Category Archives: Labour leadership contest

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 Labour Leadership Contest: Who’s Voting? The Party Members Or The Tory Media?

Whose leadership contest is this? The Labour Party’s or the right-wing media? First, the Blairites tell us who they want as leader of the Labour Party (as if we didn’t know already), then the Tory-controlled press pipes up to tell us who should be leader. I always thought the members decided by secret ballot who becomes the next Labour leader. It seems the media gets in on the act too. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard the word ‘modernizer’ prefacing a candidate’s name. For example, James Landale, the BBC’s Old Etonian and contemporary of David Cameron, will claim that “Yvette Cooper is a modernizer” and Chuka Umunna “is known as a modernizer”. It seems to me that the word ‘modernizer’ is a euphemistic way of claiming “this is a candidate who has the approval of Britain’s Tory-dominated media” but which also suggests “they won’t be beholden to the unions”.

The BBC said of Chuka Umunna.

He’s always been seen as smart and ambitious, metropolitan and a moderniser – he appeared alongside Lord Mandelson on Andrew Marr’s sofa on Sunday.

Appearing alongside the undead Mandelson was seen by the BBC as both an anointment of Umunna and a vindication of Blairism. Fuck off.

The British press has been hysterical in its coverage of the leadership election. Take this thinly-disguised hatchet job in the Daily Mail. Or this one that stokes the fires of “Red Len” paranoia.

The hardline Socialist boss of Unite – Labour’s chief paymaster and sponsor of more than 60 per cent of its MPs – has a visceral hatred of Blairite ‘modernisers’, who seek to reconnect the party with aspirational middle England following its humiliation in the general election.

And he’s doing everything in his power to drive them out.

Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy – a prominent Blairite – is the latest casualty.

He resigned on Saturday over what he described as the ‘poisonous’ war being waged by Mr McCluskey and his supporters against the modernisers.

It’s almost like reading a Daily Mail article from the 1920s. “The hardline Socialist boss of Unite” it screams hysterically. Notice how the word socialism is emphasized using an upper case ‘S’. Oh, scary. I’d better look under my bed to see if Grigory Zinoviev’s corpse is lying underneath. If you manage to get to the end of the article, there are a few paragraphs about Cameron’s former ‘adviser’, Steve Hilton too.

With the Labour party in deep disarray, Mr Cameron has a chance to lead one of the most reforming – and longstanding – Governments of recent times.

As the Situationist graffiti once said, ” Reform, my ass”. Hilton’s only telling us what we already know. Fuck off.

A day later, a slightly cheerier Mail article breezily declares that “Unions will not get to choose Labour leader”.

Modernisers in the Labour party want to avoid what happened when Ed Miliband beat his brother David for the job with the support of the unions.

It left the Tories able to claim the unions picked the leader, chose the policies and bankrolled the Labour party.

Ah, the damned dissembling Daily Mail, where would we be without your version of the truth? Of course, there’s no mention here of the hedge fund managers and construction companies that bankroll the Conservative Party. Unions are bad, yet JCB is good. Fuck off.

Over at the Daily Telegraph, Dan Hodges thought he knew who should be the next Labour leader, so he picked Dan Jarvis, who ruled himself out. Then Dan plumped for Chuka Umunna (with caveats), who then dropped out of the race last Friday. Poor Hodgie must be in bits. I can’t see any candidate in the race currently who’d appeal to the irredentist former Labourite, well, Blairite. Oh, hang on, there’s always Tristy. He crosses picket lines, so he’s bound to get Hodgie’s support. But then Tristy then ruled himself out of the contest and pledged his support for the Blairite, Liz Kendall while plunging the knife between Andy Burnham’s shoulder blades. Fuck’s sake.

From The [barely] Independent,

Tristram Hunt has decided not to enter the race to replace Ed Miliband as Labour leader and has thrown his support behind fellow moderniser Liz Kendall.

There’s that word “moderniser” again.

Hodges was clearly tearful when arch-Blairite, Jim Murphy sort of announced his resignation as leader of Scottish Labour. He blames Len McCluskey for Murphy’s in-out-shake-it-all-about resignation. Truth be told, rank and file Labourites were fed up with him, because Jim Murphy only cares about one thing: Jim Murphy. He can fuck off.

Hodges claims with a straight face,

For the past week it looked like the wheels were coming off the Labour Party. Right now it looks as if the whole car is about to be dragged to the junk yard and pounded into scrap.

Remember this is the man who has spent the last five years kicking the shit out of the party he claims to support. This is the man who is a friend of Lynton Crosby. If the car is “about to be dragged to the junkyard”, then it’s partly due to hacks like Hodges spending so much time and effort slagging the party off in papers like the Torygraph.  In fact, the day after the election, Dan wasted no time putting the boot into Ed Miliband.

And so Ed Miliband began to grow before our eyes. He was doing all right. Actually, you know what, he was doing quite well. Blimey, he was doing very well. OK, you’re not going to believe this, but Ed Miliband could actually be our prime minister.

When I say “our eyes” I mean the media’s eyes. The eyes of his own activists. The eyes of some his own MPs.

That reminds me, Dan. Have you actually left the Labour party yet? Isn’t it time you fucked off and joined the Tories?

In this article, Hodges borrows his title from the infamous S*n headline of May 1992. He even has a ‘quiz’ that asks the truly daft question:

Quiz: can you tell the Labour manifesto from that of the Communist Party?

I saw nothing in the Labour Party manifesto that could vaguely be described as “communist” (sic) . Clearly Hodges is playing to his rabid right-wing readership that views such things as equality and tolerance as ‘communist’. Three days ago, in the same paper, “Telegraph View” claimed:

The Labour Party is in trouble. There is a battle for its heart and soul raging – and it is unclear who will win. On one side stand union leaders and Left-wing activists, who refuse to acknowledge the mistakes of the past. On the other are modernisers with their eyes on a more moderate future. Yesterday afternoon, Jim Murphy, the leader of the Scottish Labour Party, became a casualty in this war.

What exactly is meant by “moderate future”? The one envisaged by the current extreme right-wing government that has Michael Gove as Justice Secretary? Fuck off.

Yesterday, The [Hardly] Independent claimed:

Allies of Ed Miliband accused Britain’s biggest trade union of trying to keep modernisers off the ballot paper in the Labour leadership election amid fears that it could be limited to a two-horse race between Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper.

The bitter row between senior Labour figures and Unite intensified as it was claimed that the union was putting pressure on Labour MPs not to nominate modernisers Liz Kendall, Mary Creagh and Tristram Hunt in the election to choose Mr Miliband’s successor.

The Cat doesn’t recall the British media getting so involved in the Conservative leadership contests, yet the press barons and news editors seem to believe that they have the right to decide the outcome of the Labour leadership election. Free press? In this country? Fuck off.

The insane British media caravan rumbles on. But seriously, it can fuck off.

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Filed under BBC, Free Press Myth, Government & politics, Ideologies, Labour, Labour leadership contest, Media, propaganda, Tory press

The Labour Party And The Mythical Centre Ground Of British Politics

Chucky: the Tory press’s choice for the Labour Party leadership.

As I was watching the post-election coverage on the BBC, I was struck by the number of Blairites who appeared in the studio to give their ‘analysis’. All of them, without exception, either claimed that Labour had moved “too far to the left” (laughable) or needed to “take the centre ground”. The Blairite vultures are now circling the party’s mortally wounded body, ready to pick the flesh clean off the bone.

This idea that Labour needs to “move to the centre” is based entirely on the notion that such a space actually exists in British politics. Since 1994 and Labour’s decision to remove Clause Four from its constitution, the centre ground has shifted inexorably to the right. It has got to the point where the centre is now barely distinguishable from the right-wing of British politics.

