Gavin YatesFife councillor Gavin Yates looks to the future of the Labour Party, assuming a Jeremy Corbyn victory tomorrow.


Writing this piece a day before the formal announcement of the Labour leadership, I will take the risk and make a prediction (a dangerous thing in politics). Jeremy Corbyn will win the leadership election. Well done Jeremy. Congratulations.

And heartfelt commiserations to Owen Smith.  At least you had the courage to give it a go.

So where do we go from here?

The general analysis is that the party can either come together under the leadership of Corbyn, or it can split. I think that is a little simplistic. Those who opposed Corbyn – even those in Parliament who very reluctantly resigned from the front bench – will find it difficult to either ‘about-face’ or to leave the party in which many have invested their entire lives.

There will be some in the Momentum faction who will be screaming for deselections and ‘root and branch’ changes, but the last thing the party needs is more conflict. The real week-in week-out activists are not enthused on either side. The battle has been bloody and no-one has really won.

The problem for Labour is that the central tenet of the criticism of Corbyn – namely electability – has not been resolved, and likely will not be resolved until 2020. Jeremy will either win or lose and I’m afraid that no amount of polling, by-elections or focus groups will convince either side that they are not correct. In a metaphorical poker game the Party has just gone ‘all in’, and until the final card is turned over there is nothing to do but continue playing the game.

But some of us – although I can only really speak for myself – do have other options.

I was elected as a councillor for my home ward in Fife in 2012. Proud to be selected by my branch and delighted to get elected alongside another Labour councillor as well as an SNP member and a Tory. To be honest we may not have expected to do so well and get two members elected, but we did.

In my ward we’ve pushed hard for new social housing, and recently demolition started on a mini-scheme that had become a byword for unacceptable housing conditions. Ignored by previous administrations, the administration I have been part of took the positive step needed, and many constituents of mine can now look forward to a better future. This is why I joined the Labour Party. To be in a position where we can make a difference for folk and improve the quality of life for those who need that.

I would point out that Fife Labour is building these houses as part of a 2700 home programme despite the cuts to Housing Allocation Grant that all local authorities have endured.

As a councillor I have found that fellow councillors on all sides care deeply about those they serve, and try to do their best to improve not just their ward but the whole of the authority they represent. What I would say is that it is much easier to do that if you are in administration rather than opposition. Winning really matters. Not for the glory – I haven’t seen very much of that. Or for the kudos – local councillors don’t get much of that either. Winning matters because politics is the language of competing priorities and only winning gives you the opportunity to choose.

So to say that winning doesn’t matter, or is not as important as political purity, is at best naïve and at worst utterly reckless.

So I have decided that I will not be standing as a candidate in next year’s local elections. I will serve out my current term and do my very best for my constituents but will leave it to others to take on the important work that needs done. I have excellent colleagues in Fife’s Labour group and I know they will demonstrate that their priorities – better housing, quality schools, dignity in care and good local services – are the priorities of most Fifers.

The party finds itself at a crossroads. The last few months have been the worst I have been forced to endure in terms of the level of discourse between supposed comrades. The time now is to build bridges not burn them down, but we need an urgent sense of realism.

The party has turned from an election fighting and winning machine into a circus where there are thousands of aggressive voices but precious little clarity.

I will always have Labour values as my touchstone. Fairness, equality, compassion and care. But if the party is turning into a circus, I don’t want to be one of the clowns.

Related Posts

21 thoughts on “Tales from the big top

  1. Oh I don’t think the Labour PLP will split or try and work with Jeremy I think they will continue to snipe and stab him in the back and every and all opportunity.
    Corbyn is the ONLY chance Labour has of being elected to Office in Westminster but not if the PLP continue to stab him in the back.
    They wont care if it makes the Conservative Tories more electable or not. Better a Blue Tory than a Red Socialist is the Red Tory mantra.

  2. You are the heart and soul of the party! How great it was to read a post that was not full of the usual metropolitan, vacuous slogans and grandstanding, but rather of real, effective activity on behalf of the people the party was formed to serve. There are many hundreds of you up and down the country. What some have to face in the south is dreadful, and will only increase over the next few years, but I think there is less such trouble up here. I really do admire your work. Keep going!

