Wednesday, August 05, 2015

The Nice but Dim Party

Having each paid our £3 registration fee as Labour supporters, we were invited to come and hear Angela Eagle (candidate for deputy leader) in Bath this evening. In my lazy way, I had imagined a vast hall, with perhaps a thousand people from across the south-west, but it was not to be (see pix below).

Angela Eagle (deputy Labour Party leader candidate)

About fifty turned up in the end, at Friends Meeting House, Bath
In the end, about fifty people turned up at Friends Meeting House. I would say that it was about 2:1 women, and that the men were of that pleasant, agreeable type who make you welcome at parties. If the meeting had been a person, it would have been a forty-to-fifty-something woman brimming with empathy for the disadvantaged and fired up with moral fervour for Jeremy Corbyn, whose leftist inspirational campaign exactly captures her mood of trampled-upon values.

As Matthew Parris observed in a Times piece a few days ago, Mr Corbyn articulates with passion and conviction the genuine worldview of rank-and-file Labour Party supporters - this view is wholly based on emotion and values and they do viscerally believe it.

Faced with this squirming mass of barely-suppressed outrage, Angela in general copped out. Describing herself as 'soft left', she refused to put forward any strategy or policies for Labour going forwards. In her view it was too early in the election cycle for policies and she claimed to want to create a Labour Party where ideas bubbled up from an actively-involved membership. Her contribution was big on generic values (niceness, by and large) and demonology of the hated and uncaring Tories (George Osborne appears to be demon-in-chief, Cameron scarcely got a mention).

Angela made one brave attempt to distinguish between a political party which wants to attain power and has to address the issues of the whole electorate, versus a pressure group which simply lobbies for its pet concern.

Angela, I thought to myself, calm yourself, the pass is sold: you spoke to a meeting of overlapping pressure groups - pro-immigrant, pro-welfare, anti-welfare-caps, pro-trade-union .. I think that covers most of what came up.

Clare prepares herself for the meeting (Bath Abbey backdrop)
This does leave me with a dilemma: who do I vote for in the leadership elections next week? I strongly lean towards supporting Jeremy Corbyn, not because I agree with his policies (one Venezuela on the planet is quite enough) but because the Party seems to need to go through the Corbyn experience just to discover in practice why it doesn't deliver their noble (but deeply naive) objectives.

But then there's the argument that the sane wing of the Party needs all the help it can get to pick up the pieces after Jeremy gets in anyhow. But Liz Kendall seems a wasted vote - there is no constituency for her position in the Party's voting-electorate (Blairism is dead) and in any case she's a deeply underwhelming candidate with not an original idea that I've seen.

I'm still thinking about it ...


Ironically, Clare will vote for Jeremy Corbyn on the single issue of his opposition to Trident ...