Saturday 25 July 2020

On Jeremy Corbyn's Defence Fund

14.1k donors. £255,233 raised. Not bad for a few days work. The announcement from Panorama journalist John Ware that he intended to pursue Jeremy Corbyn and others for defamation has certainly provoked a reaction. Should Ware decide to see his tough words through, the monies raised on Corbyn's behalf can easily afford him half-decent counsel. Facing a defence fund of this size, perhaps the writ will not be forthcoming after all.

This talk of taking legal action is another episode in the hounding of Jeremy Corbyn, of which there has been no let up since relinquishing the Labour leadership back in April. Ahead of the long-awaited release of the report on Russia's involvement in British politics this week, the Tories' press arm smeared Corbyn as being in receipt of Russia-sourced leaks about the UK's preparedness to put the NHS on the chopping block for a post-Brexit trade deal with the US. Readers might remember Corbyn ambushing Boris Johnson with the documents during one of last winter's leaders' debates. Never mind how the papers had sat on Reddit for months beforehand and were published by The Telegraph. Does that make Johnson's favourite paper complicit too? And after all that, far from poppycock the leaks turned out to be utterly prescient.

Then we got to the hinge of the week. As expected, Labour dropped its defence against claims brought by John Ware and his Panorama interviewees, issued a grovelling apology and handed over a substantial out of court settlement. You don't need the keenest legal mind to divine this was driven by politics and not the likelihood of Labour winning in light of the contents of Labour's internal anti-semitism report. Keir Starmer made a simple political equation. Settle this, put the past behind us and get on with (ahem) providing some opposition. The problem is he's opened the door to other actions, such as the one currently mulled by former general secretary Iain McNicol - easy money for some now the party has admitted in court it was in the wrong. Likewise, our recent litigants could file further claims against their suspensions from the party because of the position the party has taken. And there's also the small matter of dumping on his own inquiry into the leak and its contents. In short, if Keir Starmer is so blasé about defending his own party, how can he be expected to stand up for the people it's supposed to represent?

The rapid accumulation of Jeremy's defence fund isn't just a reaction against vindictive elites, it's a protest against the Labour leader too. For the last five years Labour was consumed by some of the fiercest infighting the party has ever seen. A half decade of salting the earth Labour grows in, and we're supposed to simply forget the role those who run the Labour Party now played or blame the left. True, back in 2015 the right predicted disaster and they strained every sinew to make sure that was the outcome. Sadly, there is no reckoning for these people. Some of the worst are now out of parliament, but are stacking up on jobs and enjoying their elevation to the House of Lords thanks to Tory preferment. None of them have atoned, none of them have apologised for destroying ours chances, none have been held responsible for letting Johnson waltz through long-held Labour seats and letting him back into Downing Street. In this context, Keir's surrender is not an example of setting factionalism aside and pressing for unity, but one where he's aligned himself with them - not that there was very much doubt - and looking to strike a new balance in the party on their terms. And if this means tens of thousands leaving the party, so much the better. The defence fund is a middle finger to all that, of the little people rebelling against their party betters and hoping a just outcome can be purchased for a few quid.

Keir is not making things easy for himself. With papers full of keyboard warriors demanding reckonings with and purges of the left, he needs to remember more is at risk than an army of enthusiastic door knockers, but of losing and seeing his left flank dissipate among the Greens, the Liberal Democrats, and the sectlets. And if they go, they act as negative multipliers on their own friends, networks, and cohorts. Not all of them live in big cities and help Labour clock up super majorities, but whose mobilisation is key if the party is interested in winning over scores of marginals. There was no evidence Keir understood this basic fact when he embarked on his leadership campaign, and he hasn't shown an inkling since. Enjoy the opinion polls for the moment. The path to defeat is a long one.


Shai Masot said...

"If you don't think KS will advance the class struggle you're possibly not understanding social democracy correctly from a Marxist viewpoint." (Paul Mason, April 2020)

What a twat! What a sad fucking Spice-fueled shit-into-a-fountain twat.

A. Pessimist said...

So Sir Starmer might be going to bankrupt the Labour Party. Is this a bad thing?

I learned a lot over the past 5 years, including that amongst the obstacles to achieving a moderate, mixed-economy democratic socialist government were surprisingly the BBC News organisation, The Guardian newspaper and yes - the Labour Party.

If these organisations continue in their current forms we have no hope.

Blissex said...

«This talk of taking legal action is another episode in the hounding of Jeremy Corbyn, of which there has been no let up»

It can only ever end with a celebration of Keir Starmer for expelling Jeremy Corbyn from the New Labour party; many likudniks and mandelsonians have written that it is specifically Jeremy Corbyn who has created and fed from nothing a wave of discrimination and hatred against the "mainstream jewish community". If that point is accepted by the New Labour leadership, and they seem to have accepted it by fully endorsing the "Panorama" propaganda piece, how can he remain a member? Many people have been expelled after much lighter accusations.

