So Corbyn bottled it. All the desperate spin and plaintive self-justification by his acolytes cannot obscure this simple truth.
Their arguments are spurious and mendacious. At best. Even if the alleged strategy – to avoid a split in the party – had been successful then the unity of the Labour Party has been prioritised over saving the lives of Syrian infants.
But, to pile tragedy upon contempt, the strategy has not and will not be successful. Corbyn has been hounded and monstered from day one. At least half the shadow Cabinet and a majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party have been in open revolt from the very moment he ascended to the leadership. Their contempt for him has been astonishing. Their disobedience, their disloyalty and the disdain in which they hold their leader has been there for all to see. There is no unity. None.
Instead, there is – cruel pun, perhaps – a civil war raging inside the PLP. It cannot be avoided. It’s happening now. To continue the martial metaphors, it is a universal truth of military warfare that if one must fight a war, then one should always seek to do so on terrain of ones own choosing. Corbyn should have taken the fight to his enemies. He should have whipped his MPs and sacked the pro-war dissenters. He has the overwhelming support of the membership and even official Conference policy on his side. Yes, the split would have widened but it’s here already and is set only to accelerate anyway with, possibly, Corbyn ousted from his post. And such an act would have been in the service of nothing less than humanity and he, at least, would have acted with courage and principle.
Let’s stick with war aphorisms and remind the Labour leader that weakness only invites aggression. His right-wing will not be deterred from their plotting; the media will not cease its assassinations. There is nothing Corbyn can do to appease these people. All his current trajectory will do is weaken his powerbase in the CLPs. As Tolkien wrote, “A man who flies from his fear may find that he has only taken a short cut to meet it.”
As it is, he has chosen the coward’s exit; the Pontius Pilate option of washing his hands and preserving his own sainted purity while allowing his MPs a free vote to massacre brown babies.
His supporters mutter darkly about deselecting the pro-war MPs in their constituencies; allowing the rank-and-fail to dole out the punishment they so richly deserve but that Corbyn lacks the guts to deliver himself. This, though, is a ridiculous double-standard. Corbyn apologists defend the free vote as ‘a matter of conscience.’ Yet now they wish to punish MPs for… voting with their consciences? (or at least that which passes for conscience among these people) So a free vote is fine for Corbyn but not those who disagree with him? In fact, the sixty-six MPs who voted for war can’t even be termed rebels. After all, what were they rebelling against? There was no party line. Such is the unavoidable outcome, the inevitable logic, of Corbyn’s tactical cowardice.
And what of those MPs? On the one hand there are those who genuinely believe that murdering Syrian civilians in an utterly futile and doomed attempt to bomb an ideology into submission is the right thing to do. It says so much of Labour, ‘a party fit for imperialism,’ that these worthies are the good guys. Relatively speaking. At least such people have the dubious honour of being up-front and honest in their idiocy and callousness.
Worse, though, than even these creatures are those Labour MPs cynically exploiting the impending massacre for personal career advantage; and to settle scores with the leader they despise. Terrified of the growing wrath of their local party members and the prospect of losing the perks and trappings of Westminster, they plot, they scheme and they betray in a concerted bid to bring down Corbyn to save their own careers. Imagine that; pursuing the killing of other human beings solely to shore-up your ambition.
In both cases, these specimens have lined up with the Tories and condemned Syrians to death. And so it is that another murderous folly is now unleashed. The UK’s fourth in fewer than twenty years. Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; close the wall up with Muslim dead.
Tonight, there are Labour MPs that never deserved less than they do now the prefix ‘honourable.’ But, as always, they’ve certainly done their best to ensure Labour remains Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition…