Tom Watson’s resignation as Labour deputy leader is an embarrassment for his party but not a brave stand for moderation. Mr Watson is a creature of the Left, responsible for witch hunts against journalists and Tories. And he has resigned to do what? Mr Watson says that he is training to become a gym instructor and is working on a book about weight loss. Until recently, this insubstantial man was trying to persuade so-called moderates to stay in Labour, not leave it, and he intends to campaign for the party in this election. Mr Watson is not an opponent of Corbynism. He is its enabler.
Credit goes instead to those figures on the Left who have had the courage to go all the way and say that they prefer the Conservatives: Tom Harris, John Woodcock and, most prominently, Ian Austin, who explained that “institutional anti-Semitism” made it impossible for him to support Labour in December. He said yesterday that Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have spent “every opportunity [backing] our country’s enemies” – an astonishing indictment.
Many Labour candidates agree with Mr Austin, and yet in the next few weeks they will pin on a red rosette, knock on doors and ask people to put Mr Corbyn in Downing Street. Perhaps they think that he does not have a hope of winning this election, that all they are doing is protecting their own seat. But this widespread calculation – that people can afford to vote for Mr Corbyn safe in the knowledge that he will not actually win – was probably behind the dramatic rise in the Labour vote in 2017. History has a dangerous habit of repeating itself.
Moreover, Labour does not even have to surge in order to win: the Conservatives only have to do less well than expected. If the Brexit Party peels away Tory Leavers and the Lib Dems tempt away Tory Remainers, the Conservatives could fall short in enough seats to deny them a majority – and Labour is ready and willing to form a Left-wing coalition that will change Britain forever. Yesterday, Mr McDonnell told an audience that Labour will seek to achieve what past socialist governments have only aspired to: “An irreversible shift in the balance of power and wealth.”
Mr Corbyn’s campaign might look hapless and hopeless but the reality is that a vote for anyone other than Boris Johnson could put a Marxist into No 10. It is a gamble that sensible voters must not take.