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After Progressive Patriotism Long-Bailey backs “Working-class Aspiration”.

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Now Selling Like Gold-Dust Amongst Long-Bailey Supporters.

In the latest Private Eye Craig Brown talks, exclusively, to Rebecca Long-Bailey.

But the parody of the “life long socialist”has already been better done by the ‘left candidate for the Labour Leadership herself.

To begin with there was the “progressive patriotism” movement at the end of December

Long Bailey differentiates herself from Corbyn by saying that as Labour leader she would champion “progressive patriotism”. She says: “From ex-miners in Blyth Valley to migrant cleaners in Brixton, from small businesses in Stoke-on-Trent to the self-employed in Salford, we have to unite our communities. Britain has a long history of patriotism rooted in working life, built upon unity and pride in the common interests and shared life of everyone.

“To win we must revive this progressive patriotism and solidarity in a form fit for modern Britain

“To win we must revive this progressive patriotism and solidarity in a form fit for modern Britain.”

We all had a hearty laugh about that one, before it disappeared without trace into the pages of the Morning Star.

Then there was the reference to Labour as “the party of the Lever brothers and Ralph Miliband” (a claim which reminds some of us of a member of the Weekly Worker group claiming that Miliband “said” the party “grew out of the bowels of the tradeunion movement‘” – Ernest Bevin, TGWU general secretary, 1935).

A couple of days ago Rebecca Long-Bailey announced that Labour should support “open selection” of candidates for election – after the populist Jacobin owned Tribune suggested she did so.

Well-wishers were quick to point out that, apart from opening up wounds in the Party, in the detail she appeared to be be also downgrading Labour Conference,

On our policy making. I have always believed that it is our members and trade unions who should shape our vision, but there has to be a more open and democratic way of developing our vision.

“Trying to clunkily mesh together the wording of various motions from constituency parties in a sweaty room at conference is not dynamic and it is not using the vast wealth of talent our members bring.”

The rows have already begun:

Now the Labour contender is going for the “aspirational” vote of hard working workers,

The shadow business secretary, who is widely assumed to be Corbyn’s chosen successor, cited a couple she met while canvassing in her home seat of Salford who told her they thought Labour just offered handouts.

“They were working class but they’d bought their own house, they’d worked hard, they felt they should be rewarded for working hard, they didn’t want to think that other people were getting handouts,” she told the Guardian as the leadership race kicks off in earnest.

“Whatever people’s incomes are, a lot of the time people don’t see themselves as destitute and struggling, and they don’t want someone to come along and say: ‘I’m going to remove the scales from your eyes, and save you from yourself’. It’s like, ‘I’ve got a job, I don’t need saving from myself, I just want to do a little bit better, thanks!’” she said.

She was keen to downplay criticism of Blair…..

At a packed rally for Long-Bailey in a Hackney bar on Tuesday evening, some of the loudest applause came when she backed open selections for MPs – with one enthusiastic audience member shouting, “banish the Blairites!”

Confronted with the comment, Long-Bailey insists: “We don’t want any of that … this goes right to the heart of what the party is supposed to be about, and this is what upsets me so much.

“The only way we ever win, is where we represent those elements of the centre-left. That’s why we were created: to bring together all those left groups,” she added.

The Guardian observed,

Long-Bailey’s anecdote about canvassing the aspirational couple in Salford was reminiscent of one told by Blair in his 1996 conference speech, when he said that while campaigning, he had met, “a man polishing his Ford Sierra, a self-employed electrician,” who had told him, “as far as he was concerned, being better off meant being Tory too”.

Blair said: “That man polishing his car was clear: his instincts were to get on in life, and he thought our instincts were to stop him. But that was never our history or our purpose.”

Candidate seen as successor to Corbyn says party needs to back working-class aspiration

It may be that the new turn draws on this by Simon Heffer  the New Statesman.

Today’s working-class Tories are defined by their determination to improve themselves and their way of life, and, I think, not to be contained by an idea of welfarism or a paternalism. One needs only to look at some of the working-class Tories elected to parliament in north-eastern seats such as Redcar, Bishop Auckland and Blyth to see this social phenomenon in action.

Rise of the new working-class Tories

Heaven forfend if this time she, or her advisers and spinners, have been reading this:

Most British people are living ever more enriched and enriching lives, even as under-35s are finding it harder and harder to start making their own way. They’re going to the football and the theatre, reading more and buying more books; they’re doing their gardening; going running and cycling; watching box sets at home; going to the pub; knitting, jam making, birdwatching and rambling. Just as British people’s very dense and associative lives insulated them psychologically from the Depression of the 1930s, hampering Labour’s progress then, the party’s basic emotive case just makes no sense to most people. They don’t think Britain’s broken. Labour should stop talking like it is.

Elect and appoint more plausible leaders. Stop promising everything to everyone. Admit that you got it wrong, and allow yourself a truly honest and affecting self-examination. Speak optimistically. Get yourselves straight. Stop it with the hate and the jibes. Stop walking around like you’re the big I am. Break out of your bubble and take credit, not brickbats, for your achievements. Stuff like that. If this sounds like Politics 101, it is – it amounts to just saying ‘sort yourselves out’. It’s a mark of how far Labour has fallen that most of this needs to be said at all.

So what should Labour do now?

The classic strategic book on the need to align Labour to hard-headed hard-working aspirational workers, by hand and by brain, was made in this book: The Blair Revolution: Peter Mandelson and Rob Liddle. Can New Labour Deliver? Faber, 1996.

 

Blair began to do this by accepting the Thatcher Political Settlement.

 

Tony Blair said in 2013,

 

 “I always thought my job was to build on some of the things she had done rather than reverse them.

“Many of the things she said, even though they pained people like me on the left… had a certain creditability(sic).”

BBC.

Will Long-Bailey accept the hard right Brexit settlement and concentrate on appealing to those who feel they should be rewarded for working hard?

The problem is that Long-Bailey’s incontinent flow of new catch-phrases, policies, and woolly ideas lack any credibility whatsoever.

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 23, 2020 at 12:31 pm

The Madness of Crowds. Gender, Race and Identity. Douglas Murray. Culture Wars seen from the Right.

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The Madness of Crowds. Gender, Race and Identity. Douglas Murray. Bloomsbury Continuum. 2019.

Last week on Question Time  “Rachel Boyle, a woman of colour, audience member and academic, said: “Let’s be really clear about what this is, let’s call it by its name, it’s racism.” Fox responded that discussions of racism in Britain were “really starting to get boring now,” and accused Boyle of reverse racism for pointing out that he is a “white, privileged male”. Since then, the actor has been busy making an apparent campaign to become the new poster boy for the populist right.”(Independent)  For Douglas Murray the other, largely critical, reaction has shown the face of the ” new totalitarians. ” “ox, again perfectly reasonably, pointed out that he has had no more say than anyone else in choosing the colour of his skin and that in such circumstances the person who imagined she was being anti-racist was in fact being perfectly racist herself.” It was the “identitarians” who were at fault in this “terrifying parable” (The terrifying parable of Laurence Fox’s Question Time appearance)

There is a serious critical debate on identity politics or ‘identitarianism”. On the left responses began in the late 1980s in the pages of Race and Class with articles by Ambalavaner Sivanandan channelling the idea that leaders of pre-formed ‘communities’ should be represented and integrated into the state through Community Relations Councils. In No Logo (1999) Naomi Klein observed the emergence in North American student circles of what is now called ‘intersectional’ cultural battles, at the expense of fights about the increasing domination of globalised corporate power over everyday life. (1)

In the 1990s and the first decade of the new millennium Kenan Malik attacked responses to Islam and the rise of people identifying themselves in “narrower ethnic terms”. He wrote, liberal indulgence, “helped build a culture of grievance, in which ebbing offended is a badge of identity, cleared a space for radical Islamists to flourish and made secular and progressive arguments less sayable, particularly within Muslim communities.” In 2010 Rumy Hasan observed that “A profound consequence of silence in regard to oppressive practices within religious-ethnic minority communities has been the abandonment, or the downplaying of key universalist egalitarian principles.” Chief amongst those, he stated, was secularism. (2)

In France Nedjib Sidi Moussa has taken apart the “ethnodiffértialisme” the “racialisation of the social question” primarily through Muslim identity – and the pretension to engage in “race struggle” by anti-Semitic ‘anti-white’ groups like the Indigènes de la République. From an Algerian family he does not shrink from addressing the failure of the radical left to address Islamist violence and the hatred of Jews La Fabrique du Musulman (2017) suggests that the so-called radical supporters of identity politics have a lot in common with right-wing identitarians like Alain Soral. Yves Coleman of Ni Patrie Ni Frontières and Nadia Meziane provide essential critical commentary on these issues in French. (3)

Douglas Murray’s The Madness of Crowds avoids developing the views on the threat of migration. The idea that “the mass movement of peoples into Europe” is happening as Europe has “lost faith in its beliefs, traditions and legitimacy.” (The Strange Death of Europe. 2017). An authority on this, Yves Camus, and his theory of the Great Replacement, cited in that work, does not pop up in the present volume. It is not the suicide of a Continent that preoccupies The Madness, but ‘“a great crowd derangement”. This new Tulip Mania is ‘Identity politics’. “It atomises society into different interest groups according to sex (or gender), race, sexual preferences and more.” (Page 3) These “rights issues have moved from being a product of a system to being the foundations of a new one.” (Page 7). These “destabilising foundation of liberalism” lead to “ugliness” to “believe things that are unbelievable”. This “crowd madness” needs, like a minefield, to be “cleared”.

One could be forgiven for thinking that Murray was a contributor to Spiked, and an acolyte of Frank Furedi. Yet the former Revolutionary Communist Party guru is absent from his pages; his warnings about the post-68 left’s turn to a “bitter conflict between competing lifestyles – symbolic struggles”, the “culture wars”, are unmentioned. (4)

Post-Marxism.

Murray does however have a smattering of knowledge about the left and ‘post-modernism’. Citing Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s Hegemony and Socialist Strategy (1985) and an article on the same theme in Marxism Today, he outlines a shift from class polities to “new political subjects’, “women, students, young people, racial and regional minorities, as well as the various anti-institutional and ecological struggles” (Page 57). Skirting clear of these “post Marxists” fascination with the left potentials of populism, he observes that their “ideological children in identity politics and intersectionality seem to be content to inhabit an ideological space littered with contradiction, absurdity and hypocrisy.” (Page 58)

These new classes of “exploited” persons are explored, we learn, in the hard to read prose of Judith Butler, and produce “social justice theories”. The gobbledegook around social constructs and gender and race offers the gently e amusement of the “conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” and doubtless more opportunities for spoofs than Murray could cut and paste into his book.

The Madness of Crowds is determined to expose these absurdities. There is something deeply distasteful in the way that the Associate Editor of the Spectator rummages through the Web to find them. Gay demonstration, apparently, (Murray is openly gay himself) include fetishists with their leathers, sadomasochists flogging each other in the street….”(Page 39) Murray is fascinated with women singers’ wiggling bums, which is perhaps understandable, though the demand that they should be “sexy but not sexualised” will have passed most people by. Misandry – a new one on my spell checker – “Man are trash”, is a rubbish example of when put alongside this jumble of terms, “concepts like ‘male privilege’, ‘the patriarchy; ‘mansplaining or “toxic masculinity”. “ (Page 103) Is Murray suggesting that patriarchal structures do not exist, that women are often not oppressed by men, or that the unpleasant, violent, side of masculinity is something even a gentleman scrivener has never seen?

Unfamiliar with American campus politics one is still unable to take on trust Murray’s description of racial incidents and university slanging matches about people’s rival experiences. It would strike many people that in a country that elected Donald Trump, and which has a substantial, networked, far right, that racialism remains an issue beyond verbal jousts. Black Lives matter, most seem to agree, is a call that reflects a justified angry response to an unpleasant reality.

Tansexuality.

Murray reaches his lowest moment is the chapter on Transexuals. He insinuates that many trans people may be largely motivated by being “sexually around by the idea of presenting as, or actually becoming a woman” (J. Michael Bailey). This casts doubt on whether that “tans is a hardware issue”, that is against the claim that “trans are born this way. (Page 199) Digging deeper into the pit of controversy around transexuality The Madness of Crowds cites the hostility to those who assert that surgery cannot “make you a woman”. Greatly respected feminists who have taken this, or a more moderate critical view, and have been violently hounded for their opinions. “Transphobic”, Murray is not familiar enough with the subject to talk of the details of the rows about ‘TERFs’, feminists do have a legitimate point of view. So do transsexuals. But this book, with its prurient interest, casts little light on this “unbelievable unclear issue”.

Attempting a weighty conclusion The Madness of Crowds reminds us that in 73 countries it is illegal to be gay, and 8 in which being gay is punishable with death. Women are denied basic rights in countries in the Middle East and East Africa. Inter-racial violence happens across the world. “But there is a paradox here: that the countries which are the most advanced in all” in promoting laws and a culture of rights “are the ones now presented as among the worst”. (Page 232) He has no doubt that the agenda, “the last part of a Marxist subculture” is to “policies absolutely everything and turn people against the society they were brought up in. That the left believes that, “when intersectionality has done is job and he matrix of competing hierarchies has finally been nixed, then an era of universal brotherhood will ensue.” (Page 252)

Hidden from this present book are the countless Middle Eastern, Maghrebin, African, Asian Iranian gay and feminist activists. It is their “religion of social justice”, which many on the left support. Are we “using” their fight too? It is one very far from identical to what Mark Lilla calls North American “liberal identity politics”. It involves political action, and politics means joining people together, not separating them. The courage to join together for human, universal rights is our struggle. Feminist, gay and other movements are part – one part – of this, all over the world. This is a more substantial than limiting our “source of meaning” amongst our kith and kin, important as the “love of people and places” is. Or wallowing in snippets about the wilder side of American and British cultural politics. Or boosting an opposing right wing identity politics.

