Take a jump to the left

The glee with which the Corbynites have rejoiced at the death of New Labour is chilling. That says it all, says our man in Westminster. They rejoice at the death of the most successful period in the Labour Party’s history. Jeremy Corbyn’s victory will give the hard left legitimacy to cause industrial unrest.

I struggle to find the words to describe the enormity of Jeremy Corbyn’s election as the leader of the Labour Party.

This isn’t just a shift to the left. It’s a huge, gigantic leap.

The most amazing thing is that so many people said they supported Jeremy Corbyn because his politics are a breath of fresh air. But these are largely young people who simply don’t remember, or weren’t alive, when the hard left last had its hold on the Labour Party, with all the dire consequences of that. Jeremy Corbyn’s election isn’t a breath of fresh air at all. It is a huge step back in time to the failed Labour policies of the early 1980s.

What I can’t get my head around is why the party has elected as leader somebody who, by general consensus even in the party, can’t win a general election. What on earth is the point of being a political party if you elect a leader who will confine your party to permanent opposition? It’s all the more serious because Labour is the formal opposition. This can’t be good for our parliamentary democracy.

Those who support Jeremy Corbyn claim that Labour lost the recent general election because Labour didn’t offer a sufficiently left-wing agenda. What they ignore is that the British electorate doesn’t like extreme parties – left or right. The electorate is avowedly in the centre ground. Surely even the hard left can see that? So I can only assume that Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters don’t want to see Labour in power. They want to be in permanent opposition because they don’t want the responsibility of government. They want the luxury of being able to present the ideology of socialism without ever having the responsibility of putting their philosophy to the test.

And, the glee with which the Corbynites have rejoiced at the death of New Labour is chilling. That says it all. They rejoice at the death of the most successful period in the Labour Party’s history.

But what worries me most is that Jeremy Corbyn’s victory will give the hard left legitimacy to cause industrial and social unrest on a scale we have not seen for decades. Already the unions are discussing the possibility of a general strike, something last seen in this country in 1926.

What also worries me is that many people may have voted for Jeremy Corbyn for a bit of fun, without any real thought being given to the consequences. His election is deadly serious. We need a strong, effective opposition in this country, regardless of which party it is. Jeremy Corbyn has no experience of ever having been on the front bench, even in opposition, and a goodly handful of his Shadow Cabinet won’t have either. It could be disastrous. The Labour Party is now hopelessly divided and I weep for it.

Back to buses. Greener Journeys’ report A Roadmap to Growth, published last week makes a strong, if obvious, point.

Investing in bus infrastructure is the key to providing a high quality, reliable service that will encourage growth in patronage. Quite so, I thought, although quite why it needs a study by KPMG to tell us this I’m less clear.

But it’s a critical point, and perhaps if more local authorities devoted their energies to addressing the infrastructure issue, specifically bus priority measures, rather than philosophical points about deregulation versus regulation, we might make some progress.