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Comments 18

Who goes home?

by W Stephen Gilbert

It’s true that opinion poll failings – and poll successes in anticipating election results more or less accurately have been thin on the ground – are apt to underestimate votes for right wing candidates (Tories, Trump) rather than any other kind. Nevertheless, the Tory landslide projected at the outset of this election period would be a surprising outcome, given the tendency for campaigns to assist the opposition parties by allowing them far more coverage than they usually enjoy. In the case of the 2017 election, the Tory pitch has been so dire that if a substantial narrowing of the gap did not materialise, one would be entitled to suspect foul play.

It’s a measure of the job that the media have done on Jeremy Corbyn, obediently reproducing the lines fed out by Tory propaganda chief Lynton Crosby, that the BBC go on finding vox pops to declare that Corbyn is “an idiot” and indeed that “I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him”. Even Corbyn’s most convinced opponents in all parties including the Progress wing of Labour concede that he’s as honest as the day is long, that authenticity is his strongest suit and that he’s on top of his brief. That the press have convinced people otherwise demonstrates the degree to which Corbyn’s people have proved unable to counteract the campaign to undermine him.

It’s tempting to feel that those who neglect to vote Labour this time will deserve the whirlwind they go on to reap, save that Labour voters will reap it too. Who can doubt that a Theresa May government will proceed to privatise the health service, the education system, the prison network and thereafter perhaps the police force and non-commercial broadcasting too? Who can doubt that the wealth gap will increase, homelessness will grow and food banks (to which people go, May essayed, for “complex reasons”) will proliferate? And as May transforms the British economy into that of an off-shore tax haven to compensate for the lack of a decent trade deal with the EU – her punishment for the disobliging stances she struck in order to convince literal-minded people that she was “strong” and hence bound to succeed – voters may come to regret living in an increasingly benighted version of a former Soviet satellite where most of the businesses and properties are owned by Chinese and Russian interests.

Of even more concern is May’s declared readiness to sanction a nuclear strike. In all probability this is just a piece of image-making of a piece with the “strong” leadership that she tries to project, even when retreating on ill-considered policies. But with Corbyn ruling it out and straddling an awkward party position because of it, you might think that interviewers with a ha’porth of gumption would test May on the matter. Would she only contemplate a retaliatory launch or has she a pre-emptive strike in mind? What level of projected civilian casualties would stay her hand: 1,000? 100,000? ten million? And what contingency plans have been laid to prevent countries neighbouring the target of her attack from being damaged by fallout and long-term pollution? These aspects must have been considered and, if she is to engage in a nuclear exchange on our behalf, we are entitled to know what she has in mind. After all, she would be in alliance with the most unreliable, most trigger-happy individual ever to occupy the White House. Something mindful is the least assurance the nation is entitled to seek.

In striking contrast to the Tories (who, after all, have had a year to plan their campaign), Labour has offered in double-quick time one of the most constructive and progressive manifestos ever laid before the British electorate and it’s again a measure of how thoroughly that electorate has been turned against Labour in general and Corbyn in particular that the manifesto is so well received by people who still say they will vote for May’s declared austerity and undeclared repression.

Those of us working hard to see Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street and believing that, against all odds, it is still an achievable ambition are dismayed and enraged that so many anti-Corbyn Labour members seeking re-election are encouraging anti-Corbyn sentiment and presenting themselves as a bulwark against both May and Corbyn. They may yet come to eat their words; almost as satisfying as the sight of Corbyn entering Downing Street would be the columnists and commentators explaining how telling us that it was “a fact” that Labour couldn’t win was not really a fact at all, while anti-Corbyn backbenchers unexpectedly re-elected suddenly have nothing but praise for Corbyn’s masterly political skills.

This happy vision, however, may not come to pass; the commentators who assure us that it cannot are making their own contribution to a self-fulfilling prophecy. And if the opinion polls do show a Tory lead of below ten per cent on the Monday before the election, there will be panic at Conservative Central Office and the May team will begin hitting out in all directions. It may well get very nasty before we go to the ballot boxes. But if, as everybody promises, the Tories still have a comfortable cushion, Labour voters will need to look beyond the result and decide how they can help the survival of Socialism in what remains of the parliamentary party after the cull.

Those parliamentarians who have fought Corbyn every inch of the way and have decried his every attempt to embrace a broad-based movement do not deserve re-election. If they return to Westminster, their immediate aim will be to eject those shadow ministers who espouse Socialism and return Labour to a milk-and-water version of Conservatism, or what they call “the centre ground”, “the moderate realist tendency”. So if Labour is to shed parliamentarians, it would be better that it sheds those who have done it so much harm.

