Posted By : Margaret Garland
The two important days of conference, the first two, have now passed. We have pinched ourselves. We have pinched ourselves again. But no, that really was John McDonnell outlining a fantasy financial plan on Monday, and Jeremy Corbyn giving the Leader’s Speech on Tuesday.
Let me just say that again. Jeremy Corbyn giving the leader’s Speech. Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour party.
No matter how many times we say those words, it still beggars belief. Only four months ago, it would have been inconceivable.
How long ago that now seems. What happy, carefree days were those.
For those of us who have sat and watched dozens of leader’s speeches, mostly at times when Labour was actually running the country, it seems a strange, parallel universe. You get to know when a party is at a low ebb, just as when William Hague suffered his disastrous four years at the helm of the Tories.
But this is different: Labour’s current convulsions have not resulted in a moderate leader trying to rein in restive backbenchers on the fringes of the party. They have resulted in the election of a leader who is from those fringes. And a kitchen cabinet involving Unite and members of the hard left from outside the Labour party, which is likely to be more extreme – and certainly more brutal – than the man himself.
The Tories managed to pull themselves back, although it took most of a decade. But Labour’s case is that much worse, one wonders if they can pull it off at all.
Like any person in denial after a heavy loss, Labour’s reaction, especially within the narrow political circles which surround a party conference, has been to sit, smiling and unblinking, and pretend that everything is fine. It is not fine. As Telegraph journalist Iain Martin put it:
Activist comments on Twitter have been of the “kindly grandfather”, “big tent” variety. They are, frankly, deluded.The saddest thing about Labour at the moment is otherwise nice/sensible people trying to persuade themselves it will be ok.— Iain Martin (@iainmartin1) September 28, 2015
This peace-loving, kindly grandfather, let us not forget, is against NATO intervention, to prevent the ongoing genocide of his own people by Bashar Assad in Syria. He has no problem, however, with Russian intervention. But there is one place his leadership is taken perfectly seriously. His ascent has been greeted happily by PressTV, mouthpiece of the Iran’s brutal regime. Not least because he is a former presenter for the channel, but also because he advocates for the regime’s involvement in Syria.
And as for the big tent, we should remind ourselves that he has been in office for two-and-a-half weeks. The Corbyn leadership has barely had time to appoint a Shadow Cabinet, let alone start shaping the party of the next five years.
We know how the far left move, because history has taught us. There will be cuckoo-like moves against moderates, you can count on it. In fact, it started last week with Rochdale MP and Corbyn critic Simon Danczuk. The only reason it hasn’t started in anger yet is that they haven’t had time. And it’s the kitchen cabinet you should worry about, not Corbyn himself.
Well, Labour, this is what you chose. Let’s see how you feel by next year’s conference.
This post first published at Labour Uncut