Why the hell doesn’t Corbyn put the bell around the cat’s neck?

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‘Why the hell doesn’t Corbyn put the bell around the cat’s neck?’

Cryptic?

No. It’s the Aesop’s fable that springs to mind when I read the various Princess and Princeling (elected or not) posturings and complaints about Corbyn and Copeland:

The mice call a conference to try to decide on how to stop the cat catching and eating them. One ‘princeling’, or it might have been a ‘princess’, got up and announced that the solution was to put a bell on the cat. At first, the other mice were all pleased and excited to have a solution. Then someone asked ‘How are we going to put a bell on the cat?’ ‘Oh’ said the prince/essy mouse ‘If you’re not going to listen to my advice, I’m off’. And with that, she/he flounced off.

Like all the rest of the mice, I’m left wondering if I’ve missed something … but no. That really is the sum of it.

In fact, there is another fairy story which fits … The Emperor’s New Clothes.

 There are two fraudsters who manage to persuade the Emperor that they have tailored him a magnificent set of clothes which only the intelligent can see.

The Emperor doesn’t want to admit that he can’t see a thing. So he pays the men a huge amount of gold and wears his new ‘clothes’ in a procession down the High Street. The people, suitably primed that they must be stupid if they can’t see the wonderful clothes, ‘ooo’ and ‘argh’ about the magnificent appearance of their King.

All that is except for one little boy who shouts out that the King is as naked as the day he was born.

No-one ever says what happened to the little boy. I guess that he was pilloried by the combined weight of the press and BBC… and by right wing MPs of all political parties. The entire weight of the establishment would have come down on the little boy’s head.

And the people in the crowd?  Well, I imagine that like all groups of people, they won’t all have thought the same thing.

Some will have persuaded themselves that they really could see the non-existent robes. Others will be more cautious and want to give the fraudsters the benefit of the doubt.  Another group will have seen exactly what is happening but won’t want to be pilloried like the little boy and decide that it’s better just to play along with the fraud because it’s too difficult to go against the establishment.

 Then there will be those who see the fraud as good thing… good for them that is.

However, there is a final group. These will be those brave and honourable souls who will gather around the little boy, standing up against the fraudsters regardless of the jeers of the press and public.  Those who realise that it is better to see the world as it really is rather than as they fear or want it to be… because it is only by recognizing the lies, the frauds and the sleights of hand that they will be able to fashion a better world which works for ordinary people and not the vested interests of the establishment and global finance.

It speaks volumes that there is more reality to be found in the words of Conservative journalists like Peter Oborne or in the comment threads on ConHome than there is from a majority of the PLP.

I will finish with an except from a Danny Finkelstein article about Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters:

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There are two Labour parties now. The small controlling party of Blair, and the party of the membership.

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The Great Ron Rafferty says*:

A brief history of the world …. From the time of Kinnock, there was an ever-increasing vetting procedure of new Labour candidates.  That started off from a relatively weak administrative point from the Central Office perspective, but it quickly became more and more controlling over the past 30 years, and what better cover than deciding that only people from certain groups could stand as candidates.  So we ended up with a massive percentage of “on-message” MPs.

Now fast forward to last summer, and the sudden realisation by the on-message ones, that they were no longer on message with the people they claimed to represent.  Their own manifesto demonstrated this.  As the media had tried to paint Ed Miliband as Red Ed, the Labour Party machine moved forever towards the right until in several aspects it WAS to the right of the Tories!  This is the “being in power” bollocks that is constantly uttered.  Being in power …. for what?  If being in power is to be worse than the Tories, then it IS actually better having the Tories FFS!

The election of Corbyn, who, despite efforts to paint him almost as a communist (the new Red Ed) was centre-left, saw a whole cadre of the Labour machine rejecting him, and rejecting their membership.

He was never ever given a chance to be a leader.  Sniping from the Coup-ers** NEVER stopped.  They used social media to keep in contact with the mainstream media (oh, how hollow their protests now sound about others using social media …..), placed anti-Corbyn stories, and the continuing line that only the coup-ers were true Labour, not their leader, and certainly not their membership!

Planning for a coup for 10 months.  No principles.  But the membership – now there’s a bit of a problem!

