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Is the Labour Leadership Race the Distraction That the Tories Want?


What would the Tories like the Left to be doing at the moment? There is an argument to say exactly what is happening now with the Labour Leadership race is what. The entry of Jeremy Corbyn into the race is a god send for the Establishment as instead of being out there and organising against the onslaught of a brand new and emboldened majority Tory Government there is now the distraction of this contest. Corbyn will not win because it will be fixed against him as there is too much at stake for the Party establishment. Then when which ever shade of pro market proto Blairite wins they will simply say that the Left’s ideas were rejected and Labour should go back to their “winning” formula from 1997.

A well respected local Union organiser made the point recently that as Socialists we should be out there taking on local vested interests such as Assam Allam with his non Unionised workplaces and his total disregard for the supporters of Hull City AFC. This is a cause that could galvanise people and by upsetting a local big wig such as Allam it would open up a debate on what is happening locally as a microcosm for capitalism as a whole. The fact that our football club is involved could help reach those who can’t see what relevance that politics has for them on a day to day level.

We need to be honest with ourselves. Tony Benn contended that the Labour Party has never really been a Socialist Party; rather it has been a Party with Socialists in it. We hark back to the 1945 Government and its undoubted triumphs such as continuing with the war time nationalisation of industry, the formation of the NHS and the acceptance of the report written into Social Security and the Welfare State by leading Liberal academic William Beveridge. But within six years that Government was voted out and Churchill, despite being buried in the July 45 landslide was back. The Left in Government had been eased out with the resignation of Nye Bevan, and the elevation of Hugh Gaitskell to the Treasury saw an attempt to roll back the advances made when he announced a pro austerity/ cuts budget.

Successive Labour Governments have failed to deliver and this will not change in the future. It’s hard for many of us to accept this (guilty). When you’ve devoted such a large chunk of your life to something and you realise that it’s ultimately futile, that’s a lot to compute and deal with.

Corbyn is there to let the air out of the balloon as far as the Tory/ Tory Lite consensus are concerned. It helps them to fan some kind of panic that the long serving Westminster Bubble stalwart might actually win. That way they are forced to bury their petty personality squabbles to defeat the Islington MP. The Left are then rallying around something and looking away from the damage being wrought on our communities.

It could be said that our own actions aid and abet what the Tories want us to be doing. Lobbies and demos have their place, but their apologists at the Guildhall can (and do) deride our efforts pointing to regularly low turnouts and the fact that we aren’t attracting new people to being active. It may make people feel worthy but it’s not really cutting the mustard.

Similarly campaigning around the NHS is no longer attracting new people. Even the Union Branches don’t engage and when elements of the political class do join in it’s because the NHS is a “soft” and non controversial subject.

We need to consider this. What are the things that the Establishment would NOT want us to be doing? The ideas suggested about taking on Assam Allam have considerable merit. We would then be looking outwards and engaging people who are hard to reach.

Four months of the Labour leadership race is four months wasted, four months to let the Tories do what they want and four months that will end in defeat, or in the Blairites refusing to accept the result and yet more froth which will lead nowhere.

Maybe more direct action is needed to grab attention. The Occupy Movement that suddenly sprung up in 2011 did just that. By camping out in the heart of the financial districts of New York, London and other big cities thousands of new activists were drawn in and the capitalists were forced into heavy handed action which only served to make it more newsworthy. Even the Dean of St. Paul’s, Giles Fraser was forced to choose sides and is now writing articles such as, “Democracy is a Religion That Has Failed the Poor”.  

There is much I disagree with Fraser on, but he is onto something here. And the contemplation of this point about democracy forces us to ask ourselves, what’s the end game, what do we want to achieve?

My feeling is that Parliament and UK democracy is as rotten and irrelevant as it was pre the 1832 Reform Bill. When the ruling Party only secured 24% of the vote and yet can govern effectively as a dictatorship, and with the connivance of the Labour Party on key issues such as Welfare and the economy then the obvious answer is to get rid of Parliament as it stands. It cannot, and will not speak for the people. This aim is only going to come from the discovery of a collective will of the people for change which has occurred in Greece, and is in the process of happening in Spain and pehaps Scotland. This involves the acceptance that establishment Parties have nothing to offer. The argument has to be taken to the people in a direct and straightforward manner by exposing what is being done in their name to other residents who often have no voice.

Ultimately I would want to live in Society that puts people before profit, gives hope to our young people that if they work hard and contribute then they will actually be rewarded with a decent home and prospects. A Society that values innovation and education and a Society that celebrates difference whilst seeks a collective approach to solving our problems. Above all I want a Society that stops trapping people and encourages them to seek out new things in life without fear of being crushed.


About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.


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