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Jeremy Corbyn is nothing without Labour The former leader thought his party was more important than his country

Pope Starmer and the lapsi pre-sacrifice. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty

Pope Starmer and the lapsi pre-sacrifice. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty


November 19, 2020   5 mins

The year is 251 AD. A terrifying pandemic, the Plague of Cyprian, is ravaging the Roman empire. And in a bid to fortify the rapidly dissolving centre of traditional religion, the Emperor Trajan Decius issues an edict. All Roman subjects – excepting Jews – are required to make sacrifices to the pagan gods before the local magistrate, and will be issued with a certificate (a libellus) to prove they have done so.

This was a loyalty test to the Pax Romana, targeted especially at Christians, for whom pagan sacrifices were inherently sinful. Failure to sacrifice to the ancient gods was punishable by torture and death. Some Christians refused and were martyred, including Pope Fabian himself. Others went into hiding. Some went through the motions, made the sacrifice, and so were excommunicated.

After the persecution died down, a furious row erupted within the church concerning the re-admission of the lapsed. Some maintained there was to be no readmission whatsoever. Others were content with a simple confession and repentance. An ideological war broke out between these sides, both electing their own bishops, both setting up a church within a church to battle it out with each other.

Some church leaders, notably St Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, tried to steer a middle path. He was largely successful, not least because of the credit he had established on both sides through his widely appreciated pastoral response to the pandemic that came to be named after him. But despite his success in ameliorating a divided church, there was one principle on which he wouldn’t budge, and his formulation of it became a central feature of Roman Catholic doctrine: extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. Outside the church there is no salvation. The fallen had to be re-admitted to the church because outside the church there is only eternal damnation.

Parallels with the current travails of the Labour party are hard to miss. Pope Starmer has re-admitted the lapsi, based on a flimsy expression of repentance, hoping the fact that he is generally perceived to be having a good pandemic will distract the No Readmission party. And it may. But although these parallels are something of a historical parlour game, the principle that lies behind them remains as strong and as contentious as ever it was: extra Ecclesiam nulla salus – outside the party there is no salvation.

To many of us, who just don’t care about party politics as much as those within the Westminster bubble, the comings and goings of Corbyn, or indeed of Cummings for that matter, are nowhere near as important as they are to the true believers. Corbyn protested his suspension by re-affirming his total loyalty to the party of which, he reminded people, he has been a member of for 54 years. Nor could he bring himself to update his Twitter profile: “Labour MP for Islington North.” Life outside the party would be unimaginable for him. In a Cyprian-like compromise, Starmer has now allowed Corbyn back in to the Labour Party; though, for the time being, without the party whip. It doesn’t make much sense. But that isn’t really the point. Like Cyprian, Starmer is trying to manage some bitter divisions, and a messy compromise is the obvious path to tread.

Of course, there are many who have flourished extra Ecclesiam. Ed Balls reinvented himself through sequins, from a party hack with something of a hard man reputation, to become a personable almost national treasure. Something similar happened with Michael Portillo and trains. There is, it seems life beyond the party. Politics isn’t everything. Indeed, it is precisely by accepting that idea that some find rehabilitation, new life.

And here we come to the heart of Corbyn’s fundamental weakness as a politician. He is too much in love with the party, with its ideology, with its internal struggles, to connect up with those for whom politics is not everything. One just cannot imagine him outside the Labour party, and nor, it seems, can he. And because of this, he has missed his opportunity for redemption.

This is what he should have done. He should have put on his wellington boots and settled down on his allotment to tend his leeks. A period of silence would have been welcome. And a more genuine act of contrition. But above all, he, like so many politicians, just needed to discover who he is outside of the confines of his narrow little church. I don’t know what the secular equivalent to this is, but he needed to spend a bit more time on his own with his God.

Princess Margaret was given a very perceptive line in the new series of The Crown. Invited to a weekend up at Balmoral, Mrs Thatcher continued to work on her dispatch boxes rather than go out stalking with the royal family. No time for fun, Thatcher insisted tartly. But she might find something much more important than fun out on the moors, the Princess shot back. She might find “perspective”. And in that single word, the princess captured so much that can be lacking in the professional politician.

