UK Politics

Comrades No More: The Labour Party split has already happened

The Labour Party is a deeply unpleasant place to be right now. Hostility between supporters of Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith is rampant and routinely turns into personal abuse. Take, for example, the Labour Party Forum, a long-standing unofficial Facebook discussion group of around 30,000 Labour members. In late July, the group’s administrators felt compelled to announce a clampdown on ‘abusive behaviour/language and personal insults’ in response to a spate of ‘smearing and personal attacks.’

And yet, the same behaviour continues largely unchecked.

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UK Politics

Owen Smith: The Anti-Corbyn

‘It’s a binary choice isn’t it – Owen or bust.’ These were the words of one Labour member when I asked him if he’d been persuaded by Owen Smith’s performance in Hammersmith on Tuesday night. It seems to be the view of many party members and supporters, although the binary is usually framed the other way – Jeremy Corbyn against ‘Not Jeremy Corbyn’, with Smith having no real identity of his own.

This characterisation is common to both the Anyone But Corbyn crowd and Corbyn’s own diehard supporters. The former think Corbyn is so hopeless that their priority is getting him out, not getting Smith in, while the latter claim Smith is an unprincipled Blairite sellout and everything Corbyn is not.

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UK Politics

Preaching to the Choir – Jeremy Corbyn in Highbury Fields

The few hundred people who gathered in Highbury Fields to hear Jeremy Corbyn speak yesterday evening carried many banners and placards. Both the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party were well represented; Momentum – Corbyn’s personal shock troops – clustered around the old fire engine that served as a stage; one man waved a UNISON flag. One group, however, seemed conspicuously absent – the Labour Party.

Certainly, there were Labour members there – I stood next to a large group of them from Crouch End – but visually the party was absent. There were no Labour banners, no placards, not even a solitary rose on the banner that adorned the fire engine. It simply read ‘Jeremy Corbyn. Straight Talking. Honest Politics.’ It was an odd look for a rally that was ostensibly part of a campaign for the Labour leadership.

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UK Politics

The New ‘New Labour’ – Scenes From A Branch Meeting

They had to bring extra chairs in from the garden – not bad for a meeting that wasn’t supposed to be happening. It was a far cry from the last Labour branch meeting I attended. Then, six people had sat round a table and very politely shared the various officerships between them. Now we had twenty people crammed into the branch chair’s front room.

I had never seen such a large and engaged membership. But I joined Labour in 2008, at the start of the post-Blair comedown. Despondency had been the default for much of my time in the party.

But who were all these people? Where had they come from and what did they want?

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