I know ‘everyday’ politics bores most people (few more than me) but the current contest for the UK Labour Party leadership is about a great deal more than which no-hoper takes on the job of opposing the Conservative Party for the next five years. It is, by turns, a microcosm of falling standards in our culture, a study in rigid denial, forced ‘equality’ before ability – and a potential constitutional disaster in the making.
One could simply write the candidates off as a joke. But they’re worse than a joke: they’re even worse than a very badly told joke with a self-satisfied grin as offered up by the thirty or more profoundly unfunny comics we see on TV satire panels every week. As Bernard Manning would’ve put it, “they’re about as funny as a f***ing burning orphanage”. They are, I’m afraid, a triumph of utter, self-unaware narcissistic betrayal of those left behind in Britain….a gaggle of faux-radical élitists who remember every slight from the past, repeat the syntax of the 1970s, and learn nothing that might help those they represent in the future.
The morning after the humiliation of Corbynista Mobentum Labour on December 12th, Alastair Campbell – the original spin-doctor who has done more to deprave political communications than anyone – hilariously tweeted that it was “time for a period of mature reflection” in the Party about the causes of the defeat. What actually happened was that Smoothy Blairite Labour and Slovenly Bonkers Labour immediately put up each’s obviously more-of-the-same candidate. These are, in turn, Keir Starmer and Rebecca Long-Bailey. The first is a personality-free corrupt technocrat, and the second a vaguely likeable lady who looks like a Fresher turning up for her first term at teachers’ training college.
Also putting in a bid to prove the impossible (that they have electoral appeal beyond the gutter) are Jess Phillips and the indescribably unpleasant Emily Thornberry.
If you know a single original policy the Four Headless Chickens of the Apocalypse have come up with, do let me know. Needless to say, all four are unrepentant Remainers.
From the vantage point of today, Starmer looks likely to win easily. If he does, he will be the first Westminster Party leader one could describe afterwards as ‘the clear loser’….in the sense that he is a born also-ran, and will lose the next election if he remains as leader.
I choose this shot of Keir Starmer in today’s Slogpost because it is his trademark visage: blank, puzzled and hurt. Giving the impression most of the time that you’re about to burst into tears isn’t the starting point many politicians would want. It seems hard to believe that this bland apparatchik is the front runner. But believe it we must.
Given the chance, I imagine Andrew Marr will savage him, because Red Andy has already decided that the right winner is Jess Phillips, a woman who makes Harriet Harman look credible…and yet, one whom Marr has already described as “the most charismatic person in the Labour Party”. Poor Andrew, bless his copy of Socialist Worker, has never fully recovered from his stroke. Would you want to choose between Jess and Emily on the charisma dimension? I would – but only if it involved a nude mud-wrestling contest.
The other two – Clive Lewis and Lisa Nandy – well, do you know anything about them? Nobody does, and that’s their problem.
As only she can, Polly Tonybee in the Guardian yesterday hit her thumbnail on the head by asserting that ‘The leadership race, after the shock of election defeat, can bring together left and right, and jolt the gloating Tories’. I have a female friend in London I’ve known for ages, and about four or five times a year I ring her up to ask her advice on one problem or another. Whatever she suggests, I do the opposite. She is the anti-oracle sans pareil.
So it is with Polly Toynbee. Whatever dear old Polly thinks, bet the farm on the alternative outcome. Along with her one-time colleague the irrepressibly pompous Michael White, she has done more to destroy traditional Labour than most.
The reality is this: whether Kier’s Tears or Becky Tribune triumph later in the year, the loser’s supporters will machinate more than ever against the winner. It has become a hallmark of the Western Left in general, and the UK Labour Party in particular over the last forty years, that they are congenitally incapable of losing with good grace and then getting behind the project.
Labour has always had two wings: the pluralist democratic one, and the thinly-disguised dictatorial one. It still has two wings in 2020; the only difference today is that they are both equally intolerant, incompetent, and in tatters. The Old Bird has not even the will or energy to fly away and die quietly somewhere.
But that still leaves us with the problem I first raised here nine years ago: we desperately need an effective Opposition in some form.
I have come to believe that such a thing – perhaps better termed The Radical Reform Resistance – can’t work inside the current elective FPTP Parliamentary constituency model…and the last thing we need is another catechismic ideology to join neoliberalism, socialism and Islamism.
The danger isn’t just that Labour will tear itself limb from limb while the real BoJo agenda goes forth to multiply our problems: it is equally that the Momentum/Antifa tendency will use the situation to justify increasing levels of violence…..and may well align themselves with radical Islam in so doing.
In that context, the real “British People” (and no – by that I don’t mean ‘white’) must be given a decent, pacific and radical alternative that has risen beyond spitting at them in the cause of its glorious ideology.
I use the word “must” there in the sense of urgent necessity, rather than the Owen Jones or John McDonnel sense of disinhibited and tediously demanding fantasy masquerading as reason. But increasingly these days, I use it with a sense of fading hope. Among those I know, and as the result of broad exposure to the internet, I see a lot of shoutey people, but not many ‘let’s get on with it’ folks.
Mainly, I see a disturbing (albeit understandable) number of distracted, tired, cynical and old people alongside The Coming Generation of 30-50 year olds who have not the first glimmer of a clue whatTF people like me are on about. It is the generation beneath them – my grandchildren – that represent our potential saviours now…perhaps guided by the thinking Sixty-somethings.
Let the Boristas and ever-overconfident Faragists bask in the honeymoon glow of their Brave New World. The Repo cloud insists they are wrong. The Iranian storm suggests they just might be delusional.
The Labour Party has learned nothing from the General Election. It has only the dreary Chukka Umunna process of either empty Starmer technocracy to offer, or the wearisome syntax of Long-Bailey’s ‘Hard Right on the March’ nonsense. The candidates putting themselves forward today are so many pall bearers art-directing the gaudy bouquets on a coffin.
There is a forward-looking alternative to the failed isms of the past. I leave it below, as ever, for your consideration.