What makes a Leader?

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WHAT MAKES A LEADER?

by Rhys Jolley previously published here

“Jeremy Corbyn is not a leader”, the cry goes out, “he’ll destroy the Labour Party. Replace him!” Media pundits and plants repeat this mantra daily. Even the left leaning Mirror blasted out its front page demand “for the sake of your party and for the sake of your country, Go now!” It is one thing to have to face up to your opposition, but another level of challenge altogether when your supposed friends turn on you so viciously.

There are many qualities a leader needs: intelligence, toughness, determination, clear objectives and vision. But a leader with responsibility for the lives and welfare of an entire nation must also demonstrate exceptional moral fibre, standing up for clearly stated principles, even when under sustained attack from opponents, with dignity. That rather sounds like Jeremy to me.

Owen Smith, says all the things expected of a challenger, but little is new. An end to austerity and the Tory nationalisation of private debt. “That’s the kind of revolution I’ll deliver,“ he passionately declares. Fine words, but will he have the guts to do what is necessary to achieve it should he be given the chance? Such courage doesn’t come easily.

The great leaders of the past had to go through decades of preparation. Mahatma Ghandi underwent an extended initiation in South Africa where he first employed nonviolent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer involved in the resident Indian community’s struggle for civil rights. He was imprisoned many times. On returning home, he was called to stand up to the full force of the British Raj. He and his small army of ordinary people were able to face them down because he had honed the necessary moral stature and did not budge from his objective.

The Labour Party faces an enemy with an incredible determination to destroy what is left of the socialist structure in this country for its own ends. Already the multi-national corporate agenda has reached deeply into the fabric of our society with its network of CEO’s quietly strengthening their hold on the levers of power by employing devious and complex tactics while claiming the best of intentions. They enable the notorious 1% to profit from these hard times, promoting austerity, though not for themselves, of course, while herding the sick and the disabled to their deaths from neglect. Over 50% of the wealth of this country is seemingly not enough for them. They want it all and are willing to engineer the destruction of the much loved NHS and bring the profit motive into our education system by economic sleight of hand. The Tory party and many of its elected politicians are firmly in their pocket.

David Cameron’s “Big Society” followed Tony Blair’s “Third Way” into oblivion. The country is more unequal then when they began. Theresa May recently said that she will bring about “a fairer society”, but unless she is willing to stand up to this hidden enemy, her efforts will be largely cosmetic. Equal rights for women is certainly a passion of hers, but there will be no fundamental change to the other basic inequalities. Her corporate paymasters won’t allow it.

The right wing press did direct some moral outrage at the bankers, but it was short-lived and little changed. They are still raking in their millions. The current scapegoat, Philip Green, is only one very visible and especially greedy example of his ilk. He broke no laws, so why have the laws not been changed? Something very easy to do, I would have thought. Many big multi-nationals pay little tax. Is Mrs May racing to close the loopholes. I don’t see it.

So, it is up to Labour to push for the changes that will bring about Owen Smith’s equally lofty vision of a ‘more equal society’. But does he actually know what it will require? A cleansing of the corporate lobbyists who have such a hold behind the scenes on the philosophy and actions of so many in Westminster, for one thing.

Donnachadh McCarthy’s excellent book, “The Prostitute State” clearly shows the extent to which many in the Labour Party have also been corrupted, through their directorships and other links to the companies they are there to regulate, gradually watering down the principles that Labour was set up to promote.

A true leader cannot be bought. That’s Jeremy Corbyn again. His earnest challenger has not yet shown any resilience and courageous action in exposing the mechanisms behind the corruption embedded deep within our political and financial systems. You can’t change what you don’t entirely understand.

To become a true leader, Owen needs to go through his personal baptism of fire, requiring him to withstand ridicule and the inevitable personal attacks that will start when the establishment bigwigs see that he is a serious threat to their power base. Until then, he will cave in to the very first challenge from those ruthless corporates and water down his resolve in crucial ways.

So, Owen, I implore you, ‘for the sake of your party and for the sake of your country, withdraw now!’ and do your advanced moral endurance training. Generalities are not enough. Ideas are two a penny. Go onto the front line of the revolution you say you want to lead, and forensically expose the neoliberal agenda with redistributive policies that will be gunned down by the right wing press. Show them that you cannot be swayed by their threats or their bribery. Earn your stripes and then we may embrace you as our leader.

Jeremy has already proven he has what it takes to shepherd the Labour party into the next phase of its mission to achieve a much more balanced and integrated society. He should be wholeheartedly supported.

From

THE NAIVE CORRESPONDENTS

info@naivecorrespondent.org.uk

 

A Daring Prediction: New Labour is Finished

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 A Daring Prediction “New Labour is Finished”

By Martin Odoni:

Previously Published here:  The Great Critique

I am reminded of Genady Yenaev.

If that name is unfamiliar to you, twenty-five years ago, during the dying months of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, President Mikhail Gorbachev was briefly overthrown in a coup, or ‘putsch’, by hardline Communists. Yenaev was their leader, and he was unhappy with Gorbachev’s ‘Perestroika/Glasnost‘ reform programs. The putsch lasted days, but eventually, when the Red Army refused to attack its own citizens, Yenaev and his colleagues backed down and Gorbachev was restored to the Presidency. It was one of the most foolish, ill-judged attempts to topple a political leader since the brief restoration of Henry VI of England at the expense of Edward IV in 1470. Yenaev’s failed attempt to maintain the Soviet Union pre-dated its demise by all of four months; the Hammer & Sickle flag was lowered for the final time on Christmas Day that year, and the coup was what started the countdown to the empire unravelling.

This week, the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party have attempted their own putsch against their leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and it has proven as foolish and self-destructive. The whole fiasco has been a speculative ‘hail-mary‘, chiefly because it has been almost entirely reliant on that most undependable of weapons – hope. Yes, their attack has included all the classic dirty tricks and intricate co-ordination with overly-helpful media who are gasping to curtail any resurgence of the real Left. But in the end, the whole strategy of the coup has hinged almost completely on the hope that Corbyn would simply be the first to blink. For the ‘Red Tories’, the hope was that because Corbyn is an honourable, decent, unaggressive man, that must mean he is a wimp. If he is a wimp, they could simply bully him into resigning. Right?

But decency and being a wimp are two very different traits. Given all the character assassination Corbyn has had to endure throughout a career in the House of Commons for thirty-three years, and especially over the last twelve months, this assumption about him seems laughably simple-minded. Having soaked up relentless, uncivilised pressure for half a lifetime, and still come out of it the same person, Corbyn has become as tough a politician as they come. He has shrugged off so many insults, so many blatant lies about his character, so much intimidation, and still he maintains an air of cool, patient dignity, honesty, graciousness and down-to-Earth good manners. To resist so much unfair provocation and hardly ever lose his temper is a quality that I can only envy. Having been in politics for so long, Corbyn will also have seen every dirty trick ever played, and he was always going to be ready and waiting for them. Sure enough, he had contingencies in place against the coup, including having a new Shadow Cabinet assembled before the stream of resignations was even halfway through. He was never just going to crumble and submit.

The ‘strategy’ of the coup throughout has been feeble and basic, relying on bullying and then hoping everything responds and pans out in a particular way. The minds behind the coup have given so little thought to the ‘what-ifs’ that there were no contingencies in place for anything. No one asked, for instance, “What if the national support sticks with Corbyn?” or “What if Corbyn refuses to blink?” And in behaving so deceitfully and treacherously, they have damaged, perhaps permanently, their own reputations, and to an extent that of their party. Such is the damage that, even if by some Excalibur-like miracle they succeed in dislodging Corbyn,they will still be in a helpless position afterwards. They have sacrificed everything, including their own futures, for the sake of controlling the future. That they did not see the impossible contradiction in that gamble says little for their intelligence.

