Waiting around for the government to collapse does not inspire confidence, but there is still a reason to have faith in the Labour party, writes Adrian McMenamin
I am writing this column instead of attending my Labour party branch meeting.
The column offers a chance to engage with ideas, persuade the undecided or, at least, provoke debate.
My branch meeting offers none of these things.
At the last meeting the ruling faction – Momentum – ensured we ‘selected’ council candidates without being allowed to hear them speak, let alone answer questions. When, in an ‘informal’ session afterwards someone dared to ask one of the candidates about his views on education, he simply refused to answer, saying he knew nothing about the subject. Why should we dignify that behaviour?
I have returned from work, tired and hungry. Even if I wanted to attend a meeting dominated by fundamentalists, I suspect there are far more diverse and energetic ones on offer than one where private school parents lecture dissidents on socialist purity.
I am far too weary to listen to any of that.
I admit it – not only my local branch fills me with revulsion. It is almost every aspect of the ‘official’ Labour party. From the leader’s wilful decision to ignore members’ views and conference policy on Brexit while insisting he is the purest of democrats, to members of the front bench saying reports of antisemitism are part of a Jewish conspiracy. I feel far more disgust than pride about my party membership. Not least because I am funding this whole disgraceful show.
Perhaps I should just leave? It is getting harder and harder to resist, but the answer is still no.
My worst reason for staying is perhaps because so many friends and memories are bound up in our party. I joined it at a time – 1982 – when many had decided it was doomed, and yet I was privileged enough to have a ringside seat when we proved them wrong. Unfortunately memories of May 1997 do not educate any children, create any jobs, build any houses or lift any families out of poverty.
You need a government to do these things. The Corbynistas say we are ‘a government in waiting’. What are we waiting for? For the Tories’ Brexit shambles to meet its inevitable destructive conclusion? We have been through that before. In 1983 it took three weeks of election campaigning before I realised that Margaret Thatcher’s obvious cruelties were not going to end with her defeat.
It might be different this time – but nobody should dream of inheriting a wasteland and calling it socialism.
The best, maybe the only, reason to stay is a belief that once the cultists start to fade away – and they will – women and men of reason will begin to reconsider where they have ended up in this era of extremes.
Faith is not a great political quality. Its excesses have given us today’s tragedy. But sometimes it is all you have left.
Adrian McMenamin is a Progress columnist and is the former chief press and broadcasting officer for the Labour party. He tweets at @