  3. “Opposed Corbyn-…..those in Parliament…..very reluctantly resigned from the front bench”
    This is rewriting history, Gavin. They resigned in a planned coupe, spacing out their resignation letters in a staged fashion for maximum media attention and damage to the Labour Party.
    Of course they wont split from the Party—they have no where else to go. Nor will they accept the democratic outcome of the Leadership election. They are already laying out conditions before they will serve—elections to the Shadow Cabinet, but ONLY if the membership aren’t involved.
    I have doubts about the ability and depth of Corbyn, given his track record, but Labour has no one else of any calibre ( or they would have stood against him). Better in the long term if Labour split now, or you could be in for the same decline as the Liberals a hundred years ago.
    Though voters have a limited field to chose from in England–UKIP, a joke Lib Dumb Party, Greens etc.

    How long will the rump who have stood with Scottish Labour stay “loyal” when Labour in England/Wales are decimated? Teresa May is very popular down south, though I suspect most Scots ( not the bulk of political pundits who are already in the Ruthie Cult) will be turned off by her aggressive triumphalism and gloating persona.

    1. It’s you who is trying to rewrite history. There was no planned coup. There was certainly no aim for maximum damage to the Labour Party.

      If you knew the first thing about our party, you’d know shadow cabinet elections were always done by MPs. It’s ludicrous to make them a membership effort – it needs to be fast and efficient. Corbyn backed shadow cabinet elections by MPs throughout his career, and was one of the loudest voices opposing Ed Miliband’s scrapping of them. His opposition to them coming back tells you everything you need to know about his shameless opportunism.

      Oh, and you should read some opinion polls. Theresa May is more popular in Scotland than Corbyn – and more popular than Sturgeon. Terrifying thought, but true. Voters, eh?

      1. Duncan,
        The shadow cabinet resignations were timed for maximum effect; to do the maximum damage to the leader. That is an indisputable fact. Failed coup? I think so.
        The debate on whether the shadow cabinet should be elected by the members or the MPs is yet another thread in the next chapter of the Labour Party soap but this particular storyline is getting more and more implausible with each episode. Every one knows this is not going to end well. Of course the leader has to pick his team. The soap opera over on the other side would never run such a ridiculous storyline.
        PS Have you decided where you are going to listen to the leadership result? I picture you in the bedroom of a Liverpool hotel, behind the couch curled up in the foetal position. As long as its not the end of the pier. Remember after all, its only politcs.

  4. Duncan, you must be the only person left, gullible enough, to think all these resignations “just happened”, out of the blue, so to speak.
    It was planned.
    It was staged.
    And, by timing the resignations to occur at regular intervals, DID cause damage to Labour. It may not have been the primary aim of the coupe (which was to get rid of Corbyn) but that ancillary damage was a definite by-product of their plot. The staged and sequential resignations allowed days of knocking copy in the media, and shameless gloating by the BEEB.
    I don’t personally doubt that elections to the Shadow Cabinet should be by MP’s—that is not the point I was making. It is that the disruption is not at an end. Shameless opportunism it may be by Corbyn, but his new strength is also a by-product of the MP’s plotting.
    They should have remained in-situ and guided the party in the direction they wanted, rather than quitting. They have thrown away a strong Shadow Cabinet position by *THEIR* “shameless opportunism”.

    I am not a great follower of polling, but the latest one I saw (survation?), still had Sturgeon leading. Davidson second and May third (and dropping).
    You are right about May’s popularity over Corbyn, but she also leads Dugdale—your wing of the Party, I believe?
    Voters, eh?

    1. Ipsos MORI this month says May more popular than Sturgeon:

      You’re wrong about the “coup”, but I see you’re not open to persuasion on it. Glad you’ve kinda admitted you were wrong that the aim of those resigning was to damage the Labour Party. A small step in the direction of honesty from you. I suppose I should be grateful.

