Corbyn/McDonnell – The Labour dilemma

Are Corbyn/McDonnell not already in danger of compromising their ‘hardish left’ views simply to keep the majority of right wing Labour MP’s on board?

Yes I know this question comes from me a Liberal opponent of Labour but never the less surely those right wing Labour MP’s have to be deselected (they did not want Corbyn and certainly did not vote for him) or Corbyn and this shadow chancellor McDonnell will have to continue to compromise what they believe in to keep them from rebelling.

Even then it won’t work though as those right wingers will see them off at the first opportunity because they only pledge their support to Labour not to Corbyn and his leadership people. Their first real attack will probably come after the local elections next May if Labour performs poorly.

My advice to socialists in the Labour Party is to do what happened to them in the Kinnock era or they will soon be back where they started with a new right wing Labour Leadership.

Corbin for Labour Leader!

No this is not an attempt to persuade Labour members to elect a new Leader who will make Labour unelectable but more to make them think about why someone like Jeremy Corbin is right in what he identifies as problems but wrong in the way he and fellow socialists think the state, councils and big public institutions are the best way to address those problems.

Corbin is what I would identify as a real socialist and there are few of them in the Labour Party these days. I have worked with true socialists for years in the trade union movement and have a great deal of respect for them even though I think that they come to the wrong conclusions over matters where we share common identification of problems that need addressing.

If I was a member of the Labour Party about to take part in their Leadership vote I would have to urge fellow Labour Party members to vote for Corbin but I am not because I have never felt that the solutions that socialists and Labour folk come up with will actually work. But at least he identifies what the real (mainly social problems) are, which is far more than you can say about the other candidates to be Labour Leader.

Where Liberals and socialists divide is that Liberals see the solutions to social problems in particular as being ones that need people to be empowered and set free from the tyranny of the state, councils and big public institutions. We come to that conclusion not because we don’t see a role for the state, councils and public institutions, because we do, but we also see them as being too cumbersome, too bureaucratic and too remote to effectively solve many issues.

In our Leadership election I think it would be fair to say that both Tim Farron and Norman Lamb could be seen as being of the left, indeed I have heard Farron, whom I have just voted for, refer to himself as ‘a bit of a leftie’.

We Liberals often encounter Labour on Councils and working with them can be hard work because of their ‘our way or no way’ approach. Indeed, I would say that Labour often stands in the way of positive progress because they are too slow to react, too reluctant to empower people and all too willing to do things to people rather then giving them the tools to do things for themselves. I would go further though as it strikes me that some in the Labour Party feel they can’t afford to empower people because if they did those people may not need to depend on the Labour Party any more. Dependent voters are useful voters for Labour.

So yes, of the candidates standing for the Labour Leadership Jeremy Corbin is about the best one not least because the others are far too right wing for my liking.

The dilemma for socialists – Vote for a Party that promotes more, greater and deeper austerity?

I have often pondered on the dilemma that faces socialists in UK politics because they seem to find themselves in a cycle of hope and despair in equal measure.

At each general election they try to convince themselves that voting Labour and trying to get others to vote Labour will lead to socialism in government. Of course it never does as there are few if any real socialists in the Labour leadership these days. Indeed, to hear recent appalling statements from some leading Labour figures about those who are unfortunate to need to live on benefits makes you wince.

What I think that real socialists actually end up doing is voting negatively i.e. they vote Labour because they hope that in government Labour will be not as Tory or as bad as the Tories. A kinder form of capitalism is all they can hope for but with people like Rachel Reeves and Harriet Harman leading the Labour Party kinder capitalism, especially for those on benefits, hardly seems to be on Labour’s agenda in 2015.

And don’t get me wrong here I do respect genuine socialists even though I don’t agree with them. I suppose you can say that we see many of the same problems but have radically differing solutions to them. I say that after working for 25+ years in the trade union movement and seeing at first hand the agonies of socialists at the actions of Labour in Government pursuing such things as NHS privatisation, the war in Iraq and ID cards. Like me, socialists abhorred these Labour policies and they campaigned against them but when a general election comes along some of them then campaign for the very Labour Party they have been fighting against.

Some will say that they are not supporting the Labour Party but they do have a great respect for their local Labour MP who in their view is a true socialist. A worthy aim but it still potentially puts into government a Labour Party they will have to campaign against.

Others hope that one day true socialists will take over the Labour Party and it will once again become what it was when first formed out of the trade union movement all those years ago. They will of course be sadly disappointed.

I have noticed that some socialists are gravitating towards the Greens and you can see socialist authoritarianism creeping into the Greens as a consequence.

But what surprises me most is how some socialists can turn a blind eye and or a deaf ear when the Labour Party is promoting things like NHS privatisation, the Iraq war or these days more greater and deeper austerity cuts in public expenditure. If you genuinely oppose such things how can you campaign against them but then vote for the Party promoting them?

As I say a real dilemma for socialists who privately must be thinking about such matters regularly, especially near a general election.

What are the differences between our two left of centre political parties? The Telegraph has a stab at answering this.

Well it is a stab but it is far from the whole story. What really differentiates the Lib Dems from Labour is where power should be exercised in our political system.

Labour is by its very nature a party that pulls power and control towards the centre whereas the Lib Dems are by their very nature a party that wants to give power to individuals and communities to decide their own destiny.

This is the fundamental issue of socialism V liberalism and whilst Labour can hardly claim to be a socialist party these days (although many of their members and supporters seem to think they still are) their instinct is not to trust the people but to be paternal towards them.

Liberals have always sought political power to give it away to people and communities and it is this fundamental difference that makes it hard for the two left of centre parities to work together.

Social Liberal – Iain Brodie Browne on Tim Farron, Beveridge…….

I recommend a read of the article on Iain’s blog site that the link above takes you to.

I particularly liked this:-

The job of a leader is not to do everything himself or herself but to bring together a team who make our message new in this generation. S/he should not confine themselves to party members but draw on the best people who want a fair and free society. People who can say with us (and the authors of the Yellow Book) that they ‘believe with a passionate faith that the end of all political and economic action is not the perfecting or the perpetuation of this or that piece of mechanism or organisation, but that individual man and women may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly’

Indeed, and they must be the aims of every Liberal. But thereby hangs the division between the Labour party’s version of socialism and how people like Iain and I define Liberalism. You see Labour want to create institutions to control people at a national, regional and local level. They want people to back Labour at all costs whereas we Liberals want to set people free from institutions that decide what is good for them. A fair and free and open society values and encourages political and social diversity it does not package it up so that local or national political rulers can hand out services, favours and power to their mates who are in their club.

And its not that I don’t understand why the Labour Party is so controlling of nature. I realise they are a product of their birth from the trade union movement which had to fight so hard to free workers from appalling working practices and they needed almost blind loyalty to achieve that. Trouble is things have moved on and I, as a long-time trade unionist, can see how badly the trade union movement is adapting to change. Labour adapts to change poorly too but as it does, if painfully slowly, the tensions between it and the trade unions, who gave it life, are very real.

Tim Farron

Tim Farron

There is room for a new political consensus on the left and Iain is right in thinking that Tim Farron could/should be a leader of it from the Liberal wing but despite all Labour’s attempts to change it can’t shake the shackles of being stuck with a deep wish to control and patronise via all-powerful leaders.