Category Archives: Government & politics

If You Missed The Last Smear Story, Another One Will Be Along In A Moment

Whenever the government is having a tough time, you can guarantee that within days a story, often a non-story or a smear about Corbyn, Momentum or the Left, will appear in the media.  This is one of those non-stories rather than a smear. Such is the predictability of these anti-Corbyn smear stories that you can actually set your watch by them.

So it is with Tom Watson, the Stalinesque Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, who yesterday announced, somewhat predictably, that he had heard an audio recording of Jon Lansman of Momentum telling an audience that the group was forming a pact with Unite and that the union was planning to fund them. That’s how it was reported.  It was also suggested that there was a “left-wing plot to take over the Labour Party”, which is weird for a  party that’s generally perceived as a supposedly left-wing party. I mean, do we really need two right-wing parties?  The market’s kind of crowded. Unite, for its part, rejected the claim and issued a press statement to the effect. Whenever an ‘entryism’ or ‘Trotskyite’ infiltration story appears in the media, you’ll find Watson at its centre of its production.

Unsurprisingly, the line being sold to the public – again – is that Momentum is an entryist group. This is what Watson suggested on the Today programme. In fact, he sounded like a little kid telling tales to John Humphrys’ relationally adult figure. It was an unedifying listening experience. Remember that most of Corbyn’s supporters aren’t actually Momentum members.  No matter.  He even added a dramatic embellishment to the story by warning that Momentum “risked destroying Labour’s electability”. Really? Isn’t that what you’re doing already, Tom?

Predictably, The Daily Politics led with the story, and the show’s producers even invited Blairite poseur, Caroline Flint (I guess Watson, Jess Phillips or John Mann were unavailable), to share studio space with Eric Pickles and pass comment on the non-event. Pickles stayed strangely quiet. Rachel Godfrey of Momentum was permitted to defend the organization but Coburn’s interview style and the presence of Flint combined to create the mise en scene of a hastily arranged kangaroo court.

Flint, for her part, repeated the same spiel The Cat has heard a hundred times or more about “far-left infiltrators”. She tutted and scoffed at Godfrey’s responses to Coburn’s questions and her demeanour and use of language suggested that she was at least partly involved in this latest smear along with Jess Philips. That reminds me, Flint’s a member of Progress, the Blairite ‘think-tank’, which has been accused by its critics of being a ‘party within a party’. Progress is also bankrolled by millionaires like David Sainsbury, a former member of the SDP. Momentum, whatever you think of it as an organization, is actually funded by its members. Progress, on the other hand, looks like a millionaires’ club run by public relations types. Cash for peerages? Yes, please. Where do I sign?

Watson’s support for Gerard Coyne, a self-styled moderate (read right-winger) in the Unite leadership election was never once mentioned by Norman ‘Guru’  Smith, John ‘Walrus’ Pienaar or any of the other television and radio journalists (sic). Yet this is an important aspect to the whole story, since Len McCluskey, who is seeking re-election, is known to be a Corbyn supporter. Therefore, he is seen as an obstacle to the Blairites’ plans to recapture the party and return it to its hollowed-out state.

There are times when I find myself briefly entertaining the notion that certain members of the PLP, Watson included, are either in the pay of a Tory front group or the State.  How can so-called Labour MPs be so hell-bent on destroying the party they claim to be saving?  It doesn’t make sense. But entertaining such notions is often tantamount to conspiracy theorizing. Yet, in 1976, the Labour Party was actually infiltrated by a Tory.  His name was Julian Lewis and he was bankrolled by The Freedom Association.  Lewis’s objective was to support the deselected right-wing candidate, Reg Prentice, and to steer the Newham North East CLP rightward and thus influence the wider party.  If this kind of infiltration happened once, it can happen again. It makes you wonder. No?

As I finish writing this, BBC News is now adding that Watson is “appealing for unity”. Funny that. Tomorrow, the story will vanish like a puff of smoke.

