Labour’s new civil war over racism and power

To see senior Labour figures literally kicking verbal lumps out of each other may be entertaining to those of us who despise the authoritarian Labour Party but what is going on is more than a spat about racism vitally important though that is.

For a party supposedly of the left to be openly at war over racism is bizarre in itself but I go back 30 years or more to one of the most telling things I was told as a young politician. It came from a young Labour Party member who quite openly said to me that there were more racists in his party than in the other political party or words to that effect. And it seems to have come to pass many years later played out on our TV screens with senior Labour figures making such allegations about others in that comradely Party.

But of course this is just the latest spat in Labour’s ongoing civil war. The Red Tories want Corbyn out, they want him to look like he can’t lead his party, they are making the Labour Party impossible to lead.

Yes Corbyn is no great leader of men and women but neither is he the appalling man many of his own MP’s are trying to make him look like. He probably has many principles which his own party is trying to make him compromise. They may, in many cases, be principles that we libertarians could not agree with but at least he has principles.

Burnham is quite obviously jockeying for position as he can smell a possible end to Corbyn’s leadership and he needs to reinvent himself again after getting such a pasting in the last leadership election. He’s even using left wing rhetoric these days; very different to that he used when he lost to Corbyn and even further away from his days as a Blairite Minister privatising the NHS.

The majority of Labour MP’s want their party to swing back to the right, to be Blairite under a more palatable title. No more New Labour by name but very much so in policy terms.

My argument is that a right wing Labour Party is no good for the UK. Yes they may be able to unseat some Tories but why do we need Red Tories to replace Blue Tories? The changes would only be at the margins.

What we need is a radical, diverse and yes yet more radical alternative to Labour settling back down as the just slightly better alternative to more Tory years. Canada has that alternative model and those of us who want open inclusive government should take note. Why even some Americans can see that a more radical path needs to be taken with the rise of Bernie Sanders in the Democrat Party. I am always amazed to hear Labour Party members arguing for Hilary Clinton to win the Democratic nomination.

Justin Trudeau did not come to power by being slightly less right wing than the Canadian Tories he did it by turning the Canadian Liberal Party into a radical party that is openly prepared to tear up old outdated policy stances.

Radical policies are not based on class war as Labour and its core supporters believe, they are based on true empowerment of people, celebrating diversity and getting voters to coalesce around a common radical and positive agenda. Labour are incapable of such an approach whether the left or right is running their show.

The UK is crying out for a Justine Trudeau type leader not talk of moderation and aiming for the center ground, or worse centre ground positioning dressed up by left wing rhetoric. Is Tim Farron up for that?

Corbyn – New Labour helped cause the financial crash

www.politicshome.com/party-politics/articles/story/jeremy-corbyn-attacks-new-labour-over-financial-crash

Well after years of Labour supporters and hacks saying that the last Labour government had no responsibility for the financial crash it now seems that Labour’s new Leader is fessing up to what his party did in government.

For having the guts to say this is to Jeremy Corbyns’s credit but you can see all his many right wing ‘Red Tory’ MP’s spluttering away in disbelief!

Of course, I am sure that Corbynomics would be a disaster in itself but at least he has made the Labour Party come out of its years denial and face up to its responsibilities for its part in the financial crash.

The old politics of fear is dead? Trouble is we need new leaders who are not wedded to the past

The quite ridiculous recent debate about renewing the Trident nuclear missile deterrent made me think about how out of touch our politicians and media really are. We have for years lived in a society where government and the press have told us what is good for us, what we should be concerned about and who are enemies are. Both also know how to get us to vote with fear in our hearts.

My guess is that public thinking is actually far more advanced than right wing journalists and the majority of our politicians may think.

Firstly, Trident is the product of the cold war and even Jeremy Corbyn can’t quite grasp that despite him being high up in CND circles. It needs to be phased out as part of a wide ranging defence review that tackles where the threats to the UK actually are as opposed to where they once were. Keep the submarines but take the missiles away, really! Or, we must keep the missiles because they provide UK jobs? So should we base our economy on producing weapons to provide jobs? Neither idea is credible public policy in 2016 Mr Corbyn.

