What do the Labour Right think will happen if ‘they get their party back’?

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To be honest, I’m a bit mystified by the pronouncements of the Labour ‘modernisers’. Their thinking doesn’t seem to make any sense.

In the last two weeks, since Jeremy Corbyn won the Labour leadership with 59.5% of the vote, we’ve heard Charles Clark say “It’s obviously been a very bad week for him.” (?) and that Yvette Cooper is waiting in the wings to take over as Labour leader if Jeremy Corbyn gets fed up with the job (?).

Much more ominously, there are ‘reports that elements of the British Army may rebel if Jeremy Corbyn is elected Prime Minister, and a serving general quoted as saying that “The Army just wouldn’t stand for it”.

Has it been a bad couple of weeks for JC?

Off the top of my head, he has put together a huge and an inclusive shadow cabinet, which comprises 52% women; made a very successful speech at the TUC and gained praise for his appearance at PMQs.  If that’s a bad week, then let’s have more of them.

However, as Phil Burton-Cartledge writes:

 ‘Driven by the press and then echoed by the broadcasters, the media assault on Jeremy Corbyn this week has perhaps been the most scurrilous, smeary, and desperate I have ever seen.’

Richard Seymour sees this as a continuation of what he calls Project Fear in which the Labour Right has tried to frighten JC supporters but he says:

‘.. there will be war in the Labour Party. Project Fear was just the panicked, clearly ineffectual start. And in that war, the right wing will have the backing of the media, the spooks, the civil service, and a good chunk of the membership.’

John Rentoul agrees that ‘..there won’t be defections. There will be a civil war instead.’

He continues to write of the Labour MPs:

‘How many of them could say, in their heart of hearts, that Corbyn should be prime minister?  Eagle is tribal Labour, but I know more than one MP, and there must be many more, who, asked to choose privately between Osborne, who is likely to be leader of the Conservative Party by then, and Corbyn, would reluctantly prefer Osborne.… But Labour MPs are not going to defect.  It is their party, and they intend to take it back.  It would be hard for them to fight an election with Corbyn as leader and, perhaps even more so, with McDonnell in a senior position, but they don’t think Corbyn is going to last.’

So the Labour Right’s plan seems to be at least partly based on Jeremy Corbyn getting fed up with their machinations and resigning.  Then Yvette will step into the breach, untainted by association with the Shadow Cabinet (unlike Andy Burnham who gained 2% more support than Yvette in the leadership contest).   It seems like a fair guess that the ex-ministers who flounced off (refusing to serve even before they were offered posts) intend to form a Shadow-Shadow Cabinet.  Charles Clark remarked in a television interview the party was preparing to fight the next election without the newly appointed leader.

Really?

So what do they think would happen then?  Do they think that the 49% of full members who voted for JC, and the 60k new members who have joined since JC was elected, will welcome Yvette, Chuka, Tristam, Liz et al with open arms as the saviours of the LP?

Isn’t it much more likely that they will be blamed for undermining JC and crashing the LP?

Quite apart from the logistics of Tom Watson being elected as Deputy leader and the likelihood of a new leadership contest, I would make a fair guess that there would be a mass exodus of JC supporters if Yvette were to be parachuted in… and how likely is she to be elected?  Even with Liz Kendall and Yvette’s votes combined, they gained less than 22%.

Nevertheless, according to Luke Akehurst’s ‘conventional wisdom’:

Some of his grassroots supporters will go through the same painful process of awakening and political education that led to many Bennite activists becoming successively Kinnockite then Blairite in the 1980s and 1990s. Their idealism didn’t survive repeated interaction with electoral defeat and hostile working class voters on the doorstep. It’s natural to want to win. And people get older and in many cases their politics matures.

Trade unions will get fed up with not being able to deliver on pay and conditions and public spending for their public sector members because we don’t have a Labour government (they may also get jittery if we lose councils as they would prefer to negotiate with Labour employers not Tories).

MPs will feel they have to act or the electorate will sack them.

At least, Luke Akehurst sheds a little bit of doubt – ‘if conventional wisdom does prove correct’…. What conventional wisdom?  What planet do these professional politicians live on?

Can’t they see that whatever else happens over the next 5y, the political landscape has changed.  Globally, social democratic parties’ collusion with neoliberalism is being rejected and the electorate is polarizing between the far right and the left.  If JC fails, the LP under a Blairite/Brownite, committed to austerity-lite will, almost certainly go the way of Pasok. They had already lost 5m voters by 2005… and now they’ve lost the two subsequent general elections!

I could say more about the hubris and extraordinary sense of self-entitlement that has been revealed by the posturings of the former LP elite.  However, least said…

As far as I can see it, the choice for the Labour Right in the PLP is to join in the democratic debate and put their weight behind JC as leader, or ‘win their party back’ and reduce the LP to a hollow shell.

To improbably quote Blair’s old friend and member of JC’s Shadow Cabinet:

Asked whether Mr Blair was “right or wrong” to say that Mr Corbyn “is not going to be prime minister”, Lord Falconer said: “I have no idea. What we’ve got to do, to try to do is to make Labour an effective opposition and we need to try to make Labour a party that the public think can govern.” 

However, there is a very real danger to worry about, and it is not the rubbish about the national anthem, rugby matches and so on.

With reports that elements of the British Army may rebel if Jeremy Corbyn is elected Prime Minister, and a serving general quoted as saying “The Army just wouldn’t stand for it”, it seems that some in our established institutions regard democracy as optional.  We are allowed to make our choice, but if they do not regard it as an acceptable choice then they may feel perfectly entitled to disregard it.

As Bernadette Mearden writes:

Does the British establishment, in its entirety, really believe in democracy? Perhaps for some elements, the best reply to that would be – up to a point.

So is there any hope for Democracy?  Noam Chomsky was askedWhat is your opinion on the emergence of figures such as Jeremy Corbyn in the UK, Pablo Iglesias in Spain, or Bernie Sanders in the US?  Is a new left movement on the rise, or are these just sporadic responses to the economic crisis?’  He replied:

It depends what the popular reaction is. Take Corbyn in England: he’s under fierce attack, and not only from the Conservative establishment, but even from the Labour establishment. Hopefully Corbyn will be able to withstand that kind of attack; that depends on popular support. If the public is willing to back him in the face of the defamation and destructive tactics, then it can have an impact. Same with Podemos in Spain.

Chomsky is right.   If the public is willing to back him in the face of the defamation and destructive tactics, then a left movement which reaches out internationally, and particularly across Europe, can create the conditions for a better world.  However, the call to fascism by the army general does not argue for an easy transition.  Before we get to that point, the Labour Right will have to decide whose side they’re on.

References:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/yvette-cooper-waiting-wings-take-6475790#rlabs=3%20rt$category%20p$7http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/yvette-cooper-waiting-wings-take-6475790#rlabs=3%20rt$category%20p$7

http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/22092

http://www.leftfutures.org/2015/09/how-to-manage-the-anti-corbyn-media-storm/ 

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/09/jeremy-corbyn-labour-benn-kendall-blair-leadership/

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/jeremy-corbyn-will-not-spark-defections-from-the-labour-party–just-a-civil-war-10509520.html

http://labourlist.org/2015/09/whats-going-to-happen-to-a-corbyn-led-labour-party/

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/Jeremy_Corbyn/11878514/Jeremy-Corbyn-cabinet-minister-attacks-new-Labour-leaders-policies.html

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2015/09/noam-chomsky-bernie-sanders-greece-tsipras-grexit-austerity-neoliberalism-protest/

First Thoughts on the EU elections

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By Prue Plumridge

The UKIP campaigned on an anti-europe ticket.

My question is:

If they are anti-europe why have they not declared their position on the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership currently being negotiated behind closed doors?

They have been surprisingly quiet on the issue.  Now why could this be?  It would have been a powerful weapon in their campaign against the EU.

Let’s remember that Nigel Farage’s great hero is Thatcher.

Her pursuit of the neoliberal ideologies of deregulation, privatisation and trade liberalisation have left behind a destructive legacy which we are now more than ever reaping the consequences of.  Time will prove (I am certain) Farage’s hypocrisy and deception.

We should be clear that the UKIP are libertarians who believe in free market economics and this is the economic model currently being promoted by an unelected, undemocratic cabal of EU commissioners who are negotiating a trade deal with the US that will favour globalisation and the continuing ascendancy and undemocratic power of the big corporations.  

Clearly there is a dissonance between what Ukip supporters believe the party stands for and reality.