In any swing to the Tories, some of the irreconcilables would fall anyway. It won’t take much of a push to deprive Wes Streeting of his 589-vote majority in Ilford North or Daniel Zeichner’s 599 in Cambridge or Paul Farrelly his 650 in Newcastle-under-Lyme. John Woodcock, one of the most foul-mouthed and shameless of critics of Corbyn, always too busy pissing inside the Labour tent to remember to urinate out of it, only requires 398 of his voters in 2015 to change sides and he’s ejected. Other anti-Corbyn members looking distinctly vulnerable are Ian Murray, Labour’s only surviving MP in Scotland (he sits for Edinburgh South), David Winnick in Walsall, Ian Austin in Dudley North, Geoffrey Robinson in Coventry North West, Jess Phillips in Birmingham Yardley, Ruth Smeeth in Stoke-on-Trent North and Tom Watson in West Bromwich (these six will be targets of the Tories’ West Midlands push).

Then there are Ken Livingstone’s tormentor John Mann in Bassetlaw, Graham Jones in Hyndburn, Gloria de Piero in Ashfield, Progress chair Alison McGovern in the Wirral, Caroline Flint in Don Valley, Barry Sheerman in Huddersfield, Ben Bradshaw in Exeter, Liz Kendall in Leicester West, Neil Coyle in Bermondsey and Old Southwark, Phil Wilson in Blair’s old seat of Sedgefield, Chris Bryant in Rhondda, Stephen Doughty in Cardiff South and Penarth (he earned rejection by resigning from the Labour front bench on live television, news of which was given exclusively to David Cameron during Prime Minister’s Questions) and last year’s leadership challenger Owen Smith in Pontypridd. All of these are vulnerable with majorities under 10,000.

But isn’t it self-destructive, illegitimate and disloyal to suggest that the constructive thing to do is to vote against these Labour members or at least to abstain? Certainly not. All these MPs have publicly stated that a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn cannot win an election and have worked overtly or covertly against his leadership, briefing against him to grateful journalists, making unsanctioned public statements that compromised Corbyn (I’m looking at you, Tom Watson) and doing nothing to promote Labour’s claim on office. If the party is to lose parliamentary representatives, let them be people the party would be better off without.

As it happens, Corbynista MPs are apt to sit on relatively safe majorities. Sod’s Law dictates, however, that two of the best women who support the leadership will be in grave peril whatever the swing in the election. Cat Smith is standing again as MP for Lancaster & Fleetwood and her margin is a squeaky 1,265. The excellent Margaret Greenwood, lively MP for Wirral West, has just 417 votes to build on. These are two seats where all activists will be very welcome. Far from safe, especially from a Tory tidal wave, are Debbie Abrahams, shadow Secretary of State for Work & Pensions in Oldham East & Saddleworth, veterans Paul Flynn in Newport West and Ronnie Campbell in Blyth Valley, pro-EU resigners Rachael Maskell in York Central and Clive Lewis in Norwich South, Ian Lavery in Wansbeck, Imran Hussain in Bradford East, Sarah Champion in Rotherham and Kelvin Hopkins in Luton North.

What sort of parliamentary Labour Party emerges from June 8th will decide whether Socialism or Social Democracy dictates the conduct of the next five years. Best of all, of course, would be a Labour government, handing Jeremy Corbyn unprecedented moral authority as Prime Minister. To him would go the credit for the most stunning election victory in 72 years. And then the make-up of the PLP would be pretty academic.

W Stephen Gilbert’s book Jeremy Corbyn – Accidental Hero is now available from Eyewear Publishing, as is Tactical Reading – A Snappy Guide to the Snap General Election. You can contact him through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and his personal website.

18 Comments

  1. The people can’t win when they are stuck with governments that are themselves stuck within the US-dominated corporatocracy. If you participate in the US-designed and dominated global capitalist system, then, when you become a target of uncle Sam, whether your loyal to him or to your own people, you are doomed. Rules don’t protect you, because those are uncle Sam’s rules – which he’ll break at the drop of a hat. If you not a target of uncle Sam, you still are – if you’re of the 99%. Neoliberalism ensures that. I’m too tired to quote from Jeff Halper’s (so far interesting, but imperfect) “War Against The People” (which could have been titled “War Against The People Everywhere) or I would. Later, I will give his thoughts on neoliberalism.