Right to die – Apart from the few people I speak to with strong religious views everyone seems to think that all of us should have the right to die as we choose; with all the proper safeguards in place of course. Politicians and the press just get in a tangle about this without wanting to allow us to do what we want to do. If you can’t control your own life, what freedom do you have? If some folks don’t want to exercise a right to die then no one will make them do so but to deny that right to others is utterly appalling.

And what about our ridiculous drug laws which have had the unintended consequence of creating a crime wave that we can’t escape from? Is it not time to open our minds to newer more radical solutions that other countries are seriously trying? Yes, our present drug laws may well keep many police and customs employees in jobs but is that or indeed the similar argument for keeping Trident a sensible way of making public policy?

There are of course many other major public policy issues (not least the environmental catastrophe that awaits us if we can’t successfully address global warming/clean energy) but I use these 3 to highlight my concerns. Our ruling politicians and media barons try to control what we think and how we react because it suits them to do so. They want to stay in power/in control. But every few years they are forced to rethink their old fashioned ways of doing things so that they can try to stay in power and in control. Are we approaching another such change?

When people started to flock towards Corbyn (by joining or rejoining the Labour Party) they were not doing so because they thought he was going to make a great leader. I have yet to meet anyone who thinks he would be such a great leader. They flocked towards him because they wanted and still want change; to loosen the power of the ruling classes over us. In this case the New Labour ruling classes.

When Farron was elected as the Lib Dem Leader last year the same thing was happening in that radical thinking non-socialist people wanted him to challenge the old certainties.

I think it fair to say that Corbyn has proved he is no leader and that he is probably stuck in the political past. It is also fair to say that Farron is yet to find his truly radical edge to match what at times can be quite powerful rhetoric.

I suspect that both of them realise that society is changing fast but the Westminster bubble still pulls them towards the old realities that those in power are comfortable with. It will be interesting to see if either of them manages to set themselves free from the old politics or whether someone new rises to the political surface who is not encumbered by the old political baggage.

A look over the pond to Justin Trudeau, Canada’s new Prime Minister, shows how radical politicians can break through. It may be in the fullness of time that Trudeau disappoints in the way some think that Obama has but both started with really positive agendas that folk were willing to support and even get enthusiastic about. Of course, a similar thing happened here with Blair and but he ultimately proved to be a great disappointment to many especially over the war in Iraq.

Oh for credible, radical leaders who are not prisoners of the past. The challenge is there but is anyone up for it in UK politics?

Merseyside Labour’s big shots who barked up the wrong tree – What will become of them?

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/walton-mp-steve-rotheram-hits-10744030

It was this recent article in the Liverpool Echo (see link above) that made me think about how many of Merseyside’s Labour MP’s and prominent local authority notables must now be pondering their future because they backed the wrong horse in the 2015 Labour Leadership election. The link below reminds us of those who publicly backed Andy Burnham, a chap many see as being very much on the right wing of the Labour Party.

www.liverpoolecho.co.uk/news/liverpool-news/merseyside-politicians-sign-open-letter-9775071

This link shows just how many of the big beasts in Labour’s Merseyside jungle refused to back Corbyn who, of course, won the election by a landslide. However, some of them were then quick on their feet though as they saw the way the wind was blowing. They got a place in Corbyn’s team even though they had publicly made it very clear they saw Andy Burnham as Labour’s only credible Leader.

Many of my friends in the trade union movement, who have not been Labour Party members for many years are rejoining the Labour now to try to shore up Corbyn who remains under attack from many of his MP’s, despite Labour’s membership being very much behind him.

At face value Labour is returning to what in my mind it should be i.e. a clearly socialist party as opposed to the social democrat and even Christian Democrat one it became under Blair and Brown. Indeed, the ferocity of Labour attacks on those who rely on welfare/benefits to survive before the 2015 General Election made many of us wonder just how far to the right Labour was capable/prepared to travel. Of course those making these appalling attacks were dubbed ‘Red Tories’.

I am sure, like me, you can also sumise that the new socialist members of the Labour Party across Merseyside will have a copy of ‘that letter’. Surely they will be using it as a good starting point to deselect the MP’s and Labour worthies who penned it?

