Wednesday, 13 July 2016
Pay per Vote
I usually go to bed having sketched out a few ideas for this blog. But last night I was spoiled for choice and I didn’t want to miss the Corbyn thing which turned lowly commentators into high drama queens as they lined up to forecast the death of the Labour Party. Well, you can’t keep your old arthritic dog alive forever; sometimes it’s kinder to let him go in peace. The Labour Party ain’t fit for opposition right now, let alone government. Can you just imagine where we’d be if Ed Miliband had become PM? He looks like a political giant compared with Steptoe, clinging onto the glory days of wildcat strikes and three-day weeks. Up the workers indeed.
Much fun was to be had musing on the timing of the expected split and what form a new coalition of red wedgers might take. I suggested the following catchy new names: Socialist Labour Alliance Group – SLAG. Socialist Common Action Branch – SCAB. Socialist Labour Alliance People’s Party, England Region – SLAPPER . And in memory of John Major’s unbridled contempt for the back benchers who wouldn’t toe his line, British Alliance of Socialist & Trades-Affiliated Regional Delegations – BASTARDs.
The excitement over the meeting resulted from the mighty Miliband’s rewriting of rules without, it seemed, having an expert legal eye cast over their fitness for purpose. Labour having rarely challenged an incumbent leader, hadn’t really foreseen the Corbyn situation and a passage that seemed pretty straightforward to anybody with more than a rudimentary grasp of English had to be tested by committee. Good old Labour, fiddling with semantics while their Rome spontaneously ignited. In the end the meaning most people would have attached was agreed and Jezzer got the green light to fight his corner.
How the thruppeny minions cheered! The Miliband-inspired device which had seen Corbyn elected in the first place was going to be enabled to repeat the process, resulting in a leader without even enough backers to fill a cabinet. £3 to join as a supporter had resulted in tens of thousands swelling the ranks. Of course, some were mischievous Tories, putting Corbyn in seat for the fun of it, but many more were hard-liners, prompted to kick off their own workers revolution.
But wait, said the National Executive Committee, I thought we wanted the bugger ousted? It was decreed that members who had joined in the last six months would not be eligible to vote. But surely this doesn’t exclude the troublemakers (tee hee!) who put him there in the first place and what of those who joined because they genuinely believed in Jeremy? Why, it’s as if the NEC only want ‘the right people’ voting.
Jeremy Corbyn greets his supporters
To allay criticism of gerrymandering the vote the NEC decided that new registered supporters could join for £25 and be allowed to hold up their card for counting. At the time of writing it wasn’t clear whether existing Three-Pounders could chip in and become enfranchised. But hangonaminute, this paying for the right to vote has happened before. In trying to solve one constitutional crisis Labour may have just created another. Does anybody remember what happened to the last party leader who introduced a Poll Tax?