Friday, 15 November 2019

Ed Miliband, Lucy Powell…we see you

Image result for miliband corbyn imagesTom Watson’s resignation last Thursday as Deputy Leader is not a great blow to the hopes of Labour moderates in the sense that they have lost a great figurehead. The loss at this stage is, sadly, merely symbolic.

In the end, Watson’s Achilles heel – the perennially poor judgement displayed in his former close friendship with Len McCluskey, and his part in such disasters as the Falkirk debacle and the Blair letter – meant a truly wasted opportunity, of galvanising moderates during four years of Corbynite destruction. No, no Denis Healey he.

The moderates’ overall failure to shake off their worst leader ever, or even to stand up to his cabal, is a tragedy tinged with farce which will surely one day be the subject of much debate by historians.

Some, like Watson, have bailed, and who can blame them? Many noble exceptions are protesting every move by the leadership and rightly challenging the party’s continuing slide into a racist swamp, as exemplified by the disgraceful selection of a number of openly anti-Semitic candidates in the coming election.

But if there is something more frustrating than that failure, it is to see MPs we once thought of as decent, mobilising to support a floundering party regime and elect a racist.

It is to be seen in the uncomfortable grin of Caroline Flint, feeling compelled to gush about sharing a stage with Party Chair Ian Lavery, the man who paid for his house with the invalidity payouts of sick miners.

And then there are those who once espoused a quite different political direction. Backbenchers who have no reason to toe the party line, yet who now not only acquiesce to, but fully embrace, the ugly reality of the current party and hope that no-one will remember when this is all over. They will.

Step forward, Lucy Powell, Ed Miliband’s former 2010 campaign manager. Compering a Manchester event for Jeremy Corbyn’s adoring fans from the cult (sorry, let’s please not try and pretend that members of the public turned up). Signing up to the leadership’s ridiculous farrago of a policy programme. Smiling for the selfies with the Shadow Cabinet “stars”.

And, as one Twitter commenter noted, all this from someone who last year spoke at the “Enough is Enough” protest against Labour anti-Semitism. Oh, sorry, Jews, there’s an election to win now; we’ll be back after this short word from our sponsors.

Perhaps predictably, though, this is nothing as to the actions of her former boss, Miliband junior himself.

Let us not forget that it was Miliband who, through his complacency about the rise of the far left on his watch, and his cataclysmic £3 associate membership scheme, held the door open for Corbyn and his recently-joined, far-left acolytes who have done so much to infest the party with anti-Semitism.

The crashing irony is that it was he, the party’s first-ever Jewish leader and fearing being pigeonholed as such, who downplayed the Islamist extremism which fuelled that anti-Semitism, and which was visible almost as soon as he became leader. By the time he left office, he had already lost Britain’s Jewish vote to the Tories.

It would have been sufficient, one imagines, had Miliband shown some kind of contrition. If he had simply said, “I made a terrible mistake and I am sorry”, the party would surely have forgiven him (some contrition over his shameful role in the 2013 Syria vote would not have gone amiss, either, but let’s let that pass).

But that, it seems, is not Miliband’s style. He has boisterously reinvented himself as a media personality, who has appeared at all four editions of The World Transformed, the Momentum conference held in parallel with the annual Party conference.

It is worth thinking about what this conference means for the party staffers – once his employees – who spend months organising the main conference.

It undermines them, acting as a cuckoo in the party nest, sucking attendance, importance and sponsorship out of the main conference.

More importantly for the party at large, perhaps, it detracts from the political importance of the main conference itself. The main conference is about the whole party and all its MPs and representatives; the Momentum conference is about Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. It is a classic far-left move, to infiltrate and take over party bodies and structures, to diminish their importance until only a husk remains.

But Miliband is there every year, with his jokey pub quizzes and game shows. Oh, how we laughed.

Not to put too fine a point on it, to support such a conference at all is to spit in the faces of his former staff, not to mention his colleagues on the moderate wing he once claimed to be part of.

Ed Miliband, if he had a shred of self-awareness, would have at least twigged that the credibility the party he once led has been comprehensively destroyed by his successor. If not, as a man of Jewish heritage, that it has ceased to be a safe space for that community.

But he does not. He continues to suckle lovingly at the Momentum teat, presumably hoping that, in the unlikely event that Corbyn finds himself at the head of a government, he might be short on ministerial experience in his Cabinet and look to his predecessor to provide such.

Ed Miliband, Lucy Powell…we see you.


This post first published at Labour Uncut

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