You can read more on this non-story on the Skwawkbox blog.

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Filed under Blairites, Labour

Let’s Talk About: Tory Election Overspending

Back in 2013, I argued that the Conservative Party could only win the 2015 General Election if it cheated. Why did I make this claim? Was it because I think the Tories are uniquely given to cheating and lying?  No, many political parties cheat and lie but the Tories take it to a new level. The Blairites and much of the PLP are cheats and liars too. We know that, because we’ve seen them in action over the last 2 years. They will say and do anything – no matter how embarrassing –  to achieve power. Principles and ideas are for political pansies, milquetoasts and those horrible protesters. Power is all that matters. In this, the Tories and the Blairites are in complete agreement. But that’s a subject for another blog.

Deeply unpopular from the beginning

In 2010 and not long after the first 100 days of the coalition, I knew the only way the Tories could win the 2015 election was to cheat. Why do I say this? Because anyone with eyes could see the Conservatives and their coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, were deeply unpopular.  They seemed to delight in upsetting people. From the outset, the Tories lined up its list of ‘enemies within’, which looked remarkably similar to Thatcher’s blacklist. That was only the start.

The blame game

One group listed as ‘enemies’ were benefit claimants and a series of lies were duly constructed to convince the gullible public that poor people were responsible for ‘destroying the economy’. One such lie was the claim that there was “intergenerational worklessness”, which had to be stamped out. “Work” the Tories erroneously claimed, “raised people out of poverty”. The media, for the most part, failed to challenge these absurd claims and willingly aided the government in its quest to punish the poor for, well, for being poor.

Universal Credit was rolled out and the Disability Living Allowance was abolished and replaced with the Personal Independence Payment. The chronically ill and those with mobility issues continue to the subjected to cruel Work Capability Assessments carried out by people with no clinical experience.  Many people have died through committing suicide or because their medical condition worsened. Many more have been pushed deeper into abject poverty.

Around the same time the initial ‘welfare reforms’, Higher Education tuition fees were increased, despite a manifesto pledge made by the Lib Dems not to do so. This forced more students into debt and effectively limited access to university for many working class people.

Along with the poor and the disabled, the public sector was also blamed for “bankrupting the country”. This absurd claim was never once challenged by journalists or commentators. Yet, if the country was ‘bankrupted’ as the Tories and their allies claimed, then there would have been no money to pay civil servants, service personnel or even MPs. More Tory lies? We’re just getting started.

Lynton Crosby

Realizing its chances of securing an outright majority in the next election were quite slim, the Tories hired Lynton Crosby as its election strategist in 2013. The event passed with nary a mention by much of the public, but The Cat was already aware of Crosby’s track record. His past campaigns  relied wholly on smears, dirty tricks and racism to woo voters. The Tories were determined to hang onto power at any cost and hiring Crosby was the first step. The second step was to introduce The Fixed Term Parliament Act, a naked act of political power-grabbing, which  made it nigh on impossible to for a censure motion to be tabled .

Crosby began working his poisonous ‘magic’ from the start by slipping stories to the press about immigrants and the Labour Party. His trademark dead cat was used to divert attention away from the Tories’ problems and put the focus onto Labour. Do you remember that Daily Mail story about Ralph Miliband “hating Britain”? That was Crosby’s handiwork. Yes, the article bore Geoffrey Levy’s name but it originated from Crosby’s office.

Stealing elections, Tory style

Cameron’s government then turned its attention to the Commons itself and announced that it was committed to reducing the number of seats. He proposed a bill in 2010, shortly after the General Election to redraw constituency boundaries and reduce the number of MPs, which led to claims of gerrymandering.  Yet Cameron claimed the changes would be fair because it would equalize the parliamentary constituencies. However, without proportional representation, any claim to ‘fairness’ was just more Tory hot air. Yes, the coalition permitted a referendum on what it described as ‘fair voting’ by allowing us to decide whether we wanted the same old First Past The Post (FPTP) system or the disproportional Alternative Vote, but it was another con. Yet people fell for it and some even told me that it was “better than FPTP”. When I asked them “in what way was it better?”. I got no reply.