The Red Tories’ only apparent chance since their failure to yell Corbyn into resigning on Monday has been more blind hope; they hoped to find a way of interpreting the rules so that Corbyn could be barred from standing in a leadership contest. With fewer than fifty MP’s backing him, they hoped they could argue that he did not have enough support to be nominated. But he does not need to be nominated; that rule quite explicitly applies only to challengers, not to the incumbent. The idea of the leader being nominated would make no sense on various levels; if Corbyn is being challenged for the leadership, by definition he has to be given an opportunity to meet that challenge, with or without nominations. Otherwise he is not being challenged but usurped, ergo the challenge cannot proceed. Indeed, his election to the leadership itself is his nomination, in a sense, and if he is no longer wanted, he will simply be voted out anyway.

Of course that is not going to happen, because Corbyn is still wanted by the great majority of Labour members nationwide. It is therefore right that Corbyn should stand. Corbyn will stand. And he will win. All signs are that his support in the Labour Party nationwide is, if anything, even greater than it was in September last year. The ten biggest Trade Unions in the country have all reaffirmed their support for Corbyn, which may even be enough to give him an unassailable lead even before the wider membership have their say.

Angela Eagle seems poised to be the ‘sacrificial lamb’ who will be sent to challenge Corbyn, but that is another self-destructive move; not only is she almost certain to lose to Corbyn, but she could also be put in danger of losing her seat in Parliament. This is because  her own constituency party has come out very publicly in support of Corbyn, explicitly protesting against the coup. It seems that, if Diane Abbott’s insights are the truth, this pattern of MP vs. constituents could have been replicated in Labour seats up and down the country, had the coup not been carried out with such indecent haste that there was no time allowed for discussion.

This speaks of the superiority complex of ‘Blue Labour’, the contempt in which it holds the public. It therefore also speaks of exactly why Tony Blair’s vision of the Labour Party has to die. Its refusal to respect the right of the party’s grassroots to be heard will be mirrored in the wider public, and that constitutes a threat to democracy. Blairism will die too if the Red Tories continue on their present course, for if the constituency parties are alienated from their own candidates, the basic foundation of an MP’s election-to-Parliament will crumble.

There is no way out now. The Parliamentary Labour Party has trapped itself by its refusal to respect its leader’s mandate, and its unwillingness to give him a genuine, fully-supported chance to prove himself. Even Ed Miliband got more of a chance than Corbyn, and most of the party regarded Miliband with professional contempt. They have now presented Corbyn potentially with the authority to purge the party of the neoliberal elite, and to restructure the party so that its MP’s can no longer trigger leadership contests without the approval of the grassroots. The party will probably split into two once more, like it did in the early-1980’s.

 

What that means for the future is not necessarily the return of a genuine left-wing Government; the breakaway of the Social Democratic Party in 1981 not only split the Labour Party but also split its support, and there is bound to be at least some measure of lost support during the split ahead. The hope is that the rapid groundswell of support Corbyn has drawn can offset that, if it continues to grow, while the Conservative Party are dragged backwards by the equal chaos in their own ranks – a chaos that was not duplicated in the 1980’s. Also, future generations of Labour MPs will doubtless include once more many from the political ‘centre’, or from even further right. Yes, they will have to be watched closely to make sure they do not resurrect the parasite of ‘watered-down Toryism’.

But for now, the back of the current incarnation of ‘watered-down Toryism’ has been broken. With the Chilcot Report just days away, and likely to associate the Blairite philosophy permanently with the spectre of war crimes, the whole brand of neoliberalism-with-a-queasier-conscience will be irredeemably tarnished, as will all current politicians who subscribe to it.

I may regret making this prediction, but I shall say it anyway. New Labour is finished.

