Latest post on Left Futures

A reply to Paul Mason’s “The Sound of Blairite Silence”

PaulMasonQuote

Paul Mason on Owen Smith

Paul Mason has once again offered a solution to the conflict within the Labour Party which is worthy of serious consideration by anybody who wants  to see the party successfully develop in a left wing direction, although some will baulk at its conclusions.

Essentially Mason believes that on the assumption of a Corbyn win a further coup will be instituted from September 5th onwards, when Parliament reassembles, and that its success will be dependent on the ‘soft left’ led by Owen Smith continuing in their role as dupes of the Labour right, although the latter are determined to split anyway, preferably as the Labour Party, but if not as a centre party, with or without Labour’s ‘soft left’.

He says that the ‘soft left’ can save Labour as a viable left led party, but that will involve two things: one, suggested previously, to reserve shadow cabinet places for ‘Smithites’ on the basis of the votes he gets, and for the ‘soft left’ to declare that they will not split from the party. He says this must happen now if the coup is to be prevented.

As in previous articles Mason is rightly taking a strategic approach, based on the view that it will be difficult for a Corbyn-led party to survive if opposed by both the soft/centre-left and the Blairite-right in parliament, but that if a deal could be struck between the Corbyn and the soft/centre left this would weaken the anti-Corbyn forces, lead to the welcome departure of the Blairite right from the party and institute a new era of co-operation at parliamentary level.

He paints a telling picture of Smith, driven by ambition but light on conviction, and with too much dodgy baggage, and it is not surprising that the ‘Smithites’ are all similarly characterised, although there are many with sounder convictions and background.

There are a number of problems with Mason’s predictions and conclusions, and one glaring omission, namely the views of the membership on what he proposes.

My assessment is that a majority of Corbyn supporters would strongly oppose the sort of compromise Mason is proposing. This is so not only for the minority of ultra-lefts who always opposed any compromise and who see the no confidence vote as confirming their views, but for the greater numbers, mainly newer members, who cannot forgive the majority of MPs for what they did. Many of these, in my observation, are driven by a deeply moral outrage at the nature of our society, rather than by any particular practical goals, and see in Corbyn the personification of the forces that will change society for the better. They are therefore likely to be opposed to any compromise with those they see as having tried to destroy their hero, but if such a compromise were initiated or endorsed by Corbyn he would immediately lose his saintly veneer and become just another politician. Many would leave, which could mean that he lost majority support which is the whole basis of his and the left’s position in the party. Mason does not appear to have considered this at all, but it is vital to do so. There is no point in having a viable PLP if support for a left leadership collapses as a result.

I also doubt Mason’s split scenario. If another coup captures the party for the Blairites there is no need for a split, indeed it would be the left that might then split with perhaps a new left party being formed, although I would oppose that. But if Corbyn wins I cannot see that any amount of legal shenanigans can hijack the party. Where then will the Blairites go? There isn’t the support among anti-Corbynites for a new party, and because of this they would probably not carry a majority of the PLP with them. If they did form a new party it could have a catastrophic electoral effect on both old and new parties, but it would only make sense for that minority whose sole concern was to destroy a Corbyn led party. And there is nowhere else to go. There is no potential SDP/Liberal ‘Alliance’ out there, and what is left of the Lib-Dems would regard them as far too right wing anyway. Some might join the Conservatives, after Teresa May’s touching declaration of her concern for the poor, but most will continue to sit around sulking in the Labour Party, plotting and scheming for the next leadership challenge.

The best way of ensuring that that is not successful, or doesn’t occur at all, is for Corbyn, following the result, to issue an appeal for unity within the PLP and the wider party, to invite Smith and others to rejoin the Shadow Cabinet, to repeat his opposition to widespread deselection, to commit to a more collegiate and collective approach and to actively pursue the development of policy including that proposed by Smith in the leadership debates.

For reasons given above there can be no overt deal with the ‘Smithites’, and neither are they likely to offer anything, but it is reasonable to assume that there will be some positive response from the anti Corbyn soft/centre left, and that this will grow as support grows within the party and the country.

The shape of politics in the near future is uncertain, but the May honeymoon is unlikely to last long. A united and confident Labour Party with clear and coherent policies must be our aim and is the only route to success.

30 Comments

  1. jeffrey davies says:

    soft left’ owen who is just a blairite there might be some but not many greed got them

  2. John P Reid says:

    Very good tv show in parliament Iplayer on the refendum result, basically labour 20 years ago desperate to get the London middle class ,swum the northern working class had no where else to go, by 2001, before Iraq, they abstained in that election, and voted ukip since 2010, but in the referendum they voted brexit, much to the shock of the labour establishment

    If there were those too the right of Corbyn, who were. To leave the party ,if Corbyn wins, they like the working class north will abstain from politics ,but maybe hold their nose and voted Tory at the election?