The only way the Tories could secure a majority was to use underhand methods and outright lies. The party’s representatives like to claim that failing to declare election expenses was little more than an “administrative error” but given their history, this defence is weak. The party overspent on elections and relied on the scrubbed electoral registers that had been cleansed of particular kinds of voters: the young, students, the unemployed and Labour supporters. This contributed to the Tories’ modest majority.

Election expenses overspend and the aftermath

It was only because of Michael Crick’s sterling work at Channel 4 News that we know anything about the Tories’ election overspending. The BBC refused to touch the story and it was mentioned only occasionally by Andrew Neil on The Sunday Politics and briefly on Newsnight, which seemed reluctant to talk about it. The story never made an appearance on BBC Breakfast, the One O’Clock, Six O’Clock and Ten O’Clock news programmes nor did it appear on Radio 4’s Today programme. If you took your news from any of these programmes, you were kept in the dark.

Last week the Electoral Commission fined the Conservative Party a mere £70,000, a figure that was dwarfed by its own election overspending. The fine was roundly ridiculed as inadequate. However, 12 police forces involved in the investigations have handed their files to the Crown Prosecution Service. We await the outcome. If the CPS decides to prosecute, there could be fresh by-elections in at least 12 seats.

Conclusion

This was a party and a government that was all too conscious of its lack of popularity and legitimacy, and resorted to every possible trick to hang onto to power and win the 2015 General Election. Cameron and his Tories, far from being popular, pitted people against each other, while at the same time rewarding their friends with ever generous tax cuts. The poor were set up as patsies, who were fingered for ‘crashing the economy’ alongside the Labour Party. Any claim to be the “worker’s party” are empty and little more than the appropriation of a sign, which itself has been emptied of all meaning.

Tory election overspending is just the tip of a very large iceberg of politically corrupt practices. But don’t expect the BBC to report on any of those. Instead, they’ll keep reporting Tom Watson’s paranoid non-stories about ‘Trotskyite infiltration’.

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Filed under General Election 2015, Government & politics, Let's Talk About, Tory Election Expenses Scandal

The Class Disgust Of The Blairites

The Blairites only tolerate the working class, but only just. Like Victorian children, they should be seen and not heard. In the past, the working class performed an important function by supplying Labour with votes in the 1997, 2000 and 2005 General Elections. But over the course of 20 years, Labour has been losing working class support in its so-called heartlands. The Blairites’ answer to this is to claim that the party was “too left-wing” and must attract Tory voters to win elections. It’s nonsense. In the entire 13 years they were in power, Nu Labour refused to repeal the most pernicious of Thatcher’s legislation – especially the anti-trade union laws, which directly affect workers.

It’s no secret that the Blairites through their think-tank, Progress, are more interested in chasing billionaires and their money than appealing to working class voters; the same voters the party was founded to represent. If they do speak of the working class, it’s to claim that they’re ignorant, illiterate and racist, while they use them as a justification to out-UKIP UKIP by mimicking their immigration policies. As far as the Blairites are concerned, the working class is more interested in keeping foreigners out than decent homes, jobs, healthcare and educational opportunities.

Now to the point of this blog. I was alerted to this article on the Progress website by this Tweet on their official Twitter account. It speculates on who among Jeremy Corbyn’s close allies will ‘seize the crown’ – so to speak.

It not only repeats the by now familiar line that Corbyn and his supporters are “hard left” and “Trotskyists”, it also adopts a sneering tone towards prominent working class members of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet.

