I do not want Jeremy Corbyn to be elected leader of the Labour Party.
Of course, if he does become the Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition (ironic, given his total lack of loyalty to previous Labour leaders) there is no realistic chance of Labour winning in 2020. There will be a revival of the Liberal Democrats as centre-left leaning voters look for another home, and there will be a comfortable Conservative majority on the new constituency boundaries, possibly even a landslide. So the political opportunist in me ought to support the Corbyn – Watson dream ticket.
However, I do not believe that this will be good for the political health of the country as a whole. Britain needs a centre-left political party with a realistic chance of winning power to oppose the centre-right Conservatives. We have seen from our own experience in government in the 1990s what can happen to a ruling party when there seems to be no effective opposition. Those in the ruling party cease to ask themselves the question whether a particular policy will be attractive to the electorate. At local government level, one party rule leads to corruption (Doncaster, Westminster) and flabby, complacent administration (pick your council).
Where there is no choice, there is gradual detachment of the electorate from the political process. This is in fact a point which the Corbynites make in support of their man. The two main parties are so similar, they say, that only by offering the pure Socialist medicine will we re-energise the political process. But the British are not attracted to extremes. The Labour party under Foot and Benn was rightly thrashed in 1983, and the Conservatives under Hague in 2001 received similar treatment for preaching only to the converted. There will always be major differences between a centre-left Labour party and Conservatives led by the current Cabinet. Look at economic policy, education policy and the approach to Europe, for starters.
But the main objection to Corbyn lies in the company he has kept. This is the man who welcomed Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to Westminster and offered them a platform at a time when they were still the public spokesmen of an organisation as well-versed in brutal murder and flagrant criminality as ISIS are today. Since then he has shared a platform with a host of apologists for terrorists, Islamofascists and anti-Semites and has not expressed an ounce of remorse for this. It is no coincidence that the bedrock of his support comes from organisations whose whole raison d’etre is the extinction of Israel and opposition to the Unites States. The Labour party and the Left in general has never faced up to the cancer of anti-Semitism in its midst, whilst at the same time accusing anyone who criticises the behaviour of Muslim groups in, say Tower Hamlets or Rotherham, as racist.
If Labour really wanted to win the 2020 election, or at least to put themselves in with a fighting chance of doing so, they would elect either Liz Kendall or Yvette Cooper a leader and Stella Creasey as Deputy. As it is, it looks as though they are determined to choose Corbyn and Watson.
I did wonder what might happen if the Blairite party members were resign en masse and join the Liberals. The Roy Jenkins / Shirley Williams precedent is not a happy one, but maybe in the current, more fractured state of party politics in this country such a realignment might work, if sufficient MPs were prepared to take the risk.