Everything may be political, but the political isn’t everything. Most people have far more important things going on in their lives – their loved ones, their families (not necessarily the same thing), doing the shopping, listening to music, yes, even watching Strictly and The Crown. Generally speaking, the Conservatives tend to understand this much better than the Labour party. They are often the political party voted for by those who do not think that politics is the most important thing in the world. It is significant, for instance, that the Conservatives have something like just 190,000 members, whereas Labour has well over half a million, most of them having joined after Jeremy Corbyn became leader.

This is often seen as a Labour strength, and, of course, having activists turn out and bang on doors, is a real campaigning advantage. But it comes with its downside too. For when a political party is dominated by true believers, perspective narrows and it becomes obsessed with what Freud called the narcissism of small differences. It’s not unlike that with church. Yes, it is good to have people who make the church their life. Indeed, it is hard to imagine the church being able to continue without such people. But this also is true: too much religion is bad for your faith. What begins as a life transforming dialogue with the infinite can all too easily end up being a bitter row with the flower arrangers, or about who gets to sit in what pew.

That is what Corbyn did to the Labour party. Yes, his lazy and complacent attitude towards anti-Semitism – even complicit attitude – has damaged the party for a generation at least. But there was something else that he got badly wrong: he seemed to act as though his party was more important than the country that he apparently wanted to lead. And he inspired others to think the same. Party above all things. That is why his suspension from Labour was so impossible for him to bear. He is a man who has nothing left outside the party, a man whose identity is so consumed by left wing ideology that there is nothing remaining when that is gone. Corbyn without Labour was the shell of a man. And very few ordinary voters can identify with such a view.

The greatest ever Archbishop of Canterbury, William Temple, offered a very different perspective to that of extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. He argued that the church is “the only organisation that exists solely for the benefit of non-members”. It’s a great line — though it is not only churches that work like this, and indeed, a great many churches don’t. Under Corbyn, the Labour party retreated down the rabbit hole of increasing ideological purity, obsessed with their own inner workings. And what many members still fail to grasp is that, unlike them, most people don’t like politics. And these are the people whose votes they need. This is a kind of paradox: to really succeed in politics you have to care more about things beyond it.


Giles Fraser is a journalist, broadcaster and Vicar of St Anne’s, Kew.

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Nick Wright
Nick Wright
3 years ago

A fascinating perspective that comes back to the age-old question: who would wish to become a politician? Perhaps a more pressing problem these days is trying to find a party a socially-minded, pragmatic individual could align to. Like Giles, I flirted with the reincarnated SDP, but I left frustrated with high-minded ideas and little action. With central lists and quotas, the mainstream parties are no longer broad churches. Instead, they end up as cults (Labour), full of opportunists (Conservatives) or obsessed with single causes (the rest). Principles as the basis of policies seem to be something of the past.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago

Interesting and soundly argued ðƾ‘

Nicholas C
Nicholas C
3 years ago

This article is pretty much bang on the money.
To win elections you have to convince people to vote for you, the current Labour Party membership treats non believers with contempt. They are more concerned with being Ideologicaly pure than winning elections.

I think Clem Attlee called them
‘Doctrinaire Impossibilists’
I was a member of the Labour Party for over 20 years and all that navel gazing drove me nuts!

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas C

Would that be “the current Labour party membership” who elected Keir Starmer?

Nicholas C
Nicholas C
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

Yes, and Starmer won’t be any better either, he would have served under Corbyn. The Labour Party is finished in its current incarnation.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas C

But recently ahead in the polls. And with Starmer rated vastly higher than Boris by electors.

As any sensible person would rate them: Starmer a former Director of Public Prosecutions who was knighted for his achievements, Boris a journalist who was sacked from the Times for lying, sacked from the Tory front bench by then Conservative leader Michael Howard for lying to him, and attached himself very late in the day to the Brexit cause in the belief that it would lose the referendum but he would become the darling of Tory activists who would make him party leader in preference to Cameron’s candidate George Osborne while Britain remained safely in the EU.

