I’ve been doing a lot of listening recently; I’ve almost finished the audiobook of Tony Benn’s diaries. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Tony was a great listener, especially when he was talking to people who agreed with everything he said, and it is in that spirit that I’ve called for a massive listening exercise so we can try and understand why a bunch of traitors and scabs left the Labour Party this morning. I hope this will be the first step towards healing the divisions between Blairites, Brownites and those of us who genuinely belong in the Labour party. Words are not enough, of course. We need action too. But that’s Jennie Formby’s job and she doesn’t get in ‘til lunchtime.
Let me be absolutely clear and please listen to me carefully as I speak extremely slowly and deliberately in a calculated attempt to reassure you that I’m an incredibly reasonable and rational man: I am saddened these Labour MPs have left. If there was a TV camera here now I’d look straight down the lens and address them directly by saying something like: ‘I’m sorry you felt you had to leave. I hope you come back. There will always be a place for you here in the Labour party”. But I haven’t got time to do interviews today because I’m reviewing the minutes of the Labour Representation Committee. I’m no longer involved in the day to day running, of course, and apart from being President, writing for the website and attending its annual conference every year I’ve pretty much cut all ties. But I never forget who my friends are.
The sight of those ex-Labour MPs sitting at PMQs alongside the trio of turncoat Tories made me so very sad. Sad and disappointed. Sad because they will all stand in marginal seats and keep Jeremy out of No 10. And disappointed because I won’t be chancellor in the first and only truly socialist government in the history of the western world. But what saddens me more is how awful those eight former colleagues of mine must be feeling, the poor wretches. Barely a minute goes by when I don’t wonder what more I could have done to prevent them from leaving. I can’t help thinking they should all stand down immediately and submit themselves to the will of the people by calling by-elections in which they’d be completely and comprehensively destroyed. Then I remember that’s just the other John McDonnell speaking – the one I keep locked in the bottom draw of my wardrobe with my copy of Das Kapital and my bust of Lenin.
As John Prescott once remarked, in a quote that will always be remembered because it’s the only thing he’s ever said that made any sort of sense: “The tectonic plates appear to be moving”. That is my fear. The reactionary forces of the bourgeoisie were never going to stand aside and allow a Labour party led by a true socialist to sweep away the old order. And the traitors and capitalist stooges in the PLP are doing their dirty work for them. No! Shut up John. I told you to stay in your drawer! The truth is we haven’t dealt with antisemitism and bullying quickly enough. I recognise that. We’ve done enough listening. We need to take action. We need deselections! Loyalty oaths! We need show trials and re-education programmes! No pasarán! Power to the People! With our boxes of matches, and our necklaces, we shall liberate this country! John, stop it. You’re not helping. Please John.
Bloody hell, Ian Austin’s gone now. I can only tolerate so much. Then again, he was always a racist, immigrant-hating bigot. And didn’t he work for that notorious fascist sympathiser Gordon Brown? No, we will come together as families always do and get through this. And to anyone still worried about the state of the party I will simply repeat the advice I gave to a colleague at this week’s PLP when they asked me to help with a case of antisemitism: “f*ck off”.