Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Labour in vain

BBC Two last night showed a documentary filmed throughout the campaign for June's General Election, Labour: The Summer That Changed Everything, which followed four anti-Corbyn Labour MP's who hoped that a Tory landslide and a heavy defeat for their own party might just finish off a Leader whom they themselves had spectacularly failed to oust with an, at times farcical, parliamentary coup the summer before, ultimately fronted by the comically inept and now almost forgotten figure of Owen Smith.

The highlight of the programme for me was the moment when the exit poll was announced as voting ended at ten o'clock on polling day, showing that Labour had actually gained thirty seats, the Tories had lost their slim House of Commons majority and their hopes of Corbyn resigning had just evaporated, with Stephen Kinnock, next to his father, the failed ex-Labour Leader and now Baron of Bedwelty, Neil in a social club in South Wales and Lucy Powell amongst besuited young activists in the City Arms, long a meeting place for Manchester councillors, being just round the corner from the Town Hall, both attempting to suppress their obvious disappointment as their hopes for a swift return to what they still no doubt see as normal politics were finally dashed by the electorate.

The programme then skipped forward to the Labour Party conference in Brighton a few months later, with the four looking rather forlorn and friendless amidst the, admittedly a bit gushingly admiring, youthful Corbyn fan club. Having twice failed to persuade the membership to elect one of their own as Leader in successive years, you felt that deep down their thoughts were pretty much identical to those which Bertolt Brecht famously assigned to the Stalinist dictators of East Germany in 1953 after the Berlin building workers' strike sparked an uprising against their rule: "Would it not be easier.../To dissolve the people/And elect another?"

The most bizarre Labour Party-related TV moment of the night had already occurred earlier in the evening, when one-time Cabinet minister and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls brought the ex-Communications Workers Union General Secretary Billy Hayes onto BBC One's Would I Lie To You?, not a programme I normally watch, but which I happened to catch five minutes of while flicking through the channels, and introduced him as his former partner in a Lionel Richie/Diana Ross karaoke tribute act.

1 comment:

  1. When Kinnock junior said these villages used to have pits,he did not mention his father helped defeat the miners in the great strike denouncing their leader,their militancy and refusing to get the Labour party behind the miners defence of their jobs and pits. And the moment where his intelligent wife told him to be careful what he said. The new political reality. Don't criticise Corbyn. And the conclusion. The youngsters need a leader and when the old man is gone, kinnock Junior is waiting for better times.