To top it Murray,”….has been described by French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy as “one of the most important public intellectuals today”.[8]

  1. Communities of Resistance. Writings on Black Struggles for Socialism. by A. Sivanandan Verso 1990.
  2. P 210. From Fatwa to Jihad. The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy. Kenan Malik. Atlantic Books. 2009. Page 224. Rumy Hasan, Multiculturalism, Some Inconvenient Truths. Politico’s. 2010
  3. La Fabrique du Musulman. Nedjib Sidi Moussa Libertalia. 2017.
  4. First World War. Still no End in Sight. Frank Furedi. Bloomsbury 2014.
  5. The Once and Future Liberal. After Identity Politics. Mark Lilla. Hurst and Company. 2018.

This is Not Propaganda. Adventures in the War Against Reality. Peter Pomerantsev. Review: The Internet and the Liberties of the Moderns.

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This is Not Propaganda. Adventures in the War Against Reality. Peter Pomerantsev. Faber & Faber. 2019.

“L’information, le surcroît d’information sur nous-mêmes, est une sorte d’électrocution. Elle produit une sorte de court-circuit continuel où l’individu brûle ses circuits et perd ses defences. ” Information, the overabundance of information, is a kind of electrocution. It creates a kind of continuous short circuit, in which the individual burns up its circuits, and loses its defences. Jean Baudrillard. La Gauche Divine. 1985.).

“The brilliance of this new type of authoritarianism” wrote Peter Pomerantsev in Nothing is True and Everything is Possible. Adventures in Modern Russia (2005) is that instead of simply oppressing opposition, as has been the case with twentieth century strains, it climbs inside all ideologies and movements, exploiting them and rendering them absurd.” The son of Russian dissident exiles he was struck then, and in the present work, by the way that “facts” has ceased to matter.

In this new book on “influence campaigns”, “what might be causally be referred to as ‘propaganda” Pomerantsev explores “the wreckage”, the “dark corners of the Internet where trolls torture their victims”. “We are” he writes “becoming subjects of our own data, as if the data is rearranging our relations and identifies with its own logic”. On a wider canvas than Putin’s Russian Federation, whose “social media squadrons” still haunts the landscape, the writer’s adventures take him to where politics has become a “struggle to control the construction of identity.”

This is not Propaganda comes amongst other studies of how what Jean Baudrillard called the “simulacra” of information in today’s social media. Far from burning out identity it is claimed that the world of hyper-reality has come to play a key role in politics, and, above all, elections. Richard Seymour, it is said considers that this planet, the Twittering Machine, is managed by ‘fascist technology’ that cuts people off from society, a “stand in” for community. By showing the political effects of social media, Pomerantsev both indicates that Seymour would be out of his depth in a puddle, and that Baudrillard’s prediction that postmodern hyper-reality – the digital society – would absorb political passion into ‘post-politics.’ (1)

In the Philippines Pomerantsev finds that that political use of social media illustrates something very different to a mass escape from the material world. Visiting Manila he meets Maria, the creator of Rappler, the Philippines’ first Internet-based news site. For reporting the extra judicial killings ordered by the country’s president, Duterte, they began to receive death threats, at the rate of ninety an hour. A cascade of smears followed. An organised form of warfare, with the real menace of being killed, was conducted through cyberspace.

Efforts by the Kremlin to stir up civil war, an even more flagrant case, in the Ukraine draw Pomerantsev. It was “the most amazing information warfare blitzkrieg.” This fight, in which Corbyn adviser Andrew Murray participated on the Russian side, portrayed the 2014 Ukrainian Orange Revolution and protests in the Maidean as a “neo-fascist US-orchestrated conspiracy”. This “information war” was an important part of “next generation warfare”.

Syria is another front-line. The activist Mary Ana who ran humanitarian medical aid to the country, along with human rights groups, like the White Helmets, and the Syrian Network for Human Rights, illustrates the way Assad regime used the Internet, “When she punched ‘White Helmets’ into YouTube” she found “wall-to-wall coverage claiming that they were actually terrorists, or that they were actors and everything they did was staged, or that they were a British secret service psy-op, or that they didn’t actually exist at all..” (Page 178) Assad’s murders are hidden behind these torrents of lies, propaganda treated with indulgence by political figures such as the former British MP Chris Williamson.

Populism and Identity.