The coup, which was intended to psychologically attack the leader failed, because he stood up to the outrageous deceit and bullying.  (In any other context on earth, the Guardian would have railed against the bullies, and quite rightly!).  But Corbyn wasn’t broken.  Did the coup members bother that this was anti-democratic?  Did they bother that it was against their memberships expressed wishes?  Did they bother that it was against the wishes of most CLPs?

As that didn’t work …. over to the NEC, and the same coup-ers not quite in charge of things.  Sob stories about representatives being threatened (a bizarre bit of histrionics compared to what they had attempted on Corbyn!).  No sticking to the normal rules of committees, and what is the solution to the membership “problem?”  Cut off as many members as possible!  Stop the membership meeting in the CLPs!

This is NOT a group of people trying to “save” the Labour Party.  This is a group of people who believe they OWN the Labour Party, and will do precisely what they want.  It is a right-wing takeover.  And the people hark back to the days of Blair where they say one thing, and mean another, where war is good, where the class from which their members are taken is good as cannon fodder without equipment, where a useless and expensive piece of nuclear gear is more important than ships that work, and where those same poor folk will continue to pay for the errors of the rich.

But, there again, time after time, it is the rich who pay for their coup “friends.”  A few millions promised here, a few hundreds of thousands there, a “helpful” but restricted legal challenge (that’ll do nicely).

There are TWO Labour parties now.  The small controlling party of Blair, and the party of the membership.

Whose side are you on?

 

*Comments thread https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/15/labour-death-spite-bullying-working-class-base

**coup plotters

NB This is important

Wise words – ‘Keep Calm and Support Corbyn’

‘The last thing anyone on the Left must do in response to these outrages is to be outraged however. There will be more to come.

More members will be suspended. Applicants for registered supporter status will be excluded – even in some cases if they have been accepted as Labour Party members (after the January cut off date). Other local parties will face unjustified administrative sanctions.

All of this has a dual purpose. First – and vitally – to diminish Corbyn’s support in the election. Secondly – and this is not unimportant – in the hope of provoking an angry response which can feed the narrative that the left are vile bullies.’

jonrogers1963.blogspot.co.uk/…/keep-calm-and-support-corbyn…

Cameron’s Sartorial ‘Dead Cat Manoeuvre’

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John Crace, sketch writer for the Guardian, reckons that David Cameron let the mask slip at PMQs …..

‘Then came the playground game-changer. In reply to a heckle from Labour’s Angela Eagle about his own mother’s opposition to his welfare cuts, Dave let rip: “I know what my mother would say. I think she’d look across the dispatch box and she’d say: ‘Put on a proper suit, do up your tie and sing the national anthem’.”

But was it a slip – the Dave he tries to keep under wraps?

I think most people would agree that David Cameron’s sudden outburst was completely unexpected, and did not bear any conceivable relation to Jeremy Corbyn’s questions about the NHS… but then it is hardly the first time over the last 6 years that he has had a bizarre tirade about union-control, threatened national security etc..

As such, it fully corresponds with the Lynton Crosby (the Tory election guru) signature ‘dead cat’ manoeuvre. .. the essence of which Crosby explains:

‘The key point, says my Australian friend, is that everyone will shout, ‘Jeez, mate, there’s a dead cat on the table!’ In other words, they will be talking about the dead cat – the thing you want them to talk about – and they will not be talking about the issue that has been causing you so much grief.’

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jan/20/lynton-crosby-and-dead-cat-won-election-conservatives-labour-intellectually-lazy

But it isn’t simply a distraction technique. It is also a technique used in hypnosis. Out of awareness, our brains are constantly predicting what actions, memories, emotions and so on, that we may need to mobilise in the immediate future. This creates a ‘cone of expectation’ which is constantly being updated. A totally unexpected, and preferably an emotionally shocking event (like Derren Brown suddenly jerking your arm up in the air and bending you double) disrupts our brain’s ‘cone of expectation’ and we are left in a state of confusion with our brain desperately trying to recalibrate. In that moment, we are highly suggestible… with our neurotransmitters acting to clear our conscious memory so that we only focus on what may be ‘danger’.

This is all part of the normal fight, flight and freeze response. What it is not, is part of the normal democratic process … let alone PMQs when the Prime Minister is supposed to be answerable to the House of Commons.

The best known example of the ‘dead cat manoeuvre’ was in the 2015 GE campaign, when defence secretary Michael Fallon launched an unexpected, brutal attack on Labour leader Ed Miliband.

