Green politics, philosophy, history, paganism and a lot of self righteous grandstanding.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Labour Party Occupied!

It's been rather strange to watch an election that I'm not allowed to vote in.

Despite being a member of an affiliated trade union myself, and despite my wife being a full member of the party, neither of us received ballot papers.

However that doesn't matter in the long run and the Jedi Obi One Corbynobi has been reelected as leader of the venerable old Labour Order. Hopefully this will now be The Force Awakens, not the Revenged of the Sithed Off.

But the strangest part of the contest is how Corbyn's opponents seem to have spent the entire campaign boxing at shadows. Talk of 'Trotskyite infiltrators', 'the new Militant tendancy' and a 'return to Syndicalism' just miss the point entirely.

Yes, there are all those types of people in the party, along with anti-semites, misogynists and abusive trolls, and they probably think all their Christmases have come at once right now, but they are not running this thing. We have not fallen back through some wormhole to the seventies, or even the thirties. Red Robbo is not driving this and Stalin has not risen from the grave and dispatched Comintern agents to bring down British democracy. Orwell, if he were alive, would be part of this movement, not against it.

Occupy Wall Street, with a good question
This is Occupy the Labour Party. This is the people who have been hacked off with party politics for
the last twenty years finally deciding take an interest in elections and get a candidate they can actually vote for. These are the people who marched against the Iraq War, who mobilise against fracking, who stood up to the Brexit racists, who rally for the climate and stood against the EDL.

These are people who think the Labour Party should not be supported by anonymous millionaires, should not seek endorsement from billionaire newspaper owners, should not try to do a deal with the City and should not be made up of MPs taking five and six figure 'consultancies' from unelected corporations.

Against them were the new old guard of New Labour who do not see how the ground has shifted under their feet. Kinnock, Brown and Miliband all lost general elections, so are in no position to call anyone 'unelectable'.

The socially liberal but economically conservative Cameron was far better Blair than even Blair himself, and the City were always going to prefer the real thing to a cheap Labour copy.

Owen Smith in Liverpool, with ice cream van.
There is no technocratic solution here. There is no playing at politics and being better Tories than the Tories. That game is over.

The New Labour strategy of funding from rising wealth cannot work since global capitalism tanked ten years ago. There is no room for manoeuvre any more on the economy. The City demands austerity for the poor and socialism for the rich. You may as well be a communist as a Keynsian right now, they will treat you exactly the same, as 'Red(ish) Ed' found out.

Nor can there be any meaningful comprise with an Establishment that sees itself as besieged on all sides. Whether in Greece, North Dakota or here there is no negotiation with an economically, environmentally and intellectually bankrupt ruling orthodoxy. They will lie, they will cheat and they will fight. They will not listen. They will not be reasonable.

This result is not be the end. Party leadership elections are not general elections. Our man has won, but Corbyn's supporters, especially those like me who aren't allowed back into the party, need to get out on the streets and get the message out. They need to campaign, to door knock and to reach the people who only read The Sun or the Daily Mail, who believe the UKIP lies, who voted Brexit, who do not live in the post-industrial north, who do not work in the public sector and who possibly share very few of our values, but who need change as much as everyone else.

Corbyn will need to decide what he wants to do. It's not clear they he knows what to do, or even if he understands the movement he is the figurehead for. Perhaps he should take a hint from Gandhi, a man he clearly admires, who when he realised he had started something he could no longer control said:

 "There go my people. I must follow them, as I am their leader."

1 comment:

Chris Rivers said...

"Against them were the new old guard of New Labour who do not see how the ground has shifted under their feet. Kinnock, Brown and Miliband all lost general elections, so are in no position to call anyone 'unelectable'."
True that - up to a point. Kinnock was hardly New Labour, just unelectable. Brown was less emphatic about 'New' Labour than Blair. And above all Miliband did not refer to New Labour, indeed he was disparaging about it (albeit he failed to deal with deficit denial accusations - as did many of the New Labour Bitterites).