Sunday, 13 September 2015

Marr Indicates Line of Attack On Corbyn

This morning's Andrew Marr show, on BBC, indicated the line of attack that will be made by the Tory media against Jeremy Corbyn. In the paper review, we had Jane Moore of the extreme right Sun, then we had Polly Toynbee of the liberal Guardian, and then we had Ben Chacko of the Stalinist Morning Star.

So, on the one hand we have a Tory who can be put up as the natural opponent, but then we have a liberal, who is presented as a radical social democrat, who can oppose the Tory, whilst at the same time appearing as the voice of natural Labour views, who also opposed Corbyn, and finally a Stalinist supporter of Corbyn, who everyone can thereby associate with Corbyn, as a bogeyman. The obvious thing, for the BBC to have done here in the interest of balance, would have been to have had say Owen Jones, as a supporter of Corbyn, who is not so easily connected directly with Stalinism. But, the aim here is to keep the Overton window narrowly prescribed, so as to limit the views to only those of the Tories, and Blairites on the one hand, with the easily discredited views of the Stalinists allowed in only as a means of discrediting Corbyn himself.

We then had Tom Watson brought on understandably, as Deputy Leader, as Jeremy is busy setting up the shadow cabinet, whilst no MP's, or other supporters of Corbyn's own views were included. The aim then was to try to drive a wedge between Watson and Corbyn, attempting to prove the point that Corbyn will be isolated, unable to control, Blairite MP's who will now rebel, in the same way he has been a rebel in the past.

This was followed by the words of Blairite has been David Blunkett, who was even described by Polly Toynbee, as part of the “rent a mouth” group of former MP's without a purpose, who are keen to rush at any opportunity to earn a buck from the right-wing gutter press, by attacking the current Labour Party, its Leader, and its members who have just voted overwhelmingly to reject the failed ideas those former MP's stood for.

Finally, we had Michael Gove, who put forward the considered, strategic view of the Tory Party. This kind of format was carried through on the other political programmes of the day, such as Murnaghan on Sky News, with the only difference being that at least they included Dianne Abbott.

After 1979, Thatcher's Tories were in meltdown, whilst Michael Foot was
lifting Labour in the opinion polls to more than 50%.  It was only the
betrayal of the SDP, which split the vote, which allowed Thatcher to win,
 along with them rallying around the flag, at the expense of thousands of
workers' lives in the Falklands' War. 
The reality is as Blunkett pointed out in sniping back at Toynbee, she was one of those who in the early 1980's, lined up, not with Labour against the Tories, but with the renegades of the SDP, who split the Labour vote, and thereby allowed Thatcher to win an election, she was otherwise, almost certain to have lost! But, putting up these supposedly radical, but really right-wing Labour voices, is intended only to serve to paint Corbyn's views as in some way extreme, when in fact, the ideas he puts forward are little different to the mainstream Labour politics of Clement Attlee, Harold, Wilson, or James Callaghan. That attempt to brand Corbyn as some extreme left-wing socialist is aided and abetted by the inclusion of the Morning Star in that line up, even though the SPB, represents even less politically, than many of the other sects that have backed Corbyn, whilst having isolated themselves from the British working class and labour movement, and its reflection inside the Labour Party, by their sectarian attitude towards it.

That attempt to brand Corbyn is continued in the hysterical pronouncements of the Tories themselves. We had Michael Fallon, and Pritti Patel, suggesting that Labour was an imminent danger to British national security, and the security of the finances of British families. Perhaps they intend to start drone strikes against all Labour Party members if they represent such an imminent threat to national security! About the only thing these cretins did not accuse Corbyn of was wanting to eat people's babies, but no doubt we can expect those kinds of stories in coming months from the Sun, The Star, and the other rags.

Gove, was more considered, and obviously realised he had to try to cover the gaffs of his colleagues from the previous day. The clear implication of Fallon and Patel's comments was that they expect a Corbyn led Labour Party to quickly mobilise a groundswell of opinion amongst the population at large, that will remove the Tories from office with their tiny majority of just 12, and return a Corbyn led government. Howe else could a Corbyn labour Party actually pose such a threat, unless it was to assume office?

