Backing Owen 2016 – A message from Madeleine Moon

Dear Madeleine,

Observations in CAPITALS

On 23 Aug 2016, at 12:18, Madeleine Moon wrote:

Dear Colleague,

The Labour Party is at a crossroads. The decision we make in the coming weeks will not only define the future of our Party, but the future of our country.

CORRECT

Over the past 12 months, I’ve been truly saddened to see splits and divisions emerge within our movement.

SO WHY ARE YOU REFUSING TO BACK THE LEADER WITH AN OVERWHELMING MANDATE FROM THE MEMBERSHIP? YOU AND OWEN ARE THE PROBLEM AND THEREFORE ARE UNLIKELY TO OFFER ANY SOLUTION

As a united movement we created the NHS, we introduced the Minimum Wage, we fought for workers’ rights. But divided, we serve only to let down the millions of people who desperately need us to stand up to this right-wing Tory government.

TORY-LITE IS NO ANSWER TO TORY GOVERNMENT. LOOK AT THE BLAIRITE RECORD AND LEGACY AND TELL ME YOU ARE NOT ASHAMED OF THAT.

If you are still undecided I think the attached link will help explain why I think you should support Owen.

AS YOU MIGHT GATHER, I AM NOT REMOTELY UNDECIDED. PLEASE TELL ME THAT THIS COLLECTION OF LAME VIDEOS HAD NO INFLUENCE ON YOUR DECISION TO SUPPORT OWEN. ED MILLIBAND? SERIOUSLY?

Click here to see it

www.owen2016.com/backingowen]<http://www.owen2016.com/backingowen<http://www.owen2016.com/backingowen]<http://www.owen2016.com/backingowen

WHICH IS MORE INEPT? NOT BEING ABLE TO FIND TWO EMPTY SEATS ON A TRAIN, OR NOT BEING ABLE TO COPY & PASTE A LINK CORRECTLY? CLICK HERE

I joined the Labour Party for the same reasons you did. I believe passionately in the principles of fairness and equality that underpin everything we stand for. I want to take those principles and turn them into real policies that can change lives.

I WOULDN’T PRESUME TO KNOW THE REASONS YOU JOINED THE PARTY, BUT IT VERY CLEARLY IS NOT THE SAME REASON AS ME. I REJOINED AFTER c.30 YEARS TO SUPPORT JEREMY CORBYN AND THE DIRECTION HE WANTS TO TAKE THE PARTY AFTER THE CATASTROPHIC LEGACY OF THE BLAIRITE YEARS.

Having worked closely with Jeremy, I know we can’t do that under his leadership. We saw for ourselves that he couldn’t give clear leadership on complex issues like the European Union, or undermined colleagues like Lilian Greenwood, who were doing their best to serve him and serve our party.

IN WHAT CAPACITY HAVE YOU EVER WORKED CLOSELY WITH JEREMY? CRITICISM OF HIS LEADERSHIP OVER THE EU REFERENDUM HAS BEEN THOROUGHLY DEBUNKED. AS FOR LILLIAN GREENWOOD, HER ‘BEST’ WOULD HAVE BEEN TO SIT TIGHT AND RIDE OUT THE STORM BEING CREATED BY AGITATORS RATHER THAN DEMONSTRATE HER OWN WEAKNESS AND JOIN THOSE DOING THE UNDERMINING OF THE PARTY.

Labour’s never been more needed, but we’ve never been less effective. That’s why I’m supporting Owen Smith to be the next Leader of the Labour Party.Owen is a proud and passionate socialist. Someone with the radical ideas we need to take the fight to the Tories, and the credibility to take us back into government. With Owen, we will have the policies, the principles and the passion to unite the Labour Party and take our movement forward.

LABOUR HAS BEEN INEFFECTIVE FOR YEARS DUE TO ITS ABANDONMENT OF ITS CORE VALUES. SUPPORTING A PROVEN BLAIRITE LIKE SMITH, WHOSE VALUES ARE MORE FLEXIBLE THAN A GOLD WINNING GYMNAST, IS DEFINITION OF LUNACY – “During the leadership contest, he’s managed to rack up a disturbing collection of gaffes over a short period of time which have served to highlight his hypocrisy.” 

OWEN SMITH IS PATENTLY EVEN LESS OF A SOCIALIST THAN YOU ARE. VOTING RECORDS, CONSTITUENCY ACTIVITY, PREVIOUS EMPLOYMENT. SHAMEFUL AND SHAMELESS. BOTH HIM AND YOU.

