We have all heard the claims and arguments several times over the last couple of years. Every local or national by-election loss the party has had, we have heard the same excuses from the avid supporters of the leadership.
“We would have won if we’d had a pro-Corbyn candidate”.
“Region wouldn’t let us put forward a properly radical platform”.
“Your Blairite campaign methods are outdated.”
“Jeremy would be more popular if you publicised him more.”
“If we mobilised all our supporters and people who don’t vote, we’d win easily.”
The argument goes that polling and data, which people like me use to devise our campaigns, do nothing but confirm our anti-Corbyn biases and that if we run a proper- full blooded Corbynite campaign, with Corbynite candidates, Corbynite agents and Corbynite policies, we will connect with the voters and see a huge electoral upset comparable with when Jeremy won the leadership.
My response to the people who make these claims, who tell me my pessimism is misplaced, who tell me we can win this election, is a simple one: prove it.
I have already written for Labour Vision on what I think our strategy should be with regard to defending the seats that we have and stopping the Tory advance, and emphasised the importance of focusing our resources in those defensive seats.
Since then, a number of people have asked me: “what about all the other seats? What about the 2015 marginals?”.
My answer is a straightforward one: if the Corbynites think that they can win these seats, let them try.
Instead of putting moderate candidates in seats we aren’t going to win, and then having to put up with all that “it was a vote against Blairism”/”A Corbynite would have won”… bollocks, I think we owe it to the Corbynites to give them a chance to prove these arguments right or wrong.
We should support the appointment of a Corbynite candidate in every vacant non-Labour seat in this country and let them have a clean run at it. Their own campaign, their own messaging, minimal interference.And we should support them. Deliver their leaflets, turn out to their canvassing sessions, be uncritical, friendly, happy warriors every step of their way.
I challenge all Corbyn supporters to put their money where their mouth is and stand, and I ask all moderates to let them.
It is the only way to settle this debate once and for all. To let them have complete ownership of, and responsibility for, these campaigns, and of whatever results they produce, whether that be victory or defeat.
Vladimir Lenin, not a man I usually find myself quoting, once famously made the argument that rather than aggressively destroying social democratic parties, communists simply had to support them passively and let them fail on their own terms.
If the Corbynites genuinely believe they can win, if they genuinely believe Jeremy is popular, if they genuinely believe that they have the answers on campaigning, on messaging, on policy, they should put up or shut up.
And we should support them completely, as the rope supports the hanged man.