Friday, 27 November 2015

Labour Shadow Cabinet Minister "Things will get a whole lot worse than you ever thought they could"

Over the last few days the turmoil inside the Labour Party has been reaching a fevered zenith.

There are repeated stories of Labour MPs briefing against the leadership whilst shadow cabinet ministers are reacting with somewhat righteous anger to what can only be considered a series of astonishing own-goals, gaffes and appalling misjudgements by the present Labour leadership.

As those who follow me on twitter know I am no fan of Jeremy Corbyn and believe he should resign with immediate effect. 

I also believe that he is doing the pragmatic, democratic left incalculable damage with the resulting debacle being that the electorate will never trust anyone who says they are any variety of socialist ever again. 

The trouble with this is that even those on the centre and right of the Labour Party will be toxified by Corbyn, resulting in a possible decades long Conservative Party hegemony in the UK. 

Whilst this has all been going on I’ve privately reached out to various MPs and insiders - here are some of the responses. 

I asked one yesterday how things were in the PLP they responded that “I think it's coming to a head very quickly”. When I suggested that this might lead to some rocky times ahead they continued that, yes, it would but that “we all know we're dead anyway if he [Corbyn] stays put - so nothing to lose. It’s about saving the Labour Party now.”

Another MP, who told me at the time when Corbyn was elected during a discussion about the necessary and difficult compromises any leader has to make, said that they were “looking forward to him having to be that person, after 32 years of self-indulgence.” 

A shadow cabinet minister told me only yesterday when I asked them if Corbyn might be forced to resign that “Things will get a whole lot worse than you ever thought they could before anything changes.” 

A third Labour MP went on to say that they didn't think Corbyn would resign as “He'll just appeal above MPs' heads to the wider membership - who will blame us.”

The shadow cabinet minister also told me that the big showdown is coming this Monday (30th November) and that “they [Corbyn’s clique] are enjoying themselves” too much to step back. The shadow minister also intimated that Corbyn continually tells dissenters within the shadow cabinet that he has a mandate from Labour members with the clear implication being that he believes this means he can overrule them on any decision.  “I don't see any sign that those who backed him in September have turned against him,” the shadow minister added, saying that they also feared rule changes in the leadership election might end the PLP selection process. “So if he's challenged, we have another contest and he wins."

The exchange ended with them saying that “Obviously if the entire shadow cabinet resigned, then it would be “interesting”!"

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Biggest Threat to the British Left? Jeremy Corbyn

The Corbyn-aligned left has no leader right now. It has a figurehead - Corbyn himself - but no leader. 

And this is one important factor when considering why, at the moment, the British left are hurtling lemming-like towards certain doom.

Of course, there’s been much said about Corbyn’s failings in the last weeks. His contortions over shoot to kill - he was clearly clueless about what the police’s existing tactical position was when pressed by the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on the matter, astonishing given the present security situation - which eventually ended with a mealy-mouthed equivocation that implied we need to be equally afraid of the police should Da’esh start massacring Britons, was an exemplar of non-leadership.

As a comparison of how poor Corbyn’s leadership has been not this issue, let’s examine another famous socialist’s comments when a similar security situation was in play and an innocent man, Jean Charles de Menezes, was mistakenly shot by British police.

This leading figure of the left said that Mr Menezes was a "victim of the terrorist attacks”.” and added that "Consider the choice that faced police officers at Stockwell last Friday - and be glad you did not have to take it.” 

He then went on to give unwavering support to the police officers involved, with the BBC reporting that

Although he accepted the police deserved criticism, he argued officers were not always in a position to interrogate a suspect they believed to be a potential terrorist. 
"I was close to that operation. The pressures people were operating under were unbelievable. 
"There were four men on the loose who tried to do suicide bombing. We knew we had a few days at most to catch them before they did it again and got it right. And under those pressures mistakes will happen." 

Over the last couple of days the man who gave that unflinching support to the police, Ken Livingstone, has quite rightly, found himself under fire for his appalling comments directed at Kevan Jones MP. But, nonetheless, Livingstone’s comments post-7/7 offered leadership and didn’t duck responsibility. Corbin certainly does not come out very well of any comparison with that. 

Then we have Corbyn’s stance on ISIS. Back in June 2014, when ISIS were beheading British citizens, throwing Gay men from rooftops, massacring captured Iraqis and enslaving Yazidi women, Jeremy went on Russia Today and described his solution for dealing with Da'esh. 

"Why not start with a political compromise now."

That's right. Start by looking for a political compromise with ISIS. 

And truth be told Corbyn's position has not really changed. 

In contrast, once again, here’s another socialist, another leading figure of the left, giving their view on what must be done to counter ISIS.

“I have asked the security council to meet in as soon as possible to pass a resolution to common fight against terror. We will pursue airstrikes in the weeks to come. Our enemy in Syria is Daesh: it's not about containing but destroying this organisation.” 

Francois Hollande, the man who led the kind of leftwing platform into power in France that the British left could only dream of, is obviously unequivocal. He sees Da’esh/ISIS for what they are - fascists, opposed on every single conceivable level to the kind of socialism he represents. There’s no hint of wavering, no thought of seeking accommodation with ISIS. 

With these statements and actions Hollande also completely outflanked the French rightwing, occupying the territory on national security they sought to make political capital from, and thereby helping to underpin a tolerant, social democratic, left-leaning hegemony. 

By contrast, in the UK, the left has no discernible leadership. The space on national security is now firmly being occupied by the right, with the extreme right very quick to take as much succour as they can from the appalling events in Paris, citing immigration, the EU and “multiculturalism” as the causes of terrorism.

This failure of leadership will have other easily predictable consequences for the British left - voters simply won’t listen to anything even the most committed, fair-minded and decent Corbyn supporter has to say if they don’t believe Corbyn cares about their security. The Tories could cut welfare much further, completely destroy the NHS and shrink the economy, but if voters feel safer with them, Labour won’t get a hearing. 

If I was a Corbyn supporter, someone who’d worked tirelessly to get him elected as Labour leader and believed he would take the party towards power and the country towards a better future, I’d be seriously disappointed right now. More than anything Corbyn has failed this part of the left and seems intent on dooming them to complete irrelevance for generations. 

 It’s my view - for the sake of those who believe in the kind of pragmatic left that seeks to create a country where we are unequivocal about genocidal fascism wherever it rears its head, where British citizens feel they can trust their government to protect them from fanatical terrorists, where the poor don’t queue up at food banks, where disabled people aren’t committing suicide due to welfare cuts and where there is opportunity for all to prosper - that Corbyn must go. 

And if Corbyn doesn’t want to go willingly, he must be pushed.