Most Jeremy Corbyn supporters are not ideologues; the rest are liable to resort to turn on each other, writes Adrian McMenamin

The time for holding illusions about where the Labour party is and where it is going are well and truly over.

Even if you still thought that the victory of the three Momentum candidates in the National Executive Committee byelections was just a blip, the decision of the new majority to remove Ann Black as chair of the NEC disputes committee and then to minimise action being taken against a number of figures accused of antisemitic behaviour, ought to have disabused you.

Labour is now a party of the far left. The victory of the Corbynistas is not absolute, but it is certainly convincing.

This does not mean that it cannot get worse for Labour’s social democrats: it can and it probably will.

There is plainly no prospect of the current leadership ever voluntarily getting a grip on the antisemitism issue even though, in the end, it really would not require much effort. The point remains that the problem is not that almost everybody in the Labour party is an antisemite, but that almost all the antisemites are now in and around Labour.

Jeremy Corbyn will press on with his support for a hard Brexit. The unknown factor here is the trade unions, who may eventually decide that they have had enough of the Labour leader’s incoherent rambles on this subject and start to kick some people – especially him – up the backside.

Foreign policy and defence will be about opposing the United States as the world’s greatest evil, while economic policy, such as it is, will be about state ownership as the answer to every economic problem, with ever higher business taxes on anything not nationalised. If you think that is an extreme caricature, ask yourself this: which sector of the economy would Corbyn think it wrong to extend public ownership in?

What can we do about it? The first thing is to indicate we are opposed to this and to state why. Brexit might be the easiest example to create a dividing line, in policy terms, but that does not make it any less important.

Morally we all have a duty to bear witness against the racists who have seeped into our ranks. There can be no compromise.

The nature of the far left is that it will eventually turn on itself. Deep in the Corbynite core the endless search for people to hate and blame will switch inwards.

Most Corbynistas are not ideologues: Corbynism is a very postmodern, almost politics-free, lifestyle choice for many of them. It is a badge of virtue, not a commitment to action. That is why, for instance, some fail to see the contradictions between sending their children to private schools and supporting a party leader who not only wants their favoured form of education abolished, but who opposes anything other than a regimented state monopoly.

So when the implosion comes many, perhaps most, will be bewildered and will be quick to drift away. Some will double down on the far left, or like the British communists who responded to the denunciation of Joseph Stalin in 1956 by joining Trotskyist parties, seek alternative extremisms. Others, though, will be trying to understand why they got it wrong and consistency now will be important when that moment comes.

Or, rather, if it comes. Because by the time of the implosion there may simply be nothing left.


Adrian McMenamin is a Progress columnist and is the former chief press and broadcasting officer for the Labour party. He tweets at @adrianmcmenamin


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