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Historical allusions: a helpful guide for Blairites and appeal for cooperation

StalinGordon Bennett, those Blairites (a historical term for people roughly corresponding with the 4.5%ers – Ed) can’t half be a bunch of drama queens sometimes. The merest slight to the amour propre of the tattered remnants of New Labourism often meets with hyperbolic allusion to some of the most dramatic events of recent centuries by way of rebuke.

The problem with using history in this fashion is that those doing so run the risk of making themselves look foolish. And we can’t have that, can we?

Maybe the problem is that Oxbridge PPE degrees do not include a history component. So let me extend a comradely hand of friendship to the Labour right, and walk them through some of the stuff they presumably slept through in their A-level classrooms.


Does mean: Stalin’s Great Purge ran between 1936 and 1938, and saw mass expulsions from the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, against a backdrop of widespread police repression. A minimum of 681,692 people – around 1,000 a day – were executed, often without trial.

Does not mean: MPs having to face a vote of confidence from grassroots Labour Party members once every five years, or the exclusion of Westminster hopefuls from safe seat shortlists.

Terror tactics

Does mean: The historical reference is to the Reign of Terror, a period of the French Revolution from September 1793 to July 1794, in which tens of thousands of Robespierre’s opponents were sent to the guillotine.

Does not mean: Encouraging constituents to send polite emails to their MP.


Does mean: In 1921, the Bolsheviks suppressed an anarchist-led insurrection at Kronstadt naval base near St Petersburg, with a death toll in the low thousands. Leading anarchist Alexander Berkmann coined the phrase ‘Kronstadt moment’ to describe his disillusionment with Leninism.

Does not mean: Being cheesed off when John McDonnell makes a half-arsed joke in the House of Commons. Failed witticisms, however cringeworthy, don’t wipe out thousands of innocent lives; bombing Syria will.

Shelling of Fort Sumter

Does mean: The shelling of Fort Sumter in 1861 was the opening act in the American Civil War, a rebellion in defence of slavery, in which 600,000 died.

Does not mean: 4.5%ers winning elections to chair internal Parliamentary Labour Party committees. Even making such a grossly stupid comparison highlights the mindset of a section of the Labour right.

Fascist (here and here)

Does mean: I had to look this one up, and blow me down, but it turns out the word is not a catch-all expression for anything with which anybody disagrees.

Does not mean: Criticism of Israel. Oh, and if you want to attack Corbyn’s choice of comms chief, you’d better make up your mind whether he is a Stalinist or a fascist.

To end on that small span of history that makes up my personal experience, it is quite obvious that the internal tensions within the Labour Party at the moment are far worse even than they were even in 1981.

If we are going to get through this in one piece, it would be helpful if you started debating your differences with the leadership rationally. Thanks.


  1. Bill says:

    Except of course David they do not want to get through this in one piece. They want to remove Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters by whatever means possible, including stopping him getting on the ballot. There is no future for them in a Corbyn lead Labour Party. That is a simple fact they have grasped so they seek to destroy from within.

    Most people on here write long articles which I admire them for. The plain fact is that if I wanted to argue and debate with people of vastly differing opinions then surely it would be more constructive for me to argue with members of the Conservative Party. Why should members time be wasted trying to placate right wing members of their own party .

    The Labour Party is too broad a church ( I repeat my assertion that there is a left wing and a right wing, who I am quite happy to debate with and keep within the party.

    Then there another group who will not accept the Leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, the intake of members, that the party has gone back to being a socialist party. Many people were not prepared to support ‘NEW LABOUR’

    I think I have posted on here before the positive reasons why Labour should split. The chief being from my point of view that we no longer are deferential to M.Ps who know better than us. Mainly due to increased University Education and social media. It would not keep me awake at night if half the MPs left as they are the problem not the solution. Be interested to see what policies they would support in Parliament. More attacks on benefits? Renewal of Trident? More Wars? Tax breaks for the rich? Cosying up to despotic regimes and torturers?

  2. John P Reid says:

    Funny blue labour who were formed as a backlash against Blair, backed Kendall,and they backed Watson for deputy,who ousted Blair

    Can you prove a link that anyone who criticized Israel,has been called a fascist, except when the NF use to get money from Palestinians and Gaddafi in Libya in the 70’s and knocked Israel,they may have been called Fascist,
    Yes deselecting in a large scale is purging too, remember the SDP

    1. Richard Tiffin says:

      Mandatory reselection is what was proposed above, not, as you suggest, deselection, and reselection is not a purge, it’s an internal election to select or reselect a candidate who will represent the party.
      If you insist on taking the position you do then the logic follows that every election is a purge, which stretches the concept for me.
      You might not like the idea, and you have every right to dislike it, and you can argue that it binds the MP to the selectorate rather than the electorate when they speak in the house as they look over their shoulders at the PLP. There are those who would argue that an MP should represent constituents rather than the party or a class, doesn’t bother the Tories though so I don’t see why it should bother us.
      I am guessing that your wishing to call it a purge is as much a reflection of your politics as my post is of mine.

  3. stewart says:

    you seem to be missing the point here,forget about blair,he is dust,look,you lot have been fooled by corbyn and co and you don’t even relise it,i am working class labour to the bone,but here is the problem,like blair,corbyn is a nice man and all that but he and his ilk all come from a middle class privileged stock and cant really understand the problems of the working classes because they have never experienced the problems we have,all I ask is this,corbyn step aside and lets elect a true working class leader of the labour party to represent the suffering majority under tory rule,who,i don’t know,but I would give dan Jarvis a chance and then in 5 years time we can beat the butts of the torys who are hoping corbyn is still around to lead the labour party to a certain defeat in 2020,it time to unite and stop this in fighting and make the uk great again.corbyn must go.

  4. roland says:

    I think stewart,after Hilary benns mindblowing speech tonight,we have just found the new leader of the labour party,thank god for that.

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