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

“Starmer a former Director of Public Prosecutions who was knighted for his achievements”

You mean, like Sir Philip Green, or Sir Mick Jagger? I would, as a matter of fact, have supported the knighting of the original ‘Basil Brush’. He regularly brought more innocent joy to life than many an ‘achiever’.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
3 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas C

Me too!

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

Ed balls a national treasure.
Don’t know what your smoking but I would stop it’s rotting your brain.
He is and will always be one of the examples of everything that is wrong with politicians

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Like 99.999%of the human race,even Ed Balls deserves a shot at redemption..

fergusleedunne
fergusleedunne
3 years ago

It is ludicrous to suggest that it is the ideological zeal of Corbyn, and not Starmer, that epitomises doctrinal purity in the party. Had Starmer not made such a *party* political intervention to suspend Corbyn this past week, it is incredibly likely (sadly, I’d argue) that Corbyn would have a.) drifted relatively peaceably back into his position in the wings of the party and b.) continued to serve his constituents at a remove from the central planning apparatus of the party (perhaps ask Corbyn’s constituents to what extent his identity is overdetermined by the *party* and not his efforts outside it).

Does the writer really imagine that Labour is not headed for a much more surgical conception of ideological purity under Starmer than seen in the past four years, a period in which Corbyn (lacking not only ideological purity but also tactical nous) gave prominent cabinet positions to those with whom he was ideologically distant? The attempts to purge any vestige of political antagonism or dissent within the party have defined Starmer’s leadership within a few short months, and yet Fraser imagines that quite the opposite is the case.

Casting Labour’s (rapidly declining) half a million members as kind of nomenklatura, obsessed with the inner workings of the party over and above social reality is itself a kind of narcissism of small differences, an enlargement of a partial truth into a gross caricature. It moreover completely misunderstands why that figure rose while Corbyn was in power and while it will decline when he is gone. That membership boost was precisely the result of people wanting to *stop* political austerity inveighing on the running and operation of everyday life, not to become some petty jobsworth arguing over who gets to sit next to Vicar on Sunday.

Fraser not only conflates the party with the political, but *distinguishes both from everyday life. Such is life under capital, and there are many who feel that way – certainly it seems eminently reasonable to be apathetic to party politics . On the other hand, others might only imagine the sort of charmed life in which it was possible to be so indifferent to the political itself.

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
3 years ago
Reply to  fergusleedunne

The Labour party – or any political party – is better off without Jeremy Corbyn and people like him in it.

Casting Labour’s (rapidly declining) half a million members as kind of nomenklatura, obsessed with the inner workings of the party over and above social reality is…

Pretty accurate. It is the membership of the Labour party – especially those it accrued since Corbyn became leader – is what makes it toxic to the wider electorate.

You can either try to appeal to enough people to stand a chance of winning an election and forming a government, or to half a million Guardian reading fanatical far-left nutters.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

“half a million Guardian reading fanatical far-left nutters.”

I suppose it depends what counts as a “fanatical far-left nutter”. Under Brown and Miliband, the party was afraid of its own shadow and – for example – refused to support tacking rail franchises back into public ownership even though 65% of the voters wish to do so. Some of those 65% are Tory voters, including those catching the 8.12 from Guildford and standing all the way to London, five days a week (pre-Covid!) because there aren’t enough carriages while the rolling stock leasing companies make a 30% return on capital. Under Corbyn, the Labour party at last sided with 65% of the public rather than allowing editorials in Rupert Murdoch’s Times to decide Labour policy.

But of course, if you are a Daily Telegraph reading fanatical far-right nutter, that will sound like treason to you. And you will probably struggle to understand that after 40 years of following free market ideology, including under Blair and Brown, and voters seeing where it has got this country (deindustrialised, massive inequality, people of 25-35 unable to buy their own homes as they did 35 years ago due to buy-to-letters snapping them up, the declining number of good jobs going disproportionately to the privileged minority who can afford to do unpaid internships in London for six months before being taken on, and so on…..), the ideological consensus of the 1980s is discredited and dying. Part of the hysteria of the Right, so over-represented in Unherd comment columns, looks to me as if it is inspired by a feeling that the Thatcher ideology has lost its hegemony and is rusting away. The number of people who are stuck in the mindset of 1979 and believe that “we have to vote Tory because we’ve got to break the trade unions” is declining every year.

