Sunday, 9 April 2017

Anyone but Corbyn? Don't be silly...

It began to feel like a trend when the third person in two days referred to me as belonging to the “Anyone but Corbyn” group, neatly abbreviated as “ABC”.

It seems this is the latest term that supporters of Jeremy Corbyn, current and flailing leader of the Labour Party, have come up with in their increasingly desperate attempt to label everyone else as part of one, homogeneous and, it goes without saying, despicable group.

We were all at one time “Blairites”. It was hard to get that label to stick to people, like me, with a long track record of opposing Blair as energetically as they now oppose Corbyn.

“Red Tory” didn’t work for people who’d spent a career opposing the Tories, in some cases winning elections against them. 

The label “plotters” (because they supported the supposed “coup” against Corbyn) suggested that there was a conspiracy embracing a couple of hundred thousand people, and you have to be profoundly paranoid to believe such a plot even possible.

They still, though, seem to need a single, simplifying term to brand us all. “ABC” is the latest attempt. Sadly, though, it merely shows how hopeless it is to impose such a simplification on a phenomenon far too complex for it.

I would never go for anyone but Corbyn. Why, we could end up with someone even worse – and there are people who would make an even more dire job of leading the Labour Party than Corbyn. John McDonnell, his Shadow Chancellor, for one. If we can cast the net beyond Parliament, the devious and authoritarian leader of the Unite union, Len McCluskey, would be another.

Perhaps “ABTC” would work: anyone better than Corbyn. Unfortunately not. I thought Ed Miliband, the previous leader, was desperately weak. More lamentable as leader even than his own predecessor, Gordon Brown. But either of them would be an improvement over Corbyn, and the last thing I want to see is either of them back.

What about “AALBTC”, anyone a lot better than Corbyn? I’m not sure that works either. You see, Tony Blair was massively better than Corbyn (or Brown or Miliband) at winning elections; he was dismal at resisting the lure of power and therefore followed the then most powerful man in the world, Dubya Bush, into the catastrophic Iraq War. That’s Dubya who was himself the worst President of the United States, or so I imagined until I discovered Trump.

No. We need someone with the ability of Blair to win elections but the guts to say “no” to power. An earlier Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, was good that way, refusing to take Britain into the Vietnam War, but he wasn’t exactly the straightest of individuals and he does suffer from the inconvenient handicap of being dead.

Harold Wilson: said no to LBJ over the disaster of Vietnam
But not exactly pure as driven snow...
So what we really need is anyone but Corbyn who’s a lot better at winning elections without being opportunistic about essential principle or kowtowing to inept political leaders. Sadly ABCWALBAWEBWBOAEPOKTIPL doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue.

Which perhaps makes my point. We’re talking about a complex view, not susceptible to simple summary. Trying to encapsulate it with a single word or pithy abbreviation is bound to fail.

On the other hand, if you absolutely insist on coming up with a single term for those of us who oppose Corbyn within the Party, I do have one that I feel goes a long way towards filling the bill.

I like to think of myself as a Labourite.

No comments: