Category Archives: Labour leadership election 2015

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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Let’s Talk About: ‘Labour Maquis’

This week a friend tipped me off about a Twitter account purportedly belonging to a group calling itself the ‘Labour Maquis’. Those of you familiar with the history of World War 2 will know that the Maquis were the French resistance. Some Maquis cells were as small as 5 members and others could boast as many as a thousand members. As I write this, the ersatz Maquis has 1,176 followers, which means absolutely nothing at all. They may call themselves a “resistance” movement but they’re more Vichy than Maquis.

This Tweet is a hoot.

I like the way it talks about “core values” by reeling off a list of words that could easily have come from so-called ‘Corbynistas’, whom they despise and oppose. Yet it’s the way the word “democracy” has been deployed as a weapon in this Tweet.  It makes the claim that Corbyn and his supporters are freedom hating anti-democrats.  Hell, they may as well be called ‘Commies’. Although Dan and his friends would disagree, it is they who hold the democratic process by which  Corbyn was elected  as leader in contempt. Democracy? They don’t know the meaning of the word.

But have a look at the icon. That isn’t the logo of the Maquis (they didn’t have one), that’s the logo of the Maquis in Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This is a fictional Maquis, and like their bitter enemies, the Cardassians, they don’t exist. The imitation of reality in the Star Trek series, although set in the distant future, is very much anchored in the present and is influenced by contemporary discourses. But it is not real; it is only a representation of the real. It is, as Baudrillard would describe it, a simulation.

So whose  Twitter account is this?  The Cat thinks it belongs to ‘Desperate’ Dan Hodges, the self-styled “Blairite cuckoo in the Labour nest” and embittered Torygraph hack. For only a couple of months ago, Hodges wrote a column titled “Labour members are now preparing to go underground to resist the Corbyn regime”. I hardly think any of them have gone “underground” as our Dan would have us believe. Danczuk? Mann? Umunna? They’re what you might call ‘out and proud’.  I digress but here’s the crux of the article:

Over the past few days two different strategies have emerged, which have been dubbed the “Free French” and the “Maquis” strategies.

Really? Do tell us what these “strategies” are.

The Free French strategy involves effectively withdrawing all support from Corbyn. MPs will not serve in his shadow cabinet, they will not observe the whip, they will not be bound by any sense of collective responsibility to the official party line. Those advocating that strategy are being compared to De Gaulle and those French forces that retreated into exile in Britain, then returned to the French continent on D-Day to liberate their homeland.

The Maquis strategy involves “staying behind enemy lines and fighting”, according to one MP. Existing members of the shadow cabinet will organise slates, and stand for election in the shadow cabinet elections Corbyn has pledged to reintroduce. From here they will oppose Corbyn’s more radical policy initiatives and start to construct an independent base from within the PLP and the wider Labour party, which they will use to strike out against him when they judge the time is right.

I find his use of war language crass, and the comparison of Labour right-wingers to the French resistance also tells us that he’s no student of the history of WW2 (except in the sense he’s probably watched The Great Escape a million times). This ignorance also extends to recent history, because those with whom he shares an ideological kinship, still believe they are uniquely capable of winning elections… and this is in spite of the fact that the Labour Party under a  right-wing leadership lost two elections in a row!  And here’s something else: the Labour right is only concerned about elections and can’t quite understand that politics is about more than fighting elections, which themselves happen once every five years. It’s about relating to what’s happening everyday in the lives of real people between those elections, rather that relating to fictional characters from a Star Trek story arc.

Comparisons to the Maquis are not only over-dramatic: they insult the memories of those who fought against the Nazi occupation of France. But the use of a logo that belongs to a fictional resistance militia from a television series set in space, shows us that whoever owns this Twitter account is representative of the Labour right’s weak grip on reality.

 

 

 

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United In Loathing

The Labour right is in a spin (in more ways than one) and can’t for the life of them fathom Jeremy Corbyn’s growing popularity. In the eyes of these Blairite fossils and their allies in the Simulated Thatcher Government, Corbyn is a “dinosaur” ; a “relic from the past”. These tropes are based entirely on the arrogant assumption that the political positions espoused by the Tories and Blairite ‘modernizers’ are modern and fresh. They’re not. These people manage the circulation and recirculation of stale ideas. That is all they do.

At a time when fresh ideas are called for, the ‘modernizers’ are indulging themselves in a great deal of self-flagellation and name-calling. Having lost the election in May, the party’s ‘modernizers’ are incapable of understanding why they lost so heavily in Scotland and continue to blame the SNP for their failure to win seats that they’d once taken for granted. Entitlement, eh? It’s a bitch. But nothing compares to the nastiness dished out to Jeremy Corbyn by members of his own party for having the temerity to be more popular than the three ‘modernizers’.

