The number of what one might call “old” Labour members, from before the 2015 election, is also important from the point of view of campaigning. As I said before, these are the people who have done the work of keeping the Labour Party on the road over the last twenty or so years, and by the figures I’ve been able to dig out, most of them are not supporters of Jeremy Corbyn. Will they campaign for a Corbynist Labour Party?
Here I must admit to having some personal skin in the game. I’ve campaigned in Tooting since I joined the party, not in large ways but fairly consistently. In August there was a local council by-election to replace a Labour councillor, and organiser asked me if I would do my usual leaflet round. This was just after Jeremy Corbyn had shoehorned himself onto the leadership ballot paper despite not having the support of the requisite number of MPs. This seemed to me to be so at odds with both the spirit of the rule, which was clearly there to ensure that any leader of the Party has the support of the PLP as well as the membership, and to avoid the very position we find ourselves in at present, that I was disgusted enough to um and err about whether I wanted to turn out to support a candidate who supported Jeremy Corbyn.
In the event this turned out not to be an issue; I spoke to friends in the party who are more involved and know more people than me, and decided I was happy to campaign for the candidate after all. Would I have made the same decision to support him if he had been a Corbynista? I need to mention here that I’ve never had much time for people like me (ie middle class, white, well-educated home owners in secure employment) who refuse to support Labour or vote Labour in grounds of principle. By this I don’t mean people genuinely feeling that another party is more in tune with their beliefs; I mean, to take an example, the decision made by a number of Labour supporters not to vote Labour after the Iraq war.