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    • The worse thing about this disappearance problem with OG’s current website, is its randomness. There’s no escaping the problem for me. One day, I can post on one computer in one place and another day I can’t. My quotes from Jeff Halper’s book, tied to Jeremy Corbyn… disappeared.

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      • Sorry about the problems you’ve encountered. They are certainly bizarre, as we don’t delete readers’ comments (except for those comments placed here to sell products) or otherwise censor them. We’re working on developing a permanent independent site, where we will have more control over things; it should be ready and functional later this year.

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    • Jeff Halper writes about the global pacification program of the corporatocracy (but doesn’t use the term corporatocracy) and how Israel plays a large role in it, for which reason it can get away with murder on a large scale. And he connects it to neoliberalism, which is the only capitalism happening now. Neoliberalism represents capitalism’s inability to expand the way it once did, which sees it devouring itself. Which is something for Corbyn followers to think about, since Corby, supposedly, is a socialist who is going to shake up the UK and its 1% and improve the lives of regular people in the UK. But he’s being undermined by Labour Party members who are hitching their wagons to the currents of the global pacification program and the neoliberalism that goes with it.

      “…I noticed that Israel has diplomatic relations with 157 countries, and virtually all the agreements and protocols Israel has signed with them contain military and security components. I also noted that Saudi Arabia no less had initiated the Arab League’s Peace Initiative in 2002, despite an almost atavistic rejection of Israel’s ideology. From those tiny threads, it dawned on me that when military relations are mixed into the diplomatic stew, new, surprising and seemingly impossible constellations emerge. As I began to trace Israel’s military relations more closely, another picture emerged in which Israel was actually a regional hegemon accepted as such – or at least related to as such – by the other countries of the region and beyond. Israel’s position in the world could not be explained by normal international relations; again, most countries strongly oppose its Occupation policies. Nor could lobbies or the Holocaust explain it.

      Israel, it seemed, was succeeding in parlaying its military and securocratic prowess into political clout, in pursuing what I now call security politics.” – page 3 of “War Against The People”

      “Once the capitalist system had spread throughout the world eliminating all competing systems, it could no longer expand and, taking the form of endocapitalism, began feeding off itself. Eventually, this gave rise in the mid-1970s to the virulent neoliberalism we know today, characterized by what [David] Harvey has termed “accumulation by dispossession.” Under this totalizing form of transnational capitalism… Unions and other forms of social solidarity are weakened or destroyed as labor is commodified. Production is outsourced to the cheap unprotected labor of the periphery. More humane alternative forms of production and consumption, whether indigenous or cooperative, are suppressed. Impoverishment, job insecurity (even of the middle classes) and huge income gaps come to characterize the world-system.” – page 12 of “War Against The People”

      The world, including parts of it sympathetic to Palestinians, plays the Darwinian game of ‘riches for the strongest’. Israel is both strong and in the business of selling strength. And Jeremy Corbyn has to contend with it.

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  2. Dead World Walking says

    There is very little light at the end of the long dark tunnel of corporate greed.
    Jeremy Corbyn, while still a capitalist, offers some light.
    Citizens awake!

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  3. BigB says

    “You don’t achieve peace by planning for war, grabbing resources and not respecting each other’s human rights.”
    JC then (a whole year ago): speaking at the anti-Trident rally. Now?
    It is quite disingenuous of this article to portray May as the only unsafe pair of hands; and Corbyn, the lifelong CND campaigner, in contrast as safe. When planning for war, Trident – less a “deliberately ambiguous” deterrent – more a first strike WMD. So, if the computers don’t get ransomed by ‘WannaCry’: that is one hell of potent weapon for an ex-pacifist – especially with all that fissile material left over from our ‘Green’ energy programme. Plenty spare for DU rounds as well.
    Or did the author not read the Manifesto? For our future energy security – tidal lagoons and nuclear. NUCLEAR! NUCLEAR, FFS! That ties us to an increasingly destabilising and inherently violent energy market for 50-70 years. Like a fart in a lift – that’s wrong on every level!
    Here is the controversial, or at least not well known bit. Over at the UK Column they’ve been tracking EU Military Unification for around 2 years. It’s not going to happen, it’s happened – with virtually zero public awareness. The next step is to cede our nuclear first strike WMDs to France (then Germany.) If that happens, it will be like arming the Mafia Banksters of the Troika with nukes [to paraphrase David Ellis] No fucking way! Over my dead body! (Corbyn should say?)
    If the UK Column analysis is correct (and I believe it is) – that 2% GDP budget for the war criminals of NATO – will actually end up in the coffers of a central procurement fund – controlled by the banks. Not exactly planning for war – but in no way achieving peace either.
    Corbyn looks increasingly to me like a Socialist butterfly, broken or breaking on the Corporate Wheel, I’m afraid. 😦

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    • Dave Hansell says

      The key in any problem scenario is to properly identify what the actual problem is, where it is within the system and how it manifests itself.

