POLITICS: Omens not looking good

I have been taken to task by two Labour voters because of my recent letter about socialists on a train, (News Guardian, September 8).

Sunday, 16th October 2016, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 2:36 pm

The letter was intended to be an amusing take on the Corbyn leadership campaign blunders, particularly the Traingate episode. Now I would like to pick up some of the criticisms.

John Pearce laments the fact that Jeremy Corbyn has been betrayed by his ”parliamentary colleagues” and demands that following his re-election as leader these colleagues fall in line, (News Guardian, September 15).

The background to the disunity in the Labour Party is that 172 Labour MPs expressed no confidence in Corbyn because of his decision to sack Hilary Benn as shadow foreign secretary.

It is all very well John Pearce expecting Labour MPs to fall into line, but Corbyn must also call on his allies to drop their threats to deselect moderate MPs who have opposed him. In his post re-election address, Corbyn offered not one conciliatory gesture or word of protection.

Corbyn continues to infuriate his party’s traditional working-class supporters with his anti-monarchy, anti-Trident, liberal values. A leader who would unilaterally throw away our nuclear deterrent and who disapproves of shoot-to-kill when faced with an armed terrorist attack should never be prime minister.

Traditional Labour voters will be even more horrified by his pro-immigration views and anti-military comments.

Whether Corbyn has the leadership skills to act in the interest of compromise and conciliation is debatable. So, rather than betrayal by his parliamentary colleagues, as John Pearce believes, Corbyn was the architect of his own misfortune.

Unfortunately for Mr Pearce, the omens for a united Labour party are not looking good. I have yet to hear from even the most ardent fan of Mr Corbyn exactly how he expects to rebuild the party’s electoral base. I fear that it will be like trying to reunite Humpty Dumpty, a task that defeated all the kings horses and all the kings’s men.

AM Johnson refers to the Boundary Commission and states that Prime Minister May “will not be able to displace the Labour vote by much on Tyneside”, (News Guardian, September 29).

The review of constituency boundaries has nothing to do with the prime minister, it is the national Boundary Commissions as the independent bodies responsible for reviewing constituency boundaries in the UK.

To cut the size of the Commons and bring seats within five per cent of a national average of about 77,000 constituents, the number of constituencies is likely to be reduced from 532 to about 499.

There have been howls of protest and accusations of gerrymandering from Labour. However, there is an historical bias in favour of Labour, which tends to get more seats for a smaller percentage of the popular vote. In the general election of February 1974 Labour got slightly fewer votes than the Conservatives, but ended up with more seats.

Removing 50 MPs will also save taxpayers about £12m a year, as well as end the inequalities in democracy.

Mr Johnson is very prescient in that both Tynemouth and North Tyneside constituencies are unlikely to change colour any time soon. But that is nothing to sound smug about. He would do well to remember that voters in both seats voted to leave the EU, despite the Labour Party’s position being to Remain. That protest vote reflects the disillusionment of those voters.

I would like to reassure AM Johnson that our prime minister is unlikely to be too troubled by her party’s inability to win in Tynemouth and North Tyneside. She is not sitting in 10 Downing Street stressing about it.

Besides, the Tories believe in charity towards minority groups and those at risk of extinction, such as the Labour Party, which needs all the seats it can get, including those on Virgin trains, whether empty or not.

Jean McLaughlin