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Friday 30 October 2020

Labour - Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

Let me take you back to 1983, a year which for many will not have any special significance. There was a General Election; the Tories’ vote fell by 700,000 nationally, the three parties standing in opposition to them polled 53% of the popular vote. And with unemployment at around 3 million, the Tories, who had presided over that eye-watering rise in the jobless total, romped home with a majority of 144.

Much of the UK’s manufacturing base, smaller firms especially, had gone to the wall during a failed and painful flirtation with monetarism. Yet the Tories still won. How could it happen? Simples. There had been a split in the Labour Party.

On that occasion, it was a move to the left under Michael Foot’s leadership that had caused the schism. Many Labour moderates, led by the so-called Gang of Four, had broken with the party to form the SDP. This new party had formed an alliance with the then Liberal Party; later, the Liberals and most of the SDP would become what is now the Liberal Democrats. First Past The Post does not reward splits.

What happened many years before that to the old Liberal Party was yet worse: returned to power in a landslide victory in 1906, largest single party in the Commons in 1910, they were reduced to a mere 40 seats in 1924 after the Asquith-Lloyd George split. The lesson keeps on repeating itself. So what do disaffected Labour supporters do in 2020?

There has been talk of walkouts, a new left-wing party and lawsuits from those on the left, with those on the right, along with their allies in our free and fearless press, ratcheting up the calls for more suspensions and even expulsions, although on what grounds we are not told. All this after former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was suspended yesterday.

But here’s why walking away would be wrong: Unite’s head man Len McCluskey has been generating headlines like the Independent’s “Corbyn suspension: Unite boss Len McCluskey warns of ‘chaos’ in Labour if former leader is not reinstated”, but when you drill down into the body of the report, there it is leaping off the page. “Mr McCluskey … warned that failure to reinstate the former leader would leave a split party ‘doomed to defeat’ at the next election”. A split party would be doomed to defeat. Again.

He also told “I therefore call upon Keir [Starmer] to work across the party on a fitting and unifying way forward, to unite our party behind the implementation of the EHRC's important recommendations … I also appeal to members angered by this suspension not to leave the party but to support moves to find a better way through”.

John McDonnell is not upping sticks and leaving. Nor are Richard Burgon, Rebecca Long Bailey, Diane Abbott, Dawn Butler, or indeed any MPs on Labour’s left. Labour and its supporters must hang together, or they will surely be hung separately.

Many will remember the Tory cheering and hooting from their overmonied and uncaring fans in 2015, and especially last year. Some of us remember the same thing in 1983, and don’t want to have to hear it ever again. That means electing a Labour Government.

It means working together. It means no splits. It means calm heads must, and will, prevail.

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Unknown said...

Whatever happened to the popular front?

He's over there...

Derek said...

Dear Zelo ,
The smashing Tory victory of 1983 was largely due to the ‘feel good’ reaction of the British public to the Faklands War , as Ms Thatcher had had disastrous ratings against Michael Foot some months earlier . Unfortunately I fear the circumstances of effective ‘betrayal’ by the Labour Right Wing are similar now to what they were then , in that in pursuing what has become to be recognised as ‘Blairism’ the Labour Right Wing relentlessly pursue non socialist goals and command no mass support . Your article follows the familiar pattern calling for solidarity from people who have never shown it to date and are unlikely to do so now . Starmer & the Blairites seem to be intent on reducing the UK Labour Party to a position equivalent to the German SDP and the French Socialists (ie. Irrelevant) . I’m not optimistic ,

Neville said...

Let's get one thing straight- Corbyn has been effectively expelled from Labour. McDonell, Abbott, Long-Bailey and others on the left HAVE to quit the party, and a massive split is inevitable. There is a desperate need for a new left-wing political party, one that is anti-racist, anti sexist, anti-war, and start to tackle issues like climate change. Of course a split will benefit the Conservatives, but that's besides the point. Labour since Blair has long stopped being the party of the working class, and the new party, when it comes, will attract the long line of non-voters that have been abandoned by Labour.

Beware Of What You Think The Other Side Want said...

Hmm. Are Starmer's advisors saying, "Oh, you must get the Murdochs and the Rothermeres on your side, Sir Keir, otherwise we'll lose again."
Yesterday evening, Steve Bell's political cartoon in The Guardian depicted Starmer hold Corbyn's head on a plate. Bell annotated the cartoon "After Caravaggio", presumably the artist's painting of David holding the head of Goliath.
My thoughts on seeing the cartoon wasn't related to anything Biblical. I was thinking about Julius Caesar being offering Pompey's head. Gaius Julius Caesar wanted Pompey alive and in chains.

Temulkar said...

When a vegetarian restaurant starts serving meat to broaden it's appeal, should vegetarians still go there when they are opposed fundamentally to eating meat just so the restaurant stays open?

Jez Box said...

Admirable sentiments Tim. However I currently have little confidence, ".. calm heads must, and will, prevail." Certainly not from Starmer's side. The suspension was totally unnecessary and an outright premeditated provocation.

Anonymous said...


