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The gnashing of Blairite teeth

kim blair ilIf since midday you’ve been plagued by that irritating background noise is, here’s what it is: the gnashing of Blairist teeth to the news that Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign saw him lifted onto the Labour leadership shortlist. Those MPs who nominated him but are quite clear they do not support his pitch deserve a congratulatory pint. They understand much better than our “friendly” media commentators the nature of the party. Allow me to take this moment to explain why.

As you might expect, our chum Dan Hodges forecasts woe and plagues of crickets. Apparently Jeremy is “to the left of Karl Marx“, because opposing the bedroom tax and rallying against cuts is obviously more radical than smashing the capitalist state machinery and expropriating the expropriators. The left “don’t get it” – the general election result proves that the British electorate are not in the mood for their policy provision. They are a spent force the parliamentary party has to indulge, and only a thorough drubbing on a policy platform they like will ram the message though their dogmatic skulls.

Dan’s starting position, as it has always been, is that Tony Blair found the shiny baton of electoral success. Gordon Brown fumbled the hand over in the relay, and when it came to Ed Miliband’s lap he didn’t think to pick it up. For Dan, Labour’s route back to power is dull, grey, technocratic politics because what the electorate expects are boring, risk-averse, but basically competent managers. Any whiff of left-wingery frightens the horses. In my view the self-evident truths Dan and his co-thinkers subscribe to are simulated nostrums specific to the Westminster matrix, repeated and transmitted ad nauseum by sympathetic media figures to the point where it’s the received political commonsense. The problem is, it’s wrong.

Let’s be sure about this. Labour didn’t lose the election because it was “too left“. No one gave Labour the body swerve because of the mansion tax, the energy price cap, an increased minimum wage, the pledge to build more houses, and the abolition of the bedroom tax – not least when these policies were popular with the voting public.

Labour lost for two main reasons. First, on economic competence. The Tory argument that you can’t secure the NHS without securing the economy absolutely cut through. And the second was insecurity – how Labour will cave to a SNP set on milking the (English) taxpayer, rendering these islands defenceless, and imperil the union. It’s a political vein you can expect the Tories to tap again and again. Therefore the situation Labour finds itself in is a very difficult one. How can it simultaneously appeal to enough Scottish voters, enough English swing voters, and enough “traditional” voters flirting with UKIP. That difficult discussion demands all minds and all wings of the movement to be involved. This is why I’m glad Jeremy is on board, it means the left will have its say throughout the summer of leadership debates.

I’m sure Dan and his co-thinkers think the left have nothing to contribute and should have had their entry barred to the contest. Allow me then to talk the language they understand. At the general election, the Green Party won 1.1m votes. As James O’Malley points out, if just 2,984 of them had voted Labour instead in the relevant key marginals, there would be no Conservative majority government now. Let us suppose that the narrow contest they coveted had taken place. Thousands of left recruits, many of them recent, would have departed from the party. A larger cohort of some left-leaning voters hoping to see their values and hopes reflected in the leaders’ debates would also have been put off. Where would they have gone? Perhaps to the Greens, perhaps to a lefter-looking Liberal Democrats. The Blairites may be happy to see the back of these “wrong sort” of members and voters, but in so doing they would also say goodbye to a clutch of seats. It’s not 1997. Left Labour-leaning people do have somewhere else to go which, incidentally, is why Labour under their favoured Miliband was unlikely to have fared any better.

Another point that Dan and friends might also wish to mull over. While beginning under Kinnock, since Blair took over the party there has been a centralisation of organisation and a diminution of policy input from constituency parties. Gone are the days where policy was determined by the floor of conference, and now it’s mostly a managed affair for keynote speeches and the like. If there was more in the way of member-led democracy, then perhaps – just perhaps – the left would have found an outlet in policy debates. Instead they created a logjam which meant the only way the left could get its voice heard is by running a leadership candidate. If the Blairists don’t like it, tough. This is a situation two decades in the making, and their finger smudges are all over its blueprints.

So the debate we’re going to have, the proper soul-searching debate so many from across the party paid lip service to in the days following the general election is happening. Good. Let’s get on with it.

39 Comments

  1. Dave Walsh says:

    Yep, excellent, result, Jezzer is on the slate, I can hardly wait, bring it on. And the winner is – Andy Burnham !!! (or Yvette…)

    Then what? What, genuinely, is the fuck next? You know, post Corbyn defeat? As in – let’s just fudge for the next four months and pretend that having a 66 year old leftie (of impeccable credentials) on the slate is somehow, somehow going to save the Labour Party from itself …..

