Who Are the Labour Ideologues Now?

Quote

Whatever the outcome of the Labour Party leadership contest, it is clear that there is a huge gulf between the grassroots and a majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party.  Many MPs are left looking shaken and bewildered by the groundswell of support for Jeremy Corbyn.  However, they shouldn’t be so shocked.  As far back as 2007, Jon Cruddas topped the first round of voting for the deputy leader.

‘There’s much more life in the party than I thought,’ says Cruddas. ‘When I started I thought the party had been hollowed out. But the result shows that the ‘virtual’ politics practised at the centre, the politics of positioning and messaging, was out of touch with the party.’

 

The history of the Labour Party and of the UK would have been very different if Bryan Gould had been elected leader instead of John Smith and the transatlanticists like Blair and Brown.  In the re-posted piece that follows, Bryan Gould sums up the consequences of the Labour Party capitulating to the economics of Margaret Thatcher. 

Who Are the Ideologues Now? (UK)

By Bryan Gould – 3 August 2015

It is a truism of today’s political analysis that, over the three or four decades since the so-called “free-market” revolution swept across the western world, the centre of political gravity has moved substantially rightwards.  Most of those of middle age or younger will have grown up, after all, in a world where it has been widely accepted that markets are infallible, that government spending is wasteful and a drag on economic development, that running a country is just like running a business, that we all benefit if the rich get richer, and that private profit justifiably overrides all other considerations.

So insidious and comprehensive has been the advance of this orthodoxy that even those who choose to question or oppose it are hard put to understand how complete has been its victory.  As we see from the current plight of the Labour Party, political leaders who seek to offer alternatives are disarmed and enfeebled, without realising it, by their experience of growing up within its confines.  They are, in any case, urged – on electoral grounds and even by their friends – to accept the new reality; and that reality, of course, keeps on moving inexorably rightwards.

This re-definition of the political landscape has meant that what would once have been regarded as the extreme outer edge of what is politically possible is now the new centre ground.  Any divergence from this central position is, by definition therefore, literally eccentric; and any move away from “free-market” orthodoxy is condemned as either a return to the past or an irrational lurch leftwards.

These definitions of centrality and divergence have the further advantage, for their proponents, of confirming a long-held public perception.  In the days when the political left was prepared to challenge existing power structures, they were undoubtedly helped by their development of an ideology of sorts that allowed them to ground their objections to orthodox policies in some loosely defined analytical framework.  The consequent identification of the left as the doctrinaire element in the political spectrum seems, however, to have inhibited today’s leaders of the left, if the current contest for the Labour Party leadership is any guide, from straying too far from orthodoxy for fear of appearing too ideologically driven.

The right, by contrast, was usually seen as pragmatic and concerned solely with what would work.  Politicians of the right still seek to prolong that advantage by clothing their steady move rightwards in the language of experiment and exploration of what is possible, rather than of ideology.  They have also learned to proceed stealthily, one small step at a time, with the intention of concealing from the public that each new step is in reality a further development of a highly ideological agenda.

That may, however, be about to change.  As the tide of ‘free-market” orthodoxy has reached its high-water mark and appears to be receding (at least in most parts of the western world other than the euro zone), it is more and more likely to leave exposed to public view those new policy initiatives that seem to have little to do with common sense and practicality and to reflect much more clearly what are doctrinaire preoccupations.

Those preoccupations are becoming increasingly apparent.  The priority accorded to the drive for private profit, for example, has led to well-publicised failings in delivering what were once public services, epitomised by the misfortunes of Serco – an international firm operating, among other things, as a private manager of prisons and under pressure for its failures in a range of countries.

Privately owned academy schools, an idea that has now been shown even in Sweden, its country of origin, to produce disastrous results in terms of educational standards, will nevertheless no doubt continue to be supported by enthusiasts on the ground that business people are best placed to decide educational priorities for our children.

And what about the wacky idea, now being contemplated by New Zealand’s right-wing government, of financing the delivery of social services to some of the most vulnerable, including the mentally ill, by selling bonds to private investors who will then look to make a profit from their “investment”?

What links all of these and many other similar ideas is that they have little to do with what will work and best serve the interests of society and its citizens.  They are instead all statements of ideologically driven preference – in each case, a preference for private provision, not because it works better, but because it is a faithful rendition of “free-market” theory.

