Recently I saw an old photograph taken from one of the national newspapers which portrayed Jeremy Corbyn, Angela Eagle, John McDonnell and the ever fragrant, Dianne Abbott all sitting on the Opposition Front Bench in the House of Commons. It was taken shortly after Corbyn’s election to the dizzy heights of Labour Party Leader.
On first viewing I thought that their collective expressions were of dismissal. They didn’t want to be there and they were certainly not interested in anything that the Tories had to say. Then I looked again and I realised that the looks on their faces were looks of hatred. Hatred for the House, hatred for the government and hatred for their own MP’s who, in a show of utter contempt for their new leader, had remained seated and silent when Corbyn and his three cohorts had entered the Chamber.
Abbott is well known for her politics of hate, anyone who has blue eyes, blonde hair and is slightly lighter skinned than the Milky Bar Kid is fair game as far as that bigot is concerned. But, her aside, given that Corbyn is an intelligent man I have to ask why he has chosen this destructive path? The real casualties in this kind of politics are the general public as was proved during the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Even the propagators of this foolhardy practice rarely win.
The Unions were particularly hard hit when their disruptive actions against the Tory governments of Margaret Thatcher were brutally put down. So too the Labour Party. They were in so much disarray that it took nearly 28 years for them to get back into Office.
However, as I stated, it was the general public who really suffered because of this war of attrition between the political Parties. Interest rates rose to heady heights causing many people to forfeit on their mortgages. Social housing was at an all-time low because so much stock had been sold to sitting tenants. Don’t get me wrong, I am all for home ownership but if the government is going to give the option to buy it should at least ensure that for every Council House sold another is being built.
Closure of coal mines pitted community against community, brother against brother and, in some cases, father against son. The Labour Opposition were reduced to bystanders in the HoC as the Tory majority were free to do almost anything they wanted.
The problem was, hatred bred hatred. Pretty soon it was not only the Opposition who hated Margaret Thatcher but some in her own Party too and it was to be her downfall. The die, however, had been cast. The Tory hatred of the unions saw them decimated, instead of putting members first, both parties fought it out with Thatcher being the eventual winner. The spoils of war however are always tainted and Thatchers victory saw her eventual fall from grace and a loss of respect from many who had voted for her. The unions faired even worse, which was a shame in some respects, with the almost total extinction of the Coal Miners Union (NUM).
Without strong union backing, workers began to lose some of their hard fought for rights. Factory closures doubled then tripled as there was no union there to fight the closure. Unemployment was on the rise, the economy began to suffer and the ripples went all the way up to the Treasury.
Fast forward thirty or so years and we find that neither side have really learned anything. The sneering politics of the Miliband Opposition era has given way to the hatred and contempt now shown by the new Labour leadership and the unions. It will get them nowhere and lead to hardship for the millions of people in this country who are already struggling under the yoke of forced austerity. Wether you agree or not with the way this Tory government is tackling the economy you cannot argue against the fact that it was Labour who caused the problem in the first place.
As I have demonstrated there, it is so easy to place blame but, this leads to resentment and resentment, if not acted upon, soon leads to hatred. Again, if you look back through history you will find that the likes of Lenin and Stalin were both blinded by hate and misplaced idealism which led to the deaths of millions of their fellow citizens.
Exactly the same can be said of Adolf Hitler, his hatred of the Jews, whom he blamed for all of the ills of the German Republic, anyone not perfect, anyone not Ayrian or, anyone who disagreed with him, led to the deaths of millions of innocent people within a space of five short years.
I’m not suggesting for one minute that Jeremy Corbyn is of that ilk but my point is, unchecked politics of hate and envy can quickly escalate into something really dark and ugly and the result is always that innocent people suffer.
With this in mind I would hope that with the onset of Brexit we are now entering a period of change. A period whereby politicians of all Parties see the need for good, honest debate and compromise. My fear is that arrogance will hold sway on one side whilst hate and indifference will prevail on the other.
The only way to stop the pendulum swinging too far to the Left or too far to the Right is for all Parties to sit down and talk. The underlying thought in all of their minds as they are doing this should be for the people who were gracious enough to take time out to vote for them and not for their own self esteem.
Corbyn’s motley crew of inexperienced Front Benchers have an unenviable task in front of them. First they have to convince themselves that they are up to the task of being Her Majesty’s Opposition. They then have to convince their Labour Party Comrades, many of whom are feeling particularly bruised. Last, but not least, they have to convince the public that they are not only a worthy Opposition to the Tory Front Bench but a viable choice to govern at the next General Election.
I wont hold my breath!