Friday 10 September 2021

Solidarity with Jess Barnard

I don't normally comment on ongoing party disciplinary cases, but Labour's decision to notify Jess Barnard, the Chair of Young Labour, was under investigation is repugnant, disgusting, and entirely cynical. Owen Jones reports how action was being taken for sending "threatening" tweets in October last year. These tweets, which you can view for yourself, do nothing but challenge the transphobia found depressingly common among the centre left, not least a number of Labour MPs. Yet Jess's remarks are beyond the pale as far as our complainant is concerned.

Apart from the spurious grounds for the suspension, in the statement Jess shared the email informing her of the party's decision was sent at 1am in the morning, and no safeguarding efforts have been made by in light of the mental health difficulties Jess lives with - something she has talked about on occsion and are known to Labour's top brass.

Naturally, this has absolutely nothing to do with policing the conduct of Labour Party members. It's an entirely transparent attempt at forcing out the chair of Young Labour and breaking up the organisation. Whether this was green lit by the general secretary, whether some jumped up junior staffer wanted to flex their bureaucratic muscles, or if the complaint was submitted by a left-hating cynic, they know it doesn't stand any chance of being upheld. But they also know about Jess's health, and their hope is by dragging her through the complaints process she will not have the energy to intervene in Labour party politics and, in the end, compel her to resign. Remember, we have the receipts where the abuse of admin privileges in the party are concerned.

But this is more than just neutralising a troublesome voice on the Labour left. Since Jeremy Corbyn's suspension from the parliamentary party, the right have been increasingly emboldened and are pursuing a strategy of friction. Try and make life hard for socialists in the party by adopting stupid positions and purging leftists, and watch the left leave. Membership is down by over a hundred thousand since Keir Starmer became leader, and the right know putting off more leftwingers makes it easier to maintain their grip. This end, the only end the Labour right care about always justifies the means. Even if a besieged and powerless minority are the ones ultimately damaged.

This conversion of the party into an open sewer cannot be allowed to stand. Give your Labour representatives and lay officers an earful, lobby NEC members, use Labour link networks in your union, kick up a stink in the CLP, and support the defence campaign. Full solidarity with Jess Barnard.

UPDATE: According to the Graun's Heather Stewart, Labour have rescinded the complaint.

Image Credit


David Lindsay said...

Whereas Young Labour has always been run entirely by volunteers, the extremely right-wing vote-riggers of Labour Students had several full-time staff, paid for by the Labour Party.

Labour Students was middle-class by definition. Watch out for its revival after the closing down of Young Labour, which included every member aged between 14 and 26. Even the wildest zealot has never suggested that any more than 50 per cent of a given cohort ought to go to university, where Labour's only youth organisation is going to be.

Shutting down Young Labour is crucial to banishing the working class from the Labour Party, along with actively encouraging the disaffiliation of the trade unions. Few, if any, predominantly middle-class unions are affiliated. However close the relationship with, say, the teaching unions, or the PCS, there is nothing on paper, and no money changes hands. The affiliated unions are things like the BFAWU, which is preparing to walk out because of the expulsion of its President.

Starmer wants that, of course. But he has failed so miserably to raise any money from anywhere else that his own staff, through two affiliated trade unions, are about to go on strike. He made his name locking up the lower orders, and he still wants to subject them to permanent austerity while sending them to be harvested in forever wars. But their delicious revenge is now upon him.

Bob said...

Curious about the allegations I searched the tweets, which seemed innocuous, but also came across a reddit thread loaded with abuse against 'TERFS'. Discussing the issue with a pal, he was also full of contempt for them.

I'm familiar with your blog and position on Trans rights, etc, but would be curious to read a post on how this all fits in with the title of your blog, taken from the Communist Manifesto, and basically Marx's twist on Shakespeare.

In discussing this, and other current manifestations on the left - 'wokeism', BLM etc - I described it in the context of the bourgeois revolution eating its children, as traditional feminists are currently discovering. Other manifestations include the recent BBC survey on privilege which largely left out social class (ie, as one columnist remarked - a gay Etonite could be less privileged than the heterosexual son of a coal miner raised on a council estate) or as I laughed out loud to read today, a sob piece in the Indi by Louis Theroux - 'Straight White men like me have been monopolising the conversation' - when I wanted to say, no: privately educated people called Theroux are monopolising the conversation!

Now, you may point to the complexity of social relations in modern society, but isn't this in reality a bit of sociological flimflam? Hadn't Marx writing well over a century ago foreseen all this, and in reality it is simply continuation of the bourgeois revolution that ignores the centrality of class relations? Indeed serves to marginalise this in order to maintain its power advantage?

I am referring specifically to the UK context, because I do see how BLM (and indeed woke) can be grounded in the longstanding relations between race and class in the US, but it seems to me has been appropriated and misapplied in the British context in which class, not race, is the primary driver of inequality.

That's where my thoughts are at present. I'd appreciate a response or post that would help clarify this perspective. I think I can anticipate what you might say, which would be to defend these manifestations as a legitimate part of some kind of mysterious (in sociological terms) progressive process (as indeed they may be - who can argue with greater respect for race, gender variance, etc) but I suspect Marx would see it as smoke and mirrors.

Fundamentally, I am struggling to see why I am not right and would welcome being challenged upon an argument based on facts, as opposed to ideological vagueries. Please!

BCFG said...

Sad state of affairs but the reality of today I am afraid.

It should be noted that the woke left spend half their lives haranguing people on twitter before asking the harangued persons employer to fire them from their jobs or that their advertisers pull all funding.

Unseemly does not even begin to describe it.

Dialectician1 said...

".....the bourgeois revolution eating its children."

No, you are quite correct Bob. Marx was right then and is even more pertinent today.

As our own blogger, Phil points out in this archive blog from 2015:

The current denial of class is social theory's greatest sin. Many young people on the so called 'left', who have recently come through the academy have no real idea about the relevance of class. Although the crash of 2008 and the eco-destruction of the planet are beginning to dent postmodernism's anti essentialist claims, Twitter and other social media continue to reverberate with its endless contestations over the use of language and questions of rights/injustices afforded to a colourful array of social identities (eg. the gay Etonian)

Postmodernism is eating its children and the right rub their hands with glee.

Bob said...

Thank you dialetician, I just kept wondering what I was missing about all this! Emporers' new clothes, etc.