For those who have spent their political adult lives in dreary back rooms of pubs, fiercely debating if your branch of the ‘Workers R Us’, or some such party, should source its coffee from Socialist Venezuela or the local organic shop, these are heady times.
Whereas once you knew your aims would only be achieved by future generations of progressive intellectuals working with the proletariat, now you get to stand outside Parliament screaming that Labour MPs are ‘vermin’ for telling their leader to stand down. You are almost at the centre of things. Or rather, almost at the centre of things which matter to you.
Jeremy Corbyn is not an entryist – he’s been inside all along, and so has his Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell – but both know what the term means, and for decades they have associated with people who believe it is acceptable.
‘Entryist n, adj – The policy or practice of members of a particular political group joining an existing political party with the intention of changing its principles and policies, instead of forming a new party.’
There is little doubt that among the tens of thousands of people who joined the Labour Party last year ahead of the leadership election, are Stalinists, Trotskyites, and various other flavours of the extreme left. They are steeped in ideology, class hatred, dogma, and very familiar with both the concepts of entryism and then building on that to move on to Gramsci’s ideas of the ‘long march through the institutions’.
Some will be smart enough to know that the utterly dismal performance of ‘their’ leader, especially in keeping the UK in the EU, his total lack of resonance with the wider public, and now his refusal to step down, risks splitting the party. It is possible that somewhere in Mr. Corbyn’s mind even he knows it. But it matters not. Indeed to the ultra left, this is a good thing.
Here’s why. The extreme left are among the most self deluded and patronizing people you can meet. They really believe that the ‘masses’ suffer from ‘false consciousness’ and only they can see the real world.
As they are holders of the truth, it is their life’s work to explain this to the masses, who, when the scales fall from their eyes, will vote the holders of truth into power.
Alas, because the system is so against them, they must lead their lives in dismal back room pubs, and being ignored whilst trying to sell ‘Prole Solidarity’ magazines outside university gates. In private many scorn ‘democratic socialism’ and in public are happy to keep company with apologists for terrorism and support anti democratic regimes around the world.
Now, people with very similar views, are deep inside the Labour Party and some are inside Mr Corbyn’s circle.
If the party breaks, and that is a very real possibility, they will be left with a rump hard left Labour Party. Those they hate even more than the Tories would head off and form a new centre/centre left party.
But what a rump. They will have the money, the buildings, the computer systems, the data lists, the structure, and the remaining membership. This is more than the ultra left could ever have dreamed of, or achieved on their own. Instead of a dozen, almost irrelevant, fringe groups, there would be a national party with a base, albeit relatively small, from which to build.
Some commentators argue that the left wing of the Labour Party is driving off a cliff with their eyes shut. Perhaps it is – but some of those steering it have their eyes wide open.