A New Place Of Exile

Richard Hutton

The Right-Minded View: Traingate

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Everything we had been told to believe turned out to be a lie. There was no crowded carriage. There were no passengers, seated in aisles. There was no train. There was no floor.

We were told that Mr Corbyn had a copy of Private Eye. It was said that the train had walls. In reality, it was all an elaborate ruse to cover up the terrible, shocking truth…that the Corbyn train picture was faked using the same studio which was employed to simulate the moon landings.

Wake up people!!!!!

Thankfully, however, commonsense prevailed. The owner of a private train company arbitrated this dispute in an entirely neutral and fair-minded manner, to the satisfaction of all concerned: reaffirming that his profit-making enterprise is entirely free from problem – which is particularly reassuring, given the fact that Mr Corbyn has mentioned something or another about returning the railways to public ownership.

And to think, Corbyn would have gotten away with it all, too; had it not been for Richard Branson and his talking dog.

The truth is out there.

Trust no-one.

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The Right-Minded View: Labour’s Leadership Contest – Mr Corbyn Vs. Mr Smith.

If there’s one charge that can be leveled at Jeremy Corbyn, like the proverbial lance at a windmill, it’s that of unelectability.

The disastrous landslide victory Mr Corbyn suffered in the original Labour Party leadership contest was merely the start; it was soon followed by several calamitous successes endured in byelections. What’s more, the taint of Mr Corbyn’s unelectability clearly spread to the Mayoral campaigns, in London and Bristol – which promptly rose without a trace, resulting in a tragically high margin of victory for each participant.

The problem is easy to elucidate. Mr Corbyn is quite simply not a credible pragmatic sensible centrist electable aspirational moderate.

What this country is crying out for is a persuader, not a protester: somebody who is unabashed about making nebulous assertions to support their position, while preaching to the converted; before going on to abstain in Parliament – with a steely look of determination in their eye; subsequently waving a white flag, defiantly. If anything, there are simply too many candidates in the Labour Party to choose from, who would fit this bill handsomely. Mr Corbyn, however, is certainly not one.

Labour’s impressive second-place finish at the last General Election – which, had it been an Olympic contest, would have guaranteed them a silver-medal – clearly demonstrates that no substantive change of any kind was even remotely necessary to rejuvenate the party. On the contrary, the only way for Labour to succeed is to intensify all of the things which lead up to their monumental victory, last year.

After all, Labour’s political opponents think that Mr Corbyn’s continued leadership is a bad idea – and they clearly offer their concern purely in the best interests of the Labour party. They would be a better group to consult for bold, innovative ideas on how to keep things exactly the way they are, in my opinion, than the party’s own supporters, members, and voters; who have always seemed somewhat superfluous to the whole business of Labour being elected into government. Far better to chase one vote from somebody who will never cast it in your favour, I say, than to pursue votes from thousands of people who would.

What Mr Corbyn needs to appreciate is that we don’t elect Party Leaders to make intelligent decisions – we elect them them to represent the public. Therefore, it really is high-time that Labour’s members listened more carefully to the advice offered here by those who led their party to such resounding success, especially within Scotland, a year ago; and to altruistic Conservatives, who will never vote for Labour, want it to lose the next election, and therefore have only the party and its supporters best interests at heart. This is just commonsense.

The Right-Minded View: Reds Under The Beds

In my view, the British press is quite right to warn the general public that as many as a handful of people were once involved with a faintly left-wing political group, before joining the Labour Party.

Now, many naysayers have scoffed at such a suggestion – dismissing it as the febrile maundering of overheated imaginations; with no more than a tiny number of people ineligibly joining Labour.

What they fail to realise, however, is that this is no ordinary bout of entryism – it is, instead, a development of homeopathic infiltration: all it takes is one Red under every four thousand or so beds for Britain to fall prey to….

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The true scale of this problem is simply astounding, despite its non-existence; and should not be underestimated, merely because it is mathematically impossible. Even the British media, which routinely struggles to find any racists in our country – and wasn’t able to locate a single Labour supporter who voted to remain in the EU, even though the overwhelming majority of them did – is having no trouble at all finding communists galore.

It turns out that a cult of Trotskyites – cunningly disguised as teenagers, disabled people, and pensioners – has been lying in wait for years. Waiting, watching; perched, poised. Allowing every previous opportunity for their insurrection to pass – and only now revealing themselves, shorn of disguise; just to annoy a few people in the Labour Party.

And what is behind this menace? Well, we all know the answer to that. As one Labour source told somebody or another: “Jeremy Corbyn has clearly been fixated by the political ideology and tactics of Leon Trotsky for quite some time. Mr Corbyn brutally enforces his own Soviet-style leadership, through the devious ploy of getting a majority of members and supporters to vote for him. Quite frankly, it’s outrageous that in this day and age that sort of thing should be going on. Auction the Labour Party on Ebay, I say. Let it be sold to the highest bidder – without any of this ‘democracy’ nonsense”.

Of particular pertinence here is the influx of youthful sorts into the Labour Party – who are initially enticed by the alluring calls to build more council houses; only to fall prey to the forceful seductions of Trotskyism. If young people these days can have their virtues tempted by anything, it’s doctrinal ideology. The attention-span of teenagers, in particular, is famously inexhaustible. Once they have imbibed prolix essays from the 1920’s, they are then taken to a secret dungeon, and force-fed quinoa until they pledge allegiance to the Communist God Of Fashionable Grains.

Of course, the Labour leader – Mr Corbyn – denies all of this: asking people to take empirical reality into account, instead of subscribing to hearsay; and apply reason, while maintaining a clear sense of proportion. Sounds like something Stalin would say, in my opinion.

What I propose, therefore, is a simple method of testing whether somebody is a Trotskyite Entryist, or not. A sort of show-trial, if you will. First, the accused’s limbs should be bound; before being promptly pitched into the Thames (or the nearest available river, if travel is not an option). If the suspect floats, well, that proves their commitment to social-change by non-democratic means.

If they should sink however; and – to use the overly emotive language favoured by those on the left of the spectrum – drown, well, that demonstrates that they are innocent of all charges; and will be welcome to join the Labour Party, as soon as a proxy – such as a local mortician – fills out the correct paperwork on their behalf. This is just commonsense.

And you can’t apply too much commonsense when it comes to Trotskyites. As many as six currently hold office in the Irish Parliament – and we all know that Ireland has been a communist worker’s republic for many a year, now. According to one well placed source, who managed to escape recently – by taking a week’s vacation in Britain: “Irish cats are now forced to say ‘Mao’ instead of ‘miaow'”.

We all know where that leads:

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Thanks to these goings on, respectable people now live in a state of perpetual fear. When I asked a Labour source about this, they replied “what on earth are you talking about? That’s a complete load of nonsense”. Clear evidence that they were being intimidated. You see, it may very well be a complete load of nonsense; but it’s Corbyn’s fault that it’s a complete load of nonsense.

Stay vigilant. You can’t be too careful when faced with the prospect of Reds Under Beds. You really can’t.

 

 

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Has The Labour Party Been Inundated With ‘Trotsky Entryists’? The Evidence Indicates Otherwise.

A claim which has been made repeatedly by critics and opponents of Jeremy Corbyn is that his leadership of the Labour Party has resulted in it being deluged with entryism, by people affiliated with far-left political parties. Only recently, the Labour Deputy Leader contended that “Trotsky entryists” were “caucusing and factionalising and putting pressure” on young supporters of Labour; supposedly leaving the party itself prone to a ‘hard-left’ takeover.

However, the same allegation has been made repeatedly ever since Corbyn became the front-runner in the initial leadership contest; and during the months immediately after he had been elected to lead the party.

So does the evidence support or contradict this claim? On the basis of numbers alone, it’s impossible to conclude that the claim is accurate. Moreover, the individual examples cited by various media publications fail to support the overall allegation.

Firstly, let’s look at the actual data. The articles writing about this supposed phenomenon cite three main sources of entryism into Labour – the Socialist Workers Party, the Socialist Party (which is the modern permutation of the group Militant), and the Communist Party of Britain. The number of votes cast for these three parties indicates plainly how many people support them.

Both of the two socialist parties currently contest elections as part of the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition. At the last General Election, in May 2015, they gained a total of 36,368 votes.

There are in fact several communist parties in Britain. At the same General Election in 2015, the party simply entitled ‘Communist’ gained the most support with 555 votes. The Communist Party of Britain received 275. The Communist League had 174 votes. The Scottish Communist Party received 136.

Let’s rest on the basis that all of these people joined Labour in the wake of Corbyn’s election; and add that to the number of people who voted for the TUSC in the General Election of 2015. The total number of people who supported these particular far-left parties in 2015 was therefore 37,508.

The current total membership of the Labour party, in August 2016, is 515,000 people. So, on the off-chance that every single last voter for the TUSC and the various communist parties have joined Labour, ‘Trotsky Entryists’ would now comprise c. 7% of the Labour Party’s membership. Needless to say, even if the entire quotient of these voters have joined Labour, it could barely be deemed significant.

Let’s test this thoroughly, however. Given the paucity of voters who support the communist parties, they can be left aside here. 36,368 people voted for the TUSC in May 2015. So are there signs that this support has reduced significantly since Corbyn was elected to lead the Labour party – which would indicate their supporters defecting to Labour? No – in fact, quite the contrary. The TUSC contested the local council elections, in May 2016 – although the turnout for these was not the same as during the General Election, it would nonetheless indicate whether every single TUSC voter had switched their allegiance to Labour. So how many people voted for TUSC in 2016? According to the TUSC themselves:

“Overall TUSC candidates won a total of 43,309 votes in these elections, comprised of 3,540 votes in Scotland, 2,040 votes in Wales, 6,826 votes in the two mayoral contests, and 30,903 in the English council elections.”

Leaving aside the mayoral contests, this is almost the exact same number as voted for them the previous year: 36,483. So, it’s reasonable to conclude that any possible decamping of these voters to the Labour Party has been minimal, to non-existent.

In fact, the idea that this group of voters has joined Labour is actually defied by the very increase in Labour’s membership, since May 2015. The number of Labour Party members began to rise immediately, following the General Election of 2015. As reported in the Mirror Newspaper, during August 2015:

“Figures shown to Mirror Online suggest there are now around 270,000 fully-fledged Labour members – up more than a third from 194,000 before the General Election. The numbers do not include another 70,000 or so people who’ve signed up to vote for Labour’s next leader without joining the party itself”.

