Monday, 27 March 2017

The “soft coup” might be on, but it surely ain’t from the right

For weeks now, the party’s left has been whispering about a “soft coup”. Ah, the old Soviet tactic, much beloved of today’s Vladimir Putin: confuse things by accusing your opponents of whatever you are up to yourself. Oh, and make them feel under attack, so they close ranks.

There is a coup going on, but it is clearly not the evil Blairites named by John McDonnell.

As revelations about Jon Lansman’s declared strategy for Momentum as an alternative power base to the party itself became public, it seems Monday night’s PLP meeting was converted into something of a showdown.

Corbyn jeered. Watson cheered. The PLP, depressed and muted for months since Corbyn’s re-election, suddenly found its voice.

And it was that same Tom Watson leading the charge – a loyalist clearly adept at unearthing the truth but in this case apparently with a couple of years’ time-lag.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

John McDonnell has finally lost it

It was a cold February morning, when the Shadow Chancellor finally gave in to his demons and went “full conspiracy theory”.

To be fair, he probably didn’t feel too well. Labour had just suffered a “historic” by-election defeat at the hands of the governing party, something unheard of in thirty-five years and with the biggest pro-incumbent vote increase in a half-century.

It all had to be, of course, the fault of the Blairites. Particularly the man himself for his recent intervention over Brexit, who will shortly celebrate a decade of, er, not being the leader of his party. Not to mention Lord Mandelson, the incarnation of all evil to a Corbynite.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Ian Lavery should not be Labour’s Elections Coordinator. Or anything coordinator, with his toxic past

Since Jeremy Corybn’s rise to prominence, there has been a seemingly never-ending succession of skeletons pulled out of the closets of senior Corbynites, to the delight of Tory press officers everywhere.

There was the relationships of Corbyn himself with Holocaust denier Paul Eisen, and with Hamas terrorists; John McDonnell’s outspoken pro-IRA stance; the support of a motion supporting denial of the Kosovo genocide by both; the suspension and reinstatement of MP Naz Shah over anti-Semitic remarks; the suspension of Momentum vice-chair Jackie Walker over the same; the well-known Stalin apologism of Corbynites Seumas Milne and Andrew Murray; and so on. Doubtless the Tories are currently holding fire on a number of the more juicy ones, keeping their powder dry for 2020.

But the connecting thread between all these embarrassments has been clear: no matter how senseless or unsavoury, they have all been essentially connected, in the minds of the perpetrators at least, to political positions.

For example, the connections with anti-Semites are always justified on the grounds that the people in question are merely anti-Israel (of course!) The IRA connection? Because they were romantic freedom-fighters, naturally, who happened to kill people. And the Stalin connection because, well, Communism wasn’t all bad, was it? However dire the story, there was always some kind of contorted political justification which allowed the people involved to continue to look at themselves in the mirror the following morning.

In contrast, this was clearly not the case with Ian Lavery. Lavery is Corbyn’s new Elections Coordinator and the man in charge of every set of elections, we presume, from now until Labour is inevitably decimated in 2020.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Corbyn, Trump and Churchill

Perhaps a counter-intuitive observation, but Trump's nearest bedfellow in the UK, apart from the obvious Farage, is Jeremy Corbyn. 

Like Trump, Corbyn is a populist "anti-politician", although his populism only extends to his own membership and a handful of left radicals in the population outside it. Despite being on the left rather than the right, Corbyn agrees with Trump policies on non-interventionism, economic isolationism, anti-"elitism" and has the same attitude to twisting the truth for the greater good of the cause, always blaming the media for bias when caught out. It is a perfect Molotov-Ribbentrop meeting of far left with far right.

But we should also mark the desolate triumph of Trump. It is difficult to find any kind of precedent in America's history of a person so unsuited to office, from his antics as a documented sex pest, to his ignorance of history and geopolitics, his inability to avoid conflicts of personal and political interest and his simple habit of casual lying. Or his seeming lack of value - perhaps unique among presidents of the last century or so - for democracy itself.

Trump has, reportedly, reinstated a bust of Churchill in his office, citing him as an "inspiration". It also seems clear that Churchill would have despised Trump, not only as a great man might reasonably despise a little one unexpectedly catapulted to high office; but because Trump seems intent on undermining the two great post-war pillars that Churchill's work helped create: NATO and the EU.

Churchill was, of course, as well as a statesman, an accomplished historian. It is his sense of history which is so desperately lacking in the politicians of today. Those few who do will recognise the whiff of the 1930s - his wilderness years - in today's political climate; a period when populations were also desperate for a change.

Trump is not Hitler; not yet, anyway. But the news today, that not only is his Secretary of State hopelessly compromised but the entire team of senior civil servants under him have refused to take part in this charade of a useful place for America in the world, augurs terribly for the free world over the next few years, in the face of a resurgent and aggressive Russia appeased by its leader.

This is not a bunch of whining liberals complaining about George W Bush, a man who, for all his flaws, had a sense of decency and duty. This is people of all political stripes aghast at the victory of a man who appears to have no principles at all.

These are, to be frank, dark times. We can only hope that, somewhere, there is a Churchill observing from the sidelines, who can at some point step forward and bring some sense back to the post-war order.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

The by-election boom is a flashing red light for Labour

Coming hot on the heels of that of Jamie Reed, the resignation of Tristram Hunt may not be a huge surprise to many. A decent and politically-sensible member of the House, if not the obvious next leader he was sometimes billed as. In the end, it is perhaps inevitably those who least see politics as their true vocation, who soonest see more attractive things on the horizon.

But there’s an important take-away here. It’s simply not normal to have three MPs resign their seats in a month. Unless they are pushed, seriously ill or are going for another political job*, it’s really, really unusual for them to “just resign”.

The fact that three by-elections have been caused in the last month through MPs “just resigning” – two Labour, one Tory – is not just unusual, it’s unprecedented in recent political history.

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