Saturday, 8 August 2020

I haven't gone away. Neither has this problem.

 The attempts to sabotage Corbyn's leadership seems likely to do more damage than Corbyn supposedly ever could have done, even if all the stories about him were true:

So, yeah, six months down the line, I'm still raging about this.  And bear in mind, gentle reader, I'm far, far removed from all this.  British politics has almost no relevance to me (though it does affect directly many of my friends and family.)  So if I am incandescent about this, think how angry people intimately involved in Labour - members and those who worked in 2017 and 2019 towards victory, not against it - must be.

Ryle's account is fascinating and depressing - how juvenile were these people, nicking off with computers and leaving offices untidy?  It almost makes you wonder if the sort of people capable of such petty spiteful acts are capable of the grander allegations against them - the alleged diversion of funds which is identified as possible fraud alleged by Corbyn and key members of his team, which even the Guardian has felt compelled to report on.

And the frankly bizarre story of the Facebook ads and promos that were prepared just for Corbyn's team to see:

Perhaps the most kafkaesque example is the bizarre story of party officials designing Facebook adverts to be seen by only Corbyn’s team. A party official helpfully explained the strategy to the Sunday Times

 “They wanted us to spend a fortune on some schemes like the one they had to encourage voter registration, but we only had to spend about £5,000 to make sure Jeremy’s people, some journalists and bloggers saw it was there on Facebook. And if it was there for them, they thought it must be there for everyone. It wasn’t.”

 This souns like something from the latter days of the Soviet Union, with the Great Leader being assured by his self serving toadies and placeholders that everything is being done, everything is just right and the new tractor production statistics are most impresive, as the nation collapses all around them.  Or, more pertinently, the bonkers press appearances of Donald Trump citing - apparently with complete conviction - misleading Covid data offered up by his staffers.  Only, of course, Trump wants to be told everything is awesome and rejects anything that suggests otherwise - he's a willing participant in his own deception; Corbyn and his team wanted the truth, but were being lied to by people they should have been able to trust.

If accounts like Ryle's - and the allegations in the leaked report - are true, people behind this grim farceshould be expunged from the party.  Their work contributed to the Conservatives winning a further five years in power, with the prospect of another them beyond that.

Instead, apparently, they are calling for Corbyn to be thrown out.

Wednesday, 22 April 2020

A new left party?

So, I saw this on the interweb this morning:


Now, it looks like a big ol' fake - probably a bit of Guidoesque mischief making, but it strikes a chord and a lot of people on the left are probably thinking of splits or mass purges and so on.

It's an instinctive response to finding people in positions of power within the Labour Party plotting against the Labour Party.

Everyone knows splitting the left vote is idiocy. Usually it comes from the centrist part of the bloc, who imagine there are lots of people who are just desperate to vote for 'moderates' and 'sensible policies' in the middle ground. There aren't.

But nor are there stacks of votes to be won on the left. So the idea of setting up a new left wing party is delusional. If it was centrists splitting off, it would be called as at best naively and at worst deliberately trying to help the Tories (as happened with TiG/Change). And it would be true and correct to call it that. The same applies to the left. As long as there is FPTP there has to be an accommodation.

The current problem isn't permanent. It is the result I think of people who came into the party in the 90s, or who attained power in the Blair era genuinely coming to believe the had found the Holy Grail and they could keep the Tories out of power forever, as long as everyone listened to them. Remember Bill Clinton used to talk about 'The Project' of gradually reforming society in increments?

The Blairite 'Third Way' would lead eventually to socialist nirvana, so incrementally slowly no-one would notice and everyone would be happy. Blairites had the same vision and it was a genuine belief. It wasn't necessarily a false belief or a delusion. We talk about Corbyn shifting the Overton Window to the left in four years - the Blairites thought they could do the same, gradually.

It was essentially a dispute about strategy, not the ultimate goal. Everyone wanted a fairer, more just society. For the record, I think the Blairites were incorrect in 1997 - they did not need to make as many compromises as they did and could have been more radical. But I can understand why they felt the need t compromise - I can remember 1992, my first election, and the sense of growing shock as the result came in and people realised we'd somehow managed to lose to John Major.

The idea that perhaps the same thing might happen influenced Labour a lot in the 90s, prompting the party to make more compromises to ensure they didn't lose the whole game.

Over time, the Blairite belief in gradualism became a fixed idea and a mania - just like a lot of people on this thread are talking about traitors and saboteurs, they viewed their internal opponents on the left as deliberately trying to wreck their glorious Project. Everything could be sacrificed to The Project - the reasoning went, "Yeah, Iraq was a terrible blunder, but was it worth throwing everything we've done and everything we can still do away over?" In other words, support us or let the Tories back in.

People whose thinking has been over-awed by the worship of this sort of gradualism have too much influence within the party - that's been shown in the report and the history of the last four years. But that does not make centrism itself the enemy. If there is going to be a civil war, and it results in the Labour Party hacking itself to pieces, all that will be left is a lot of limbs strewn about on the floor.

The people who have failed in their office need to be investigated and sanctioned. I don't think anyone gloating about Labour losing an election has any place in the party, nor do people who have been diverting money to support their own candidates. If there is genuine evidence of racism and bullying, that needs to be dealt with, just as genuine examples of anti-Semitism have to be dealt with. But it isn't necessary - or remotely sane - to talk about splitting the movement.

To borrow a real quote from Len McLuskey, leftists shouldn't “risk dramatic damage to the interests of the British economy and working people just in order to scratch their factional itch.”

In other words, support each other or let the Tories back in.

Monday, 13 April 2020

I was, of course, completely right - the plot against Jeremy Corbyn

The right wing of the Labour Party actually preferred the party to lose elections than see Jeremy Corbyn become Prime Minister.

This is made clear in a massive internal report that has been leaked.

It's stunning, as it reveals not just the vindictive, self-destructive madness of the supposed 'centrists' and 'pragmatists' of the party, accustomed to being in charge and reacting with fury to the discovery that they were not.

This is how they responded to the 2017 exit poll:
08/06/2017, 22:48 – Patrick Heneghan: Everyone needs to smile
08/06/2017, 22:48 – Patrick Heneghan: I’m going into room of death
08/06/2017, 22:48 – Emilie Oldknow: Everyone needs to be very up beat
08/06/2017, 22:48 – Julie Lawrence: Its hard but yes
08/06/2017, 22:52 – Iain McNicol: I’m not in smiling and mixing and doing the 2nd floor.
08/06/2017, 22:53 – Iain McNicol: Everyone else needs to do the same.  08/06/2017, 22:53 – Iain McNicol: It is going to be a long night.
It goes on an on, example after example.

They were ecstatic at the idea of Labour losing an election; they celebrated polls showing substantial Tory leads and fretted about ones that showed the gap narrowing. And when reality hit them in 2017 they were devastated:

"They are cheering and we are silent and grey faced. Opposite to what I had been working towards for the last couple of years!!"

The response of Tracey Allen to the 2017 exit poll. She's not a Tory and the people she identifies as cheering are pro-Corbyn members. She's identified in the report as 'executive assistant/office manager, general secretary’s office'.

So, what had she been 'working towards for the last couple of years'? The overwhelming defeat of the Labour Party?

I note she is now identified as an ex-Labour staffer.

Remember how we were told - repeatedly - that Corbyn and his supporters were professional protesters and campaigners and weren't really interested in winning elections? Turns out the people saying that were self describing. They weren't interested in winning; in fact, they wanted Labour to lose.

Further, the report seems to back up claims made by Jon Lansman that the anti-Corbyn faction (that maintained control of the party apparatus until 2018) neglected to take any meaningful action over anti-Semitism:

They did nothing to address what they were later to claim was an incredibly pressing and urgent issue; it's hard to escape the conclusion that this failure to act was wilful and their goal was to discredit the leader, in spite of the damage this would cause the Labour Party - in the hope of forcing Corbyn to resign, either before or after an electoral defeat.

After discovering that Corbyn wasn't the hapless mook they thought he was they concocted an active smear campaign against him, resulting in two years of constant smears and exaggerations about anti-Semitism before they finally got what they wanted.

That's the 'pragmatism' of the 'concerned' Labour centrists for you.

Sunday, 5 April 2020

Keir Starmer elected

Comfortably, in the very first round, with an impressive 56% of the votes.

I wonder, did members of the Shadow Cabinet start tweeting their resignations during Starmer's victory speech, or is that only a trick the right pull?

It is odd how all the talk of how the next leader "needs to be a woman" and how the party is "too Londoncentric" and too "elitist" we've just elected a male lawyer who was born in Southwark and represents a London constituency.  I won't even mention his hue - a whiter shade of pale - I don't expect miracles.  But I think he serves as something of a rebuke to the more radical / woke / open-minded (delete according to preference) part of the party.  You can be Labour and small-c conservative as well, and the preference of the party membership for older white blokes has been made abundantly clear, everytime we've been here.  How we respond to that, I'm not sure, but you can't just wish it away.

In spite of that carping, I think Starmer will be adequate.  I don't expect miracles from him, though if Covid 19 takes off proper, he might not need one.  The political and economic landscape in a couple of years time will be utterly, utterly different to just now.  History books will perhaps congratualte Corbyn on his strategic nous in passing on winning in 2019 - can you imagine what the press would be doing to a Labour government just now, trying to deal with Covid while still getting lost on their way to their ministerial offices and forgetting which side of the House they are meant to sit on?

It will be interesting to see how Starmer adjusts his position now he's got the prize - was all that somewhat leftish talk during the campaign just a tactic to stall RLB, and will he stomp right?  Or is there a genuine, if rather paternalistic, social conscience there?

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Mr Freedland in the Guardian

Jonathan Freedland of the Guardian has penned a column which chastises the left wing of the Labour party for daring to retain principles and ideals, qualities - it seems - that should be jettisoned in pursuit of power.

Never mind that Freedland was an ardent Remainer, that is to say, one of the people who fundamentally didn't get it and argued vociferously for the Labour Part to commit ever more public acts of self-mutilation.  Now he's on the job and about his usual business of telling the little people what's best for them to think.

He ends it with a paragraph of blatant self-justifying, it-weren't-my-fault-guv blame shifting:
But the first step is to accept its importance, to recognise that winning power is the sine qua non of politics, literally the thing without which there is nothing. Labour deputy leadership candidate Richard Burgon might worry that party members will panic and “just reach out for whatever is most conventionally electable”, rather than opting for the most “radical” wishlist of promises, but there is a ready response to that. Labour’s experiment with the not “conventionally electable” ended in a conventional crushing two months ago – and there is nothing socialist or radical about that. Its only achievement was to grant the Tories five more years – and the power to reshape the world around them.
Mr Freedland should have spent the last four years writing columns like this reminding the right wing of the Labour party that winning power was far more important than undermining and besmirching the reputation of the Labour leader.

Instead, as I recall, he and his ilk in the allegedly leftwinf media were more than happy to join the Mail, Telegraph and the howling decayed giblets of the Murdoch press in demonising Corbyn. To borrow Freeland's own climactic line, "Its only achievement was to grant the Tories five more years – and the power to reshape the world around them."

But, of course, the same people who gleefully joined in the kicking to death o the Labour party between 2017 and 2019 are the same people busily re-writing history to disguise their culpability in handing Johnson those five years. By repeating the lie that defeat was all down to Corbyn and his radical policy platform they mask their own guilt.

I'm a forgiving chap but the likes of Freedland, Cohn and Toynbee need to acknowledge their own responsibility rather than pointing the finger elsewhere.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Everyone, we must be united and work together (now we've got rid of the Corbyn)

Yvette Cooper has written a piece in the Guardian outlinig 'Seven things Labour Must Do To Win The Next Election'.

I'll overlook the absurd headline - no-one is talking about Labour winning the next election and I assume that Cooper didn't write the headline (she doesn't mention winning the next election anywhere in her piece); I assume it is typically witless work by someone in the Guardian, drawing to much inspiration from the style of clickbait ads. There's enough wrong wirth what Cooper says to set that nonsense aside. She shows a spectacular lack of political self-awareness, attempts to duck all responsibility and implies everything is the fault of Corbyn and the 'narrow hard-left'; effectively continuing the condescending and arrogant attitude towards the membership.

According to Cooper, the party must:
1 Face the scale of defeat with humility.
2 Stop the factional infighting.
3 Be a party for the whole country – not just a liberal-labour party for the cities.
4 Learn to love the achievements of the last Labour government.
5 Be a strong and credible opposition, as well as a radical alternative government.
6 Bring kindness and integrity back into politics.
7 Get involved.
The seven basic points she makes aren't too wide of the mark - though one can't help but think 'trite' and 'obvious'.  I mean, would anyone advocate more factional infighting or call for increased unpleasantness and bitterness?

(Actually, plenty have done just that - since the December debacle I've read plenty of people demanding 'Corbynists' and 'Momentum' need to be 'eradicated' and 'driven out' of the party.  Cooper's oddly silent on that.

It is the commentary she expands them with that tastes foul. Who else but Yvette Cooper could write Labour must "Stop the factional infighting" and then continue "We cannot be a narrow hard-left party. That doesn’t reflect our values or history. Nor will we win next time if we collapse into polarised factional infighting. Parties are teams. If we can’t compromise with each other, we can’t hold any coalition of voters together"?  Remember, this is the person who refused to be part of Corbyn's cabinet - showing a distinct lack of team spirit - and And it is has only bothered to issue this fatwah on the importance of unity after Corbyn has been endured four years of undermining and back-stabbing. Strange she didn't bother to say anything before.

A more honest appraisal would have acknowledged infighting and factionalism originating on right wing of the party contributed massively to the failure of the Corbyn project, and that the party's 'establishment' never accepted the membership's choice of leader and worked to overturn it from the moment Corbyn was elected.  She does not even mention the Chicken Coup of 2016, or the rantings of Margaret Hodge and others.

(She then turns the rest of her commentary on that point into a puff piece indicating she isn't going to stand as leader this time, although people have been begging her - literally begging her - to do so. Because she knows this "isn't the time" as "there are many in our party who won’t see me as the person to pull all sides of the party together" - which isn't surprising given the attitude on display here. The implication being that she might stand next time - when the post-Corbyn leader has brought the party back to something like electability, and those pesky leftists (aka members) have been rooted out of the party.)

So not much effort to build bridges and heal there.

Friday, 3 January 2020

This is good

Still feeling very kicked in the head.  Took some time off over Christmas and New Year to think about stuff, contemplating the unthinkable idea that i might have been ... wrong.  But, after a thorough deconstruction of my cerebellum and rigorous self examination, I conclude I was not, am not.

Okay, obviously, I was wrong about the whole Labour-being-the-largest-party and the shy-Labour-voters bit, but I don't think I was wrong in y fundamental diagnosis post-election; that the catastrophe was brought about by the revolt on the right of the party, the sustained, deliberate attempts to undermine the Corbyn project and demonise a decent man.

This, from Corbyn's erstwhile spin-doctor, Marc Zarb-Cousins, shows I am not alone in thinking this:
I have been asked by some to "own" the defeat. I am happy to hold my hands up and say I misread the mood of the country. But I won't apologise for voting for the best candidate in both leadership contests, and then supporting the leader of the Labour party. I won't apologise for campaigning for a Labour government, or for working harder than I've ever worked as Jeremy's spokesperson 2016-2017. With what little profile I actually have, what did the people asking me to apologise want me to do? Did they think me using my platform to attack the leadership of the party would have made a Labour government more likely? 
People who have spent the past 4 years undermining the Labour party and the leader are now telling us to "own" this defeat, while we've been campaigning relentlessly -- in some cases for certain hostile Labour MPs who now have the temerity to say to us: "Look what you've done, this is all your fault." None of us, least of all those with a profile or a safe Labour seat, are passive observers in politics. We are all active participants, able to affect change and influence those undecided. If you've spent the past few years attacking the leadership of a political party, it's not exactly endearing to now be having a go at those people who had in the meantime been giving up their time and money to help bring about a Labour government.
He then goes on to suggest that the leadership contest will be between candidates all essentially claiming the 2017 / 19 manifesto policies.  Which is interesting as it suggests that even in their moment of triumph, the right of the party are already defeated.  The next leader will be elected by the electorate that twice voted - overwhelmingly - for Corbyn.  There will be no swing to the right.

Which will then reveal the Great Lie of 2017 and 2019.  When the new leader is monstered in the same way that Corbyn was monstered - by the right wing media and by the increasingly bitter right wing of the Labour Party - it won't be possible for them to claim that the problem was Corbyn.  We've been hearing that for four years.  It was never true.  The problem was that Corbyn challenged the hegemony of the Blairites over the party, and the policies that he put out there threatened wealth, power and privilege in Britain as a whole.  Only a tiny, tiny bit, but enough to bring down the fires of Hell upon him.

The right wing of the Labour party feared they would never get their party back (they won't) and so they were willing to crash the party and deliver the country over to Boris Johnson.  The Establishment didn't like to see their position under threat, so happily connived with them in a project that suited them even more than it suited Tony Blair and his successors.

And if Corbyn had been as hapless and hopeless as he is portrayed as he would not have been subjected to this - an epic, four year campaign of character assassination, intensifying to an unparalleled degree after 2017 when it looked like he might actually find himself in a position to do the things he said he would do.

Will the next leader be subjected to the same fire and brimstone?  Probably not.  The Conservatives probably have enough of a majority to make the next election another round of First-Past-The-Post attritional warfare.  Labour are in the position the Conservatives enjoyed in 2005 - no prospect of winning, but having to do the groundwork for the next again election.  Though a lot can happen in five years.

I think - once the dust settles a bit and the Blairite wing of the party realise that, in spite of everything, they still haven't got their party back - they may realise that they are and were the problem, not Corbyn.  They will slowly go through the process of realising that - if they ever want to taste power again - they need to actually accept the judgement of the membership and come to terms with Labour being a left wing party.

Right now they are accusing the left of being in dnial, or going through the stages of grief, or having their heads in the sand.  Truth is, it is them doing all these things, and they've been doing them since Corbyn's election in 2015.  Time for them to face up to the reality and accept it.  Theyre always going on about how to succeed in politics you need to be pragmatic, and be ready to sacrifice principles.  Always, this is directed at the 'naive' and 'idealistic' left; while the right don't budge. Well, let's see them doing some sacrificing and compromising.

I haven't gone away. Neither has this problem.

 The attempts to sabotage Corbyn's leadership seems likely to do more damage than Corbyn supposedly ever could have done, even if all th...