Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Windbag Spouts More Hot Air

His nickname was “The Welsh Windbag”, because of all the hot air he spouted. It could just as easily have been “The Shitbag”, because he is so full of shit, and because of the treacherous role he played in the Labour Movement during the 1980's. Neil Kinnock is an embarrassment to himself, and certainly to the labour movement. “Well, alright”. What a wanker! Now this political primadonna is at it again, spouting more hot air, and once more trying to undermine the Labour Movement, at a time when the focus needs to be on attacking the Tories.

Kinnock claims that Jeremy Corbyn, who has been elected to parliament election after election, since 1983, is not of the tradition of parliamentary democracy of the Labour Party! This is from a man who never won a single general election as Labour leader, whose commitment to democracy of any kind, let alone the Parliamentary variety, was exposed by his rush to maintain his privileged lifestyle by taking up a lucrative position as an unelected EU Commissioner, and who then maintained that lavish lifestyle, by entering that well known bastion of democracy, the unelected House of Lords!!!!

But, of course, the Tory media swallow this shit from Kinnock whole, one lump at a time, and then regurgitate it as a projectile vomit spread across the pages of their newspapers, and television screen.

Kinnock took over as Labour leader, after Michael Foot stood down, after the 1983 general election. Kinnock was lucky, because boundary changes meant that Tony Benn's Bristol constituency was changed. Benn true to his principles, stuck with the constituency that had returned him to parliament since the early 1960's, even though the boundary changes meant that he was likely to lose. Had Benn been in parliament, he would undoubtedly have beaten Kinnock, but without Benn, Kinnock was able to present himself as a left-wing candidate, to a soft left that was desperate to get back into office.

But, Kinnock never was a left-winger. In many ways, a bit like the fifth Beatle, he was effectively the fifth member of the Gang of Four that went off to create the SDP. The difference being that he was left behind to continue the work of destroying the party, from the inside, that the SDP was trying to achieve from the outside. At a time, when the Tories were launching their attacks on the trades unions, in line with The Ridley Plan, Kinnock instead turned his focus on a witch-hunt of party members; at a time when Labour Councils, across the country, were fighting attempts by the Thatcher government to impose austerity and spending cuts, Kinnock instead turned his attention to attacking those very Labour councils.

His goal was to make the Labour Party acceptable to all those conservative forces that were growing in importance, as the long wave post-war boom came to an end, and the owners of fictitious capital were in the ascendancy. But, history is replete with examples of organisations trying to present themselves as pale imitations of more right-wing parties, purely for short-term electoral advantage, only to find that the result is that those whose support they seek prefer the real thing, and the political centre itself, therefore, is simply shifted further to the right. So it was with Kinnock.

During the 1980's, his attacks on party members undermined the party. He undermined the miners strike of 1984-5, and undermined the fight of Labour Councils against austerity. The result was that the party was disemboweled, whilst the Tories who could have been defeated by a concerted, principled challenge, went from strength to strength. Despite all of his attempts to make Labour into a pale purple imitation of the Tories, when the June 1987 General Election came along, the real Tories trounced Kinnock's fake Tories by 376 to 229. That was at a time when we had the most vicious, hated Tory government, probably of all time, under Thatcher, yet the incompetent Kinnock could make no significant challenge to her.

But, Kinnock continued in his post as leader. One reason was that, having disemboweled the party he was then able to remove some of the basic democratic reforms that had been established in the early 1980's, for example the requirement for mandatory reselection of MP's, as occurs with councillors, and other party functionaries, such as branch and constituency officers. Sitting MP's, are to the right of the party, and less likely to rock the boat generally, because of their positions, and because the party leader is able to bribe them with positions on the parliamentary gravy train, as front bench spokespeople etc. Removing the requirement for mandatory reselection meant they could be kept in their positions more easily, and that acted to maintain the status quo, and protect the position of the party leader.

It opened the door to Blair who continued that trajectory, of making the party into a Bonapartist regime. Contrary to Kinnock's claims, as Lord Hailsham once stated, the British parliamentary system is essentially an “elective dictatorship”. The party leader of the governing party, has huge powers of patronage. There is no real reason why a government should be comprised of more ministers than are required for the main offices of state, in other words, a Finance Minister, a Home Secretary, a Foreign Secretary, an Education Secretary, a Defence Secretary and a Minister responsible for things such as the Environment, Energy and so on. But, governments and oppositions appoint ministers way beyond this, because, as Hailsham argued, by doing so, the party leader has huge powers of patronage, which act as a means of shoring up their own support within the parliamentary party.

The only real checks and balances against this really reside with the members of the party outside parliament. Self-serving MP's always claim that they derive their authority from the voters who elected them, but that is nonsense. Since the 18th century, British parliamentary democracy has been based upon the existence of political parties, not individual, independent MP's. It is the party, which selects the candidate, in the first place; it is the party which sets the principles and programme upon which elections are fought; it is the party which undertakes all of the organisational work required to get its candidates elected to parliament, and all evidence shows that it is the party which voters vote for, and not the individual.

In almost every case, where MP's have come into conflict with their local party, and stood as Independents in General Elections, those MP's lose, and voters elect the official party candidate in their place. That, of course, is why today, the 172 MP's who are rebelling against the half million party members, and Corbyn as their leader, dare not do the decent thing, which flows from their argument. That would be to resign from the Labour Party, resign as an MP, and test their argument in new parliamentary elections against new Labour Party candidates in their constituencies.

