Brian Eno Brian Eno

Claims of ‘far left infiltration’ are being used to justify the Labour machine’s purge of new members but, as musician Brian Eno makes clear in this opinion piece, the purge goes a lot deeper

My feelings about this are pretty straightforward: I wanted to support Jeremy Corbyn, a man with whom I’ve spoken at many demonstrations and who chairs Stop the War Coalition, of which I am a member and a financial supporter. I supported the LibDems in two elections because they stood for certain things that I believed in strongly – most importantly for me, they were against the Iraq War. It was that war more than anything else that disillusioned me about Labour. The unholy coalition with the Tories to make that war of choice happen disappointed me.

I voted Labour in every election until the Iraq War, after which I shifted to the LibDems. I still believe that the position they took then was the right one, and I still believe that voting for them in 2010 was a reasonable decision. At that time Labour was still resolutely New Labour and unwilling to admit that they’d made a monumental blunder. Corbyn voted (and demonstrated) against that blunder and his views on most other things are entirely consistent with mine. And, I might add, with what the Labour Party  claims to stand for.

I don’t feel it necessary to make a breast-beating recantation and say I was wrong about the LibDems because I don’t think I was. My main intention was, and still is, to stop the Tories, and to vote for a proper opposition in this country. Labour, in my opinion, was not a proper opposition for at least a decade. Now there is the chance that they can be again, and that’s what I want to support. And, yes, I still have respect for the LibDems – as we now start to see the results of a newly-unrestrained Tory Party at work we might retrospectively reassess the importance of the LibDem  contribution when they were in coalition.

If the Labour Party isn’t broadminded enough to understand that somebody could switch support between two parties on the basis of such considerations as these then I’m afraid it probably isn’t broadminded enough for many of the new supporters Corbyn has attracted.

Like me, they probably aren’t interested in parties as such: they’re interested in policies, and in the possibility of a better future, whoever delivers it. If this outlandish idea is a blow to your pride then so be it: if you can’t work with anyone unless they show unswerving, unquestioning, eternal loyalty then perhaps you’re in the wrong country. I will continue to support Corbyn and will be speaking in the next few weeks at rallies in his favour. If he becomes leader I will vote Labour again. If he doesn’t…well, I’ll have to make my choice based on what’s on offer.

Mark Steel (another reject like me, another person who’s been on many of the same demos) wrote a piece in The Guardian (or was it the Independent?) last week which captured the thing perfectly: you don’t know how to harness the support you’re getting, so, opting for a simpler, more black-and-white, them-and-us life, you’re rejecting it. 

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