    Corbyn on the slate kicks the can down the road until September. After that, what is the plan?

    1. Sue says:

      Dave I am hoping that Corbyn will do better than expected. I’m hoping that the Burnhams etc will see the sense of a strong anti austerity message and (to be honest) a bit of honesty in the debates. I’ve listened carefully to all the candidates when interviewed so far and I’ve struggled a lot of the time to know exactly what they are saying? Especially where it relates to policy. With Corbyn it is always clear. So my fingers are crossed for a ground swell of support for Corbyns ideas and policies which will force a shift in the general debate.

  2. Chris says:

    The nasty little secret the Blairites will never admit is that their while pitch is based on a lie: that it was their rebranding and repositioning that won us power in 1997.

    In reality, Labour was on course to win under an old fashioned right-winger and with Clause 4 in place.

    No, John Smith’s Labour Party was not terribly left wing, but Smith’s death allowed the “modernisers” to convince too many people that we can’t win without their “project”.

    1. Sue says:

      Yes all backed by Sainsbury’s! And we know how they love working people!

      1. John P Reid says:

        Surely when unions who fund us ,go on strike, those people on strike ,aren’t working people either

  3. The Labour candidate whom George Galloway defeated at Bradford West in 2012, Imran Hussain, is now the Labour MP for Bradford East, and has nominated Jeremy Corbyn for Labour Leader.

    I am a Burnham supporter, but Corbyn is the first person ever to contest the Leadership of either party with a record of having voted against both the Single European Act and the Maastricht Treaty. First elected on the same day as Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, he is still younger than his detractors’ heroine, Hillary Clinton.

    Did he invite “terrorists and war criminals” to Parliament? They were already there. Members of the IRA’s Provisional Army Council do not take their seats, but they use the facilities, and they have staff of their own choosing in the place. People who participated in planning and directing the invasion of Iraq are still all over the Palace of Westminster.

    Far from being a Hezbollah stooge, Corbyn was a teller for the Noes in last year’s division on going to war alongside Hezbollah, as this country now is, even while we pretend that we are not.

    We never pretended that we were not at war alongside Stalin. To this day in the South, there are Tory councils that maintain streets named after him. Is Hezbollah, or its Lebanese Christian allies, or Iran, or Assad, worse than Stalin was? Or they worse than Saudi Arabia is? We are openly at war for and on behalf of Saudi Arabia. Opposed by Jeremy Corbyn.

    Why does no one ever question the company kept, whether in the past or very much in the present, by Conservative or UKIP politicians, or even by sufficiently Murdoch-friendly Labour ones?

    As for having Corbyn in the race, it is not as if he is going to win, although it would be good to see him last one round longer than Liz Kendall in the voting process, and that cannot be ruled out as a realistic possibility.

    Has she anything to say that is of comparable interest to his view on austerity (which are shared by every noted economist who has expressed a view on it, and a lot of them have), on wars, on Trident, on civil liberties, on TTIP, on the EU’s neoliberalism and militarism, on Chagos, or on the caste-based discrimination that the Government wishes to re-legalise in this country, the scandalous basis on which the Conservative Party retained at least one seat?

    Was Tony Blair wrong to have John Prescott, Robin Cook, Frank Dobson, Margaret Beckett, Clare Short and Gavin Strang in his 1997 Cabinet? Why, then, is it outrageous to have Corbyn in the 2015 Leadership Election? And from Blairites’ own point of view, how good would any other Leader be, who could not out-argue Jeremy Corbyn?

    1. Billericaydickie says:

      Eer Yeah, Ok. Just didn’t really get the bit about Tory councils, streets named after Stalin and Hezbollah, Lebanese Christians, Iran and Assad. This isn’t the stuff that gets talked about much where I live. It’s usually the cost of living, immigration, housing and things like that but those potential Labour voters can never see the bigger picture can they?

      1. Gary Elsby says:

        You can’t get a word in edgeways in our corner shop when groups of little old ladies huddle together pondering the outcome of the Labour leadership elections. All talk is of Hezbollah, re-naming streets after Stalin and ‘worries’ over Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP (how dare they?)

        The wider view on this important election is that Burnham is a shoo-in, depending on which Tory Murdoch media outlet not in jail you particularly trust.
        My view is that rather than trying to win the contest, Labour members should explain to Yvette Cooper why she shouldn’t win it.
        As for Jeremy Corbyn, the reality is that he will get the most votes because 50% of the Labour membership are not wrong and have never been wrong.
        It would be an act of pure double standards for 50% of anti Blair, Iraq, US,Libya…etc to vote any other way than Jeremy Corbyn.
        No swinging from left to right and back to right or left for this candidate.
        That’s for those who wish to be all things to all people for their own ends.

