Thursday 6 February 2020

Dear Lisa Nandy

Dear Lisa,

As the candidate of the soft left it would be reasonable to expect your positioning to be situated somewhere between Rebecca Long-Bailey and Keir Starmer. Yet more than Keir, who seems to say a great deal about nothing and offers fuzzy screen grabs of other candidates' policies when forced into making a commitment, it is you who worries me more. It's not the refugees from the Jess Phillips car crash buzzing around your campaign, nor do I find your role chairing Owen Smith's aborted leadership challenge in 2016 overly bothersome. The issue is the politics or, to be more accurate, your inability to be accurate.

Consider your remarks at last Saturday's hustings in Bristol. On the question of private involvement in the public sector, you said there was a role for business and there's something to be learned from them. Whatever. More troubling was your supplementary attack on top down statism and the assumption it is better than cooperative or municipal ownership alternatives. All very well and good, except that the aim of this criticism - Rebecca Long-Bailey's platform - isn't proposing top down nationalisations either. It was almost as if you were channelling one of Yvetter Cooper's occasional interventions, who also had a problem understanding Labour's nationalisation position. To help aid clarity and save you the time of reading the 2017 and 2019 manifestos, the party then and RLB now is not proposing swapping well remunerated managers in the privatised utilities for Whitehall mandarins, but the democratisation of these services. In other words, making public ownership mean something as the industries are controlled by and run for the benefit of workers and consumers. By all means quibble with the viability and desirability of this policy, but take it on its own terms instead of lying about it.

I'd also like to draw your attention to RLB's position on open selection. Whether constituency parties should open the process of selecting candidates out to wider publics or keep it the sole preserve of the dues-paying membership is one debate, but RLB is quite clear that Labour MPs should face reselection as a matter of routine. Anything is better than having to make a negative case against an incumbent to trigger a contest. And yet every time this question is raised in hustings, from you we get the mealy-mouthed "I think we should be focusing our attention on getting rid of Tory MPs, not replacing Labour MPs." What a load of dishonest rubbish. First of all, the Scottish National Party operates with mandatory reselection and they have considerably less trouble getting shot of Tories than the befuddled mess that is Scottish Labour. And second, how can you be for democratising policy making and bringing the party closer to the communities alienated from it if you're happy for MPs to be insulated from political change? You either trust members or you don't. And, in conjunction with this, your proposal to elevate the standing of councillors in the leadership gate-keeping process shows you do not.

And last of all, there is the main plank of your leadership campaign. That Labour hasn't been talking to "the towns" and is concerned solely with the metropolis. True enough, Labour's adoption of the second referendum position was like flipping the party's leave constituencies the bird though, unfortunately, it had very little choice if it wanted to survive as a going concern. Though while critical of the leadership and, by extension, Keir Starmer for railroading the party straight into the side of a mountain, you can't find it in yourself to take the likes of Tom Watson (West Bromwich East), Mary Creagh (Wakefield), Anna Turley (Redcar), and others to task for lording their second referendumism over their constituents. The defeat wasn't just baked to perfection by the leader's office. But the main problem with your position is a studied refusal to understand Labour's challenge. Labour has neither a towns problem nor a working class problem. What the party does have is an old people problem or, because we're being accurate, a class cohort problem. And there really is no excuse for framing the difficulties thus. The voter data has roared through politics land, washing up in MP's offices, newsrooms and think tanks alike. The geography issue is an effect of age, of towns emptying of younger workers as they seek opportunities elsewhere while older people and retirees stay behind or migrate in. The red bridge you're fond of talking about needs building not from the north to the south, but between the generations. However, because you like to pretend this is a town and left-behind-working-class thing, that leaves your pitch flirting - perhaps intentionally - with the crudities of Blue Labour and its repugnant embrace of petty prejudice. I would ordinarily put this mistake down to errors of interpretation, or simply viewing the data differently, but your demonstrable bad faith on other issues suggests otherwise.

