Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Labour Coup: Why now?

Jeremy Corbyn cartoon by Wendy Cockcroft
The UK's Labour party is suffering an identity crisis. Formed by and for workers and informed by Marxist ideology, the Labour party has been plagued by class divisions since its inception. Funded in part by the unions, it has always been the voice of the worker in Parliament — until recently.

Ideological schism

After the Winter of Discontent that brought Margaret Thatcher to power in 1979, the party remained in the political wilderness, stuck in a rose-tinted past it was as unwilling as it was unable to adapt to new realities. Indeed, the hard core socialists who pepper the membership are still trapped in a 1850s time warp in which upstart entrepreneurs feed kids into weaving machines that rip off tiny limbs, then proudly declare they would rather see a child work a twelve hour day than beg in the streets. These are the "bourgeoisie" they despise so loudly and so often — the boogeyman they warn us to be afraid of. Don't forget, every Prime Minister they've ever had was Eton educated; the fact that the party is run by toffs is the most hilarious self-contradiction of the party. If anyone is maintaining class divisions it's not our neoliberal hegemony, it's the socialists because they can't stop bashing their imaginary piƱata when the truth is they don't want anyone to rise above their station. It's funny till it gets old.

Blairism - the new Thatcherism is like the old one

Margaret Thatcher wasn't a complete fascist, she was too much of a free market believer and fascism is antithetical to that. However, when Tony Blair created New Labour in October 1994 he continued Thatcherite policies because he believed that these were what won her three elections, not the force of her personality. Clause IV of the party's constitution, which underpinned Labour's commitment to nationalisation was dismissed in favour of market economics. If you attempt to discuss the failings of neoliberalism with any Labour supporter, anyone who's not a dyed-in-the-wool socialist will tell you there's no way they can abandon Thatcherite policies, that's political suicide — as if socialism is the only alternative. It's not.

Hipster Socialism - hate, blame, and denial

I've identified a new strain of socialist extremism that doubles down on the boogeyman politics and scapegoating. Narcissistic and demanding, it wants all the power it can get but will not take responsibility for anything. It's hilarious; the same people who decry the Brexit vote have forgotten that Labour used to be about curbing immigration for protectionist reasons at the behest of the unions are now all about immigration. The ones who decry this Foreign Policy magazine headline:

because they voted for Brexit are the same people who think they know better than the people who voted for Brexit. It's as if left wing authoritarin paternalism is better than right wing authoritarian paternalism. And funnily enough, both sides decry the ignorance of the masses tend to be... well... educated middle class people. There's nothing more ugly in politics than this new strain of hipster leftie; they would actually be good for something if they took an interest in the people and their needs but they're not interested in the people, they're interested in their own ideals. How quickly they forget that they lost the referendum as soundly as the Remain faction Tories did.

What Corbyn means

Jeremy Corbyn has had 170 Labour MPs turn against him in a vote of no confidence. His entire tenure since his election last year has been defined by the raging and backstabbing from the Blairite faction. What nobody saw coming was the hard left turning on him as well. Why is that?

Old school shoes

Jeremy Corbyn is old school. His is the "never had it so good" generation. Those are the days he wants to bring back. The days of the devoted public servant are long gone, replaced by a class of self-serving hypocrites who vie with each other for the "right" to impose their wills on us, ostensibly for our own good. Corbyn stands against such attitudes, which doesn't make him popular. Today's Hipster Socialism is more about ideological conformity than about meeting people's needs. Make no mistake: nobody who lives and dies via boogeyman politics would be able to create the welfare state institutions we have; that requires the kind of cross-party cooperation made impossible by the petty bickering that dominates political discourse today.  Hipster Socialists don't mind tagging along with him while he's popular but when he falls out of fashion, get a splatter screen — you'll need it. The Hipsters have it in for Corbyn because the ideal of free movement appeals to their anti-establishment attitude while Corbyn is more of a realist. The way they see it, he failed to sell the Remain faction's story well enough to keep us in the EU. The truth is, he was never particularly committed to it in the first place.

Change by the people for the people

When the people voted for Corbyn, they wanted one of them in Parliament. Corbyn promised to deliver this. He still has a great deal of popular support. Can anyone imagine Angela Eagle or Tom Watson filling a hall? Some of them would struggle to fill a phone box. Despite this obvious truth, the Blairites have had their knives out for Corbyn from the moment he took office as Leader of Her Majesty's Opposition. Unwilling to listen to a public they believe they know better than, they have worked to winkle Corbyn out of office from day one. Now the Hipsters are doing that too and the hard left have joined them. They are all angry with Corbyn for failing to implement their agenda.

What now?

While the pundits were carefully picking over the divisions in the Conservative party they completely discounted the depth of division in the Labour party. It's imploding as I write, its rudder is torn off but the screw is still turning.

Corbyn is still hanging on because the unions and rank and file are still with him. When the MPs and members can't agree, what possible future can the party have? There will either be a massive purge resulting in one faction becoming dominant and taking over the party or it will limp along as a political failed state, leaving us to the tender mercies of the Tory party. I had high hopes for Labour pulling us leftwards so we'd have a middle ground again. It could still happen but only if the party is willing to remember its roots and become about the workers again. We can't afford two Thatcherite parties. One is enough.

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