The article’s author, Paul Richards (who’s he?) opens with this paragraph:

One thing you can guarantee, like rain on a bank holiday, is splits on the hard-left. The old Monty Python joke is funny because it is true. For the all the calls for workers’ unity, disunity is the stock-in-trade. The Trotskyist parties are all fragments of one another. The vanity parties such as Arthur Scargill’s Socialist Labour party, George Galloway’s Respect or Ken Loach’s Left Unity are all the products of splits, which have themselves split.

This, from a party-within-a-party that is so far to the right that it’s perfectly aligned with the socially liberal fractions of the Tory Party and the Lib Dems, who were themselves formed from a merger of the Labour splitters, the SDP and the Liberal Party. This from a faction that’s done more to undermine the party leadership than any left-wingers have done in Labour’s history.  Just to correct Richards, Left Unity wasn’t the product of a split; it was created in response to the lack of a left-wing alternative as well as Labour’s inertia under Ed Miliband. As for “vanity”, Nu Labour could be seen as Blair’s vanity project. He hijacked the party for his own ends and used it as a platform for personal greed once he left Parliament. The party lost thousands of members and 5 million voters but there’s not a peep from the Blairites or Progress about this. Instead, they live in a bubble, isolated from reality with only their delusions and nostaglia for company.

Here Richards  indulges himself in a little intellectual masturbation.

You might think the widening schisms amongst Corbynites are linked to his dismal personal ratings as the most unpopular leader ever, net loss of council seats, inability to appoint a functioning frontbench or the growing Tory lead in the opinion polls.

For Richards and his ilk, the polls are sacrosanct. Yet, as many of us already know, the Blairites brief their pals in the Murdoch press, a negative story is written by someone like Blair’s former speechwriter, Philip Collins, which is then followed by a poll to confirm their biases. Oddly enough, the bookies disagree with the pollsters. How did that happen?

Here, Richards demonstrates a glaring lack of self-awareness:

Remember those posh kids who discover socialism and sell papers outside Tesco? Think Rik Mayall as Rick in the Young Ones. Richard Burgon is that kid. Educated in the leafy suburbs of Harrogate, followed by St John’s College Cambridge, where he studied English Literature, he went on to become a solicitor. Burgon adopted a leftwing persona as a teen, and has never grown out of it.

The not-so-subtle discourse here is that left-wing politics is for teenagers. Grown ups apparently adopt more ‘sensible’ positions: like sneering at working class people and demanding the government step in to crush the guards’  strike on Southern Rail.

The Blairite disdain for protest, which is derided as a student pastime, is itself a notion that swerves around the fact that people of all ages protest. Moreover, protest is a legitimate form of political expression. The Blairites and the Tories seem to believe that the public’s engagement with politics should begin and end at the ballot box.  It’s as if to say “You’ve voted, what more do you want”? Protest for them should be either crushed or ignored – so much for the will of the people, eh? Remember the millions that marched against the Iraq War? That’s how much Blairites regard protests. Making war against weaker nations on the basis of non-existent evidence is supposedly more ‘adult’ than protest.

Once elected in 2015 (following a helpful phonecall from uncle Colin to Ed Miliband ahead of the selection process, denying Leeds a second all-women shortlist), the T-shirt wearing, placard waving student protestor has become a T-shirt wearing, placard waving MP. Feel the Burgon

Richards’s claim that Burgon only became an MP because of his uncle ignores the fact that, in 2015, the so-called ‘red princes’  Euan Blair and Will Straw were being lined up for safe seats.  Only Neil Kinnock’s son, Stephen, was successful in getting  selected and won a nice safe seat. No nepotism there. As you were.

Of Angela Rayner, Richards writes:

Rayner was a direct beneficiary of the Tony Blair-led Labour government, especially sure start, and understands more than most why we need a Labour government. Her thirst for power is political not personal. Oh, and she likes Star Wars.

The subtext of this paragraph is that because Rayner apparently benefited from Sure Start, she should get down on her knees and kiss Blair’s purple buskins. The Star Wars quip is throwaway.