  3. Barry Hearth says:

    Your assumption that “newer” members are not interested in the party gaining victory is just plain silly.
    Almost all party members/supporters/afficionados want to see Labour in power, preferably with Corbyn as PM.
    And as for keeping all but his closest allies at arms length, that’s a myth put out by his fiercest opponents. Corbyn has started with an inclusive cabinet, drained by those who left, and will on his re-election continue with an all inclusive cabinet of those who will work with him.
    Jeremy is not an isolationist in any sense of the word, his whole political life has been about inclusion, why would that change now?

  4. Colin Hall says:

    Much as we may wish to turn the clock back three months, it simply isn’t possible.

    Where Corbyn sought to build bridges, others were determined to burn and destroy them. There can be no question of Smith returning to the shadow cabinet – such a move would have no credibility within the party or the wider electorate.

    As for deselection of MPs, Corbyn should restate his current position that it is up to Constituency Labour Parties to appraise and evaluate the performances of their local MPs – many of whom, lest we forget, were only too willing to impose stringent review processes on other workers in the public sector.

  5. John Penney says:

    Both Paul Mason and Peter Rowlands are seriously “behind the curve” and “in denial” on the current state of the always inevitable ,now fully underway, y civil war within the labour Party. The Labour Right (and more importantly, their Big Business backers) will simply not accept a PLP led by Jeremy Corbyn. Full Stop.

    After all that has happened since Jeremy’s victory the mass of the labour Party membership appear to be quite aware that the opportunity for compromise with the pro austerity agenda of the Hard Right, and much of their softer Left collaborators is come and gone. Jeremy made every effort to be “inclusive” for 10 months. The outcome was ten months of constant sabotage and disloyalty from the hard core Right – and little support from the soft Left – and then the Coup !

    Yet after all this Paul Mason and Peter (and Owen Jones) still propose the futile fantasy that some sort of compromise with the Right is possible. This is a sad re-run of the “unity is everything” mindset which destroyed the Labour Left in the late 60’s and 80’s when faced with the utter intransigence of the Right.

    Jeremy Corbyn could only win the, purely temporary, ” support ” of the Right by becoming their policy prisoner – in a Right dominated Shadow Cabinet – which will lead to the majority of the huge “Corbyn Insurgency” since his Leadership win simply leaving the Party as swiftly as we joined. Most of us “Corbynites” have a loyalty only to the socialist, anti-Austerity agenda – not to some daft, tribalist , sentimental, attachment to the Labour Party – or indeed to Jeremy as a man. If the Labour Party wont pursue a radical Left anti austerity policy agenda, “achieving unity” with the Labour Right is a pointless exercise.

    Time to grasp that Labour is now irrevocably split – in what way this pans out is the only issue to be resolved . It will either return to being a neoliberal “”Blairite” Party in Big Businesses pocket – but without its new mass radical Left member base (who will then flood into the Greens or a new Left Party – or political inactivity and demoraliasation) – or the Right of the PLP and members will have to leave and form a new SDP mark II party.

    1. David Pavett says:

      John, I wish that is was true that “Jeremy made every effort to be “inclusive” for 10 months” but I am afraid that it is not. Appointing people from all sections of the party to the Shadow Cabinet was the right thing to do. The problem was that they were held at arms length rather than drawn into policy making. One can believe or not believe the many stories of Corbyn deciding on policy matters without consulting the appropriate Shadow Cabinet member (even though some of them come from normally reliable left sources) but I think that it cannot be denied that the only solid basis for such cooperation had to be the open development of policy, where possible taking the issues to the party members. This did not happen and there was not even a hint of it happening (except in the case of the famous email to members on the eve of the Syrian bombing vote in the Commons).

      So I really think it is time to take stock as carefully as possible of what has happened over the last year. The difficulties faced by Corbyn were truly formidable and it was always clear that the ride was going to be very rough. If, after pointing out these odds, including the vicious behaviour of PLP’s hard core right and the prevarications and poor judgement of its centre/soft left, we go on to say that there have been no substantial problems with Corbyn’s leadership then I suggest we need to look again as objectively as we can.

      I think that it is perhaps you who is behind the curve when you talk of no compromise with the pro-austerity agenda. No one in the party is defending that position. In rhetoric at least anti-austerity has won. Even the IMF has denounced it. So the real issue is not to denounce austerity but to state clearly what the alternatives are. You have yourself pointed out in previous comments that the Corbyn/McDonnall leadership has fallen down on this. We can’t only be against things we must also be for something. What the current Labour leadership is for is far from clear except in the most general terms (and not always even then) and that is the major reason for the excessive personalisation of the leadership issue.