Best wishes,
Madeleine Moon MP

It is not about train travel – it is about our direction of travel

The media clamour over the crowded-train non-story demonstrates just how easily the corporate media (that very much includes the i as it is run by aspiring media baron Ashley Highfield, who is trying to do a deal to supply BBC its local news) and big business interests (and they don’t come much bigger than Richard Branson) can manipulate the agenda.

This story rumbles on as it serves multiple purposes to vested interests.

  1. It was all over the BBC (most nauseatingly on Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine lunchtime show) and other media today as Corbyn was wanting to focus on the NHS. With tories and Blairites (including very obviously Owen Smith) committed to its privatisation (most of the PFI debt crippling the NHS was down to Blair/Brown), this is not a policy area corporate interests want covered.

2. Similarly, the huge traction that calls to re-nationalise the railways is beginning to finally gain must be anathema to the corporate owners of our railways such as Virgin Trains, who continue to make big profits while we pay the highest fares in Europe, if not the world.

3. So, to deflect from these uncomfortable debates, that socialists can have a field day on, the puppet masters ensure that what is deemed far more important is Jeremy Corbyn’s integrity. Did he really choose to sit on the floor when there was a vacant seat or two on the train?

I am not going to dignify such a question with any sort of answer. It is irrelevant in every possible sense. What is relevant is that we are being railroaded (excuse the pun) into focussing on the ‘Cult of Corbyn’ at the expense of the real reason for my, and most other ‘Corbynista’s’ excitement over his accession to the leadership of the party, namely that for the first time in living memory we have a tangible prospect of some genuinely socialist government in this country, allied to a real and substantial threat to the neoliberal hegemony that needs to be brought down if humanity and, indeed the whole planet, is to have a sustainable future. These are questions at the opposite extreme to whether there was a spare seat on a train or not. They are questions that the establishment and and corporations cannot abide.

I really couldn’t give a flying whatever whether Corbyn is capable of cheap stunts and the odd porky; whether he is or is not just like every other politician in this sense. I do believe that he has, at the very least, vastly more integrity than the vast majority of MPs, but that may well be damning with feint praise and I would not be shocked or completely crestfallen if this proved not to be the case. The crucial thing is the direction in which he wants to steer the country. There can be no doubt that he will do his best to steer us towards that fairer, more equal, more compassionate and more sustainable place we need to be. That is good enough for me. This is the agenda we need to focus on, not ‘Corbyn the Messiah’, as our socialist objectives have to outlive Corbyn, or it is all a waste of time.

I’ll leave you with this sobering observation from the great George Carlin:

Owen Smith believes Labour will split if Corbyn wins

This evening, I attended Owen Smith’s love-in at the Llantrisant Leisure Centre.

Credit where it is due, it was a lot better attended than I expected, with somewhere between 200 and 250 cramming the room, including a selection of MPs and AMs ) I recognised Chris Bryant and Nia Griffiths for example). I am not going to go into Smith’s speech as we have heard it all before. It was Smith polishing his delivery in front of a friendly audience, and it was indeed pretty polished, complete with his “thumb of power” to the fore.

The tactics have become quite clear. A year ago, Jeremy was unelectable because he was too left, too socialist, according to his opponents. Owen no longer pushes this line. Indeed, he tries his damnedest to persuade us that he is just as much a socialist and just as radical as Jeremy (despite the copious objective evidence to the contrary), but that Jeremy is now unelectable because he is weak in his opposition to the Tories; that he lacks sufficient wit at the dispatch box; and that attracting record levels of membership and being the draw for huge rallies does not translate into being a credible government. These are, of course, subjective criticisms that we will always differ on.

From ‘Byline blog article by Alex Andreou, supporting Smith

After his prolonged monologue, he took a Q&A session. I have to admit, I felt somewhat intimidated as there were repeated insinuations of a Corbyn personality cult; Momentum being ‘the child of Militant Tendency’;of rising problems of anti-semitism and misogyny on Corbyn’s watch etc. At my most confident, I would have spoken up and faced up, but I bottled it, feeling that it would not have been taken as a constructive contribution, as it was far from any sort of debate. This was re-enforced by the fact that Smith seemed to know just about every questioner by name. He repeatedly stressed how this was his home patch, and I soon felt like an interloper at family get together. Some were quite overtly aggressive in their tone and urging Smith to go on the attack a lot more. Smith stated that this would be coming.

He dodged one particular question about what Smith saw happening after this election, choosing to leave it the end. And he was quite explicit and blunt about it.

If he wins, he will unite the party (no hint of how), take the fight to the Tories (presumably via witty retorts at the despatch box), and lead the party into government (obviously).