Rebecca Long-Bailey comes in for this sideways sneer.

Her frontbench career was unimpaired by a series of uncertain early performances on television, notably being duffed up by Andrew Neil over Brexit. She learned economics on the job, as shadow chief secretary to the treasury, with the same diligence that earned her her sociology degree from Manchester Polytechnic.

First, Manchester Polytechnic hasn’t existed since 1992 when it became Manchester Metropolitan University. Second, Sociology is a real subject that deals with the politics of everyday life. Richards seems to think that only those educated at Oxbridge and in possession of PPE (Politics, Philosophy and Economics) degrees should be in the shadow cabinet. But Miliband’s shadow cabinet was full of PPE types: Ed Balls, Yvette Cooper and Miliband himself were all Oxford PPE graduates, who had also served as special advisers and researchers. The lack of imagination among them was palpable and the absence of meaningful policies was glaring. Miliband’s Labour was a Cowardly Lion of a party: too afraid to challenge the Tories’ empty claims that “Labour crashed the economy” and “bankrupted the nation”, and too feeble to raise a fist in anger. Instead, it adopted what Miliband called “constructive opposition”.

According to Richards, Clive Lewis has

… a rich back story. Not rich as in wealthy, like Corbyn, but rich as in fascinating. He grew up on a council estate as the son of a single father. As a student unionist he stood against the Labour candidate for National Union of Students president in 1996.

The claim that Corbyn is fabulously wealthy is repeated here. Indeed, the section on Lewis is used as cover to attack Corbyn and repeat the same lies printed in the Tory press. The only word Richards left out when writing about Lewis was ‘exotic’.

Richards saves all his bile for John McDonnell, who is described in the caricature as “The Trotfather”. It’s juvenile stuff from an allegedly adult Blairite.

Even in a roomful of Corbynistas, McDonnell is the most leftwing person in the room. He was sacked by Ken Livingstone as deputy of the Greater London Council in 1985 for wanting London to copy the glorious resistance of Militant-led Liverpool; even Livingstone thought it a bit extreme. In 2003 he praised the ‘bravery’ of the IRA. He then apologised ‘if he had caused offence’.

Notice how Richards recycles the old “McDonnell appeases the IRA” smear. What’s perhaps worse is his repetition of the mainstream media claim that Militant was evil and hellbent on destroying Liverpool. The idea behind this is that the Militant-run council should have submitted fully to the will of Thatcher and her henchmen. Militant improved the lives of thousands of Scousers. It built much-needed homes and fought against a government that was intent on the city’s destruction. The Cat doubts Richards is old enough to remember the 1980s, such is the juvenile tone of this article and its cavalier approach to history.

Labour right-wingers are granted immunity when it comes to smearing members of their own party. They are permitted to indulge in their class disgust. Yet Labour left-wingers are suspended on trumped up charges of anti-Semitism and CLPs are suspended on the basis of lies and baseless allegations of intimidation. Will Iain McNicol take action against Progress? Don’t hold your breath. Not even the mainstream media has reported this story.

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Filed under Government & politics, Ideologies, Labour, Media, propaganda

Northern Irish Politics And Britain’s Wilful Ignorance

Northern Ireland is a bit of a mystery for Tories and many people on the so-called mainland. So it comes as no surprise to The Cat that the historic gains for Sinn Féin and the collapse of the Democratic Unionist Party’s share of the vote in last Thursday’s snap election went under-reported by the British media. More about that later.

For many British people, it’s as if the ‘Troubles’ (I hate that euphemism) never ended and the Good Friday Agreement never took place.  For the Tories, especially, time in Northern Ireland stands still in the year 1984. This is often revealed in the ‘Corbyn and McDonnell appease IRA terrorists’ slur, which is repeated by Tory, UKIP and Lib Dem politicians and the trolls that gather on the ‘below the line’ threads on newspaper websites and blogs like this one.  Centuries of history are simply swept aside along with evidence.