  4. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

    Much cheap and facile sophistry in the piece above, particularly the wild and wholly mistaken assertion that Labor only lost the election as it were on a technicality and then only by the narrowest of margins.

    It’s complete and utter bunk of course.

    In fact Miliband and co so miraculously so turned an almost certain victory into a resounding defeat because there was no, “clear water,” between your lot and the other equally contemptible rabble also and because during the election we had the deeply offensive and frankly repellent spectacle of a spoiled and cosseted clueless multi millionaire property speculator and of his equally odious personal and political entourage, low life typically people like Balls, (“people who expect something for nothing,”) and Reeves, (“harder on benefit claimants than the Tories,”) haranguing, “the poor,” about the need to work hard and about how, “wrong,” it was of us all to expect the state to support us when that work wasn’t there or no matter how insecure, exploitive or abusive it was.

    A sentiment reiterated recently by yet another well heeled Labor spiv, the despicable Andy Burnham who refused to criticize the Tories or their arbitrary benefit cap, (or the tactic of gradually ratcheting down the entitlement,) inflicted by the Tories, no matter how great or how desperate the needs of the claimant actually are.

    But “one Swallow does not a sumer make,” and this is far from being the resounding victory for the left that people pretending. Nonetheless I still think this, (the nomination of JC,) is an important and even reassuring event; that they’ve managed to muster even the required number of votes to get JC nominated and that now now we can expect him to lied about, ridiculed and caricatured by media even before he’ started and as you rightly say he represents everything the post Blair infestation believed they’d eradicated and would still like to.

    The problem for these unpleasant people like Burnham, Liz Kendell and their equally unattractive, (certainly to most voters that I know,) hangers on is that they no longer command the respect, confidence or support of much of Labors traditional constituency, (those less well off for what ever reason,) too many of whom they have deliberately offended and alienated in the arrogant belief that we’d support them no matter what they did, A belief that has proven that once again they are now so completely divorced from reality as to be unelectable.

    I really think that it’s well past time that the Blair and post Blair babes finally got up and did the honest thing and crossed the floor of the house and joined their real friends where they all properly belong (other than in jail for theft.) on the conservative benches,

    Few people would really miss them any more than we now miss Balls or Laws for example.

    Economic and other arguments aside; one major and important reason that many, “ordinary,” if you will, people refused to vote for Miliband is that we thought he was just a complete Tosser and that same goes for all his mates.

    Not at all sophisticated, not politically correct or even entirely rational; but no less true for all that.

    1. Matty says:

      Troll alert! JP is a right-wing troll who hadn’t even heard of Jerem Corbyn a week ago (perhaps because JP lives in the USA). Meanwhile, his seconder is Terry Fitzpatrick (whose online moniker is Billericaydickie) who is a convicted racist http://www.obv.org.uk/news-blogs/terry-fitzpatrick-i-knew

      1. gerry says:

        Matty – can we all please stop attacking each others’ characters and instead deal with/argue/rebut on the basis of what we write!

        I am happy to read what BillericayDickie, Jeremy Paul Craig Weston, David Ellis, you and everyone else has to say…and then agree, disagree or challenge based on that and that alone – I really don’t care if BillericayDickie is who you say he is, as long as broadly they are Labour or of the Left or “progressive” then I want to hear their views on this site: Left Futures must not become an echo chamber for the converted, like so many other sites…

        I have been a Labour voter all my life, and have been a member on and off for 30 years, currently on….the key point about the leadership election is this, from my perspective: who is best placed to lead my party to where it can win the votes of 13-14 million people especially in parts of the UK like where I live now (just moved from London to what was a Tory/Labour marginal in Sussex but is now , like Harlow, one with a 5,000 Tory majority).

        And where I live now the people who voted Tory or UKIP or Lib Dem voted for those right wing parties in droves because of issues like the economy, Europe, immigration and welfare cuts…and that is the truth: like in 1983 1987 1992 and 2010, many working class C1 C2 voters rejected Labour in their millions, and anyone who says there is an easy answer to winning these and other voters back is delusional.

        So first of all I want a leader who knows who they are, has a programme and vision, communicates it brilliantly, and can help us reconnect with as many of those who have deserted us as we can.

        And though I am of the Labour left myself, I am pragmatic and realistic about where the centre ground of UK politics is ( and it is and probably always has been small c conservative) so genuinely have an open mind in this contest….