Will those who have been trying to re-position themselves as no longer anti-Corbyn, in the hope they can dodge the culling that surely must be on the cards, save themselves with their fancy footwork? Time will tell.

Why you can almost hear the words of Sir Humphrey saying ‘that was very brave’ to those who signed the letter which some if not all of them may one day very much wish they had not sent.

Labour – What do they stand for? Will 2016 give a clear answer?

Jeremy Corbyn is Vice President of CND yet he asked his MP’s to abstain in a House of Commons vote to get rid of Trident.

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Labour said they wanted to stop the Chancellor’s tax Credit cuts yet they would only vote for the cuts to be deferred in the House of Lords.

Labour sat on their hands and abstained over the Tories Welfare Bill in the House of Commons.

All of this happened in 2015.

Of course you have to put all this context because 90% of Corbyn’s MP’s don’t support him, want him out and are trying to undermine him. But on the other hand 70% of Labour’s members do support him. No wonder Labour does not know what to do.

The Labour opposition in the House of Commons is letting the Tories off with murder because they are spending most of their time stabbing each other in the back.

Taking mental health issues seriously? Jen Robertson’s guest posting

Looking at the news you’d be forgiven for assuming that the House of Commons debated nothing but Syria and terrorism recently, of course that’s not actually the case. One item I found of particular interest was the issue of out of area placements in mental health raised by Norman Lamb. Norman himself has a fantastic record of campaigning for mental health to be taken as seriously as physical health problems are, and indeed his work in this area was one of the things that led to my decision to vote for him in the leadership elections. The issue he raised was the horrific practice whereby those in need of mental health (sometimes including children) care are sometimes sent hundreds of miles away from their homes and families due to a lack of available facilities in their local area.

Norman was fantastic on the subject, as ever. I admit his rhetoric isn’t as good as Tim’s, he seems less likely to ever deliver a speech that could bring a room to it’s feet for his oratory rather than it’s content, but his tireless pursual of mental health issues is wonderful. It’s clear the issue means a lot to him and it is also clear that this is a man who does his research and is far more interested in seeking solutions than in placing blame, something sadly not common enough in politics.

Debate video and transcripts can be found here:

www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/ad0175ac-dbfd-419f-b04d-75da804110f4 (play from about 14:12pm)

www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmhansrd/cm151203/debtext/151203-0003.htm (starts partway down the page, just look for Norman’s name)

What really struck me in this debate though was how sparsely it was attended. I was disappointed more of our own didn’t attend, only Norman, Mark Williams and Tom Brake were present, but attendance was even worse for all the other parties. There were a fair handful of Tories present and those that spoke on the issue did so well and respectfully, albeit very briefly, making relevant points and agreeing with Norman’s. The Labour benches (as you can see in this photo) were deserted.

index

So much for this:

www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-corbyn-creates-new-dedicated-minister-for-mental-health-in-his-shadow-cabinet-10500075.html

Mr Corbyn and his party have a funny way of demonstrating their interest in, and commitment to, mental heath issues. I understand this wasn’t a major debate but it IS an important issue and when you have 232 MPs it shouldn’t be that difficult to find at least one person willing to show up!

The other parties were as far as I can tell (as in I watched the whole debate and couldn’t see evidence of them anywhere unless they’d got lost and sat down amongst the Tories) all notably absent too. I admit to being unsure if the issue is a relevant one in Scotland – if not perhaps the SNP can be excused their non-attendance, but if that is not the case then I’d argue they too have quite enough MPs to find someone to attend! The same excuse might I suppose be offered for the Northern Ireland MPs, I don’t know if they are affected by this issue or not. For the smaller English parties I do understand that a limited number of MPs inevitably means you will not be able to have a presence in the House at all debates, but it does show that this doesn’t seem to have been deemed much of a priority for any of them. Perhaps epitomising perfectly the struggle mental health issues have to achieve parity of esteem and even notice amongst politicians and public alike.

The problem in the debate didn’t lie in any of what was being expressed in the chamber but the fact that more than 90% of it’s members had so little interest in it that they didn’t even show up. How will this important issue ever truly progress without greater support?