I’m struggling to decide which of the Labour Party’s factions makes me more angry.
The ship of state is wallowing adrift in uncertain seas. Captain Cameron has fainted from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the foot and his officers have scuttled off to hide in the heads hoping that someone else will clean up the splatter of blood and bone.
Never in my lifetime has there been such an opportunity for the Labour Party to sweep in and displace a Conservative government. It’s a gift, there for the taking.
But no, instead of stepping forward and saying thank you very much, the Parliamentary Labour Party has picked up the discarded shotgun and is taking aim at its own pedal extremities.
Maybe the MPs who are queuing up to oust their party leader have been lost at sea for too long, drinking each others’ urine. I can’t think of any other reason for such an outbreak of collective insanity. Instead of stepping onto the bridge and assuming command to the acclaim of a grateful nation they’re squabbling like schoolboys over whose turn it is to wear the captain’s hat.
Meanwhile Commander Corbyn, on whose head said hat uncertainly sits, is wandering the stern deck with his loyal crew earnestly spouting equality and justice to the gulls and the guillemots, apparently unable to grasp the significance of the abandoned bridge and the aimless drift into the gathering storm.
I can’t decide: they’re equally infuriating, offering nothing but froth when we’re in such desperate need of substance.
The rebel MPs aspire to nothing more than the feeble goal of being less hateful facsimiles of their Tory rivals, certain that such strategic positioning will assure electoral success and a few glorious years in the limelight. Beyond getting themselves elected to government they have nothing to offer that has not already been tried and found wanting by their middle-of-the-road muddling predecessors.
The Corbynites, drunk on righteousness, brandish the legitimacy of grass-roots support while they chant anti-austerity slogans and invoke the gods of social justice, And that’s it. That’s all they have. No plausible strategy for delivering any of the stuff that they say they want to do. Nothing that will persuade even the other half of their own party to sign up to the dream, never mind the weary electorate. The rhetoric of 20th century socialism is trotted out along with the post-Thatcher slightly-left-of-centre mantra of “we will invest to grow the welfare state”, none of which has any traction on the streets of Britain. Fairy tales that have long ago lost their sparkle.
The left and right of the Labour Party inspire rage in equal measure but the Labour Party is all that we’ve got in the way of a political machine that has enough horsepower to do any useful work in this time of crisis. Like it or not the Corbynites are the only ones who are in a position to lead us out of the current chaos.
Jeremy Corbyn is the only person who can save his party and the country right now but in order to succeed he has to find the courage to step outside his comfort zone, behave like a leader, and tell a few home truths to his own followers as well as the scheming Blairites.
He has to tell them that both sides are culpable for the mess in which we find ourselves. Both sides have been peddling economic nonsense to the electorate for decades and the time has come for that to stop, for both sides to admit their failures and find a better way forward.
He has to tell Labour’s right wing faction that it’s every bit as bankrupt as its Tory rival, intellectually and politically. Not only has its economic view been proven to be flawed beyond redemption, its electability has been in decline since Tony Blair conned us into that war with Iraq. If this leadership coup succeeds not only will the Blairites squander the current opportunity to take control of the country, they will hasten the terminal decline of the Labour Party. Look to Scotland for a preview of what will surely come to pass.
And he has to tell his own mob that their beloved socialism has no answers. Being anti-capitalist is not good enough. Being the champion of the poor or the working class is not good enough. The failure of free-market capitalism is a systemic failure that requires systemic reform and no amount of banging on about the NHS and the minimum wage will fix it.
These are the truths that Jeremy Corbyn has to tell if he is going to pull his party out of its self-indulgent delusions and make it relevant to the electorate.
The next thing he has to do is present his MPs with a idea around which they can rally, which they can take into their constituencies and say “This is what a Labour government will do for you.” It has to be an idea that grabs the imagination and is so clearly expressed that everyone can see it, everyone on the right and the left and those left behind can see the sense in it, can see how it will change their lives for the better.
If I was him I would tell his party that it’s all about money. Housing, healthcare, poverty, environment, commerce: whatever it is that we try to do to make the world a better place is thwarted by a lack of money. I would say that the time has come to turn this on its head.
I would tell them that the “lack of money” excuse is a big fat lie, that we can do whatever we choose to do, limited only by our collective brain and muscle power and the natural resources of the planet. I would tell them that money is merely the tool that we use to mobilise ourselves, and it’s a tool that we can produce and deploy in whatever quantity is required at zero cost.
I would tell them that the Labour Party is going to lead an economic revolution by embracing the power of money, turning it into our servant, no longer allowing it to be our master.
I would tell them that we will reform our financial systems so that money works properly for everyone: individuals, businesses and government.
That we will reform our tax system so that it encourages productive, sustainable activity.
That we will reform our welfare system so that people are free to participate in the economy in whatever way suits their circumstances.
And that we will reform our political system so that our communities have much greater say in how money is spent on our behalf.
This is what Jeremy Corbyn needs to tell his MPs and then they need to go out and tell the country that this is what Labour will do for us.
And they need to do it quick. The Tories are a busted flush, a general election is imminent, and the nation is in desperate need of leadership and direction. The window of opportunity will not remain open for long. Please, Labour Party, step up now or lose forever what’s left of your credibility.