fergusleedunne
fergusleedunne
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

Did the swathes of people from 2017 who voted for Labour and then voted Tory suddenly become toxic to….themselves? Does it make much sense to say that they were so put off by the apparent internal wranglings that they will now flock back to a party in which such divisions have continued apace, and intensified? Or, contrary to your media-heavy insider narrative, was Labour’s drubbing in 2019 not largely dominated by a single issue?

Barry Sharp
Barry Sharp
3 years ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

If you really think that Guardian readers are fanatical far-left nutters you need to give up commenting on political affairs and start writing fantasy novels.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
3 years ago
Reply to  fergusleedunne

You sound just like the political wallahs Giles so eloquently describes..

Vilde Chaye
Vilde Chaye
3 years ago
Reply to  fergusleedunne

“life under capital”

Give us strength.

Patrick Pending
Patrick Pending
3 years ago
Reply to  fergusleedunne

It soon became clear that, as with every socialist state, Corbyn the leader was a puppet of the nutters in shadows of the party. He did not have the knowledge, ability or wit to be the party leader in opposition never mind potentially as PM. His politics remained stuck in the ’70s as did his puppeteers. He is better suited to sitting behind a rocky table in front of free Palestine flag in a smokey church hall with a faithful audience clad in dr martin shoes than on the front bench.

Yes, I was also in those same halls (appropriately clad) and saw first hand the real intent of far left – state overthrow through it revolutionary socialism. It has never left him. It is what makes him and any far left Labour leader unelectable. Thank goodness.

rod tobin
rod tobin
3 years ago

i suggest that corbyn does a philby.

Robin P
Robin P
3 years ago

Meanwhile Keir Starmer is an outright enthusiast for fascism. As explained in this email I sent to my local MP and councillors, but to which there has not been any reply.

Dear [MP’s name],

Would you agree that there are on the one hand fully qualified humans, and on the other, mere subhumans with reduced rights?

Well, that’s clearly what the fascist scum Keir Starmer reckons.

In his view there is a class of “inferior” people who are not entitled to read what they like or publish what they believe.

And meanwhile there some “superior” class which is divinely entitled to DICTATE what those inferiors are allowed to read, and entitled to criminalise people who publish what they believe, unless it conforms to what the arrogant Starmer thug himself believes.

That is the very essence of Fascism.

And that is ok with you?

And on the side of police now brutally breaking up peaceful protests in numerous cities of the UK?

Sorry, but if the Labour Party wishes to identify itself as the clear enemy of the people and of all basic civilised values, they are going about it very much the right way.

I invite you to clearly reject this fascism of the Labour party. Any failure to do so will speak for itself.

[No reply, hence we have to conclude that these members of the “Labour” party do indeed approve of this fascism.]

Robin P
Robin P
3 years ago

delete

David C.
David C.
3 years ago

I’m Canadian but I’ve followed Corbyn with admiration and I never saw the fellow you described. I read his 2017 manifesto and saw a leader who loves his country and it’s people passionately. Labour itself has no ideology — it’s split between centrists and socialists, so there’s no particular party ideology for Corbyn to put before country. I think he was just passionate about turning Labour into the leftist party it’s supposed to be (the Lib Dems is where centrists belong, and obviously something went haywire there).

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago
Reply to  David C.

I suppose the one thing he has going for him is he is not Justin Trudeau

Micheal Thompson
Micheal Thompson
3 years ago

That counts as two things.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
3 years ago

At least

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
3 years ago
Reply to  David C.

Delusional comment.
This c…t sat down with people who tried to murder the whole british conservstive cabinet..within 3weeks of their attempt.