Today, one of those ‘modernizers’, Tristram Hunt, claimed that Corbyn was “politically and economically bankrupt”. This coming from a man who willingly crossed a picket line to give a lecture on Karl Marx! This is a measure of how far to the Right the Labour Party has moved over the last 30 years. Constantly in denial, they complain bitterly that they’re described by their critics as “Tory-lite”. Here’s a tip, Labour: change your ways.

A big deal was made of Krishnan Guru-Murthy’s interview with Corbyn on Channel 4 News on Monday, which was described by the doom-mongers as a “meltdown”. KGM demanded to know what he meant when he used the word “friends” when he referred to Hamas and Hizb’ullah, who had been invited by Corbyn to a meeting at the Palace of Westminster. The Cat thinks KGM’s “do you still beat your wife” style of questioning was tediously sensationalistic but Corbyn asserted himself. He’s not media trained like some PR bloke. He’s human. How would Cameron respond? Well, he’d lie of course.

Nonetheless this interview prompted the inevitable yelps and squeals from Corbyn’s detractors. “He’s an anti-Semite” screamed Nick Cohen. Others harked further back to the 1980s, “Look, I told you, he supports terrorists! Did you hear  he invited Sinn Fein to the House of Parliament”? Sinn Fein are now in a power-sharing government at Stormont. I suppose Corbyn should have referred to these elected representatives as “enemies” and “scum” instead just to please BICOM or the Tory-supporting press? Unsurprisingly, nothing was mentioned of Labour Friends of Israel’s continued and unqualified support for the current Israeli government, which includes racists like  Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked. Hypocrisy much?

Speaking of Labour Friends of Israel, Luke Akehurst, the little big wheel in Labour First, a Blairite ‘pressure’ group (party within a party, actually), yesterday urged party members to give their second and third preference votes to anyone but Corbyn. This article on the BBC website says:

Group secretary Luke Akehurst said: “We clearly do not share Jeremy Corbyn’s politics and believe these would destroy Labour’s chances of electability.

“We would therefore encourage supporters of Andy, Yvette and Liz to transfer votes to each other at CLP nomination meetings so that as few CLPs as possible make supporting nominations for Jeremy.”

As well as being a former  local councillor and an unreconstructed Blairite, Akehurst also works, rather unsurprisingly, for BICOM, whose website tells us:

Luke, who has just stood down after 12 years as a Labour councillor in Hackney, spent 11 years as a lobbyist for a PR company and worked with Weber Shandwick, largely for the defence industry, as well as for property companies and local authorities.

Akehurst (or Lukehurst) is another reason why people have been turning their back on the Labour Party. Here’s a Powerbase article on Weber Shandwick.

The attacks on Corbyn from the Labour Right are practically indistinguishable from those coming from the Tories and other right-wingers. First, the Tories considered registering as Labour supporters to vote for Corbyn, then they realized that wasn’t working and have now decided to join the Nu Labourites in a chorus of condemnation of the man whom they describe as an “extreme left-winger”. Pish and vinegar.

At the New Statesman (don’t get excited, it’s pretty right-wing these days), Stephen Bush cites a recently conducted private poll of rank and file Labour members, which has Corbyn apparently leading the race, much to the chagrin of the naysayers and doom-mongers in the Westminster bubble. Commenting on the poll, CapX editor , Iain Martin, advises his readers:

Now, private polling must be treated with some scepticism but there is no doubt that sensible Labour types are deeply worried.

What? Just private polling? He closes the paragraph with this by now familiar claim:

If Corbyn wins it will be the equivalent for the Tories of winning the Wold (sic) Cup three times. They will get to keep Downing Street for ever

Martin continues:

Splendid, say the Tories, who seem to be joining Labour in huge numbers just to vote for the fanatical Corbyn.

I heard Labour was weeding out suspicious applications, Iain. Didn’t you get the memo? Your mate,Tobes, recently got rumbled and threatened legal action because Labour refused to return his three quid.

Daft git… and I’m being unusually generous today.

This article in the Dictator Spectator claims:

By contrast, the Tories are trying to win over new voters. They have moved to the political centre, as the announcement of the national living wage made clear, and this week David Cameron announced a campaign to close the gender pay gap. The Tory plan is clear: occupy the centre ground and force Labour to the political extremes.

Delusional tripe. The Tories do not, and have not, occupied the mythical centre ground since the days of Heath. And the much fussed about “national living wage”? It’s just the national minimum wage rebranded. But that’s what postmodern politics is all about: image, branding, straplines and the right amount of lighting. It’s a former PR man’s dream career should they ever fancy a change of job.

But voters are sick and tired of politicians who behave like sloganizing PR types (cabinet) and salespeople (junior ministers) selling knock-off designer labels in a dodgy pub. Voters have responded well to Jeremy  Corbyn and the 56 SNP MPs because they look and sound like real politicians who believe in something. The same cannot be said of Tristram Hunt or Chuka Umunna.