      1. No Dunc, its you who are wrong on the coupe. Persuasion has nothing to do with the facts, as we could all see the staged, sequential exit from the Shadow Cabinet that you seem to have missed. It was organised and pre-planned—a coupe.
        My clumsy wording implied that the coupe MP’s aim was to damage the Party. That was not my intention, as their primary objective was to remove Corbyn. However they MUST have been aware that damage would be a by-product of their conduct. They obviously accepted the consequences of their actions. Why cant you?
        If you are continually going to accuse me of dishonesty, then its time you came up with actual proof.
        Your playground jibes are ridiculous and a disincentive for people to comment on your site. If you cannot back up your views with logical argument, then you should refrain from personal abuse to those with opposite/different views.
        Do you also deny the findings of the survation poll? Perhaps they are also dishonest?
        Is there a beam in your eye?

        1. First off, the word you’re searching for is coup, not coupe. You’d think if you were going to use it so often you might look it up.

          Second, I know what happened it wasn’t pre-planned because I’ve spoken to a number of the people who ended up resigning that day. Your insistence that it was pre-planned has no evidential basis.

          Thirdly, I’m not sure why you think I want you to keep commenting on this site. All you ever do is slag off Labour. I allow it, but the suggestion that I might regret it if you sodded off is well wide of the mark.

          You haven’t shown me a link to a Survation poll, so I can’t possibly judge its relevance. When was it conducted? What was its result? It’s quite possible it showed something interesting, but given your track record I’m not going to take an evidence-free assertion from you as the basis for believing it.

          1. If it wasn’t preplanned then why are the plotters all on the exact same page with regards to having the exact same excuse for stabbing Corbyn in the back and why did they all decide to act at exactly the same time?
            You’re talking about people who sit next to each other most days who are all under the same party whip.
            To even attempt to lie about there being no pre planning is about as pathetic as you’ve ever been and that’s going some.
            Christ Hothersall the truth would choke you if you even tried to utter it.

      2. Jesus Duncan you must think the whole country has bolts in their neck, of course it was a coup. But don’t worry you signed the document with the rest of the anti labour party.

        no mistaking where you stand.

        1. If you think I’m in the anti-Labour Party then you have zero understanding of where I stand.

          1. Duncan, is that the de-bunked STV poll you are quoting, you know the one that asked two different questions about Ruth Davidson and our First Minster.

            Then tried to claim this made Ruth Davidson more popular than Nicola Sturgeon. Guess what , it didn’t work then, its not working now.

            And as for your coup that you say didn’t happen but the rest of the world says did. You need to remember all those people putting their names to the articles you published on this site, telling the UK you wanted the labour leader gone.

            Your name was definitely on there.

            That’s a coup in anyone book.

      3. Ipsos Mori showed how corrupt it can be by trying to poll on a basis of comparing apples with oranges.
        Clearly a transparent cooperation between the pollster and the commissioners. No self respecting legitimate impartial pollster would have participated in such a blatant farce and no self respecting so called anti Tory Social Democrat would be trying to pretend it had any worth. The only people pretending it has any worth are Tories.
        But you’re not the only Red Tory who has tried to promote the poll as anything other than bollocks.

      4. That Ipsos Mori poll asked two different questions so you cant conflate an answer from that.

  5. Firstly,good luck in your future endeavours after serving your ward.
    Whatever side of the coin you are on,anyone whose drawn to public service deserves our well wishes when they decide to concentrate on their own life.

    Though I think calling the mass coordinated chicken coup ‘reluctant resignations’ is well off the mark.
    Only the dishonest or the naive think it was anything other than a selfish,pre planned attack on Corbyns leadership by bunch of careerists who turn their nose up at his huge democratic mandate.
    Hopefully like you said he does win and the labour party becomes a credible alternative to the present government.
    Already missed a huge,easy opportunity to hold the tories to account after the brexit shambles through the cowardly actions of the plotters.
    Hopefully they suck it up after defeat,accept democracy and prove they care more about taking on the tories than they do trying to be them..

    1. That hope has already been dashed they are already attacking him over possible deals with the Scottish Government.
      If he doesn’t clean shop he will never stop being undermined and stabbed in the back.
      The Red Tories have to go that’s all there is to it.

  6. Found this on Twitter and it looked appropriate to this article.

    You left Labour? Over Iraq?
    90 day detention?
    Abstaining on Tory welfare bill?
    A leader who’s, urgh, left wing!

    Why don’t you at least try to take the rest of the Red Tories with you?

Comments are closed.