The man who has voted against his own party hundreds of times since he was first elected to Parliament in 1983 would tolerate no rebellions if he becomes Britain’s Labour Party leader this year.
Jeremy Corbyn, the far-left candidate who is ahead in the polls to succeed Ed Miliband, told The Independent newspaper this week he would expect lawmakers to fall in line and back his radical agenda — even if it would almost certainly divide the Labour Party and doom its election prospects in 2020.
To the dismay of the party establishment, Corbyn has called for free university education, the renationalization of utilities and rail, more generous welfare spending, Britain’s withdrawal from NATO, the unilateral dismantling of its nuclear deterrent, relinquishing Northern Ireland and Scottish independence. Centrist lawmakers and former party leaders, including Tony Blair, have warned that such a platform would almost certainly cost Labour the next election.
Labour lost its second general election in a row in May on a more left-wing manifesto than former prime ministers Blair and Gordon Brown campaigned on.
Labour Party members have always been to the left of the Labour Party’s voters who are logically to the left of the average voter.
But Corbyn threatens to drag the party further to the left than ever — and refuses to heed warnings about what that will do.
Instead, in what The Independent described as “a barely coded threat to the right of the party,” he reminded lawmakers they were only in Parliament because supporters “worked night and day” to get them there.
Corbyn urged his colleagues to “recognize” that there is a “huge thirst for significant change in the party” and told them not to “stand in the way” of it.
“I will absolutely use our supporters to push our agenda up to the parliamentary party and get them to follow that,” he said.
But many of his supporters weren’t even members of the Labour Party before he nominated himself for the leadership.
Some 600,000 have registered to vote in the leadership contest, around half of whom are trade unionists and new members who only paid £3 for the right to vote.
Dan Hodges, a former party official, has argued that the far left is trying to take over Labour.
We’ve now reached the stage where the Corbyn cultists are effectively arguing that membership of the Labour Party at any point over the past thirty years represents the ultimate act of treachery toward that party. Their minds process their warped narrative thus: the modernization started by [Neil] Kinnock and carried forward by Blair and Brown was a betrayal. During these dark days only the Corbynites remained true to Labour’s values. And so, by extension, anyone who supported Kinnock, Blair or Brown supported the erosion of those aims and values. Ergo — only those who joined Labour over the past twelve weeks can claim to be genuine Labour supporters.
Corbyn’s resistance to Labour’s centrist drift during its eighteen years in opposition from 1979 to 1997 makes him an poor choice for leader of a party that has recently lost two elections because it was seen as too left-wing again.
What is egregious is his and his supporters’ intolerance of those beg to differ with their strategy.
Corbyn was Labour’s single most rebellious lawmaker during the Blair and Brown era. He often defied instructions from the party leadership. In the last Parliament, he voted against his party one in four times.
The same Corbyn is now lecturing other lawmakers on toeing the leader’s line?
Why, but his were “principled” rebellions, Corbyn told The Independent — by implication accusing every Labourite who doesn’t share his eagerness to relitigate the economic policy battles of the 1980s and lose again of having no principles. Which is probably the majority of the party, not counting those who are using it as a vehicle for turning Britain into a workers’ paradise.