Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Dead Man Walking

I'd like to begin this blog post, if I may, with an anecdote about an eccentric Dutchman by the name of Louis van Gaal. The use of this particular anecdote will make absolutely no sense to begin with, but stick with me, OK?

For those of you who don't know, Louis van Gaal (or LVG, if you prefer) is a rather odd football manager from the Netherlands. Currently manager of Manchester United, he previously managed the German giants Bayern Munich, and it is here where we begin:

Van Gaal has mellowed with age somewhat, but not entirely. At Bayern Munich, one of the most bizarre of his outbursts occurred early in the successful 2009/10 season. Striker Luca Toni, who was sold by the club in the summer of 2009, detailed the following incredible anecdote:
“The coach wanted to make clear to us that he can drop any player, it was all the same to him because, as he said, he had the balls. He demonstrated this literally by dropping his trousers. I have never experienced anything like it, it was totally crazy. Luckily, I didn’t see a lot, because I wasn’t in the front row”.

And so onto Jeremy Corbyn.

For those of us who predicted that Jeremy Corbyn would be a disaster as leader of the Labour Party, this should be a period of smugness. But there's no satisfaction on my part.

I'm not a Labour Party member, because I don't particularly fancy giving any political party a chunk of my money every month, but I have voted Labour at every single election since I turned voting age, I identify myself as a Socialist, I believe in Labour's cause, and I hate the Tories more than I hate peanut butter.

Believe me, watching the Labour Party tearing itself apart isn't a time of celebration. It just makes me feel sad.

As for Corbyn himself, I like him. I really do. He has his beliefs - many of which I agree with - and he's a throwback to the older, better, Labour. He just isn't a leader, and that's why I wouldn't have voted for him and didn't have any confidence in his time as Labour premier.

The discontentment with Corbyn's election among the Labour MPs began on Day One, and has been bubbling away ever since. Unwavering belief in his leadership has been in short supply, and that's putting it kindly.

All this has reared its head at the time when Corbyn faces his first big test as leader - the issue of Syrian airstrikes. Corbyn, as I'm sure you know, is the UK's new celebrity pacifist, and refutes David Cameron's claims that airstrikes against IS/ISIS/ISIL/DAESH/whatever the fuck they're called today are necessary.

Amusingly, his shadow cabinet largely disagree with him - including his foreign secretary, Hilary Benn. This issue will be put to a vote tomorrow, and with the support of Labour MPs, David Cameron will win, and bombing over the Syrian skies from UK jets will begin.

First big issue for Corbyn, then, first logjam.

Newsnight reported two interesting nuggets the other night. Firstly, Labour MPs have already spoken to legal experts, trying to determine that if a coup is sprung, Corbyn can't just place himself on the next ballot and win again.

Secondly, Newsnight heard from well placed sources that this coup is already being lined up for just after the upcoming by-election in Oldham West. Corbyn hasn't even been leader for three months.

It's clear that there is terminal disharmony between shadow cabinet and leader - and it cannot continue. All in Westminster know it.

What's happening to Jeremy Corbyn is a long, torturous, painful death. He'll try and hang on, and hang on, and hang on, until he's finally forced to resign/booted out, with the whole sorry shambles leaving Labour in chaos for months.

Question: what can he do? Answer: not a lot - he's fucked either way.

But let's go back to Louis van Gaal. Because here's something that Jeremy Corbyn can do - he can show his bollocks.

Not literally - I'm not asking him to display his testicles to Angela Eagle - but to do the political equivalent. On the issue of Syrian airstrikes, he should have put his foot down. We know his view - he's against them - so rather than giving his MPs a "free vote", he should have taken charge.

"I'm the leader. Here is my decision. We're the party of opposition, I'm opposed to it - we vote no. Back me, or fuck off. We'll carry on without you."

Political suicide? Maybe, but here's the point - he's dying on the job anyway. If you're gonna go down, go down swinging. In short - be a leader, Jeremy. Because right now, the Labour Party is sliding its way into being a pressure group mired in complete chaos.

I see the irony here, by the way. Asking the nation's #1 pacifist to take "the nuclear option" is pretty ironic. But if you open the "How To Win a General Election" booklet, Page 1, Paragraph 1, Sentence 1, says this:

"Everybody needs to be on the same page."

Forget about anything else. If you can't get this right, you don't stand a chance of winning. Voters aren't stupid - they know when a party is in disarray.

It's time to take charge, Jeremy. It's time for the big fight. Prove me wrong, and be a leader.