      That is not where the compromise has to occur. To imagine that progress could be made in general on a “no compromise” basis is not serious. One does not have to be a Leninist to recognise that Lenin has some pretty sensible things to say about “no compromise” positions. He dismissed the German lefts who asserted that “…all compromise with other parties … any policy of manoeuvring and compromise must be emphatically rejected”. He went on to say

      … to renounce in advance any change of tack, or any utilisation of the a conflict of interests (even if temporary) among one’s enemies, or any conciliation of compromise with possible allies (even if they are temporary, unstable, vascillating or conditional allies) – is that not ridiculous in the estreme? (Left-Wing Communism, An Infantile Disorder)

      These seem to me to be wise words. The point being that alliances and their associated compromise can and should be formed on a continuous and fluid basis to enable one to move another step forward. Compromises of all sorts have to be made at all stages of every substantial battle. That’s a fact of life. Every designer, every military strategist knows that that nothing is achieved without compromises of one sort or another. So the question is not whether there should be compromises but rather what sort should they be.

      The idea that 172 MPs can be uniformly treated as the enemy would be ridiculous. That includes a lot of basically good people. They were wrong and very foolish to have allowed themselves to be drawn into the no confidence vote but we cannot write them all, or even most of them, off. Ways back need to be provided and, as Mason has argued, need to be provided fast. If Corbyn is re-elected by is involved in a continued war of attrition with 80% of his MPs then I think the cards are stacked against him. Unproductive chaos will continue for another year leading to another election. Eventually the energy to sustain the leadership will run out. This is a hard battle and it is one which was already against the odds. Everyone who has taken part in hard campaigns knows that when the going is tough support tends to ebb away. We need to be realistic about this. That doesn’t mean giving up on any of the key objectives. It means involving the centre/soft-left MPs and making them feel that their contributions are important to the project.

      If the politics of principled compromise is too much for many in the “Corbyn insurgency” to grasp then that is just another massive card stacked against eventual success. I have never been a Labour tribalist (daft or otherwise) and feel no sentimental attachment to the organisation. I felt like a semi-detached member until Corbyn was elected. I never was a great admirer of his but I thought his election opened up some very unexpected possibilities of a turn to the left and of democratisation of the party. I still believe that is possible, although I am far from sure of the likelihood of success, and on that basis I am voting for Corbyn and have encouraged others to do so. But if we go down the “no compromise with those who have crossed Corbyn” line of thought then I’m afraid that we are done for.

      1. John Penney says:

        David , Your argument for tactical compromise is unfortunately entirely lacking in any examples of what these “compromises” would entail. All of Lenin’s pamphlets were aimed at very time specific tactical issues. In the case of “Left Wing Communism….” the document is arguing mainly against those in the Party arguing against the humiliating but tactically necessary Treaty of Litovsk , and the retreat from radical socialist economic policies because of the dire weakness of the new Soviet revolutionary state. Quoting Lenin’s quite historically contextually valid statements mainly against the then Bolshevik ultraleft faction , as any sort of riposte to my argument that today compromise with the labour Right OR their supposedly “soft Left” hangers on is impossible , is simply a misuse of Lenin’s document.

        The point of the current situation in the Labour Party is on what basis will “compromise” , or wide-ranging consultation with the “Soft Left” on policy, bring significant numbers of the 171 rebels seriously on board a Corbyn led Opposition.

        You are remarkably vague about what actual policy retreats Corbyn would need to embrace to get most of the supposed “soft Left” on board . They don’t just want him to chat about policy with them more for goodness sakes ! It simply isn’t true that the Labour Right, or indeed most of the 171 generally have now “rejected the Austerity Agenda “. Given Corbyn’s very, mildly Left Keynsian reformist/anti austerity policy bundle , the very real continuing pro Big Business, pro austerity, neoliberal core politics of a significant portion of the 171 should be quite clear simply . This is a major political analysis mistake on your part. The Labour right and their allies fully intend to continue the neoliberal privatisation agenda, and to shrink our welfare state to the bone, and to continue to oppress trades union rights. Their current “we are all anti austerity Now” stuff is pure tactical codswallop. Or are you buying in to the Right’s carefully honed , supposedly non-political, justification for their Coup, ie, that the Left political agenda of Corbyn isn’t the problem – but his “unique personal incompetence” is ?

        I’m afraid that if your view, and that of Peter, and Owen Jones, prevails on the Labour Left, the coming crushing victory of Jeremy Corbyn will be immediately followed by such major compromises with the Labour Right that defeat will be grasped from the claws of victory – yet again . All for that sacred shibboleth of “Part Unity”. And the mass membership of the Corbyn Left Surge will swiftly surge out of the Labour Party again – leaving the Labour Left to its endless Sysiphus task of ” steering the Party Leftwards – without causing the Right to leave” ….. forever. And radical UK politics will continue through some other political Party “vehicle” , as it has across Europe

        1. Peter Rowlands says:

          John, I was going to reply to your first comment, but David got there first. I agree broadly with what he has said, but let me add some points.
          Firstly, I said very specifically that I was not in favour of a deal with the ‘Smithites’, as Mason is, precisely because of the danger of losing members.But an appeal for unity would I believe help to isolate the hard right minority of the PLP, to neutralise some in the centre and to bring on board some of the ‘soft left’.The alternative is to wage war against all of the 171, something which is likely to be ruinous and destructive.
          Secondly, I do not accept that a majority of the PLP remain wedded to an austerity agenda. With the IMF desperately calling for reflation and May having signalled the end of Osbornomics neoliberalism is in decline. There is now a golden opportunity to develop decent left Keynesian policies that can garner the support we will need to win in 2020.

