Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Is There Anybody There... ?

In a way, you have to feel a little bit sorry for the hapless Angela Eagle. In the last few days, as she has come under scrutiny, she has given the clear impression that the light is on, but no one is at home. Unfortunately, for her, the scrutiny is now going to become even more intense.

At the weekend, in TV interviews, as everyone has said, she has given the impression of someone who is the least enthusiastic potential leader, of any party, you could imagine. Yet, the only reason she can give for taking part in the coup against Corbyn, is because of his leadership, rather than any policy differences! That she should be unenthusiastic about taking on that role, presumably on behalf of others, is not surprising, because, as Len McCluskey said, at the Unite Conference, yesterday, those members of the Westminster bubble that have taken part in this coup attempt, have turned themselves into political pariahs in the labour movement, who will never be forgiven, and will face unremitting ostracism from it. But, Eagle, in the last few days has shown herself far from possessing the leadership skills she claims she has, and that Jeremy doesn't.

Having waited for nine months, before they could gather the courage, and find some ridiculous pretext to launch their coup against Jeremy, and the hundreds of thousands of party members who stand behind him, the Blair-right plotters eventually dragooned Eagle into becoming the sacrificial sheep, who would put her neck on the line. In that regard, Eagle was well suited, because she certainly has the qualities of a sheep, blindly following leader's into slaughter, as she showed with her blind, unthinking support for Blair's Illegal War in Iraq. Even today, she will not commit herself to voting to hold Blair in contempt of Parliament for his actions in respect of that war.

Eagle is clearly being used by others in that regard, and as soon as she has served their purpose, they will cast her aside for a more overt Blair-right, with the leadership skills and ruthlessness, to once more gut the party, and reintroduce all of those same conservative, Blair-right policies that saw it haemorrhage votes over the last ten years. The same is true of others within the PLP, who are being used, in the same way that Kinnock used the soft left in the Labour Party in the 1980's, to gut it before enabling the right to take it over.

Having been put in that position, its not surprising that Eagle appeared on TV screens looking miserable and vacant, all the time, it seems, having to look over her shoulder to see from what direction those that have tried to put the knife into Jeremy will be springing next upon her. She perhaps has more immediate worries. 

If the NEC today, votes bureaucratically to prevent Jeremy from appearing automatically on the ballot, Eagle may face an immediate challenge in her own CLP. The CLP voted to support Jeremy, and instructed her not to support the vote of no confidence in him. She ignored that vote. Her own CLP would then be more than in its rights to suspend her on the basis of bringing the party into disrepute, and failing to implement its democratically decided decisions. It would be rather difficult for her to be a challenger to Jeremy if she was herself suspended from party membership, still less, if her CLP deselected her as its candidate. If the Blair-rights want to play games to prevent candidates being on the ballot, that works both ways.

Having eventually worked up the courage, and staked out their sacrificial lamb, the Blair-rights convened their well publicised launch for Eagle's leadership bid. At the launch Eagle was backed by Harriet Harman, Emma Reynolds, and a number of the other old, tired Blair-right politicians, that reflect the old, failed policies of the past, which alienated large sections of the working-class from the party, and which, in turn, opened the door for UKIP, and was the basis for parts of the Leave vote in the EU Referendum.

The sound system in the room had been turned up to try to make Eagle's speech sound as though it had some substance, but the vacuousness of the speech was simply amplified by the echo it made, and even the turned up volume could not make the handful of people present seem anything but pathetic, compared to the thousands who, in recent days, have turned out spontaneously across the country to support Jeremy.

Having delivered a speech, the contents of which everyone present had forgotten as soon as it was delivered, Eagle was put in the position of an old clairvoyant, seeking a conversation with long dead spirits, plaintiffly crying out, “Is there anybody there?” Does anyone from the BBC want to ask a question she enquired, anxiously. There was no answer. No, well what about Peston? No he wasn't there either. I was reminded of “Ferris Bueller's Day Off”, where the teacher taking the register, calls out “Fry, Fry, Fry...” without response, because Fry, Bueller and his girlfriend were off on their own adventures in Chicago. So, it was yesterday. The unknown Andrea Losesome, who had similarly been thrust into the Tory spotlight, as a similar sacrificial lamb, had had the good sense to call off her leadership bid. The news media had decided that even the unknown Losesome was more newsworthy than Eagle.

But, things didn't get better for Eagle, later in the day, when she did manage to persuade some of the media to give her air time. On Channel 4 News, she was quizzed about her rather ridiculous claims to be on the Left. What about the fact that you supported the Iraq War, Student Fees, Identity Cards, and that you didn't oppose the Tories Welfare Bill last year, she was asked. Her answer was that she had supported all those things because she had been a loyal follower of the party leader's position on all those matters!

So, what she was admitting, yet again, is that she is a natural sheep, a follower not a leader. Yet, the only reason she can give for taking part in a coup against Corbyn is for her leadership skills! On all those issues she acted blindly to follow right-wing leaders, in pursuing policies that were frequently opposite to those of the party itself, and certainly against the interest of workers. By contrast, on all those issues, it was Corbyn that showed the qualities of leadership, by thinking clearly and critically, and acting in a manner that was in the interests of workers, and in line with basic social-democratic principles.

What Eagle showed by her own words, in these interviews is that she is a natural follower, as opposed to Corbyn who is a natural leader, a fact witnessed also by the astronomical growth in party membership since he has taken over. But, what Eagle also showed in these interviews, was that whilst she is a natural follower when it comes to blindly following right-wing leaders into disastrous and illegal wars, and attacks on workers living standards, she cannot even do that, when it comes to following a party leader that acts with clear principle and integrity, in the interests of ordinary working people.

Eagle has shown, from the time she was used by Kinnock, back in the late 1980's, to replace the democratically selected candidate in Wallasey, Lol Duffy, that she is not suited to be a leader, but only a tool to be manipulated by others for their own purposes. Unfortunately, even in that regard, she has shown herself not to be the sharpest tool in the box. No wonder she came fourth in last year's contest for Deputy Leader, and yet she and her supporters now want us to believe that she is the best potential Leader! I'll stick with Jeremy, thanks very much.

No comments: