Thursday, 18 June 2015

This is a competition between individuals who aspire to govern a country. It is not a charity event

We’re like that in the Labour Party, aren’t we? Oh, he’s a nice bloke, he deserves a shot at this. One of us. Can’t we swing it to get him on the list? Or, worse: we’d better put him on the list, or there’ll be hell to pay.

Never mind that the rules of the list are that you need to get 35 MP nominations. Nominations, note, not pity transfers. It is perfectly right that all sections of the party should be represented in this ballot. But those – and only those – which have earned them.

So when a bunch of MPs decide at the eleventh hour to switch nominations specifically to let Jeremy Corbyn MP limp onto the shortlist, it is against the spirit of the rules, even if it is not against the letter, plain common sense and the seriousness of a leadership election.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Hobsbawm on authoritarian ambitions

While we have all been a little preoccupied with the Labour leadership race, the Centre Left has not talked recently about foreign policy. But, a thought from that great historian, Eric Hobsbawm, on the run-up to the Second World War:
"However, another thing wove the threads of national politics into a single international web: the consistent and increasingly spectacular feebleness of liberal-democratic states (which also happened to be the victor states of WWI); their inability or unwillingness to act, individually or in conjunction, to resist the advance of their enemies. As we have seen, it was this crisis which strengthened both the arguments and the forces of fascism and authoritarian government."
Cf. Russia, Hungary, Turkey, Syria in 2015. 

As the Bard might have said: think on't.

Monday, 8 June 2015

In the battle for post-Miliband Labour, Unite’s leadership fights from a position of weakness, not strength

When you are on the back foot, play the victim. The underdog. Under attack from the establishment. If they ask awkward questions, do not accept the premise of the question. Thus has the hard left defended itself against any kind of rational criticism based on mere facts, for decades.

In a remarkably disingenuous, more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger piece at LabourList entitled “Setting the record straight over Unite’s position in Scotland”, Pat Rafferty, Unite’s Scottish General Secretary, writes how Unite tried to save Scottish Labour…but they wouldn’t listen. If only they’d listened to us. Instead, an unnamed “some in the Labour Party” are trying to “attack” Unite. Poor things.

Honestly, what rubbish. Unite was part of the problem, not the solution. At the root of Labour’s wipeout was the parlous state of Scottish Labour. The end result of decades of hegemonic machine politics, of which Unite was an integral part. An overbearing, one-horse town politics on which the carpet was lifted in the debacle that was the Falkirk selection, where the union was accused of manipulating the vote. A debacle that, let us not forget, led directly to the biggest-ever shakeup in Labour’s relationship with unions.

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