Who needs McDonald’s when you’ve got McDonnell, am I right? That is probably the best joke you are going to hear about the (rather serious) saga opponents of Jeremy Corbyn have chosen to magnify this week. This is of course the news that the Labour Party NEC has refused McDonald’s request to appear at Labour Party Conference on the grounds that the way they treat their workforce is far from exemplary.
Two things have been exposed by this latest farce cooked up by the anti-Corbyn brigade. First, it appears that there are some Labour politicians unhappy with the party’s decision to take a principled stance against employers who deny trade union representation. Second, it has shown that given the opportunity the Labour leaders critics will scrape the barrel to attack him.
Wes Streeting decried the decision as a “snobby attitude towards fast-food restaurants and people who work or eat at them.” He appeared to apologise for the fast-food restaurant not being the fancy falafel bar that Corbyn apparently enjoys. People were quick to note online that Streeting had a history of praising the culinary delights of falafel himself. Now there is a sentence one does not think would find its way into a political assessment.
In many ways it is embarrassing. But it must surely be more embarrassing for those kicking up a fuss about nothing. Perhaps Streeting should have done his homework. Just a few weeks ago Corbyn addressed the British Kebab awards personally. He supported the living-wage protests by fast-food workers. He sent messages of support just days ago to fast-food workers demanding better pay and conditions. It is, surprisingly, one area where the leadership has been particularly vocal. The decision to reject the McDonald’s application is one that has been made in the spirit of solidarity, not snobbery.
So given that Corbyn is on the side of the workers, whose side is Streeting on? The McDonald’s workers who have welcomed the Labour Party’s decision? The families of those who love an outing to the local McDonald’s restaurant? The truth is that the anti-Corbyn brigade will find themselves on whichever side Corbyn isn’t, despite how ridiculous their claims may be. So desperate have these claims been that even non-political friends that I speak to have recognised the absurdity.
The likes of Labour First, Wes Streeting and Ian Austin appear to be suggesting that we should take money from anyone who is looking for representation at Labour conference. What is strange about this is that they were the same people who were vocal in their opposition to the introduction of the £3 supporters rate – a policy that raised huge sums of money for the party. McDonald’s has a policy that goes against Labour policy but we should welcome them, as they are willing to pay. But thousands of Labour supporters who agree with Labour policy should be denied entry because they once supported a different party? That does not make much sense to me.
But Corbyn’s opponents couldn’t care less whether McDonald’s actually attend. Give them the ammunition and they will shoot even if it comes flying back in their own faces. Can you blame them for trying? Corbyn has a huge mandate and polls of Labour members show that his mandate is only getting stronger. They have lost their grasp over the party that they love. While I accept that it is strange, Jeremy Corbyn has become the mainstream of the Labour party and his opponents are now the radicals. They would be wise to remember that. With elections approaching I would plead with internal opponents to heed the words of John Prescott: stop complaining, start campaigning.