If Jeremy Corbyn wins the party will split. Simple as that.

Considering the NEC elections and all other indications make Smith winning nothing but a remote possibility, I can only assume that Smith, Bryant and company have already prepared said split.

On the way out, a gentleman asked me what I had thought about the evening. I told him that was wondering whether people like him were likely to follow Smith out of the Labour Party and into some sort of SDP v.2. He said, “Do you really think it will come to that?” “Depends on whether you believe anything he says”, I said.

Trump is certainly bad enough, but it could actually have been worse!

I am hearing a lot of people wondering how on earth the Republicans could have ended up with Donald Trump as their presidential nominee. Well, as shocking as it may seem, he may actually have been a reasonably sane choice when you review the other contenders at the beginning of the process. Remember these?

JEB BUSH – Raised and spent more money than all the other candidates combined, but even the Republicans couldn’t stomach yet another Bush. Suggested health insurance wasn’t necessary in an age of Apple watches; that economic woes would be solved by people working longer hours; that evolution should be taken off the science curriculum; and that Christian prisons would solve America’s crime problem.

RICK SANTORUM – Opposed to abortion and all forms of contraception, even among married couples. Believes a child conceived from rape is a gift from God. Compared homosexuality to ‘man-on-dog‘ sex. Accuses radical feminists of promoting the idea that it is socially affirming for women to work outside the home.

RICK PERRY – Ran a summer hunting camp that he called Niggerhead. Likes bragging about shooting coyotes while jogging. Indignant about gays being able to serve openly in the military. Described by a fellow Republican governor as “like GW Bush, but without the brains“.

BOBBY JINDAL – Originally a Hindu, but converted to Catholicism. Attempted to eliminate all personal and corporate taxes in Louisiana, bankrupting the the state finances in the process. Encouraged the teaching of creationism as part of the science curriculum. Believes swathes of Europe are no-go areas that are under sharia law.

CARLY FIORINA – Sacked as CEO of Hewlett-Packard after halving the value of the corporation. Equates worries over climate change to worrying about the weather. Describes having seen videos of fully forms foetuses, alive and kicking, having their brains removed, but cannot produce said video.

DR RAND PAUL – Opthalmologist who is opposed to government ‘interference’ in just about anything (except abortion, of course), but most certainly with regards to guns, health, poverty, environment etc.

 

MIKE HUCKABEE – Guitar-playing radio preacher, who doesn’t do math, but majors in miracles! Believes that North Koreans have more freedom and that lefties are seeking to criminalise Christianity. Thinks gun control means hitting your target and that asking him to accept gay marriage is comparable to asking a Jewish deli to serve ‘bacon-wrapped shrimp’.

JOHN KASICH – A Fox News presenter and anchor (I said ‘anchor’!), with the dodgy network and NY Times behind him. Ticks all the usual boxes: anti-union, anti-tax, pro-guns, pro-death penalty, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, pro-creationism, anti-environment, pro-privatisation. Believes that god has given him a special appreciation of other people’s problems.

DR BEN CARSON – Neurosurgeon who believes that, but for Fox News and Christian conservative radio, the USA would be Cuba. Apparently has inside knowledge of Chinese troops in Syria, and has revealed that the pyramids were actually huge grain silos. Has suggested that Darwin was possessed by Satan in order to undermine God’s word. Neurosurgery? I think I’ll do it myself thanks.

MARCO RUBIO – Senator who thinks the Senate is a waste of his time and has the worst attendance record. Typical hardliner again. On climate change, he shrugs and declares that you can’t change the weather. Proposes eliminating taxes on the rich. Has modest goals; namely ‘Our goal is eternity – the ability to live alongside our Creator for all time’.

TED CRUZ – variously described by colleagues as ‘wacko bird’ (John McCain), ‘jackass’ and ‘Lucifer in the flesh’ (John Boehner). He points to ‘undeniable facts’ such as that ‘the vast majority of criminals are Democrats’ and that the US constitution makes it clear that there is no place in the USA for gays and atheists. He wants to carpet bomb ISIS into oblivion (although not sure what carpet bombing actually means) and make the sand glow in the dark, while at the same time wanting to ‘awaken and energise the body of Christ’.

All this does, at least, make you (relatively) relieved to be British. At least most of our politicians are merely duplicitous, self-serving liars. I’ll take that over this ……. whatever is the most suitable collective noun you can come up with for this lot. I’m favouring ‘blither’.

