When I heard John Prescott was going on the Today programme, I must admit that I expected him to urge Labour members to be sensible — and stop this damaging flirtation with Jeremy Corbyn and his hard-left views. But he didn’t. Instead, Prescott attacked those attacking Corbyn — including his old boss Tony Blair — and said it wouldn’t be a disaster if Labour did elect Corbyn.
It was a bizarre performance and a missed opportunity. For there is an urgent, and increasingly desperate, need for someone who is trusted by Labour grassroots to explain to them just how damaging it would be for the party and its prospects to elect Corbyn.
Yet at the moment, no one seems to want to step forward to fulfil this role. Tom Watson, another figure who might be listened to by even the most strident of members, is keeping well out of this fight. We haven’t heard anything from Gordon Brown or Ed Miliband either.
In 1961, when Hugh Gaitskell was trying to stop the Labour party from embracing the cause of unilateral nuclear disbarment, he famously declared that ‘some of us who will fight, and fight, and fight again, to save the party we love. We will fight, and fight, and fight again, to bring back sanity and honesty and dignity, so that our party – with its great past – may retain its glory and its greatness.’ The problem for the Labour party at the moment is that there are too few prepared to fight and those that are tend not to be loved by the party they are trying to save.