Monday, 9 May 2016

These Were Actually Great Election Results For Labour


The Tories and Tory press have portrayed last week's election results as terrible for Labour. The Blair-rights have been noted only by their more vociferous expression of that sentiment. More rational voices, and Corbyn's supporters have calmly spoken about the steady progress that the results represent. But, in fact, these were great results for Labour. Let me explain why.

Let's start with the most obvious good result – that of Sadiq Khan for London Mayor. Khan won with nearly 60% of the vote. Whether the size of the win is because of the vicious racist campaign run against him by the Tories, or despite it, is hard to know. Even many Tories spoke up to say how much they had been turned off by the Tory smears. Yet, given the fact that sections of the Blair-rights have used the same kind of smear tactics, with, mostly confected, claims of anti-semitism, against sections of the Labour Party, who they associate as being Corbyn supporters, it would be unlikely that such tactics are totally ineffective.

Its one thing for educated, cultured, middle class Tories to be offended by that kind of crass racism, but, in a country where racism and fear of immigrants has become inseparable from a fear of terrorists, and where vile racist organisations like UKIP feed off it, and come second in many election contests, it is another to believe that these kinds of smears have no effect. After all, Lynton Crosby was brought in, and given his knighthood, by the Tories, precisely because he had shown, in Australia, that such tactics work; he used the same tactics successfully in last year's election, and that was just to whip up nationalist fear amongst frightened, English petit-bourgeois against the Scots; and across the ocean, the same kind of approach has worked wonderfully for Donald Trump.

The Blair-rights obviously felt that such smears would work. That is why, for months, they have been creating the groundwork for the attack on “anti-semitism” within the party, which they unleashed with full force, and media coverage, in the week before the election, in the hope of doing maximum damage to Labour's election prospects. They failed in that attempt, and that is one reason that last week's election results were great for Labour. The Blair-rights greatest prize would have been for Khan, himself a soft Blair-right, to have lost in London, and the “anti-semitism” campaign they launched played directly into the smear campaign that the Tories were undertaking against him.

Had Khan lost, the planned Blair-right palace coup would have been launched against Corbyn, with all of the bloodshed, and destruction of the Labour Party that would have entailed. So, its great for Labour that this election result prevented that from happening. It is also great that Labour won more generally in the London Assembly Elections, which undermines the idea that Khan's win was solely down to his adoption of some return to wishy-washy, Blair-right, big tent, liberal politics. But, its important to consider why the Blair-rights were led to such a desperate approach, and why they are prepared to destroy the Labour Party to achieve their own personal – it can't even be said sectarian, because when it comes down to it they are just a gang of personally driven individuals – ends.

The Blair-rights find themselves in a wilderness without a map or compass. Their entire politics had been based for twenty years, on the world they knew continuing for ever. The problem was that the world they knew, was itself a mirage, built up on a fiction of private debt, and inflated asset prices. When that fiction began to unravel, so did the world that the Blair-rights knew, and thought would last forever. But, they still cannot reconcile themselves to that. They are suffering from severe cognitive dissonance. They want to go back to a world that was based on nothing, and which no longer exists.

It is a fantasy world whose groundwork they inherited from the Thatcher Tories, and on whose shaky foundations they built one high rise office block after another, reaching up to the sky, in the same proportion that stock, bond and property markets were growing like Jack's Beanstalk. It is a fantasy world they still share with Cameron's Tories who are trying desperately to prevent the audience seeing behind the stage curtains, and spoiling the fantasy. Another example of that was given last week, by the return of 100% mortgages, reminiscent of the period of Northern Rock,  and the weeks ahead of the financial meltdown.

So, the Blair-rights, along with the Tories and Tory media knew for certain that Corbyn, or someone like him, could never be elected Leader of the Labour Party. In the 1980's, when party members had the temerity to suggest that, as it was they who who did all the work, week in week out, of getting councillors and MP's elected, it would be rather nice if they also had a bigger role on selecting the candidates to stand for those positions, the Blair-rights predecessors took umbrage. The idea that a career as a councillor or MP, for life, was rather a nice prospect, is not something that has only just occurred to the Blair-rights.