After the disinformation spread by genociders This is not Propaganda turns to “Pop up Populism”. The transformation of the many and “the people”, he argues, can be seen in the Brexit vote. Against a “well-identified enemy”, the EU, not just the hard right who initiated the Leave project, but, one could add, parts of the British left adopted the “guiding fairy tale” of taking back control. Meeting Chantal Mouffe, and without academic deference for her and Ernesto Laclau’s theories of populism, he is struck by how flexible her claim that “identities are the result of political construction” can be. Playing in this game – a play in which ‘charismatic leaders’ can be an instrument of ‘left’ and right politics – Génération Identitaire, the language of “freedom of speech, democracy, openness to new ideas” can be used to bolster right wing fringe parties. It is the basis for national populism, a far from a marginal force.

At the forefront of this politics stands, Russian “political technologists”. Gleb Pavlovsky, the author recounts, has been able to “unite utterly disparate groups around a rotating enemy; oligarchs ar first, then metropolitan liberals, and more recently the whole outside world” (Page 223). Putin can, “stimulate global influence by purposefully leaving the fingerprints of his hackers and information operations all over the world”.

Will companies like Cambridge Analytica, who study “behavioural change” through social media, determine the political future? Are left and right being washed away by using people’s Facebook and Google preferences to harness them to new identities? Is China’s heavily controlled Internet and model of how identity can still be shaped and controlled by a one-party state in the age of technological innovation?

Modern and Ancient Liberties.

The 19th century French liberal Benjamin Constant, (De la liberté des anciens comparée à celle des modernes. 1819) claimed that in the ancient Roman and Greek world people led public lives, that as citizens they were free, in at least the sense that they decided on war and peace, while as private individuals they were subordinate, watched, and oppressed. In modern times, he claimed, it was the private sphere that was free, the site of individual independence. One can doubt the liberties of ancient republics, and efforts to replicate them following the French Revolution. But he offered an important insight. To simplify, in today’s liberal societies have been seen to offer a “private” domain, separate from public politics. Constant equally  warned, two centuries before theorists of “post-politics”, that in a commercial society people could become so absorbed in their private lives that they would neglect public duty.

One of the main political effects of social media has been to abolish the distinction between public and private politics. Not by making the “personal political”, but by breaking down the space between our emotions, identity, and politics. This is not the full story, since neither is everybody absorbed in social media nor is it without a liberating potential in networking politics from the ground up. It is equally not proven that the “political technologists” like the far right  ‘Bot-herders’ in Nizhny have mastered the art of shaping everybody’s electoral choice. Boris Johnson’s Get Brexit Done cannot be put down to Internet influencers, nor is it clear that the Conservatives are now about to use identity populism to rule by.

Can these forces wash away the push for autonomy and human rights that has also marked the ‘modern’? The latest book by “rooted cosmopolitan” Peter Pomerantsev, which should have as many readers as possible, should firmly indicate that there are many out there with a different story to tell.

 

****

 

(1) Oliver Eagleton. MIND-FORGED MANACLES? Review. Richard SeymourThe Twittering Machine. New Left Review No 120.Nov/Dec 2019.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 19, 2020 at 1:26 pm

Comrade Anti-Fascists, Greens, Kurds, Leftists: Check if you are on the ‘Counter-Terrorism’ List.

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Exclusive: Extinction Rebellion and Peta also named in anti-extremism briefing alongside Combat 18 and National Action.

Among the groups listed with no known link to terrorist violence or known threat to national security are Stop the War, the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, vegan activists, anti-fascist groups, anti-racist groups, an anti-police surveillance group and campaigners against airport expansion. Communist and socialist political parties are also on the list.

Let the Rozzers know: I have written for the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty Publication Solidarity and even been on CND protests and Stop the War Coalition marches against war on Iraq!

Mind you that Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice does look a dangerous crew.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 18, 2020 at 12:37 pm

The Brexit Left’s Responsibility in Labour’s Defeat.

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The Internationalist Left.

With a solid Tory majority the results of the General Election are still sinking in. It would take a mind as large as a web cloud to take account of all the writing on the reasons for Labour’s defeat. Much of the debate has been dominated by the claim that the Party was able to sustain support among  “cosmopolitan” and pro-European urban centres, while being unable to reach out to the rooted communities which backed Brexit.

Don Flyn offers a glimpse into these, the pro-Brexit working class voters (After the Deluge. Chartist) The dispute over Brexit “offered people who had lost the habit of digging in and fighting back the chance to at least take sides in an argument that was driven by splits in the ruling class. Rebellion, in pursuit of its own interests had ceased to be a part of the daily life of these communities, but at least they could now take on a foot soldier’s role in someone else’s revolt.”

This football fan politics gave hope to Farage’s Brexit Party, but did not end with it getting any seats. The Conservative Party, having flirted with populist appeals to “Get Brexit Done” against a hung-Parliament, has now settled down to the more modest strategy of offering a few sweets to their new friends in the North and getting the chimes of Big Ben ringing at the end of the month.