They will not do that because they know that their contention that their mandate derives from the electors is bullshit. They know that they would lose, just as they know that if they stand a candidate in a leadership contest against Corbyn they will lose. That is why they have organised an undemocratic coup against Corbyn and the party membership, and why we see organisations like Portland standing in the shadows.

Far from Corbyn acting contrary to the principles and tradition of British parliamentary democracy, therefore, he is acting in perfect consistency with it. Kinnock, on the other hand, by demanding the primacy of a bunch of MP's, in complete opposition to the members of the party they are supposed to represent, is promoting a defence, and advance of the notion not of democracy, but of Bonapartism. His problem at the moment, is that the actual leader is undermining the Bonapartist tendencies that Kinnock and Blair/Brown introduced into the party. That is why their only resort is not to democracy, but to their own Bonapartist coup against Corbyn.

They are in that position, because they were hoist by their own petard. Kinnock's disastrous leadership of the party continued into the general election of 1992. During the period between 1987 and 1992, he continued to hollow out the party, and its ability to resist the Tory onslaught. When Thatcher was dethroned, it was not the result of Kinnock's ineffectual opposition, but the result of tens of thousands of workers rising up against the Poll Tax, and against her increasingly brutal and vicious regime. Yet, even when the working-class had done all the heavy lifting for Kinnock, by its own actions, Kinnock was so bad that he could not even capitalise on that.

Instead, when the 1992 election came along, for all of his gut-wrenching antics, Kinnock once again took the party to humiliating defeat. The Tories won 336 seats (41.9%) as against Labour's 271 seats (34.4%). All of his attempts to gut the party, to place full control and authority into the hands of a Bonapartist leader, and a coterie of MP's, based around an abandonment of any principle, in favour of an opportunist search for votes, around an increasingly conservative agenda had come to less than nothing, much like Kinnock himself.

During the 1980's, UK unemployment soared to over 3 million on official figures, and more like 6 million in real terms. In 1987, the global economy was in crisis, leading to the biggest stock market crash in history, in October 1987. In 1990, after encouraging thousands of council tenants to buy their homes, and encouraging millions of other people to go into huge debt to buy over-priced houses, interest rates rose, and house prices crashed by 40% in just a few months. Many of those who had bought their council houses found themselves unable to cover the mortgage, and lost their homes, whilst millions who had bought overpriced houses, found themselves in negative equity, and many of them too lost their homes. In 1992, the global economy was again in a crisis, and the UK economy as an increasingly sick component of it, even more so. Yet, Kinnock was unable to win the elections in either year.

In the end, after 18 years of Tory misrule, the people had had enough, and voted out John Major. Kinnock's successor, Tony Blair is presented as some kind of political genius, but he is nothing of the kind, as subsequent events showed. Blair was just lucky. He was lucky to be the Labour Leader in 1997, when no one could stomach the Tories any longer. Lucky, because under those conditions, even the incompetent Kinnock could have won an election for Labour. But Blair was lucky for another reason. Shortly after winning in 1997, the global economy entered a new long wave boom. Trade expanded, and even the sclerotic, debt ridden UK economy was drawn along with it. In fact, it was drawn along with it to such an extent that labour shortages started to arise, wages started to rise sharply, particularly for specific jobs, like plumbers, which was why Blair was keen to import labour from the EU.

That growth meant that Blair could spend money on public services, boosted further by the conservative penchant for expanding debt even further, based upon the inflation of paper asset values, used as collateral, Blair's case via PFI. That was the basis for Blair winning again in 2001, and in 2005. But, the writing was on the wall of where this policy based upon ever increasing levels of private household debt was leading, as I outlined at the time as a Staffordshire County Councillor. In a number of speeches in the Council Chamber, back then, I warned that it would all end in tears, with a huge financial crash.

Blair was lucky again, because he handed over the reins to Brown in 2007, and so it was Brown who had to deal with the financial crash of 2008, which was itself a direct consequence of the economic policies undertaken by conservative regimes (Republican and Democrat, Tory and Labour), in the US and UK, and Europe over the previous thirty years. Had Blair still been Prime Minister in 2008, and fought the 2010 election, he would undoubtedly have lost, and the myth of his genius would have been exploded. As it is that myth persists alongside his more infamous role in undertaking the Iraq War, a role that in itself should have destroyed any concept of such genius, given its breathtakingly disastrous consequences.

The reality is that the Parliamentary Labour Party today is an artificial construct arising from Kinnock's gutting of the party in the 1980's, and the bureaucratic stranglehold over what was left of the party, introduced by Kinnock's heirs, Blair and Brown, in the 1990's. Kinnock's argument today might have more validity if it were the case that the Parliamentary party was in any way reflective of the Labour Party, or Labour voters at large. But it isn't. In the 1990's, the Blair-right/Brownite control of the party apparatus meant that they could simply impose their own candidates on to local parties. They were appointed not to reflect the party and its principles, but simply to reflect the tribal loyalties of Blair and Brown.

Its no wonder, therefore, that the 172 Labour MP's who voted against Corbyn, and people like Kinnock and co. are so far removed from the party members, and from Labour voters. The obvious thing is for them to go, and go now.

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