Labour rightist ray of sunshine Luke Akehurst has been criticising Jeremy Corbyn for being a rebellious MP. He’s also been criticising Jeremy Corbyn for everything up to and including having the sheer temerity to exist, but this newest line of attack is especially revealing about the way he and the other Anyone But Corbyn zealots see the world.
Akehurst and others have been heavily implying that Corbyn’s record of defying the Labour leadership in parliament makes him unsuitable to be Labour leader. Asked whether, as a self-described party loyalist, he’d back whoever won the election, Akehurst said he would – bear that in mind if Jeremy does win – but that “Corbyn displayed no loyalty at all to Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown and Ed Miliband”.
Meanwhile, waves of spleen-rupturingly funny Labour right-wingers have been tweeting variations on the theme: “lololololol what’s he going to do if he wins, rebel against his own party line?!!???!!!??! Lolololololoololoolololollool”.
It’s further evidence that the Labour right hasn’t really grasped what democracy – or the Labour Party, for that matter – is supposed to be about. Luke Akehurst appears to see Labour as some sort of military organisation, where you salute your commander on the stairs and unquestioningly charge in whatever direction he or she instructs you.
Each time Jeremy Corbyn voted against the orders of the Labour leadership, he did so because he thought the party line was morally indefensible. If you wanted to draw up a concise guide to everything the Labour Party has done wrong over a thirty year period, you could do a lot worse than just compiling a list of every issue Corbyn, John McDonnell and friends rebelled over.
What’s more, there’s a strong case for seeing Corbyn as one of the most loyal Labour MPs in recent history. When he first became involved in Labour politics, the party quite naturally included people with views as radical as his. In recent decades, though, the party leadership has consistently trampled over everything he believes in. But he’s stayed. He hasn’t joined the Greens, TUSC, Left Unity. He’s continued to win Islington North for Labour with huge majorities, he’s continued to help campaign for Labour candidates with vastly different political views to himself. He encourages young people, older, disillusioned people, previously apolitical people, to join and become active within Labour. You don’t see Tristram Hunt doing any of that.
He’s also a model parliamentarian. His expense claims are virtually nil, he’s got no insidious corporate connections, he lives quietly among his constituents, riding his bike everywhere, tending to his allotment. Fundamentally, he’s in politics to help the most vulnerable people in society, and has done so for decades, with no interest in personal advancement.
And he’s spectacularly unpopular among the kind of right-wing Labourites who’ve swallowed Tory myths about austerity, balancing budgets and ‘wealth creation’, and whose politics essentially revolve around deriding any attempt to deviate from a neoliberal status quo that’s crushingly unjust, economically illiterate, and well on the way to being ecologically catastrophic.
We’ll see how keen said right-wing Labourites are on party loyalty if Corbyn wins.