Nick Cohen

The frivolity of the Left

The frivolity of the Left
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I can tell you why hundreds of thousands think that 'Jeremy' - as they insist on calling him - must prevail. I can take you through it all: the oligarchs on one side and the food banks on the other; the Iraq war and the failure to find weapons of mass destruction; the bailing out of the banking system without one, not one, banker being prosecuted for ruining the economy or ravishing the exchequer; the inversion of the natural order, that preference for the past over the future, which has seen the government load benefit cuts and fees on the young while gifting pension rises and tax giveaways to the old; and the destruction of everyday aspiration, which has made the hopes  of millions to live an ordinary life with a man or woman of one's own, in a home of one's own, with space for children of one's own an impossible dream.

I can tell you the stories. Of course I can. I wrote several of them myself. They are why Jeremy Corby won the leadership of the Labour Party, and why his supporters still cling to him as if he were Christ reborn.

He has led and won a protest against so much of what is wrong in Britain. No wonder they love him.  Yet, as at least a few of them are beginning to understand, grievances are not enough. When 'dissenters' win, they pass a tipping point and topple into a new world. It is no longer sufficient to denounce once you have won, anyone can denounce, you have to create.

I had a piece in the Observer yesterday on the vacuity of Corbyn.  How he and vast numbers of people who call themselves left wing think it is enough to say that they are against poverty, war etc, without having an alternative political and economic programme. Watching them is like watching children with a dressing-up box playing a game of 'let's pretend to be left wing': except these are not children and this is not a game.

The vacuity of the far left, its refusal to commit to a programme because commitment would necessitate compromise, is unforgivable. At best it will give us a decade, maybe longer, of Tory rule. At worst, it will destroy the Labour Party and reduce left-wing politics  to a 'social movement' which will retweet the odd barbed comment, organise the odd march and throw the odd brick at the odd policeman but achieve precisely nothing beyond giving its members a wholly unwarranted feeling of righteous virtue.

With the vacuity comes the inevitable frivolity.

Today Thangam Debbonaire, the Labour MP for Bristol West, writes about how Corbyn cannot be bothered to attend to the most elementary duties of an opposition leader. Her constituency has already experienced the thuggishness Momentum has brought to Labour parties across the country. Social justice warriors, who weren't even members until a year ago, are demanding that she explain her 'betrayal' of 'Jeremy'. (Sorry to go on about the first name terms but they reveal so much. Free citizens of robust democracies would call him 'Corbyn,' 'Mr Corbyn' or 'that useless bastard'.  'Jeremy' and 'Jez' reveal a political and emotional infantilisation among his followers.)

So poisonous has the atmosphere become in Bristol West and across the country, Labour National Executive has had to suspend all meetings as if Britain were a country under martial law.

Debbonaire, quite properly, still believes she has to account for her actions to Labour members, so she explained  on her Facebook page why she had no confidence in him. He had announced to the press that he had appointed her to his shadow cabinet. This was news to Ms Debbonaire, as he had not asked her if she wanted the job. As she was being treated for breast cancer, a call would have been more than a courtesy. She needed to talk to him about whether she was well enough to take on the additional burdens.

Her sense of duty prevailed and she took the job. But she did not need to struggle with it for long. Corbyn sacked her the next day when he realised he had given away part of someone else's role. He  didn't bother to tell her he had fired her either.

I discovered that he had sacked me but hadn't told me and did not have any ideas for how I was supposed to explain it to Bristol West members or constituents.  I was then faced with the choice of telling the truth - that he had made a series of errors, and inevitably thereby face a pile of criticism from his supporters - or  say I had changed my mind about accepting the role - and thereby face a pile of criticism from.his supporters. And I knew the pile would arrive because I had seen how it went for others who had resigned. And because Corbyn supporters had already piled into me for disloyalty when I had had to miss votes for cancer treatment.

It was a manifestation of the same incompetence that helped take Britain out of the European Union, she concluded.

But then he was missing in action during the EU referendum, including going on a week's holiday three weeks before the day. I found his team didn't send anyone to the EU Campaign meetings in Westminster and his lack of enthusiasm showed.

She does not understand how Labour can have a leader who does not care if Britain is in the EU or not, and says that he is not interested in winning elections. Enlightenment will come when she understands the far left. It doesn't want to win elections because the Marxist- Leninists among its ranks do not believe in democracy. They want a dictatorship of the proletariat - not the actual proletariat, you understand, who have never taken to Marxism - but of themselves and their allies. There are very few true Leninists left, however. Corbyn and Momentum do not despise winning because they have an alternative dictatorship in mind. They despise it because they have no alternative whatsoever. At some level in their tiny, fevered minds, they know that, if they tried to win, they would have to compromise. In other words, they would have to 'sell out'. And they would rather the Tories ruled forever than do that.

Doubtless Conservative readers are enjoying the destruction of the Labour Party. You would not be human if you did not. But allow me to point you to a parallel. For years the Tory right has been able to tell an equally compelling story about the injustices the European Union heaped on Britain. They, like the far left, have now won. They have reached the tipping point and gone from protesting against the establishment to being the establishment. David Davies, Boris Johnson and Liam Fox strike me as no different from Corbyn and co. They too do not have the faintest idea what to do next.