Whether they are in denial or their support is a protest against the established parties it matters not.  There will be tears before bed-time if we continue to think of this party as a group of fruitcakes or loonies or purely a focus for protest.  They are cleverly dissimulating their real agenda and the next few months will be interesting as surely they will have to nail their colours to the wall.

It may seem to some that I am expressing anti-EU sentiment.  I hasten to add that I am not.  I believe that our future lies within the EU.  Not the current austerity imposing neoliberal juggernaut which is bringing Europe to its knees but a properly democratic EU which is socially just, acts for the benefit of its citizens and ultimately remembers its history. 

I wrote an article, in May last year, for Think Left. ( https://think-left.org/2013/05/04/on-fascism-and-facts-ukip-the-strategic-adversary/).  A year on I stand by it.  The rise of the right throughout Europe is, whether we like it or not, an articulation of the fear being expressed by its citizens over continuing uncertainty and fear for the future.  Citizens, however have not woken up yet, to the fact that the Right including UKIP are only offering more of the same.

The Left need now to rise to the challenge and show there is another fairer and more socially just way.

Nineteen Eighty Four revisited – Is there a ‘world domination’ study course?

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I have always wondered where Derren Brown learnt his skills – they are not in the average psychology textbook nor in a conventional hypnotherapy handbook.  However, I’m now also questioning the existence of a similarly secret school for world domination.

Why?

Because there is a remarkable similarity between George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four dystopia and the pattern that the global elite and Cameron’s Conservatives seem to be trying to create.

Eton is the obvious answer because Cameron, half the cabinet and Orwell were all educated there but Eton was not the ‘playing field’ of Obama and the American contingent of the Washington consensus/global elite…  PPE at Oxford or a Masters at Harvard??

What are the parallels?

Obviously, the Edward Snowden revelations of Big Brother mass surveillance spring to mind, and also the lack of reaction from the broad swathe of the UK media (apart from the Guardian).

“The invention of print, however, made it easier to manipulate public opinion, and the film and the radio carried the process further. With the development of television, and the technical advance which made it possible to receive and transmit simultaneously on the same instrument, private life came to an end.”  Nineteen Eighty Four

But on top of mass surveillance, we find that the Conservatives are currently trying to purge the internet of their speeches and videos prior to 2010, just like the Ministry of Truth.

If you remember, Orwell’s Winston Smith worked in the Ministry of Truth as an editor, revising historical records to make the past conform to the ever-changing party line and deleting references to unpersons, people (video clips?) who had been “vaporised”, i.e. not only killed by the state, but denied existence even in history or memory.

Jim Killock, executive director of the Open Rights Group:

“The suspicion has to be that at the point they are engaged in a huge debate about mass surveillance … they are removing the videos where they criticise Labour for doing the same thing. That’s why it’s absolutely important that that material remains available.”

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/nov/14/tory-website-purge-youtube-webcameron

“He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.” Nineteen Eighty Four

Then there are Cameron’s veiled threats to the Guardian over their publishing the NSA/GCHQ activities leaked by Edward Snowden.  (Alan Rushbridger should think himself lucky that he just had to destroy his hard drives.  It could have been ‘his worst nightmare’ culminating with his loving Big Brother Dave… but in the future?)

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/oct/28/david-cameron-nsa-threat-newspapers-guardian-snowden

In the Britain of Nineteen Eighty Four, 2% of the population were the upper class ruling elite (probably an over-estimate in 2013 UK).  The majority, the 85%, were the ill-educated working class, or lower-class Proles.

“So long as they (the Proles) continued to work and breed, their other activities were without importance. Left to themselves, like cattle turned loose upon the plains of Argentina, they had reverted to a style of life that appeared to be natural to them, a sort of ancestral pattern…Heavy physical work, the care of home and children, petty quarrels with neighbors, films, football, beer and above all, gambling filled up the horizon of their minds. To keep them in control was not difficult.”  Nineteen Eighty Four

In addition to being kept busy, misinformed and badly educated, the Proles were seduced by the Lottery:

