Tag Archives: Progress

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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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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