The outcry over John McDonnell’s "U-turn" reflects a potential gulf between sections of the PLP and the Labour leader and the PLP and the party membership.
The media obsession with splits and divisions within the Labour Party continues unabated. The gulf between sections of the PLP and the Labour leader and the PLP and the party membership, provides the media and television, with the opportunity to emphasise, exaggerate and exploit (usually in support of their Conservative patrons) a debate which has been taking place for decades.
Since the 1908's there have always been the Tristram Hunts, Liz Kendalls, Ben Bradshaw's and others going back to the Shirley Williams, David Owen's and the Roy Jenkins, who share the same view. They believe that they alone have the monopoly of ideas, opinions, policies and vision of the direction that the party should be moving in and that they must be the leaders and guiding lights of the party, its membership and party management. Any criticism of their ideas and any dissent amongst others within the PLP and horror of horrors amongst the membership of the party generally, must be suppressed in the interests of "unity" because they are always right and to disagree or propose alternative ideas causes splits and division within the party. It is always those who disagree with them who cause the divisions.
What then should people such as I do when faced with this dilemma. Either I remain silent and allow the party to be dragged off in a direction that I believe to be wrong for the party and wrong for the country or I speak and argue for the policies which I believe in and be branded by the "other side", as a trouble maker intent on splitting the party?
I rejoined the Labour party in June of this year, having previously been a CLP chair, Borough Councillor, Leader of Council and Parliamentary Candidate. It was not I who had left the party some years ago, it was the party which had left me, as Labour drifted further and further to the political "right". The people of this country had been deserted by their traditional representatives in the House of Commons, the party members had been deserted by the "establishment" of the party structure and the elitist PLP. Working people, the Trade Union movement, the sick and disabled, the homeless and those in sub standard housing conditions, the unemployed and other individuals reliant on welfare and/or benefits, had been effectively abandoned to the "Tory" policies of the Labour governments, the excesses of the Conservatives in government and the vagaries of "the markets" and the exploitative "bankers".
Jeremy Corbyn was elected on a tidal wave of support, not only from the many thousands of people who joined or rejoined the party, but also with huge support from the public and those who attended his public meeting in their thousands queuing "around the block" to get in. Since the election, the media and press have been conducting a scurrilous campaign to vilify and discredit Corbyn and the new leadership at every turn and in this they have been supported and encouraged by certain members of the Parliamentary Labour Party. I again ask the question. Should I (and others who may believe as I do), remain silent and allow our party to be destroyed again, or do I speak out and accept that I may be accused of "splitting the party"?