This isn’t a kinder politics, it’s intimidation and it must end
Pamela Nash says the language being used to attack and intimidate MPs is appalling. The promise of “a kinder politics” has not been kept, and Corbyn is in danger of fracturing the party.
Our Labour Party, built on the central value of solidarity, is suffering from chronic and painful divisions which may irreparably damage it. I have not criticised Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership publicly before this week; in fact I have often defended him. He deserved to lead as he had achieved a huge mandate and had brought a lot of energy into the party. I did not doubt he was indeed principled and wanted to change the world, as his campaign made clear.
However, the implicit suggestion has been that other Labour MPs are not as principled as him, as they do not share all of his views. This is just wrong. I did not have the pleasure of knowing Jo Cox, but our mutual friends have told me just how lovely, hardworking, principled and driven she was. And there are many, many more like her in the House of Commons. Our Labour MPs have fought for years for social justice, equality and to improve the quality of lives of their constituents, and millions of people have thus voted them in.
The suggestion that those MPs resigning and calling on Jeremy to step aside are acting in self-interest is exceptionally hurtful. The reality is that this will have been the hardest days of their political lives; they have no choice but to act. Thousands of voters are telling them on their doorsteps every week that they will not vote for Labour under Corbyn. The last straw has been the lack of leadership from Corbyn in campaigning for a Remain vote; indeed it appears he hindered the Labour campaign and has even now refused to confirm how he voted. We are leaving the EU, and he has taken none of the blame.
This all takes place in the wider environment where politicians are despised and expected to put up with treatment that would not be acceptable in any other profession. Politician has become a dirty word. Rarely seen as honourable ladies and gentlemen, just money-grabbing careerists whatever their own personal records are. What is most hurtful is that some Labour Party members, and other Corbyn supporters, are now openly attacking our MPs in this way.
I felt sick when I saw the “Blairite Vermin” t-shirt making an appearance at the Parliament Square rally. “Vermin” was used by the Hutus to refer to Tutsis in 1990s’ Rwanda, not to mention its use in 1930s Europe. This vile language is being repeated all over social media to describe MPs; it is purposefully dehumanising and designed to stir up hatred against our MPs. All this when a beloved member of the Labour family was murdered in what appears to be a hate crime just two weeks ago. Of course this is a minority acting in this way, but a dangerous minority.
Jeremy has allowed the team around him to try and intimidate MPs and anyone who disagrees with him, instigating mob mentality, threatening deselections and protests at MPs offices and homes. He eventually condemned the abuse of MPs yesterday via a tweet. Hours later, Jewish MP Ruth Smeeth left the launch of the Party’s Anti-Semitism report in tears after being confronted by a Momentum supporter. Just to be clear, this was at an official Labour Party event. Corbyn stood by and watched. Horrendous.
A ‘kinder politics’ has proved nothing more than a platitude at best, at worst a cover for the more sinister intimidation of anyone who disagrees with Corbyn and his team.
Pride has quickly become one of my favourite films. There is a scene where a miner and an LGBT campaigner shake hands, and talk about this as a symbol of solidarity. I cannot watch it without a few tears of pride that I am part of the Labour movement. I love the Labour Party; it is my home and family.
Tragically, solidarity has not been nurtured under Jeremy’s leadership. Instead our Party has fractured to the point that we cannot function. If he cares at all about the Party, he must now stand aside and allow us to unify and save it.