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Corbyn needs the freedom to oppose the Tories without being stabbed in the back

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If you want to understand the depths of the problems Jeremy Corbyn faces, look not at the opposition he will face from the Conservative benches in parliament but at some of the people in his own party.

Roy Hattersley, party grandee, now Baron Hattersley, make an extraordinary statement in the Guardian today:

Corbyn said nothing that even acknowledged that half the Labour party is deeply opposed to his policies.

That is nonsense even if it is based on excluding the votes of supporters and affiliates (full voting figures). Among the quarter of a million full members, Corbyn was only about a thousand votes short of an absolute majority over the the three other candidates combined. To assume that everyone who voted for other candidates was “deeply opposed” is arrogant.

Hattersley seems to be thinking of the “parliamentary party” as the “party” which is the attitude which got Labour into the mess it is in. First in Scotland and then in England it failed to listen to its members and supporters.

When Hattersley says Corbyn, “is incapable of leading the Labour party to victory at the next general election” he could be right. But he forgets that a reason why many voted Corbyn is that they believed none of the other candidates were capable of winning the next election. There was a chance if the parliamentary party listened to supporters, found is soul again, it might be able to win.

Also in the Guardian, journalist Zoe Williams takes a more nuanced position (it is well worth reading as I think it reflects the views of a lot of people who want to feel it might possible to vote Labour in 2020) and writes

The question… is whether or not a Corbyn-led Labour party can lodge effective opposition to the Conservative government. This should be asked in the context of a pre-Corbyn Labour party that was lodging no opposition at all (the failure to vote against the welfare bill was one of the most cynical and alienating acts I can remember).

At the moment effective opposition, rather than ceding that job to the SNP, is what is needed from the parliamentary Labour party. Worrying about the next election can wait until the party has decided what it believes in.

 

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