        1. James Martin says:

          Gerry, I agree in principle with playing the ball not the person, but Weston is fair game as he is a right-wing anti-union/anti-socialist troll who gets all his information on politics in the UK from wikipedia.

        2. Andy Newman says:

          Sorry, do you really not care that Terry Fitz has been convicted of racially aggravated harrassment?

          How is that consistent with being “progressive”

          1. gerry says:

            James – you summed it up better than I in my long winded way did: play the ball not the person. I don’t know who J P Craig Weston is, and yes the way he keeps writing “Labor” is irritating but to me his views seem more nihilistic and ex-idealistic rather than anti- worker or union. But he says he is left…so although there are many people who say they are left that I find horrific ( Galloway, Rahman, Hatton etc) I still read what they say then vehemently challenge them!

            Andy – I am black British myself but now really loathe how identity politics has replaced class based politics everywhere, so if that article is true yes what he said to those journalists and Lee Jasper is extreme, and should be condemned. But that in itself does not sum up any individual, and so as long as he is broadly “progressive” or Labour or Left or open minded then I am happy to read what he says…and if he is so beyond the pale, why hasn’t Left Futures blocked him from the site? Lets hear all points of view on the site – in 2013 I myself was accused by another commenter of “islamophobia” and “racism” simply because I challenged Lutfur Rahman and his dreadful political allies in Tower Hamlets on an article here about that Len McCluskey funded local union centre! And look what happened to Rahman…..

        3. John P Reid says:

          Well put Gerry

          1. gerry says:

            John – thank you. We can all agree or disagree – sometimes vehemently – but we should always be civil and not forever impugning the characters of other commenters. Your posts are usually good to read – even if I disagree with some of them!

        4. J.P. Craig-Weston says:

          Just a brief note to thank you for you courtesy and for you open mind; particularly as I have no intention of getting involved in a, “Trolling,” contest, (too often accusing someone of being a Troll or a racist or a Nazi, etc is simply another convenient form of denial and an excuse not to listen to what someone has to say.)

          My own view of the current state of the British Labor party, post Blair, is that it has fundamentally betrayed the trust of millions of people who would otherwise have voted for it almost without thought and particularly so give how vile this generation of conservatives are, but we didn’t.

          The reason being that it isn’t us who have, “deserted the Labor party,” (post Blair and sans Socialism,) it’s the Labor party that has deserted us.

          Take care.

          1. gerry says:

            J P Craig Weston – thanks for clarifying your perspective! I disagree with it, and don’t buy arguments about “betrayal” and Labour “treachery” which I have heard many times before….but always want/need to hear views like yours which are so different to mine: keep on posting though – as I intend to do too!

      2. Billericaydickie says:

        I keep telling you Matty I am me and I don’t know Terry Fitzpatrick. I did however see him on the last of the Secret History of Our Streets series about the first council estate in the Uk at Arnold Circus in the East End of London. Did you? He seems to be highly regarded by the Bangladeshi community.

        You also quote Operation Black Vote who are well known for disappearing cash fro Londoners through Lee Jasper, yes, the man who brought down Ken Livingstone, who still writes for them.

        I’ll give you a few links later but you really should get some kind of a life!

      3. Billericaydickie says:

        Matty. http://www.swadhinatatrust.org.uk and then put terry fitzpatrick into search. There is a lot of interesting reading there about how community activism is really done.

        1. gerry says:

          BillericayDickie – good stuff. You and everyone else please keep commenting – I look forward to your perspectives even though I disagree with some of them!

          1. Billericaydickie says:

            Thanks Gerry.

  5. Leon Spence says:

    The obvious weakness in the article is that in arguing that a move left may pick up Greens etc. it presupposes that everyone who voted Labour this time stays around.

    There is a grave risk that in such an event many, many more centrist activists would move elsewhere. Isn’t that broadly what happened with the creation of the SDP in the early ’80’s?

    There has been much said in the media that May 7th was our worst result since 1983. There is an argument that in the precedent we are looking at is 1979.

  6. Billericaydickie says:

    You have pretty much summed it all up JP.

  7. Matty says:

    On Channel 4 News yesterday they did some vox pops in Harlow of ex-Labour voters. None of them stated that Labour was too left-wing, one said that Labour was no longer the party of the working man and the other that she didn’t really understand what Labour stood for. I don’t see any evidence that Labour lost in seats like Harlow because of a shift to the left.

