Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Seventeen Thoughts On Corbyn, Labour and Opposition

1: This election campaign won’t end with the counting of the votes. We now have a clear split in the Labour party and ironically, it is the self-proclaimed modernisers and progressives who wish to maintain the status quo. 

2: Andy Burnham cannot unite the party. Neither can Yvette Cooper. They are too associated with the failure of the past 2 General Election campaigns.   

3: Liz Kendall should be in a different party.  

4: The reaction of the Labour “big beasts” to the startling Corbyn phenomenon has borne a startling resemblance to the famous Kubler-Ross model of grief management. We have had the denial. In many ways the decision to let Corbyn stand embodies that denial – an arrogant, patronising nod to those in the party who felt there was nothing to divide the other candidates. Then, as it became clear that this was a movement that wasn’t going to just go away, we move into anger.  Coups were openly threatened in the papers. The bargaining is already beginning. Burnham has started to say vaguely socialist things. Depression will follow. Acceptance, I’m not so sure. 

5: The Tories won less than a quarter of the vote.  A quarter of the public didn’t vote at all. That there is as blatant a rejection of our current politics as you could wish to see and still, Yvette and Andy and Liz and Alan and all those tired old losers maintain that only more of the same can see a return to power for Labour. It’s like watching your straw house blow down and insisting that only another straw house will keep the wolf from the door. 

6: When Blair won in 1997, it had precious little to do with a move to the right. Any Labour leader would have won that election but a young, confident, visionary one romped it. That he turned out to be disastrously wrong about so many things is water under the bridge, but his victory in 1997 was a rejection of the right and his decreasing returns in 2001 and 2005 was as much a rejection of him and that rightward movement as anything else.  

7: This is not a right wing country. It has a right wing media. It has somehow ended up with a right wing government but all over the country, not just on social media, there are millions like me who wonder how it is we are in this mess. Despite the best efforts of large swathes of the media, the UKIP bubble burst and burst spectacularly in May.  I don’t know anyone who harbours a hatred for the poor or disabled. And yet this is the government we have chosen. And Her Majesty’s Opposition are worse. They have decided that the best way to win the electorate’s trust is not to appeal to the electorate’s better nature, but to collude in the myth of aspiration, blame and fear mongering.  

8: I keep hearing that this is like 1983 all over again. The Telegraph think their aim of getting thousands of Tories to join Labour to vote Corbyn in is the wizardest of wheezes.  They think Corbyn is another Michael Foot. That getting him in to the Labour hot seat guarantees a Tory reign of at least 20 years. But it’s bluster. The sight of thousands of people across the country queuing to hear him speak is worrying them. They don’t like it. People don’t turn out like this to see Cameron. They never did, they never will. Popularity worries them, scares them. What if people like what Corbyn has to say? 

9: Corbyn has at least gone out and said what his economic policy is and how it would work. It’s been backed by credible economists and largely influenced by a prominent expert on taxation in the UK. This isn’t back of a stamp stuff. And all you’ll hear is well, Amazon will just take their business elsewhere if we don’t pay them to come here. Or well if the minimum wage is £10 an hour, then thousands of businesses will have to shut. I don’t see how either would materialise.  We are giving money to tax avoiders to ensure they stay here and pay no tax. Let’s replace two words in that last sentence. We are giving heroin to drug addicts to ensure they stay here and never come off heroin. Okay, a clumsy analogy. But tax avoidance and drug addiction are similar in the sense that they disproportionately affect the poor, and render its host incapable of functioning properly. The Treasury is a junkie. One look at Osborne would tell you that much. 

10: Who is it exactly the Labour Party are supposed to represent now? The poor, the vulnerable, the unemployed – they have lost their traditional champion. And this, despite being elected time after time in the constituencies where these champions are needed most. Labour have become all they once feigned to despise. A dynastic members club giving helping hands to the sons of former stalwarts, step forward young Kinnock, unlucky young Straw. All of them jumping on the gravy train and staining themselves with its brown envelope. Look at Harriet Harman and her Peppa Pig eyes. She wants to get fat on directorships and chips. And Corbyn's going to ruin everything. 

11: Andy Burnham tried to introduce ID Cards. Flowerpot Man faced prick.

12: Labour are a broad church. Most political organisations are. Those of us on the left have been told time and time again that the world has changed, we are the dinosaurs, we lost the argument and that we must compromise. Now, the shoe is on the other foot and all those careerist MPs don’t like it. People who saw that being Tory meant carrying some sort of pariah status and joined a Labour party they saw moving towards its own ruthless take on Thatcherism. There are thousands of people joining the party each week and most of them because of Corbyn. Fuck all those John Spellars and Tristram Hunts. They would run a mile if they came within 500 feet of a dropped aitch. Things are changing. Good. 

13: The SNP have proved that, north of the border, a grass roots movement can yield massive changes to the political landscape. It's highly unlikely that a Labour party could do so in England but unless people try, they will never know. There are alliances to be made with the SNP, with Plaid and the Greens – foreign alliances too so that the Amazons of this world are made to pay their taxes wherever they set up.  

14: Nationalised railways, scrapped Trident, concerted efforts to pursue tax avoiders. These are policies popular with the public, massively popular, but Labour cant see the point of chasing votes by giving people what they want. Not as long as being Tories with UB40 on their iPods is still an option.  And then they wonder why Corbyn is packing out venues and Liz Kendall couldn't get a lift busy. 

15: The fight wont be fair. The press will tell you Corbyn killed Diana, that he high fived Bin Laden at a 9/11 themed disco funded by snuff movie sales. They will distract you with royal babies and gossip and football. They don’t want to discuss the facts, they never have. 

16: I voted Labour in May. Not because I was inspired by Ed Miliband but because I would have done anything to keep those Tory shithouses out of power. Now, I wonder what was the point. A Labour party that would have matched every cruel and spiteful cut Cameron made. I wanted that to win? Fuck that. I want a government that looks at the unemployed and says "What can we do to give these people a sense of purpose?" not "We should threaten these lazy people with starvation if they don’t work for free at one of my party's key donors." I want a government unafraid to stand up to big business, unafraid to confront bigotry and poverty. I want my NHS back. I want a Labour Party at the forefront of a proper investigation into the historical child abuse at Westminster AND Rotherham AND anywhere else it happens. Most of all I want a leader that I can look at on telly and not think "He's one of them." 

17: He's not one of them, is he? And I think that's what worries the others most.