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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.

More Reasons to Back Keir Starmer as Mail attacks and Natty Dresser Galloway Scorns “Tailor’s Dummy”.

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Such worker-friendly sentiments differ greatly from his views while on the ¿editorial collective¿ of Trotskyite magazine Socialist Alternatives. A 1989 edition is seen above

Mail Picture: @ Tendance Archives.

Using an image from this Blog Harry Cole, who used to go out with Boris Johnson’s present companion, Carrie Symonds (Boris Blonde Was Former Girlfriend Of Senior Sun Editor) has a little rant.

HARRY COLE: ‘Young Trot’ Sir Keir Starmer spent the 1980s campaigning AGAINST the minimum wage

Millionaire lawyer and Labour leadership front-runner Sir Keir Starmer spent the 1980s campaigning AGAINST the minimum wage, I can reveal.

Last year, Sir Keir, 57, was much more on message, celebrating that ‘two decades ago Labour delivered the national minimum wage. Millions of people saw their pay rise. This is what a Labour Government can deliver.’

But such worker-friendly sentiments differ greatly from his views while on the ‘editorial collective’ of Trotskyite magazine Socialist Alternatives.

Gasp!

The then 24-year-old claimed it would lead to ‘continued confusion’ over the role of unions as it ‘places the onus’ to protect employment rights on the state rather than the organised proletariat.

He insisted the minimum wage ‘calls into question the central principle of free collective bargaining’.

Such less than friendly statements – back in an article in the 1980s…a “campaign”…..

Given that even Jeremy Corbyn points to the minimum wage as one of the few things he will praise Tony Blair for, has Sir Keir – who now claims to be a moderate – managed to outflank the veteran Lefty?

The 1980s, the years of the Blair hegemony…..

As one of the comments goes:

Bliar was also a Trot once, ditto John Reid

How true, how very true….

Another reason to both like and back Keir Starmer is supplied by Gorge Galloway:

The far-right Express ‘reports’.

George Galloway tears apart ‘tailor’s dummy’ Keir Starmer over ‘denial’ of Brexit failure

GEORGE GALLOWAY lashed out at Labour leadership frontrunner Sir Keir Starmer claiming the shadow Brexit secretary is a “tailor’s dummy”, arguing Labour is in “denial” over their Brexit policy.

 

 

Written by Andrew Coates

January 20, 2020 at 1:13 pm

Long-Bailey Says Labour Should Hold Public Meetings and Organise for a ‘Democratic Revolution’.

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“Democratic Revolution” against “Unaccountable Elites”.

Keir Starmer is emerging as the unity Labour candidate, bringing together different wings of the party around a radical programme.

As Paul Mason says,

Labour can win again if we make the moral case for socialism

Starmer has now made this welcome statement, , “As the leadership race stepped up a gear, Sir Keir called for an end to Labour “factionalism” and insisted he was best placed to unite the party.”

Independent.

The factionalists are in mobilising in full gear.

The campaign for Long-Bailey got off to a stumbling start with the endorsement of Momentum, in an ‘election’ in which you could only vote yes or no to back her, and Angela Rayner.

These were the sole names on the online ballot.

Now she is going for a “movementist” strategy melded with an appeal for a “democratic revolution to take power out of the hands of unaccountable elites.”

It looks as if Long-Bailey is offering a left populist strategy for Labour.

This  has been described (2018) by its ideologue Chantal Mouffe (For a Left  Populism. Chantal Mouffe.  Verso. 2018) in these terms,

In Britain, as in the rest of Europe, the way to answer the rightwing populist offensive is the construction of another “people” – through the articulation of a project that can link together various demands against the status quo. A project in which both leavers and remainers could feel that they have a voice and that their concerns are taken into account. One signifier for such a project could be a Green New Deal – which articulates multiple environmental and economic struggles around a demand for equality and social justice.

To be sure, such an “us” will never include everybody. It does, of course, require a “them” and the drawing of a political frontier. But we can have a frontier that makes democracy more radical – one that pits the people against the oligarchy, and the many against the few.

Centrist politics will not defeat Boris Johnson’s rightwing populism

Another struggle is possible

Some of these themes, free of Mouffe’s abstract jargon,  are all too visible in Long-Bailey’s latest declaration.

Labour must stir up democratic revolution to win power, says Long-Bailey

She said that after the EU referendum in 2016 Labour should have spent less time trying to “win procedural games in parliament” and more time holding public meetings outside Westminster.

In the accompanying  article  Giving power to the people is Labour’s path back to power the Labour contender says that after the referendum,

Instead of winning procedural games in parliament, we should have used the aftermath of the referendum result to go around the country, holding public meeting after public meeting to stir up a movement for real change – pledging to take on the political establishment and raise up the people’s demands beyond our institutional arrangements with the European Union.

That way, our manifesto could have become a set of popular remedies to deal with the three linked crises our country faces: of democracy, the economy and the environment. A joint agenda could have brought people together. Instead, we tried to compromise between the two extremes on Brexit, neither of which could deliver the change the British people need.

Leaving aside the preposterous assertion that anybody could bring friend and enemy together over Brexit, what now?

