TV Review: The party is over for Labour

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (left) and Owen Smith after they took part in a Labour leadership hustings in August. Pic by Jane Barlow/PA Wire.
Billy Foley

Panorama - Labour: Is the Party Over? BBC 1, Monday at 8.30pm

Dispatches - The Battle for the Labour Party, Channel 4, Monday at 7.30pm

There will be influential people within the Jeremy Corbyn camp who will be convinced that the timing of these two programmes reflects the terrified reaction of the capitalist establishment.

Panorama and Dispatches are, no doubt, controlled by media elites who fear the new kind of Corbynista politics, where everyone will have perfect public services paid for by the super rich.

They will argue that the criticism of Momentum - the campaign group for Corbyn - was cynically timed for the final few days of the Labour leadership campaign.

Perhaps they were, but it will make no difference. Corbyn will win and the Labour party will continue to tear itself apart.

Momentum, the Alliance for Workers' Liberty, the Socialist Party and the Trotskyites will continue their doctrinal debates (within the Labour party) about the advancement of the proletariat.

And in the real world the Conservatives will continue to rule.

There is something very odd about the quasi-religious devotion to Corbyn; the mass rallies and wide-eyed cheering.

We've been here before in politics, but generally the revered have achieved great things.

I can think of only three such adored politicians on these islands, where even modest criticism draws an emotional reaction from devotees.

But then Margaret Thatcher won three general elections for the Conservatives and had a profound impact on Britain, Eamon de Valera lost the argument and the fight on the Treaty but founded Fianna Fail and was Taoiseach three times before retiring as Irish president at 90.

It's probably too early to asses Gerry Adams's achievement, but he is internationally recognised for bringing the republican movement from a violent organisation to a major political force on both sides of the border.

Corbyn's achievements thus far are to have held his Westminster seat since 1983 and splitting the Labour party.

John Pienaar's Panorama focused on Brighton where the Labour branch has been suspended after an alleged takeover by Trotskyites.

New chairman Mark Sandell, an alleged member of Alliance for Workers' Liberty, is fighting for the masses by calling for the deselection of Labour's only MP south of London.

Former leader Neil Kinnock told Pienaar Labour wouldn't win another election in his lifetime, while general secretary of Unite, Len McCluskey said dissenting MPs should be deselected.

In typical Dispatches fashion, they went the hidden camera route.

It uncovered some mildly interesting breaches of campaign finance law but the real fun was watching the Momentum leadership meetings, where the disciples prayed for the coming of the promised land of milk and honey.


Secrets of the SAS - In Their Own Words, Channel 4, Monday at 9pm

Outside of the French Foreign Legion there's no army unit in the world with more television programmes made about it than the SAS.

We've had reality shows using SAS training methods, programmes showing some of their recruitment systems and interviews with former members.

As the title suggests, this latest series tells the story of SAS daring do, but it's no romantic view of the special forces.

In fact, Secrets of the SAS concentrates much of its time on the psychological damage caused to the soldiers by the pressures of behind enemy lines action.

This week we got the first hand tale of an SAS operation to destroy a communications tower in the Iraqi desert after the invasion of Kuwait in 1991.

All the SAS personnel got out without damage but one British solider recalled the profound effect on him of having to shoot dead an young Iraqi conscript at close range.

"There is no such thing as an uninjured soldier," said another former SAS operative.


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