So, an increase of 76,000 members after May 2015, and before Corbyn was elected to lead Labour in September 2015. As of October 2015, however, a further 50,000 people had joined the Labour party. By December 2015, it had 388,000 members. During a 48 hour period, in July 2016, 183,000 people joined the Labour party. As noted, its membership currently stands at 515,000. Suffice to say, these numbers simply cannot be explained by supporters – let alone members – of the socialist/communist parties joining Labour. It is a physical impossibility.

Has there been any entryism at all, then? There was evidently some, during the Labour Party’s leadership contest in 2015. As Michael Crick noted, 1,200 people had been removed from the leadership ballot by the Labour Party:

“Of the 1,200, almost 300 people have been identified as people who’ve stood in the recent past as candidates for other parties. Labour tell me this includes 214 Green candidates in recent elections, 37 people who stood for the Trades Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC), 13 Conservatives, 7 Ukip candidates, and one BNP. Oh, and a man who stood at some election or other for the Morecambe Bay Independents.”

Needless to say, perhaps, but these people were all removed; and the scale of their attempted entryism was evidently minimal. However, Crick also demurred presciently that “the various Trots and Greens would like you to believe they made a crucial difference. And journalists love it as a story too.” Indeed.

 

As a narrative, the claims about Trotskyite entryism clearly aren’t based on numerical evidence. However, do the reports of sinister incidents involving supposed entryists withstand more scrutiny? Not really. If anything, what seems to emerge is a distinct narrative being applied; which exaggerates matters quite considerably.

Writing in the Huffington Post, Owen Bennett makes a number of claims on this theme, which are contradicted by the actual evidence. In response to Tom Watson’s allegation of entryism, Bennett contends:

“Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn hit back at the claims, accusing Watson of “patronising members and peddling baseless conspiracy theories”. But just last week The Socialist Party – known as Militant in the 1980s – was boasting of receiving a round of applause at a meeting of Labour supporters when it called for the deselection of MPs”.

As it happens, it wasn’t Corbyn who said this; but rather a member of his leadership campaign team. However, Bennett’s second claim would appear to be accurate. Is it quite what it seems from Bennett’s write-up, though? No. What appears to have happened is that among the hundreds of Labour Party members reputedly attending the meeting, one Socialist Party member supposedly stood up and called “for the deselection of all Blairite politicians, including cuts-making councillors”, and “received strong applause” in response. While this would indicate that a Socialist Party member had attended an unofficial meeting of Labour supporters, it evidently does not provide evidence of anything widespread – let alone particularly untoward – occurring. It is one person attending a public gathering. That’s if their own claims are actually true to begin with. Nothing seems to corroborate them.

Moreover, the constituency Labour party had been banned from holding an official meeting in the wake of the Parliamentary coup; on the pretext that Angela Eagle had received threats – ostensibly from Labour supporters. People were obviously unhappy enough about this situation to attend a conference protesting against it. Presupposing that the Socialist Party’s fairly self-serving claim is accurate, it is obviously far from consequential.

One person standing up in a meeting of hundreds, being applauded in the present circumstances for objecting to problematic MPs and Councillors, is a trifling incident, to say the very least. If they really did gain applause from those present, it was surely for nothing more than voicing an opinion many of the Labour supporters already held of their own accord. To suggest as one of Bennett’s own – predictably anonymous – sources does that this is evidence of infiltration, subverting the local Labour party, is implausible. By all accounts, the person in question had not become a member of the Labour Party – but simply attended one of its membership’s meetings.

The Guardian newspaper followed much the same suit – contending that the “Leader of expelled leftwing group Militant expects readmission to Labour”. As it outlines:

“Peter Taaffe, the veteran leader of Militant – the hard-left group pushed out of Labour in the 1980s and now renamed the Socialist party – expects to be readmitted to Labour if Jeremy Corbyn wins September’s leadership election”.

Suffice to say, Taaffe cannot join Labour, because he is a member of a different political party: the aforementioned Socialist Party. Moreover, he and his cohort have had a year to join the Labour Party since Corbyn was elected to lead it; and have evidently not done so. The suggestion that they could, or will, join Labour in the event of Corbyn winning the current leadership contest therefore seems to be completely baseless. It also flatly disproves the claim that the Momentum group is somehow coterminous with Militant; as has been suggested, previously. How could that be the case, when the bona fide Militant are openly acknowledging that they do not currently occupy any place within the Labour Party?

 

The figure currently at the centre of these claims, of course, is Tom Watson. Following the furore which erupted in the aftermath of his initial claims, Watson addressed a public letter to Jeremy Corbyn; supposedly compiling proof of his allegations. So how does this evidence measure up against his accusations?

The allegations themselves were made in the Guardian. Namely that:

“There are Trots that have come back to the party, and they certainly don’t have the best interests of the Labour party at heart. They see the Labour party as a vehicle for revolutionary socialism, and they’re not remotely interested in winning elections, and that’s a problem. But I don’t think the vast majority of people that have joined the Labour party and have been mobilised by the people that are in Momentum are all Trots and Bolsheviks.

Some of these people are deeply interested in political change, in building a more equal society, and are just on a journey in politics that they’re new to, and I don’t want them to feel that I’m labelling them because I’m not. But there are some old hands twisting young arms in this process, and I’m under no illusions about what’s going on. They are caucusing and factionalising and putting pressure where they can, and that’s how Trotsky entryists operate”.

In the public letter he has written, however – published in the Huffington Post– Watson changes his claims slightly. Firstly, he writes that “there is no denying that tightly organised factions are also organising within Momentum and the party”. He then states: “there has been an increase in members of proscribed organisations attempting to join the party”.

These are two quite different statements. Unsuccessfully attempting to join the party is not the same as doing so, undetected. In fact, Watson then refers to people who have been “excluded from the party” – and mentions attaching a document, “drawn up using publicly available information” which shows that members of proscribed organisations “are joining Labour”.

To what extent are these slightly contradictory claims true? In his dossier, Watson cites five categories of entryism. The first of these is under the heading ‘organising within Momentum branches to influence local Labour branches’. While on the surface the three examples he cites appear to support his case, they prompt more questions than answers. To take the initial one, Watson refers to an organisation called Red Flag, derived from a previous “Trotskyist group” called Worker’s Power. According to Watson, Red Flag “is encouraging organising within Momentum branches and CLPs – urging supporters to pass a model motion against the PLP”. Well, this is not quite accurate to begin with – the motion in question is quite specific in referring to “rebels in the PLP” who “have organised a vote of no confidence and a leadership contest to overthrow Jeremy Corbyn”.

However, regardless of its goal, how influential is this likely to have proven? It’s difficult to say, because the URL Watson provides simply contains the template for a motion, intended to be handed-out at Momentum meetings. Was it actually distributed? It’s not possible to answer without evidence; and Watson provides none. That said, it appears not to have been shared by anybody online, to judge by the five share-icons at the right-hand side of the webpage; all of which currently read zero. More to the point, perhaps, but how widespread is membership of Red Flag? It’s a fairly tenuous indicator, but at the present-time of writing, the Red Flag organisation has 64 followers on Twitter. It’s Facebook account is no more popular. It seems fair to conclude that if this group really has engaged in entryism, it is on an extremely limited scale.

This is no less true of the second example Watson cites – whereby a group called Labour Party Marxists supposedly encouraged “supporters to pass a model motion at Momentum branches calling for mandatory reselection of MPs”. The URL Watson provides is a PDF file:

http://labourpartymarxists.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/lpm0010_160707.pdf

which seems to no longer exist. In fact, the group itself appears to have been no more popular than Red Flag, to judge by its Facebook account. Given its recent lack of notices, it’s questionable whether it is even still active.

However, the third example Watson gives is the Alliance for Worker’s Liberty. This is a larger group than either of the previous two. So, has it engaged in large-scale entryism? As far as the public record shows, almost certainly not. The Guardian published an article in October 2015, noting that four members of Labour had been expelled on the grounds of previous involvement in the Alliance For Worker’s Liberty. A further former member of the AWL was expelled from Labour in February 2016. At the time of writing, this seems to be the sum total of AWL ‘entryists’ into the Labour Party. If anything, this would undermine the notion of entryism being a significant problem, given that these five people were disbarred from Labour.

More to the point, perhaps, but the examples from the AWL website don’t quite support what Watson alleges. Rather than discussing entryism into Labour, the first actually seems to encourage entryism into Momentum:

“This time we must use the new upsurge around and influx into Momentum groups to put our organisation on a stronger footing (etc)”

This is even more apparent in the second example Watson gives:

” Join Momentum and get involved with it’s campaigning. Set up constituency left caucuses and discuss the politics on which to fight for a Corbyn vote: free movement of labour; rebuild the NHS; fight the cuts and a new, renewed right-wing Tory government.”

So, the issue herein is not entryism into the Labour Party; but entryism into Momentum. This evidently poses a different problem. It remains impossible to say whether any of this has actually happened or not, however. Has it? Watson doesn’t say.

Other incidents Watson cites follow much the same suit. Under the heading ‘far-left entryism’, he provides three excerpts from Socialist Party webpages. Watson prefaces one quote with a reference to the Socialist Party organising meetings “to ‘defy’ Labour’s NEC”. However, the passage itself simply states that:

“Local parties should defy these edicts and continue meeting, or #Keep Corbyn meetings should be organised independently, including by trade union branches – and involving Corbyn supporters inside and outside the Labour Party”.

As the webpage it comes from notes, this was in response to the moratorium on local Labour Party meetings. This does not comprise entryism. It doesn’t seem to amount to anything at all, beyond a vague suggestion being made.

The other two examples are more discernible. In the first case, Momentum supposedly colluded with the Socialist Party to organise a demonstration in support of Jeremy Corbyn, in the wake of the Labour Coup:

“Around 250 people gathered at short notice to demonstrate their support for Jeremy Corbyn in Leeds. The demonstration was called by Momentum after discussion with the Socialist Party and others from trade unions and campaigning groups around Leeds.”

There is no evidence to support this suggestion of cooperation, however. In fact, it is rendered unlikely – as the author notes: “it is regrettable that the Socialist Party was not permitted a speaker at the demonstration despite our support and help initiating it”. So, even if they did help organise this demonstration, they evidently were not an altogether welcome presence. This is reaffirmed by a further reference to another demonstration; noting that “disappointingly, Momentum once again refused to allow Socialist Party members to speak”.

This is also in evidence in the second example Watson cites here. He quotes the following in his dossier:

“Socialist Party member Iain Dalton was also able to address the rally, unlike recent ones in nearby Leeds (*see footnote).

