“Turkeys Voting for Christmas” was the taunt thrown at Labour MPs yesterday (Weds 19 April 2017) as they voted to call an early General Election.
Possibly, but the Christmas present most of them were voting for was the end of “the Corbyn problem”.
Most of them know full-well the opinion polls maybe be out by a few percent either way, and in a tight race that matters a lot (cf GE2015 or the US Presidential election) but this is not a tight race.
Most Labour MPs know they are going to lose, the only issue is by how much.
The antics of Corbynistas like Dianne Abbott who bizarrely claimed recently that “most of Labour’s support is down to Jeremy” cannot obscure the reality of Labour trailing behind the Conservatives by 20 points or Corbyn trailing Theresa May by around 35 points.
But many Labour MPs breathed a sigh of relief when Mrs May announced an early election because they expect Labour’s forthcoming drubbing at the polls to mark the end of “Corbynism”.
But as today’s report in The Independent shows, this may be misplaced ‘optimism’ (if that’s the right word in this context?). It fundamentally misunderstands ‘the project’ of Jeremy Corbyn and his allies.
IT IS THE STRUGGLE THAT MATTERS
Corbyn is a disciple of Tony Benn, who never tired of preaching that real change in Britain does not come about through Parliament and elections but through mass movements – on the streets and in the workplaces.
The ‘Parliamentary struggle’ was at best a adjunct to these mass mobilisations and political ‘cultural revolutions’ and at worst (cf New Labour) could become a distraction and diversion from the ‘real’ struggle.
Corbyn and co welcome the General Election not as a chance to win power, but as yet another chance to campaign for their socialist ideas. That is why after the 1983 Election defeat Tony Benn claimed it was a “victory for socialism” because over 8 million people had ‘voted for socialism’ (ignoring the fact 20m voted against – for the Tories or Alliance).
As ‘The Independent’ report suggests Corbyn will stay on as leader until his succession is guaranteed for another hard-Left candidate. Labour’s MPs may be decimated but the Corbynite membership will remain, almost guaranteeing a smooth ‘succession’. Corbyn may be gone by the end of the year, but ‘Corbynism’ will remain a problem for Labour.