The Labour Leadership race has certainly come alive in the last week. At the beginning there was much complaining about the rather dull and formulaic nature of the contest – the hustings were all the same, the candidates too close to each other in politics and in style.
Whether these criticisms were true or not, certainly it is this sense of a lack of real change that has fuelled a lot of the excitement around the once insurgent – now front running – candidacy of Jeremy Corbyn.
Some of that excitement – and a great deal of consternation – has been around the registered supporters’ scheme. There are fears that the scheme may be open to abuse by those who do not want to elect a Labour leader who can win elections. But there are also those who simply don’t want the “wrong sort” of members to join.
Politics should be about mass movements. Mass movements have to be broad churches. Just as it is not right for the Left of our Party to call anyone they disagree with a Tory, so too is it wrong for our right flank to dismiss those who are engaged and enthused by Jeremy Corbyn.
Where there are members of other Parties joining to “make trouble” they should be weeded out – but where this is not the case then all those interested in joining the Labour family should be welcomed.
A great many people I know who are either voting for Corbyn or thinking of doing so are not leftie entrists and they aren’t the hard left. They are the centre and heart of the Labour Party. They are disgruntled activists who have simply had enough.
Enough of being treated like leaflet fodder. Enough of the rude and dismissive top down attitudes that are not just allowed but encouraged. Enough of having no say over policy and no respectful disagreement. Enough of being dismissed with “my way or the unelectable highway”.
And enough of politicians trained in robotic, safety first communications. Until Corbyn-mania we were all bemoaning the dullness of the contest. If you aren’t inspired to vote for anyone else – and if they can’t convince you they can win over the country – then why wouldn’t you vote with your heart?
I remain neutral in this contest. All of the candidates give me different reasons to be concerned and I have different things I admire in each of them. I worry about what a press who behaved so utterly disgracefully towards the mild social democrat Ed Miliband would do to Jeremy Corbyn. But I also see in him what so many others do too. He is inspiring and he is a breath of fresh air.
I want to see the Labour Party straining its every sinew to win the next election. That is our only job for the next five years. We have to take back the government to make any of the changes that we want to see to our country. A country being radically divided and changed by the Tories.
But to do so, we have to bring our coalition along with us – whoever they vote for as leader and whoever is eventually elected to lead. Just as I am sick and tired of hearing that we don’t want “Tory” voters to vote for us, so too am I sick and tired or hearing that we don’t want the “wrong” sort of members.
This contest is going through an ugly phase. The Tories are sitting back and laughing as Labour members tear each other to pieces. We need to get out of the habit of letting the Tories win. We may disagree on how we do that, but can we at least agree that this is and must remain our priority?