    1. Billericaydickie says:

      Matty. Are you the former Greenwich councillor?

      1. Matty says:

        Terry, did you ever apologise to the people you racially harassed? How do you feel now about what you did?

        1. Matty says:

          From http://www.obv.org.uk/news-blogs/terry-fitzpatrick-i-knew
          “Terry Fitzpatrick was convicted of racially-aggravated harassment against Lee Jasper”
          “The court result came as no surprise to me; I had seen the ugly side of Fitzpatrick – and his troll-like internet alter-egos billericaydicky and terryfitz – over many years.”

        2. john P Reid says:

          slightly on topic,while Laobur should have all Women or black shortlists, still annoyed that Jack Dromey got in on one,I know that its’the publics right to vote for who thewy like as in Wales,where a AWS,saw the ex male laobur candiate stand as an independent an win a few years ago, and I know in backing A white male (livingstone)over a black woman(oona King) in the mayoralty 5 years ago, was a choice, but when we have Rachael In america pertending to be black, pre op transgenders on AWS,it questiosn the whole process, look at the Leadership/deputy leadership, where Chuka,and Rushanara Ali dropped out,for different reasons, Personally i feel they’ll make future protential leaders and were ahead of their time, but, the image it gave was all wrong.

  8. John P Reid says:

    One thing would say about centralization, Is that it wasn’t stopped under and, or Tom Watson seems to have no plans to stop it now, I know some of it came about to stop Trotskyite deflections by local organisatoin infiltrating branches and ousting people in coups, like the GLC or militant,
    But the fact Angela eagle doesn’t look like making the shortlist,even though Watson will rightly walk it any way, is getting really annoying,

  9. skarp says:

    Does it occur to anyone in these discussions that Labour lost 3 million votes from 97 – 2001 and another million afterwards. Perhaps Blair was just the lucky beneficiary of a country tired of the Tories and a Tory party tearing itself apart. In 2005 Blair got an even smaller percentage of the vote than Cameron in 2010 or 2015 and is it not quite possible that without our electoral system would have best headed minority governments or even (if a few voters had voted the other way) lost outright? We’d be having very different conversations wouldn’t we?

    Moreover. lets have a discussion if such is possible that includes the 45% of the possible electorate who took one look at the election said “meh” and walked away. If there was a “meh” party it would have won a landslide at every one of the last few elections.

    Now Corbyn is on the ticket and we’ve one, member one vote we’ve a chance of seeing where Labour’s rank and file want to go, not what a bunch of careerist MPs want.

  10. peter willsman says:

    No wonder the Blairites are beside themselves!!
    The most left wing MP in Parliament is about to wipe the floor with their champion!!!!
    We need to get every disaffected Leftie signed up to vote for £3.Collins had a good side after all,he clearly didn’t know about dialectics!!!!

    1. John P Reid says:

      So let’s get people who aren’t Labour Party supporters voters to pay £3 , for just getting a third place at the count, I’m sure you could make up some supporters in tower hamlets,27 in one home or something if,you’re that desperate to see, it paper, that The hard left are more popular with members than a modernist
      How about when Michael foot told his advisors he got a standing ovation from members at a meeting in 1983 so it proved he was going to win the election,

      1. skarp says:

        have you got a source for that quote?

      2. skarp says:

        have you got a source for that quote? It seems very unlikely to me that Foot thought any such thing when Labour trailed by double figures in the opinion polls before the election.

        Rather than focusing on Kaufman’s memorable quote shall we focus instead on the betrayal of the Labour party by the gang of four and the consequent split of the anti-Thatcher vote?

        1. Matty says:

          Of course, he hasn’t got a source. He does this all the time. Reidy tends to take a right-wing myth (the kind invented by The Sun or The Mail or maybe he just makes them up himself) and then uses it to attack the left.

        2. John P Reid says:

          Foot told his advisors he’d been in politics for 50 years and it was far too late now for him to start taking opinion polls serious,and he knew in his gut instinct, that the fact he wasn’t popular with the media of television was irrelevant,

          http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/michael-foot-leftwing-fighter-who-led-labour-to-poll-collapse-1915290.html

          https://oliverobservations.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/just-how-bad-was-the-1983-election-for-labour/

          Keep kidding yourself Matty that the sun and the mail were the reasons labour lost in 1983 and 2010′ and unless you can prove I’ve made stuff up, you’ll be telling me next,that labour actually own the recent election.

  11. peter willsman says:

    John,I opposed Collins for lots of reasons,but is now part of our rules!!!

    1. Sue says:

      Hear hear Peter!

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