“Given the divisions within the electorate, as well as within the Parliamentary Party and wider party membership”, Duncan Bowie writes, it was difficult for the Party to develop which avoided further divisions.” (Retrospect and Prospects Chartist.January 2020). The ambiguities, and near impossibility to explain on the doorstep, Labour’s position, a call to renegotiate a  (‘better’) deal and then to put it a referendum, was the result. Another was that Labour’s policies, many of which, such as tax reform and social ownership, had been worked out in some depth under Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell’s direction, failed to strike a chord. They were overshadowed by what Unite chief Len McCluskey called an “incontinent stream” of new promises which appeared during the election campaign.

Many writers have explored these areas, from the sociological profile of new Tory voters (always remembering this: The myth of the working class Tory: Just three in ten voted blue) and the electorate as a whole, to the reception of Labour’s manifesto. In many ways this parallels the debates, and systematic critiques of the one opened up around the polemics of Christophe Guilluy, on La France périphérique. One of Guilluy’s central points, that the many of the “popular classes”, in France and across much of Europe, have become detached from long-established political loyalties on the left, is undeniable. But the set up pitting the  “peripheral”, versus the “metropolitan” – “elite” areas, the Somewhere, and the Nowhere, people (the words of the pro-Brexit David Goodhart, The Road to Somewhere. 2017), all heavily loaded terms, leads to national populist inflection only the “real” rooted people, not the city living cosmopolitans, matter. (1)

One area that few have tackled is the way the left; aligned to the Corbyn leadership, or independent of it, has acted.

From its beginnings Momentum described itself as the flag bearer of Corbyn. Faced with the genuine prospect of factionalism, and oddities such as the Socialist Party’s brief attempt to create its own ‘Trade Union Momentum’, it centralised control. Momentum came to resemble a mini-France insoumise, run by virtual digital ‘democracy’ behind a ‘charismatic leader’. It encouraged the atmosphere of a ‘cult’.

The failure this left-populism in France, and the limits of a more genuinely popular party, Podemos, in Spain, had little effect on them. They have launched a plebiscite behind the “Corbyn continuity” candidate, Rebecca Long-Bailey, in the Labour leadership election. They may not have adopted in full Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s picture of a “people’s epoch” (l’ère du peuple. 2017) but they support a candidate embodying a not distant vision of “progressive nationalism”.

Not many have looked into the contribution of the pro-Brexit left on Labour’s defeat. Not only did the ‘Lexit’ campaign legitimate Leave voting in the communities now at the centre of attention, but the Brexit left helped confuse Labour’s strategy. Counterfire, unknown to the general public, but which headed the Anti-Austerity People’ Assembly, and made a welcome and serious contribution to its organisation, advanced the view that a movement to “take back control” would be one result of the Referendum vote.

The Morning Star, the echo chamber of a wider group of national sovereigntists, pursued its dream of a socialist Britain, a beacon the world, independent of the European Union. In bad faith, having helped create the conditions that confused the nature of the hard-right Brexit, they have pleaded for consideration for working class voters whose anti-EU thrust they support. Counterfire argued, to diminishing effect, for ‘mobilisation”, that is street protests. This did not happen, and the  slogan of the pro-Leave factionalist, a ‘People’s Brexit’, ended up as a headline in Daily Telegraph.

Counterfire were also amongst the loudest voices calling for a General Election as soon as possible. None of their leaders takes any responsibility for their advice being listened to. It can be assumed that Corbyn’s call for Labour to be the Party of Resistance reflects what it left of the strategy of Counterfire.

An article in the populist US magazine, Jacobin, by the Deputy Editor of New Left Review, Daniel Finn, puts the blame for Labour’s defeat on “The Obsessive Remainers“. Voices from these quarters have been keen to criticise the internationalist left of Another Europe is Possible (AEIP). John Rees, of Counterfire, talked of the EIP “clique”, “whose only practical effect is to have forced Labour into a position which materially assisted in its election defeat.”

In fact, the alliance of the radical left, greens and Labour centre, has every reason to be proud of its record. AEIP led the way in unmasking the confusion offered by the pro-Brexit forces within the left, pointing to the hard right nature of Brexit. . Only by making clear what was in store for the country with Brexit would it have been possible to win over electors undecided about the future. It argued that internationalism couldn’t begin by cutting the UK loose from the EU. That rhetoric about Fortress Europe was cheap when the only alternative on offer was a state aligned around the policies of European Reform Group. The left needed to back transformations, in partnership with the rest of the European left, of the existing institutions.  It participated in the movement for a Second Referendum, demonstrating in our own ‘left bloc’.

AEIP’s resolutions were widely supported within Labour, bringing together different sections of the party. Thwarted by bureaucratic manoeuvres, it laid the basis for longer-term co-operation within the labour movement.”