It seems, in other words, that the usual view of the left as doctrinaire and the right as pragmatic is in course of changing.  It is now the right that espouses the ideological approach and that will go on doing so for as long as it is not held to account and its bluff is not called.  It is the left (when it can make up its mind and, like the lion in the Wizard of Oz, reclaim its courage) that has the opportunity to offer new alternatives to free-market orthodoxy – alternatives that are not the product of doctrine, but that are simply sensible and practical and likely to produce better outcomes.  Isn’t it time that Labour’s leaders caught up with this new reality?

 

What the Labour establishment didn’t really want us to know

Quote

First and foremost… what an unmitigated mess they’re making of the leadership contest… the LP elite have certainly shown us their ‘petticoats’.

Significantly, the proverbial tide has gone out, revealing their implicit attitudes and assumptions … and amazingly, we’ve seen New Labour hoist by its own petard.

How has New Labour been hoisted?

Through their machinations, they’ve achieved their own worst outcome. So, if Jeremy Corbyn wins in spite of the ‘purge’, his victory will be legitimated. But the reverse is true, if Andy Burnham or Yvette Cooper win.

Furthermore, it’s now obvious to party members, affiliated members and supporters, that none of the leadership support Corbyn, and that there has been a co-ordinated Progress/Blairite attempt to undermine what is a normal open democratic primary election. ( Mandelson’s latest hysterics insist that Labour is in ‘Mortal Danger’ from a manifesto which is slightly to the right of the 1983 SDP manifesto.)

So if Jeremy fails to get a majority and loses, there will be an exodus of voters, members and trades unionists disgusted at the behaviour of the Right (as well as the snooping on social media, asking local branch secretaries to use canvas returns to vet local supporters etc.). Why is it that a Tory MP can cross the floor of the House of Commons and be welcomed with open arms but an ex-Labour Party member is suspect for wanting to return to Labour?

The crux question is whose ‘Aims and Values’ are being judged as Labour’s … or is the whole thing a charade – just a proxy for shoring up the current LP hierarchy?

Given the hysterical reaction of the New Labour Right to the voting system, was it ‘all Ed’s fault’?

In order to counter accusations from the press (fuelled by both the Tories and the Blairites) that he was under the spell of the trade unions (and Unite in particular), Ed Miliband called a special conference to agree changes to the rules.  Under pressure from Progress, Miliband also opened up the vote for the party leadership to non-members (an open primary) and required union members to sign up to pledge their allegiance to the party before being given the right to vote.

So was it really just Ed’s decision?  At the time, Tony Blair congratulated him and even said that he wished that he’d introduced the changes himself.  However, it does indicate some of the level of internal opposition that Ed Miliband has faced throughout his time as LP leader

Professor Eunice Goes explains:

Lessons from the Miliband era

Ed Miliband’s decision to turn the page on New Labour was seen by many party figures and media pundits as a heresy that had to be fought. That fight started on Miliband’s first day on the job and only ended when he resigned. In the early days of his leadership, many angry Labour voices claimed that Miliband’s victory was not legitimate because he did not win the vote of the majority of the parliamentary party…. other criticisms started to be heard. Miliband was too left-wing, too wonky, too weird and his policies lacked credibility.

The Blairite wing – inside but also outside the House of Commons – was particularly disruptive and did everything to undermine his authority. Lord Mandelson was a case in point. He never wasted an opportunity to say that Miliband was wrong to deviate an inch from the New Labour rulebook. And when Lord Mandelson or the former Prime Minister Tony Blair were too busy with their daytime jobs to attack the Labour leader there were plenty of backbenchers and, occasionally, frontbenchers who fed stories to the media about how Miliband’s leadership was hanging by a thread… the aim of these attacks was to destabilise Miliband.

…Miliband also faced a hostile media.…Party divisions, plots, constant media attacks paralysed the party, in particular its policy development process. When the electoral manifesto was finally approved last spring the proposals that came out were confusing, unconvincing and uninspiring as Miliband tried to cater to all factions and ended up pleasing none.

 

So what does this tell us?

New Labour has never really ‘done’ democracy. The decision of the membership to elect Ed Miliband and not the Blairite choice of David Miliband was never respected. The Blairites were prepared to act against the interests of the LP and many, such as John Rentoul, said openly that they would rather have a Tory government than a left wing one. More said it, in private. Tony Blair actually said it again recently, when urging Jeremy Corbyn supporters to get a heart transplant:

 Tony Blair has said he would not want a left-wing Labour party to win a general election.

