Dobson’s Choice

I am a Labour party member. I’ve got the card and everything. I’ve not been a member that long – I joined shortly after the 2015 election in the spirit of ‘oh dear sweet christ how did that lot get in again?’ – but I’ve yet to be excluded from the upcoming leadership election.

I voted for Jeremy Corbyn last time this came round in what I assume is a now-annual competition. I did so because he seemed to be the only candidate that wasn’t blaming the loss at the 2015 election on Labour not being Tory enough. In trying to be slightly less nasty than the Tories, the opposition under Ed Miliband didn’t seem to be doing much in the way of opposing and carrying on like that was unlikely to get a Labour government of the sort I believe would be helpful to the nation into power.

I’ve liked some of what Corbyn has tried to do, but attempting to play a different game – his fabled new, kinder style of politics – when nobody else is aware of the rules just doesn’t work. And in that space, any message gets lost. And there have been plenty of times where strong leadership is required and we’ve not seen it, particularly surrounding the base level of debate around his leadership.

The manoeuvrings of the parliamentary party, at odds with the membership’s overwhelming choice, was depressing and dispiriting. If that energy had been directed at opposing an utter shambles of a government we might be getting somewhere. But a leader needs to command not just a mandate from members, but also from the party’s MPs so it’s clear that Corbyn’s position has been untenable for a while.

It’s said that he’s unelectable – always a highly subjective statement – and that there’s no point having principles if you never get the power to legislate in accordance with those principles. Which sounds to me like suggesting that the only way to gain power is to lie to the electorate and do lots of other stuff when you get in. That sounds an awful lot like the sort of thing we’d all scream about should the Tories do it and a lot like the laughable Leave campaign in the EU referendum. He may be unelectable – the polls make ugly reading – but I wouldn’t particularly want to fight the next election on a sham of a manifesto.

I think probably that a change is required. But the alternative being offered isn’t that appetising. Owen Smith seems to represent the option that reverts to the sort of position that lost Labour the last election and more or less support the neoliberalism that clearly, abjectly and demonstrably failed in 2008, albeit in a slightly different shade.

In other words, I don’t know what I’m going to do when my ballot arrives. Go for someone I don’t think it very good at leading the opposition or someone who former DoSAC minister Hugh Abbott would doubtless have described as a brushed aluminium cyber-prick. I don’t know. And I’m not going to call anyone names on social media if they disagree.

EDIT: BUT I’m always less likely to find common ground with anyone who thinks homeopathy is anything but pure quackery.