The mainstream media, too, selectively recalls the ‘Troubles’ as a symmetrical conflict between Catholics and Protestants, with the former group often depicted as wild-eyed Fenian bomb-throwers and the latter as oppressed victims of sectarian hatred.  Nationalism, too,  is often conflated with Republicanism. So it comes as a surprise to many that there were Protestant members of the IRA and the Irish National Liberation Army and Catholic Unionists; while Loyalism is a peculiarly Protestant phenomenon and predates Unionism as a political movement. Unsurprisingly, there is  little, if any, mention in the British media of the strong fraternal (sic) ties between the various Loyalist paramilitaries and extreme right parties like Britain First and the British National Party.  The mainstream media’s simplistic narratives deliberately ignore the complexity of Northern Ireland’s politics and gloss over the history of the centuries old occupation of Ireland by the British.

The gerrymandering of Northern Ireland by the Unionists from the inception of the semi-state in 1920 until the 1970s is also ignored by mainstream media commentators. This video from the 1970s describes how Unionists controlled Derry City Council by rigging the wards.

In the years following partition, Stormont was a mostly Unionist institution with nationalists represented by the Nationalist Party, a continuation of the Irish Parliamentary Party. The dominant Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), which monopolized the Protestant vote, has close ties to the Conservative and Unionist Party on the mainland.

In the first Northern Ireland House of Commons election of 1921, James Craig’s Unionists polled 60 seats with Sinn Féin and the Nationalists receiving 6 seats each. Both parties abstained from taking their seats. This remained the case until 1925, when the Northern Ireland Labour Party gained 3 seats and Independent Unionists took 4 seats from the UUP. This would be the last election to be held using proportional representation. There are no prizes for guessing why PR was abolished in favour of First Past The Post. Single seat constituencies were also created, thus making it doubly difficult for small parties and independents to gain seats. The UUP held onto its unfair advantage until 1973 when direct rule was imposed on Northern Ireland by Westminster. Even so, the UUP’s hegemony remained intact until the Northern Ireland Assembly elections of 2003, when it was overtaken by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin.

Success for the DUP at Stormont would translate into success at Westminster, where it eclipsed the UUP. Now part of a power-sharing executive with with its old foe, Sinn Féin, the DUP believed it could keep the Unionist political hegemony alive forever. How wrong they were.

In spite of their historical differences, the DUP’s Ian Paisley and Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness appeared to get along well as First Minister and Deputy First Minister. The press even dubbed them ‘The Chuckle Brothers’.  When Paisley retired due to ill health in 2008, his place as FM was taken by Peter Robinson, who immediately adopted a hardline approach to the Shinners. Robinson would eventually be brought down 8 years later by no less a figure than his wife, Iris, who was involved in an extramarital affair with a man who was nearly 20 years her junior. She also arranged £50,000 of loans for her lover to open a restaurant.

Under Robinson and his successor, the hapless Arlene Foster , the DUP  blocked socially progressive legislation and supported Brexit (they have always been anti-EU), while most voters in the Six Counties supported Remain. The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) or ‘Cash for Ash’ scandal, began to drag Foster under.  RHI had been introduced while Foster was Minister for Enterprise and Trade and she was accused by a “senior member” in her own party of withholding evidence from the Assembly.  In response to Foster’s stubborn refusal to resign while investigations took place, Martin McGuinness, who was already extremely ill, resigned as Deputy FM, thus precipitating the election. The DUP has lost 10 seats, while the UUP continues its descent into obscurity having lost one of its six seats. Other smaller parties, like the Loyalist-orientated Traditional Unionist Voice, are static. Only  Sinn Féin and the SDLP made significant gains, while Profit Before People lost one seat.

Yet Foster still refuses to stand down. Even Mike Nesbitt, the leader of the UUP, resigned. The normally Unionist-friendly Belfast Telegraph has urged her to stand aside.

