congratulations, mr corbyn… and goodbye

Posted: 13 September 2015 in politics
Tags: , , ,

OK, so he won. The votes of affiliate and registered supportes may have increased the scale of his win, but he won, fair and square. No matter your views on whether Corbyn should have won, what he’ll do as Leader of the Labour Party, indeed what happens to Labour in the immediate and medium-term future, he won.

To slightly misquote Dick Tuck, “the membership have spoken, the bastards.” Contrary to one of the many inaccurate predictions by the media about the leadership election, the Labour Party did indeed publish the breakdown of the different elements of the electorate: members, affiliated supporters and registered supporters, and the membership results make it clear: Corbyn took 49.5% of the membership vote on the first round. 

So, let’s not hear any more about how it was anyone other than the membership who decided this election. Congratulations to Jeremy Corbyn; though he would no doubt deny that it was a personal victory and would insist it was solely about policies and ideas, it was a stunning personal victory for him and the policies he espouses.

And I wish the Labour party well. I know half a dozen people who have joined the party in the past 24 hours, and no doubt, there’ll be more than a few in the next days and weeks. 

I’ll wave at them on the way out.

I joined the Labour party on 8th May 2015, just before Ed Miliband resigned as leader. I’d have joined a few hours before that but I was still in shock at the 2015 general election result. As I wrote in early May, after 32 years as an adult resisting the occasional temptation to join a political party, I joined the Labour Party. A friend, who’s known me for almost two decades, said she wasn’t sure about what to be more surprised: that I’d joined a politicial party, or that I’d chosen to join Labour. It was a fair appraisal. For most of my adult life, if I’d have had to pick a party, it probably would have been the Conservative Party, as the ‘left’ of that party – and it does exist – is where I felt most naturally ‘at home’: the Conservative party of Ken Clarke, of Jim Prior, of Peter Walker; those who Maggie Thatcher derided as ‘the wets’.

But what cannot be denied is the sucker punch I got on 7th May 2015, at 10:01pm, when they released the first exit polls. That’s not quite true; I might have expected the gut punch. What was entirely unexpected was the severity of my reaction. I was floored, absolutely stunned. It couldn’t be accurate; it just couldn’t. Surely the country couldn’t have given Cameron a majority. Now, to be fair, the exit poll suggested the Conservative Party were just short of a majority, but given the normal course of events, that could still have meant a small majority, 1 or 2. As the actual constituency results came in, just short of a majority looked like the best that Tory opponents could hope for. 

I’ve been asked, several times as it happens, by various people: why? WHY did you join the Labour Party? Simple and honest answer is ‘I didn’t want to feel again like I felt when I first saw that exit poll.’

Well, more fool me. Because I felt exactly the same yesterday when I saw Jeremy Corbyn elected as leader of the Labour Party. It will be no surprise that I naively supported Corbyn’s inclusion in the leadership election. Naively, yes, because while I thought that it was important that all wings of the party be heard in the contest, it genuinely never occurred to me that his message would resonate with the membership to the extent that I no longer felt I had a place in it.

Yesterday evening, after several hours considering it, I sent the following email to the chair and secretary of my Constituency Labour Party:

From: Lee Barnett

Date: 12 September 2015 22:08:36

Subject: Resignation from Labour Party

Please take this email as my resignation from Richmond Park CLP. I am contacting labour HQ to formally resign from the party.

I’d like to express my thanks to everyone in Richmond Park CLP for the welcome they extended me and the respect in which I was heard on the occasions I spoke. Also, I was and remain grateful for the opportunity to act as CLP delegate to the special conference at which the leader and deputy leader election results were announced.

As you both know, I cannot and will not remain a member of a party whose leader has shown himself supremely unconcerned with others’ (including supporters’) anti-semitism. While I don’t believe for a moment that Jeremy Corbyn is himself an anti-Semite, his choosing to associate with anti-Semites, to invite them to parliament, to support, defend and campaign for them has left me little choice but to leave the party.

I was asked at one of the first meetings why I had – after 32 years as an adult resisting the temptation to join a party – joined the labour party. My answer was simple: I never wanted to feel again like I did on 7th May 2015 at 10:01pm, when the first exit poll was released. More fool me. That the party could elect as leader a man to who the votes of anti-Semitic supporters was more important than condemning them gave me the precise same feeling.

Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn will no doubt point to his many speeches condemning anti-semitism; however he never condemns individuals nor organisations for their anti-semitism. It’s like criticising racist lynchings in America but never criticising the KKK.

