Jamie Reed MP: Jeremy Corbyn Has Thrown Labour Unity Under a Truck

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By Jamie Reed MP | 4:31 am, October 12, 2016

Political unity is hard to find right now.

The Tories remain riven on the issue of Europe, soft, and hard, Brexit. The idiocy of chasing foreign doctors out of the UK and the atrocious notion of grammar school reintroduction prohibit Tory solidarity.

In the U.S. the Republicans are stampeding to disown Donald Trump as it becomes clear that to remain within the fall-out zone of his toxic candidacy is tantamount to volunteering to be injected with a political zombie virus.

And the newly re-elected Labour Leader has thrown the notion of a united Labour Party under a truck.

After a bruising encounter with Owen Smith, Jeremy Corbyn won the increased majority that he was always going to.

With a strengthened “mandate”, and a divided party characterized by his inability to retain the support of more than 20% of Labour MPs, Jeremy Corbyn was gifted an opportunity with which to confound his critics, doubters and opponents.

In politics, reaching out can only be successful if done from a position of strength.

When strong leaders reach out, they have everything to gain and nothing to lose: the act of reaching out demonstrates confidence and magnaminity, irrespective of whether or not the act is successful.

There is wisdom, too, in reaching out, if only to displace and wrongfoot your opponents.

Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to do the same doesn’t only look bad in our increasingly visual political culture; for anyone genuine about ensuring unity in the Labour Party, it’s just bad politics.

On one level, it demonstrates a smallness of mind, a bitterness, an unwarranted vanity that is so blind to the customs of victory that it is determined to wallow in a vicious spite that will undoubtedly lead to future catastrophe.

On another level, it betrays the instincts and direction that led to 81% of Labour MPs declaring “no confidence” in Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. It illustrates a desire to marginalize the majority, turn the membership against the Party’s MPs, sow the seeds of deselection and eventually cleave the party in two.

It is the Parliamentary Labour Party that refuses to allow this to happen. Despite the very clear provocations laid bare in a recent e-mail to Labour MPs from PLP Chair Jon Cryer, Jeremy Corbyn’s refusal to hold shadow cabinet elections will not elicit the response that he clearly desires from the representatives of the 9.3 million people who voted for the Party at the 2015 election.

The shadow of Brexit focuses the mind. The UK’s decision to leave the European Union – despite the chaos this represents – touches every aspect of British life. The portents are poor, the prognosis not good.

Having visited this upon the British people, the Tories are struggling to articulate a coherent negotiating position with which our EU partners can begin to seriously negotiate with us.

The reason? Having facilitated our extraction from the EU, the Tory Party still doesn’t know what Brexit actually means.

All in all, Jeremy Corbyn’s desire for division is unimportant as our country stares into the gaping maw of national self harm that Brexit represents.

And there’s another factor at play now. Twelve months in, the soap opera of Labour division is scarcely worth a political column inch: it’s boring.

Boring, boring, boring. If the make up of the shadow cabinet fascinates you, I couldn’t be happier. If the composition of the NEC occupies your every waking moment – good.

But for good or ill, most Labour supporters couldn’t give a damn, nor could the country.

No splitting, no quitting. The contrived provocations of the leadership will continue, but the men and women of the Parliamentary Labour Party care too much about the future of the Party than to allow a hostile take over to permanently split the greatest vehicle for economic and social progress that Britain has ever seen or is ever likely to see.

Sooner or later, normal service will be resumed – whether Jeremy Corbyn likes it or not.