We need a popular movement to turn the British state against the privatisers, big polluters and tax dodgers that have taken hold of our political system.

..

 Much of Labour politics should take place far away from Westminster, as a movement helping people take charge in their workplaces, homes and communities. In this way, we will develop and win support for policies that start a democratic revolution to take power out of the hands of unaccountable elites.

There is no evidence that a political party can conjure a vast popular movement into existence.

Amongst recent examples of popular movements, the anti-austerity  Indignados in Spain are associated with the birth of Podemos. Pablo Iglesias, the leader of the radical left alliance, did not “stir up” a movement, he emerged with it. The idea of a party running the Plataforma Democracia Real Ya! would have been unwelcome. To say the least.

Since that time Spain has seen  return to – successful – electoral politics by Podemos  and the Spanish Socialists, the PSOE. The “populist” moment has passed, democratic politics have returned. The breakaway Más País led by Chantal Mouffe’s ally,   Íñigo Errejón whose politics centred on a version of a Green New Deal,  got 2.40% of the vote in the November Spanish elections.

Another popular movement (whose democratic credentials are mixed) , the French Gilets Jaunes were born of a dislocation between both the government, existing parties and people’s demands. Efforts to channel them into a single political direction, by, for example La France insoumise (LFI)  and the far-right Rassemblement National, have conspicuously failed.

The leader of LFI, Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s  own democratic revolution, the “la révolution citoyenne” got 6,3% of the vote in last year’s European elections in France.

What of the present Long-Bailey strategy?

Hold a rally, hold a demo, that will get the people moving!

What leverage on political institutions – elected bodies – is there in movements? There is no evidence of a grass roots surge in the direction Long-Bailey wishes for. There is even less visibility for the kind of radical strike and factory occupations that most radical would dream of.

After walking the streets, banners held high, we need people to put policies in place.

Public meetings are not a substitute for political power.

This ‘democratic revolution’, led by Momentum browbeating the Labour membership into backing Long-Bailey, does not look a good place from which to begin one either.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 17, 2020 at 12:41 pm

Progressive Patriot Rebecca Long-Bailey Wins Momentum Plebiscite.

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Long-Bailey Wins This ‘Election’.

On the day that Rebecca Long-Bailey entered a fresh controversy after telling  “Catholic priests she would ensure their “views are heard” over abortion, progressive patriot candidate for Labour Leadership received a further boost. *

Labour leadership: Momentum back Rebecca Long-Bailey in boost for Corbyn ally

The move is a boost to the Corbyn favourite when she bids for votes from the party’s 500,000-strong membership – but it comes after a highly controversial ‘only one option’ ballot

 

 

Momentum had only one candidate on the ballot, Long-Bailey.

Question 1 of 2: Should Momentum follow the NCG recommendation to endorse Rebecca Long-Bailey as the next leader of the Labour Party?

Results: For: 4,995 (70.42%) Against: 2,098 (29.58%)

Question 2 of 2: Should Momentum follow the NCG recommendation to endorse Angela Rayner as the next deputy leader of the Labour Party?

Results: For: 3,684 (52.15%) Against: 3,380 (47.85%)

The New European reports,

The campaign group said 70.42% of respondents to a ballot voted to throw resources behind Long-Bailey in the contest – equivalent to 4,995 members.

But that works out at just 12.5% of a membership which was reported to have totalled 40,000 last year.

Members also backed Angela Rayner for deputy leader with 52.15% of the vote – suggesting that others could have backed Richard Burgon as the alternative choice.

Suggesting that others could have backed Richard Burgon as the alternative choice.

Shadow business secretary Long-Bailey said: “Momentum members alongside hundreds of thousands of other Labour members worked day and night across the country to elect a Labour government last December, knocking on millions of doors.

“I am proud and beyond grateful to be backed by an organisation that has revolutionised how we campaign. I will deliver on the trust Momentum members have placed in me, with a plan to win the next general election and transform our country for the future.”

Some claimed the process was rigged because it only allowed one vote for each contest, rather than a version of the alternative vote like the actual Labour leadership voting processere

There were protests at this plebiscite.

Many noted that Momentum had followed other examples of the new wave of ‘virtual’ political groups, like La France insoumise, where all democracy is ‘organised’ centrally.

But despite the feeble turnout and less than 100% vote for the only candidate on offer one result has been obtained,

“the candidates will now have access to the organisation’s database of Labour activists across the country, and benefit from its experience of campaigning in two general elections and the 2016 leadership contest. “

Independent.

They will now “‘mobilise thousands’ for Rebecca Long-Bailey” reports the Telegraph.

No doubt building on their general election success these brow-beaters will try to shore up Long-Bailey’s support.

******

(*) Huffington Post. Rebecca Long-Bailey ‘Personally’ Supported Stricter Abortion Rules

 

Labour leadership candidate Rebecca Long-Bailey has supported stricter limits on abortion.

Long-Bailey told Catholic priests during the election campaign she would make sure their “views are heard” when it came to any changes to the law.

Written by Andrew Coates

January 16, 2020 at 6:06 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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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.