Friday, August 21, 2015

Jeremymandering the Labour Leadership Election

Leon Trotsky, Corbynite
The Labour Party is celebrating the 75th anniversary of Stalin's assassination of Leon Trotsky by having a purge of the party.

The whole Labour leadership election, especially the anti-Corbyn onslaught, has been fraught with contradictions.

Jeremy Corbyn will be unelectable said Gordon Brown, a prime minister who was never elected.

Corbyn's policies are unpopular, says Iraq-invading Tony Blair.

Corbyn would be a throwback to 1983, say the people who want it to be 1997.

Corbyn's too left wing to win, say supporters of Tony Blair, even though every Labour prime minister before Blair won with a greater share of the vote and more left wing manifesto.

Corbyn is dodgy for his links to Sinn Fein, say the same people who praised Mo Mowlam for talking to the IRA in order to bring about the Good Friday agreement.

He is evil for his links to Hamas, say the New Labour stalwarts who spent their time in government using public money to subsidise sending vast arsenals to Saudi Arabia.

We need to be tough on benefits says Andy Burnham, who claims £17,000 of public money a year to rent a flat whilst he owns one round the corner that he rents out.

Hillsborough justice campaigner Andy Burnham advertising The Sun

You can't join a party and alter its historic fundamental politics to suit you, say the people who came into Keir Hardie's socialist party and abolished Clause IV.

We need to win over people who didn't vote for us in May, say the whole party as they purge anyone they suspect of recently supporting other parties. At least, if it's parties from the left. Quentin Davies beat Labour candidates in seven general elections during his thirty years as a Tory MP. He defected to Labour and was eligible to vote in both the last and current leadership elections.

As Paul Bassett Davies said,

“I wouldn’t want to belong to any Labour party that would have me as a member.”
 - Karl ‘Groucho’ Marx.


I lose count of the number of times in the past when some Labour bod has seen my political enthusiasm and urged me to join the party. I have always replied that they don't reflect my ideas. Invariably, I was told that's exactly why I should join the party, to change it from the inside.

Now that people are joining up, Labour don't want them. Twenty years ago the newly elected leader Tony Blair promised a million members. He peaked at about 400,000. Since Corbyn has been a serious challenger membership has soared to 600,000, its biggest spike since 1951. They got 150,000 of those - the size of the entire Tory membership - on a single day last week.

Labour would have us believe that these are Trotskyite entryists. Half a million people in the UK will pay money to have a dictatorship of the proletariat. Who knew?

Mhairi Black's maiden speech went viral because it articulated so much of what people are consciously feeling, yet are not seeing in our elected representatives. She described growing up in a socialist Labour household but

we didn't leave the Labour Party, the Labour Party left us.

So many lifetime Labour people - either active supporters or 'lesser of the evils' voters - left because of the Iraq War, PFI, sticking to Tory spending plans, failure to build council homes, clampdowns on civil liberties and breaches of basic human rights like detention without trial (the Tories are worse, sure, but if Labour had won in 2010 we'd all be carrying ID cards by now).

The mushy merging of parliamentary politics into the same ideas spun by the same kind of people means there's nothing to choose from. If Labour agree with the mainstream parties that the problems are immigration, the deficit and benefit claimants then it's no surprise that everyone votes for parties who will deal with these 'problems' properly. It's notable that three of the Labour contenders are from the cosseted Armaniworld career path of Oxbridge > special advisor > safe seat.

The SNP, Greens and UKIP have benefited hugely from this, sharing six and a half million votes between them in May. With Corbyn polling as the Labour contender most likely to take votes from those parties, and his policies such as renationalisation of railways popular with the majority of voters of every party taken separately (even the Tories & UKIP), the idea that he is unelectable is yet another heehawing from the gullet of New Labour's pushmi-pullyu.

Under our absurd electoral system, adding more votes in Labour heartlands won't help Labour win more seats. But, irrespective of whatever they take back in Scotland, if they act in alliance with the SNP, Plaid Cymru and Greens (and the LibDems if they reject their neoliberalism and reclaim their position as a party that champions civil liberties) then a win in 2020 is more than feasible. More to the point, a win on a platform of social welfare and compassion.


It's about more than poaching votes from other parties, though. Perhaps the 5% Labour need isn't in the 24% who voted Tory, but the 34% who didn't vote. The biggest group of non-voters are young people. The biggest group of Corbyn supporters are young people. People who were 10 in 1997 are 28 today - Corbyn is the first time they've heard anything from a mainsteam party politician apart from oleaginous spin and focus-grouped management speak.

There is also something stirring beyond the ballot box. A sense of anger at the rich taking from the poor, a fierce will to defend beloved public institutions like the NHS and BBC, a desire to engage and actively create justice. There is a thirst for compassion so profound that an unrevolutionary old-school Labour centrist (Corbyn's policies are no further left than Neil Kinnock's) can seem like a messiah. This bodes well for the potential of more radical change that is never found in any party's manifesto.

A massive social movement millions strong is poised, asking Labour to lead it. The party is doing its best to fend it off. People whose only sin was to join the Greens for a few weeks in the run-up to the general election are being denied the chance to vote. The deregistering of people who have already voted Corbyn and the binning of their votes is blatant Jeremymandering.

As the person who sent Trotsky's assassin said,

The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.

= = = =

If you have been knocked back in the purge, try calling the Labour party on 0845 0922299. They appear to be realising this is backfiring and say some people were sent the email 'by mistake'.