Corbyn invited a man who propagated the Blood Libel (that Jews kill children for their blood) and wrote that Jews were responsible for 9/11 to tea in Parliament AFTER those statements were made and called him an honoured citizen. At the PSC campaign March this week, numerous examples of anti-semitism were caught on film. Corbyn never once condemned them.

I cannot and will not remain in a party led by this man.

I therefore resign from Richmond Park CLP.

Lee Barnett

And just like that, it’s no longer any of my business what happens to the Labour Party and how it manages the next few days, weeks and months. Oh, sure, I’ll still comment on what they do, but I’ll no longer take any responsibility for what they do.

How will I vote in 2020? I dunno – show me the manifestos and I’ll decide when I see them. However right now, I cannot – for the reasons I state above – see me campaigning for, or voting for, Labour while Corbyn is leader of the party.

If you want to join Labour, campaign for them, vote for them, good on ya. I’m quite open about my reasons for not being able to do so, but I wouldn’t for one moment expect my reasons to be more important to you than your own reasons. And I’d hope you’ll pay me and my views the same respect.

 

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Comments
  1. Well you are correct. Ed Miliband was accused of being elected by the unions however the ballot breakdown shows that the line was crossed by second preferences that David never courted because he (David) believed he would win on the first ballot. Now Corbyn wins on the first ballot with support in every category of supporter.

    I have always accepted Labour leaders I politically disagreed with. I have accepted that in a party you win some and you lose some. Yesterday was the first time I got a leader I mostly agreed with Not all, that’s impossible, but mostly.

    I put the points about the Corbyn associations to party members in the north. Mostly it didn’t resonate with anyone. I should point for clarity that I live in the orthodox Jewish area of Gateshead where community leaders are concerned when families have less than half a dozen children. On Saturday half the shops on Coatsworth Road are closed and on Sunday they are open again. One of my local Labour councillors recently had her father pass away. Her family was from Austria and he was a holocaust survivor.

    No one here has mentioned Jeremy Corbyn’s meetings with middle east leaders, addressing public rallies where some of the crowd expressed anti-Jewish views. In fact quite the opposite. Most Labour supporters are perplexed that the first Labour leadership candidate in years that mentions “anti-racism” is accused of racism as guilt by association. Yet it seems the London based media have suggested that a politician, who has been active in unfashionable causes for decades, has met people who have unpleasant views somehow has to account for each and every member of the public he may have stood near to that might have later on said something inappropriate.

    It is not an issue, even in the centre of an orthodox community, that has been raised. Here in Gateshead membership has doubled.

    There are no left wing Tories there never have been. The Conservative Party is a device for getting power and keeping it for one class interest and no other. The ‘wets’ in Mrs Thatcher’s Cabinet were a generational thing. For Heath, MacMillan and the rest of the Conservatives after world war 2 they had met ordinary people fighting in the war. They had came out of it with a one nation view in which, in a rather patronising, paternalistic way, felt they needed to do better for the lower classes. That was a good thing.

    David Davis, on the current ‘left’, of the Conservatives, says that more anti-trade union laws are OK except for the one where the police need a list of people who are picketing because that is like a police state. However he is fine with laws that make action on social media unlawful unless approved by the government. Tweets that support strikers could lead to jail. In Ted Heath’s day trade unionists were jailed for striking including Liverpool actor Ricky Tomlnson. Of course they used other charges.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-29313261
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_of_Construction,_Allied_Trades_and_Technicians#National_strike_of_1972

    Hitting trade unions with anti-trade union law has been the norm in Britain since the farmer workers of Dorset were transported to Australia for forming a union.

    You are fully entitled to join any party or none. Leave any party. Vote or don’t vote. I dont understand the logic of guilt by association. I personally think that if he made some big speech condemning something then the next day there would be an article saying “yes but he didn’t comdem this other thing”. I dont think he would benefit politically or morally from condemnation. Also the tough point is that the issue itself does not register on the political agenda at all in my part of Gateshead. For the first time in Labour history I have seen a candidate raise racism as an issue.

    I respect you view, your decision, the logic of how you personally get there. However it makes no sense to me politically as someone on the left.

  2. […] to be one reason why the conservatives won again in five years. So I joined the Labour Party. And we all know how that went. […]

  3. […] Look, I’ve never hidden my views on Corbyn. Before he was elected in 2015, I wrote a piece entitled “ABC: Anyone But Corbyn“, and the day he was elected, I wrote another entitled “congratulations, Mr Corbyn… and goodbye“.  […]

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