Tuesday, 26 July 2016

The Eagle Has Crashed and The Jackal Has Had His Day

Angela Eagle's bid to unseat Jeremy Corbyn never looked credible. It never got off the ground, let alone soared to great heights. From day one, it looked to be forlorn and hopeless. The hopelessness of Eagle's bid, emblematic of the hopelessness of the Blair-right cause she represented, was the fact that having made the basis of the challenge the personal leadership abilities of Jeremy Corbyn, she was found even more wanting in those qualities. The manifestation of that was that even at the first hurdle, she could not even muster more support than the previously anonymous Owen Smith. When Smith then assassinated her political ambition, it was less Day of The Jackal, and more of a mercy killing.

But, no sooner had Eagle crashed than Smith began to pick away at the carcase. Eagle's erstwhile supporters were snatched up by Smith, anxious to put meat on his campaign from wherever he could scavenge it. The reason the opponents of Corbyn resolved to put just one candidate up against him, then became patently obvious. On the first weekend of campaigning, a few thousands people packed in to hear Corbyn in Salford, whilst a few dozen filled a small room in South Wales, to hear Smith. That despite all of the Tory media campaign to back Smith, and to pour out endless unsubstantiated rubbish, not even about Corbyn, but about supposed Corbyn supporters.

The latest “proof” of the intimidatory and abusive activity of these Corbyn supporters was that some people had posted abusive Twitter comments, having used a Corbyn picture as their avatar! Its the same kind of evidence they have used to claim that it must have been a Corbyn or Momentum supporter who threw a brick through Angela Eagle's office window. No wonder these people were so convinced that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that they were prepared to launch an illegal war that killed hundreds of thousands of civilians. You wouldn't want them to have their finger on a nuclear button would you? Oh that's right, they've just voted with the Tories to buy even more effective nuclear weapons capability, in breach of Britain's commitments under the Non Proliferation Treaty, and Labour Party policy in favour of multilateral disarmament. You can hardly claim that you are pursuing even multilateral disarmament if you acquire more or better nuclear weapons!

And here lies the problem for the Blair-rights and soft-lefts. This is no longer the 1990's, when right-wingers like Kinnock could rely on their access to the Tory media. In fact, the majority of Labour Party members no longer trust anything they read in the Tory press or see in the Tory media, especially the BBC. A vast array of alternative sources of information now exists via social media, and the more the information about what is really going on gets disseminated, the more the bias of the Tory media becomes apparent and ludicrous, and all of those Tory politicians, Blair-rights, soft-lefts, and Liberals that are part of the same establishment bubble that comprises the careerist politicians, the professional pundits, and the Westminster journalists are tarnished by it, and made ludicrous themselves as a consequence.

They crave a return to a political-centre that no longer exists, because they cannot conceive of a world outside the bubble they created for themselves over a particular period of history whose time has passed. Its why the attempt by Paddy Pantsdown to create some new artificial centre force is doomed to failure, just as the Liberals adoption of that centre ground in the last election was doomed to fail. As Phil has put it, you can't crowd source the centre ground. There are very good material reasons that Pasok and other centre parties in Greece were destroyed, why the PSOE has almost been eclipsed by Podemos, why the Left Bloc has grown in Portugal, why Bernie Sanders cannot put the genie back in the bottle in the US, but also why the collapse of the political centre has seen the rise of UKIP, the FN, Trump, Golden Dawn, and a string of extreme nationalist and neo-fascist parties across Europe.

And, the material reasons for that have everything to do with the politico-economic policies that conservatives - be they in formally conservative parties, or nominally social-democratic politicians who adopted conservative policies for short term electoral advantage – have implemented over the last thirty years. It became eminently obvious what the consequences of those policies had been during the referendum, and the same pattern can be seen across Europe, and North America, but particularly in Europe.

Angela Eagle could never have been a credible candidate, precisely because of her Blair-right governmental baggage, not to mention her previous baggage, as a tool of Kinnock in the 1990's. But, no sooner has Smith picked over her bones, than his own politics are cast into the limelight. Afraid to attack Corbyn over policies Smith claimed that it was all about leadership qualities, and competence. This from someone who as a young journalist thought it was a good idea to ring 999 in order to speak to someone at the police for a story!

