Monday, 11 October 2021

The Labour Right's Self-Destructive Turn

It would be fair to say this place isn't the Labour right's biggest cheerleader. From throwing elections to being racist to keeping their nests nice and feathered at the expense of victory, they are by far the most destructive political trend in Britain. Bar the Tories who keep getting a free pass thanks to their preoccupation with internal party shenanigans.

But there are trends among the Labour right who do pull in different directions. There is the naively pragmatic who go along with its prescriptions because they genuinely believe having no principles (or at least, locking them under the stairs with trade unions and Jeremy Corbyn) is the path to victory. In their own way they are serious about winning elections, and are having their hearts presently stirred by Blair and Brown: The New Labour Revolution. Others are more calculating and believe putting the left back in its box is a necessary precondition to turning outwards to win an election. They were enthusiastic fighters against Corbynism, but know there are limits. The left should be confined to steerage, but not at the expense of sinking the whole ship. And last of all are the scorched earth types who are quite prepared to burn it all as long as a few of them can salvage something from the ashes. Labour's problem is Keir Starmer represents the first group, while taking strategic direction and advice from the latter.

How else can one think through the politics of the leadership's latest escapade? Showing more determination to find the culprit who leaked that report than punishing the vile, scabby behaviour it revealed, in its infinite wisdom the legal team have decided it should name the five people it has narrowed the leak down to, but can't determine who among them did the deed. This is in response to action brought by Emilie Oldknow, who already failed in court to force the release of names and paid heavily for the privilege. Why did the party fight the case then but have now conceded to her demand? For purely factional reasons. The hope is hanging blame for the leak on the five opens them not only to action from the aggrieved scabs who were caught bang to rights, but also the party who would look to recoup costs for the huge sums it voluntarily shovelled into their coffers.

The problem? It's extremely unlikely it would stand up. As the five's solicitors, the notorious (for other reasons) Carter Ruck, have noted "The party apparently admits that its case against the individuals is purely circumstantial and inferential, but has failed even to set out that case properly in correspondence, despite its obligations to do so under the relevant Court Protocol." More members' money wasted on a desperate legal gambit for entirely factional reasons, and that doesn't take on board any counter suit the five might take out against these allegations.

There once was a time when Labour fought hard to keep the courts out of its internal affairs. The independence of the party and the movement from the courts reflected its own attempts to establish its own systems of authority and sovereignty, and because when the lawyers came knocking in the past bearing writs determined to regulate, stymie, and arrest the labour movement's growing power. Since 2016, when right winger Michael Foster took the party to court to keep Corbyn off the leadership ballot, the taboo about court action was well and truly broken. Whether it was leftists litigating the NEC's decision to hike up the supporter status price in the same contest (a daft action from the point of view of the law), or Chris Williamson trying to get his suspension overturned, or the right wingers crying about tarnishing their own reputations, or running to the police for spurious reasons, or begging for a statutory body to come and investigate them, no one bats an eyelid as the party's filthy linen is paraded before bewigged representatives of the ruling class. The courts are just another, albeit rarefied arena of struggle. And a key principle or our movement withers to nothingness.

This doesn't explain why, so here's a stab. For a section of the Labour right more comfortable attacking the left than the Tories, pursuing former staffers and taking them to the cleaners confers a personal sense of satisfaction (even if it will cost the party dearly). Rather, it serves as a warning. If anyone dares challenge what is theirs by right, they can expect to be harassed, pursued, ruined, and traduced. The whole process is driven by people whose brains were broken by their near death experience, and believe future extinction threats can only be kept at bay by an over-the-top, vindictive pushback. It won't work, but it might contribute to Labour's election failure in two years' time.

Image Credit


Shai Masot said...

These are very insightful Solids. I can therefore confidently predict that Paul "mad dog" Mason will take absolutely *no* notice whatsoever. He'll stick to retweeting Blairites and dribbling out rants about Putin.

Phil said...

And if there were people involved who helped to throw the 2019 election because they actually wanted the Tories to win - people who are acting like wreckers now because they actually want the party wrecked - would it look any different?

Not that we'll ever know.

Anonymous said...

We must be fair, Phil. The Starmer/Blairite/Streeting bloc (too big and powerful to be a 'wing') of Labour, plus their many allies in media and elsewhere, have already shown that they'll move heaven and earth to PREVENT a Labour victory, if the party is led by someone with the wrong views on Israel (i.e. that it should be judged by the same criteria as any other country would).

Given that, what's a little witch-hunting and dirty linen exposure?

BCFG said...

For those interested in a real transformation of society, please watch the following broadcast from the peerless renegade inc:

Centrists may want to avoid it though.

Blissex said...

«The Starmer/Blairite/Streeting bloc (too big and powerful to be a 'wing')»

That is a misnomer, it is the Mandelson Tendency/Militant Mandelsoncy. Blair was and is a an accomplice of Mandelson, who fully earned his "Prince of Darkness" nickname.

«of Labour»

Another misnomer: the Mandelson Tendency is the main block of the New Labour party, that also has a small number of a few hundred thousand entrysts (but many fewer as time passes) from the far-left extremist Labour party.

«plus their many allies in media and elsewhere, have already shown that they'll move heaven and earth to PREVENT a Labour victory, if the party is led by someone with the wrong views on Israel»

It is more the wrong views on Likud, anyhow it seems to me that Wes Streeting was scolded for enabling, "objectively", antisemitism:>
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.

Blissex said...

Keir Starmer is again trying to outflank Johnson from the right, this time not out-NIMBYing the Conservatives, but going to the right on labour issues:
Lighting on Keir Starmer’s recent suggestion that the government’s temporary visa scheme for HGV drivers should be expanded to 100,000 places, the Conservatives have formulated a new attack line. “Vote Tory to get a pay rise, vote Labour to see mass immigration drive your wages down,” as one government source recently put it.

BTW the entire "brexit causes labour shortages" debate is based on disregarding the government statistics that show that net immigration to the UK has been booming since the 2016 referendum, because while EU immigration has fallen a lot, and many EU workers have migrated back to the EU, immigration of cheaper workers with fewer rights from the third world has grown by more than that.

The Conservatives can even claim that thanks to brexit they are improving diversity as the new flood of immigrants reflects better the worldwide colour composition than the european one.