Monday 9 March 2015

Would You Take a Donation from this Man?

Tony Blair wants to give 106 Labour candidates fighting marginal seats a thousand quid. For CLPs used to campaigning on a shoestring, that could stretch a long way. Yet because this largesse comes from Blair's pockets, some parliamentary candidates have a problem with it. All perfectly principled reasons of course, and I respect the right of these comrades to snub the cash. But they're wrong to do so.

We know Blair is a problematic character for a lot of Labour members and supporters for all sorts of reasons, not least the Iraq war. Yet this is a problem not shared by everyone. By now most voters are quite indifferent to Blair and his works. Those that were opposed to his war, which was a majority at the time, might feel negative vibes toward him but few, if any, are going to be basing their vote this May on what happened 12 years ago. In a very few places, like Norwich South, rejecting Blair publicly as Clive Lewis has done might add a sprinkling of Green and wavering left-Laboury votes to his tally and push him across the finish line, but he's virtually unique in that position. For most voters, the principled stand of their Labour candidates will barely register.

Were I a candidate, that money would be going into my campaigning war chest. This for three reasons. In the first place, a cheque from Blair's office won't be dropping through the letter box of your CLP secretary - the cash is going to the national party and then distributed out to marginals. Second, if Blair was dangling a thousand quid with the promise of future favours, or getting chummy with Progress, that is a problem. If Blair was trying to engineer backing for a policy agenda, that is a problem. Yet it's none of those things. The donation is no-strings attached. The money is being distributed without fear or favour, regardless of candidates' politics, on the basis of what the party defines as a marginal.

Most importantly, comrades who want to turn down the money have to remember that ultimately, this campaign isn't about them. This general election really does matter, it's between a party absolutely determined to screw our people and another that will provide some of the poorest and most vulnerable immediate relief. A thousand quid can help in seats where the Tories have been throwing dosh round like confetti, it can help ensure we get most votes, most seats, and get the party vaulting that overall majority hurdle.

My advice is take the money and carry on campaigning. There's more than your possible future parliamentary career at stake.


Rowan Draper said...

Yes, I would.

Anonymous said...

So because most voters think being a war criminal is all fine and dandy and regard the mass slaughter of dark skinned people as nothing to get worked up about we should just see no evil.

Ok but the next time you want to criticise ISIS for being barbaric, do me a favour and don't bother.

Phil said...

Welcome to a world based on the exploitation of labour power and interests prepared to go to war. Living in a capitalist society involves myriad inconsistencies and hypocrisies. If you don't like it either do something about it beyond your normal useless moralising, or go find a desert island.

Anonymous said...

This is astoundingly cynical.

'We live in Capitalism; therefore it is permissible for me to do (x,y,z)'?

If you cared for the lives of non-whites, those who had the misfortune to be born under Blair's bombs, this line would be utterly unthinkable, physically agonising even.

Perhaps you can justify it by doing whatever possible to make sure Labour can achieve their grand project to...

implement further austerity.

Phil said...

One man's cynicism is another's hard nose. Look, if Blair was offering cash for favours, or for policies, or whatever then absolutely not. But this is a strings free donation, therefore take.

And, of course, if you wanted to be consistent you shouldn't even be using the internet or partaking of the delights of industrial civilisation. Capital accumulation was fueled by slavery and colonial plunder after all.

Evan said...

There would be two things that concern me about this cash splash by Blair.

1) It sounds as if he's giving a large donation to the national party, who will then dole it out to individual candidates. He might not be asking for anything in return from individual candidates, but a large donation to the national party could be used to sway those higher up.

2) Say a bunch of the marginal seats take the money and then these are important in winning the election for Labour. Blair could then argue that it was his money that won the election and that might convince people that Labour would be obliged to listen to him. You can imagine the Blairites: "If it wasn't for Tony, it'd be David Cameron in No. 10..."

Anonymous said...

puh-lease! Your analogy is just silly, and you know so! Don't be so wised-up!

Blair's Patronage creates:

1) Power relationships (even if initially intangible, and without explicit terms and conditions). These relationships, and potential patronage relationships will have repercussions far beyond the constituencies effected.

2) The patronage also has an ideological function beyond the party. Both for a) whitewashing Blair to some more 'forgetful' people, and b) binding Labour symbolically to a cipher of aggressive neo-liberal capitalism, and imperialist war.

Anonymous said...

"f you wanted to be consistent"

If you wanted to be consistent you would refrain from ever criticisng anyone then!

If ISIS wanted to fund political parties in GB or foreign bankers, what is the fuss?

And to equate this issue with invention of the internet is desperate.

By the way I would argue that the invention of the internet would have been impossible under conditions of slavery. But that is all the lip service I am prepared to give to that comment!