The position of the figures is nothing like any of the three versions of David with the Head of Goliath. The presence of the gold plate and the posture of Keeves indicates it's an (extremely loose) adaptation of either version of Salome with the Head of
John the Baptist. The Biblical parallels are, I trust, obvious.

Steve did, however, alter the expression of Keeves so that the pout makes him look like even more of a giant whore. I was shocked Viner approved it given her craven history.

Anonymous said...


A compelling analogy but I would argue that the restaurant no longer even offers vegetarian options and is instead actively insulting vegetarians. They're also making overtures towards those with a taste for human flesh.

Anonymous said...

Right... so we continue to work for, vote for and fund a bunch of people that we dont much like or trust - and who evidently despise us - just because they might be slightly less tory than the Tories ?

Not good enough. I've been supporting Labour leaders and MPs that I didn't much like, from Kinnock through to Blair, when in the wake of Iraq I'd finally had enough.

Corbyn was Labour's last chance saloon for me - I returned strictly because of him and the chance that we might finally get the Labour party we deserved.

I'm getting old. I should be good for the next general election, perhaps the one after. I dont feel it worth while giving any more of my limited time in support to a party that seems intent on being everything I detest.

Anonymous said...

I told you what Starmer is really like.

His behaviour more than confirms just what a hypocritical worm he is.

A disgusting, morally corrupt individual.

Ferdy Fox said...

Simply another form of the old maxim "divide and rule". It's worked since time immemorial and it still holds good today but some folks never learn.

janus said...

It is no use picking one particular year in which there were many factors affecting the result and ignoring all the years in which the Labour Party was "united" and the Tories got in either as themselves or under disguise in the form of Bair. Helping Labour back into power if that involves handing the reins to Starmer and his gang is worse than useless. There is no conceivable way in which the left can regain control of Labour and win an election in the foreseeable future, and we simply do not have enough time. The left must leave because to stay would be a betrayal of the principles they are claiming to hold. This is not a split. There should be no pretence that there remains any connection with the old Labour Party. This is a new movement which will lead to a new party and real change.

Jonathan said...

Why should I be apart of a party that attacks its former leader and other prominent left wing Shadow Ministers for questioning Israel or even god forbid querying the level of antisemtism within Labour?

I mean, God forbid, a man who exercises his right of reply under Article 10 of the HRA 1998, that one which made Starmer boy such a successful advocate..

Be interesting to see if Starmer does as expected boot Jeremy out,what will the Unions do and the membership..

What a lot of people don't know is Starmer's own wife is Jewish, so question is, is Starmer acting impartially or emotionally?

Suspended on very flimsy grounds, if Starmer goes for the fact that Corbyn is dismissive of the trauma of the Jewish community, when Corbyn has himself acknowledged the suffering.

If and when it gets to the High Court, when the Labour Leaks dossier is presented to the court, along with numerous character references for Jeremy from his constiuents and further afield, Starmer is going to be on a sticky wicket, unless this is all a silly f****** game..

Could be that Starmer might have to pony up a whole tonne of members money to settle.

With Jeremy having a large legal fund to draw on and with no doubt assistance from UNITE's legal team, this could be a battle for Labour's soul...

Anonymous said...

@Ferdy Fox

"He who pronounces himself in favour of legal reforms in place of and as opposed to the conquest of political power and social revolution does not really choose a more tranquil, surer and slower road to the same goal. He chooses a different goal. Instead of taking a stand for the establishment of a new social order, he takes a stand for surface modifications of the old order." (Luxemburg)

I have learnt that I would be actively working against my own interests if I were to lend my support to so-called centrists. Your houses!

asquith said...

You're a nasty piece of work, aren't you Jonathan?

Bringing up the ethnicity of Starmer's wife as if it somehow discredited him? Have a look in the mirror.

Anonymous said...

And Rosa’s purity of doctrine led to her floating face down in a canal, and the far right free to lead Europe to a blood stained disaster.

All together now, Corbynites. “Nach Johnson, uns”

Anonymous said...


I think you'll find that it was the gushing adulation and support of 'mainstream' politicians like Winston Churchill for fascism that lead to WW2 and not the resistance to it on the part of socialists. As late as 1937, he was expressing his "admiration for the courage, the perseverance, and the vital force which enabled him [Hitler] to challenge, defy, conciliate or overcome, all the authority or resistances which barred his path."

And in 2020, you're gloating at the murder of Luxumburg by proto-Nazi Freikorps members. So, yes, tell us again why the left should support centrists.

Signore L'artista said...

"Steve Bell cartoon of Starmer and Corbyn draws claims of ‘antisemitism’ "
"The Guardian says complaints from readers are being looked into" - The Jewish Chronicle October 30, 2020 16:04

Anonymous said...


According to one complainer, "The Guardian is the paper of record for #LabourAntisemitism." I must have imagined Cohen and Freedland's columns over the last four years.

Signore L'artista said...

Followed by a pile on. Standard tactic. All have to be addressed politely. Clogs up administration of even the biggest organisations. The target then gets accused of deliberately obstructing or downplaying.