This has been a difficult year for me. For I have been compelled to break a pact I made with myself when I was 18 years old and do something I promised I would never do, something which goes against every cell and fibre of my being. I’ve defended a leader of the Labour Party.
I can’t tell you how alien this feels. Imagine if Princess Diana had become press officer for a landmines factory, or if the Pope started moonlighting for Marie Stopes. Now you know how it feels for me to say vaguely nice things about Labour, a party whose paternalism, illiberalism, killjoyism and cretinism have been rubbing me up the wrong way since I was a Trotsky-admiring teen.
But it has to be done. Because right now there’s something far worse in British politics than the Labour leadership, and that’s the critics of the Labour leadership: the Corbynphobes of the Blairite wing of the party and much of the media who spend their every waking hour bleating and tweeting about Corbyn being the most wicked man in Christendom. These are the worst people in British politics. Really. Here are 10 reasons why.
1) They’re anti-democratic
They openly and shamelessly talk about using sub-Shakespearean skulduggery to get shot of Corbyn. They say this will ‘save Labour’, when anyone with a functioning brain can surely see it will do far more to destroy Labour than Corbyn ever could. It corrodes the democratic soul of the party and treats its members as imbeciles whose democratic-but-dumb wishes can apparently be usurped.
2) They’re censorious
All that guff about Corbyn-critical Labour MPs being ‘trolled’ and ‘bullied’, especially following the Commons vote on Syria — please. If you think receiving furious missives from anti-war loudmouths is ‘bullying’, you shouldn’t be in politics; you should be in a nunnery — it’s safe there. Some Corbyn critics want a code of conduct to protect moderate MPs from intemperate bile. That is, they want a controversy-deflecting forcefield between them and the plebs. Man up, you muppets. People’s right to express themselves is infinitely more important than your right to sail through life without ever hearing a cross word.
3) They promote the politics of fear
Corbyn is a threat to national security? This silly secular vicar from Islington who looks like he couldn’t punch his way out of a nursery? Get a grip. The ‘security threat’ slur is a McCarthyite attempt to paint anyone who’s anti-war as dangerous. It’s the use of fear in place of serious argument. ‘Vote Corbyn and people will die!’ Stop it.
4) They use the word ‘electability’
This yellow-bellied word, always on the tip of a Corbynphobe’s tongue, sums up how devoid of principle they are. They’re obsessed with making Labour as smooth and PR-friendly as possible so that it might have a hope in hell of getting back into government. Which speaks both to their contempt for the electorate — whom they snootily imagine will only vote for safe, dull politicians — and to their lack of political vision. They never say what Labour should do when it’s in office; only that it must get there.
5) They’re self-important
I swear to God if I read one more article by a puffed-up hack announcing that he or she has flounced out of Labour because Corbyn’s a rotter… This isn’t all about you, guys, strange as that might seem.
6) They have absolutely no sense of moral proportion
Consider comic actor Robert Webb. He ripped up his Labour membership card when Corbyn appointed public-school Stalinist Seumas Milne as his spin doctor. So Webb stayed in Labour when it was in government and was destroying Iraq and Afghanistan, dismantling civil liberty, strangling free speech and creating 27 new criminal offences a month, but left when a Guardian columnist who says silly things about international affairs was given a top job. What a paragon of political virtue!
7) They are cowards
Coward is a strong word, I know, but how else does one describe people who failed or refused to challenge Corbyn in the open, democratic leadership contest and now try to do him over with media gossip and bitchy leaks? They prefer knives to democracy.
8) They are a little bit McCarthyite
Their effort to make Corbyn leave and denounce the Stop the War Campaign has become really ugly. Okay, so you don’t like Stop the War and what it says. Cool. But Corbyn does. People have different political views! How long before everyone who stands for parliament is asked: ‘Are you now or have you ever been a supporter of Stop the War?’
9) They think it’s bad to have principles
Their chief bugbear with Corbyn is that he sticks to his principles, even the unpopular ones, and even when he gets bad media coverage as a result. Are these people for real? For a decade now, pretty much everyone has complained about over-spun, belief-lite politicians who would sell their granny for a few extra votes. Then along comes a politician who actually believes stuff and we say, ‘Stick him on the stake!’ Bizarre.
10) They’re helping Corbyn
This is the most unforgivable thing: they’re so dumb that they don’t realise it is precisely the soul-zappingly dull Third Way politics that they cherish which has helped to build up Corbyn’s support base. All they have to offer is technocratic, principle-free blather about electability, as if politics were a personality contest, and then they wonder why young people and a large number of Labourites are drawn to Corbyn. Look in a mirror, guys. In the land of the bland, the ever-so-slightly principled politician can become king.