“The Lottery, with its weekly pay-out of enormous prizes, was the one public event to which the proles paid serious attention. It was probable that there were some millions of proles for whom the Lottery was the principal if not the only reason for remaining alive. It was their delight, their folly, their anodyne, their intellectual stimulant. Where the Lottery was concerned, even people who could barely read and write seemed capable of intricate calculations and staggering feats of memory. There was a whole tribe of men who made their living simply by selling systems, forecasts, and lucky amulets. Winston had nothing to do with the Lottery, which was managed by the Ministry of Plenty, but he was aware (indeed everyone in the party was aware) that the prizes were largely imaginary. Only small sums were actually paid out, the winners of the big prizes being nonexistent persons.”  Nineteen Eighty Four

It has to said that Michael Gove certainly seems committed to diminishing the educational prospects of the majority of state educated schoolchildren… and we’re told that many dream of winning the lottery/‘celebrity’/’getting rich quick’ which is fostered, coupled with the misinformation purveyed by the oligarch-owned so-called ‘free press’.

Interestingly, the remaining 13% of the population, the Outer Party, were the focus of the surveillance – not the Proles.  This fits with Chomsky and Herman’s contention that government ‘propaganda’ is aimed primarily at the middle classes.  ‘Bread and circuses’ are the fare of the red tops and are intended to distract the working class.

In Nineteen Eighty Four, Britain or Airstrip One, is part of Oceania, one of three inter-continental superstates that divide the world among themselves after a global war.  There is a perpetual war with the other two superstates, Eurasia and Eastasia, over disputed lands which include the Middle East and North Africa.

This is disturbingly close to truth, not only in terms of geography and physical warfare.  Significantly, Obama’s priority has been the TransPacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and that together with the EU-US Free Trade Agreement would form a single market which would basically include ‘everyone but China’… with the potential for a new cold war?  However, many including James Galbraith, contend that these Western trade agreements are not about trade at all, but more like an attempt to take-over and control the foreign country’s economy on behalf of the transnational corporations.

Why should we be very concerned about the current US/EU Free Trade Agreement?

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/07/how-the-transpacific-partnership-will-let-foreign-investors-gut-regulations-while-preserving-agricultural-subsidies.html

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/06/david-cameron-eu-us-trade-deal-investor-state-dispute-settlement

The financial-corporate-political nexus is the hidden arm of any war-based economy.  Orwell again:

“The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labour. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking into the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent. Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labour power without producing anything that can be consumed.”  Nineteen Eighty Four

Which brings me to a final point, Cameron’s speech at the Lord Mayor’s Banquet:

Cameron talked about a “leaner, more efficient, more affordable state”. He argued that austerity could be a permanent government policy; a way of trimming down the administrative excesses of some public services. He framed it in the context of the current tough living conditions – a minimising of state spending, as it “comes out of the pockets of the same taxpayers whose living standards we want to see improve”.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/13/david-cameron-austerity-public-sector-cuts

In other words, Cameron admitted that the cuts were exactly what he had always intended, and not (as he had suggested in the culled speeches) an unfortunate necessity.

In way of explanation, Orwell writes:

“It was possible, no doubt, to imagine a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realise that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.”  Nineteen Eighty Four

In other words, when Cameron says ‘austerity could be a permanent government policy’, he is aiming to preserve the same type of unnecessary privation experienced by the Proles in Nineteen Eighty Four, and it’s fair to suggest, for many of the same reasons.

One of the contradictions identified by Marx, is the tendency of capital towards overproduction, and essentially, the main function of the unwinnable, perpetual war in Oceania was to ameliorate their ‘overproduction’ without threatening the maintenance of the power of the upper class elite.  Hence, instead of the wealth of their labour being fairly distributed to the Proles, it was consciously and deliberately destroyed by staging unnecessary wars.

Overproduction and Underconsumption

The term “over-production” is often used to describe that situation which initiates a period of capitalist crisis or recession, whereby too many goods have been produced, the goods cannot be sold, production grinds to a sudden halt, people lose their jobs, demand drops even further, and the downward cycle accelerates.

http://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/o/v.htm

It is clear, that another way of describing ‘over-production’ is under-consumption or a lack of demand, which is identified by many as the real problem in the Western economies.  The overt problem is that real wages have not increased since the 70s, and are now decreasing further, which sets up a spiral of people not being able to buy goods, so production is cut back, further lessening the available income and decreasing demand.

However, underlying the ‘lack of demand’ is that industries and companies are not investing in jobs or expansion.  Jobs create income which is spent thus producing demand.  But big businesses are on strike… in spite of holding an estimated £800bn in ‘savings’ … because the profits that they can make from investing in the real economy do not match the profitability of fictitious capital.

