Tag Archives: New Labour

Corbyn And The Media (Part 2) or “The Members Don’t Matter”

The Labour Party now has over 500,000 members, many of whom have joined since Jeremy Corbyn became leader. Most politicians would chew off their right arm to get these kinds of numbers joining their party but not the Blairites. Indeed the most common response from them and their allies in the right-wing press is “the members aren’t the electorate” or “members don’t matter”.  Sometimes this is qualified with “Labour needs to win over Tory voters”. Let’s take each of these in turn.

To the first two replies, I always offer the following response: “When was the last time a party in the contemporary era with fewer than 100,000 members last form the government or the official opposition”? The silence to the question is always deafening. More members mean more people to argue the party’s case on the streets, in the workplaces, the pubs and other social spaces.  Party members are also part of the electorate. This is something the Labour plotters and their allies in the right-wing media have consistently ignored. They ignore it, not because they are blind, but because they know it’s the truth. Hundreds of thousands of newly politicized people scares the living bejesus out of the establishment.

This leads me on to the claim that Labour “needs to win over Tory voters” in order to win a General Election. There is no evidence to support this claim. When those who make this claim use the Nu Labour landslide of 1997 as their only mitigating response, it tells us only one thing: they haven’t paid attention to the fact that after 18 years of Tory rule, people were fed up and wanted something different. They’d have voted for anyone as long as they weren’t Tories. But those days are long behind us and the world has changed. The Third Way fails to meet the needs of the millions of people who have seen their incomes stagnate and the cost of living rise exponentially. People want hope and they want change. To tell them that “we must live with the world as it is and not how we’d like it to be” is no better than saying “tough shit”.

During the Blair-Brown-Miliband years, Labour lost 5 million voters and thousands of members. When I put this point to the Blairite MP, Jamie Reed on Twitter, he replied somewhat cryptically with “3 million dead”. Such a flippant reply reveals the arrogance of politicians like Reed, who are only in Parliament to feather their nests and satisfy their egos.  I mean, how dare you question them on their lack of vision or their contempt for their members? You should be tugging your forelock and lavishing praise on them.

Here’s Reed speaking to the Huffington Post. He claims that “Corbynistas (sic) hate humour”. I can remember the racist and sexist comedians of the 1970s brushing off criticisms of their humour with “it’s just a joke”. Reed’s defence is no less dishonest.

“There’s nothing like getting told to die by an anonymous egg,” says Jamie Reed, the Labour MP and lightning rod for Twitter abuse from supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

He knows why he gets it in the neck, but refuses to curb his criticism of his party leader on social media to pacify the “trolls”.

Remember even the slightest criticism is considered as either “abuse” or “trolling” by these oh-so-sensitive people.

The Huffington Post takes him at his word and gushes.

By contrast, Reed is playful, owing as much to Viz comic, the Beano and Carry On … as the tenets of the 1997 general election landslide. His Twitter avatar has been the British actor Andrew Lincoln in zombie series The Walking Dead. It is currently the leader of the Rebel Alliance starfighter corps from Star Wars.

 “Playful”? He’s poison.
More telling is this:
He says former Tony Blair adviser John McTernan put it best: the hard Left hates humour. “It can’t co-exist with it. Just treating people who are clearly incensed – and in some case for reasons they don’t know why – with a light touch is something they hate.”
McTernan recently told his Telegraph readers that the government should “crush the RMT”. Are these really the words of someone who claims to be a Labour Party member? Remember, McTernan lost Scotland for Labour and cost former Australian PM, Julia Gillard her job. He’s about as Labour as Enoch Powell. Anyone who uses the words of John McTernan to support their case doesn’t belong in the Labour Party.
Reed even thought that Miliband was too left-wing and worked to overthrow him.
Reed played a central role in the failed attempt to oust former Labour leader Ed Miliband before the general election, and is angry about him distancing the party from New Labour.
So there you have it. Unless the leadership gets a grip and moves to jettison these Blairites, then the Labour Party is doomed to go the same way of the US Democratic Party or Spain’s PSOE.  Labour leadership, take note.

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A Typical Conversation Between An Ordinary Citizen And A Labour Right-Winger

Scene: an indoor gathering at which the local Labour MP, a professional politician and former public relations executive is present. An Ordinary Citizen has just asked the MP a question to which comes the following pat reply.

Labour right-winger [smugly]: We have to be a credible party of government.

Ordinary Citizen: But you’re not in government. You’re the official opposition.

Labour right-winger: Yes, but we need to be a credible opposition.

Ordinary Citizen: Make up your mind, I thought you said you had to be a credible party of government.

Labour right-winger [indignantly]: Stop harassing me.

Ordinary Citizen [puzzled expression]: Huh? I’m not harassing you.

Labour right-winger [feigned vexation]: Did you just threaten to kill me? I’m phoning the police!

Ordinary Citizen [rolls eyes and sighs]: I’m going for a pint. Have a nice day.

Labour right-winger: Now you’re threatening my family!

Ordinary Citizen walks off to the sound of the Labour right-winger ranting about ‘Trots’, ‘Militant’ and ‘entryists’. 

 

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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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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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Dan Hodges: could he be more bitter?

Last week or the week before, Dan Hodges said he’d torn up his Labour membership card. Well, excuse me, but what took you so long, Dan?

Hodges, whose mini biography on Telegraph blogs informs us that he is a “Blairite cuckoo in the Miliband nest”, has been churning them out this week. I’ve counted two blogs today already. Is he obsessed? Yes, no question about that. Is he bitter? Undoubtedly.

Today, nothing has changed; his biography is exactly the same as it’s been since he joined the Telegraph a couple of years ago. Hodges should actually change his bio to something more accurate… something like “Blairite chickenhawk in a well-feathered nest” would suit him better. To adapt Grassic Gibbon’s description of Aberdeen: Hodges detests the Labour party with the detestation of a thwarted lover. So enraged and bitter is he that he actually threw himself into the arms of Lynton Crosby, the so-called Wizard of Oz last year.

The pair of them are pictured here celebrating Bozza’s victory in last year’s London mayoral election.

Hodges and Crosby1

The reason for Hatchet-job Hodges exit from the party that he still claims to love is Ed Miliband’s sudden discovery of his spine, which led to his refusal to support Cameron’s desperate rush to fire cruise missiles at Syria.

At $1,410,000 each, cruise missiles are rather pricey. In fact, for a country that is, according to the ConDem government, “broke”, one wonders where the money will come from to pay for a military adventure. Curiously enough, neither Hodges, Cameron nor Osborne have mentioned the national debt and how a war would actually increase the level of debt. Funny that.

Here’s a snippet from blog 1

If Miliband wants to return from his the seaside with his reputation intact – or even enhanced – then he is going to have to deliver a few unpalatable truths to the brothers and sisters.

The first relates to events in Falkirk. Over the weekend Miliband’s office were briefing heavily they thought Unite had been lucky to get off on a technicality. In fact, they were even whispering Unite had actually got off by putting some of the Falkirk witnesses under heavy manners. As a result, Miliband’s spinners claimed, their man had no intention of backing away from his charge the union and its general secretary had been guilty of “machine politics involving bad practice and malpractice” and that instead of “defending that kind of thing, Len McCluskey should be condemning it”.

And here’s blog 2

So in the end, he ran away. Ed Miliband ran away from his battle with Len McCLuskey. He ran away from his confrontation with the unions. He ran away from a fight he had personally crossed the road to instigate.

Some will say this was a “job done”. Miliband escaped from Bournemouth with his dignity intact. There were no boos, even polite applause.

Others will no doubt argue he stuck to his guns, and made clear he intended to carry on with reform of his party’s affiliation link with the unions. Well, if he did stick to his guns, they weren’t loaded.

Today was not a speech. It was a trial of strength, one Miliband himself had established. It was Miliband, and no one else, who had decided to make the stand-off with McCluskey and his union the defining test of his leadership. It was  Miliband who chose the terms of that fight. And it was Miliband who decided how to frame it.

The bitterness and bitchiness oozes from every letter of these blogs. But does anyone pay much attention to Hodges? A better question would be “Why would anyone pay any attention to Hodges”? Well, the answer to the last question is: some of his rabid right-wing readers. They love him. Take this comment, for example:

FloydInPink

4 minutes ago

If Ed Miliband backs off over these reforms, I believe he will be making a serious strategic error. A Labour Party in hoc to the Unions will not go down well with a significant proportion of the electorate. The mayhem of the ’70’s caused by these people is etched into the memory of the electorate – we don’t need a second helping.

Obviously, the fear is a lack of funding – but that hasn’t stopped UKIP from becoming a serious political contender.

The reason?… POLICIES!

There’s your answer to the Union bully boys.

No irony here. This Tory (for surely it must be a Tory) hasn’t quite understood why unaccountable millionaires and hedge funds funding a political party is much worse than unions funding a party – especially if that political party was created by the unions in the first place. The aim for the Tories has always been to destroy the Labour Party. It never got used to the fact that ordinary workers may want a say in how things are run. Not even the bitter Hodges seems to understand this. Odd for someone who still claims to be a Labour supporter (even though he is no longer a member… apparently). No?

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David Miliband exits stage right

David Miliband is packing his bags and slinking off across the pond to take up a new job with International Rescue. So who’s he going to be? Virgil? Gordon? Or that other fella… wotshisname? Oh yeah, Brains. Oddly enough, this was supposedly his nickname when Blair plucked him off the backbenches and took him under his wing. Blair… there’s another one.  He’s doing all right for himself and I expect Miliband will also make a decent wedge for himself in the States.

The Labour party may have lost one of its arch-Blairites but that doesn’t mean the parliamentary party is shifting to the Left any time soon. Baby brother, Ed, has the unemployed in his sights and seems happy with the government’s attacks on the working poor of this country. His frontbench team is composed largely of disciplinarian headbangers like Liam Byrne and lily-livered cowards like Stephen Timid Timms.  They are out of touch with the lives of ordinary people whom they spit on from the lofty height of their ivory tower. Don’t be fooled by the brand spanking new One Nation Labour brand either: it is really little more than New Labour Mark 2. Mr Ed despises so-called Old Labour and he told us so in his speech back in January.

David Miliband’s South Shields seat is now vacant and a by-election has yet to be called. It’s a safe Labour seat, so there’s little danger of the party losing it… unless, the real Left can get its act together and snatch it from them. As for the Tories, they have about as much chance of taking the seat as I have of becoming Pope. Capiche?

I read a terribly naive tweet a few hours ago that went something like “ordinary need to join Labour and take it back from the Right”. Good luck with that, I thought. Loads of people have tried and failed. The parliamentary Labour party needs more than a few dedicated Left-wingers joining it in the vain hope that they can seize the party from the grip of the Blairites. It needs a complete overhaul from root to branch. It needs to welcome back the socialists it expelled in the 1980s and 1990s. But I don’t see that happening. Do you?

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The Miliband speech: one crumb of comfort in amongst the neoliberal detritus

Picture courtesy of the Daily Mirror

Well, it’s really nice of Ed Miliband to stand up for tenants who are being screwed by unscrupulous private sector landlords. Thanks for the warm words, Ed, they mean so much. And yes, I’m being sarcastic. That is my wont.

Labour has not pledged to reverse any of the Tory cuts, indeed if they won the next general election they will continue cutting, slashing and capping. I had a look at Miliband’s speech he gave to the Fabian Society (the fact that he spoke to the Fabians should tell you all you need to know) on Saturday and there was nothing to get excited about. In his speech he apparently fleshed out his “One Nation”, er, vision.

I will quote some of the speech, starting with this extract.

New Labour rightly broke from Old Labour and celebrated the power of private enterprise to energise our country.

You will notice how he uses the Tory-coined phrase “Old Labour” here. It’s as if to say that anything the Labour Party did before the arrival of Kinnock and Blair was bad or wrong. What about the National Health Service? I could list other achievements but the NHS is certainly a great achievement for a country that was, ostensibly, broke. The celebration of “the power of private enterprise” led to the disastrous reliance on the Private Finance Initiative, which effectively led to the wholesale destruction of the NHS. It licensed carpet-bagging on a massive scale. In short, it was a failure. The only thing it “energised” were greedy businessmen.

It helped get people back into work, and introduced the minimum wage and tax credits to help make work pay.

And it used tax revenues to overcome decades of neglect and invest in hospitals, schools and the places where people live.

The National Minimum Wage (NMW) was seen as a great achievement by the New Labour government but it wasn’t a living wage and was never going to be. Of course, the Tories opposed the NMW and continue to do so. Many Tories, especially of those of a free-market bent want to scrap the NMW altogether and force people to accept sweatshop wages with no workplace protection.  Speaking of workplace protection, New Labour refused to reverse the draconian anti-trade union legislation introduced by the Thatcher government. Workers continue to find themselves under attack by a ruthless and venal government that pits worker against worker and dares to offer them pitifully worthless shares in return for compliance. if it could get its way, the Tories would take us back to the 19th century… and Labour would let them.

The word “responsibility” appears several times during the speech. This word is much beloved of neoliberals and is, more often than not, applied to those at the bottom.

To turn things round in Britain, we all have to play our part.
Especially in hard times.
We are right to say that responsibility should apply to those on social security.

This language is no different to that used by the Tories. The suggestion here is that those on social security are universally “irresponsible” rather than victims of circumstance – which is often the case. But he throws in the following decoy to distract those who would seek to pick holes in his argument.

But we need to say that responsibility matters at the top too.

That’s the essence of One Nation Labour.

It shares New Labour’s insight about our obligations to each other.

And it learns the lessons of what New Labour didn’t do well enough, ensuring responsibilities go all the way through society from top to bottom.

Here, Miliband appears to suggest that his One Nation Labour brand is an extension of the New Labour brand. If you thought Miliband’s Labour Party was any different to Blair/Brown, think again. The ingredients on the label are exactly the same but with a couple of new additives… and the new brand name.

New Labour began with a bold agenda for the distribution of power in Britain.

And it stood for a Labour party not dominated by one sectional interest, but reaching out into parts of Britain that Old Labour had never spoken to.

Again, Miliband distances himself from so-called “Old Labour”, that’s the same Labour Party that legalized homosexuality and abortions under the rather right-wing Labour Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins. It’s been said that if such proposals were put to the Commons today, they would be voted down.

Miliband came from a relatively a privileged background. He went to Oxford and like many of those who were intent on a career in politics, he read (they don’t study at Oxbridge) Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE). He tells us that the Labour Party will be

Recruiting MPs from every part of British life: from business to the military to working people from across every community.

With most of Britain’s mines and factories closed, it’s hard to see how Miliband can recruit more Dennis Skinners. It sounds like a load of guff to me.

All in all Miliband’s speech was crafted to appeal to the Fabians and placate those so-called floating voters whose  political allegiances change with the wind. Fabians believe that they can reform capitalism. They are mistaken and have been wrong for more than 100 years. Their gradualism has led them to betray the working class and the labour movement time and time again.

On the one hand, Miliband is a hostage to the Blairites and on the other, he’s running scared of the Tory press (ably assisted by Hatchet-job Hodges in the Torygraph), who pore over his every word, hoping to find a way to paint him as a closet Commie. It’s quite laughable and, at the same time, it’s tragic.

There really is nothing Red about Ed.

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