"You may say that I am a dreamer/But I am not the only one" John Lennon: "Imagine"

"So come brothers and sisters/For the struggle carries on" Billy Bragg: "The Internationale"

Elizannie has a reading room at 'Clarice's Book Page' http://www.villiersroad.blogspot.com/

Friday, 18 December 2015

Democracy and a response to Hopi Sen re Jeremy Corbyn

Didn't really know what picture to post here. So googled images for democracy and this seemed pretty good to me!:

For those who don't know about him, Hopi Sen, to quote his blog, ' After the 2001 election I moved to Party HQ, before becoming the head of campaigns at the Parliamentary Labour Party' to catch up with his career to date, please go to the 'about Hopi' part of his very interesting blog HOPI SEN a blog from the backroom

I enjoy his blog, sometimes agree with it, sometimes don't. That's called democracy, the freedom to discuss and disagree if we are so moved. I don't think I have ever felt moved to disagree, much less publicly do so, until this week and his latest blog: I can’t vote for Corbyn. I won’t leave the Labour party.

This is my slightly expanded initial response to the original blog and not to the later comments and Hopi Sen's replies. That I will do later and separately in my own personna!

Very many people left the Labour Party in the time of Tony Blair [and have returned with the election of Jeremy Corbyn] because Blair then, like Corbyn now was unpopular with some Labour Party members. Meanwhile many of us stayed whilst really, really disliking Blair's political views - in my case because I wouldn't let him drive me away - but we weren't so voluble as those who seem to dislike the idea of Jeremy Corbyn for PM . We stayed because we loved our party and wanted to preserve it. And in the principle of another little word: democracy. We had been beaten in a leadership election [if you must know I had voted for John Prescott] but were not going to throw our toys out of the pram just because our choice didn't win.

So I and others stayed and in local constituency meetings expressed our views but in public supported those elected because of that little word - democracy. We didn't write blogs [OK this was pre '97 and blogging wasn't the thing] knocking Blair and his colleagues. In fact I even defended him on occasion, when he did something I admired. In subsequent leadership elections I didn't vote for his followers, something I didn't hide but when those I supported [John McDonnell] didn't win the popular vote, I once more kept my toys in the pram and - because of democracy - flew the party flag. Even though I didn't like the red rose emblem and missed singing the red flag. I still sang it as a lullaby to my grandchildren as I had to their parents.

This year I was delighted to support Jeremy Corbyn for party leader. I have followed him for many years and when he rocked up and supported a campaign I was helping run from 2009 I was of course highly delighted. But he was again the man I had admired for many years, giving his support in a constant but unobstrusive manner. At some of our demos and rallies he would mingle with the crowd, unlike some MPs [from all parties] who would shoulder their way to the front and get in all the photos but not always turn up to the debates in the House of Commons on our cause. That campaign ran for 5 years, we were successful thanks to those who supported us like Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell [and - to show how fair I am] others MPs from other parties. And massive financial help from Unite union. But I digress.

You may have gathered from this I have always been on the left wing of the The Labour Party Not a militant, or a 'trot', but actually a Pacifist, a member of groups like CND, Amnesty, HOPE not hate, even Stop the War [heavens forfend!] But suddenly I find myself in the press described as 'One of the Hard Left', 'An Extremist' and some less flattering titles.

When I was supporting Jeremy in the leadership campaign I constantly appealed to the 'opponents' to act, if he won, as magnaminous in their defeat as I knew our true supporters would be. You can see some of these appeals on my blog here. The comments of some since like Chuka Umunna have not been helpful, sadly, in my opinion. But in the face of democracy he is of course free to make them.

I can understand how Hopi Sen feels. It doesn't matter that he personally does not like Jeremy Corbyn's views. I understand that he is asking people not to leave the party because they can stay in the way he is staying. But I am asking him, in the name of democracy, to accept that Jeremy Corbyn is a man respected by a large part of our party. Individually we may not agree with every single thing he says either. Would it surprise Hopi to find that I part company with Jeremy over certain policy areas?  I can't believe there are any two people in the land who can agree on absolutely everything!!  

I honestly believe Jeremy is a good man who has been consistent in his ideas over all the time I have known him and I trust him. Those who know me will know what a big statement that last one is for me to make. And no, I don't know all the answers. And I would hate to be in his position at the moment. But I am really happy he is there! That is not to say that Hopi Sen is not a good man, just that we differ in our views. But in the interests of the party we obviously both love and to which we both wish to remain loyal please moderate the tone of your comments about Mr Corbyn. There are enough outside the party looking for ways to harm us. without us doing their job for them.

I have always been proud that our party has been made up of those who form almost a rainbow coat of political shades. Let's tolerate the different hue that may be the latest style and sees what will come of it!

Fraternally, Elizannie


  1. First of all, just wanted to say thank you for a thoughtful and thought provoking post.

    I do respect that Jeremy has a lot of support in the party, and I respect the sincerity of those views and that he is well intentioned.

    It's a shame for me that I can't respect Jeremy himself. (Though there are elements of his political campaigning - eg on Congo & migration which I do admire). I say it's a shame for me, because I think it makes me less reasonable. But I don't I'm afraid. Much as I support the party, he is not a man I want in authority, let alone leading the country.

    I accept the comparison you make about Blair. There were many who felt as I do about Blair, and wrestled with the same issues. I wanted them to stay, and they deserved respect. (Except Galloway).

    My problem is not that Corbyn is to my left. There are always going to be people to my left in the party, and they will sometimes lead it. My problem is that on fundamental issues - NATO, foreign policy, economics, (not 'auterity but basic stuff like free trade) I find myself not even in the same general area as him.

    So, should I moderate my tone? If I am being rude, then obviously yes, though we're all human and fallible - Ken is a lot ruder than I am, as is John M, and John Rees, etc etc.

    However, I can't moderate my opinion. I am sure Jeremy is a good man. But I think he is also a wrong and - at that - a very badly wrong, man and his leadership will be a disaster, not just in electoral terms, but in terms of the future of the party.

    SO I'm afraid I can't promise you the good manners your post deserves. The good news is that I am a tiny minority of the party, as the leadership election showed. If I am wrong, my discontent will be as insignicant to Jeremy as I am to the shadow cabinet!

  2. Thank you Hopi. I love a good discussion, and that is one where those taking part can respect each other even when totally disagreeing! I accept your views, obviously we disagree on certain areas but we both hold the Labour Party dear to our hearts. So thank you for your polite reply, we can agree to differ and share a meal and never mention the subject again as we are not going to change our minds. But we will of course be friends! And more importantly, comrades in the best sense of the word. And BTW never describe yourself as insignificant just as I never put 'in my humble opinion'. I aim never to be humble, respectful yes but that - as my 10 year old grandson would say - is a whole different mindset!