Counterfire  says, “”These motions were drawing inspiration from a plethora of organisations such as Another Europe is Possible (a cross-party ‘stay in Europe but reform’ outfit), Love Socialism, Hate Brexit (around which soft left Labour MPs coalesced such as Clive Lewis, Anneliese Dodds and Chi Onwurah), Labour for a Socialist Europe (driven by Labour grassroots organisers) (The Corbyn Project was defeated by the historic strengths of conservatism and liberalism Mark Wayne). The fault was that the membership backed them, “The tragedy for Labour was the strength of liberalism inside the membership and not just inside the Parliamentary Labour Party.”

At present the Labour leadership contest dominates the politics of the left. It is important to judge the politics of the contenders in wider terms than Brexit. But those who stand for the generous internationalist and human rights agenda, that is not too far from the politics of AEIP, something the remnants of believers in the ‘actuality of the revolution” in Counterfire call “liberalism”. With more radical socialist input needed we will still be looking to those who support this kind of politics, and, for all that we can both admire and question some of his record,  it’s Keir Starmer who looks the best in the running.

Or perhaps Counterfire could elect a new Labour Party membership.

*******

(1) His latest book No Society, La fin de la classe moyenne occidentale. Flammarion. 2018. See also his Le Crépuscule de la France d’en haut. Champs. 2017.

Blue Labour Makes Pitch for Progressive Patriotism to Lead Labour Values.

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Image result for Maurice glasman quotes

Blue Labour Opponents of EU Now Relishing Post-Brexit Opportunities.

Labour leadership contender Rebecca Long Bailey’s call for progressive patriotism continues to echo throughout the labour movement.

Is this the thinker whose ideas can help rebuild a mainstream Labour Party?

Robert Philpot. Jewish Chronicle 

The time may have come for the ‘Blue Labour’ ideas of Ed Miliband’s former guru to help reshape Labour’s return to being a party for the working classes, writes Robert Philpot.

.. Lord Glasman is no rent-a-quote. Beneath the headline-grabbing comments was a serious philosophy. “Blue Labour”, as he termed it, urged the party to reconnect with its traditional supporters by embracing the values of “flag, faith and family”.

There may be few second acts in politics but last month’s election may give Lord Glasman a new opportunity to help shape how Labour rebuilds the “red wall” which Boris Johnson so effectively demolished.

Although she hails more from the party’s soft left, likely leadership contender Lisa Nandy is probably the most sympathetic of the potential candidates to Lord Glasman’s ideas. She has spoken at Blue Labour events and her close ally, Jon Cruddas, has been one of its strongest proponents.

Like Lord Glasman, the Wigan MP called for Labour to honour the result of the EU referendum and her belief that “place, identity, history and culture matter” is straight out of the Blue Labour playbook. So, too, her suggestion last month that, “There is a strong feeling in towns like mine that Labour stopped listening long ago and that we no longer have much understanding or care for the things that matter deeply to them or their families.”

Tireless campaigner against rootless Cosmopolitans, Paul Embery tweets.

In the Daily Mail a couple of days ago Peter Hitchens gives Blue Labour a puff.

..there is a tiny glimmer of hope, which I think civilised people should encourage.

It is called ‘Blue Labour’. At the moment it is only a few brave and thoughtful people, and it was pushed to one side in the Corbyn era of childish, clapped-out 1970s Leftism.

But if it succeeds it could not only be a good Opposition, it might even be a good government. People forget what Labour used to be.

Before it was taken over by Bloomsbury social liberals and Islington Eurocommunists in the 1960s and 1970s, it was a highly conservative, patriotic, working-class party.

Where political parties combine patriotism, a strong but just welfare state, good education, firm policing and tough defence, they tend to win elections.

If they can seize back control of the People’s Party, I’d support them against the Pinko Tories.

You can read more about them on the Brexit Party supporting Spiked site.

‘Globalisation has made our lives empty’

Maurice Glasman talks to Brendan O’Neill about Brexit, Blue Labour and the demonisation of the working class.

There are many critiques of Blue Labour, including on this Blog.

A central argument is that it is an adaption to national populism.

Now, with the failure of left populism, this looks an enticing prospect for some, and not just overt right-wingers like Hitchens.

Before somebody proposes “articulating” their ideas into Labour’s mix, serious issues need to be looked at.

One of the most recent to offer an account of them is this excellent article in the Political Quarterly (which we have referred to before).

TOXIC FRIENDS? A CRITIQUE OF BLUE LABOUR

Since the Brexit vote, the followers of Blue Labour – an advocacy group associated with the Labour Party that promotes conservative ideas – have accepted much of the far right’s analysis. Advanced by the likes of Paul Embery and Adrian Pabst, they have adopted the far rights’ language and terminology at an alarming rate.