Footnote: This sentence was amended online on 15.7.16 to remove an inaccurate reference to Socialist Party members not being able to address previous Momentum meetings in York; the participation of Socialist Party members has in fact been welcomed in York Momentum”.

This was an impromptu rally, held in York. However, the same webpage includes references which expressly note that at other Momentum rallies, Socialist Party members were a unwanted guests:

“At a meeting of Tower Hamlets Momentum a few months ago, Jon Lansman made it clear that I and other Socialist Party members would not be welcome to participate”.

And:

“It was disappointing therefore that Momentum Plymouth members attempted to prevent Socialist Party members from handing out leaflets”.

If anything, these indicate that Socialist Party members have tried to participate in Momentum initiatives; without very much success.

The rest of Watson’s examples are of a piece, really – nebulous aspersions, which rest upon taking the unreliable boasts of a self-promoting fringe political group at face-value. Some do not even meet that standard. For instance, Watson alludes to “Momentum campaign sessions for Corbyn open to anyone outside of party”; but provides as proof a Momentum advert which states “the meeting/session is open to members of Momentum, volunteers and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn”. So what does that indicate? It was simply an advert for a phone-bank session, organised by Momentum. In fact, the advert itself indicates that Watson has omitted a key word. It states plainly (and in full):

“The meeting/session is open to members of Momentum, volunteers and supporters of Jeremy Corbyn only. Local trade unions will also be invited”.

More concrete is Watson’s reference to Jill Mountford – one of the five former AWL members -who was expelled from Labour in February 2016; “running phonebanks for Corbyn”. Watson then provides a copy of Mountford’s comment to that effect on Twitter: “Created logins for 60 Lewisham @PeoplesMomentum supporters to do phone bank work for JC whenever & wherever fitting around work & kids etc”. Not to put too fine a point on matters, but this clearly does not amount to entryism. Mountford was banned from the Labour Party – but there’s nothing to say she can’t organise phonebanks for Momentum.

All told, Watson’s claims of entryism are very nebulous; and the examples he provides are – at best – petty incidents. They seem not to centre on the Labour Party itself, for the most part; but revolve around the Momentum group instead. What evidence is publicly available fails to support Watson’s case that anything untoward is happening on any significant scale, however. There is certainly nothing to support Watson’s original claim that ‘arm-twisting’ of any kind has taken place. If anything, the examples he himself compiled indicate how ineffectual efforts at ‘entryism’ have proven – not least of all when Socialist Party members found themselves unwelcome at Momentum events.

Moreover, at least one claim Watson makes in his letter is – to say the least – implausible. He finishes his missive, by noting “I have attached a document that I am reliably informed is being shared between Momentum members with links to far-left parties”. In reality, the quotation in question turns out to be a blogpost, written by the Labour group, Progress; reviewing Michael Crick’s book Militant. It seems unlikely that far-left operatives have infiltrated the Labour Party, with sufficient stealth to avoid any detection; in order to circulate copies of a book review.

In fact, the actual political agenda behind Watson’s claims have been generally overlooked, in favour of the furore surrounding his reference to Trotsky entryism. In the Guardian interview which quoted his initial allegation, Watson went on to explain his intention to reintroduce the electoral-college system for electing Labour party leaders; which would end the one-member, one-vote system introduced by Ed Miliband; consequently granting a disproportionate level of influence to Parliamentary MPs and Unions in choosing a leader. This represents a far more troubling prospect for internal party democracy, than an extremely minimal number of left-wing political activists attempting – and on the basis of all presently-available evidence, failing – to influence another group of left-wing political activists.

As a final note, it would be remiss not to point out that these ‘Trotsky Entryists’ all reputedly joined the Labour party immediately after Corbyn was elected to lead it in September 2015; and yet, according to the very same sources, they apparently didn’t join it after all – but will only do so from now on.

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The Right-Minded View: The Timing Of Shami Chakrabarti’s Peerage

A certain amount of fooferaw – if not accompanied by a degree of argle-bargle – has arisen in recent days; following Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to make Shami Chakrabarti a peer in the House of Lords.

If you ask me, nothing could be a surer sign of questionable judgment than asking somebody to conduct an Inquiry into a problem, taking their recommendations on board; acting upon them; then granting them the opportunity to put their obvious talents and abilities to use in Parliament.

Unlike Mr Corbyn, Labour’s sensible pragmatic electable moderate centrists know that timing is everything – which is why they decided to launch a coup during the onset of a national economic crisis; and they have rightly complained that the timing of Ms Chakrabarti’s peerage could not have been more ill-chosen.

There has been a lot of talk over the past year about the importance of ensuring women are represented at the highest level in politics; with complaint after complaint leveled at Mr Corbyn on this theme. Women’s absence from the Parliamentary pantheon is simply unforgivable. No ifs; no buts.

And yet, quite unforgivably, Mr Corbyn has seen fit to ensure that a woman now occupies a high-level in Parliament. For shame.

After all, it was mere months ago that Ms Chakrabarti conducted an inquiry into the Great Anti-Semitism Crisis of May 2016 (which arose and dissipated the precise, respective instants that the local elections began and ended; for reasons which defy any apparent explanation).

Her report clarified that the very people who – by a striking coincidence – are currently making baseless complaints about Corbyn, were making baseless complaints about Corbyn. Life is full of these odd coincidences.

Another remarkable concurrence is the fact that Chakrabarti also contributed to the Leveson Inquiry; and that many people who are currently objecting to her being granted a position in the House of Lords were none too keen on Lord Leveson’s endeavors. Again, the only plausible explanation for this is the sheer moral rectitude and peerless personal probity of Corbyn’s detractors in the press. They can have no other motivation.

This simple truth is this: the only people who should ever become peers are carpet manufacturers, and lingerie entrepreneurs, who have donated large sums of money to political parties; and perhaps the odd section-28 supporting bus company owner who has followed suit. Maybe also former Labour party leaders, who spent decades bemoaning the House of Lords; up until the very moment they joined it.

And if women are to be promoted to positions in the Lord’s House, then it should only ever be on merit – for example, somebody whose father owned a football club, and who made a lot of money as a consequence. But certainly not to women who have proven themselves to be first-rate public servants, with a unquestionable level of personal integrity – which is a little bit too unquestionable, if you ask me; let alone to anyone who has devoted countless years to protecting the public interest. That’s not what politics is about at all.

Now if only Mr Corbyn would take this on board; and in future ensure that all of his appointments to the House of Lords meet with the prior approval of those who complain about him at every opportunity, regardless of what he may do, all would be well.

‘Owen Jones: Questions all Jeremy Corbyn supporters need to answer’ – Some Answers To Some Of The Questions

Owen Jones’ recent piece ‘Questions all Jeremy Corbyn supporters need to answer‘ has generated a fair amount of discussion, along with some controversy; being lauded – with unabashed hypocrisy – by many of his political opponents; and decried by many people who seem to generally agree with him. I think it’s worth reading, personally; as it raises some important points which nobody should be afraid of giving thought to.

Firstly though, it’s not surprising that ‘Corbyn supporters’ have tended to react dismissively – there is evidently a concerted effort being undertaken by numerous people throughout the media to undermine Jeremy Corbyn, particularly with regard to the current Labour leadership contest; and much of this is deeply cynical. Jones’ questions are not of a piece with this, however. Instead, as he outlines, his intention is to “address the weaknesses” Corbyn’s political antagonists are “honing in on”. For Jones, this is evidently about more than just Corbyn – it’s partly about his aim to see the Labour party become a positive force for good; but also his desire to avoid another defeat for the Left of the party, which would be racked-up alongside “Labour’s 1983 electoral disaster” under Michael Foot. As Jones says:

“If Labour ends up being routed, then there’s a very good chance those ideas will once again be associated with calamitous defeat for a generation. A snap election is entirely plausible, and — as things stands, thanks to the actions of all sides of the Labour party — Labour faces electoral oblivion”.

Some of Jones’ questions can be answered; but some can’t – and it would have been better if he had asked them of all Labour supporters, rather than solely Corbyn’s. Moreover, most of the problems Jones identifies seem to require the same solution – namely an improved media communication operation for Corbyn’s part. However, some of the points Jones makes in criticism of Corbyn are valid, while others are debatable, and some are wrong – if not problematic in their own right. So, let’s look at the questions he asks, one by one.

 

“How can the disastrous polling be turned around?”

As Jones writes:

“Labour’s current polling is calamitous. No party has ever won an election with such disastrous polling, or even come close. Historically any party with such terrible polling goes on to suffer a bad defeat.”

This is not an adequate depiction of matters. What has precipitated the current polling is the attempted coup, launched in the wake of the EU referendum; and the disarray which has followed. Prior to that, there was little difference between the popularity of Labour and the Conservatives.

Ipsos Mori monitors voter-intention trends, on a monthly basis. Between 11th – 14th June 2016, 35% of people intended to vote Conservative, while 34% of people intended to vote for Labour. This was essentially unchanged a month later: between 9th – 11th July 2016, the percentages were 36% and 35% respectively. Ipsos Mori do not have a subsequent poll at the time of writing; but it is obvious, at least, that voter intention was steady up until this point. Labour’s popularity had in fact improved to this level from January 2016; and been stable prior to the coup. It also stands to reason that the number of people willing to vote for Labour would decrease in present circumstances. This has a self-evident solution – the conclusion of the leadership contest, and the establishment of party unity; not that this is straightforward. Nonetheless, that’s the upshot.

However, the broader issue is how many people would be willing to vote for Labour in a General Election; and, more specifically, what might change peoples’ allegiance from the Conservatives to Labour. So what would? Several causal-factors are plausible; but the primary one will be economic circumstance. This is not difficult to prove – on the contrary, voter-intention trends during the five years of the coalition put this beyond doubt, as can be seen by tracking the change in public opinion from Spring 2013 onwards; which is when the economy began to recover and grow again, having followed two recessions and a period of stagnation between 2010-13. Voter allegiance also changed dramatically, and instantaneously, in the immediate aftermath of the recession during 2008. Again, the data on this can be accessed via Ipsos Mori.

Can, or will, something similar be a factor in the upcoming years? Almost certainly. Thanks to the recent EU referendum result, it now falls to Theresa May’s Conservative government to invoke Article 50, and begin Britain’s formal departure from the European Union. This will probably lead to the break-up of the UK; and precipitate four-years, minimum, of economic recession and turmoil. It takes two years to negotiate withdrawal from the EU, and another two years to renegotiate a new treaty. That’s without taking into consideration how much of this might be contested; along with the fact that there is currently no clarity on what precisely the new agreement would comprise (something akin to the EU-Norway treaty seems probable; but its possibility has been disputed). Needless to say, perhaps, but all of this is beyond Corbyn’s and Labour’s control.

