Expressing what I feel about the state of the Labour Party comes easier vocally. Putting it into words here is more difficult, because a stream of blasphemies and obscenities doesn’t adequately suffice.
So let me start a distance back, and take a run at it.
First there was Peter Bradshaw on screen villains in today’s Guardian G2. This on Lotso-Huggin’-Bear from Toy Story 3:
… the “loveable” Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear, richly and warmly voiced by Ned Beatty. He is the senior prisoner and everyone appears to respect him as a sweet, grandfatherly figure — but, in fact, he is an insidious and creepy bully, almost like a cult leader, who rules with henchmen enforcers. That name, and the character’s bland cuddly teddybear face are both highly effective at putting across Lots-O’-Huggin’ Bear’s parasitic villainy.
Remind you of anyone?
Meanwhile, the stiletto’ed arm of the Murdoch Empire, The Times, has been assiduous in rooting out the excesses of the Corbynist/Momentum Tendency. Anyone have any notion what that motive might be?
Sure enough, Lucy Fisher, “Senior Political Correspondent”, gets her by-line as the main item on today’s page 2. She starts by reporting that:
Jess Phillips, the MP for Birmingham Yardley, improved her security after an internet troll sent her pictures of a woman impaled by a spear upon which her face had been superimposed.
There’s a lot of that sort of thing around, but — be assured — it’s absolutely nothing to do with the pro-Corbs lot. As they rarely desist from telling us.
Then Lucy Fisher, “Senior Political Correspondent”, comes up with something quite astounding:
Another Labour MP yesterday accused Momentum, the left-wing network of Mr Corbyn’s supporters, of planning to film constituents visiting his advice surgery in what he said was a bid to intimidate them.
Neil Coyle, the MP for Southwark, asked on social media why the group’s “cronies” were allegedly targeting his surgery. He said he had seen 50 per cent fewer constituents since Momentum protested outside his office several weeks ago.
On Wednesday night a left-wing activist posted on a Facebook group for Southwark Momentum details of the time and place of Mr Coyle’s next surgery. Another man on the thread, which was seen by The Times, wrote: “Be firm but polite and make sure someone is videoing.”
Mr Coyle said: “The intention to protest, the consequent police presence and the cameras outside stop people coming to see me. You don’t visit your MP unless you’ve got a significant problem — often it’s benefits issues, housing pressure, immigration concerns. People coming about these serious things are not in a mood to be filmed.”
Mr Coyle said that after he contacted Southwark Momentum, the post encouraging video cameras to be used outside his office was taken down. A Momentum spokesman said Mr Coyle’s claim that activists linked to the group were trying to intimidate his constituents was nonsense.
You see! As sure as night follows day, there’s the blanket Momentum denial. It’s nuttin’ to do wit’ us, guv! Honest!
And yet …
It all sounds terribly familiar.
My alter-ego (who must be well-identified by anyone in the know) has been there, and bears the political scars. I have mentioned them here in previous posts, and I don’t retract from them one iota.
In my case, in that lobby to Haringey Council Chamber, the push to the wall, the clenched fist waved in front of the face, the crude threat with the expletive, was made by one Councillor Ron Blanchard, a close acolyte of the Blessed Jeremy Redeemer. But, of course, there was no third-party witness. So it couldn’t have happened. Could it?
And here we are …
The whole Party mechanism has been put into cold storage, for fear of those regimented hordes of infiltrators, for fear of personal abuse, and worse. But it’s all MI5 plotting against the Sainted Jeremy and his variant of “democracy”.
44 Labour women MPs (that’s out of a total of 99, with one murdered already) have complained of continuing on-line personal abuse. They put their grievances in a formal letter to the Party Leader:
Rape threats, death threats, smashed cars and bricks through windows are disgusting and totally unacceptable in any situation.
This is acknowledged by all factions, yet the simple words of condemnation offered in response are inadequate.
We expect swift and tangible action against those who commit such acts.
Response: oh, well, the abuse goes with the job. And anyway, it’s gotta be some other lot. It’s nuttin’ to do wit’ us, guv! Honest!
This way madness lies …
If ever there was proof positive that a point-of-view was plain wrong, it has come from the mouth of Diane “unsuitable blonde, blue-eyed Finnish nurses” Abbott.
… it is interesting to compare and contrast Corbyn and Sanders. Their political programmes are very similar. Like Sanders, Corbyn is proud to call himself a socialist. In fact Sanders calling himself a socialist is remarkable in a country where, in living memory, using such a term was enough to get you witch-hunted out of public life. Even in Britain, under New Labour, calling yourself a socialist was forbidden to anyone with serious political ambitions…
Both are treated with cool disdain by their political establishments. Email leaks this week revealed how antagonistic Democratic bigwigs were to the Sanders campaign. As a result the chairwoman of the Democratic national committee, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, had to resign. Goodness knows what the leak of similar emails by the Labour Party would reveal. But it is easy to guess…
But the big difference between the two is the way they have been treated by their respective country’s media. Mainstream media in the US has been very sceptical about Sanders’ policies, particularly his signature policies on healthcare. This has been bruising, but fair.
By contrast the British media has scarcely discussed the policies on which Corbyn campaigned. Instead they have concentrated on tearing him down as a man and delegitimising him as a political actor.
For the record, as long ago as 1974, when my alter-ego put out an election address and described myself as a “socialist”, eye-brows raised. Even Tribune, which was my spiritual home in many ways, felt the usage worth notice.
What we need to underline (as I do above) is the paranoia that Diane Julie, M.A. (Cantab) radiates. Len McCluskey knows it has to be MI5. Diane Julie sees pale-pinkos machinating against the Blessed Apostle in the National Executive.
Is it all hopeless?
Well, it’s going to be hard to drain the swamp while we are up to our arses with rabid alligators. But for the sake of having a real Opposition, delivering for the people (not just the mouthy student types) Labour has properly sought to represent these hundred years and more, it has to be done.
Owen Smith may not be the instant solution. He’s an improvement on the Corbs lot, and I’ll be doing my bit in the cause. And if Smith doesn’t hack his way through the swamp of Momentum dis- and mis-information, we’ll have to try again.