Jean Fothers
Jean Fothers
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Dunn

And let’s not forget, the new labour party leader, Sir Kneel Starmer, when Director of Public Prosecutions, swept under the carpet, the fact that thousands of young British white girls were being raped by mainly Pa*kist*ani men in places such as Rotherham, Rochdale etc.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Jean Fothers

I think you’ll find that’s a smear that even the Tories have decided to avoid promoting because it’s so discredited. It appeals only to people who want to believe it because their hatred of the left overpowers their limited judgement. Though no doubt you can read it on websites which appeal to such people, along with stuff around Hillary Clinton being a paedophile, Donald Trump having won the US election, etc.

Stephen Murray
Stephen Murray
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

Read “Survivors” by Maggie Oliver, and educate yourself.

Vilde Chaye
Vilde Chaye
3 years ago
Reply to  David C.

I’m canadian too. You’re hammered.

hari singh virk
hari singh virk
3 years ago

At it’s highest you say” Yes, his lazy and complacent attitude towards anti-Semitism ““ even complicit attitude ““ has damaged the party” so for this he should be excommunicated . Is that a balanced assessment? Boris johnson has made a litany of openly racist comments and holds the highest office in the land. Am I am Missing something ?

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
3 years ago

You are missing factual accuracy.

Boris johnson has made a litany of openly racist comments

Is a lie put about by anti-Semitic Corbyn supporters.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
3 years ago

Bearing in mind what racist actually means i.e the belief that your race is,in every way imaginable,superior to other races,lets hear the “openly racist comments”the Boris has made.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Dunn

Strange how such a racist shagger appointed one of the most diverse cabinets the country has ever had.

D Ward
D Ward
3 years ago

I enjoyed the article but really, what were you thinking writing this: “Corbyn protested his suspension”

Are we all Americans now?

Jean Fothers
Jean Fothers
3 years ago
Reply to  D Ward

Some of us have long believed that Steptoe Corbyn should be suspended, not necessarily from the labour party.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Jean Fothers

Another sign of your hatred of the left which I referred to above. Corbyn, Starmer…… anyone who isn’t on the hard right like yourself.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
3 years ago

Brilliant and incisive ..you’ve summed it up in one column Giles.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 years ago

How many of the people who joined the labour party in the Corbyn era were really tories who were prepared to pay a few quid to ensure the tory victories achieve against the labour leader they voted for?

dommckeever3
dommckeever3
3 years ago

He has never been at home in the Labour Party. He has stayed in a party whose political ideals he despises, because, let’s face it, where else would somebody of such limited ability and intelligence have found such a cushy and well paid job?

Karen Jemmett
Karen Jemmett
3 years ago

Interesting, putting anti-semitism in the Labour party aside for a moment and lest not forget it exists to some extent in all the main parties (deep breath)…..
Don’t you think that. on the whole, people tend to turn en masse to politics when they’re in deep trouble and see no other way out? And, whilst I agree with the sentiment that most of us just want to get on with enjoying our lives, we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that not everyone always can (another deep breath)….
I’m reminded of Gianluigi Braschi’s 1997 film, Life is Beautiful, when a father tries to protect his young son from the traumas of life in a concentration camp by telling him it was all a game where the winner gets a tank as the top prize. Not that we’re anywhere near that kind of fascist compromise here in the UK, it is a timely reminder what happened when people tired of party politics, buried their heads in the sand and went back to their volkish ways.
Maggie Gee’s dystopian novel, The Ice People, shows how disillusioned people become with a failing party political system that they resort to electing a Lesbian fringe party on the basis that they’d tried practically everything else and had nothing to lose! I can’t remember how it ends, since I seem to have developed a mental block when it comes to such things, but you may wish to check it out for its contemporary insights.
Paradoxically, I think part of the ‘problem’ is that we have all become slightly more adept at thinking for ourselves these days and, inevitably, a degree of self-interest tends to enter the equation. I’m not saying this is altogether a bad thing, btw, just different, that’s all. And that’s the prisoner’s dilemma the Labour Party are trying to grapple with right now.
Have fun out there and remember, life really is beautiful!

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

What a noble Roman Decius was! He was the first Roman Emperor to die in battle with the barbarians, cut down at Arbritus in the Balkans in what we now call 251AD. (1004AUC).