          1. John Penney says:

            An “appeal for unity” to the unknown number of PLP “soft Left” prepared to break with the Hard Right neoliberals – yes indeed, Peter. I go with that too.

            But this can’t be “unity” on the basis of watering down what is already a pretty mildly reforming, Left Keynsian , Anti austerity, “Corbynite Agenda”. The “unity” has to be on the basis of the “returners ” from the 171 buying in to that agenda (light on detail as it undoubtedly is unfortunately). Jeremy also can’t just refill his Shadow Cabinet with PLP members who may well simply betray him again – or demote the PLP members who have “kept the faith” during the Coup.

            I’m afraid I utterly disagree with your (and David’s) contention that “we are all anti austerity now” , this is pure posturing from most of the PLP, unless they would support Jeremy in a range of his actual “Anti austerity” policy requirements on a broad front. Just a few examples:

            Raising minimum wage
            Taking PFI burden off NHS
            Letting go finally all that “balanced budget” and “government borrowing automatically leads to hyperinflation” nonsense
            Significantly reducing anti trades union legislative shackles
            Being prepared for significantly greater Government and local Council borrowing to fund major social housing programme
            Nationalising the railways as the franchises expire
            Re-staffing HMRC to deal with company and rich tax avoidance
            Getting to Grips with UK dependency tax havens
            Restoring the budgets of local government
            Restoring a wide range of benefits to the disabled
            Increasing taxes on the richest and corporations
            And so on…

            No-one surely expects the hard Right in the PLP to accept many of these policies, and given their myriad of ties to Big Business backers this can be understood. It is the issue of how many of the rest of the 171 can be expected to come fully on board Jeremy’s Leadership that is an unknown. But one thing must be quite clear , some component of the current PLP cannot stay in a still “Corbynite” Labour Party. Policy concessions should not be offered to try and achieve this .

            Better a PLP with 50 fewer MP’s in the short term, and a potential membership of a million, committed to radical Left change in the UK , than a temporarily “re-united ” PLP around a compromise policy offer , and a Party once more with only about 200,000 members. And that IS the stark choice we will face soon after Jeremy wins again – and the Right starts up their sabotage and fun and games again.

      2. C MacMackin says:

        As best as I can tell from what you are recommending, David, we are coming back to the same old problem–policy. The issue of Corbyn not reaching out to the soft left and centre on policy making is part of the bigger issue that, as far as we can tell, there isn’t any policy making happening at all! For the most part, the PLP (barring the Labour Right) is saying they’ll go along with more left-wing policy, but unless Corbyn actually produces something substantial in that regard, we’ll never know whether they are being honest.

        The question would then become, how much are we going to be willing to compromise on policy (should it be necessary) in order to maintain unity. I think for a lot of us–yourself included as best as I can tell–the answer is not very much. Should the centre prove intransigent on the fundamental policy questions, it puts us in a difficult position. To be clear, I’d opt to stick with the policy in those circumstances, even if it did mean losing a majority of MPs, but god help us if it does come to that.

        Potentially even more importantly, there is the question of how the soft left and centre MPs would respond to greater party democracy, if it ever does become more than a slogan. I don’t hold out hopes that they would like having the grassroots deciding on policy and deselecting those who go against it. That might end up forcing a split too. However, if party democracy ever does become powerful enough to lead to that, Labour would likely also be in a much stronger and healthier position to weather a split.

  6. Barry Hearth says:

    Maybe not as clear cut as that john Penney.
    As a returning member of many years fighting for socialism and becoming Kinnockised, I left not because of Militant, but because of the rightward lurch that then took place.
    I never voted any other way but it was reluctantly, I hoped always for a return to left policies but was almost resigned to never seeing my wish come true. But now it has.
    I don’t agree with everything that Coprbyn stands for but there is enough for me to hang my hat on. I really believe that he can and must bring about the change the membership needs and requires. With many others within the party he will modernise and remould the party so that it accurately reflects what a modern socialist party must be.

  7. Bill brandwood says:

    A concern of many members is that those plp members that are now in the Shadow Cabinet should not be demoted or pushed aside so that others that abondoned their responsibilities by staged resignations should get their jobs and influence back. They shouldn’t.

