The post-Brexit vote should have been a glory moment for the British Labour Party. A Tory Party, with Cameron resigning and ripe with division, should have been Labour’s moment to demonstrate unity, a proud alternative to the austerity. But no. The Blairite wing of the party has its opportunity to bring out the knives and try to wrest away control of the increasingly progressive party away from its most principled figurehead since Tony Benn. Members are up in arms and Labour is facing one of its biggest crises in memory.
The calls began in the outset of the massive shock of Leave’s victory. MPs accused Corbyn of not doing enough to help the remain vote to win. This is despite polling that shows over two thirds of Labour voters voted stay, similar figures to SNP voters. Many have called this argument bullshit and have seen it for the Blairite plot it truly is. Members have rallied around him, and new MPs have taken up positions in the Shadow Cabinet previously occupied by veterans. Many whom I’d praised for fantastic performance against the Tory austerity have resigned, demanding Corbyn’s resignation.
The whole chaos began with the sacking of Hilary Benn. I am utterly angry at the man, more than words can communicate. While I still maintain he’d make a great Foreign Secretary when Labour got back into government, Benn’s betrayal has made me lose all respect for the man. It hurts me the most out of all the resignations that have come out, amongst the Eagle sisters and many others. His father, he is not, I knew that from the beginning, but even I believed he would be honorable enough to not create such a devastating rift. It fills my heart with sadness to be proven wrong.
This whole coup by the Bitterites, a word given to me by friend and Corbyn supporter Susie, has as much to do with the EU vote as anything else. It goes back to a defeat that they simply refuse to accept. The death of New Labour. The 12th of September 2015. I still remember that night. We had all tuned into the BBC livestream and had Twitter open. I cheered with delight and a joy I’d never felt before welled in my heart as the returning officer recited “Jeremy Corbyn – 251,417” 59.5% of the vote, a mandate bigger than Blair. I received an excited Tweet from Susie as the cheering grew louder and I knew I’d witnessed history in the making. But I knew it wouldn’t sit well with the still strong right wing in the caucus. I read articles from the Guardian trying to smear him, I saw Josie Pagani write about him in the NZ Herald and I saw MPs like Simon Danczuk openly state their anger with Corbyn. He’s won every single Westminster by-election, with Tooting showing a 7% swing to Labour, however, and despite gloom and doom for their local election prospects, Labour held on, winning new councils and getting a new Labour mayor. But yet, they would not support him.
They accuse him of damaging Labour, yet it is their treachery and greed that are causing the trouble. Thousands of people have joined the party, unions have come back into the fold and Labour was starting to catch up to the Tories in the polls. They accuse him of being unelectable, despite their hero is one of the most hated men in British politics and the upcoming Chilcott report will incriminate the Blairites for the war in Iraq. This could be pushed to Corbyn’s advantage, however, himself a firm opponent of the war, giving him the ability to quash a Blairite challenger. What they seem to be unable to comprehend is the fact that New Labour died the day Gordon Brown lost the 2010 election and they cannot, for any reason, accept that. Nothing can bring it back and they feel a disconnect with the membership.
We Corbyn supporters are not children. We understand politics, and we do not like being treated like we know next to nothing by Blairites who have frustrated us by lurches too far to the right. We want our elected party leader’s mandate by we, the voters, to be accepted, regardless of faction within the party, and we cannot believe that scores of MPs won’t grant that right. It is nothing short of treachery. I will stand in solidarity with Jeremy, and if the Bitterites won’t accept it, they should get out of the party and make way for those who will.
There are two things I want to end with. The first is a message to my fellow supporters, and to Corbyn himself, if he reads this. It’s an old Salvation Army hymn, one that inspired Tony Benn throughout his life: Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone, dare to have a purpose firm, dare to make it known! The second is the first stanza of the Red Flag, our vow to the movement: The people’s flag is deepest red, it shrouded oft the martyr dead, And there, their limbs grew stiff and cold, their blood it dyed its every fold. So raise the scarlet standard high, beneath its furls, we’ll live or die, While cowards flinch and traitors sneer, we’ll keep the red flag flying here!