Tag Archives: labour

“It’s Tony Blair’s fault…”

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An imaginary conversation with the Labour leadership.

Me: “Was it right to push your MPs to vote for Brexit with no conditions attached? None of your amendments have passed, aren’t you just handing Britain on a platter to the anti-migrant ultra-nationalist vision of Theresa May?”

Labour leadership: “It’s all Tony Blair’s fault”.

Me: “What about your defeat to the Tories in Copeland in the recent by-election? Sure, Labour’s decline has been there for a while, but you held that seat since 1935, Tories went up dramatically, UKIP wasn’t really a threat…”.

L: “It’s the Blairites’ fault”.

Me: “You did win in Stoke, does that mean that the Blairites help you win Stoke? Given that they are to blame for Copeland…”

L: “It’s a sign of the great victory of the working classes led by Jeremy Corbyn and a new radical agenda, it will be a socialist revolution, Stoke is the proof”.

Me: “Yet, despite all the door-to-door campaigning, of course it was a by-election, but the turnout was still pretty low, and even if one looks at the vote shares compared to 2015, you lost two points, and UKIP and Tories went up a few points…”

L: “It’s Tony Blair’s fault”.

Me: “The Blairites have caused great damage to the party, and they will do everything they can to oust Corbyn, but are you going to take responsibility for the mistakes done since you took over the leadership? And isn’t the fact that you are still claiming to be ineffectual because of the Blairites a clear sign of failure on your side as well?”

L: “It’s the Blairites’ fault, they are here to get us, no matter what”.

Me: “Was McDonnell’s latest message to Labour members the best response to the Copeland defeat? I mean, what kind of message are you giving to your base by focusing only on the conspiracy of the Blairites and the Murdoch media to get you? Isn’t this just another bit of exaggerated one-way propaganda with no hopeful content about what you are offering, what you are about?”

L: “You said it, it’s a conspiracy, it’s Tony Blair’s fault”.

Me: “Do you think it is wise to pander to rampant right wing nationalism and abandon solidarity with migrants? Doesn’t this betray your socialist internationalist principles? Doesn’t it push you dangerously close to May’s rhetoric and the far right?”

L: “These are minor issues, now we have to respect people’s will – they want migrants out, you know – but we will reopen the borders later, we are absolutely committed to open borders. We have the opportunity to bring about a socialist democracy in Britain, it’s just around the corner, we can’t be let down by these sterile debates. We condemn hate and racism against migrants and people of colour, always…

Me: “You mean like David Cameron and Theresa May…”

L: “… and anyway, it’s Tony Blair’s fault”.

Me: “I find it interesting that despite the vitriolic anti-Blairite rhetoric, you are actually finding common ground with the old guard on anti-immigration policies. Tom Watson recently proposed an apartheid-style system of internal controls for migrants, he said it’s currently being debated within Labour.”

L: “I have no time for you, the revolution is waiting. Bye”.

Corbyn has no choice but to sack the Blairites

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn could soon sack major figures of the shadow cabinet that are opposed to his agenda, especially the principled anti-war stance on the Syrian conflict. A stand-off between Corbyn and the old Labour elite seems inevitable. It’s clear that the Labour majority who support the new leader won’t let the Blairites dictate the party line.

Corbyn is left with no choice but to restructure the top ranks of Labour. If you are in doubt, it’s worth watching again Hilary Benn’s disturbing performance in the Commons in early December, when he delivered an impassioned speech in defence of ill-conceived British airstrikes on Syria.

New Labour leader Corbyn goes back to basic principles

Jeremy Corbyn has just been pronounced leader of the Labour party. He won the leadership race with 251.417 votes (59.5%). His first speech as Labour leader following the announcement was perhaps one of the best political speeches I have heard in years – remember Obama in his early days?

He sounded confident, sober and reassuring, he was able to bring together passion and reason and restated his grounded agenda for change in a way that appeals to a wider audience well beyond narrow ideological confines. No insider talk, but rather a clear and straightforward call for the essential things that need to change in UK, in Europe and the rest of the world.

Unlike so many other left politicians who have been struggling lately to provide a humane and sensible response to the refugee crisis, Corbyn sensitively brought together the plight of refugees, the suffering caused by inequalities, poverty and climate change around the world, and the need to support those who are experiencing the harsh effects of austerity in the UK. You will struggle to find any other politician at the moment in Europe who can do all this, and sound sincere.

It is also clear that Blair’s New Labour agenda, as far as Corbyn is concerned, is a thing of the past. He is calling for Labour to strongly oppose the wholesale attack by Cameron and the Tories on workers and the welfare state – including opposing the upcoming parliamentary vote for the Trade Union Rights Bill. There is no ambiguity there.

Perhaps most strikingly, Corbyn did not play the card of ‘innovation’ in the way many younger movements like Syriza in Greece and Podemos in Spain have been doing. In welcoming new Labour members, he also remarked that this is an occasion for all those who believe in Labour values but lost hope in the last years to come back to the party and make sure that it sticks to its core values. His message was one of hope and change building on healthy strong principles which have a long history. Fighting for democracy, justice, equality and humanity are not ‘new’ things. Perhaps what Corbyn is teaching us is a return to the core values of a broad-based left vision that doesn’t require much ‘innovation’ to work, but rather needs to go back to the common sense of its founding principles.