At the start of the encounter his elder son was killed, and on hearing the news Decius remarked,
“Let no one mourn, the death of one soldier is no great loss to the Republic”. Shortly afterward he too was slain, as a Roman Emperor should be, standing up, sword in hand.

Traditionally he has been vilified in Christian tradition, but as you correctly point out Giles, his persecution was subtle enough to allow for the somewhat paradoxical exemption of the Jews.
Disobedient Christians were rightly condemned as seditious, and suffered accordingly.

Bullfrog Brown
Bullfrog Brown
3 years ago

Corbyn has nothing outside the party, nor inside the party.

He and his cronies had a disaster of an election, allowing a liar and a charlatan into number 10.

The sooner Corbyn takes his Jew hating and bating politics to the gutter, where he and his cronies belong, and let a centrist Labour Party win the next election, is not a day too soon.

Barry Sharp
Barry Sharp
3 years ago

I’m not Labour and I didn’t think he would survive long if elected PM. I do recognise, however, a decent man and a good and successful constituency MP. Your piece is all based on speculation. Did you actually read the details of the EHRC report, It concluded that there was no institutional anti-semitism in the party but there were flawed procedures for dealing with complaints. Corbyn was not responsible for those flawed procedures. They long predated his election as leader. And further, his ability to influence the complaints procedure for the better was highly limited by the fact that the party’s disciplinary unit was firmly in the hands of a centrist bureaucracy deeply hostile to him. Your’s is a good example of lazy journalism and finding an “interesting new” angle to hang yet another personal attack.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 years ago
Reply to  Barry Sharp

I’m not from the UK so I certainly won’t pretend to possess insider knowledge of the Labour Party internal struggles but we’re not discussing the travails of the fresh-faced young MP from Little Pippi Longstocking (apologies if there actually is such a constituency)
Corbyn was a member for over 50 years.
“Don’t look at me – I just work here – I didn’t make the rules” is not an option for a leader as close as dammit to forming a government.
One could argue at length about anti-Semitism in the party, about the degree to which it was real or just so much opposition dis-information.
It doesn’t matter.
It was a problem for Labour because it migrated from behind closed doors into the actual world beyond.
Corbyn’s personal views on anti-Semitism aside (I understand there are opinions both ways) he either couldn’t or wouldn’t recognize the danger and persuade/hector/cajole/threaten his fellows that the issue was needlessly hurting Labour’s chances.
And that is a failure of leadership.

So IMO your response actually validates the points made in the article.

Barry Sharp
Barry Sharp
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

” I certainly won’t pretend to possess insider knowledge of the Labour Party internal struggles ” No you don’t but you seem to think you do. You have no idea about the internal back-stabbing that goes on within the Labour Party. Neither I suspect does the Rev.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 years ago
Reply to  Barry Sharp

Put it this way – I have no doubt that any political party has it’s share of internecine hair-pulling but if – as you say – Labour back-stabbing was so bad that Corbyn couldn’t exercise authority or lead the party in a semblance of the same direction then he wasn’t much of a leader and they aren’t much of a party.
If they weren’t able to sheath their daggers long enough to realize that an ‘anti-Semitic’ label was lethal electoral poison then they certainly weren’t/aren’t government material which, given the results, the voters confirmed.

As an example from my side of the pond former Conservative PM Stephen Harper had to deal with social conservatives in his own party who had visions of passing anti-abortion laws (Canada has no abortion law).
The opposition always warned the voters this was part of their “Hidden agenda” against women’s rights etc etc.
Harper knew the issue was a vote-killer so he made it clear in no uncertain terms.
The Conservative Party wasn’t ‘going there’.
Out of respect for the right of MP’s to satisfy their own constituents they would of course be free to put forward a private member’s bill.
But.
If an MP did so – the Party would NOT support it.
Not now. Not ever. End of.
Harper still provokes debate between admirers and haters but one thing was clear – he was THE leader – no doubt.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Walter Lantz

I didn’t vote for Corbyn in either leadership election, but the reality is that it’s impossible to lead a party in which most MPs are relentlessly disloyal and have set themselves up in opposition to the leader democratically elected by the membership under the rules of the party. That’s 250 or so powerful and well-connected people with approx £80,000 salaries (plus expenses) setting themselves up against 550,000 members many of whom are on a quarter of that income or less, in a party which is in principle socialist and therefore designed to advance the interests of those in the bottom half of the heap.

