It is fair to say I have not been flavour of the month with many Labour members since criticising Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership a few weeks back. A handful of local Labour members, or at least someone claiming to be, have even set up an anonymous Twitter and Facebook account campaigning for my deselection.
Some of the criticism has been constructive; most has been downright hostile. I was particularly taken by being told I was worse than Judas because at least Judas had the good grace to hang himself. As for the anonymous trolls – well, they can get in the sea.
Leaving aside for a second the question of whether I am a latter-day Judas and Jeremy is the Messiah, there are elections to win. In an attempt to harness more of the online zeal for Jeremy Corbyn into action for our excellent local Labour candidates on the doorstep I have decided to hold ‘Knock Your MP: Door Knockers Only’ sessions from now until polling day.
Simple set-up: in addition to the usual opportunities at local Labour meetings, I will meet local Jeremy Corbyn fans who want to give me a piece of their mind face to face, as long as they have spent two hours on the doorstep for Labour with me first.
The first session will be in Dalton this Saturday where we have a council byelection on 5 May. We will meet at 10.30am for the already arranged session at the Newton pub to go out on the door, meeting straight afterwards in Dalton town hall. Then we will be in Ulverston next Friday where we have all-out town council elections as well as the police and crime commissioner campaign. My newly opened Ulverston office will be the meeting place at 4pm, and will also serve as the place for members to give me a roasting afterwards.
All local Labour supporters who do not like me criticising Jeremy are welcome, indeed JC fans from further afield too – the more the merrier (at least for the candidates, who will get more people supporting them out on the knock. A larger shellacking from a greater number of angry people may be less fun for me, but hey ho).
Hopefully this will turn what has been a rather negative experience into something a little more positive. If it works, I am happy to offer myself for a verbal beating at other campaigns across the country who think that more Corbynistas may come out campaigning if they can combine it with the chance to tell me what an idiot I am for saying I do not think our leader can get enough support to beat the Tories in 2020.
Let’s call it straight-talking, street-walking politics.
John Woodcock is member of parliament for Barrow and Furness. He tweets @JWoodcockMP
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