  8. Doug says:

    John Penney is absolutely right. There can be no compromise with the Right now, no being conciliatory or ‘reasonable’. They will take this as a sign of weakness and re-double their efforts to undermine Corbyn and the Left. Let there be no mealy mouthed equivocation about this – this is a war, which we need to win to stop this country sinking into the mire and destroying the hopes of so many of us for a better world. A historic opportunity beckons now to build a genuinely activist campaigning Labour Party whose mass membership reflects and represents the majority of people. To throw this chance away would be criminal.

  9. John Walsh says:

    Where is the basis for your argument Peter Rowlands? Having read and re-read Mason blog post I fail to see the basis for your ‘reply’. Mason provides a very useful account of the complexity of the right wing plots, how the media are complicit, how a basis for a legal challenge for the Party name is being laid and how the split may unfold. After 2500 words Mason then writes a half-baked, not signposted at all, throwaway conclusion (maybe he was writing it on the train and was nearing his station). If the piece was to be peer reviewed, any sensible reviewer would say excellent insights but keep to your title and ditch the last paragraph. Can you, or anyone else who has read Mason’s piece, provide evidence (e.g. quotes) that Mason point was to ‘offer a solution’?

    1. Peter Rowlands says:

      Yes, Mason’s article would be insightful and interesting even without his conclusions, but it is these that prompted me to write the article, as I believe that both they and his split scenario are wrong.
      I don’t understand your last sentence. Mason’s last paragraph clearly is ‘offer(ing) a solution’.

      1. John Walsh says:

        Ok, fair enough in that Mason is offering a solution of sorts in the last paragraph. I just thought that the usefulness of the piece was in the main purpose of describing the ‘sound of Blairite silence’ and that the conclusion seemed a pretty rubbish afterthought that didn’t really warrant attention and probably wouldn’t have made it through the print publishing process.

        As such, my (not stated) underlying point concerns the need to always be careful with blog sources. Obviously, I don’t need to be saying that to you – it’s more of a concern/ despair with the way that the left operates on social media such as Facebook, e.g. Mason’s blog posts always get a ‘this is great’ and an ‘I agree’ from people who don’t show any evidence at all of actually reading the posts.

        1. Peter Rowlands says:

          I agree absolutely with your second point.
          On your first, I wouldn’t say rubbish, but I think he is wrong and have said why. But Mason is one of the most prominent left wing journalists/writers around at the moment, and for that reason his views require a response which they perhaps wouldn’t if they came from someone relatively unknown.

  10. Frances Hunt says:

    Good analysis from John Penney, other offerings seem to depend on some sort of fudging through, ie which Corbyn seems to have been trying over the last 10 months. That has only earned the “weak leader” epithet, plus shadow cabinet wingeing on the one hand that he has not provided them firm policy on which to run their departments and on the other that they’re bullied and threatened by Corbyn announcing policy they don’t like.
    Confession here: I jumped ship (of 30 yrs) to the Greens immediately after the last election as I just couldn’t bear the limp curtailed not-quite-but-mostly-still-New-Labour a moment longer. The Green Party defined a broader socialist base over the last decade, with added foresight towards the fast arriving environmental disaster which it is now going to be pretty difficult to escape unscathed. The Green vote is pretty minimal & suffers from FPTP. Their electoral support ebbs and flows, I think, according to lefty hopes of Labour regaining its socialist roots, or not.
    Corbyn to his great credit has a sound and comprehensive environment policy, the tories of course have none, New Labour were nearly as bad.
    I’m raising this to say that the broad ‘real’ left probably has voter potential beyond the present Labour Party. If a break-up of Labour has become inevitable then an inclusive leader like Corbyn has a potentially larger pool of support than even his new member record that surely could be coalesced into an election winning movement.
    The alternative looks like Corporate & cash-driven US politics – just doesn’t bear thinking about.

  11. Bazza says:

    The Right will do what they feel they have to do as will the timid Soft/Centre Left.
    Left wing democratic socialists should just focus on developing and winning left wing democratic socialist policicies plus choosing and supporting left wing democratic socialists wherever and whenever they get the chance.
    Watched Jeremy Corbyn’s Kilburn Rally via Facebook last night (highly recommended) and it was excellent as were all of the speakers including some particularly strong women (Claudia Webbe from the NEC and a NUT rep) and as one trade unionist from TSSA said, for the first time ever Labour has a Leader who is a socialist!
    Let’s hope we can get JC back in!

  12. Verity says:

    The best way forward for the irreconcilables would be to go with the encouragement of as many PLP (and other) members as possible to joint the Co-op party (membership, 8,000) and if gaining a larger number of MPs, disaffiliate from Labour and approach the speaker for rights to become the official opposition. Being the official opposition brings with it some resources, chances to appoint a shadow cabinet and an enhanced parliamentary role. A future strategy for them could then be devised to re-affiliate if the political climate later starts to turn their way. If they fail to get the larger proportion of the PLP, they can remain affiliated and use this as a base for further opposition and (opposition) Party building. That opposition will likely consist of continued disruption until the best opportunity arises for a further leadership challenge.