Another citation Jones makes here, though, is the prospect of a “snap general-election”. This is not currently imminent; nor does it seem particularly likely. The fixed-term Parliament Act ensures that a General Election could only take place before 2020, on very specific conditions:

  • if a motion for an early general election is agreed either by at least two-thirds of the whole House or without division; or
  • if a motion of no confidence is passed and no alternative government is confirmed by the Commons within 14 days.

Given that neither of these are presently applicable, there’s no current basis for presuming a General Election will take place for four years.

Let’s consider it hypothetically, however. Suppose Labour did lose a General Election this year? Well, nothing substantive would change. Corbyn would surely step aside in the wake of an election defeat. His detractors would have gained what they wanted; the overall result would be an additional year of Conservative government to what was expected anyway – enacting policies which those at the forefront of bemoaning Corbyn themselves appear to support. This is hardly the apocalyptic scenario being depicted by Corbyn’s critics. If anything, it serves to demonstrate how counterproductive the Labour coup itself really is.

Perhaps the addendum to Jones’ pessimism about Labour’s electoral prospects is his view that “a lifetime of Tory rule” may beckon. How plausible is this scenario? Not very. It requires ignoring the fact that David Cameron resigned in the wake of the Brexit vote; that Boris Johnson and George Osborne chose not to contest the Conservative party leadership at all; that the last remaining challenger – Andrea Leadsom – withdrew from the final round; in order to suppose that present circumstances are currently roseate for Theresa May. Again, this overlooks the obligation on Britain’s current Prime Minister to initiate a withdrawal from the EU, with all of the fall-out that this entails.

It also means leaving aside the other salient fact, however, that every single Conservative party leadership contestant, including May, ruled-out holding a General Election until 2020; despite the disarray among their opponents meaning the circumstance couldn’t be more advantageous. Moreover, David Cameron had spent the previous years gerrymandering – purposely removing young voters from the electoral register; and seeking to redesign the electoral boundaries in his party’s favour. Why would any of this have happened if the people involved were assured of their long-term prospects? Perhaps it would have done, regardless – but the indications suggest otherwise.

Further to this, Jones alludes to the former Labour leader, Michael Foot, attracting “huge rallies across the country in the build-up to Labour’s 1983 general election disaster”. Jones is not alone in making this point of comparison to Corbyn. It is something which needs a more thorough consideration, however. As Red Pepper magazine note, “Labour’s 1983 election campaign” has often been cited “to say it is impossible for a leader like Jeremy Corbyn to win any election from the left”. There are several factors underscoring the 1983 election result which are invariably ignored by people citing it, though – and Jones does not differ. One is the damaging impact that candidates from the Social Democratic Party, which had split from Labour, had on Labour votes in marginal constituencies; another is the effect which the Falklands War had on boosting the popularity of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative government. A further one is the aftermath of the late 1970’s years of turmoil and discontent, which had seen the Labour government of its day decline in popularity.

To put it succinctly, Foot did not lose because he was too left-wing. Instead, a combination of factors resulted in Labour’s defeat. One of these, however does bear consideration – namely, the poor election campaign Foot’s party had overseen in 1983. It’s on this issue that Jones does level a valid criticism at Corbyn. In fact, most of the questions Jones asks – and the criticisms he makes – revolve around this same theme: the shortcomings of Corbyn’s communication with and through the media. This is not something which can justifiably be rejected as a charge; but even so, that doesn’t mean everything Jones says about it is accurate.

 

“Where is the clear vision?”

Jones is right that Corbyn’s media operation is not currently as effective as it needs to be. But even this is not quite straightforward. Jones asks “Where is the clear vision?”; adding that “‘Anti-austerity’ just defines you by what you are against. What’s the positive vision, that can be understood clearly on a doorstep, that will resonate with people who aren’t particularly political?”. This is a fair question to ask. However, Jones then quotes Corbyn outlining precisely what he is aiming for:

“An economy that doesn’t cut public expenditure as a principle, that instead is prepared to invest and participate in the widest economy in order to give opportunities and decency for everyone. A welfare system that doesn’t punish those with disabilities but instead supports people with disabilities. A health service that is there for all, for all time, without any charges and without any privatisation within that NHS. And a foreign policy that’s based on human rights, the promotion of democracy around the world.”

Jones then concludes: “I’m not at all convinced that this is a vision which will resonate with the majority of people. Compare and contrast to the Tories’ messaging”. Well, firstly, the Tories messaging evidently didn’t resonate with the majority of people either: 36% of the electorate is a minority of voters; and it seems reasonable to assume that most of these people would vote Conservative regardless of any message. Secondly, Jones can’t have it both ways here: it cannot reasonably be said that there’s no effective message; and that it’s the substance of the message which is the actual problem.

As it happens, there is – certainly – a lack of clarity on messaging; and this is one thing which New Labour did get right, albeit for the wrong reasons. This is something which Corbyn does need to improve on – but there is, self-evidently, a difference between saying that a message needs improved expression, and that the political commitments themselves are wrong. If the latter is your view – fair enough; but say so, and explain why. It can then be discussed properly. As it stands, it can’t. All which can be deduced is that Corbyn needs to improve his media operation.

So what needs to be done? Jones himself answers his own question on this, in fact:

“An effective media strategy means appearing on TV and radio at every possible opportunity, and lobbying for appearances when they are not offered; reacting swiftly to momentous events like a change in Prime Minister; having message discipline underpinning a coherent vision; planning ahead, so that you are always one step ahead; sending press releases in good time so they can be reported on, and so on. Such a strategy does not seem to be in place.”

This is a fair criticism to level at Corbyn; but surely it denotes the need for improvement, rather than a change of leadership?

The same can be said of an additional question Jones asks: “What’s the strategy to win over the over-44s?”. As he notes:

“When I asked Jeremy Corbyn in my recent interview what his strategy was, he came up with some sensible starting points: respect for older people (this needs fleshing out in policy terms), dealing with pensioner poverty, and social care. The problem is — that’s the first I’ve heard of it. Where’s the strategy to relentlessly appeal to older Britons who are so critical in deciding elections? There’s no point having a vision unless it is repeated ad infinitum, rather than being offered after being prompted: it will go over everyone’s head”.

So there’s the solution then, surely: better messaging and media communication?

It’s on this issue that Jones’ criticism begins to become problematic, though. He asks, fairly enough, “What’s the media strategy?”; but then opines:

“Sadiq Khan was not standing on a radical left programme in his London Mayoral bid. Nonetheless he was remorselessly portrayed as the puppet of extremists by his opponent and his ally — the capital’s only mass newspaper, as well as several national newspapers. He managed to counteract it, and won. His ratings are extremely favourable. The press lost”.

So what did Khan do? Nobody citing his election in order to criticise Corbyn, or even simply positing him as a point of comparison, ever explains. Was it Khan himself who proved decisive? The answer here is probably not. For one thing, London is evidently not representative of the UK as a whole. However, so far, the only person who appears to have undertaken a proper analysis of the votes cast in this mayoral contest – there has been virtually no media interest in the Bristol mayoral contest, and its equally significant election of Marvin Rees – is the New Statesman journalist, Stephen Bush; who concluded that “victory in London was Jeremy Corbyn’s, not Sadiq Khan’s”. So what was his reasoning for this?

“A lot has been written about Khan’s victory being a rebuke to Corbyn’s approach to politics. But if you look at where he did best, with the exception of his home seat of Tooting, he largely did exactly as you’d expect a generic Labour candidate to do, with his margin of victory down to exactly the kinds of voters that Corbyn has added to the Labour tent”

This is obviously only a snapshot of one complex election; but nonetheless, it is apparent that Khan benefited from the influx of support which Labour gained in the wake of Corbyn being elected to lead the party. Personally, I do not see this factor as something which should be taken for granted – but rather, as the beginning of a change for the better, which should be embraced by Labour.

However, Jones also contends that:

“Corbyn often seems entirely missing in action, particularly at critical moments: Theresa May becoming the new Prime Minister, the appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, the collapse of the Government’s economic strategy, the abolition of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, soaring hate crimes after Brexit, and so on.”

How true is this? Not very. Nor does does it seem a particularly fair criticism to make, given that all of these occurred in the aftermath of the Labour coup. Nonetheless, Corbyn took issue with Johnson’s appointment during the first Prime Minister’s Questions session after Theresa May became the new leader of the Conservatives; asking:

The Prime Minister is rightly concerned that:

“If you’re black, you’re treated more harshly…than if you’re white.”

Before appointing her new Foreign Secretary, did she discuss with him his description of black people as “piccaninnies” and ask why he had questioned the motives of US President Obama on the basis of his “part-Kenyan” heritage?

Theresa May did not answer the question. Furthermore, Corbyn had also spoken out against the rise in hate-crimes following Brexit; again in Parliament.

Jones’ allusion to the “collapse of the Government’s economic strategy” presumably refers to the 2020 budget-surplus plan being abandoned by George Osborne. Corbyn’s shadow chancellor did make a public statement about this. By contrast, the abolition of the Department of Energy and Climate Change presumably received no statement from Labour, as the Shadow Secretary for this department, Lisa Nandy, had deserted her post. It does not seem justifiable to fault Corbyn for making no real comment about this administrative change, amidst the chaos which followed Nandy et al’s puerility.

As a last point here, what was Corbyn supposed to say when May became the Prime Minister, exactly? Was it not covered by what he asked of her during Prime Ministers Questions? If not, Jones doesn’t explain what he has in mind here; and it will have to be left aside.

 

“How are the policies significantly different from the last general election?”

It’s not particularly easy to answer this, because Labour does not currently have a manifesto; so a like-for-like comparison cannot be made. However, even as it stands, the obvious point of difference is that Miliband’s Labour were committed to the continuation of austerity, whereas Corbyn is opposed to it. Moreover, under Corbyn, Labour is developing policies in consultation with the party’s membership. This is evidently a work in progress at the time of writing. Corbyn’s own priorities indicate what his overall intentions are, and can be accessed on his personal website. So, the nascent information is there for people who are genuinely interested in it.

It could also not be clearer what Corbyn’s current ambitions for a Labour government would be: abolishing tuition fees, establishing a living wage, ensuring an adequate supply of council housing, for example. So when Jones suggests that “surely there needs to be a clear idea of what sort of policies will be offered,” this is fair enough – but again, Corbyn has evidently made clear what sort of policies he would pursue. That they haven’t been given word-for-word definition is not something which seems realistic to expect at the present moment in time; especially given the current circumstances. Could they be advertised better? Yes; but this seems a fairly straightforward matter to resolve once a more concrete framework of policies has actually been defined. At present, that is not applicable.

