Confirming its new status as the hostile mouthpiece of the Lib Dems, the New Statesman has run an article by former deputy Prime Minister John Prescott under a headline of
John Prescott on Labour: “This must be the worst operation I’ve ever seen”
Seeing that, you’d think he was talking about Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. That’s very far from the case.
Instead, Prescott launches immediately into an attack on the [rebel] PLP (parliamentary Labour party) – and it’s in that context that he talks of an ‘operation’:
I’ve attended a thousand PLP meetings. This must be the worst operation I’ve ever seen. It is more about personality politics than in the past.
He talks briefly about the undoubted achievements of the last Labour government and the fact that its legacy has been obliterated by the disaster of the illegal Iraq war – but then, in case we forget his intent, he moves swiftly back to his main theme and attacks the blairites for their orchestrated ‘outrage’, their collusion with the press and their relentless war of attrition:
Some members in the PLP sit there with their social media, already typing out the fight going on to the mass of reporters who are amassed outside and told to come along and report because there’s going to be a big row. All that means we can’t really have unity. The division now is the attack on the leadership. A core who sit in the same places, make the same accusations against the leadership, right or wrong, every bloody week. They do it by a death of a thousand cuts – keep on making the same complaints.
While he talks of Corbyn’s lack of experience when he first became leader – and very briefly about Momentum and how they don’t fit with his ‘old Labour’ mindset – there’s no doubt about where he places the blame for Labour’s current situation. But just in case, he goes even further:
I just think that the PLP is in civil war status. It’s not carrying out what it should do – that is, project Labour’s policies and be supportive of our people in the field.
All this criticism is about removing [Corbyn]. And then what adds to that is when Tom Watson comes along and joins in with this criticism. He’s entitled to do so, but he is the Deputy Leader, for God’s sake – quite different from the way I saw the role as defined; to support the party in a positive way, right. Get out and increase his membership, etc.
His assessment of the result of all this agitation and attrition is brutally frank:
To sit and watch [the Labour Party] waste away its great reputation.
And just in case we’ve forgotten where he puts the blame – and where he doesnt:
I don’t put it down to leaders, I put it down to the nature of the party. We’re responsible, not the leaders.
Of course, this is not what the New Statesman wants you to carry away from the article, especially if – like the majority – you glance at the headline and don’t digest the rest of the article.
Because hostile mouthpieces for other parties and interests are looking to damage the Labour Party, not help it. Unlike John Prescott, happily.
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