Labour’s Resistance to Reality | Jake Scott

Jeremy Corbyn (who, despite having now led the Labour Party into two successive General Election defeats, seems to still consider himself a Prime Minister-in-waiting) has recently branded Labour the “Resistance” to Boris Johnson. Curiously enough, not the resistance to the Conservative Party nor the Government itself, but Johnson specifically. The use of words is a fig-leaf; Mr. Corbyn clearly means the British Government – and this marks a significant challenge indeed. Not a challenge to the Government – the Conservatives have a large enough majority for that to not really be a problem – but a challenge to the constitution.

We have a special constitution in this country, in that it is one in which the Opposition is an institutional part of government. Walter Bagehot’s famous The English Constitution (1867) elucidated the idea sharply, identifying that the Opposition party was a significant counterweight to the actions and ambitions of the governing party, and was instituted in its very presence in the House of Commons. In most other democracies in the world, the government is instituted in a single office, and those parties not affiliated with the holder of that office (such as the Democrats in the United States) are merely legislative members. Indeed, we must remember that the full title under discussion is Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition; it was through this institutionalisation that disagreements were channelled, maintaining a respectful and civilised standard to political debate.

Jeremy Corbyn is tearing this up. Calling his Labour Party the “Resistance”, where they shall fight the Conservatives “in Parliament and in the streets”, makes him sound more like a wannabe guerrilla fighter than a 70 year old British socialist. It also places his allegiance outside of the bounds of the constitution that he, as much as the Prime Minister, is supposed to respect. This is no real surprise; the clique he has surrounded himself with has professed enmity to the British state in the past, but this bare-faced refusal to honour the obligations of his post – to assist and offer scrutiny in the act of governance, not resist it – is the most blatant yet.

If my obsession over the constitution is too eccentric, look elsewhere to see where Labour carries it’s flight from sanity: Corbyn himself has proposed a two-year delay to Brexit if no-deal is not ruled out. He must have missed the General Election result last month; and the contenders for the Labour Party leadership all seem to continually believe this Election outcome to be a mistake on the part of the electorate, with Jess Phillips refusing to rule-out Labour arguing for rejoining the European Union (save Sir Keir Starmer’s acceptance that the issue has been settled). And still, there seems to be an obsession with carrying on the Corbynite project: Rebecca Long-Bailey’s announcement today that she will run to be Leader was followed by a claim that Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership was ’10/10′. I wonder if his refusal to call Qasem Soleimani a terrorist is part of this perfect leadership.



Then there is the 2019 Manifesto. Some people seem to think the policies within were credible; indeed, some were, it cannot be denied. I was personally quite struck by the deafening absence of any policy statement on the Personal Allowance, given the policy’s proven ability to assist in the real earnings of working people. But the real incredible thinking was in the clash between some of the policies: planting 2,000,000,000 trees was one thing (three every second, day and night, for the next twenty years), but how could that possibly square with a commitment to 100,000 new homes every year? Or protecting the Green Belt (page 23 of the Manifesto)? Or the proposed NHS Forest, with 1,000,000 trees of its own (page 32 of the Manifesto)? I’m not about to join the voices tearing the manifesto to shreds – Lord knows that choir is large enough. I’m just trying to wrap my head around the inability to square these policies together.

If you need any further proof that Labour has lost its sanity – indeed, seems intent on doing so – look at the potential leadership candidates. Someone remarked to me today that he thinks there are only two credible options: I think he is wrong. I think none of them are credible, just simply preferable. But when you are sinking, any floating detritus looks like a ship.

Photo by Philip Robins on Flickr. 

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