See also Think Left: What the Labour Leadership didn’t want us to know

Call for Mandatory Reselection of Labour MPs

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It is not acceptable for a small group of elected MPs to hold the Labour movement to ransom. We are greater than that. Millions of people have supported Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party and he was elected with a massive mandate.

Labour Party members worked for them and voted for them, and yet once in power it has been possible to betray each of those by lack of respect to democracy and  basic principles of the Labour Movement which they purport to represent. It seems fair enough to expect self-discipline, loyalty and mutual respect between every one of us. 

The time has come to look at accountability of Labour MPs to their constituency Labour Party members.

MPs resigned

After the events leading to mass resignations of the shadow cabinet, it is clear trust is not enough. We press for the TUC, Labour Members and Affiliated Unions  to  consider mandatory re-selection of Labour MP with this petition.

This is not just about Jeremy Corbyn. It is about you, me, and our children, and future generations. It is about the Labour Party and democracy.

The current policy of not allowing reselection of Labour MPs is undemocratic, and is leading to disloyalty, to the elected leader and the membership of the Labour Party, on a massive scale. Labour MPs should be selected by, and be accountable to the local party membership. This is more democratic and is standard practice in other UK political parties. MPs must be accountable to their members as well as their constituents.

 

Change.Org Mandatory Reselection of Labour MPs

 

Please sign , and share this petition. 

Thankyou.

 

 

Is the high level of Government debt a justification for austerity?

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In the piece posted below, Henry Stewart exposes Osborne’s sleight of hand by using the high level of government debt to justify his cuts – the debt that has grown under Osborne’s stewardship from £960 billion in April 2010, just before the coalition government was elected, to £1.5 trillion five years later.  Nevertheless…

UK government interest payments at lowest since war

By Henry Stewart : @happyhenry

Government debt was, in 2010 and 2015, a key element in the general election. The high level of debt is the justification for austerity. Politicians on the right and left have explained that the high cost of servicing the debt prevent spending on health, education and other areas.

The natural assumption is that this has been such a key issue in 2010 and 2015 because the cost of interest payments on the debts were particular high in those years. An analysis of government statistics reveals that the opposite is the case. The cost of interest payments were, proportionately, at their lowest levels since the war in the years 2010 and 2015.

UK Interest Payments lowest as % of government spending

There are two ways of comparing the cost of interest payments: as a percentage of overall government spending or a percentage of UK GDP. Interest payments were 4.3% of government spending in 2010 and 4.9% in 2015. As the graph below shows, the level was higher in all other post-war years. At the end of the previous Conservative government, in 1997, interest payments represented 9.7% of government spending.

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UK Interest payments lowest as % of GDP

UK interest payments are also at their lowest in terms of proportion of GDP. In 2010 the figure was a post-war low of 1.7%. In 2015 the figure was 1.8%, equal lowest with the years 2003 and 2004. In this case the figure at the end of the last Conservative government in 1997 was 3.3%

A key reason for the low cost of interest payments is clearly the low interest rates at which money can currently be borrowed. However, as many economists have pointed out, the low interest rates make this the best time since the war to invest in the public infrastructure rather than cut back.

And if the main problem with debt is the cost of servicing it, why has this only become an issue when that cost is at a post-war low?

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These figures are taken directly from the PSF (Public Sector Finances) aggregates databank: http://budgetresponsibility.independent.gov.uk/data/

Contact Details Henry Stewart can be contacted on henry@happy.co.uk,

or on Twitter: @happyhenry

Editor’s note:

William Keegan wrote in the Guardian, October 2015:

‘George Osborne is what is known in the trade as a “chancer”. Chancers often get found out. William Hill has made the chancellor hot favourite to succeed David Cameron. We shall see. The wider implications of his unnecessary policy of austerity are gradually being brought home to the middle classes and all those middle-England voters whom the new leaders of the Labour party are accused of ignoring. The “cuts” are affecting surgeons, GP surgeries, local authority social services for the old and the infirm, and reaching into many other corners of everyday life.’