This unpleasant atmosphere of thinly veiled contempt is hugely damaging, and in no way the right culture in which to foster the “new politics” atmosphere of open, respectful and constructive debate that Jeremy Corbyn has said he wants to bring about. Not only does it make it nearly impossible for the party to resolve its problems, but it looks awful from the outside. If anyone is nursing hopes that Jeremy Corbyn is fostering a new social movement in which the Labour Party can link up with others on the left to work together to bring about real change (as mentioned in the blog post I linked to yesterday and on Monday) this has to give them pause.
For who is going to want to work with an organisation which treats its own the way the PLP have been (and are being) treated? Who is going to want to come together to debate ideas and solutions with people who allow the sort of social media attacks against those who dare to disagree that so many women in the PLP have suffered? And who is going to want to make common cause with a leader who, by all accounts, does not even have regular meetings with his own deputy?
I am sure that Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters would respond by saying that at least some of these things are not his fault. Take the online monstering, for instance. He did not carry out the trolling, or condone it. He merely stayed silent while it was going on. If you believe, as I do, that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing, then this excuse won’t wash. But quite apart from that, (and we are back to leadership now), the leader sets the tone, in any organisation. If people are being bullied and the girl or guy in charge does nothing to stop or to condemn the bullying, the message goes out that it’s OK to bully, and a culture arises in which bullying is seen as just one of those things; something which happens which we can’t do anything about, like the weather.