Again, however, Jones’s criticisms of Corbyn become self-contradictory. He outlines several policies from Labour’s previous manifesto – such as deficit-reduction, and renationalisation of railways; and then suggests that these are unlikely to gain any traction among the public. This seems to be much of a nothingness as criticism: either these are good ideas, or they’re not. If not, then they can – and should – be discussed, and discarded. Simply pointing out that Corbyn’s Labour have retained some of Miliband’s commitments, however, doesn’t really mean anything. Would anyone seriously suggest that these policies caused Labour its losses in the General Election of 2015? Surely not. It also begs the question why, if Corbyn offers nothing more than Miliband, has there been such a histrionic outpouring – on a daily basis – since Corbyn was elected to lead the party? Clearly, something doesn’t add up.

Moreover, irrespective of any similarities, there are significant differences between Corbyn’s Labour and Miliband’s – the fact that Corbyn actually opposes the damaging policies of the Conservative government is unarguably the key one. Indeed, Jones should know this better than most, as he was frequently scathing of Labour’s passivity in the face of iniquitous Conservative policies, between 2010-15. See, for instance, his article about Labour’s decision to abstain when the coalition government re-wrote the law, in order to avoid reimbursing workfare participants who had been unlawfully sanctioned; or his previous, even more fulminant, condemnation of Labour’s rhetoric towards people in receipt of benefits under Miliband’s leadership.

Needless to say, Corbyn did not abstain when the workfare law was rewritten; nor did he fail to oppose the government in 2015, when it introduced yet more benefit-cuts to Parliament in a bill which the majority of Labour MPs abstained on at its second reading. It seems obvious, from this fairly limited example alone, that Corbyn’s leadership marks a significant change of course for Labour. This is borne out by Labour’s subsequent critiques and opposition to the government’s policies during the past year.

 

“What’s the strategy to win over Scotland?”

The problem that Labour have in Scotland is straightforward to elucidate, yet remains almost universally ignored – namely, an upsurge of nationalism, boosting the popularity of the Scottish National Party. This is not something which Scottish Labour are currently confronting; let alone effectively.

Significantly, Jones demonstrated this himself, in a piece he had written during August 2015. Specifically:

“Scotland cannot be won back straight away, even if this is a test Jeremy’s opponents will set. As things stand, Labour face being wiped out in next May’s Holyrood elections. The SNP won 6 Westminster seats in 2010; in 2015 they won 56. Huge Labour majorities became huge SNP majorities. The SNP’s lead in Scottish opinion polls is astronomical. Scottish Labour as a party currently remains a husk. The idea such a profound political shift simply be suddenly turned around — even though Jeremy is by far the best candidate to do so — in a matter of months is fantasy land stuff.”

Jones’ own proposal, however, was for Labour to offer an “uncompromising apology” to the people of Scotland, for something which he doesn’t outline; before “grovelling”, and subsequently “relaunching Scottish Labour as a new grassroots insurgent movement that can take on the SNP from the left”.

This misses the point, by a significant degree. Labour have confronted the SNP from the left – and it hasn’t worked. At the recent local elections in May 2016, the Scottish electorate voted predominantly for the SNP and the Conservatives: two parties committed to low-tax, and spending-cuts; as their government, and its opposition. Labour need to begin confronting the SNP from the standpoint of left-wing unionism. This is not simply about winning votes – if Scotland does become independent, what would almost certainly follow is a dramatic decline in the standards of living for many people. This is not something which has received any honest debate so far. Indeed, it appears not to have received any real discussion, from any quarter in the media.

Moreover, despite their rhetoric, the SNP are not committed to social democracy. Quite the contrary, they have governed Scotland for a decade; and while they have overseen some progressive policies – such as ending prescription charges – they have also been responsible for imposing austerity policies on Scotland; and have privatised public services such as the Calmac ferry service, Scot Rail, while cutting college places, and reducing local government funding. All of this remains generally uncontested.

Why have the SNP been able to undertake these policies, with barely any notice arising? Perhaps, at least in part, because neither Labour – nor the Conservatives – have disputed them during recent years, given that they were wed to much the same policies. Corbyn has confronted this, however – specifically objecting to the inadequacy of nationalism to address social problems.

Unfortunately, in recent years, the SNP have been able to pretend that Labour and the Conservatives were indistinguishable; as evinced when the party’s deputy leader, Stewart Hosie, said: “Given their toxic alliance with the Tories for the last two and a half years, people in Scotland would be forgiven for thinking that Labour’s focus is not what they can do for Scotland – but what they can do for their Tory allies”; adding “the general election is Scotland’s opportunity to hold real power at Westminster and to deliver on the priorities of the people who live here – ending austerity, protecting our public services and investing in jobs.”

The SNP is in government in Holyrood. What has it actually done to end austerity, protect public services, and invest in jobs? Is Westminster really to blame for Scotland’s problems? Holyrood has tax powers which the SNP do not use, when they could raise revenue. Why not? Because what motivates the SNP is nationalism; not socialism. The SNP cite austerity as part of this framework – that poverty and inequality is inflicted on Scotland by England and the British Parliament; instead of being an aspect of the economic system which the SNP themselves support. The SNP’s anti-austerity stance is a pretext for independence, not greater equality.

As before, Jones should know this better than most, as it was made plain when he interviewed the Scottish National Party’s MP, Mhairi Black, earlier this year; who said as much – that she would opt for Scottish independence over a socialist United Kingdom.

Labour will not revive itself in Scotland by pretending that up is down, black is white, and independence is an apolitical issue, or a solution to economic problems. It is not. Nationalism should be confronted – so should the SNP’s actual record in government. This does not have to comprise the toxic animosity which has bedeviled political discourse on the issue of Scottish independence during recent years; instead Labour should make plain that it, and unionism, offers people something better.

It may be of irrelevance by 2020, however, if Scotland undertakes a second independence referendum and votes to leave the UK; it could also be rendered immaterial if the Scottish National Party was to enter a governing coalition with Labour. As it stands, there are too many unknown factors to evaluate, which preclude offering a concrete answer here. Be that as it may, there is a need for Scottish Labour to confront nationalism properly.

 

 “What’s the strategy to win over Conservative voters?”

Not to put too fine a point on matters, but you can’t win Conservative voters over – they are Conservative voters. Their support cannot be gained by Labour. Swing-voters are a different matter – they vote from self-interest. The only factor which is liable to see them switch allegiance in significant number is an economic downturn which jeapordises their income; and it seems insensible to adjudge otherwise. Think about it – why would they vote for a change of government, if they believe their interests are being served by the current administration? Consider also the longevity of British governments: 18 years of consecutive Conservative governments, followed by 13 years of Labour administrations; succeeded by at least 10 years of Conservative government. It takes a lot to precipitate a change.

It does not appear as if particular policies of one kind or another can achieve this. Quite the contrary – in the aftermath of the 2015 General Election, Labour conducted a focus-group inquiry into the reasons why swing-voters opted for parties other than Labour. With regard to the Conservatives, the reasons given were divorced from reality.

Oddly enough, several media outlets – quoting inevitably nameless ‘Labour sources’ – claimed on successive occasions that this report had been undertaken in secret, and had only come to light through being leaked to the press. ITV news made this assertion in January 2016; while the New Statesman reiterated it in March 2016. In reality it was published by the Independent, in October 2015.

As it noted:

“The damning findings, obtained by The Independent, show that swing voters who have deserted Labour see the party as standing “for down and outs, not people like me.” The research found that Labour’s only strength is its values. While the party is viewed as “nice,” it is still “in thrall to the undeserving” and “in denial about its ‘appalling’ track record on the economy”.

Furthermore:

“Labour’s research found that swing voters were relieved that the Conservatives won this year. Some said the Tories would take the tough decisions needed, “especially cracking down on immigration” – the main issue for many – and wanted “benefit scroungers” to be “penalised.”

Leaving aside the inherent vulgarity of these sentiments, they are demonstrably devoid of reason. Labour had pledged to put ‘controls on immigration’, to be ‘tough’ on benefit claimants (specifically the unemployed), and was openly committed to essentially the same economic plans as the Conservatives. It clearly did not result in electoral success. In fact, I can personally attest that I was left reluctant to vote for Labour precisely because it made such problematic commitments.

The flip-side to this is the fact that Labour’s vote-share fell among those aged 65-plus, who are the highest turnout group. As Ipsos Mori note, “this group is where the Conservatives were most successful, gaining a 5.5 point swing from Labour since 2010”. Perhaps needless to say, but with the exception of proposing to end Winter fuel allowance for the most affluent among them, Labour had pledged to continue the Conservatives’ policies towards pensioners. It clearly made no substantive difference.

Labour can evidently not win-over people who subscribe to Tory myths on the economy, benefits, and immigration by attempting to placate them. They tried, and failed. What seems to be more pressing is for Labour to confront these fictions; and target people who might vote for the party, because they agree with its values and aims, but perhaps don’t currently support it; or else do not turn up and actually cast a vote in elections.

So, what can also be considered here is Jones’ question:

“how can the enthusiasm of the mass membership be mobilised, to reach the tens of millions of people who don’t turn up to political rallies?”

Perhaps Jones is thinking on too large a scale here. There are at least three galvanising prospects which are immediately apparent – one is through increasing voter-engagement. Labour suffered particularly badly from a poor turnout at the last General Election: they were expected to receive 35% of the vote – in the event, they gained only 30%. Turn-out is vital. Labour’s vote lay primarily among people aged 18-34, voters in social class DE, private and social renters, BME voters, and young women. This is Labour’s vote-base, and there’s no purpose in taking it for granted – not when turn-out is low among all of these groups. The young are half as likely to vote as the old. This can only really be remedied by making the Labour party more inclusive – and ensuring that their input is properly valued, and represented. 

So, another possibility is the ability to revitalise constituency Labour parties and local representation, ensuring that good, local MPs can contest elections; rather than scions of nepotism or partisan cronies being parachuted into safe-seats, and essentially given tenure, no matter how mediocre they might be.

A third is through funding: Labour’s financial resources were reduced by a further instance of David Cameron’s gerrymandering. This is not merely a replacement for lost income, however; but in so far as any money in politics is clean, membership fees are as pristine as it gets, and can provide Labour with financial support that does not have any corrupting strings attached. Perhaps a fourth factor to be considered here is more debatable – the power of enthusiasm; which is vital if people are to overcome the pessimism which buttresses conservative policies: the view that nothing can be changed, so nobody should try, is insidious. It can only be overcome if people have cause for hope.

 

“How would we deal with people’s concerns about immigration?”

This is the most problematic of Jones’ questions. It is also where Jones’ criticisms of Corbyn are at their least valid. As he contends: “Britain just voted to leave the European Union in what, above all else, was a vote on immigration”. In reality the referendum was not a vote on immigration. The fact that many people believed otherwise is significant; as Jones continues:

“Labour has to at least engage with where people are at. In my proposed strategy blog last year, I suggested Labour offer an ‘immigration dividend’: ringfencing the extra money EU immigrants put into the economy and using it to invest in communities with higher levels of immigration. To his credit, Corbyn has occasionally spoken about reinstating the Migrant Impacts Fund, abolished by Cameron’s government — but only intermittently, to the extent where I doubt the vast majority of the electorate are even aware of this position. So how could the leadership devise a strategy to respond on immigration?”

The answer is by confronting anti-immigration sentiment properly; and addressing the causes of it effectively.

The majority of British people have just voted to relinquish their own freedom of movement, in the mistaken belief that a) immigration damages Britain b) leaving the EU will mitigate that. Neither are true. So why do many people believe otherwise? Perhaps because much of our political discourse centres on the myths about immigration, rather than the reality underscoring it.

Does immigration cause job losses? No. Does it cause homelessness? No. Does it cause poverty, or low wages? No. So what does cause these problems? Poor employment rights and work regulations; exploitative employers; weak regional economies; and a failure to invest in housing development. These are what need to be remedied.

The one problem immigration does generate is placing pressure on public services – but then so does austerity; far more so, to much less popular chagrin. Corbyn has broached these issues, on several occasions. For instance, speaking in April 2016:

“Learning abroad and working abroad, increases the opportunities and skills of British people and migration brings benefits as well as challenges at home. But it’s only if there is government action to train enough skilled workers to stop the exploitation of migrant labour to undercut wages and invest in local services and housing in areas of rapid population growth that they will be felt across the country”.

And again, more expansively, in June (the delivery differs slightly from the text):

“On migration, we cannot deny the inevitable; we live in a smaller world. Most of us in Britain know someone who has studied, worked or retired abroad.  We have reciprocal arrangements with the European Union. Our citizens, well over one million of them, live in other EU countries and EU citizens come to live and work here.

But it is not that simple, I’ve already talked about how some industries are affected by the undercutting of wages and the action that can be taken to tackle that. But some communities can change dramatically and rapidly and that can be disconcerting for some people. That doesn’t make them Little Englanders, xenophobes or racists. More people living in an area can put real pressure on local services like GPs surgeries, schools and housing.

This isn’t the fault of migrants.  It’s a failure of government. The coalition government in 2010 abolished the Migrant Impact Fund; a national fund to manage the short term impacts of migration on local communities. By abolishing it, David Cameron’s Coalition undermined the proper preparation and investment that communities need to adapt. We are clear, we would restore such a fund and it could be funded from unspent [EU funding].

We cannot and should not want to close the borders. Not for European citizens wanting to come here, tens of thousands of whom work in our NHS. And not for British citizens who want to take advantage of opportunities elsewhere in Europe.

But we do have to make sure that public services are able to sustain the communities we have here, part of that is through a Migrant Impact Fund, but partly too it is about reversing the damaging and unnecessary austerity policies that this government continues to impose on our communities and our country”.

The message here could not have been clearer. Should it need further explication, Corbyn was asked by the BBC about Labour voters’ attitudes towards the impact of immigration on their communities. As Corbyn replied:

“Let’s not turn this into blaming people who travel, work and migrate around Europe. Let’s instead ensure governments respond to the needs of all communities; and that unscrupulous employers that are grossly exploiting migrant workers and trying to limit their rights need to be dealt with.”

Corbyn had also stressed the need to reform the Posting of Workers Directive, in order “to close a loophole that allows workers from one country to work in another and be paid less than local workers doing the same job.  Although the instances are relatively few, such incidents undermine community cohesion by exploiting migrant workers and undercutting local workers”. So, if Jones’ criticism of Corbyn on this issue is essentially the same as the aforementioned need to improve his media communication, fair enough; if not, then Jones doesn’t really have a point.

In fact, Jones’ overall views on this subject coincide with the narrative that Labour has lost a significant number of votes to Ukip due to ‘concerns about immigration’; a theory pushed with more vigour than accuracy by the likes of Matthew Goodwin, and the Guardian columnist, John Harris. By all accounts, there’s no real basis to this vein of contention. The polling firm, Populus, conducted a survey of who intended to vote for Ukip at the General Election of 2015; and reported that:

“Studying how Ukip supporters voted in 2010 demonstrates why the party represents a threat to all Westminster parties, but particularly the Conservative Party. Just 14% of current Ukip supporters voted Ukip in 2010. That leaves a very large proportion of voters moving from other parties to Ukip, and the largest source of these new Ukippers are ex-Conservative voters. 45% of current Ukippers voted Conservative in 2010. 14% voted Liberal Democrat, and 10% voted Labour”.

Moreover, the theme persistent in Goodwin/Harris’ articles – that working class voters, specifically, have deserted Labour for Ukip – does not withstand any real scrutiny. Looking at the data provided on the General Election of 2015, by Ipsos Mori, 41% of people in social class DE voted Labour, while only 17% voted for Ukip (the Conservatives gained 27%, by point of contrast).

Jones and his peers seem to believe that Labour can only prosper if it engages in open hostility towards migrants – and for that matter, misleads the public about immigration by making pledges it cannot possibly keep. Aside from the ethics of this, it is myopic; and almost certainly destined to prove counterproductive. As noted previously, Labour did engage in anti-migrant rhetoric during the General Election of 2015. It bore nothing for them; save to further embed myths surrounding the issue in the political mainstream. Moreover, 65% of Black/Ethnic Minority voters supported Labour. Does the need for their continued support not count for anything? Is it not liable to be jeapordised by adopting the rhetoric of anti-migrant politics?

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There needs to be a more compassionate and truthful discourse on the subject of immigration. It does not cause the social problems which are widely attributed to it; and the actual factors behind these need to be countered with better investment in infrastructure; job creation; and decent, secure employment. This is the actual bedrock of working class identity in society: work.

Ukip should not be ‘love-bombed’, as Jones has suggested elsewhere. Instead, they should be confronted. Ukip are wrong about immigration – as they are about the supposed relationship between same-sex marriage and inclement weather; the putative dangers posed to moral decency by women wearing short-skirts; the workings of EU fishing policy; and any other permutation of flat-earth theory they care to devise. Nobody pretends that Ukip has a point, except when the subject is immigration. Why? There is no valid reason.

 

There is, however, an elephant in the room here; and it’s unhelpful – though nonetheless valid – for Jones to frame his questions and criticisms as a series for Corbyn’s supporters alone to answer. Every single enquiry Jones makes can – and should – be asked of Corbyn’s opponents and detractors within the Labour Party. They have a case to answer.

They presided over successive General Election defeats, in 2010, and 2015. They oversaw a wipe-out of Labour’s Parliamentary seats in Scotland. They have launched a coup plunging Labour into disarray, and a damaging second leadership contest – which is what has precipitated the current dire polling – during the onset of a national economic crisis. They alienated swathes of Labour’s supporters during their period in government – causing an unprecedented decline in voter turn-out between 1997-2001; very nearly losing office in 2005.

They ignored warnings of the looming financial collapse that began in 2008; which is what caused their removal from government. They took Britain into a disastrous war, which damaged the reputation of their senior politicians beyond repair. They cut benefits for lone parents during their first year in office. They also privatised the benefit service’s medical agency, paving the way for Atos’s work capability assessments and the cruelties they bore. They abrogated civil liberties. They assisted in the US programme of torture. They initiated the privatisation of comprehensive schools; privatised prisons; and constructed immigration detention centres which were also outsourced to the private sector. Whole swathes of the country were abandoned to economic decline; which is something that played a key role in the outcome of the EU referendum.

Labour then spent five years in opposition, variously crossing picket-lines, abstaining as the government rewrote the law – having fraudulently deprived workfare participants of income; pledging to be ‘tough’ on unemployed people  – before going on to abstain, yet again, on a Bill which was openly designed to impoverish the very people Labour is supposed to protect. Their leader was demonised by the press between 2010-15; and was undermined with endless whispering campaigns conducted by the same MPs behaving in like manner towards Corbyn.

So then, what is their plan? It appears to consist of nothing more than appealing to Tory voters in the South East by adopting Conservative policies; and Ukip voters in the North, by engaging in anti-immigration rhetoric. Where will this lead? What does their media strategy comprise, beyond empty platitudes; and an endless stream of malicious gossip? There is nothing else in evidence so far.

My personal view is that it’s true enough Corbyn may not lead Labour into government, no – and certainly not without major improvements; but that no-one else can. Moreover, it will not be Labour, nor Corbyn, who are operative herein – what will decide the outcome of the General Election in 2020 is whether or not the public desire a change of government; and what will ultimately determine this is the state of the economy. The factor which, without any doubt, will underscore that is Britain’s departure from the European Union.

It is not simply a question of whether Labour can win a General Election, however; it is also a matter of whether they deserve to govern. Jones asks if people are prepared for “a lifetime of Tory rule?”. Many people did not get through five years of Tory rule; as the spate of suicides and premature deaths of benefit claimants attests. This process did not begin with the Conservative-led coalition government – it has merely been taken to an extreme by the Tory party. Many of the most harmful Conservative policies are in fact a continuation of Labour policies; formulated while they were in government. This trajectory needs to be opposed; and brought to an end. Those seeking to supplant Corbyn will not do so – as they demonstrated, repeatedly, between the years 2010-15.

There is another question, however, for people to consider here: if Jeremy Corbyn really is the useless ‘unelectable’ leader which the media and his internecine detractors insist, then why are they continuously trying to convince people of this with false claims, smears, innuendo, and the very lowest type of misinformation? Until people have an answer to that, then the subject of ‘electability’ remains a pointless discussion. If Corbyn is popular, and the Labour party is not, then it isn’t Corbyn who is the problem. More to the point, the Britain of 2016 is not the same as Britain in 1983. It’s time people faced up to this reality.

Contemporary Political Euphemisms

Moderate: somebody whose concerns are vested in self-interest, rather than public service; who pretends to be above politics and ideology, while perpetually politicking in the most uncompromisingly ideological manner possible.

Far-Left: a non-Conservative.