All together now:

A nauseating stench of death emanates from Parliament today

And so we are being committed to the absurdity of a colossally expensive nuclear arsenal.

Virtually all the Tories stuck together – the blue and the red – as 472 MPs bought the imperialistic neoliberal gibberish that underpins the nonsense that is nuclear deterrence theory.

Most of you reading this will be familiar enough with the arguments against nuclear weapons. But a few aspects of the debate especially nauseated me today.

One MP, I’m not sure who, brought up (vomited if you like) the suggestion that Ukraine would have deterred Russian aggression if it had kept nuclear weapons under its control. And yet, through NATO, the USA has around 200 tactical nuclear weapons in Europe supposedly there to deter exactly such Russian aggression. They did nothing whatsoever to prevent the crisis developing and remain useless in addressing it. How on earth can nuking your near neighbours be anything but suicidal, irrespective of any response back?

Theresa May responded by agreeing with this idiotic position. Implicit in this is the belief that every country ought to aspire to joining the nuclear club. And yet that club is thankfully a very small one, although admittedly it is a worrying list of members:

  • China
  • France
  • Russia
  • USA
  • India
  • Pakistan
  • North Korea
  • Israel
  • and, of course, UK

That is it folks. Just nine in the nuclear ‘nutters’ club. That is exactly how I have heard a number of MPs describe most of the other members of the club we are in. You have to be ‘nutters’ to waste so much public money on them when there are so many other pressing social needs. That is true in every case. You have to be ‘nutters’ to shit on your own doorstep with these abominations, and long range strikes are literally MAD – with ‘mutually assured destruction’ the only likely outcome. They are suicidal and genocidal simultaneously. Having nuclear weapons is the surest way of increasing the prospect of being a target for nuclear weapons!! This, as much as anything, explains why all-but-9 (that is the best part of 200) countries don’t have these magnets for destruction, and the vast majority have absolutely no aspiration to ever have them.

So then we get onto the ridiculous line of argument that we need to have these weapons to contend with the other nutters that may get their hands on them via the club members we regard as nuttier than us. Theresa may actually stood up in Parliament today and suggested that people who opposed this insanity were in fact, and I quote: “defending the UK’s enemies”.

Not only is this factually wrong to the point of being a disgusting slur, it also shows a disturbing disconnect from the realities of the threats we currently face. Be it the truly big threats of growing poverty and inequality, climate change and the privatisation of public assets – all exacerbated by the obscene expense of nuclear weapons systems and the promulgated by the enemy within that is the Tories advocating membership of the nuclear club; or the direct threats we face from terrorists and religious extremists, there simply cannot be any role for nuclear weapons in dealing with these threats.

Derek Johnson, Executive Director of Global Zero, a non-partisan campaign group working towards the phased elimination of nuclear weapons, nails this latter point thus:

Fortunately, in the case of non-state actors [incl. terrorists], nuclear weapons require such a significant financial and scientific infrastructure that they can’t make nuclear weapons on their own; it still takes a nation to develop them. So, the only way for non-state actors to get their hands on a bomb is either to acquire the nuclear material – highly-enriched uranium or plutonium – which is really difficult to produce, or to get their hands on a ready-made weapon.

There will always be a risk that nuclear weapons will be developed by another state or will be acquired in some way by non-state actors so long as those weapons exist. The only way to bring that risk down to zero is to drain the swamp, eliminating these weapons and all weapons-grade material.

No nuclear weapons program has ever gone undetected, not even the United States’. In a global zero future, if a so-called “rogue state” tries to develop nuclear weapons, they would be subjected to intense international isolation and pressure – as with Iran today – or even collective military action.

So pursuing a new generation of nuclear weapons is totally counter-productive in reducing the threat of terrorists obtaining nuclear materials and devices. But May knows this. Neoliberals understand full-well how efficiently such expensive programmes channel public money into the hands of big corporate players hands. Nuclear weapons are not made in entrepreneurs’ sheds like Dyson’s vacuum cleaners after all. Neoliberals, especially those involved in the military-industrial complex that lines the pockets of numerous billionaires, also know how good crises and disasters are for business. They just have to ensure that their idyllic island bolt holes are not in the line of prevailing currents and winds.

The only glimmer of sanity in the proceedings in Westminster was seeing all but one MP (the sole Scottish Tory of course) steadfastly wanting rid of Trident – even in the face of the pathetic jibes from May that it was a vote against Scottish jobs, as if gas chambers would be great job opportunities for gas fitters. Of course, ridding Scotland of the nuclear attack magnet while England and Wales retains it is not likely to be hugely beneficial. The 1986 Chernobyl disaster led to monitoring restrictions on Scottish livestock up until 2010. But at least a direct strike on Faslane could be averted I guess – with it’s facilities being moved to …… well, Milford Haven if Carwyn gets his way , putting a target on all our backs into the bargain (and with Owen Smith fighting with Theresa May for the right to press the button and get the fireworks going).