Fictitious Capital is value, in the form of credit, shares, debt, speculation and various forms of paper money, above and beyond what can be realised in the form of commodities.

http://www.marxists.org/glossary/terms/o/v.htm

For example, car production is a minor activity on the part of General Motors, and this is the pattern across the large corporations.

However, fictitious capital has to be fed by the surplus extracted from workers and this grows to be more and more of a burden on the backs of the workers until profitabilty can no longer be maintained, and slump takes over.

Unfortunately, even George W Bush knew a resolution for this contradiction of capitalism – ‘The way out of a recession is war’… even if the method of war on people/nations is financial and corporate.

Why are many of the WW2 generation worried about the rise of fascism?

So perhaps there is no need for a secret school teaching ‘world domination’.  The global elite just need to have a thorough understanding of Marx’s contradictions of capital, and devise strategies, regardless of detriment to the 99%, to retain their  power. The Left should have followed the model of the Magic Circle and kept Marx’s analysis a close-guarded secret.

The European Union is anti-socialist, anti-democratic and failing economically.

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The European Union and the Eurozone:  No Road to Socialism or Democracy

First published in Campaign Briefing (CLPD) Autumn 2013

by Kelvin Hopkins MP

The European 
Union (EU) is 
anti-socialist, 
anti-democratic 
and failing economically.  It is 
surprising therefore that some
 good socialists
 and trade unionists still have EU
 sympathies.  Even 
more surprising,
 is that many right wing neo-liberal Tories oppose the EU.  Big businesses, neo-liberal conservatives elsewhere in Europe and the political class across the continent are committed to the European project, the abandonment of effective borders between European countries and the neutering of democratic member state governments in order to give total power to the market and the corporate world.

The process has been continuing by degrees, and occasional leaps, since and even before the 1957 Treaty of Rome established the original Common Market.  Yes, the clue is in the title.  Its objective has been to roll back the democratic socialist and social democratic world established across Western Europe after 1945.  Marketisation, liberalisation and privatisation are what the Common Market, the EEC and now the EU have been about.

The 1980s Single European Act was the EU’s “Great Leap Forward”, with Maastricht, Lisbon and, of course, the Euro following from it.  Gordon Brown, perhaps surprisingly, fought Blair to keep Britain out of the Euro and won.  The Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) disaster of 1990-92 effectively destroyed the creditability of the Tories for a generation, and joining the Euro would have done the same for Labour.

Guardian economist Larry Elliott recently wrote a darkly amusing piece suggesting that had Britain joined the Euro, our economy would now have been wrecked – a kind of Greece writ large – and that we would have crashed out of the Euro, bringing down the whole single currency edifice with Nigel Farage seriously challenging to be Prime Minister!

The Eurozone economic crisis is deepening by the month, with unemployment over 12% and rising.  Things in Greece and Spain are much worse, such that if we had the same levels of unemployment in Britain there would be eight million on the dole, not two and a half million, and over half of those under 25 would be jobless.  It is now acknowledged that Greece will never be able to pay its debts and the allegedly socialist party PASOK is locked in a deadly coalition embrace with the New Democracy conservatives, inflicting appalling austerity and poverty on the Greek people.  Greece and Portugal are being forced to implement fire sales of public assets while the anti-socialist conspirators across Europe quietly rub their hands in glee.

Other Eurozone countries are in crisis, with Italy looking to a possible bale out – quite a different order than those for smaller EU members.  Even more significant is France, which is in increasing economic difficulty. France indeed may be the crumbling keystone which could see the whole Eurozone fall apart.

So what should happen?

The establishment of national currencies adjusted to realistic international parities and with member states setting their own economically appropriate interest rates would be an immediate priority.  Greece, for example, with a new drachma would devalue substantially making imports more expensive and channeling demand into its domestic economy.  Greek holidays would become cheaper, boosting the tourist trade and giving a kick-start to recovery.

When the rest of the Eurozone states have their own national currencies they will all be able to reflate their own economies, to begin to grow and create jobs.  As employment returns, governments will have more tax revenues and be able to rebuild their public services and welfare states.

If this is not done, more pain will be inflicted on working people, and, if the left does not fight their corner, the fascist right may step in.

Who would now bet against Marine le Pen being the next President of France?

http://www.leftfutures.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/campaign-briefing-77.pdf