the PLP and party structures has been exhausted. There is nowhere left to go but a belated Labour Spring and the decisive and very public supersession of New Labour. The amazing thing is that the PLP has not only offered this up on a plate, it has made the offer one that can't be refused. Peter Mandelson will not be pleased. That is not what he meant at all. That is not it, at all.

But how did it ever come to this? The following series of info-memes and links, culled from the timeline of the @SurelySmMistake Twitter account, tells the story: