Friday, 15 July 2016


I don't care whether youre a Corbynista, Blairite, Millibandito, Blue Labour or whatever. The UK has just gone through the most turbulent three weeks in 70 years. 52% of the country has voted to leave the European Union; the leaders who lied and played the fear card to engineer that triumph have jumped ship; the prime minister who gave the country a referendum as the price of placating his own MPs and holding off a UKIP who gained at Labour's expense, not his, is gone.

There is a new Tory prime minister, chosen by a handful of grandees; there is the most frighteningly ideological and inept cabinet I have seen in my 40 years in Britain. In the face of all this, the Labour party has been silent, not even a squeaking opposition, being more concerned with ousting their own leader and marginalising their members who elected him. This is a godsend to the largely Tory media, who play Labour's internal division up above all the other problems, but don't blame the media for their biases, they are something you have to live with.

Labour achieved power under Tony Blair with a Bill Clintonesque third-way strategy based on Clinton's core precept: where else do they have to go? Thus you focus your appeal on the undecideds, swing voters, independents, marginal seats, and you treat your core voters with a kinder gentler version of the abandonment of a conservative government. Which worked until Labour's tepid response to six years of austerity under the Liberal Democrat/Tory coalition allowed the SNP and UKIP to give those ignored voters alternatives. Tory scare mongering on immigration worked a treat in pushing Labour votes to UKIP in England and letting Tories win parliamentary majority with barely more than 1/3 of vote, but it invited the no vote that won the Brexit referendum.

Labour has been waiting for someone to stand up and marshal the opposition to what was going on--offer the country a viable alternative, help the country make sense of the disaster that is going on. Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader by party members who saw that traditional Labour values and policies were an answer, but, villfied in the press as a nutter and abandoned by many in his party as a, uh, socialist, he was not the leader to marshal the sane part of the country, not the person who could gather opposition and perhaps force a vote of no-confidence once the public schoolboys (and girls) have finished ruining the country they see by right as their playground.

My guess is a figure who was able to do that with any level of articulation and energy might have been chosen Labour leader by acclimation once the dust had settled. If a majority of the parliamentary party and their big donors wanted Corbyn out, the sensible way to do it would be for someone to step up and lead opposition to Tories, not opposition to Corbyn. Filling the gulf of leadership for the country outside Westminster, and indeed outside the party, would make the point self-evident. But who stepped forward? Who presented a vision of anything for the country, anything except a party not led by Corbyn? 

By abrogating their responsibility to the country in a cheap effort to re-establish their control, they have moved Labour closer to a split, and nullified themselves not only as an opposition but as a potential government. The lesson of the Gang Of Four in 1982 was two more election wins for Thatcher, and political wilderness until Nick Clegg's craven deal with Offshore Dave Cameron. Putting self before party, putting party before country, and ignoring the best opportunity to present a united face of sanity in the wake of the past three weeks of chaos was the only sane thing to do, and the opportunity has been pissed away. Like a pack of rabid hyenas they turned on themselves, while a lame sheep strolled past uneaten. Shame on you, Labour.

NOTE: I don't often use this platform for political party broadcasts, but this morning I wrote a quick angry rant on Facebook, & it stayed with me through the day. So I've filled out the thoughts a little, trying hard not to let my despair poke through too far. 

1 comment :

rogueactuary said...

A good rant but the problem remains that Labour grandees have appeared to be in it for themselves rather than as public servants ever since Kinnock went pro-EU as a commissioner and then it became a money-making machine. I'd always voted labour then stopped - being totally disillusioned by the end of Blair with the "trust us we are not as Tory as them" - followed by lots of labour activist hatred and ambivalence.
You should not blame the democratic mandate which may suggest people are stupid or scared. 12 years of Labour did not improve much up here and it is not enough to demonise just the wealthy (not much if any of the 1% up here to blame and those that are play or manage top flight football).
The kicker was under Blair the Americanisation of GB started by Thatcher - such as big pay, excessive love of wealth, student fees (the introduction of College Funds in effect by imposing debt on students), prescription charges for only some English (what union in UK?), fines for everything, taxing in particular the wealthy English because they can rather than giving the mansion tax to councils, education in general as Comprehensives became maligned and religious schools were the get out of jail card for the Labour elite (why do they not have average children like many other families?) short everything must be cost-effective!

Jeremy Corbyn could turn it around as he has smartened himself up (thanks to Cameron's mum) is making valid points and is not Ken Livingstone or Michael Foot in disguise. The London Labour party is miles ahead of the Tories in London. If he had gone Pro-brexit he would probably be closer nationally.
While he puts blue water between him and the Tories, the two candidates against him only differ on Trident it seems. The unions are not the problem and he must not appear as if held to ransom by the SNP as Ed M did. The young are not old enough to know why Corbyn should be "unsuitable" and comparisons to Ken Livingstone are positive in London but almost meaningless in the north of England.
In short, the Labour Right blew their right to the Labour Brand and they should either tow the line or leave once they all pretended not to like "Tory" Liz Kendall who arguably was the best candidate to hammer the Tories.