Thursday 6 April 2017

On the New Statesman Protest

I once attended a demonstration called by the local PCS branch that attracted a mammoth 14 people. Not great, but it was enough to get a hack from the local rag to run a story about their grievances. But have you seen this nonsense about the protest outside the New Statesman offices this evening? Sparsely attended and completely messed up, this just makes Corbyn supporters look mad and brittle. But, as with all things, there is a logic.

Having previously piddled in the puddle of far left politics, I know doing something about setting realistic and achievable goals. For a small group of activists, this can help develop camaraderie and deepen solidarity among those taking part in an action. Selling 100 newspapers in a week, filling a coach, getting a fair few to a rally, delivering 5,000 leaflets in super quick time, no doubt some would sneer at such things but it's these myriad actions that have kept the far left going long past their use by date. If you break out the microscope and focus in on the foundations of the Labour Party, the trade unions, and the cooperative movement, you'll espy pretty much the same thing going on there too.

And so, the protesters' demand that the New Statesman hands 30 of its pages over to pro-Corbyn voices probably won't succeed. But in a sense, it has. Political Editor/Generalissimo George Eaton came down to see what the fuss was about and was followed around by a man with a placard (protest pro tip: use oven gloves). Buzzfeed were there and threw something together about it and, most importantly, it attracted the attention of the early evening Twitterati. In the age of trend or it didn't happen, I think the organisers will be pleased with the outcome, even though it makes them and Jeremy supporters look like a box of tools.

What this underlines, again, is the political weakness of the left. Over 18 months on from the Corbyn surge, there is little sign of a deeper politicisation of the newly activated. There has been a slow burn involvement of new comrades getting drifting into party structures and big campaigns, but there has been no concerted effort to develop them further. The recent Momentum conference sounded more like a management away day than a group interested in equipping its support politically for the struggles in the Labour Party and wider society. Likewise the web-based media that have grown influential off the back of the Corbyn movement - The Canary, Evolve Politics, SKWAWKBOX - merely reflect back to the reader what they know or already suspect. There's little attempt at analysing things, understanding things. I haven't the foggiest why the excellent Left Futures blog isn't heavily promoted via Momentum's extensive social media networks, which does deal in the weightier stuff and might help shift things along.

The longer the political gap goes unaddressed, the more pointless and counterproductive stunts there will be.


Anonymous said...

The real point is that the Staggers has been TERRIBLE recently.

Absolutely f***ing awful.

Cowley is a centre-right liberal, basically.

Organized Rage. said...

Good luck to the protesters at the NS as it epitomise the problems the left in the LP faces. Like the party machine it is controlled by the Blairites or their allies who are stuck in a new labour time warp. Phil instead of harping on about a lack of Corbynite policies ask them what their policies are? Besides we all understand what JC's policies are, not only us, our enemies to its why they all hate him so. Come the election they can costed etc.

The problem for many new members is the Blairites still control their CLP's and they do so in the most despicable and underhanded manner. Time and again in Thurrock we have asked for access to the membership list so we can contact the 300 new members who have joined since 2015. All to no avail, if you have any advice on this please pass it on.

It is so easy to point out our shortcomings we are all learning on the job, none of us thought we would be where we are today. This must be a long game or the LP is finished. If Jeremy were to go now the media would simply turn their have and venom onto the new leader, and come 2020 we would be back to square one. If and when he decides to go better to wait and choose a time of going which is advantages to the party not the tories

Andrew Coates said...

I thought people on Facebook were joking when they mentioned this.

Apparently not...

Anonymous said...

Yes, the protest was pretty risible.

But the fact remains, Cowley's NS *is* a disgrace.

So, what to do about it?

asquith said...

Is Alan Clifford going?

Phil said...

The big problem here Mick is this protest wasn't organised by naive souls. Most involved are old hands, including a leading cadre of Counterfire. People who should know better are exacerbating the situation this post describes.

Re: Thurrock, under party rules all councillors have the right to access the membership list in their wards. Similar access is open to chairs and secretaries of branch Labour Parties. Also, ask questions at the monthly constituency meeting - as you know from your own union experience, officials (especially lay officials) hate being held to account. And if all else fails, organise for new officers at this summer's AGM.

All this easier said than done, of course.

James Semple said...

Picking up the point about politicising the newly activated, I can confirm this from the depths of deep blue Devon. Labour party membership in our little town shot up in the Corbyn surge but has remained stubbornly passive, even reclusive - resisting calls to local and branch assemblies. Any advice on engagement?

Organized Rage. said...


I thought the old CPGB in the early 1980 was a cold house if like me you were in neither the camp of the tankies or euro coms, but the LP here is far far worse. Never mind, perseverance (hopefully ;-) will brings success.

Sneer, smear while creating apathy seems to be the Blairites master plan. They have not put a single policy forward here, I believe they're determined to drive the party into the ground.

Thanks for your comradely advice, it really is appreciated, and keep up the good work, you were always a level headed chap, but you've turned into a very fine commentator and 'all that is solid' for me is a must go to. You would make a first class MP.