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Bernard Ingham: No future for Labour unless it ditches Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn.
Jeremy Corbyn.
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WHO would have thought the Labour Party could be reduced to this?

It is true that Clement Attlee had a difficult crew just after the war. Harold Wilson’s great achievement, after his part in the earlier Bevanite rebellion, was to hold his fissiparous party together. And then successive leaders were generally tested almost to destruction by the unions’ abuse of power and Militant Tendency.

After Margaret Thatcher’s reforms, Tony Blair did not know he was born 
until he blew his reputation over 
Iraq through the activities of his press chief, Alastair Campbell, and his battles with his successor, Gordon Brown, arguably the worst British PM since the war.

Labour has often not been a pretty sight in its 30 years in government out of the 73 since the end of the Second World War, but it has never before been in today’s appalling mess.

The only question is whether its condition is terminal? It is a question that concerns every one of us because it is in the nation’s interest that Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition is credible and responsible.

Under Jeremy Corbyn, it is none of those things. And how can you be loyal to Her Majesty when you want to get rid of her?

The kindest explanation for Labour’s present political disaster is that it is a reaction against what the Left would describe as Blair’s “Tory policies”. In fact, the budget deficit of £153bn left by Brown was anything but Tory, but that is by the way.

We now have a potential “Labour” government that would make Brown look parsimonious and wreck the economy; does not take the defence of the realm, the currency or the weak seriously; is weak on law and order; welcomes unrestrained immigration; has no idea what it really stands for on Brexit; has succeeded in alienating the Jewish community, many of whom have for generations found their natural political home as an oppressed people in Labour; and consorts with terrorists.

It is, moreover, totalitarian. Its only response to criticism is to try to silence it by threats and intimidation of one kind or another. You could kiss goodbye to a free and open society if Corbyn ever reached No 10.

How on earth did this man, his perhaps more menacing side-kick, John McDonnell, and their Momentum enforcers get anywhere near the top of the Labour Party, let alone No 10?

This is a question that will launch a thousand academic theses, always assuming that academia is not totally inhabited by politically correct hard Lefties.

This is my theory. First, Blair/Brown policies and their distinctly “smelly” politics demoralised the party even though the Tories gained office in 2010 only with Liberal Democrat help. Labour was as confused as it was split, like the Tories, over Europe.

It clutched at straws such as berating the Tories for “austerity” – what austerity? – when the global meltdown of 2007-08 occurred on the Blair/Brown watch.

Rationally, it should have prepared itself for government when the Tories were forced into a coalition with Lib Dems whose leader, Nick Clegg, prided himself not on what the coalition achieved but the 18 measures or
so he claimed the Lib Dems had
blocked.

Instead – and this is the only rational explanation – it was oblivious of the progressive Momentum takeover of the party or, if aware of it, thought that it could be contained just as Neil Kinnock disposed of Militant. They therefore went temporarily mad, electing first the disastrous Ed Miliband as leader before even fully paid-up moderates facilitated Corbyn’s candidature.

Better late than never, some, to their credit, now deeply regret their paving
the way for what the naive see as the Messiah.

The next question is what are they going to do about it. It is a matter of political life or death. They can be pretty certain that if they don’t act soon Momentum will steadily “cleanse” the party of moderate MPs or will force the weak to toe the party line.

The hard Left is nothing if not supremely confident of its righteousness and abilities and, curiously, its electoral appeal.

Notwithstanding the fate of the 
SDP breakaway of the early 1980s, I cannot see any future for Labour or its traditional MPs unless, acting as a majority bloc, they renounce Corbyn’s Labour Party, establish themselves as Independent Labour and claim their undoubted right to form HM Loyal Opposition.

This is devoutly to be wished for
 the sake of British politics. The only question remaining is whether they 
have the guts. I’m not holding my
breath.