And thus we await the stench of death drifting from Westminster to South Wales, after another sobering and nauseating day in Tory/Blairite Britain.

To conclude, here is cctv of briefing session on Trident in Westminster:

My response to Madeleine Moon’s refusal to support Jeremy Corbyn.

One of the first things I did on joining Welsh Labour recently was to seek clarification on where my Labour MP stood on the current leadership mischief being created by Labour MPs.

I sent her this brief email:

The country is in crisis, now more than ever we need the Labour party to be united in order to ensure the Tories don’t use Brexit as an excuse to erode the rights of workers and migrants. To this end, I have today rejoined the Labour Party for the first time since my membership lapsed in the 1980s.

Please support the call of grass-roots members for party unity, and in any way you can stop the irresponsible coup by PLP members which betrays both the party membership and the electorate.


Remain loyal to the democratically elected leadership so that we can effectively take the fight to the Tories.

Her reply is covered by the this relatively standard clause : The information contained in this email is private and confidential and it is intended solely for the use of the addressee. If you have received it in error, please notify the sender immediately and delete from your system. Any unauthorised use, dissemination, printing or copying of this email is prohibited.

However, my response is not covered by such constraints and you will be able to infer Madeliene’s position clear enough from this!

Dear Madeleine,

Thank you for your carefully considered response. It is, however, a deeply flawed response that gives rise to serious concerns on various fronts and at various levels.

Having examined your voting record in some detail, alongside your remarks below, you clearly identify as a Blairite. It is, perhaps, no surprise that you therefore seem to share Tony Blair’s capacity for self-delusion and disregard for the Party’s true heritage. You also seriously misjudge Jeremy Corbyn’s ability and appeal.

Let me share my own political journey with you. I was first involved with the Labour Party in my home town of Gravesend, in Kent, in the early 1980s, in response to Thatcher’s election. It was another tumultuous time and there was a similar battle for the heart and soul of the Party that ultimately led to the Gang of Four creating the SDP. I took a serious look at the SDP at the time. Michael Foot was floundering and the whole zeitgeist of the time was against left wing policies having any common appeal. Being young and impressionable, I left the Labour Party and joined the SDP briefly, but soon realised the error of my ways.

Leaving party politics for many years, I did however become heavily involved with my teaching union, the NASUWT. From this vantage point I watched with growing optimism as Kinnock looked to ‘modernise’ the party and close the gap on the Tories, while remaining discernibly democratic socialist in character (his true character had yet to reveal itself!). But for personal circumstances, I would have rejoined Labour in the run-up to the 1992 election. But, of course, it went horribly wrong.

John Smith was beginning to lure me back with his continued but cautious reforms (I supported the removal of Trade Union bloc votes in favour of ‘one member, one vote’, for example), but his tenure was, of course cut tragically short. Little were we to know that his untimely death would also mark the death of any socialist pretensions within the party. This was destined to be with the accession of Tony Blair.

The writing was very clearly on the wall with the the trashing of Clause 4 in 1995. The ‘Third Way’ manifesto that accompanied the 1997 triumph was a ‘centrist’ manifesto that the SDP would have been proud of. None of us read it, of course, as it was simply a matter of getting the Tories out. Their time was well-and truly up (Black Wednesday being the final nail in their coffin). Blair quickly mastered the art of spin and media manipulation (the lack of which did for Michael Foot, more than anything else) and he was going to win no matter what. This massive ‘triumph’ turns out to have been a tragic catastrophe in the making.

I, of course, voted for Blair in 1997. We were all euphoric to see the end of 18 years of Tory mis-rule. But I could never like him personally. He looked like a Tory, sounded like a Tory and ever-increasingly espoused Tory policies. After the 18 years of ultra-Tories, Blair recognised that Tory-lite was the best way of getting the Conservatives out of no.10. “What counts is what works” I remember him saying. Ideology was an outdated basis for modern politics in Blair’s world.