      The are large chunks of this comment which cannot be anything other than valid. Unfortunately it would seem reasonable to observe that an unstated assumption is operating here that just because Corbyn has been elected as leader of the Labour Party the Party apparatus he has inherited and is nominally in charge of operates as some kind of command and control model. A model where the various levels and constituent parts seamlessly transfer and switch operational direction depending upon the whims of whoever happens to be leader at any point in time.

      This is where the problem resides. Because whilst Corbyn may be the elected leader he does not control the Party apparatus. For sure there are hundreds of thousands of new and re-enlisted members and a number of MP’s (insufficient to create a full Shadow cabinet) who are on board with the project. However, large parts of the Party, including not simply grandees, wealthy donors and similar supporters and most of the existing PLP but also key organisational sections at Regional, District, Constituency and Ward levels whose loyalty is to policies at odds with the alternative which has attracted so many new members.

      This remnant of the aincien regime, who Thatcher accurately claimed credit for, still wield a lot of power and control in the Party at all levels. They prevent new members from meeting each other by controlling local membership lists; they trawl social media for anything they can use to expel members they do not want; employed regional organisors with no life experience have the power to suspend Ward Branches and Constituencies where those who control the apparatus on behalf of these cuckoos are under threat of being democratically removed and replaced; and they do everything they can to disrupt anything not controlled by themselves.

      Over the next few days for examples teams loyal to this faction will be going into constituencies where MP’s who have a track record of disloyalty to the leadership the members elected to help bolster the vote because those seats and the MP ‘s within in them are deemed vulnerable

      http://labourlist.org/2017/05/blairites-embark-on-final-push-to-defend-nine-mps-in-iconic-northern-seats/

      It is hardly surprising then that a number of old, unworkable, dangerous, and reactionary policies have made it into the manifesto. This is deeply disappointing although not surprising given the balance of forces at work here. Despite this there is a lot within the manifesto which those who clearly wish to see the Party cleansed and purged of all members not loyal to the cargo cult they have hitched their wagon to will be deeply and vehemently against.

      The interesting time will be after the election. If Corbyn’s policies succeed in getting a sufficient number of seats to form a Government, despite their protestations he is unelectable (many of these are the same group think Tufty Club who failed to see the Brexit vote coming and who instinctively vented their anger and frustration on any scapegoat they could find demonstrating a lack of self awareness on an epic scale), the key question is whether they will stay and serve under a Corbyn Government trying to undermine and disrupt it at every opportunity or whether, like one of their number representing a North West Constituency, they will openly declare they are unwilling to take the Labour whip in such a Government.

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      • BigB says

        Ok, but the nuclear renewables is not a legacy policy, it’s new. It wasn’t plucked out of the air in the last two weeks – there has been a policy planning unit on it for months – probably since the last election. I don’t know where to start. It is wrong from ‘cradle to grave’ – from the cancer in the miners, to the hundreds of thousands of tons of discarded radioactive ‘tailings’ – all the way through to the waste that we will have to bury for 100,000 years. Its an environmental and human disaster. Nuclear power stations are heavily invested in fossil fuel consumption at every stage of construction and use – so much so that it may become necessary to use nuclear energy to build them [Pearce, 2008] My biggest gripe is that it ties us into an international resource market that has blood on its hands and is a major, if not THE major cause of world instability. I reiterate the Corbyn quote I headed with – he knows these things – I’ve heard him say so. Now – just how compromised is he? I’m well aware of the PLP/NEC issues, I was (briefly) a member (and I was caught out on Social Media.) He may be bent or ‘democratised’ on policy – but no one told him to support the White Helmets? So why is JC making so many concessions to the ‘Tory Lite’ mob? I rather liked the man who spoke AGAINST nuclear proliferation. But what do I know, I’m just an ageing Peacenik too.

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        • Dave Hansell says

          I entirely agree, getting on in life as I am. It seems reasonable to surmise I worded things badly or left out what I deemed obvious from what could be implied.

