Hugh M. Casey adds his refreshing perspective as the dust settles on the Labour leadership vote.


 

Jeremy Corbyn has been re-elected as the Labour Party leader. Inevitable as this always seemed, the farcical leadership contest proceeded much to the delight of Labour’s opponents. Gleeful smirks have ridden below lightless eyes of hardnose intellectual types for weeks: an only human balance of taking joy in your adversary’s failings. As the clouds lift, sunlight rises anew over a day with a change in winds; rasping currents truculent or sanguine. Those icy expressions preserved, melting drops unsure of what shape to take next.

Whilst the process has pranced and paraded with point swirled shoes complimenting a jingle-belled hat I believe it is really an oxymoronic role. The Labour Party could be Fool steadfast upon the heath. Rousing shouts of ‘Nae,’ of ‘Divide,’ of ‘I will not serve in his shadow cabinet’ may blow unheard in the great hurricane of opportunity for a mandated position to unify. The Labour Party has a chance to realise identity within both ideals and pragmatism through policy assuredness. This is achievable without flippant pandering to cracking cheeks of the wind.

“As far as I’m concerned, let’s wipe that slate clean from today and get on with the work we’ve got to do as a party together.” – Corbyn speaking after his victory.

Indeed, by all accounts Corbyn has opened both palms to be grasped by MPs and members alike. Dismissing loaded allusions for deselection, where the issue necessarily arises due to approaching constituency changes. All the while refusing opportunities to personally attack MPs who (as audaciously as a single day after re-election) openly challenge his position. All the while future facing despite core disputes and attempted usurpation. One can only hope that the PLP accept the current desire for widespread political engagement and altered procession.

The idea of ‘opposition’ now foregrounds my reflection on this process. Talk cheapens the tangible reality. Many who stand tall tongued “we need effective opposition” have a clear misunderstanding of this coupling adjective and noun. Persons like Jacob Ress-Mogg advocate the centrist brand of Labour, presented as such by Liz Kendall. Casting approval to modest, mouse-like accounts, hoping that the difference be so infinitesimal that the same is said with a different voice. The hope is that when all votes are cast Red hands prop Blue policy. It may be Defence, Trident, airstrikes. Contestable as it should be in the hazy volatility shade beyond our small nation. However, when Labour fails to oppose Welfare issues, may abstinence truly be deemed opposition?

Hope coy in this freshening breeze. Titanic Defence votes are now behind, ample pretence rests in challenging Tory shortcomings in Grammar Schools and calamity sketched Brexit negotiations. This point of time needs to be truly appreciated as a positive. If those who have impeded Corbyn’s leadership thus far continue with resentment-come-disloyalty persist it is they who must be seen as the saboteurs of the opposition. The re-election presents a clear standing moment from which the party moves forward. Failure to do so would be catastrophic. Naturally, the mandate earned by Corbyn is not a blank cheque, it is however a continued assertion that Corbyn is the man who the members wish to take the party forward into the next election. This process has once again established that the public desire something substantially different, something ‘opposite’ from the Tories offer: policies for the all, fairness, compassion, greater equality, hope and of course unity. The Tories offer division and it is here that Labour can present their vision of national unison.

 

Hugh M. Casey