So, having failed to prevent the idea that party members should have an active role in regularly selecting such candidates, and party leaders, the right in the LP argued for one member one vote, rather than such processes being part and parcel of a democratic debate and decision within party meetings. They believed that one member one vote would achieve their ends, because it would mean that tens of thousands of inactive members would get to vote, for Labour leaders and so on, based on nothing more than the friendly advice of the Sun, and other Tory papers.

Yet, even that didn't seem to work. In 2010, it had resulted in Ed Miliband being elected, and beating the anointed brother David! So, the Blair-rights concluded that the franchise had not been widened enough. Seeing how well the idea of primaries works in the United States, which results in the selection of people like Donald Trump to stand as candidates for the most powerful position in the world, the Blair-rights thought it would be a good idea here too. John Mann MP, was one of those first extolling the idea, and volunteering to run a pilot scheme for such an open primary in his constituency.

And, given the mindset of the Blair-rights why wouldn't you? In your world, it is impossible for large number of ordinary people to be fed up with years of spin, lies, austerity, and debt and to want a real alternative to all those things. All that is required is to make a great play of opposing all those things, put forward a photogenic leader, whose lack of any backbone enables them to bend in whatever way the Tory media require, so as to contort principles into sounding like they conform with the latest popular fad, fear and fantasy, and who can offer a ready to hand sound bite, whose vacuousness is such that tomorrow the exact opposite sentiment can be expressed without anyone noting any contradiction.

So, when the Labour Party did adopt such a process, and opened up the election for Leader to Labour supporters as well as members, the Blair-rights knew that this would result in the election of the kind of empty media puppet they required. It is why they felt happy to allow Jeremy Corbyn on to the ballot paper so as to give the whole proceedings an air of transparency, as well as rubbing it in to the Left, that “see when you stand for these positions, you have absolutely no support”. Had that leadership election happened like that in 2010, they would probably have been right. David Miliband would have been elected. The point is 2015 was not 2010, and the world had changed fundamentally.

Neither the Blair-rights, nor the Tories and Tory media have yet realised that the world has changed, and so they keep trying to play the game according to yesterday's play book. They continually tell us that people like Khan – their sort of people – are the ones who have the modern message and image, but that is only because they are living in a Millennium Bubble, where for them time has stood still. The thing that they have not noticed is that the message they claim is modern is now twenty years out of date. It is not a new message, but a very old message, that was itself repackaged for consumption in the 1990's. They don't seem to have noticed that in Europe, in North America, and in Britain, the new generation have discarded that message, and are flocking to a new one – the one being promoted by Syriza, Podemos, Bernie Sanders, and Corbyn. The Blair-rights are yesterday's people trying to hold on, like Dorian Gray, to the image of their fading youth.

The Local Council Elections and Wales

In the weeks prior to the elections, the Blair-rights and Tories were crowing that Labour was going to do terribly. It was a continuation of the line they have pushed since before Corbyn was elected Leader, that his politics could not be popular and so on. They were predicting that Labour could lose anything up to 400 council seats. When Corbyn came out to say that Labour would not lose any net seats, they lost no time in poking fun at his supposed amateurism, in not understanding that to play the game, you have to play down your expectations so as to make the actual results appear better. Of course, had he come out to say he expected to lose seats they would have attacked him for that too!

And, of course, when it turned out that he was right, and that Labour as good as didn't lose any net Council seats, they were quick to explain things in terms of claiming that Corbyn had actually played a very good game of managing expectations ahead of the results, which we were now told were not really very good. So, the Blair-rights and Tories proclaim a likely loss of up to 400 seats, and when it turns out that its only 20 odd, with nearly all Councils retained, and advances in some areas, those same Blair-rights and Tories want to tell us that this is actually a terrible result.