“Miliband stabbed his own brother in the back to become Labour leader. Now he is willing to stab the United Kingdom in the back to become prime minister.”

At this point, some polls had Labour narrowly ahead of the Tories, with Miliband’s pledge to crack down on nondomicile tax avoidance, dominating the headlines. By suggesting that Miliband would scrap the Trident nuclear deterrent, in order to strike an electoral deal with the Scottish National party, Fallon managed to switch media attention away from Labour’s popular policy.  And in so doing, he leveraged the defining theme of the 2015 Conservative campaign which was to target Miliband’s perceived weakness as a leader.

So Labour’s tax policy was pushed out of awareness (admittedly with the collusion of the press). And the question was left hanging in the air as to what Fallon ‘knew’ that had prompted his outburst, and the strong implication that Ed M was so desperate to win that he was prepared to roll over and give the SNP whatever they demanded.

I know that this worked psychologically because I wondered myself what was going on… no smoke without a fire etc. Of course, it is now acknowledged that this was a deliberate attempt to manipulate the electorate.

Ordinary btl commentators wrote in response when this underhand strategy was explained by Lynton Crosby himself:

“What is shocking in all of this is how completely unselfconscious the Tories are about feeling no obligation even nod towards reality in their campaigning, let alone propose real solutions.

The sole criterion is “Can we get people to believe this?”

 Crosby explained in detail the contempt with which he manipulated the public. It isn’t just lies, it is psychological techniques, deliberately playing on fears discovered using market research techniques. It works the same way it works to persuade us all to buy new shit all the time and not to make a fuss about a few mega rich Masters of the Universe ruling the world while we toil away making them even richer. Yes they won. That doesn’t make it right.”

 

Now, to get back to Cameron’s outburst, Paul Waugh writes in the Huffington Post:

‘The curious thing about PMQs was that Cameron and Jeremy Hunt are actually on very shaky ground on the weekend deaths effect (as academics and doctors keep pointing out). And in the FT today, there is an ominous quote from Fiona Godlee, editor of the BMJ. Godlee, who has been critical of the way the deaths data has been used by politicians, says a new article in the BMJ, expected to appear next week, “will aim to address concerns about political interference in the peer review process and the source of Hunt’s data”.’ http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2016/02/25/the-waugh-zone-february-2_3_n_9313714.html?utm_hp_ref=the-waugh-zone

Curious? Curious?? Not only was Cameron well aware of the shaky ground over the NHS but he also knew that he was vulnerable over his mother (and aunt’s) criticism of cuts to local government. I find it extremely difficult to believe that his tirade was not fully thought out and prepared in advance.

In fact, the only thing that I find at all remarkable is that Cameron is prepared to open himself up to all that criticism, alienating ordinary Conservative supporters by his bullyboy tactics and humiliating media coverage, just to knock the privatization of the NHS off the front page…. His devotion to furthering the interests of the corporations is almost courageous (although more likely self-interested).

But on a more sinister note, to return to the hypnotic invite to our suggestible brains… Cameron’s outburst was a dog whistle of contempt for Jeremy Corbyn, and for us to completely forget the importance of Corbyn’s line of questioning.

As the commentator above puts it ‘It isn’t just lies, it is psychological techniques, deliberately playing on fears discovered using market research techniques.’

All this raises questions about transparency and democratic legitimacy. We do not expect politicians to be trying to manipulate our unconscious, using behavioural, marketing techniques.

In discussing the politics of ‘Nudge’ (Cameron’s Behavioural Insights Team were known as the Nudge Unit’) Will Leggett writes:

We expect governments to clearly state their policies, and persuade us of their merits. …. advocates of the Big Society never tire of pointing out the pitfalls of ‘nanny statism’. So it is curious that they are simultaneously endorsing a policy approach which makes even our unconscious decisions an object of government intervention.

http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/research/perspective/debate/bigsociety-leggett.aspx

The good news is that the more these psychological manipulations become the subject of open debate, the less effective they are likely to be. Our ‘thinking’ will kick in and we might actually remember the parlous state of the NHS instead of Cameron’s shameful, sartorial schema.

 

Related post:

Propaganda techniques – Glittering Generalities

Is the whisper of the People heard through “Democracy” looking down on them? @Corbyn4Leader

Democracy or Philanthropy? How can we combat poverty and injustice?

The Collective Voice of Labour

Think tanks, philanthropists, charities, celebrities  and  lobbyists are shouting from the wings the answers to an impoverished world.  Joseph Rowntree, Barrow  Cadbury, Bill Gates, Russell Brand, Oxfam, and NSPCC are just a few. All these are undoubtedly good deeds and with the best intentions, and yet poverty prevails. We can go on, but where where is the place for charity and philanthropy in a democratic society? Do we have a real democracy at all?  Why is Russell Brand’s voice any more valid or interesting than yours or mine?

 For whom do the rich and powerful  speak, and should they?

When rich people make a decision to spend money on supposed good deeds, they abuse power. The media abuses power. Is charity  a quick fix to alleviate stresses in a crisis? Do they address the injustices or reinforce them? It is a quandary which I have struggled with and blogged about. In a true democracy each vote should be equal. Whoever we elect, it seems that the resultant politicians abuse that power we give them.

Caring deeds are admirable, helping one another out on a day-to-day basis comes naturally, and the spirit of ’45 is something our society needs to recapture. That caring  society is exactly what Thatcher denied existed, and that has been eroded. On the other hand having to depend on charity is degrading and humiliating. I think this is why people become suspicious of one another, and fear anyone who’s different to them. We need to learn to trust again. We need honesty, not smoke and mirrors.

What is wrong with everything is capitalism, competing consumers clambering over one another and anything to get to the top of the pile – whatever that is. To throw crumbs from above (philanthropy) cannot justify the means taken to get there. When we build a society whitch satisfies everyone’s needs, and eliminates poverty, spend time alongside one another we have society. Tony Benn believed in a real democratic movement. He said Labour should say what we mean and mean what we say. Tony Benn encouraged me, and now Jeremy Corbyn stands to encourage new generations and rejuvenate our Labour movement. Jeremy Corbyn also stands apart in that belief. With Greece, where democracy was born, now on its knees, is our species doomed?  

It is the collective voice of Labour which must be heard and formulate policies for Labour – a leader needs to facilitate and encourage this voice to be heard.

Every voice matters, but that does not take away the responsibility for education, and we should use our influence to change minds and put the Labour Party back at the heart of the people.  The party should be formulating policy through a renewed internal democracy. First we must put in place a clear statement of our aims and objectives. These must be SMART and agreed by the party. We should be brave and honest. If we are not, no one else will be.  

Straight talking Labour is what we need to be.

From “In Place of Fear” , Ch.2, Aneurin Bevan (1)

“As we fumble with outworn categories our political vitality is sucked away and we stumble from one situation to another, without chart, without compass, and with the steering wheel lashed to a course we are no longer following. This is the real point of danger for a political party and for the leaders and thinkers who inspire it. For if they are out of touch with reality, the masses are not. Indeed, they are reality. For them their daily work is an escapable imperative. While those who are supposed to be doing the theorising for them are adrift like passengers in an escaped balloon, the workers are tied to reality by the nature of their work. In the absence of clear theoretical guidance, they make empirical adaptions and formulate practical categories. So far as these are incomplete, and therefore unsatisfactory, the first result is a distrust for those who have demonstrably failed them.”

We  failed as destruction and divisions of the Labour Party over the last three decades has left an impotent voice, where Labour politicians  are frightened to speak out in the media or alongside workers taking industrial action against austerity, and  yet continue to  agree with policies cutting public services. Our public services should not be available for breaking up for pickings for profit seekers. It is scandalous that a Labour government supported private finance initiatives breaking up our health and education – echoing the Tories. Is it any wonder people did not back Labour?

This is why we have to recapture a true democratic socialist movement. The Labour Party, and our politicians should stand alongside ordinary people who call for justice on picket lines, and marches.  Together we must defend  human rights, and our  trade unions and fight austerity. We must call for tighter control on banks, oppose TTIP and other supposed “free trade treaties”. We must support renationalisation – of the railways, energy, utilities – and democratic control of money, as a tool. All this is what ordinary people know and call for. Why aren’t our politicians?

Our politicians should not be frightened to stand with us against all these injustices and above all expose the truth about capitalism which is driving the world in a downwards spiral, and to stand up for the collective good for all which can be brought about by socialism.

I am backing Jeremy Corbyn to lead the Labour Party, and the people’s democracy.