Importantly, followers of Blue Labour have also bought into a binary divide: the choice is either neoliberal hyper‐globalisation or a patriotic nationalism. The possibility of any different types of globalisation has been denied.

..

Critique of Blue Labour: Towards a renewed social democratic alliance

Labour’s successes in 1945, 1964 and 1997 came through linking together the labour movement, the public sector and middle class intellectuals. Alliances will not necessarily return in the ‘old’ form, but they need to be constructed. The first step is to articulate alternative models of globalisation.

Progressives need an economic policy promoting a new relationship with nature and a thorough green industrial strategy that addresses the economic and social concerns of those who globalisation has passed by.

Progressives should also seek to create a sense of interconnectedness. Blue Labourites find it hard to conceive that a person can approve of European integration and yet still retain a national and local identity. The modern world is interconnected and overlaps. For instance, the wings for an Airbus are made in North Wales and Bristol, but the aircraft as a whole is put together in Toulouse.

To sum up, as the Green movement expresses it, ‘think global, act local’. There is no gulf between the two.

 

 

Labour Contenders Back Recommendations from Board of Deputies of British Jews.

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Contenders voice support for recommendations from Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Labour’s leader and deputy leadership contenders have demonstrated their commitment to tackling antisemitism in the party by backing a series of pledges set out by the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

Within hours of the organisation launching its “10 pledges”, which include adopting the international definition of antisemitism with all its examples and clauses, the majority of hopefuls had given their support.

This included Rebecca Long-Bailey, Emily Thornberry and Keir Starmer, who served in the shadow cabinet under Jeremy Corbyn.

It is a welcome move that the Labour candidates have accepted that the issue of anti-Semitism in the Labour Party has to be sorted out.

Many of the ideas are good, above all the demand to resolve cases, and to make it clear that no quarter should be given to bigotry.

But there serious problems with this pledge.

The first is that training on antisemitism will be carried out the Jewish Labour Movement – the JLM is a pro-Israel group, with its own supportive  views on the issue of Zionism, which neither all people from a Jewish background agree with, nor all Labour Party members. 

There is equally the fact that the JLM expressed this factional view during the General Election (Jewish Labour),

We will not be campaigning unless in exceptional circumstances and for exceptional candidates, like our Parliamentary Chair Ruth Smeeth, and members of the Parliamentary Labour Party who’ve been unwavering in their support of us. We will not be giving endorsements to candidates in non-Labour held seats.

This statement was elaborated,

Where and how will the Jewish Labour Movement be campaigning in the general election?

The Jewish Labour Movement only will be campaigning for exceptional candidates and in exceptional circumstances. This includes for our Parliamentary Chair Ruth Smeeth. We will not be replicating the scale of our campaigning activity that we undertook in 2017, where JLM organised more than 50 campaign activities across six electoral regions and nations and in marginal seats. No JLM Officers will be standing for election.

Are individual Jewish Labour Movement members allowed to campaign for any Labour candidate?

Our General Election Statement is the Movement’s position and reflects the collective will of our members. What individual members decide to do during the general election is a private matter for each to decide; no doubt this will be a very difficult decision for many.

Will the Jewish Labour Movement campaign against candidates that they do not see to have been sufficient allies in the fight against antisemitism in the Labour Party?

We will seek to highlight candidates’ shortcomings or failings in the fight against antisemitism. Where this is the case, they will not benefit from any Jewish Labour Movement resources.

A body which engages in this factionalism is not a good vehicle to offer sensitive or coherent courses on the complex issue of anti-Semitism.

If we can dismiss the response below then this, and other issues remain such as the idea that Labour Party affairs be settled by an outside “independent provider”. And who exactly will decide which Jewish community body is acceptable and which is not?  Is the Board of Deputies going to decide on this? ‘Community Groups’ covers a wide range, and, without a suffrage and elections,  nobody is clear how “representative”one is. The Board of Deputies is not the only voice around who can say.

It is therefore not only the Corbyn ultras – below – who will express concern.

A rally in support of left-wing Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey was marred by an attack on the “Tory” Chief Rabbi and the Jewish Labour Movement.

Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon and Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe both spoke at the post-general election gathering in central London on Thursday evening but Graham Durham, a Brent Central Labour Party member, was cheered by many in the audience as he ranted that Ms Long-Bailey did not deserve support because she was “cuddling up to the Jewish Labour Movement and the Chief Rabbi, a well-known Tory”.

Jewish Chronicle.

No, Rebecca Long-Baily, you SHOULD NOT sign up to the 10 pledges by the ‘Board of Deputies’!

Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 13, 2020 at 12:40 pm