Here is a likudnik-style argument from the site of "The Spectator" (that publishes Taki's diary):>
If Wes Streeting is your idea of an ally, your enemies have caught one hell of a break. On Thursday, he and all the other ‘friends of the community’ tried to put their anti-Semitic party into government and were only stopped by ex-steelworkers in Redcar and Workington. There is always a place for atonement but the Streeting tendency aren’t here to atone. They consider themselves victims of Corbynism when they were its enablers.

If *Wes Streeting* is to be considered a monster who has enabled an anti-semitic campaign, what does that make Jeremy Corbyn? The likudniks will want an exemplary punishment.

Blissex said...

«he needs to remember more is at risk than an army of enthusiastic door knockers, but of losing and seeing his left flank dissipate among the Greens, the Liberal Democrats, and the sectlets.»

What if that is a goal of the Mandelson Tendency goals and PASOKification is their strategy? Turning New Labour into a smaller marketing-based organization (as it has already been done to the Conservatives) funded by upper class donors instead of member subs, with a definite shift back to thatcherism, so that it can never govern again on its own, but always in coalition with the LibDems, has always been the plan, to ensure that social-democrats never again have proper representation, and the political competition returns to the "good old days" when it was between upper-middle and upper class whigs and tories. This is not a new plan, T Benn wrote his diary on 1993-05-19, as to his last NEC meeting:

I think, candidly, what is happening is that the party is being dismantled. The trade union link is to be broken; the economic policy statement we are considering today makes no reference to the trade unions. Clause 4 is being attacked; PR is being advocated with a view to a pact with the Liberals of a kind that Peter Mandelson worked for in Newbury, where he in fact encouraged the Liberal vote. The policy work has been subcontracted. These so called modernisers are really Victorian Liberals, who believe in market forces, don't like the trade unions and are anti-socialist.

They are not merely anti-socialist, but also anti-social-democrat, because as P Mandelson wrote almost 20 years ago "we all thatcherites now".

Blissex said...

«There was no evidence Keir understood this basic fact when he embarked on his leadership campaign, and he hasn't shown an inkling since. Enjoy the opinion polls for the moment.»

Labour's voting intention gap from the Conservative has reduced from 11% in December to 10% now against a farcical government that has lost at the end of December its major "sell", which was just "get brexit done", and the popularity contest between B Johnson, a widely despised elitist clown, and K Starmer is not going too well either:
"What Great Britain thinks of Boris Johnson
39% positive opinion/43% negative opinion/17% neutral opinion/99% have heard of"
"What Great Britain thinks of Keir Starmer
15% positive opinion/19% negative opinion/18% neutral opinion/52% have heard of"

Both have a 4% negative gap between positive and negative opinions, and not much more than half of the people have even heard about K Starmer.

Where is the giant surge that would put New Labour 20% ahead of the Conservatives if only it had K Starmer fronting pro-rentierism, pro-Likud, pro-EU, "centrist" policies?
Where is that huge slice of thatcherite "Middle England" "aspirational" voters who would switch from the Conservatives to New Labour if only it had a "quasi-Conservative" leadership and policies?

Blissex said...

«Should Ware decide to see his tough words through, the monies raised on Corbyn's behalf can easily afford him half-decent counsel. Facing a defence fund of this size, perhaps the writ will not be forthcoming after all.»

Why not? Now that New Labour has officially stated that the "whistleblowers" were the "victims" of a campaign of defamation, and paid compensation, John Ware can well argue to his *employer*, the BBC, that they have the duty to fund without limit any action to clear his name, as he was "victimized" in the course of his employment, as a result of doing his job "so well".

A difficulty may be that they have already accepted compensation from New Labour, and if it were a good settlement agreement it would include a clause saying that the compensation fully clears their claim against New Labour and any previous or current members or leaders. But I am confident that New Labour's lawyers carefully drafted a much narrower clause that leaves the "whistleblowers" free to seek further damages from other persons or entities.

Anyhow some likudniks will question whether people who defamed a group of "whistleblowers", among them New Labour members and officials, can still be members of New Labour or having brought the party into disrepute by their un-comradely actions they should be thrown out urgently.
They will ask: how can a party with "Labour" in its name continue to accept as members people who have been recognized by the party as persecutors of workers who are "whistleblowers" against racism and antisemitism?

K Starmer's professional background is a top lawyer, and I will never therefore be believe that “he's opened the door to other actions?“ was an innocent mistake, or that he was merely “blasé about defending his own party", I reckon that he can have only taken such a decision with a full understanding of the implications. One of them it that the Labour wing of New Labour is not "his own party”.