Unionists of all shades – mainstream, moderate and hardline – need to engage in a soul-searching inquest. The fact that Mike Nesbitt so swiftly relinquished his leadership of the Ulster Unionists should not mean that Foster can ignore a similar fate in the DUP.

Meanwhile Sinn Féin is refusing to work with the DUP if they insist on keeping Foster as FM.

There is nothing particularly modern or forward-looking about the Unionist parties and they have held the Six Counties back for far too long. Could this be the beginning of the end for Unionism? I hope so.

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Filed under 2017, Government & politics, Northern Ireland Assembly elections

Tory Majority Could Be ‘Wiped Out’ as Police Send Electoral Files to CPS

The net is closing in on the Tories. The Cat thinks that election over-spending is the tip of a very large iceberg that includes other forms of malfeasance. Stay tuned!

 

UPDATE 15/3/17 @ 1203

Last night, Craig McKinlay, the Tory MP for Thanet South was interviewed under caution by Kent Police. The BBC’s Nick Watt did his best cover for the Tories by claiming that he’d spoken to a Tory grandee, who apparently advised him that nothing would happen but a few slapped wrists. However, a fine could result in the result being overturned, meaning  fresh by-elections could take place.

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Filed under Conservative Party, General Election 2015, Government & politics

Let’s Talk About: Those New Labour Achievements

If you’re a Corbyn supporter, you’re probably more than familiar with the rebuttals (such as they are) deployed by Blairites and Nu Labour sympathizers to the discourse that insists their prescription for governing the country is the wrong one at this time. As you may already know, such minds are closed to all reason. For them, facing backward is always preferable to facing forward. Nostalgia is just so, so much better than real life.

Perhaps you’ve heard the oft-uttered defence: “When we were in power, we achieved” to which the speaker will go on to produce a list of the Holy achievements. This line of defence recently appeared as a Twitter rebuttal to the critiques of Ken Loach and Paul Mason, and has been reproduced on the otherwise interesting Political Scrapbook. As arguments go, it’s pretty weak.  Why?  Because the repetition of the “our achievements” line is little better than a curmudgeon opening their front door and shouting at some little kids playing football in the street , while at the same time leaving their back door open to all and sundry. “I fought several wars for the likes of you”, shouts the old duffer as bigger kids ransack his house and steal his valuables behind his back.

As I mentioned in earlier blogs, Blair swerved around the structural problems that had been accumulated by nearly two decades of neoliberal economic and social policies. The notion that only the market can provide solutions was accepted as fait accompli by the Nu Labour policy makers and apparatchiks. Blair and his acolytes internalized the Tories’ economic arguments and accepted them as Truths. For them, the economic orthodoxy formulated in the Thatcher years, which has been responsible for untold miseries, can and could never be challenged. It has become holy writ. Set in stone – so to speak.

So why do Blairites insist on listing Nu Labour’s achievements as words of power to ward off all and any criticism of the party and, particularly, Tony Blair? Well, it reveals their lack of a relevant vision for the future and in failing to offer a real alternative, they have become prisoners of their past. Moreover, their constant reproduction of nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ betrays their lack of a big narrative and policies that will transform peoples’ lives for the better. Nostalgia is and always has been a very poor substitute for history as it was really lived. Slogans and headline-grabbing gimmicks have become a replacement for ideas for the PR-driven Parliamentary Labour Party, itself the true offspring of Nu Labour. Today’s crop of right-wing and flaccid Left Labour MPs, who were produced by the machine created by Nu Labour, are not only devoid of imagination and ideas, they are incapable of learning from history and can see nothing beyond the status quo.

The paucity of meaningful ideas was brought into sharp relief during the last two leadership elections: in contrast to Corbyn, the Blairites and their allies could only offer more window-dressing and empty soundbites. Hope as both a concept and a word was noticeably absent from the vocabularies of Burnham, Kendall and Cooper; while Smith, who was/is emptiness personified, thought he could steal Corbyn’s policies in the hope (sic) that no one would notice. But they did and he lost. Badly. It is only Corbyn who has offered an alternative discourse to the prevailing socio-economic orthodoxy and it is only Corbyn who has articulated anything resembling a vision. The others offered nothing and in this, they are little better than the managers of expectations and the destroyers of dreams. There is no hope and there is no future. Only more misery. But hey, what about our achievements when we were in power?  What about them? What about the future? We’re not asking you to be scryers.

Those who follow the Nu Labourites, Progressites, Blairites or whatever, never bother to ask the questions about what kind of country they would like to see. Instead, like those they worship, they are at once fixated on the past and are insistent their leaders and they alone should be in power. The Bitterites haven’t cottoned on to the fact that if they can’t articulate a vision for the country that is original and distinct from the Tories’ empty promises and Newspeak policies (National Living Wage), they will be consigned to the dustbin of history. These people are nothing if not romantics. They are also megalomaniacal; inured in the Westminster system that cossets them and provides them with a handsome pension – even the failed MP and right-wing troll, Louise Mensch, gets a parliamentary pension.

Voters need hope and they need to see something that at least resembles a vision from a political party that purports to be on the side of the weak. What voters don’t need is someone in an expensive suit telling them “we have to deal with the world as it is, not how we’d like it to be”. The economic crisis depression that began in 2008 needed radical, bold action. Instead, what we got was inertia, weakness and a craven mentality that allowed the Tories and UKIP to control social, political and economic discourses in the public sphere. This is what happens when political parties become complacent and that complacency continues to dominate the discourses of Smith, Kendall, Reeves, Austin et al. Hands up! Who wants more misery and an extra helping of pain? Not me.

If you want a better future for yourself, your family or for society, you will not get that from a reanimated Nu Labour Party. The Blairites and their pals will simply hand you another shit sandwich on artisan bread and tell you that’s all you’re getting. Society deserves better than that.

 

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Filed under Government & politics, Labour, Labour leadership contest, Labour leadership election 2015, Let's Talk About

The Manchester Gorton By-Election

The long-serving Labour MP, Gerald Kaufman, died last night, aged 86. His death has prompted yet another by-election. As sure as night follows day, the Blairites and assorted plotters will be looking to sabotage this election or impose an anti-Corbyn candidate on the constituency.

The selection process is usually the responsibility of the Constituency Labour Party (CLP), but Manchester Gorton was suspended last year for alleged bullying. The Manchester Evening News reported:

Police have been called in by the Manchester Gorton Labour party amid fears for the safety of members – following claims of bullying, intimidation and voting impropriety.

MP Sir Gerald Kaufman’s riven constituency party has now been suspended by party headquarters after reports of abusive behaviour by local members.

According to a letter from Labour head office, the CLP is now in discussions with Greater Manchester Police after members raised concerns over their safety.

If this sounds familiar to you, then cast your mind back to July last year, when the Wallasey CLP was suspended on trumped up charges of intimidation.

With Manchester Gorton CLP suspended, the job of selecting a candidate will fall to the Iain McNicol-controlled National Executive Committee (NEC), which will undoubtedly impose a candidate on the constituency. This is what happened at Stoke-on-Trent Central with Tristram Hunt and the St Helens South constituency with Shaun Woodward.

The NEC is quite happy to suspend CLPs that are accused of bullying and Labour members on hokey charges of anti-Semitism. But the NEC’s actions are selective. Recently, Ella Rose, a member of the Jewish Labour Movement and former employee of the Israeli Embassy, threatened violence against Jackie Walker. Nothing happened. Rose is still a member of the party. It makes you think. No?

UPDATE 28/2/17 @ 1125

The Cat understands that Manchester Gorton CLP is no longer suspended but has yet to hold an AGM. This means that Lavrenty Beria Iain McNichol can still impose a candidate on the CLP.

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