Friday 12 July 2013

The Anatomy of a ConHome Hack Job

The Stupid Party. Home to the venal, the privileged, the dim, and the narcissistic. It is fair to say the Tories will say and do anything to protect their narrow, sectional interests - interests that are, as they have always been, fundamentally at odds to those of the overwhelming majority of people. But also, interestingly, getting increasingly inimical to those of capital itself. Hence the myopic way they set about public spending to the detriment of the British economy. Hence their utterly incompetent conduct in office. These morons may have been born to rule, but they're certainly unfit for it.

True to their decadent, out-of-touch form; the attack line we'll increasingly hear between now and 2015 is the old warhorse of the loony left. That's right, the Tories have gone all 80s on us and retro sloganising is back. 'Red' Ed Miliband and his trusty lieutenant, Ed "Trotsky" Balls are preparing to nationalise the top 100 monopolies right after bringing in a mansion tax. Andy "Che" Burnham is preparing to go all Cuban on the NHS as soon as the Health and Social Care Act is scrapped, And our latter day Big Bill Haywood, Unite's Len McCluskey, will travel the land fomenting flying pickets after factory occupation after insurrection. Vote Labour in 2015 and get five year plans, not five year elections.

I don't know whether to laugh at the Tories or pity the fools. To think that today when class consciousness is at the lowest ebb it's been, when unions have virtually been driven from public life ... to believe attacks of this sort would resonate? Words fail me.

Which brings me to this lovely piece of hackery, courtesy of the aptly-named ConHome. Titled 'Unite Councillors Network is championing far left in our town halls', the aim is to smear Labour in the manner above through logic-stretching innuendo and amalgam. Let's play.

One of the most basic requirements for a credible, responsible, local authority is to set a budget. It can avoid cuts by proposing a huge Council Tax increase and seeking to convince their residents of the case for this via a referendum.

See how options apart from raising Council Tax are foreclosed from the off. As the author’s understanding of local government is as sketchy as his grasp on real life, allow me to patiently explain a few things. A Council can bump up revenues by attracting inward investment, charging more in rents, or setting up companies that can market any expertise it has at its disposal. But this can only go so far. As the bulk of their income is provided by Whitehall’s block grant, it is also entirely legitimate for councils to lobby and campaign against the ruinous cuts that have disproportionately fallen on local authorities’ heads.

This is not proposed by Unite. Instead their preference, as I understand it, is for not setting a budget.

The key phrase here is “as I understand it”. Our author has no proof this is Unite’s position, except a suspicion.

Any council doing this would still face cuts but would have them imposed direct from Whitehall. The Unite union thinks this sounds rather a good idea - lots of agitprop opportunities.

Did you see what he did there? We went from supposition to cast iron certainty. And according to the position our author has arrived at in his own head, Unite quite fancies local authorities getting turned over by ministerial decree because it can shift a few leaflets. It’s a leap that would make Greg Rutherford proud.

The recent Unite National Political Committee, Political Director's Report shows how the union will use its clout to keep extremist councillors within the Labour Party.

We read how the union is intervening on behalf of Cllr Kingsley Abrams in Lambeth, and Cllr Kevin Bennett in Warrington, arguing for them to be re-admitted to their respective Labour Groups.

Shocking. A union defending its members after they’ve got in a spot of disciplinary bother.

There are some in Unite who don't feel that Len McCluskey is left wing enough. They fret that he is a bit too soft on those Labour councillors who huff and puff, but then set a legal budget.

Whoa, where did that come from?

I would remind you of a piece in Socialist Fight. It is from a couple of year's [sic] ago. The strapline: "The fight against the cuts and against Imperialism’s war on Libya is one struggle" gives the period feel. But the general theme is still relevant.

Ah, guilt by association. Never mind Socialist Fight has all of 11 readers and is less representative of the union than that other well-known Unite militant, Prince Charles. Any brickbat will do.

It laments:

Six ‘left’ Labour Councillors in Hackney, Barry Buitekant, Michelle Gregory, Linda Kelly, Deniz Oguzkanli, Ian Rathbone, and Patrick Vernon signed a statement against the cuts. They would, “support a campaign to defeat the policies of this government through public protest, opposition and defiance. We would like to see local Councils across London leading the charge and refusing to adopt cuts budgets as a result of government enforced policies.” All voted for the cuts budget.

Doesn’t this kinda undermine the argument the Unite is a hard left vanguard set on “not setting a budget”. What incoherent piffle.

Unite is so cut off from reality, so out of line with their membership that their Marxist leader is under attack for selling out. This is the state of play inside the Labour Party's biggest paymaster.

Another violent assault on elementary logic. Unite is backing a hard anti-cuts position, and it isn’t. It is carrying out a Marxist programme, and is being attacked for not carrying out a Marxist programme. The union is out-of-touch, but threatens to take over a party of 200,000 members.

Who knew ConHome played host to master classes in absurdist writing?


Speedy said...

I disagree with you Phil. Look how effective Tory propaganda has been in the past. I think it will be Kinnock round 2. Have you seen the polling that suggests the young are more likely to be Tory? Roles have been reversed with Labour the middle agd meat in the middle of the electoral sandwich. But I doubt it will be enough.

Ed, Ed and Andy need to be getting out NOW holding townhall meetings in marginals to bypass the media barrage and detoxify their brand. They need the time they have ahead of them because they have a mountain to climb. They should also target the local media which is less partisan and more trusted than national. Ed seems to have started doing something like this but he and his gang need to be out there very weekend in a shopping centre near you!

Phil said...

Fortunately, Speedy, that poll you've referenced was an outlier that got comprehensively debunked (unfortunately, I don't have the link to hand). It does show that the young are sceptical toward social security and nationalisation, but should we be anyway surprised, really? I also note that had you conducted a similar poll among the under 25s 30 years ago you would have found a far wider spread of support for socialist values. That definitely ensured we say three decades of social democratic advance!

I do agree with the bypass strategy you advocate. Indeed, that was precisely what the dear leader was doing during the county elections. But we need to see it all year round.

Gary Elsby said...

The Tories being nasty to Labour.
That's not on.

Phil said...

Not for the first time, Gary, you miss the point.