On Being a Bad Loser

Anyone who takes an interest in the competitive fields of sport and politics quickly has to learn what it’s like to lose.

Even serial winners like Tony Blair, Maggie Thatcher or Usain Bolt do/did lose sometimes, and their reaction to those setbacks are usually very revealing.

In commmon with many others, I’ve suffered more than my share of defeat this year.

I’m not talking about the personal here.

I’m not even talking about Arsenal (for a change) because on the whole 2016 (so far) has been fairly successful.

I do refer to the two big political defeats of the last few months – on Brexit and Corbyn. These twin body blows have many things in common.

They both followed bitter campaigns in which personal abuse was more prominent than sober analysis.

They both involved unprecedented levels of interest from the traditionally politically uninterested British public.

And they were both results that I don’t understand and believe, with every fibre of my being, were a huge blow to the moderate, liberal tolerance for which Britain is justly famous.

But there is one other thing these results had in common. They were immediately followed by crowing from the victors and demands that the losers “respect the result” by setting aside all objection and uniting to make the new order work.

Now glee is at least understandable, but I would argue it’s best kept to dare I say it, less crucial matters such as sport, and kept well clear of issues as important as the future of the country.

But since when must losers accept defeat?

What was the response of Man United, Chelsea, City, Arsenal etc to Leicester’s league triumph? Did they acknowledge the new reality of foxy superiority and settle in for long periods simply battling for Champions League qualification?

Of course not. They graciously congratulated Leicester, then got down to the serious work of ensuring that next time the result is different.

Should Labour and the other opposition parties “respect the mandate” the Tories won in 2015 by uniting behind Theresa May?

Of course not. They continue to campaign as hard as possible to oppose the Government where appropriate and to position themselves to win power at the next election.

So why should the very large minorities who voted Remain and/or Owen Smith simply shut up and bow down?

Were the Euro-sceptics (as they used to be called) silent because they lost the referendum in 1975? Of course not. They moaned, whinged and blamed everything on Europe for 40 years until they annoyed a lily-livered Prime Minister so much that he risked the nation’s future because he couldn’t handle his own back-benchers.

OK. I get that, in theory, Labour members such as myself are on the same side as Corbyn, McDonnell et al. We are all Labour members and share many feelings about policy etc and don’t want the Tories to destroy the country as they did in the 80s and 90s.

We have managed to co-exist within Labour for decades. So why is this such a crisis?

Well so far the “efforts” to unite the party post-election include the vice-chair of Momentum (who now de facto run the party) denying yet again that there is ANY problem with antisemitism, at the same time as, yet again, casting antisemitic “dual loyalty” slurs against those who disagree.

They include Ken “Hitler” Livingstone being trotted out on programme after programme to laud Corbyn and call for “unity”.

They include the threat of deselection against MPs who had the audacity to criticise the Dear Leader.

They include absolutely no let-up in the abusive and threatening manner of Corbynistas on social media and on television, with talk of “Zionist conspiracy” and “whinging ex-Blairites” continuing unabated. (Whatever happened to being gracious in victory)?


And they include the strong inference from everyone at the heart of the Corbyn camp that “unity” means “getting behind Corbyn 100% and agreeing with all his positions”.

Many have decided that in the light of all this, enough is enough, and have resigned their sometimes life-long membership of the Party.

I have not yet decided whether to take that step, but if in the coming months there is no sign of humility, compromise or recognition of fallibility from the Corbyn camp, it is highly likely that I will.

Either way, to date the concerns that led 172 (nearly 4 in 5) Labour MPs to vote no confidence in Corbyn’s leadership have simply not been acknowledged, let alone addressed, so why should they now simply put up with the very same state of affairs?

Finally, it cannot be ignored that the man now calling for loyalty and recognition of his democratic mandate has, since his election as an MP in 1983, made a career of consistently voting, briefing and campaigning in direct opposition to every single democratically elected Labour leader and most of the party’s democratically decided policies.

The hypocrisy is just outrageous.

Speak soon

Labenal (@Labenal1)




On The Man In The Mirror

20160907_232046It is the month of Ellul – an annual time of reflection. And given the 4 year Olympic cycle, there is further opportunity to take stock.

4 years ago (not to the day) I was enjoying the Paralympics opening ceremony at the London olympic stadium, having been uplifted by the special atmosphere which surged through my home city as Olympic host.

I know one is supposed to focus on the blessings in life, but as I watch the Rio Paralympics open, I can honestly say that the intervening years have been an utter disaster.

I barely recognise Britain as the bright, open, progressive country I thought I lived in, my Labour Party has descended into utter farce, it has become impossible just to enjoy the ups and downs of being an Arsenal fan (you have to defend every comment and view to the nth degree) and my personal life has effectively evaporated. The only adults with whom I now interact on a regular basis are my older sons.

Even Kylie has betrayed me by getting married (or has she?) – and worst of all, if you Google Kylie now, you get news of something called a Jenner.

The only good thing I can say is that the few high points shine bright – largely because they were so few.

Honestly, other than the wonderful progress my gorgeous boys (of whom I could not be more proud) have made in their lives, the only “good news” I can recall is trivial and external – things like victories for Arsenal, England (cricket & rubgy obv, not football) etc.

Here’s hoping that the coming year of 5777 marks the start of the turnaround.

Speak soon

Labenal  (@Labenal1, formerly @GoonerEll)