Bart Cammaerts writes: 

What we have seen in recent decades is the deliberate de-ideologisation and normalisation – some would say naturalisation – of rightwing and neoliberal solutions to solve the many problems of our society. Rightwing solutions are, in other words, common sense, full stop. Alternative solutions, on the contrary, are denoted as ideological, as biased, as dangerous and loony. It is high time that the (centre-) left learns this lesson and starts to propose leftwing solutions again as sensible solutions, as the real common sense and as fair and morally just. That is exactly what Corbyn is trying to do, with success and this ‘unstrategic’ strategy might even make him ‘electable’ in the long run.

 

He also suggests that There are much deeper political and social reasons explaining why Corbyn and his outspoken leftist ideas have become so popular in such a short time.’

 

After the elections last spring, which Labour convincingly lost, the right of the party, referring to the past successes of New Labour, saw its chance to attack the somewhat more leftwing course of Miliband and to argue for a ‘Tory light’ agenda. What they forgot, however, was that the grassroots of the party and the progressive segment of the British population had turned their backs on the so-called third way and on New Labour. Put differently, many people are more than fed-up with the left blatantly accepting the basic logics, values and arrogance of neoliberalism. Instead, many want a serious, forceful and ideologically robust opposition to the current Tory government, their righteous rightwing discourse and their supposedly ‘unavoidable’ cuts.

 

I agree with him.  Harriet Harman’s decision to abstain on Osborne’s Welfare Bill was the final straw but it was the prospect of a Labour leader who was even further to the right than Ed Miliband that was totally unacceptable to many in the grassroots of the LP.

Ed Miliband may have been the loser in the 2015 General Election but instead been the midwife to the re-birth of ‘real’ Labour.

Furthermore, the ways in which Ed Miliband was constantly undermined by the Right, throughout his leadership, should forewarn those of us who support Jeremy Corbyn for the leadership.  Should he be elected, we must act to prevent similar abuse of the membership’s democratic decision.  The fight to reclaim the Labour Party will not end on the 12th of September whatever the result.

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn – the Cat Among the Pigeons!

Jeremy Corbyn – The Socialist King of Labour and England

Here’s something to make you smile. The artist taxi driver’s brilliant rant about the Telegraph’s claim that Jeremy Corbyn’s election would be good for Tories. The double bluff. The Tories are petrified at a politician speaking the truth about injustice.

There is massive support for Jeremy Corbyn within the Labour Party and for non-activists in general public. They all want to see someone who will oppose the Tories, and actually challenge the status quo.

Jeremy Corbyn has reignited socialists’ hope where they had lost belief. Just imagine – Jeremy Corbyn, a cat among the neoliberal pigeons – Socialist King of Labour.
Enjoy this clip. You can’t help smile. Such enthusiasm.

Jeremy Corbyn speaks against TTIP at Durham Miners Gala

Quote

In an inspiring and comprehensive speech, Jeremy Corbyn spelt out the aspirations [sic] that the left should have for any future Labour government.. a race to the top, not Osborne’s welfare for the rich and cuts for the poorest and the young.  An end to homelessness, hunger, the selling-off of publicly owned assets, zero hours contracts, food banks – that every child matters (not just the first two), solidarity with the trade unions and above all else, an end to the callous and unnecessary ‘Austerity’.

Jeremy specifically emphasised the threat of the US-EU trade deal TTIP… NAFTA on Steroids. He called for TTIP’s rejection not only in terms of its well publicised threat to the NHS and public services but also because of the international threat that it poses to worker and environmental protection legislation across Europe, the UK and the US.

In this speech, Jeremy Corbyn demonstrates by example, just how far the current Labour Party has lost its way.  In a recent hustings speech, he was more overt:

“We’ve become cowed by powerful commercial interests, frightened of the press, frightened to stand up for what we absolutely believe in.  I want a more equal society, a fairer society, a world at peace not at war.  I want a LP at the heart of the community that is demanding those jobs, homes and hope for everyone, so that they can live in a society that is more equal.  We are moving in the wrong direction at the present time – let’s turn it around and move the other way.”

The answer is obvious – vote for Jeremy Corbyn because he is the real candidate for aspiration and change!

 

 

Jeremy Corbyn speaking at the Durham Miners Gala yesterday, 11th July 2015.

 

 

Recipe for Ruin: TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership