Sunday, 2 July 2017

If Labour is the answer, then what is the question?

For all the rhetoric, Labour is still in denial.  The pathetic mewling of Emily Thornberry, justifying the sacking of three front-bench politicians would be ironic if the charge of "virtue signalling" were not much more closely identified with the tendency to assume that you can turn the political clock back half a century to a world where certainty and Labour vanguardism could still be projected without a sense of participating in one of the interminable television compilations that pad out uninspiring schedules.

Labour's support is brittle and may become increasingly grudging.  Evidence from recent polling suggests that their voters are sceptical of the leadership's gavotte of idiocy with Theresa May on Europe - the paradox is that this chimes with an instinctive grasp that rebalancing the economy and society cannot proceed in parallel with the destructive idiocy that Corbyn and his acolytes parade as the "will of the people".  The new Stalinists parade their single interpretation of truth, pushing the trope that dissent or recognition that the world moves on will undermine the coming revolution, with much the same unevidenced fervour demonstrated by the snivelling Brexit right.

In a more febrile political world, where old loyalties are mutable and where the urgency is to resist a right-wing, corporatist coup and rolling back conservatism, Labour's tactics may well turn out to be delusional.  The advance of insurgency politics provided the upset that was inflicted on conventional politics by the General Election, but it could equally result in a further shift when it becomes clear that the emotional punch packed by Labour's articulation of the grievance and frustration after forty years of Thatcherite lunacy is not matched by adaptability, empathy or the ability to build wider coalitions.

The Westminster electoral system punishes insurgency from outside its hegemony.  Labour's rise in 2017 may be pushing the limits, but there is no likelihood of a British En Marche emerging in the near future at national level within these confines.  However it is equally unlikely that the "one more heave" scenario will propel Labour into power without a further collapse in the SNP and Tory votes - the latter are doing their utmost to avoid the former through their bribery of the DUP and the vacuous exclusion of the devolved nations from discussions of the common future.  Peak Tory decline does not automatically translate into the forward march of Labour.

Politicians are, generally correctly, distrusted.  Blair and Cameron epitomised the sense of entitlement  - rigid party discipline and control of messaging worked where you had majorities that would permit the Corbyns of this world to rebel and maintain your control.  Cameron and May, in thrall to the cretinous, sub-normal fascists of the DUP and the Peter Bone tendency, have demonstrated that the limits of party boundaries and party wrangling betray the national interest to the extent where arraigning them for treason is more than just a debating proposition.

Corbyn does not appear to have learned this lesson, with his attack-dog apologists spewing out more venom over 49 MPs who voted against the whip than they do against the Tories.  Easy targets go largely ignored - the corruption and venality of Tory councils and their outsourcing, blame-ducking should have been the single dominant story this week.  While we all want to see the end of this squatting, squalid maladministration, a march on Kensington and Chelsea Town Hall and the defenestration not merely of the Cabinet but the entire putrid horde of Tories would have resonated much more than an internal spat.  Sadiq Khan's call for Commissioners to run the council, and any others found to have negligently endangered their citizens, would have resonated even more if it had been embraced by the national leadership.

When you have a squatting government, without a mandate or a policy, the aim should be to harry them at all costs.  It is not virtue-signalling to test the water on the convictions of those within the Tories who watch in impotent rage as the lunatics sell out our future.  It is the act of an irresponsible egotism to assume that cross-party and pluralistic approaches are somehow a sign of weakness, and that the only legitimate expression of opposition comes from Labour - where other parties and opinions are subsumed within a single, intolerant narrative where dissent is punished.  This is not strength, but an insecurity that threatens the future.

Adapting to the next eighteen months, where, as the folly and consequences of its misinterpretation of the referendum result unfold, is a challenge that Labour needs to rise to - rather than hoping that the blame will fall solely on the Tories.  Every time that the leadership permits the Tories an uncontested victory will make this even harder than it is already.  Labour is already assuming that its dominance will perpetuate the holding of noses and continued support from those who oppose the evil of the current government.  In six months' time, as the consequences of this approach become clearer, this will be a much harder sell.

This depressing prospect could undermine all the good that the opposition parties achieved in the wider context - shifting debate away from competitive tax cuts towards the definition of society and its obligations.  More people voted for parties of hope, rather than nihilism - and unless there is a recognition that Labour's future prospects depend on both mobilisation and generosity, as well as honesty around the consequences of economic catastrophe, the fragmentation and regrouping may hand the Tories not just 2022 but the next decade on a plate.  Complicity in this does not require uncritical rallying around Labour, but an honest acceptance of debate.  Three weeks after a great success, Labour is already stuttering.

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