          It seems to me the balance of forces within the Party at all levels right now has resulted in the neanderthals getting things into the manifesto, through the policy review process, which for them are red lines. Red lines you and I vehemently disagree with. The fact of disagreement does not unfortunately impact on the way in which the Blair Progress faction control large parts of the Party machine which has enabled them to force through policies which, amongst many other objectionable features we could agree on, are unworkable and outdated. Nuclear weapons being another obvious one given the ability of State actors to obtain leverage with both the threat and the ability to hit and damage other States, particularly ‘smart’ (sic) connected ones, via cyber warfare techniques.

          The only real need for nuclear power is as an offshoot providing cover for the nuclear weapons industry. Once they cotton on to the fact there are more effective methods of leverage ( and I’m not arguing a case here I ‘m just observing system trends) those who continue to literally wish to die in a ditch over nuclear weapons will be viewed much like first world war generals operating on 60 year old assumptions which have no further relevance because things have moved on.

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          • BigBG says

            I can’t frame it any other way than bitter disappointment. My POV is that we need a more independent energy policy, transitioning away from overdependence not only on fossil fuels, but an a volatile International energy and resource market (controlled by the banks.) I’m not anti-Russian, but on the one hand we are building up NATO to ‘protect’ us from an “increasingly combative” Russia – on the other hand, post peak North Sea Gas, we get 40% of our gas from them?? That can only increase, and if the tension is increased to?
            Given the multi-decadal transition toward a post-carbon economy – nuclear shouldn’t even be an option. It is a largely redundant industry anyway. Contrast that with May’s plan? What, she hasn’t got one: other than a £30bn (++) EPW plant that will never work! Our politicians just aren’t thinking this through. In 20-30 years (or possibly sooner) our economy will be underpowered and stuffed. Or is that the plan?

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    • BigB says

      Hey downvoters, post a reply. I want to know why you think that in a world that is now permanently five minutes away from total annihilation – on a ‘Super-Fuzed’ hair trigger – why more nuclear weapons will make us safer? Corbyn certainly didn’t think so last year. With our nuclear policy aligned with NATO policy, which is of course aligned with American policy – why do you think ‘first strike’ is a peace option? With the neocons believing they have achieved nuclear supremacy – our little £30+ bn flotilla just makes us a target. One Satan II will wipe us all out – as we have been warned. Still think that this nuclear policy is anything other than an egregious capitulation for an ex-peacnik? And I haven’t even got on to the ‘Green’ energy subject.

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  4. Dave Hansell says

    The disrupters of the Blair Progress cult have no where to go.

    If Labour win their credibility is shot because many of them are running a local campaign designed entirely on the basis of reelect me as your MP and I will hold the (Tory) Government to account – unless they intend to do the Tories job of holding their own Party to account in Government along with the Tory opposition should their dire predictions and, let’s be brutally candid and honest here, their heartfelt wishes of a humiliating defeat go belly up.

    If the Tories do get reelected the promises some of them are making to their local electorate, to hold them to account, will be impossible to deliver in a context in which the Tories have already made it clear that an Executive run by them with a fresh mandate will copy the 1539 Statute of Proclamations by instigating a Henry VIII clause in The Great Repeal Bill.

    There is very little existing legislation in the UK which does not have EC law written into it. By taking on such powers, equivilant to the Divine Rights of Kings, The Executive run by the Conservative and Unionist Party will be handling just about any piece of legislation under the cover of this catch all power grab with little and more likely no tangible or meaningful involvement by Parliament. It is no coincidence that Yougov, run by a former Tory candidate, was flying a kite in this direction withing day or two of the election announcement. Testing the level of support in a selective poll for the question “What the country needs is a strong leader who does not have to bother with Parliament or elections.”

    If this is obvious to this average punter it surely cannot have passed over the heads of these chancers. If they get what they are clearly wishing for they will be doing a job which will be effectively redundant. In such circumstances any who fall will have no one else to blame but themselves.

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  5. bill says

    so the advice here is accept defeat and vote tactically against the worst of the visible hypocrites to emerge with something which might have a future free of the troublemakers ……..
    i think id prefer a Corbyn win with or without those troublemakers who can and will be checked by his victory and not take the risk …..
    And what kind of future can there be if Lab loses and the inevitable challenges start up from within the quieter cadres and if this time they succeed or JC decides to go …..Labour will completely hollow out and will become entirely redundant.
    So i dont buy these arguments at all and incidentally when and why did Geoffrey Robinson black prince of all fence-sitters get himself onto that list?

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  6. labrebisgalloise says

    A good piece but, just for the moment, I’d rather deal in optimism of the will. After June 8th perhaps we can talk further…

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