'Corbyn's decision to stand against the Labour Party is pivotal - Starmer shows the party has changed,' says Stephen Pound

Jeremy Corbyn and Keir Starmer

In May, Jeremy Corbyn announced that he would stand as an independent parliamentary candidate for Islington North

Stephen Pound

By Stephen Pound

Published: 07/06/2024

- 13:13

Former Labour MPStephen Pound speaks about Corbyn being expelled from the Labour Party

Like it or not, the decision of Jeremy Corbyn to stand against the Labour Party in the forthcoming election, and his consequential depart from serious politics, is a pivotal and deeply significant moment for Labour.

There may well be some residual affection for Magic Grandpa but the reality is that Labour turned a page when it barred Corbyn from seeking election under the shadow of the red rose.

One of the great delusions of recent years was the wholly false impression that Jeremy’s Army was a gentle and consensual group of well-meaning folks who just wanted us all to be happy.

Anyone involved in Labour politics during the Momentum/Corbynite years will swiftly attest that the reality was not just entirely different but a brutal and uncompromising pogrom against those who were labelled “centrists” or – ultimate insult – Blairites.

Yeats said it accurately when he wrote “the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity”.

So has the Labour Party lurched to the centre with the removal of Jeremy Corbyn, and a fair few others drunk on their own sublime arrogance and belief that they and only they speak for a working class that would not actually give them house room?

Disraeli said that the Tory Party was an “organised hypocrisy” and there is no escaping the fact that all political parties are made up of differing strands of opinion and are, to a certain extent, coalitions.

What was different about Momentum and the other leeches on the body politic was that they had no time at all for consensus or coalition.

They burned with a hard, gem like flame and if the nation would not choose socialism willingly then they would have it forced on them.

What is truly significant about the Labour Party post Corbyn is the fact that it has finally grown up and will no longer offer free tickets to the land of make believe and then blame the international capitalist conspiracy when Utopia is never the next station.

If this is indeed a lurch to the centre then surely that is no bad thing?

The destruction of global capitalism may well be something to aspire to but the British electorate actually want safety, security, a decent standard of living and freedom of speech and expression.

You will not find the centre ground on any map but it exists in the ambitions and intentions of politicians and people who do not want extremism and who are not ashamed to be called moderates.

The fellow travellers around Jeremy Corbyn would run a mile from any such description.

They were concerned less with clean streets than the ideological purity of their own beliefs.

The fact that the revolution always eats its children, and the faction fighting that erupted within Momentum and its clones, showed that revolutionary socialism would not be the first item on the menu of any UK restaurant that wanted to keep its customers.

One person does not make a movement and Jeremy Corbyn was only part of such a movement but he was the figurehead and did not actually seem too unhappy about being serenaded by a merry crowd at the Glastonbury festival.

The sad thing about being a figurehead is that when the page is turned it is the figurehead who falls, and it was actually essential for Keir Starmer to show some proof to the world that his party had changed.

Banishing Jeremy Corbyn to the outer fringes may seem harsh to those who still harbour some affection for the man but for Labour to move on from its last election rout – the worst result since 1935 – there not only had to be change but that change had to be visible.

A lurch to the centre? Maybe.

A lurch to electability and sensible realistic politics? We certainly hope so.

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