Many of the members who decided to vote for K Starmer, accepting the Mandelson Tendency claim that only a hard political switch, to supporting neoliberalism and neoconservativism and aligning with Likud, might make a chunk of "Middle England" thatcherite voters switch from the Conservatives to New Labour, might now realize what they have really done.

Blissex said...

«and the popularity contest between B Johnson, a widely despised elitist clown, and K Starmer is not going too well either:»

I just looked at the latest YouGov popularity ratings of K Starmer and other New Labour or Labour politicians, and it is amusing to compare with A Burnham (which I consider to be within the Labour range):

"Andy Burnham is the 10th most popular Labour politician and the 23rd most famous. Andy Burnham is described by fans as: Stands up for ordinary people, In touch with ordinary people, Good speaker, Genuine and Committed.
20% positive opinion/14% negative opinion/23% neutral opinion/56% have heard of"

"Keir Starmer is the 11th most popular Labour politician and the 20th most famous. Keir Starmer is described by fans as: Confident, Admirable, Assured, Insightful and Commanding.
20% positive opinion/19% negative opinion/20% neutral opinion/59% have heard of"

A Burnham, which has not been supported by a fawning campaign by the usual propaganda organs, turns out to be more popular than his leader, while being "just" the mayor of Manchester.

For a laugh here is another famous "centrist", the "leader" of that attempt to split the Labour vote like in 1983 the SDP did:

"Chuka Umunna is the 10th most popular other UK public figure and the 11th most famous. Chuka Umunna is described by fans as: Good speaker, Intelligent, Articulate, Electable and Up and coming.
14% positive opinion/25% negative opinion/22% neutral opinion/61% have heard of"

His popularity is only a bit lower than that of K Starmer, but that there are people who describe him as "Electable" and "Up and coming" but not K Starmer fills me with wonder ;-).

Blissex said...

«The likudniks will want an exemplary punishment.»

It belatedly occurred to me that a former directory of the Crown Prosecution Service cannot have failed to realize that New New Labour has pretty much confessed that for the past 5 years the party, when it wasn't under "New Management", has run a campaign of incitement to racial hatred, and there are severe laws to punish those responsible for that. My guess: whatever happens the goal will be to make such an example that for decades no UK politician will never dare to diverge from the the Likud party line.

Blissex said...

Apologies for this stream of posts, but I am trying to prove that current circumstances the previous commenter "A. Pessimist" is a wild optimist... :-)

So it begins:

«The Labour right have made their intentions clear. They want to push the left out of the party. But what they don’t realise is that our movement is stronger than their machine,” reads an email sent by Momentum on Wednesday evening.»

«In recent days, reports have emerged that Jeremy Corbyn could be sued over his statement criticising the Panorama settlements, and that some former party staff said they would drop their lawsuits against the party if Jeremy is expelled from Labour membership.»

«Although Momentum cites reports that the ex-staffers said they would drop their lawsuits if Corbyn were expelled, journalist Lee Harpin tweeted that a source close to them commented this “isn’t true” and “isn’t helpful”.»

The last bit is suitably vague :-).

Dipper said...

'the popularity contest between B Johnson, a widely despised elitist clown'

who wins every election he contests.

If you are going to take part in a contest, then top of your list of things to do is things your opponent does not want you to do. Even if you believe in nothing you can get quite far on doing things just to undermine your opponent.

And if you want to win, try and visualise a route to winning. Think what you need to win, and how do you get those things on your side and away from your opponents.

This is obvious isn't it?

But the left aren't really interested in winning. Corbyn never wanted to win. His comfort zone is complaining about people in power in a completely egotistical, weak, and unthreatening way. And he never left that comfort zone.

Anonymous said...

I don't necessarily think Corbyn was ever the best leader, and he made some fundamentally flawed judgements - including some of his associations, but it is certainly no worse than the activities of most politicians in all parties.

This seems like an full on attempt to absolutely crush Corbyn, and drive him into destitution. And with calls in some quarters to withdraw the whip from McDonnell, RLB, Burgon and even kick out Unite, ASLEF and TSSA, this is far deeper than just Corbyn.

It's noticable Burnham and Ed Miliband were also completely sidelined and undermined. So I suspect the same bunch trying to remove all traces of the left from Labour, will next come for the soft left - in which case Keir should be careful. They didn't even like Brown much! I fully expect if they succeed purging every last socialist out of Labour, they will come for the social democrats next, until the party is remoulded back into a technocratic muscular liberal party campaigning for Washington, Saudi Arabia and multinational corporations, with a bit of soft left window dressing.