    The most appropriate strategy for Corbyn depends upon the tactics adopted by opponents following his request for them to rejoin his shadow cabinet. There is a prospect that some will rejoin. Everyone does not have the stamina for continuing a battle following a possible Corbyn re-election, Alternatively the past year’s battle continues with the Co-op Party (or variant e.g. Labour Tomorrow non – Party formation) being a new vehicle for opposition building.

    I cannot grasp what ‘compromise’ consists of for Corbyn. The only issue seems to be the man, management style and capacity to communicate and build opposition teams. Well, he is not going to grow those new capacities now is he? I suspect that we do not know half of the story and any reluctance to manage the groups is because those involved are not to be trusted, and so the picture we get is of his reluctance rather than the oppositions refusal to play a straight bat.

    The prospect of the Tories calling an election is an unknown, but is important because if it was not for that factor then the renewal of MPs by the reorganisation of seats would change the balance of power to Corbyn.

    All of the crisis in the Labour Party has been put upon Corbyn. However we need to note the context of social democratic crisis everywhere. There is no current formation within Labour that in my opinion stands a better chance of more progress than the current one. The unconstituted neo-liberals have real basic problems; and those pretending to see a third way have no real solutions to advance Labour’s case anyway. Others such as, Smith do not in opinion has sufficient understanding of the difficulties his radical words impose in policy terms.

    1. Bazza says:

      Verity what’s good for the goose is good for the gander and some of us who suppor JC who are also members of the Coop Party are waiting for the Neo-Liberal anti-cooperators.
      Then perhaps JC suporters say 100,000 join the Cooperative Party too and game over.
      Members of both who stand for Parliament stand as Labour & Cooperative Party candidates and not just the latter and in Parliament represent both and not just one.
      So come on Neo-Liberals, genuine socialists and cooperators who genuinely believe in both are waiting.
      They would perhaps have to disaffiliate the Coop Party from Labour thus heartlessly junking years of history – the horrible Right Wing careerists have used Labour to the hilt and is it now the turn of the thoroughly decent Cooperative Party?
      Justice should prevail.
      “Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we set out to deceive.”

  13. Susan O'Neill says:

    I am with John Penney on this one. I joined the Labour Party last year and have been utterly disgusted by the behaviour of the right wing hollow suits. What is more worrying is that JC will pursue the “broad Church” policy to include those elements within the LP who are arrogant, dismissive of the members, incoherent regarding policies(because they have none)corrupt and morally bankrupt. I will not pay LP membership dues to keep such ingrates in a position where they can, at a moments notice, begin the fiasco all over again. JC will have to pursue his broad church without me and betray thousands of others like me in doing so.
    I don’t want to see the Labour Party with a big % of Trotskyites because they can be destructive and disruptive, but and it’s a big but, they will be far less destructive than the Labour right, nothing compares to what the attempted destruction of the party by them, even the two faced back stabbing sometimes socialist Owen Smith could be considered “broad church”. Trotsky and Marx were not the monsters they were painted as being by Sen. McCarthy and Eric A. Blair but Britain is not ready for these far left socialist, not yet. I am not a socialist but I would certainly not vote for a LP that included the treacherous self serving hard right wing previously holding ministerial posts.

  14. David Pavett says:

    @John (Penney, August 22, 2016 at 4:08 pm)
    I carefully chose my Lenin quotes to make it clear that he was making a very general point about compromise and not one tied to a specific problem. I therefore don’t agree that the points are merely “historically contextually valid statements” and I think reading them reasonably carefully makes it clear that this is not the case. If there were not such general conclusion to be drawn fro specific hisorical situations history would be of no more than antiquarian interest.

    Actually, on reflection, I think that I was too drawn into the issue of compromise by your rejection of the possibility. I think that what was and is required generally falls well short of the need to compromise. It is a matter of drawing MPs who genuinely want to feel that they are contributing something of value. MPs with knowledge ofvthe planning system should have set to work to give a lead on planning, MPs with knowledge of education should have been asked to develop analyses and policy suggestions for the shadow minister and the party, likewise for defence where a great start was provided by Emily Thornberry. The waste of time and talent has been shocking. I feel sure that had a policy of involvement along these lines been energetically pursued it would never have come to a no confidence vote of the overwhelming majority of MPs. We have to ask how it could have come to that and putting down to a right-wing assault on the leader is just far too easy an explanation to be credible.

    The second reason why the issue falls short of compromise deals is that Corbyn has put forward so little in the way of policy. What would the compromises be based on? What was and is needed is a collegiate style of working even with people of very different views. I think also that you are wrong to discuss the 172 as a question of “the right and their allies”. Mismanagement and poor leadership contributed to the tensions which finally were expressed in that vote. I do not believe the the majority are terrible right-wingers. Rather, I think that they are politically weak, for the most part well intentioned, often involved in good work on specific issues, and were mislead by the hard core right which took advantage of there discontent with being treated as outsiders to the Corbyn project.

    Had the approach been more collegiate Corbyn would undoubtedly have had to make compromises. He would have told that as party leader he needs to be more circumspect about his personal beliefs. For example he would have had to accept that Labour is not a pacifist party so it is not on for him to be openly talking to the media about his pacifist inclinations. On the vexed question of immigration he would almost certainly had to accept that the majority of members and the majority of MPs do not go along with his open door beliefs. He would also have had to accept that party policy is as agreed until there is an agreement to change. Someone who ran for leader on the basis of putting the members in charge should not be making up policy from the leader’s office. On the other side there would have been a clear series of compromises to be demanded once proper joint working was establised (I won’t spin this out by listing them).

    You say “the very real continuing pro Big Business, pro austerity, neoliberal core politics of a significant portion of the 171 should be quite clear simply”. Maybe, but a lot depends on what you mean by a “significant proportion”. 40 out of 171 would be “significant”. I am sure you get my point. Do actually know what that proportion is? I suspect not. I don’t either. If so then is that not in itself reason for discussing them in less harsh terms and with more careful analysis?

    I am afraid that you could be right that real engagement with the centre of the party in an effort to draw it in to the project of democratising the party and turning it to the left would be seen as a betrayal by some (many? most?) Corbyn supporters. If so then it would show how the excessive personalisation of the leadership issue has got in the way of what could have been a large-scale exercise in political education and a resultant development of political maturity.

  15. John says:

    “repeat his opposition to widespread deselection, to commit to a more collegiate and collective approach”
    But that is not what the membership wants – they want choice of candidates, both for MPs and leader. Tory leadership candidates need two MP endorsements, Labour have to have 51. What? Why?

  16. historyintime says:

    The key to what happens is not the soft left but the ‘old right’. Unlike the Blairites, the old right have some emotional connection to the Labour Party along ‘its our team’ lines. They also have credibility with a lot of genuine Labour supporters ie socially conservative working class people. If they stay out of a split it will fail like the SDP split did. But if they combine with the Progress people they would form a competitive entity. Especially if they can some unions eg USDAW, Community.

  17. Karl Stewart says:

    At the rally on Westminster Green on the Monday of the coup, Paul Mason called for a hundred potential Labour candidates to come forward from among the party membership to replace the coup plotters and this is what should happen as a top priority if Corbyn defeats Smith’s challenge.

    The MPs who voted ‘no-confidence’ in Corbyn richly deserve a ‘no-confidence’ vote in themselves.

    If anyone in any normal job behaved the way they have, they’d have been fired a long time ago.

    There’s been way, way too much ‘reaching out’ to these traitors – surely we can find 172 new candidates from among half a million members?

  18. Peter Rowlands says:

    John Penney.Well, I think we might be getting somewhere. While I agree with David that some form of compromise is an inevitable part of politics, in what I originally wrote I opposed the compromise suggested by Mason, based on a specific deal,on the grounds that the membership would not accept it and it would give away too much. An appeal for unity is a different matter, and if that included an invitation to rejoin the shadow government ( not necessarily cabinet) and consider policies put forward by Smith that should not be a problem either. No, of course those who have loyally stood by Jeremy should not be summarily displaced, but there are vacancies and it is a question of building a strong team. On policy there has been little criticism of the just-as-left-wing-as Corbyn policies put forward by Smith, ( as opposed to his sincerity in meaning to carry them out) and there should therefore be no problem here. And while I believe it would be right for Corbyn to continue to oppose deselection, at the same time it must be made clear that there can be no place in the Labour Party for MPs who want to continue with their destructive opposition to everything that Corbyn represents.
    Yes of course there will remain a substantial minority who are either still wedded to neo liberalism or are just right wing, but the majority are not, and there has been little opposition to the agenda put forward by John McDonnell. Let us remember, and I think we both agree on this, that we are talking about a fairly moderate social democratic agenda, one that was commonplace in the 50s and 60s and which Bevan would probably have thought rather timid. ( Of course after the election the right wing press will conveniently forget that Smith promoted left wing policies as well and return to their denunciation of Corbynism as threatening the end of civilisation as we know it.)
    The truth is that there is no other way forward. Any attempt to wage war by way of deselection of all those MPs who voted no confidence in Corbyn would immediately empower the right by forcing those so threatened into their camp, weaken the Corbyn forces, and precipitate a split that would be likely to be electorally catastrophic for both the remaining Corbyn Labour Party and the new ‘True Labour’. Yes, the right would have been defeated, but at a terrible cost. We must ensure that such a situation does not develop.

    1. John Penney says:

      I think we may well be in general agreement, Peter. I think we both agree that some number of the most determined Right wing PLP wreckers cannot be allowed to continue to have a place in the PLP , to stir up trouble, and incite less Right oriented MP’s to sabotage the Leftward direction “Corbynism” represents .