Hard-left: somebody who opposes an illegal war, irrespective of how much pressure is put on them to support it.

Soft-Left: somebody who self-identifies as progressive; while supporting illegal wars, regressive tax and benefit policies, and the abrogation of employment rights.

Regressive Left: somebody who opposes racism.

The Fascist-Left: somebody who derides their political counterparts.

The international Left: somebody who uses the internet.

Proud socialist: somebody who opposes socialism.

Marxist-Leninist anarcho-syndicalism: mild social democracy.

 

Pragmatist: somebody who ignores evidence, in favour of ideology.

Credible: somebody who says one thing, then does another.

Electable: somebody who has presided over successive election defeats; with diminishing returns each time.

Sensible: authoritarian.

Responsible: autocratic.

Aspirational: 1) self-seeking. 2) Disinclined to pay tax.

 

Very real concerns: bogus anxieties; fuelled by tabloid hysteria and hearsay.

Legitimate views: an untenable perspective on a complex subject; which eschews evidence in favour of an overarching narrative.

Listening to concerns: ignoring the consequences of a policy, in order to benefit from exploiting public misapprehension.

Feminist: 1) somebody who actively works for the betterment of women in society 2) somebody who oppresses women, but happens to be female themselves, while in a position of political power.

Misogynist: 1) somebody who despises women 2) somebody who disputes the political views of a right-wing woman.

Abuse: 1) being offensive and threatening towards someone 2) being impolite to a politician or journalist on the internet 3) criticising a politician or journalist on the internet

 

Virtue signalling: opposing harmful government policies.

A reliable source: a malicious gossip.

A senior insider: 1) a backbench MP. 2) A retired MP. 3) A disgraced former MP.

Living within our means: overseeing an upsurge of poverty among some social groups, in order to increase prosperity among other social groups.

The elite: people who possess expertise on a complex social or economic phenomenon; whose commentaries conflict with popular/conservative opinion – seldom to any avail.

Project fear: forewarning the public about the likely economic consequences of a political decision.

Scaremongering: citing a precedent.

Entryism: members and supporters of a party abiding by legitimate democratic processes; casting votes in favour of a politician whose views they share, but who lacks the patronage of grandees.

 

Politicising: identifying and criticising the embarrassing consequences of a government policy.

Hard choice: taking the easy route.

Difficult decision: opting for the path of least resistance.

Savvy: incompetent.

Savvy and savage: incompetent, and dishonest.

Reasonableness: mollifying people by saying what they want to hear.

Mastery of policy: ineptly deporting the wrong people; being found in contempt of court multiple times.

Winning: evading questions; avoiding accountability; losing referendums.

 

Real people: imaginary people, onto which politicians’ pet concerns are superimposed.

Real problems: imaginary problems, cited by politicians in order to avoid answering for the damaging consequences of their own policies.

The working class: 1) people in the lowest economic strata 2) People who read tabloid newspapers. 3) People who are generally circumvented when the topics of employment rights and poverty are being discussed; but promptly lionized when derogatory attitudes towards immigration are ascendant.

The middle class: 1) a pejorative term often used by media columnists when discussing people they disagree with. 2) People in the median economic strata.

Quinoa: 1) a status symbol, taken to denote decadence and dilettantism. See also lentils, wind-chimes, and books. 2) A low-cost cereal grain, available at any supermarket.

 

Centrist: somebody who supports impoverishing benefit claimants, scapegoating migrants, and eulogises any wars waged in the middle east.

Respectable politics: blaming people who live in poverty for their own circumstances; deriding migrants for the failures of governments; cheerleading bombing-runs on Middle Eastern countries.

Game of thrones: a violent fantasy series, featuring problematic depictions of rape; frequently cited as a reference point by media columnists to analogize petty political disputes.

Condemn: a ritualistic form of denunciation, which politicians are beholden to by journalists. A politician must repudiate whatever phenomenon has been cited; as many times as requested. To wit:

Will you condemn casual rudeness? – Yes.

But will you condemn less-than-casual rudeness? – Yes.

But will you now re-condemn casual rudeness? – Sure.

But will you now re-condemn less-than-casual rudeness? – Fine.

But will you backdate your condemnation to Wednesday? – Yes.

But will you also backdate this condemnation to Tuesday? – Well, that’s too far; so no.

At which juncture it is declared that the politician in question has refused to condemn the phenomenon at point; usually in the form of a newspaper headline.

Are you saying…?: an insinuating question, which rephrases somebody’s utterance until it no longer bears any resemblance to what was originally said. For example:

Aggressive foreign policies seem to be counterproductive.

– Are you saying you want the terrorists to win? 

The Right-Minded View: Labour’s Leadership Contest & Our New Prime Minister – A Socialist Case Against Socialism; And A Feminist Case Against Feminism?

One of the great problems of democracy, as we all know, is that people will insist on having their own opinion; especially about such things as who should represent them in government, or lead political parties they vote for. Wiser heads prevail in golf clubs, thankfully, where such things are decided by those best placed. Therefore, it falls to the right-thinking – that is, the decent among us – to set people straight. This is for their own benefit, of course.

In my opinion, the upcoming Labour leadership contest is unarguably best viewed as a game of three halves.

According to one Labour source, a Mr Corbyn PM – upon entering 10 Downing Street – would immediately unveil a nationwide stratagem of preparing shoes for human consumption. Now, I haven’t got any facts or figures to hand; but if you ask me, this type of policy could be a serious problem.

What is more, just as the best way to judge a book prior to purchase is by its cover, so the contents of a person’s character may be duly surmised from their appearance. Whereas the moustache has homely connotations, of joviality and home-spun wisdom, the beard differs markedly in import. It is suggestive of many things: for example, somebody who works in the arms trade; possibly a sugar daddy, fond of frequenting districts of only the lowest morality; or even a professional librarian.

This latter would clearly be unbecoming in a candidate for the Prime Ministerial office – if you read books then there is always a danger that you will inadvertently lapse into saying something intelligent; and thereby disenfranchise ordinary, hard-working people – such as Members of Parliament, political commentators, or representatives of the business community.

What the Corbohydrates need to accept is that Britain demands strength of character in its national leader – somebody who never goes less than the whole hog. David Cameron, for example, fulfilled that porcine criteria palpably – with a probing rectitude, of heretofore unseen thrusting potency. This is perhaps why Mr Cameron demanded Corbyn’s resignation – because Jeremy Corbyn’s strange reluctance to resign as soon as things became difficult clearly shows that he lacks the qualities expected of a responsible leader in this country.

However, it is not only non-partisan people, such as Mr Corbyn’s political opponents, who have called on him to resign; even stalwart Labour party figureheads such as Tony Blair and Neil Kinnock have seen fit to join the chorus.

In contrast to Mr Corbyn, Mr Blair was a pragmatist, rather than an idealist: he was never ashamed to asset-strip the public sector for the benefit of people who had given him money, just because some suggested this conflicted with the ideals of the Labour party. That is because Tony Blair was a man of the people. Or certain people, at any rate (not literally at any rate – he did expect to be remunerated appropriately for his many favours).

And yet Mr Corbyn fellow’s supporters have the temerity to question the merits of Mr Blair’s tenure. Not only that, but they are even quite impertinent about it. ‘Rendition’ this, and ‘asbos’ that. The whole Iraq triumph between the years 2003, and 2003 (we needn’t concern ourselves with the period 2004-present, unduly). It really is most unbecoming. You certainly never hear Mr Blair’s admirers mentioning such disagreeable topics as these – let alone poverty, or record increases in imprisonment, for example. No – that is because they simply have better manners than to do so.

An equally principled figure, Mr Kinnock spent his entire life opposed to the whole concept of the House of Lords; right up until the moment he joined it. This is the kind of integrity which our country needs.

As Mr Kinnock has pointed out, the current Labour ‘leader’ (not my preferred term; but I’m a firm believer in courtesy) Jeremy Corbyn simply lacks electability – as proven by his disastrous landslide victory in the leadership contest. Further proof, should any be required, is Mr Corbyn’s failure to have already won the general election which won’t take place for approximately four years.

By contrast, Neil Kinnock certainly knows a thing or two about victorious general election campaigns: he was, after all the most successfully unelected Labour Prime Minister of all time. If politics was like the Olympics, then it would be possible to say that Mr Kinnock finished in a commendable silver-medal winning position, in 1987 and 1992, respectively. Unlike Mr Kinnock, however, Mr Corbyn hasn’t won any election which he hasn’t contested; whereas Mr Kinnock did at least only lose elections he fought in. And if you ask me, that’s the real victory.

Winning is everything, you see. Our country’s most recent Prime Minister racked up win after win in Prime Minister’s Question sessions, as reported faithfully by the esteemed proprietors of the fourth estate; and it paved the way for him romping home to a respectable second-place finish in the recent EU referendum. Naturally, as with all true champions, he thought it best to bow out while at the top of his game.

Clearly, this same quality is needed now more than ever for the Labour Party. What this country is crying out for is a persuader, not a protester: somebody who is unabashed about making false assertions to support their position, while preaching to the converted; or else forcibly agreeing with the government in principle, before abstaining on a vote with a steely look of defiance in their eye.

If anything, there are simply too many candidates in the Labour Party to choose from, who would fit this bill handsomely; and I’m sure I speak for many when I say that while I may not vote for Labour, I would at least continue not voting for them, if they elected one of these credible, sensible, pragmatic, electable, Moderates to be their leader.

The reason for this is very simple: principles without power are meaningless. The responsible and mature, pragmatic and rational, moderate and centrist, conservative and progressive, approach is to have power with flexible, or time-shared principles. This permits the pursuit of a policy-framework which is all things, to all people.

For example, one could make the anti-austerity case for continued austerity; or an egalitarian case for decreasing equality. Perhaps a socialist case against socialism? That is, proclaiming that inequality is bad, and poverty is so much the worse; then enacting policies which increase both of them. Or saying that spending cuts are unnecessary; and that they are also necessary. At any rate, it would certainly allow somebody to outline a case for replacing and deploying thermonuclear weaponry, while simultaneously expressing support for nuclear disarmament. That is the centrist approach, which sensibly covers all bases.

Page from the Euston Manifesto.

In this day and age, having principles is a luxury that ordinary people can ill-afford; and the reasons why they can ill-afford them – such as low wages, job shortages, and the exorbitant cost of housing – are not the sort of thing that politicians should concern themselves with.

The moderate centre-left-right-centrist-electable-moderate-wing of the Labour party gets this; which is why under their tenure Labour triumphed in the general elections of 2010 and 2015 respectively. Sweeping to victory in Scotland, for example; just as they did in the aforementioned Iraq.

