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On Progress newspeak and rebuttals that don’t rebut

We are all familiar with NewLabourspeak — Orwellian but Modern — that language New Labour used so persistently in government to imply that it was doing something it wasn’t actually doing at all. And then lots of New Labour types repeat it again and again, until you lose the will to live. So it is with Progress “rebuttals”. Like the one they issued today in response the the motion passed at the GMB Congress. Five bullet points – three “rebutting” points that hadn’t been made anyway; one deception and one downright lie. And all directed at the relatively anodyne words of a motion rather than the far more important words of General Secretary, Paul Kenny. Followed by supporters tweets and yet more blogging referencing the non-rebuttal. So, tedious though it is, here’s how the rebuttal is pure deception:

  • There is no relationship between the funding we receive from Lord Sainsbury and the funding that he gave to the Labour party“. Nor did the motion claim there was. The point was made not to indicate that there was a causal relationship but to demonstrate that Progress’s sugar daddy was opposed to the Leader’s change agenda.
  • To suggest, as this resolution does, that our only financial relationship is with a pharmaceutical company is, to say the least, misleading.” Well it would have been, except the motion didn’t. It said Progress was funded by said company, but didn’t say it was exclusive. One major complaint is that details of Progress funding were not published – though we welcome that, for the first time, some details on some funders have just been published on their website, though for just one year and without amounts. We await full information.
  • There is no evidence whatsoever for the claim that ‘Prominent Progress members have briefed against Ed Miliband to the press.” Downright lie (unless of course this is merely a corollary of the secrecy concerning their company membership). The “daily barage” of attacks lasted from Boxing Day 2011 for about three weeks until Progress supporters in the Shadow Cabinet met and agreed that they couldn’t back a “Balls” against Ed and they didn’t have a candidate of their own so they couldn’t challenge Ed this side of the election. Since then there’s been peace. On the surface.
  • Progress publicly endorsed the Labour candidate in the London mayoral election“. Sue they did. Eventually. After doing their best to damage him as much as possible, like in this issue of their magazine in November 2011, appearing just after Labour’s Progress-supporting London regional director, Hilary Perrin, was sacked for deliberately undermining his campaign and months of  public and off-the record vilification.

Apart from these points of non-rebuttal, the other key component of their plea of innocence by association with Labour’s collective leadership was reference to Ed’s speech at their recent conference:

You have always been at the heart of challenging old orthodoxies and championing change. You have given the Labour party space to think, you have challenged the party, and you have changed it.”

Do they have no sense of irony? Do they not see see that this was a challenge to their current espousal of old ‘New Labour’ orthodoxies and their resistance to change? A plea (which fell on deaf ears) to join him in his desire to challenge the party they created and change it.


  1. Nils Boray says:

    I’m not going to get into a public argument here. I’m a Labour & Progress member, and know several of the Progress key people. I just don’t recognise in any shape or form what you’re getting at here.

    People who were major activists in Ken Livingstone’s campaign were and are also Progress activists. Personally I feel that his history of briefing against the Labour Party when it suits him is enough to put me right off him. Fortunately as I don’t live in London I had no need to test my party loyalty. But that’s certainly not a Progress line of thought.

    Why the need for in-fighting ?

  2. Syzygy says:

    Good analysis of the Orwellian New-Labour-speak. A welcome antidote to the nasty taste left after reading Dan Hodge’s bile in the New Statesman.

  3. John reid says:

    syzgy, Waht’s Dan hodges in the New statesman got to do with progress though,
    as for Progress eventually accepted Livingstone for labours choice for amyor, Tessa Jowell, Denis mchsane david lammy and Stehpen lound were endorsing him from the start,
    the last paragrph makes no sense, regarding loyalty that article doens’t give any evidence and duncan in the comments proved that question the leader is a duty.

  4. Peter Wicks says:

    The whole of the Blair New Labour regime must be wiped out along with PFI and any other symbol of division that was and is associated with this divisive time in Labours history.The concept that the labour party was for the middle classes was the final straw for many CL P’s up and down Britain and it caused many of them to throw their hands up in disgust and disband hundreds of CLP branches..

  5. David Pavett says:

    All this accusation, rebuttal, counter-rebuttal is really misdirected effort. If you object to Progress, which I do, the only way to deal with them is by producing arguments and policy material which better than their stuff. For example, on educational matters Stephen Twigg (a Progress activists as well as Shadow Education Secretary) is leading Labour into to a complete cave-in to Coalition policies. The problem is that the left is not coming up with detailed analyses and policies to show the direction that Labour should be taking.

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