But, when it comes to politics, even Smith's lack of experience has proved no safeguard against his history coming back to bite him. The advantage he seemed to have over Eagle, was that having not been in Parliament at the time he did not have to vote for the illegal war in Iraq. Smith also claims that he was opposed to the Iraq war. However, in a 2006 interview, with Wales Online, he said,

"We are making significant inroads in improving what is happening in Iraq.

"I thought at the time the tradition of the Labour Party and the tradition of left-wing engagement to remove dictators was a noble, valuable tradition, and one that in South Wales, from the Spanish Civil War onwards, we have recognised and played a part in."

According to the same report, "he didn't know whether he would have voted against the war, as the previous MP Llew Smith did".

In this same report, he says of private sector involvement in the NHS,

"Where they can bring good ideas, where they can bring valuable services that the NHS is not able to deliver, and where they can work alongside but subservient to the NHS and without diminishing in any respect the public service ethos of the NHS, then I think that's fine. I think if their involvement means in any way, shape or form the break up of the NHS, then I'm not a fan of it, but I don't think it does." 

In a TV discussion with Eagle, a week ago, Smith dismantled Eagle's previous claim that her abstention on the Tories Welfare Bill was justified, because they wanted to make amendments to the Bill. Smith said that he had argued in Shadow Cabinet that they should oppose it, but had been outvoted. But, that does not excuse Smith's own position. He could have resigned from the Shadow Cabinet over the issue, and any reasonable Labour MP, should have done so, rather than fail to oppose the Tories vicious cuts in the welfare payments to some of the most vulnerable in society.

So, it has taken no time at all for the actual reality of the politics of the anonymous assassin Smith to start to become apparent. Nor has he come out to oppose the ridiculous campaign being waged by sections of the PLP and their supporters against Corbyn and McDonnell. To suggest that Corbyn or McDonnell, or anyone else could do anything to prevent anonymous trolls doing what trolls always do, which is to flood social media with abuse and bile, is totally ridiculous, and that a campaign by Blair-right MP's, has been their major tactic over the last couple of weeks shows just how desperate, but also just how unprincipled and unscrupulous they are.

They have used anti-semitism to attack Corbyn by proxy. When Jeremy immediately acted in response by appointing Shami Chakrabarti to undertake a review, his opponents still tried to attack him over it, provoking Chakrabarti to have to intervene in his defence. By adopting that approach for their own narrow sectarian ends, the Blair-rights have also undermined the opposition to actual anti-semitism. Now they are doing the same thing in relation to claimed intimidation of women members, misogyny and homophobia, and they are undermining the opposition to real instances of such acts. The revelations about what actually seems to have happened in relation to the “break in” of Seema Mulhotra's office, and the impact of that on the poor office manager dragged into it, looks like another instance of the way the Blair-rights, and other opponents of Corbyn and McDonnell, have little concern for collateral damage, in their search for immediate tactical advantage.

But, the wheels seem to be coming off the plotters wagon by the day, as yesterday Sarah Champion, decided to unresign, and came back to her position as Shadow Minister for Preventing Abuse. Obviously, she doesn't think that Jeremy and John are guilty of the things their opponents are claiming! The inside information is that there are several more people ready to resume their former posts if allowed to.

In the coming months, Momentum should be drawing up lists of potential parliamentary candidates. That is no different than Blair and Brown did over the past two decades, or that Kinnock did, in foisting candidates on local parties. Unlike Blair and Brown, however, we need to return democracy to local parties, and control over the candidates they select. What we need is a pool of potential candidates, who support Corbyn that local parties can themselves choose from democratically. To win the next election, we will need to secure 100 new Labour MP's, at least, and an influx of 100 Corbyn supporting Labour MP's, will transform the PLP, and our opposition to the Tories.

There is a wealth of talent out there, and with half a million members, we now have the resources to support them.

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