When a freshly-appointed Baron feels able to devote his maiden speech in the upper house to a condescending de haut en bas attack on commoners for being too damn posh, it’s entirely clear that Britain’s outdated honours system produces some rather rum results. But such was the lack of self-awareness on display when former Labour MP Lord Watts waded into the Corbyn supporters for constituting a “London-centric hard left political class who sit around in their £1m mansions eating their croissants at breakfast and seeking to lay the foundations for a socialist revolution.”
Nor is the he only prominent figure on the Labour right out to depict those of us who back the leadership as effete ineffectual trendies, condemned never to lift anything heavier than a pepper mill as we add condiments to our delicious gluten-free wholemeal vegan pasta and aubergine bake. Take Gary Smith, GMB’s Scottish secretary. Smith argues that the only people behind Jezza on Trident are “professional posers” busy playing “student politics” while “sipping lattes in Islington”.
Because, you know, we denizens of N1 like nothing better than a exquisite organic Kopi Luwak to accompany our morning artisan-baked Viennoiserie. For us, it is as natural a match as bread and dripping is for the sturdy blue collar masses that we are asked to believe make up the natural constituency monopolised by Progress and Labour First. Continue reading
The key to “professional” success in the land of comment is to never let the facts get in the way of a good narrative. If hard numbers and social realities are inconvenient, one can safely shove them aside in the assured knowledge they won’t come back to haunt the writer. Especially if one is a star columnist in a newspaper with broadly the same politics. On this occasion, it’s Janan Ganesh writing in the Financial Times about Jeremy Corbyn, class, and UKIP. And yes, it’s rubbish. Here, Janan had given his own spin to the political meme doing the rounds – that the Labour Party has got taken over by the middle class.
As it happens, there are numbers – not consulted in Janan’s piece – that bear out this analysis, but only to a degree. Published by The Graun last week, the party has attracted disproportionate numbers of home-owning inner city yuppie/hipster-types. They account for something like four per cent of the general population, while they’re a mahoosive 11.2% of our party’s membership. 10% of members are in “prestige positions“, as against nine per cent of the population. Meanwhile, rural workers and the less well-off are underrepresented. Continue reading
Some journalists are incredibly gullible. On the basis of his rhetoric, Dan Hodges tweeted “Could someone on the Left tell me which part of David Cameron’s speech I’m meant to disagree with.” How about Dave’s outright porkie concerning Jeremy Corbyn’s comments on the assassination of Osama Bin Laden? Seeing as Dan’s less a journo and more a well remunerated “opinion former“, what does a proper one think? Will Jane Merrick of the Indy on Sunday writes “Labour’s gigantic problem: why did I, from a Liverpool comp, who voted for Blair & never voted Tory, agree nearly every word of PM’s speech?” Seduced by words, it’s never occurred to Jane that what the Tories say might be quite different from what they do. Continue reading
Has Gordon Brown reached down from heaven and, like the vengeful Presbyterian God, smited Jeremy Corbyn with his great clunking fist? Well, no. The much-trailed Power with a Purpose speech wasn’t the knock out some were hoping for, as if a talk could derail the Jeremy juggernaut anyway. Instead we had a thoughtful, nuanced and lengthy tour of the policy and ethics of the Labour Party. He asked the questions about what Labour is, its purpose, its direction of travel. In a way, it was less an attack on Corbyn – though one can easily be found in the historical vistas Gordon directs us to. In fact, the nearest he comes to explicitly doing so is in the following: Continue reading
One question that comes up time and again from punters on the doorstep to far left activists is “why can’t you all just unite?” (although, ironically, Left Unity has ruled out unity with the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition for next year’s London Assembly elections). Of course, there are Very Important Reasons why myriad groups in the revolutionary socialist tradition can’t unite. But one question I’ve not heard from the mouth of any voter ever is “why can’t Labour and the Liberal Democrats merge?” Yet it is being asked now, and the man putting his head above the parapet is Jamie Reed.
Writing for The New Statesman, Jamie argues it’s time we rethink progressive politics in this country, and suggests that the “next leaders” of Labour and the LibDems seriously mull over a merger, seeing as “business as usual will likely result in permanent irrelevance.” Besides, citing some work done comparing the two sets of party policy, there’s apparently very little between them. Continue reading