It’s an absurd notion that is perpetuated by the soi-disant political cognoscenti of the British media, which claims that most of the electorate sits within the mythical political centre. These people are usually characterized as ‘floating  voters’ who need to be wooed by Labour to win a General Election. However, from The Cat’s experience, these floating voters; the apolitical, the ideologically clueless, whatever you want to call them, often tend to default to the political right. These are the people who internalize the rubbish they’re told about the economy and the workings of the government and Parliament. They’re the ones who repeat lines like “We have to cut something. The country’s broke” in vox pop interviews. They’re the people who claim they haven’t “made up their minds” in the moments leading up to polling day.

Today, Peter Mandelson and Chuka ‘Chucky’ Umunna appeared on The Andrew Marr Show to give their views on how Labour should move forward. Mandelson talked about how union members intending to vote in the leadership election needed to be “validated” (sic). He also hinted at ending  the party’s historic link to the unions. This is just what the Tories have always wanted. Umunna spoke of Labour’s need to appeal to “aspirational” voters. ‘Aspirational’ has become a codeword for the middle class (presumably middle England) voters and the self-styled ‘wealth-creators’. In other words, “Fuck the poor and the disenfranchized. What have they ever done for us”? You can watch Mandelson and Chucky spout their inanities on the BBC iPlayer (available for the next 30 days).

If a Blairite wins the leadership election, as is likely to happen, then Labour will go into a death spiral. It’s clear that they have no intention of learning from the debacle of their Scottish branch’s belated efforts to roll back the SNP tide by offering a thin gruel of leftish-looking policies.

I would urge any left-wing Labour supporters to join Left Unity. You can’t change Labour from within. It’s 35 years too late for that. If you believe it’s still possible, then you’re clinging too tightly to a rotting corpse.

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And they’re off!

The rush to paint Ed Miliband as ‘red’ has moved into overdrive a mere 2 days after his win was announced.

The Honourable Tobes has produced this blog where he repeats the line that Microband is a ‘deficit denier’.

Ed Miliband’s tax-and-spend approach to the economy, by contrast, would plunge Britain into a far more dire fiscal crisis which would eventually mean more swingeing cuts than those likely to be proposed in the CSR. If we want to see the consequences of insufficient fiscal tightening, we only have to look at Greece or, more recently, Portugal.

Thing is, Eddie hasn’t said a dickie about taxing and spending; this is just a presumption that is based on the flawed thesis that Labour is a ‘socialist’ party. He continues,

So I was delighted when the IMF confirmed today that the British economy is on the mend and praised the Coalition for its hardline approach.

Ah, the IMF…we must always trust what the IMF has to say. I mean, they are, after all, the sages of late capitalism. The IMF always support austerity measures since the slashing of public spending is the usual condition that is attached to their loans.  The IMF cares nothing for the poor; it’s all collateral damage; a price worth paying and poorer countries hurt the most.  Hon Tobes links to this Torygraph article which says that,

The IMF’s unequivocal endorsement of the Coalition’s proposals, which comes the day before Ed Miliband’s first speech as Labour Party leader, will be seized on by ministers as they hit back at opposition claims that the cuts will damage growth.

This is quite obviously the Telegraph’s idea of a shot over Microband’s bows.

Other articles and blogs have muttered darkly about alleged electoral misdeeds that led to Eddie’s leadership victory. This one by Guido Fawkes is typical,

Unite the Union broke not only the spirit but the letter of the leadership election laws by sending a mailshot endorsing Ed when they sent the ballot papers to their 950,000 members.  Unite even set up a website backing Red Ed which linked to the Electoral Reform Society’s online voting page. If David Miliband had a little less dignity he would have pretty solid grounds for an investigation.

Really? Excuse me while I roll my eyes but isn’t the party that our Fawkesie supports funded by a load of millionaire tax exiles and private interests? The thrust of Guido’s blog is that Miliband is a creature of the evil unions and as such will only do their bidding. Hang on, didn’t the unions support Tony Blair in his leadership bid? Is Blair a ‘red’ too?