Blair continued to drift the party rightwards with policies like tax credits to subsidise the inadequate wages being paid, but finally revealed his truly neoliberal imperialist soul when he effectively sold that soul to GW Bush and undertook the Iraq War (no need to go into that any more – I take it you have digested Chilcott by now!). Despite all the advice and briefings to the contrary, despite 1.5 million taking to the streets, he was going to stand by his buddy George ‘no matter what’. You were not in Parliament until 2005, but you consistently voted AGAINST investigations, have consistently voted for Trident replacement and voted for the Syria airstrikes. There can be no doubt that you would have backed Blair’s illegal war, and therefore should be held in the contempt that that position brings with it.

I quickly learned to despise Blair as much as I had ever despised the Tories. My left wing beliefs were homeless. The Lib Dems opposition to the Iraq War attracted me, and I liked Chrales Kennedy. He was very evidently and significantly to the left of Tony Blair, and the Lib Dems were discernibly the only major Party evenly remotely aspiring to be left of centre. I joined after their big advance in 2001, but never got very involved (having a young family demanding most of my time by now). Then of course, Clegg arrived and took the Lib Dems on a Blair-like leap to the right and that was the end of that.

By 2010, I was working in Bridgend with long-term unemployed people. I was encouraged to try to educate my clients about the stances of the different parties in the run-up to that year’s General Election. The vast majority had no intention of voting at all, even though there was a family history of being Labour supporters in most cases. We used sites like “Votes for Policies” and the “Political Compass” to help identify which parties came closet to our core values and beliefs. Below is a screen shot of where the parties stood in 2010. Of the 30 or so clients I put through this programme, a small number came out closest to the BNP, but just about everyone else was in the green quarter somewhere. Some were close to Plaid Cymru, some were close to the Greens. Several, including me, were right in the bottom left hand corner. Many resolved to vote for either Plaid Cymru or the Greens as a result. Some of us actually decided we should join the Green Party, which we duly did, only to find that there was no branch in Bridgend. We set one up by the end of the 2010.

Ideologically, the Green Party remains a pretty good fit for me. I identify more firmly than ever as an ecosocialsit. I suspect that if you were bold enough to give it a go, you may even find they are a better fit for you than New Labour (perhaps). Over recent years, while involved with the Green Party, I challenged a lot of my friends and acquaintances within the Welsh Labour Party, including elected councillors, to join an ecosocialist party rather than continue to prop up a completely out-of-touch Blaitite Tory-lite party. Surprisingly large numbers are prepared to acknowledge that the Party is not the same as the Party they joined (30+ years ago in many cases) but that they believe in remaining loyal and fighting for some socialist principles from within than join a perhaps more avowedly socialist party like the Greens (or even, Plaid Cymru) that are so far from having and power to implement anything. I have spent years ridiculing their imperceptible efforts to drag the party back to its roots, while they pick up their Councillor stipends in seats as safe as houses.

I gave up on the Green Party after its inept performance in the 2015 election (all chronicled in my blog). Wales Green Party are utterly clueless, even if their hearts are in roughly the right place. I was thinking I was done with party politics yet again as there seemed no hope of electoral politics being able to deliver any sort of meaningful move towards the left – despite the desperate need for it, as big sections of society become increasingly victimised by the establishment – an establishment that Labour have very much become an irrevocable part of since the accession of Blair. But then a fresh beacon of hope emerged last September. That beacon of hope is personified in Jeremy Corbyn.

You and your Blairite colleagues are utterly wrong and ridiculously out-of -touch in your evaluations of Jeremy Corbyn. Hundreds of thousands have been drawn to the Labour Party purely because he has a clear and easy to to understand vision; he has unstinting energy; he has the personal dynamics that allow him to connect with ordinary people; he articulates loudly and clearly the worries, concerns and experiences of ordinary people in this country today.

You are right in one respect. I disagree when you say that he cannot bridge the cavernous divides in the country and that he cannot reach out to communities. But you are right in that he cannot heal the divide in the party that you and your parliamentary colleagues have opened up. You bandy meaningless numbers around comparing Corbyn and Blair’s levels of support. The fact of the matter is that he was elected on an overwhelmingly strong mandate of the Party membership. Blair never had 60% support. Corbyn is bringing in support and membership on unprecedented scales. That should, in itself, fill you with joy and pride in your party, were you genuinely respectful of it. A leadership contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Angela Eagle will be the most one-sided landslide in the history of British politics. She was only the fourth choice for deputy a year after all. Any attempt to exclude Corbyn from the ballot will be foolhardy in the extreme and spell the near-certain end of the party you pretend to care about.

