It is, I am told, a convention that there are three subjects not discussed at dinner parties; namely money, politics, and religion. Whether or not that convention still holds true is something about which I am not qualified to comment since it is quite a few years since I last went to what my have been described as a dinner party. But it is a convention which, as a general rule, I try to observe on this blog. As a general rule. But, given that it is my rule, I feel comfortable about breaking it if I so wish.
Yesterday, the Labour Party elected a new leader. Well, the result of the election was announced yesterday. The new leader, one Jeremy Corbyn, of whom scarcely anyone had heard only three months ago, is supposed to be an old fashioned socialist, far, far to the left of any leader of the Labour Party for the last thirty years or so. He has declared that if the Labour Party wins a general election and he is appointed Prime Minister, there would be renationalisation of railways and electricity, gas and water companies, Britain's nuclear deterrent would be scrapped, we would possibly (probably?) pull out of NATO, the Bank of England would be told to print money, there would be an end to austerity and the recent welfare reforms would be reversed. He is a declared 'friend' of Hezbollah and Hamas and would be willing to enter into discussions with Argentina over the future of the Falkland Islands. This, we are told, signifies a return to Old Labour and the end of New Labour.
It always seemed to me that under Tony Blair, the Labour Party was not all that far to the left of the Conservative Party. Both the main political parties seemed to occupy the middle ground, the Conservatives having moved in from the right and the Socialists from the left. There were differences between the parties and their ideas, but the country was, by and large, comfortable on the political front.
But I am concerned that, by electing such an ardent left-winger, the Labour Party has thrown the political scene in this country into turmoil. If the Labour Party has really moved so far away from the centre, will the Conservative right-wingers pull their party away as well? What will all those one-time members of the Shadow Cabinet who have already refused to serve under Mr Corbyn do?
I seem to recall that there was a split in the Labour party some years ago, a split that led to the formation by Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams of the Social Democratic Party. (I have just checked and discovered that this happened back in 1981!) Some years later, the SDP merged with the Liberal Party to form the Liberal Democratic Party. Could there be a similar happening in the near future?
We shall, I suppose, just have to wait and see.