Indeed, the Tory media and Blairites have lied quite clearly when they describe the last election as a disaster for Labour. The Liberal-Tory majority of around 80 was reduced to a Tory majority of just 12. It was the right-wing Liberal-Tories who did disastrously in the last election, having their majority slashed to a wafer, and who saw their representation in Scotland wiped out. Labour won as many net new seat in England and Wales, whilst increasing its share of the vote by twice the amount the Tories did.

Labour only did badly to the extent that it lost out to the SNP in Scotland, and that it failed to win enough new seats in England and Wales. It was most certainly not the case that voters rejected Labour in favour of the Tories. Their was no shift to the Right across the UK. The reason labour failed to win enough new seats, is the same reason it did badly in Scotland. It was not seen as clearly distinct from the Tories. It is that fact, that now worries the Tories about a Corbyn led Labour Party.

But as the Sraid Marx blog points out, it is not just the Cameron's Tories that are worried by this. The Tartan Tories of the SNP are also worried by it. The SNP, like the Liberal before them were able to pose as a radical alternative to Labour, even though they stand to its right. The Liberals have been exposed on that, and are destroyed as a political force. But, the SNP, should also have been exposed, had Scottish labour been doing its job, and had Labour in the UK, been showing a clear alternative.

The SNP have had 8 years in office in Scotland, and during all that time they could have been turning their anti-austerity rhetoric into practice. Instead, whilst continually talking about “Red Tories” in Labour, an SNP administration, was itself carrying through austerity measures in Scotland in line with those carried out by the Tories in the rest of the UK. Its no wonder, that the SNP have announced that they are looking for a second referendum, because they must now know that they have a limited shelf life. A Corbyn Labour Party should be clear from the beginning that we are in a war not just against Cameron's Tories, but also against the Tartan Tories of the SNP in Scotland. A wave of newly enthused Labour members and Labour voters in Scotland, can and should sweep the SNP into the dustbin of history, and if the left sectarians in Scotland, who have tied their fortunes to the SNP get swept away with them, then that is their own fault.

Corbyn's Labour Party should make no concessions, no deals with any of these sects, or other parties like the SNP, or the Greens. As the workers Party, its job is to destroy these other parties, and to win over their members, and supporters. As part of doing that, and dealing with the threat of the Tory media, and the willingness of the Blairites to feed it, a crucial role now for Tom Watson, who has committed himself to dealing with a digital agenda, is to quickly develop Labour's own media and communications. The Labour Party should have its own TV channel. The cost of media production equipment now, is relatively cheap, and many young people only ever watch TV over the Internet. We should develop an Internet based Labour Party TV station. We have lots of journalists, writers, directors, and so on, who could make such a TV channel, a lively, dynamic base for all those newly being attracted to Labour.

It should be part of Corbyn's commitment to opening up the Labour Party, encouraging a diversity of views, and debate. In that respect, there is a lesson to be learned from the past. For years, during the 196-'s, 70's and 80's spent a lot of time and energy involved in meetings, and various manoeuvring trying to get motions passed, slates elected and so on, both within the Labour Party and within the Trade Union movement. In large part it was useless activity, that only provided ephemeral satisfaction to a handful of activists, if and when they succeeded.

The right today talk about the bullying of the 1980's, but as someone who lived through that time, the only bullying I recall was that of the right. I even put a motion to my CLP and DLP calling for the expulsion of anyone who threatened violence, after being threatened with being splattered against the wall a former Leader of Stoke City Council, simply for pointing out the fact that the fight he led against the closure of the Shelton Bar steelworks, had actually failed! I had other leading Councillors threatening me with being sued, for pointing out that the toxic waste tip they had just given permission for, posed a threat to the health of the nearby residents, and every week it was the right of the party who bullied, and threatened expulsion against those on the left, whenever they seemed likely to win a majority for their ideas.  If anyone wants to look at who was responsible for the bullying at the time, they should read about the vile campaign waged against Peter Tatchell in Bermondsey, at that time.

But, it was all pretty much a waste of time. At one stroke, Jeremy Corbyn has achieved in several weeks, what all of us back then failed to achieve in years. It has been done the right way around. First a huge number of people have been won to the cause, and then that vast majority have swept all before them, without any long manoeuvring and endless meetings and scheming. Now that mass mobilisation can be carried forward, and must be carried forward if it is not to stall, to bring about further change.

There are some changes that are vital, such as a further democratisation and opening of the party, as suggested recently. The primary election idea, is crazy. It worked in our favour this time, but that is not a justifiable argument for it. To vote for Labour policies, and for labour candidates, people should be Labour members, they should take an active part in the parties debates before they vote. All of those arguments remain valid today, as they were when they were raised in the past. If we are to have one member one vote, it should be on that basis, and it should apply to the nomination of the Leader and other positions too. The PLP should have no privileged position when it comes to such nomination, or determination of policy over any other member.

But, apart from that, the left in the party should not allow itself to get tied up in endless procedural debates, as it has in the past. The Labour Party now needs to tie up with the Trades Unions and the Co-operative Movement. To spread this mobilisation across society, and to deepen and widen it. We need to turn those organisations outwards to working class communities, whilst bringing together the party, the unions and the co-operatives as the immediate solutions to workers problems.

Conference votes to demand the nationalisation of this that or the other, are pointless under current conditions, and will be a turn off for all those currently enthused. We need immediately achievable solutions. Some of those solutions will come from building TRA's where they don't exist, and those TRA's can again be linked up with the local LP, and Co-operatives, and the Trades Unions. Every time, a workplace is threatened, we should demand it be turned over to its workers as a co-operative, as the workers in Argentina have done in many instances. We should learn from the link up of the US steel workersunion, with the Mondragon Co-operatives, to develop workers co-operatives across North America, in that regard.

The demand for nationalisation is a conservative demand for various reasons. Firstly, it can only be under current conditions a demand for nationalisation by the capitalist state, which is our biggest enemy. The whole purpose of the capitalist state is to act on behalf of the capitalists. It should be clearly distinguished from the government, or else the mistake made by Allende in Chile will be made. A government that sought to materially damage the interests of capital would be obstructed, and if necessary removed by that state.

But, the demand for nationalisation is conservative for another reason. The clue is in the name. It is nationalisation by the nation state, and immediately, therefore, posits the interests of the individual nation against the interests of other nations, and most importantly the workers of other nations. By its nature, of creating a specifically national capital, it divides the workers of that nation from the workers of other nations. For example, a separate Scottish nation state, might nationalise the shipbuilding industry, and it would thereby separate Scottish shipbuilding workers from English shipbuilding workers. In any recession, it would seek to defend the specifically Scottish shipbuilding industry against the English shipbuilding industry. The same thing applies across Europe.

The solution for workers problems across Europe cannot be found in a reliance on the capitalist nation state, but only in their own international solidarity and self-government. We do not need a nationalised shipbuilding industry, but a worked owned, co-operative shipbuilding industry, and the same applies to every other industry.

The mass mobilisation, must be turned in that direction to deal with the problems that workers face. Rather than simply responding to the Tories austerity measures with endless strikes, demonstrations, and resolutions for nationalisation, we should turn that mobilisation into effective action now. Occupy everything that is threatened, draw up our own workers plans for production of goods and services in each community. Restart production under workers ownership and control.

The Blairites say that we have to appeal to workers aspirations. I agree. We should appeal to the aspiration to own a home, by demanding, as Corbyn has done that tenants of private landlords have the same right to buy with huge discounts that Council and Housing Association tenants have been given. We should appeal to workers aspiration to own their own businesses by supporting a workers right to buy the companies they work for, with the same kind of huge discounts currently given to tenants. We should appeal to workers aspiration to have decent pensions over which they have control, by demanding that pension funds, be taken out of the hands of the banks and finance houses, and placed under the direct control of democratically elected committees of workers.

Moreover, in addition to this forward looking aspirational programme, Corbyn's labour party should commit itself to struggling for an extension of these demands across Europe, in conjunction with other social democrats, such as Syriza, Podemos and so on.

I first met Jeremy Corbyn in 1979, when we set up the Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory. The aim was to offer a socialist programme, as the basis for workers to vote Labour, without in the process simply accepting the policies that Callaghan had been pursuing. We should do the same thing today, by establishing a Socialist Campaign for Europe. We have to remain in Europe, and fight with our European comrades to bring about the same kind of mobilisation that Corbyn's victory has created here. It should say, as Syriza did, we are for Europe, but we are for a Workers Europe, and we start the struggle for it here and now.

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