When Theresa May declared the 2017 general election, one Labour MP appeared on the main early evening TV news programme (the Six O’clock News, for UK readers) denouncing the Labour leader as unelectable. In a company, such people would be shown the door the following morning. When another Labour MP lost his seat in the 2019 election, he declared that the great political achievement of his life was ensuring that Labour didn’t win the election and Corbyn didn’t become PM. Yet checks and balances mean that it’s hard to remove such people.

Nicholas Rynn
Nicholas Rynn
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

I rather suspect the said Labour Politician understood reality. Labour was fine, but Labour under Corbin was utterly unelectable. So it proved to be.

Chris C
Chris C
3 years ago
Reply to  Nicholas Rynn

It became a self-fulfilling prophecy because of the determination of Labour MPs to sabotage the party (and as I say, I didn’t vote for Corbyn in either leadership election). In 2017, that MP denounced his own party leader on the first day of the election but Labour still denied the Tories a majority. So it stands to reason that the party would have done better still if MPs had been willing to accept their party’s elected leader. As it was, the increase in Labour’s vote share in 2017 was some kind of record for decades.

2019 as you say was a different story, but that was not only after a further two years of relentless disloyalty from MPs colluding with anti-Labour forces, it was also turned into the Brexit election by Labour saying it would go for a second referendum with the clear intention of getting a different result, and it was Starmer who pushed that through the party’s opposition-time decision making process against Corbyn’s opposition. Corbyn would probably have run with the same policy which brought progress in 2017, ie respecting the result of the referendum.

So the relentless disloyalty of MPs is undeniable, but the argument that it was justified because Corbyn was unelectable becomes a circular argument because Labour MPs deliberately made him unelectable. As I quoted above, one Labour MP declared that the great political achievement of his life was ensuring that Labour didn’t win the election and Corbyn didn’t become PM.

Vilde Chaye
Vilde Chaye
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

And good for them. They realized what an evil crank they had as leader and put country ahead of party.

Walter Lantz
Walter Lantz
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris C

The Canadian version of Labour, the NDP is much the same.
They have a long laundry list of “fixes” for what they consider to be injustices but while many members get that you have be elected at the federal level before you can start fixing things there are many others that appear content to be activists cooking up all sorts of “ideas” straight out of Crazy Town.
The provincial versions of the NDP enjoy success from time to time but at the federal level they are always an also-ran.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
3 years ago
Reply to  Barry Sharp

That Corbyn is a “decent man” BS again.
What was decent about his sacking of Sarah Champion?
That’s without his 55year history of foaming at the mouth hatred of Israel(none of his f..king business to begin with)

Barry Sharp
Barry Sharp
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Dunn

If it’s none of his f*****g business to begin with it’s none of the Labour Friends of Israel’s f*****g business either.

Barry Sharp
Barry Sharp
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Dunn

If it’s none of his f..king business to begin with it’s none of the Labour Friends of Israel’s f..king business either. There you go mods.

Vilde Chaye
Vilde Chaye
3 years ago
Reply to  Barry Sharp

Their name belies your statement. Not the “sharp”est tool in the shed, obviously.

Eleanor Barlow
Eleanor Barlow
3 years ago
Reply to  Barry Sharp

‘Corbyn was not responsible for those flawed procedures.’

Wrong. The boss is always responsible for any misdeeds that happen on his or her watch. That’s why they are paid more than the rank and file.But Corbyn seems to have adopted the same behavioural standards as some of the captains of industry and Tory politicians that he no doubt despises.
Corbyn could have removed the flawed procedures and replaced them with something more effective, but he chose not to. For that he is most definitely reposnible.

Vilde Chaye
Vilde Chaye
3 years ago
Reply to  Barry Sharp

you can’t possibly be serious about Corbyn. The only way someone could make the statements you’ve made about him is by entirely ignoring his record, his statements, and his deeds, both before and while being labour leader.