In fact, measured against 2012, when these seats were last fought, losing this handful of seats is relatively good, because 2012 was a very good year for Labour fighting local elections. Given that in the week ahead of these elections, the Blair-rights had blown up the anti-semitism row, flooded TV studios with their representatives to talk about it and nothing else, and brought about the suspension of a number of LP members including Livingstone, the result was far better than could have been expected, and much better than the disaster the Blair-rights had tried to inflict and predict.

Measured against the 2015 General Election, Labour has moved forward solidly, completely at odds with what the Blair-rights and the Tories have been trying to claim was inevitable. It is a solid move forward, because it has been based on the beginning of a return to some kind of politics based on principle rather than simply chasing your tail after every new bit of polling information or media driven fad and panic, which is what the Blair-right excuse for politics is based on. It meant that Labour could begin to recover all of those 7 million votes workers' votes that it lost during the Blair/Brown years, and on the basis of having that solid core, can begin to win over wider sections of workers and the middle class to its ideas.

And that is the point that the Blair-rights cannot grasp. It is that politics is about winning a majority to your ideas and principles. The point about any tent, be it a big one or a small one, is that it has boundaries, and provides shelter against external forces. It is the difference to simply standing outside exposed to those elements, and wandering around aimlessly seeking others to huddle next to for warmth and shelter. We want to draw others in to our tent rather than the Tory tent, but we do that on the basis of convincing them that what is in our tent is better, offers them better shelter and so on. We do not simply want to make our tent indistinguishable from theirs, or to attract people into to it on the basis of some kind of bidding race or beauty contest. We want a big tent only on the basis that we convince so many people of the correctness of our ideas, that people flock towards it.

At a local level, the Tories and Liberals have all but become extinct. It is only Labour, as a consequence of the momentum behind Corbyn that has any real local presence, and potential to build on it, by involvement of local branches in community activities and development. The election result has been great from that perspective too. It means that the focus must be on that kind of self-activity and activism rather than on a load of Council leaders being looked to as the means of moving forward.

The local council elections more than the London Elections have then be a great result for Labour. The Blair-rights and Tories clearly had their scripts already written of what they were going to say about the predicted disaster. So, despite the fact that the results were actually quite good, the Blair-rights and Tories simply rolled out their pre-scripted mantras. So, the local election results were great for Labour, if only because it then made those Blair-rights and Tories look completely stupid and carping. It showed they clearly cannot think so as to analyse an actual situation beyond the repetition of old superficialities and sound bites, which is the very thing that voters have become disillusioned with.

So, the local elections were great because had their been really big wins for Labour, even the Blair-rights would have had the sense to keep quiet, but they were good enough that when the Blair-rights did come out with their predictable carping, it could be seen as just that, carping and a continued attempt to undermine the party itself. It is great because Labour Party members, in the branches, in the trades unions and elsewhere, will be able to see in plain sight the extent to which this coterie of self-serving MP's have no interest in the party outside the furtherance of their own careers and fortunes. It will show to all those members who will, in coming months, have the task of selecting candidates for the next elections, the need to root out all of these time servers, and to replace them with candidates who put the party ahead of their own personal interests.

The results in Wales were in many ways better, because of the effect of PR through the Assembly Members elected from the list. Labour remain the biggest party, swapping one seat with Plaid. Its only because of UKIP standing that any effect on Labour's position was felt at all. The good thing there is that UKIP got such derisory support, and it is only a matter of time before people like the Hamilton's blow it apart, in the usual UKIP style.


In terms of the actual result, Scotland was obviously the worst place for Labour. But, in fact a more in depth consideration shows that Scotland too was a great result for Labour. It was only a bad result if you view elections in that old Blair-right manner. For years, Labour won elections in Scotland, and yet during all that time, it was very bad for Labour, because the Labour Party in Scotland was all the while being eaten away and was decomposing like a rotten corpse. It was, in fact, that, which led to the rise of the SNP in the first place, and created the current problems that Labour faces. For parties dominated by parliamentarians election victories can in fact be a death-knell, because so long as those careerist politicians can keep getting elected, keep drawing their sinecures, they have no incentive to ensure that the party itself is healthy, that new blood is being drawn in, that the party itself is engaging with the community and so on. In fact, those types of politicians have an incentive to do the exact opposite, because new blood into the party could present challenge to their cosy situation, and their ability to allocate favours.

A thorough demolition of the rotten and corrupt political basis upon which Scottish Labour had been built over decades was probably a fundamental requirement for rebuilding Scottish Labour on a more solid foundations. There is nothing better for deterring careerists from a party than the prospect of having to put in years of real hard work in building the party, and working in the community with no immediate prospect of getting elected. Its why the Blair-rights are so aghast at that prospect.

Scotland also exposed some of the lunacies of the Blair-rights, and the way they are incapable of any kind of political analysis outside reaching for the nearest soundbite, or superficiality as a means of trying to score points. They are little better than professional political trolls. For example, last week, Chris Leslie, leapt in to a TV studio anxious to decry the party's election results. In his rush to attack Corbyn and the idea that more radical policies against Trident, austerity and so on could be popular, he leaped into the example of the Scottish result and the fact that the Tories had come second to prove his point.

In doing so, he seems to have completely missed the fact that Labour is not the only party in Scotland proposing opposition to Trident, austerity and so on. In his rush, not surprisingly given his own politics and past willingness to support Tory austerity measures, attacks on welfare and so on, to glory in the Tories second place, he seems to have missed the fact that the party that won an almost majority of seats – the SNP – is also committed to opposing Trident, and that it verbally at least opposes austerity.

If the seats of all the parties in Scotland opposing Trident, austerity and so on is totalled up, it comes to more than 80% of the seats. The voters who supported the kind of Tory-lite policies that Chris Leslie proposes were actually a tiny minority in these elections, so had he stopped to think for a moment rather than just rush for a soundbite, he might have seen that the facts quite clearly contradict the line he has been trying to cast. In fact, what Scotland shows, and what the local election and Welsh results show is that there is a solid basis for a more defined social-democratic position of the kind Corbyn has been trying to set out, amidst all of the din being made by the Blair-rights who have tried to drown it out.

The problem in Scotland has been the inability of Labour to undo the damage caused by years of corruption and decay within the party itself, deriving from a reliance on electoralism and town hall machine politics. It is a failure to separate itself from the disastrous popular front politics of the Scottish referendum, which is being mirrored today by those same Blair-right politicians undermining Labour by sitting shoulder to shoulder on phone banks and elsewhere with some of the most vicious, anti-working class Tories seen in a generation, over the EU referendum.

Scottish voters clearly decided that if they were going to vote for a reactionary unionist party they may as well vote for the real thing, and voted Tory. Scottish voters have not yet come to realise that just as with the Liberal-Democrats faux radicalism, prior to 2010, so too with the SNP. The vote for the SNP's verbal radicalism is clearly no support for the line being cast by the Blair-rights and Tories, but it is only a matter of time before the hypocrisy of the SNP's position is exposed. They do, after all have their roots in nationalism and conservatism. It is then only a matter of time, before a revitalised, and rebuilt Scottish Labour is able to take advantage of that realisation.

A rebirth in Scotland will ensure that all of the talk about Labour needing a 13 point lead in England will also then disappear by the time the next General Election comes along. A rebuilt Scottish Labour, which wins back 40 seats and more, and does so on the basis of a forward looking radical agenda, being carried forward across the whole of Britain, to meet the needs of a single British working-class, rather than pandering to national divisions for short term electoral advantage, will be in a position to win a clear majority in Westminster. Its on that basis that the election results considered politically rather than simply electorally were great for labour.

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