The random witterings of Jonathan Morris, writer.

Saturday, 12 September 2015

The Winner Takes It All

As I’m attending the Labour conference in a couple of weeks time, I observed the reveal of the identity of the star attraction with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. I’ve made it no secret that he was not my preferred candidate and my attitude now is, go on, prove me wrong. Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters vociferously believe he is the person best-equipped to return Labour to power... well, let's hope he doesn't disappoint them.


I think we’ll know soon enough whether or not the members of the Labour party have made the right choice. Jeremy received nearly 90,000 votes from £3 registered supporters... now that he’s the leader, I hope they’ll all now be willing to stump up the £3.88 to become full members. And I hope they’ll turn up for their local party meetings, and knock on doors, and if they’re wealthy enough, that they’ll donate money. And after that, if Jeremy’s supporters are correct, then we should soon see some improvement in Labour’s standing in the opinion polls, and Labour will gain seats in by-elections and get more seats in next year’s European and local elections. Because if Labour is to win the next general election, it has to start winning now.

I confess I’m a little cynical about this. My feeling from reading twitter is that Jeremy’s supporters think that by having paid their £3 and cast their vote they’ve done their bit and they have no intention of actually joining Labour or campaigning for it; they think that making sarcastic tweets during BBC Question Time counts as political activism and expect other people to do the hard work. They’re the ones currently crowing that Corbyn’s victory means the death of New Labour (you know, those scoundrels who built all those hospitals and passed the Human Rights Act). But I hope I’m wrong and if Jeremy’s supporters become full members, if Jeremy performs well on TV and in the House of Commons, if he can unite the party behind him, and if he can translate his support into a dramatic improvement in Labour’s fortunes, then he has my support, 100%.

And if not... well, I was at the first hustings for the Fabian society, where all of the candidates unequivocally guaranteed that if turned out they were an electoral liability, if their leadership did not deliver results, then they would step down with immediate effect. Jeremy was the most emphatic of the five candidates in making this promise and I have no doubt that he is a man of his word.

One last thought on the leadership election. While Yvette Cooper did suddenly improve in the last couple of weeks in the campaign, I think she and Andy Burnham both suffered from essentially offering more of the same with a few tweaks, while Liz Kendall – while being largely right about what Labour has to do to win – was frustratingly weak on details and policy; yes, Labour should be pro-business, but how, exactly? All three candidates could’ve done with some big, memorable ideas – something for supporters to rally behind – but instead they seemed to only offer small, timid, forgettable ideas. Whereas Jeremy Corbyn was full of ideas, some of which are good, some of which are bad, and hopefully he’ll have people to help him tell them apart from now on.

Speaking of which, in terms of the deputy... I’m sure Tom Watson will be fine. The only reason I didn’t vote for him is because he’s been doing such a great job uncovering scandals that I kind of don’t want him to get sidetracked from that.

But even though I didn’t get my first choice for leader(or my second choice, or my third choice) as long as there are good people in the Labour party, people like Liz Kendall, Yvette Cooper, Alan Johnson, Chuka Umunna and Dan Jarvis, and as long as it honours the fantastic legacy of people like Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Mo Mowlam, then I’m not going anywhere.

Anyway, after the great announcement, in my capacity as Winchester and Chandler’s Ford Labour Party’s delegate to the Labour conference I attended a pre-conference briefing on what to expect. As I’ll be attending as a delegate my job will be to represent the views of the local Labour party; in regard to Jeremy Corbyn, I gauge their attitude as being ‘cautiously positive’ and so that is the opinion I will go in with. As I haven’t been mandated by the local party to speak on any motions I can’t do that (although I’d be happy to) and again, my votes and any public statements I make will reflect the views of Winchester and Chandler’s Ford Labour Party rather than my own - I intend to write a blog each day on the day’s events, so will try to avoid expressing my own wacky opinions. Similarly, for the duration of the conference, I will be upbeat and positive in my twitter activity; I have been advised to avoid tweeting when I am angry, drunk or not very awake, which is a pity as that's when I write my best material. And as I’ll be blogging every night, and sleeping on a friend’s sofa, drinking is not going to be an option anyway.

But that’s two weeks away. Up until then, all blogs and tweets remain my own deluded opinions and should be disregarded as such.

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