Regular readers will know The Cat is not a member of the Labour Party and has no intention of registering to become a supporter just because he prefers Corbyn to the three automatons.  He wishes him luck because he’ll need it. Should he win, then the Akehursts, Hunts, Perkinses and Kendalls will demand a recount.  They’ll complain that the Tories and Trotskyists had formed an unholy alliance to “destroy” the Labour Party, when it was their own members and their new electoral system that worked against them.

The Tories, on the other hand, may tell you that Corbyn will make Labour unelectable and how they “fear” a Kendall leadership. But this is entry level reverse psychology. It’s the basic stuff of PR campaigns and black propaganda. Do you ever get the feeling you’re being manipulated? Secretly, the Tories and the Labour ‘modernizers’ don’t want popular discussions of economic policies and political transformation. The very idea of a politically conscious electorate frightens the ever lovin’ shit out of them.

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Filed under Labour leadership election 2015, Media, propaganda, Tory press

The Labour Leadership Contest Just Became Much More Interesting

Ed Miliband’s resignation as Labour leader was a classic case of bad timing. Just when the newly elected Tory government is about to force through some of the deepest cuts to public services since the Thatcher era, the Labour Party was forced to engage in an internal dialogue rather than turn and face their apparent enemy. A week after the end of the election, the candidates who put themselves forward for the vacant position of leader were some of the blandest, most right-wing MPs in the party. Liz Kendall was the first to announce her candidacy. Kendall, a self-confessed Blairite, believes Labour came across as “too left-wing”. Hilarious. She was followed in short order by Chuka Umunna (withdrawn), Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Mary Creagh (withdrawn). The words “fag paper” and “between them” came to mind. What a dreary slate, I thought.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, to the surprise of everyone, Jeremy Corbyn threw his hat into the ring. Most political commentators believed that Corbyn, a veteran campaigner, had no chance of getting onto the ballot paper but it happened. Here’s Corbyn making his pitch on Newsnight on 8 June.

Now the Tories are lining up to tell anyone who will listen that Labour has done the wrong thing by allowing Corbyn onto the ballot. By doing this, they reckon, Labour would suffer a massive defeat in 2020 at the hands of the wobbly Tory government. Some Tories, like Ruth Davidson of the nearly defunct Scottish Conservative Party claims that she will join Labour as an affiliate to vote for Corbyn.

Yeah, you go and do that, Ruthie. You’re only in the Scottish Parliament because you’re on a party list. However, The Cat believes the Tories are deluding themselves and in their arrogance, they believe their message of never-ending cuts to public services, anti-working class hatred and fear is a winner with the public. They believe this because they won a slender majority on 24.3% of the vote. Hardly a mandate in anyone’s book. But I think the Tories are secretly frightened that a new narrative will emerge to challenge the primacy of neoliberalism. They under-estimate people’s anger and seek to dismiss it as the rantings of the “extreme left”. This is desperate stuff from a desperate, arrogant and out-of-touch government that is little over a month old.

As Vox Political points out,

You can always tell when Tories are afraid of someone – they produce newspaper articles saying that he’s rubbish.

Let the character assassinations and hatchet-jobs commence, eh? Dan Hodges, who’s become a sort of cross between a pantomime villain and Norma Desmond, was first out of the traps; his kecks round his ankles and shite on his hands, with this smear job titled “Jeremy Corbyn proves the lunatic wing of the Labour Party is still calling the shots”. Jeez, what is it with this guy Hodges?

So he made it. Jeremy Corbyn is on the leadership ballot. Bats––t crazy Labour is alive and well.

The opening paragraph encapsulates the article’s tone. From there it’s a sharp descent into melodrama and paranoia. Halfway down the article, Dismal Dan cites this Tweet from Dizzy Doug Carswell, UKIP’s only MP.

Douglas Carswell MP on Twitter- -Please let_picmonkeyed

Things must be getting pretty desperate for Dan (geddit?) if he has to quote a Kipper for support. Who will he quote next? David Starkey? Paul Kagame? But Carswell’s getting ahead of himself. His party isn’t exactly in the best shape at the moment.What with the infighting, the resignations that aren’t really resignations and the defection of the suspended MEP, Janice Atkinson, to the Euro Parliament’s far-right grouping. Remember her? She called a Thai constituent a “ting tong”.

Jeremy Corbyn’s presence on the ballot paper means an alternative discourse can at last be heard. The media outlets will continue to do their best to smear Corbyn and those who support him, but there is a large body of voters who simply aren’t being represented by the Tories and the Kippers; the two butt-ugly faces of capitalism. Fleet Street and the rest of the mainstream media zombies don’t seem to understand this. Now there is a chance. Now there is a glimmer of hope. Even if Corbyn doesn’t win the leadership of the party, the rest of the candidates will have to listen. If they don’t, they can kiss any chance of a victory in 2020 goodbye.

One thing that you can’t deny is that the Labour Party leadership election just became much more interesting.

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