Yesterday I reported on a new pamphlet from the Fabian Society which showed some signs that at least someone on the Left was starting to realise the scale and nature of the challenge facing Labour. Particularly notable was their acknowledgement that to recover in England would require them to win over Tory voters rather than simply denounce them.
All fairly straightforward, you might think – which leaves us with the baffling question of why it is appears to be a minority belief in the Labour Party. Conveniently, Dave Ward, the General Secretary of the CWU, has provided some insight into the battle more sensible Labourites have on their hands.
In his statement announcing his union’s support for Jeremy Corbyn, Ward displays this magnificent flight of illogic:
“I am delighted to announce that the CWU will be backing Jeremy Corbyn MP to be the next leader of the Labour Party. There are no quick fixes for the Labour party, but there are some easy decisions and choosing Jeremy as its leader should be one of them.”
“We think that it is time for a change for Labour. The grip of the Blairites and individuals like Peter Mandelson must now be loosened once and for all. There is a virus within the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn is the antidote.”
“We reject the notion that Labour needs to move to the centre ground of British politics. The centre ground has moved significantly to the right in recent years. We do not see arguing for fairer wealth distribution, decent jobs with good pay, terms and conditions and a substantial increase in affordable housing for the next generation as a left-wing agenda.”
Here is arrayed the full range of thinking that people like the authors of that Fabian pamphlet are forced to grapple with:
1) The centre ground of British politics – ie the average opinion, if there is such a thing – has moved to the right
2) Labour should actively decide not to appeal to those increasingly right wing voters. (Bear in mind that to this worldview ‘right’ means things like acknowledging Labour spent and borrowed too much, or entertaining the idea of tax cuts.)
3) Anyway, our ideas aren’t left wing at all. But we don’t intend to move to the right. Or something.
All this is backed up by a clear threat – all those who are not as left wing as Corbyn are “a virus” which must be purged. Whether Corbyn wins or loses, none of this bodes well for the future cohesion of the Labour Party.