Come back, for the good of your party—and the countryby John McTernan / April 20, 2017 / Leave a comment
The time has come for you to make your move. Your decision to leave the House of Commons left a vacuum that no-one on the Labour benches has been able to fill. The two Labour leadership elections which Jeremy Corbyn won were haunted by your absence. Enough is enough—your party needs you, as does your country.
I am not asking for you to stand in a seat with the aim of becoming a back bencher. That would be a waste of this historic opportunity. Finding a safe seat for you is the easy part of this—Tom Blenkinsop’s seat in the North-East, Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, is an obvious choice. The key is—not for the first time—to take a lesson from the Australian Labor Party (ALP). Faced with a defeat under the leadership of the decent but dull leadership of Bill Hayden, the ALP “rolled” Hayden and replaced him with the charismatic Bob Hawke. The rest is history: modern Australia was transformed by the ALP. The point is that you must come back—as leader. Immediately.
Time is tight, but that aids you. The unions must save the Labour Party. All it takes is for Dave Prentis, General Secretary of public sector union UNISON, to declare that Jeremy Corbyn must stand down because local government and the NHS need a Labour government. And if Corbyn doesn’t resign then he should be resigned by the National Executive Committee. A leadership election with only one nominated candidate—you—need take a matter of minutes after the NEC declare a vacancy. Then it’s game on.
For it is not only the Labour Party that has missed you—it is the Commons, political life, the whole country. You will instantly fill that leadership gap, and become not just a strong opposition leader but a genuine alternative Prime Minister. A leader capable of articulating an alternative strategy for Brexit and the economy. Credible plans on affordable housing for today’s younger generation, pensions for today’s workers and social care that provides independence and dignity for today’s elders would pull support to Labour—as would the simple fact that Labour was serious about itself and the UK. A new Labour government could speak directly to people on crime, immigration, change, the future. It could deliver a Brexit that holds the United Kingdom together—one that works for agriculture as well as the hospitality industry, for manufacturing as well as service industries. Britain could lead internationally in the uncertain times of the Trump Presidency, Putinism, the slowdown of China. This new approach would be on the table as soon as you stepped up.
The alternative is unthinkable: a Labour Party destroyed by defeat, dragged down to lower than 200 seats by Corbyn. A Tory government re-elected resoundingly despite not being able to answer a single question of substance about Brexit. A Scottish National Party emboldened in its mischief making about separation. Northern Ireland on a long slow slide to unification with Ireland.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man.