You simply have to accept that the Blairite chapter is over. History will see it is an aberration in the Party’s history – albeit a temporarily successful one in electoral terms. It will be seen as the period in which the party lost its soul and very nearly its entire raison d’être. The Labour Party was always meant to be a socialist party that represents the interests of workers and the oppressed. It has always been something of a broad church, ranging from the neo-marxist to the democratic socialist. Neoliberal, right of centre (however you want to label it) was never going to be a long term option.

Times, they are a-changing. People across Europe and beyond are waking up to the realities of unsustainable economics, the inbuilt inequalities and environmental catastrophes that are intrinsically part of globalised neoliberalism. Witness the resurgence of the Left in Greece, Spain, Portugal. Eastern bloc countries are set to follow suit as their initial freedom to drift right begins to yield the same realisation of the neoliberal realities.

You ought to be thanking your lucky stars that after the lame (to be kind) Milliband years, the party was presented with an unexpected opportunity to reclaim its heritage, revitalise itself from the roots up and finally tackle the challenges head on, rather than meekly be complicit in pursuing the same unsustainable path.

This has been underlined by the Brexit vote. There can be little doubt that this was first and foremost an anti-establishment vote. It saw people being prepared to vote contrary to purported self-interest because people no longer trust politicians to stand up for their interests. That is the biggest indictment of what Labour has become than anything else I can think of. The Leave strap line about taking back control was the telling one – not so much in terms the right wingers vision of what this could mean for them, but in terms of people wanting to feel than could take back some measure of control in their own lives.

This is fundamentally intertwined with what is happening in the Labour Party. After years of feeling alienated from what should be their party, the left-leaning people of the country are finally sensing an opportunity to take their party back. It is invigorating and exciting like nothing else I have experienced in politics. There is an irresistible force palpably building that is going to overwhelm you and your now anachronistic Blairite pals. Chilcott is the final nail in the coffin. There is no way back.

It seems to me that you have two reasonable choices and one unreasonable one from which to choose. It would be quite reasonable for an elected representative to fall into line with the people to whom you owe your position – party members and the electorate. It would also be perfectly reasonable to maintain the power of your personal convictions, recognise that those are no longer compatible with your current party and clear off to another more compatible party (or follow the Gang of Four’s example and go create your own new party – the Gang of 172?). It would not, however, be reasonable for a you to be part of a gang of elected representatives that have no regard for democratic process and that hold the overwhelming wishes of the Party membership in contempt. This can only rip the party apart, and this will be your epitaph (not Corbyn’s) if it comes to pass.

You are absolutely right when you conclude that the future of the Party is at stake and that it is much bigger than one individual. Wake up and smell the coffee. It is not about you!!

Yours sincerely,

Andy Chyba

Hopefully we can all now be crystal clear where both I and Madeleine stand. It is going to be interesting!

EU referendum postscript

And so it came to pass and, yet again, so many got it so badly wrong.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/23/leave-or-remain-eu-referendum-results-and-live-maps/

I am not talking about the 52% of voters who have decided to take us out of the EU. It would be an anti-democratic and conceited view to accuse 17.4 million people of being wrong, although it has to be said that 52% of a 72% turnout still means this seismic decision has been made by barely 37% of the electorate. However, in this country’s flawed democracy huge government majorities in Westminster are regularly achieved by even less of a mandate.

No, what I mean by so many getting it wrong is the supposed left. Left-wing politics is defined by Wikipedia thus:

“Left-wing politics supports social equality and egalitarianism, often in opposition to social hierarchy and social inequality. They typically involve concern for those in society whom they perceive as disadvantaged relative to others and a belief that there are unjustified inequalities that need to be reduced or abolished.”

The salient point here is the phrase “concern for those in society whom they perceive as disadvantaged relative to others”. Implicit in this is a prerogative to understand the perspective of those people and offer a programme that addresses their needs. The perspective of these people has been very clear for quite some time. They are sick of the establishment screwing them over. They are sick of politicians reneging on promises and and being self-serving hypocrites. They are sick of feeling detached from the decision-making process. Cardiff seems remote to many. Westminster has long been completely out-of-touch and Brussels is positively alien. This was an anti-establishment vote, first and foremost. The left should have recognised this and embraced it.

Immigration has been talked up as the central issue, but this is classic scapegoating in more than one sense. While I accept that racists were bound to find appeal in leaving the EU, I refuse to accept the characterisation of Leave voters as die-hard racists. When the disadvantaged are trying to make sense of their predicament, when they are offered credible scapegoats they will accept this, in the absence of coherent alternative explanations and solutions. This failure to communicate the true reasons for the predicament of the disadvantaged , and to offer credible socialist alternatives, is the big failing of the Left in this campaign, and has left what should be their core support open to being picked off by the right-wing scapegoat merchants.

