Do You Support the Aims and Values of the Labour Party?

The Labour Party is a divided house. Discussion of the issue tends to be emotionally charged, and consist of finger-pointing, half-truths and lack of critical reflection, from all sides of the divide. Political realities mean that the Labour Party are currently the standard-bearers and the loudest political voice for the British left and the working-class. Their conflicts, their dysfunctions, will impact on all of us. In this essay we’ll attempt to form an understanding of what’s happening within Labour, and whether it’s capable of surviving.

We’ll begin by defining the terms we’ll use; discuss the records and reputations of Tony Blair and Jeremy Corbyn; discuss the idea of ‘dissident intellectuals’ within a party and a movement; the tactical failings over the last year; take a look at the theatrical side of politics and the use of the media; look at anti-semitism and sexism within the Labour Party; the culture of brutalism within the Labour Party; ‘post-truth politics’; ask whether Jeremy Corbyn is an extremist and look at the stubborn ideology of centrists like Blair and Balls. We’ll then answer the headline question of whether the co-writers support the ‘aims and values’ of the Labour Party (and whether we think you should) before giving our opinions on what the road ahead should be.

This essay will be a long read, and anyone with an opinion on the current state of the Labour Party will find something to object to. We don’t claim to be providing wisdom from on-high, but consider that we have a series of relevant questions to ask. Questions which will hopefully spark further discussion, and encourage co-operation across divides. As long as this essay is (over 12,000 words) we intend for it to be the starting point of a conversation, not the end. Hopefully, anyone who reads all the way to the end will feel that they have a better framework for discussing Labour’s internal conflicts – whether they agree or disagree with our conclusions.

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The Incredible Incompetence of Steven Woolfe

There are currently two leadership election campaigns being ran by major British political parties. As leftwingers, the co-writers of this blog initially saw wins for Labour’s Owen Smith and UKIP’s Steven Woolfe as the worst possible scenario for the left.

Large proportions of the working class areas which voted to Leave in the June referendum were in safe Labour seats where UKIP have been growing in strength. The working class Leave vote was, in our experience as Remain campaigners, largely an anti-establishment vote. Phrases like ‘something has to change’ came up fairly often. Smith’s suggestion of a second referendum once the terms of Brexit have been made clear (as opposed to the best of all worlds mirage which was offered in June) is sensible. But the prospect of a well-off former drug company executive potentially trying to reverse a working-class rebellion against the establishment would be a dangerous one. To make this work, Smith would need to draw on reserves of charisma, persuasion and clarity of communication that he simply doesn’t have.

Labour’s ability to present themselves as being the party of the working class would be even tougher were UKIP to be led by the highly-regarded working class MEP and barrister Steven Woolfe, born and raised in Manchester’s Moss Side.

However, despite Woolfe being favourite to win, his application was submitted to the party 17 minutes after the deadline closed, leading to UKIP’s National Executive Committee voting to exclude him from the contest. So why did the man many see as Nigel Farage’s most natural successor fall at the first hurdle?

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