Let's talk about Labour Live
For some strange reason the prospect of spending an entire weekend surrounded by rabid Corbynistas, watching performances by C-list bands and of course the irresistible prospect of witnessing John McDonnell rap battling against Owen Jones didn’t have the broad appeal Labour expected. Indeed, one must ask themselves what on earth Labour were thinking when they formulated this idea? The very concept of a political Glastonbury with Jeremy Corbyn headlining seems more like a plotline stolen from Spitting Image than a legitimate strategy by a major party.
No doubt the hugely positive reception received by Jeremy Corbyn at Glastonbury last June helped to inspire this ‘ingenious’ move. However, without the appeal of proposed headliners such as Stormzy who declined the opportunity to perform, ticket sales never took off. Consequently, this festival quickly devolved into Labour’s very own Titanic. The only difference being that this time the captain was seemingly aiming for the Iceberg.
To add insult to injury those loyal few who did buy tickets found themselves shafted as tickets were desperately palmed off on whoever would take them free of charge, with no prospect of a refund in sight. Though admittedly it is rather amusing that many of those who bought tickets at full price resented their hard earned money being used to subsidise others.
In the end only 13,000 attended despite the venue being able to hold around 20,000. This huge overestimation has resulted in Labour facing upwards of £1 Million in losses. I’m sure many of the PLP feel nostalgic for the time when Labour’s most expensive display of egomania was the EdStone. A mistake which cost a poultry £7,614 by comparison.
It is easy to mock Labour in it’s current state. Whether having a Leader whose sympathies seem to lie more with Brittan’s adversaries rather than the country itself, A Shadow Home Secretary who cannot grasp even the most basic mathematical concepts or a literal Marxist as Shadow Chancellor it is hard to remember that Labour remains a party worthy of our respect. The post-war government remains one of the greatest this country has ever seen.
In 1949 Attlee lead Britain into co-founding NATO, an organisation that Corbyn has suggested we leave. It was Bevin who famously said, regarding the atomic bomb, “We've got to have this thing over here whatever it costs and we've got to have the bloody Union Jack on top of it.”, thus kick-starting the development of our nuclear deterrent that remains vital to our national security. An asset that Corbyn wishes to see scrapped. Perhaps most importantly it was Labour in 1947 who oversaw the creation of Israel out of former Mandatory Palestine. It is rather jarring to think of this when you see the horrendous anti-Semitism that now plagues Labour. Back in 2009 Corbyn even went as far as to call for Hamas to be removed from Britain’s list of banned terror groups. A prospect that would have horrified anyone in Attlee’s administration.
Labour’s weakness is not a good thing. Good opposition is required for good governance. Scrutiny is a key part of our political process and yet Labour seems to have no clear strategy in most aspects of its opposition. Brexit is one key area that demonstrates this: questions around Labour’s stance on the UK’s membership of the customs union and single market remained unclear for months. This, lack of a clear strategy combined with huge ideological divisions within Labour has lead to poor party discipline with rebellions becoming larger and more common. Last December for example, 63 MPS (over a quarter of the parliamentary Labour party) rebelled by voting for the UK to remain in the Customs Union. In the end if the opposition cannot oppose, then what is the point of it?
Labour is clearly in a poor state. It is a shame to see the once great party of Attlee, the party that helped found NATO, that gave us the NHS, that rebuilt this country after the Second World War, fall to such levels. Labour is now more focused on spreading the cult of Jeremy Corbyn that it is on helping the working man. The cost of this embarrassment will go into the seven figures range but the damage to Labour’s credibility will prove far more expensive in the long term. All that can be hoped is that Labour Live is a watershed. Labour may well be ‘Live’ but hopefully this current atitutde of egotism will soon be dead.