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Straight talking and honest? Until this campaign!

A major part of the problem has been the fact that the traditionally left of centre party, Labour, is no longer remotely socialist. The grass-roots support for Corbyn should have been the wake up call they needed, but the PLP steadfastly refused to rally around him and shed their red-tory Blairism. This in turn led Corbyn to reluctantly falling into line, casting aside a lifetime of socialist opposition to the EU (alongside Tony Benn), and becoming a reluctant Remainer. That there is now a PLP revolt underway, accusing Corbyn of undermining the Remain campaign with his lack of enthusiasm, highlights just how completely out of touch these people have become. We now have a glorious opportunity to see a socialist Labour Party reborn under Corbyn, and be in the right place at the right time to finally dislodge the tory hegemony. But no. They look hell-bent on re-instigating internal warfare while Cameron retires gracefully and allows the Tories to potentially steady their ship. If they ditch Corbyn and anoint a Blairite successor they really will become utterly pointless and probably finished.

Things look little better for the other left-wing pretenders. Both Plaid Cymru and the Green Party emphatically backed the wrong horse. Jenny Jones is not looking quite to silly now. It will be fascinating to watch how Plaid Cymru attempt to spin their way out of yet another mess of their own making. Of course, their support for Remain was heavily influenced by the dream of opening up a schism with England (long perceived as the the most likely source of Leave votes) in pursuit of the independence holy grail. It was the same ploy for the SNP, but with important differences. Firstly, the SNP are an overtly neoliberal party that would always feel at home in the EU neoliberal club. Secondly, the close call ( and I still think, perhaps, the ‘manipulated’ outcome) of the Scottish Indy referendum, closely followed by the SNP landslide in the General Election, always made it likely that the Scottish electorate would trust the SNPs advice on how best to re-open the independence debate.

Plaid Cymru are in a very different position. They have pretensions to be an ecosocialist party and as such should have recognised the prevailing mood in their core vote, embraced the sound socialist arguments for Brexit, and put clear red water between themselves and Welsh Labour. They would still have had to contend with the other big difference with the SNP though. Namely, that relatively few of the electorate actually trust Plaid Cymru (20% in the WG vote and just 12% in the GE vote, compared to the SNP’s 47% SG vote and 50% GE vote). So now they find themselves between a rock and a hard place with nowhere obvious to turn.

As for the Greens, well they hardly merit a footnote. They are making very little progress anywhere, going backwards in Wales, and were just as split on this EU debate as other parties. And yet again, the leadership misjudged it badly. With much of the genuinely ecosocialist Green Left faction gone (at least several very prominent members to my knowledge), the Greens seem to be little more than a middle-class bunch of pseuds with no real passion for the genuine revolutions needed to actually achieve their environmental goals, let alone purported social goals. Just another party playing the election game, but losing nearly every time.

So what of the new dawn presented by this historic Brexit vote?

The left-wing Remainers have to look at themselves very hard. Remain never was a socialist vote. It was ‘a lesser of two evils’ vote. The greater evil they saw in Brexit will be self-fulfilling prophecy if they fail to re-assert themselves as left-wingers with genuine concern for the disadvantaged. I will be looking on with interest to see which party, if any is up for the challenge. It will start with eating some humble pie and admitting they got it wrong; that they had failed to understand their (potential) electorate and offer them a more positive Brexit alternative to the xenophobic scapegoating that was allowed to characterise the Leave campaign. With the egos involved, it is actually hard to imagine any of the parties managing this any time soon. Failure to do so, however, will simply re-enforce the tragedy of UKippers being seen to be more in touch with the disadvantaged.

“This will be a victory for the real people, for the ordinary people, and for the decent people. We fought against the multi-nationals, we fought against the big merchant banks, we fought against lies, corruption and deceit. Honesty, decency and belief in nation is going to win. And we will have done it without having to fight, without a single bullet being fired.”

This rousing left-wing rhetoric was uttered by none other than Nigel Farage as the dawn broke on the result. That he said it with his fingers crossed, in all probability, is not the point. It is what we should and could have heard from someone like Corbyn, and echoed by people like Leanne Wood. It is what the disadvantaged electorate wanted to hear and they got it from Farage. Note that he made no mention of immigration. It was the anti-establishment message he choose to drive home.

Whoever proves to be the first to learn the lessons will be well-placed to prosper and finally put Farage and company in their place. It will also be the signal for me to re-engage with politics. In the meantime, I feel pretty much disenfranchised but will enjoy a break from it all.