As you haven't got the time to take in manifestos or familiarise yourself with polling data, I won't keep you much longer. But I will say it is possible to make your case without lying and playing sleight of hand games with the positions of your opponents, but you choose not to. Fibbing, distortion, and politically convenient misreadings are the order of the day. Therefore your demonstrable dishonesty should disqualify you from the leadership and, as we're being honest, it puts a question over your suitability as a MP. And because you're playing a shifty game, the voters you think you are best-placed to win back and the new base we have to keep would see straight through your bullshit. There is nothing but calamity ahead for a Lisa Nandy Labour Party, and that's why I won't be voting for you - and neither should anyone else.

Yours sincerely,


Shai Masot said...

Maybe Lisa is after an early elevation to the Lords. After all, the BNP-lite Labour-bashing thing worked for Woodcock, Austen, and Mann.

Boffy said...

"In other words, making public ownership mean something as the industries are controlled by and run for the benefit of workers and consumers. By all means quibble with the viability and desirability of this policy, but take it on its own terms instead of lying about it."

Its not the viability and desirability that is at issue, but the lack of clarity about the model being proposed. All of the proposals I've seen talk about top down nationalisations, with democratic control and accountability thrown in as an afterthought. As Marx describes such programmes in The Critique of The Gotha Programme,

"Instead of arising from the revolutionary process of transformation of society, the "socialist organization of the total labor" "arises" from the "state aid" that the state gives to the producers' co-operative societies and which the state, not the workers, "calls into being". It is worthy of Lassalle's imagination that with state loans one can build a new society just as well as a new railway!

From the remnants of a sense of shame, "state aid" has been put -- under the democratic control of the "toiling people"."

And, not surprisingly because Lassalle was the model of the Workers Dictator described by Marx that Stalin became in practice, and it is that model that the Stalinoid elements that stood behind Corbyn, and stand behind RLB utilise. None of the programme put forward recognises that all of this capital is already socialised. Instead, it talks about wasting billions buying up worthless bits of paper - share certificates - confusing these with being capital. It hands billions to shareholders by such means that could otherwise have been used to invest in the infrastructure of the economy, including in actually recapitalising some of those companies.

But, all experience of where the state engages in such top down nationalisation shows that the promised democratisation never occurs, much as indeed the promised democratisation inside the Labour party never occurred, and instead gave way to bureaucratic manipulation. Involvement of consumes is one way in which such "democratisation" is fudged, because a look at consumer cooperatives shows that in practice millions of atomised individual consumers do not and cannot engage in democratic control in the way that workers directly engage din production of goods and services can, and must.

If labour truly did want to be transformative, and bring about such democratic control it would not put forward such vague and limited proposals, but would carry through the bourgeois revolution itself to its logical conclusions. It would do that in relation to whole swathes of the constitution, but also in relation to socialised capitalist property. It would simply change the law on corporate governance. Even bourgeois theorists recognise that shareholders do not own the capital of corporations, and so should have no right to exercise control over it. Democratic control over that socialised capital whether it is that of a public limited company, private limited company or a nationalised industry, should rest entirely with the workers and managers of that company, and no one else. Labour could make its position very clear, by stating that it would simply implement such a law.

Bill Cawley said...

I am supporting Nandy

Many of the ideas she has espoused are in the Alternative Models of Ownership policy document which was published in 2017 . I think she has been articulating some of the concepts such as cooperatives ideas that are older than the Labour Party and have merit

BCFG said...

Lisa Nandy is the candidate of choice for the ruling class, the permanent state establishment and the billionaire owned media.

So she has a good chance of winning the leadership election and any subsequent general election. She will certainly get a better press than Corbyn did!

For all these reasons she should be opposed by all means necessary.

Unknown said...

If you always come second it is worth squat - 18th Brumaire of Frank Worthington

Unknown said...

So BCFG, if Ms Nandy wins, will you be staying or leaving.

Boffy said...

He's never been a member of anything other than the fantasy world in his own bedroom. So, there is nothing for him to leave, as he already left the real world long ago.

BCFG said...

"So BCFG, if Ms Nandy wins, will you be staying or leaving."

Leaving of course, the difference between nandy and the Tories is really not worth the energy. FYI I am a member of a trade union, won't be leaving that even though they do very little these days.

Anonymous said...

Too bad you chose to couch Nandy's differences of opinion as lies. Why not jump straight to Hitler.