In fact their imperious track-record of triumph has led many people to wonder how Mr Corbyn came to lead the Labour party in the first place. Leaving aside any facile reference to five years of austerity etc., it did seem almost unanswerable – certainly, nobody in the media has been able to explain it; but now the machinations are revealed in full. Here we see Corbyn cunningly disguised as a polling station:

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According to one Labour source, voters insert their electoral slips into Mr Corbyn; at which point those cast against the desired grain are promptly filtered out, and discarded.

This exact same ploy was discerned during the recent EU referendum. It is a well-known claim that Mr Corbyn cast the deciding vote on this ballot; as revealed by the media’s finest investigatory journalists – who temperately decried Corbyn for perpetrating a stab-in-the-back – or Dolchstoß, in German – on the young; as foretold by the Protocols Of The Learned Elders Of Momentum.

More damning still, perhaps, but if Corbyn had only tried that bit harder, then England would almost certainly have beaten Iceland 2-1 in the recent European football championship. Combine all of this with Mr Corbyn’s extremist beliefs that people should be paid enough to live on, and should have houses to live in – oh, and access to healthcare – and there is more than enough food for the proverbial. The man must be stopped.

 

Let us move on, however, to the Conservative Party’s – and by extension, Britain’s – new leadership.

On everything from abortion rights, to the continuous refoulment of women who have fled persecution, Theresa May is unarguably the thinking-misogynist’s woman. Not only has she been a party to ending the Health in Pregnancy Grant, closing Surestart Centres, cutting child benefit, undermining the provision of rape counselling, ending legal aid for victims of domestic violence, closing women’s shelters, along with specialist domestic violence courts, but she also found time to vote against homosexual women being allowed to adopt children.

Image-for-Jones-et-al-DS8

The reason for this is really very simple: Theresa May has principles. Many, in fact; and if you don’t like particular ones, she has an array of others she is perfectly happy to substitute them with, at no more than a moment’s notice.

Instead of focusing on narrow issues such as worker’s rights, maternity leave, poverty, homelessness, mental health provision, inequality, social security cuts, library closures, a record deficit in the NHS budget, long-term unemployment, pressurized public services, and social exclusion – which, for reasons unknown, all increased exponentially between 2010 and the present; our new PM has chosen instead to look at the bigger picture: her first key act was to stage a debate on the subject of renewing Britain’s nuclear weapons.

Theresa May wants to put the great back into United Kingdom; by ensuring that we have the best defended foodbank users in the world. If you ask me, the prospect of apocalyptic casualties is a small price to pay for peace of mind.

By way of contrast, good, old-fashioned feminist values – such as a willingness to induce terminal radiation sickness among a general populace – have been noticeable by their absence in the Labour party, of late. There is no mystery behind this: to put it bluntly, Jeremy Corbyn is not a woman. If that doesn’t prove something, then I don’t know what does.

In fact, when it comes to the advancement of sexual equality the Conservative party simply stands peerless. Feminism is not about empowering all women, at every level of society. Good heavens, no. It’s about putting a woman in charge of authoritarian policies which, let us be honest, may very well undermine many – if not most – women’s positions in society; but nonetheless bring tremendous benefits to white, prosperous, heterosexual males. After all, isn’t that what the whole raisin d’eau thing of feminism is about? I think we all know the answer to this.

It’s heartening, therefore, to see so many Conservative social justice warriors discovering their inner-feminists, of late. It’s wonderful that such people suddenly care about gender equality, having spent so many years between them opposing it; and openly supporting policies which had a disproportionately adverse effect on women. There’s always hope for the future when you see that people are willing to change, I say. Especially as many Conservative party supporters tend to come across as somewhat unprincipled, self-serving opportunists. Clearly, that can’t be the case – not if they’re willing to compromise on their long-standing principles, by making an effort to develop some.

As further proof that people can change, Theresa May herself might very well have supported policies which increased poverty; but upon becoming Prime Minister she immediately began to say that poverty is bad. This is merely one part of her bold, centre-left programme of right-wing economics, combined with right-wing social policies.

Words clearly speak louder than actions in this world; and nowhere was this more evident than in Theresa May’s inaugural speech. Britain’s Prime Minister was quite correct to address the issue of poverty; and to explain that it is caused not through having insufficient money, but by lacking sufficient gumption, pluck, and aspiration; which would otherwise cover the costs of rent, groceries, and utilities respectively – without money even being a factor.

This is all just commonsense. If you ask me, Theresa May’s detractors merely over-think things. This is not a charge anybody could level at Britain’s new Prime Minister and her admirers.

The Right-Minded View: The Chilcot Report

Former Prime Minister, Tony Blair has today braved criticism, following the publication of the Chilcot Report. I don’t see what people are complaining about, quite frankly. If you ask me, Mr Blair’s tears say more than real words ever could.

Is the rightness of liberating Iraq from one of Britain’s erstwhile allies really even open to debate, let alone dispute? Not starting wars unless you’re sure they’re justified, and prepared for the aftermath, is all well and good; but in the real world leaders have to take difficult decisions. This requires a willingness to act without considering the consequences – and I say Mr Blair lived up to that requirement at all times.

Not that you will hear any magnanimity from those who opposed the war of course – what with their dogmatic certainty that invading a sovereign country and dismantling its infrastructure, precipitating a mass bout of looting, causing a subsequent breakdown of law and order, and consequently leading to an insurgency which descended into a civil war that caused hundreds of thousands in casualties – ultimately bringing years of chaos to the neighbouring region – was a bad idea.

Well, Mr Blair thinks that the Chilcot report vindicates his decision; and I – for one – could not agree more. Yellowcake uranium – or certainly something resembling it – was reported by a reliable witness to have been seen in a men’s urinal, located in downtown Baghdad. What’s more, as Mr Blair himself testified, there was every chance that the colouring book and wax crayons unearthed from the rubble of a nursery in Tikrit could very well have been a blueprint for some kind of device, of some sort. Also, while the ‘tub of anthrax’ discovered at a gymnasium turned out to be a plastic carton full of whey powder, that is largely by the by.

Even Britain’s most recent Prime Minister, David Cameron, was unable to find anything in the Chilcot report about his predecessor deliberately deceiving people. There was merely something or another about information not being presented accurately; and the truth being treated in an economical fashion to best serve political expediency – and it’s not as if Mr Cameron would ever turn a blind-eye to such behaviour.

As for Mr Corbyn’s involvement in all this – how can we be certain that he is not developing WMD on his allotment? The simple fact is, we can’t – and if he is growing weapons of mass destruction, whether from seed or cutting, for all we know they could reach London within 45 minutes, if Corbyn gets his bicycle repaired. Just think about that, for a moment.

No – the invasion of Iraq was merely undertaken for the Iraqi peoples’ own good; and were they alive today, in their tens of thousands, they would undoubtedly shake Mr Blair by the hand, and extend their gratitude.
The Chilcot Report entirely vindicates Mr Blair. Or, at the very least, obviates the need to put him on trial for war crimes; as it found him insufficiently African for indictment.

All the lessons have been learned; just as they were after the first Iraq war; and will be learned again following the next conflict. So let us draw a line under the matter, and hear no more about it. Whatever it is.

Boris Johnson quits the Conservative Party’s leadership race – but the full corollary of his defeat is yet to come.

Well, it came to pass: Boris Johnson is the only Tory leadership candidate who realises that the Conservative party’s goose is well and truly cooked; and has withdrawn from the contest. Whatever his party does now, it is almost certainly going to be consigned to electoral oblivion one way or another, within a matter of years. Either it enacts Article 50, triggers the formal withdrawal of Britain from the European Union, and destroys the economy while breaking-up the United Kingdom; or it annuls the result of the referendum, and alienates a large number – if not the majority – of its supporters.

So, the Conservatives are liable to go either the same way as the Liberal Democrats; or are finished-off wholesale as a party of government. Whatever happens, it’s now facing its demise. The last escape route it had was to call a snap general election, lose it; and then pass the buck to Labour – who could have voided the referendum with minimal political blowback, given that most of their supporters voted to remain in the EU. Those Labour supporters who voted to leave the European Union would probably have settled for continued EU membership under a Labour government, which was committed to reforming the EU. Labour would also have addressed the economic woes which impelled the Brexit vote, with the programme that they had begun to formulate.

But that won’t happen now, thanks to the Blairite coup. So, article 50 will loom over the Tory leadership contest – and nobody wants to enact it; which means repudiating most of their vote-base. Probably to Ukip.

What’s more, the Blairites will now be finished-off – because if Angela Eagle wins a leadership contest against Corbyn, she will bring about the party’s demise. The left will desert it; leaving it with a minimal vote-base. The Unions have given a strong indication that if Corbyn is deposed undemocratically, they will abandon the Labour party. Those behind the coup have made it clear that they intend to lurch to the right; and the further right Labour has gone, the worse its electoral results have been.

So, who will vote for an openly right-wing Labour party, wed to both neo-liberalism and anti-immigration politics? Some left-wing columnists have begun to devise a rationale – that the party will be bad, but the Tories would be worse. This is debatable in its own right; but it is also devoid – as soon as the Tory party have made their decision on Brexit, they’re liable to go up in smoke. So who will support New New Labour; wed to the economic policies and politics which, combined, have lead to Brexit? Even if the remnants of each party unite, it will mean that there is only one neo-liberal party contesting elections – not two dominating them, and ensuring that there is never any divergence.

Alternatively, Corbyn remains in place, and the Blairites will be removed from the party; because the split in Labour is not between left and right – but between the majority of its members, supporters, Councillors, Unions, and the leadership on the one hand; and most of the party’s MPs on the other.

The question is one of collateral damage – the Blairites are about to destroy themselves; but may take the Labour party down with them. Thatcherism is now liable to ensure that the Tory party is finished as an electoral force; but may take the country down with them. It could all have been avoided, of course. All of it.

The media built David Cameron up, when he has put the country on the verge of disaster. The same media has torn Jeremy Corbyn down, when he offered a straightforward solution to the present scenario. Numerous publications have made a concerted effort to bring the country to this situation, by misleading people about the causes of economic problems and government failures – blaming them on the free movement of workers; which, paradoxically, are an intrinsic element of the economic system which these same publications are determined to uphold. Something has to give. The Brexit vote makes that unavoidable.

The status quo is not an option now. Those wed to neo-liberalism still don’t realise that their entire worldview has just fallen apart; and a painful reality check awaits. A lot of people have made beds for themselves, and they will have to lie in them.

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