      If they won’t leave voluntarily (to a SDP Mk II), then only summary withdrawal of the Parliamentary Whip and expulsion from the Party, AND local deselection, will root out this infectious political cancer. Jeremy will have to “man up” on selective deselection, if essential Party discipline and a clear new Leftward course is to be achieved. Though a remarkably mild Leftward course – that wouldn’t have scared Harold Wilson ! But specific historical context is of course everything. In another post I highlight how SDP founder , Dr David Owen, has just come out strongly in support of Jeremy’s policy on the NHS !

      I, like you, Peter, and David, don’t for a moment deny the political and operation style, weaknesses of the “Corbynist core team, and Jertemy himself ” – particularly around their lamentable failures to develop clear, in depth, appropriate (reformist) left policies within a comprehensive UK Left Regeneration Plan structure – or to empower Momentum with a real role – other than as a top-down directed “stage army”.

      I am however not convinced by David’s argument that the bulk of the PLP is winnable in any personally committed way to the new Left direction of the Party represented by “Corbynism”. And that is because, whilst accepting that Labour has never, ever, been a socialist Party, and has always overwhelmingly supported the capitalist status quo, including British colonial exploitation – I think the bulk of today’s PLP are a different to the previous mass of Labour MPs – ie, they are not rooted in our labour movement (other then often being the “red prince” scions of Labour grandees), a “transatlantic-style” professional “political class” deeply embedded in personal expectations of post political career “pay back” from Big Business for “favours done” whilst an MP. This means that their willingness to really “buy-in” to a thoroughgoing “state interventionist , Tax the rich and corporations, re-empower the trades unions, rebuild the Welfare State” agenda, is very, very unlikely. Sorry, David, I just don’t buy your “these are just politically weak , misled, lost souls – who can be brought back into the fold by some focussed tender care and attention and inclusion from the Corbyn Inner Circle”. I don’t think so. The bizarre reality is that the European Left Surge that spawned Syriza, Die Linke, Podemos, and the Portuguese Left shift
      , manifested itself , by a fluke of Labour Right OMOV adopting hubris, in a Labour Party that at both Parliamentary and , particularly, local government , levels had rotted into corrupt , neoliberalism-supporting, cronyist cliques, beholden in umpteen way to Big Business. To transform this current deeply politically dysfunctional mess into a thoroughgoing Party of Left advance is going to require a lot of political “bloodshed” and disruption .

      Historically the Labour Left has always “bottled it” when faced with this challenge (in a Labour Party then not nearly so infused by Big Business manipulation and , via Progress, decades long placement of their stooges as MP’s).

      My personal prediction is that the coming victory of Jeremy in this Leadership election will NOT be followed either by the required ruthless action against the unwinnable Right, or the necessary democratisation of Momentum, or the creation of a comprehensive National Regeneration Plan. I really hope my pessimism is wrong.

      However I think these are vital issues for us on the critical radical Left of the “Corbynist Insurgency” to be addressed once victory in this Leadership round has been secured.

  19. John Penney says:

    Just as an aside:

    There is a so far largely unnoticed ( amidst the cynical , deliberately distracting, media nonsense about “seatgate” “) totally astonishing quote in an article on Wednesday this week in the Guardian , hidden in the article “Virgin trains controversy has helped Jeremy Corbyn’s Leadership Campaign “. The article reported that Jeremy Corbyn said at his press conference on his NHS policy that he would support a private members’ bill tabled by Labour backbencher Margaret Greenwood aimed at unpicking the internal market in the NHS.

    That approach received support from David Owen, former Labour health secretary and one of the founders of the Social Democratic party. David Owen said “For the first time in 14 years we have the leader of the Labour party today unequivocally committing the party to reversing the legislation which has created in England a broken down market-based health care system,” He then said “Surely now the whole Labour movement can combine together, left, right and Centre ?”
    Surely nothing could better illustrate just how far the Labour Party had strayed to the neoliberal, Big Business supporting, neoliberal Right , away from its social democratic traditions over the last 20 years than that one of the founders of the Right Wing SDP split from labour in the 80’s is now far to the Left of most of the current PLP – and keen to support Jeremy’s policies on the NHS !

  20. R.B.Stewart says:

    And there stood HIM, the Macho Man!
    Shock! Left the podium!
    As Pontypridd it voted Out!
    Over-rules the referendum.
    Will press the nuclear thingy.
    And bring on NATO war?
    With NO multi-lateral movement.
    It’s nuclear he does abhor.
    Socialists should support socialists.
    Be wary of ‘Fake Goods!’
    P.S. Ask Russia, China etc to join NATO and make it into a World Peace Alliance.
    What no enemies?
    But what about my profits say the capitalist arms dealers – THE MERCHANTS OF DEATH?
    Real members power In, Great Men and Women of History Out!
    Voted JC.

© 2021 Left Futures | Powered by WordPress | theme originated from PrimePress by Ravi Varma