Here’s a classic from the Taxpayers Alliance,

While one does not like to get involved the internal family matters of others I feel that it would do Labour more good than harm to cut off its formal links with the trade unions and in so doing cut off the rumours that its leader owes a debt to those unions.

I have a suggestion: why doesn’t the Conservative Party sever its links with its millionaire backers? Let’s not forget that while the TPA poses as a ‘non-partisan’ organization, it is supported by many Conservatives and operates as an unofficial flak machine.

I expect to see more stuff and nonsense in the next couple of weeks. The Tory Party conference is next week and this will provide a perfect opportunity for the faithful to chuck out a few jibes about Stalinism and the USSR. I can’t wait…

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Ed Miliband becomes Labour leader. So what?

So Ed Miliband has won the Labour Leadership election. Please forgive me if I don’t get excited but this is all something of an anti-climax. Given the number of Blairites in the party, I do not expect Labour to suddenly lurch to the left. It will not happen.  In fact, I don’t expect Labour to come up with any truly socialist policies. Ed and David Miliband’s father may have been a Marxist theorist but that doesn’t mean that the brothers  share Ralph’s politics…even if Ed was pictured during the campaign wearing a pair of work boots.

The question on my mind is whether or not, older brother David, will work with kid brother, Ed in a shadow cabinet or will he fume on the backbenches? What about the other failed leadership candidates? Will Diane Abbott finally get her hands on a portfolio? Unlikely.  She’s got her media career to think about. How about Ed Balls? What’s in store for him? Shadow Chancellor? As for Andy ‘Aspirational Socialism’ Burnham maybe he’ll just become a shadow. Serves him right for being such a tosser.

Nick Robinson is on the telly now saying how the right will try to paint Ed Miliband as a left-winger because of the support he received from the unions. The Tories are supported by a variety of millionaires and private interests, yet this oft-repeated accusation of Labour ‘being in the pay of the trade unions’ does not strike them as hypocritical. Besides, which is the more democratic? Trade unions or unaccountable millionaires?

Kinnock is on BBC News talking about how he supported Ed Miliband. Is that the kiss of death or what?

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There’s a bad smell around here. Oh…it’s Peter Mandelson!

Peter Mandelson is like Banquo’s ghost: he’s always hanging around making trouble and stirring things up.  Today, he fired a warning shot over Ed Miliband’s bows by telling the Murdoch media that Labour risked heading down an “electoral cul-de-sac” if the party turned its back on its recent Nu Labour past. He also gave his blessing (or Mafioso kiss of death) to David Miliband.

He said Ed, the younger of the Miliband brothers, would take Labour back to the past by appealing to only the party’s “core” supporters.

“If you shut the door on New Labour you’re effectively slamming the door in the faces of millions of voters who voted for our party because we were New Labour,” he told the Times.

To be honest, Mandelson is deluded: the party turned its back on its core support the moment it abandoned Clause 4 and began to woo so-called Middle England. When it did this, those people who voted Labour felt alienated and betrayed; the party was continuing the policies of the Thatcher government by refusing to build new council homes and refusing to repeal the anti-union legislation that was enacted in the 1980’s.

Of all those associated with the Nu Labour neo-liberal project, Mandelson was seen as one of its chief architects. Alongside Tony Blair, it was Mandelson’s job to schmooze the wizards and alchemists of the Cittie of London, the captains of industry and  the Murdoch press (he still has quite a fondness for Murdoch). Indeed, the Nu Labour project has Mandelson’s fingerprints all over it.

What is richly ironic is this from Sky News,

Lord Mandelson, one of the architects of New Labour, criticised former leader Neil Kinnock and former deputy leader Roy Hattersley for attempting to “hark back to a previous age” by supporting the more left-wing of the brothers.

It was Kinnock who welcomed Mandelson into the party as a spin doctor in the 1980’s. This marked the very beginning of Nu Labour. It is ironic that Mandelson should attack Kinnock and then have a swipe at Hattersley, who was never seen as a left winger by anyone. Though, in fairness, Hattersley for all his sensibilities,  was pretty much to the left of Blair. Of course that isn’t a terribly difficult thing to do; even the very dead Ramsay MacDonald was to the left of Blair!

Finally,

Asked if he would want Lord Mandelson in a future shadow cabinet, Ed said he believed in the “dignity of retirement”.

Yep, I agree, it’s time for Mandelson to climb back into his coffin and leave us all alone.

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David Miliband: forget our history, we’re middle class warriors now!

I was reading in The Independent that E. Miliband has been criticized by his brother for “preaching to Labour’s traditional supporters rather than reaching out to middle-class voters”. More proof if proof were needed that D. Miliband is happy to continue as Blair Mk II should he become leader.

As the brothers’ battle for the Labour leadership becomes increasingly bitter, the Shadow Climate Change Secretary will reject David Miliband’s suggestion that he would shift the party back towards Old Labour if he wins the contest.

So what is so bad about reaching out to traditional Labour supporters?  Is it because they find the working class embarrassing? Is it because Labour really has become a sort of Tory-lite and are more interested in appeasing middle class anxieties than those of the working class? Perhaps it’s too many summers spent in Tuscany and living in Islington that’s affected D. Miliband’s thinking. No wonder parties like the BNP are appealing to working class voters: Labour doesn’t care about them and nor does the Tory Party (Hon Gid made that clear with his budget).

It looks as though Miliband Junior has changed his tack because of his brother’s harsh words.

“We must have the courage to change, the confidence to know that our values, when applied to the challenges of Britain in the modern world, can reconnect with those who have turned their backs on New Labour.”

Ah, it’s all about ‘change’….anyone would think the word carried any real meaning these days. If Blair II is bad, just have a think about Ed Balls for a moment; he looks like a man possessed. Seriously, there is something wrong with the man. I wonder if he’s collegiate?

The Daily Mirror has an altogether different take. Apparently the two bothers haven’t seen each other for weeks.

Banging the desk, he all but accused David of being trapped by the right-wing press into thinking only a move to the right would see Labour back in power.

“I don’t think that will work,” he said. “I don’t think the Blair formula will work for the future. Of course we have to appeal to the middle class and the working class but if we think reheating the formulas of the 90s will get us back in power then we are completely wrong.

“Trapped by the right wing press” is very telling, since most of the country’s newspapers are in the hands of Tory-supporting proprietors and Blair II wants to follow his mentor by sucking up to them. As for Miliband the Elder, The Honorable Tobes thinks he’s great,

In his speech on Wednesday, David Miliband put clear blue water between him and the other candidates, tacitly admitting that the state grew too large under his New Labour predecessors and acknowledging the need to cut the deficit. He invoked the spirit of Rab Butler, the Conservative politician who was instrumental in persuading his party to embrace the reforms of the Attlee government, suggesting that Labour should not oppose the Coalition’s radical overhaul of public services. He even hinted that he wouldn’t try and reverse Michael Gove’s education reforms, saying he was in favour of “a diversity of schools that drives innovation and improvements”.

He’s practically wetting himself here. He continues,

That’s clinched it for me, obviously. Free Schools will only survive in the long term if they’re embraced by the Labour Party. But even if I wasn’t trying to set up a parent-sponsored Academy, this speech would still have won me round. The quality I admire most in politics is courage and it took guts for David Miliband to reject the sentimental attachment to the state that is still such a core characteristic of his party.

It’s all  me, me, me with Hon Tobes.  If Labour members vote Blair II as their leader, they can kiss their core support goodbye. In fact, I would urge core Labour voters to abandon Labour and vote for a proper left wing party. The only problem with that idea is that under the current electoral system there is no choice:  the electorate has a limited menu to choose from and none of the parties on the menu are worth voting for – especially if you happen to be working class.

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