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Showing posts from August, 2016

Was New Labour really 'neo-liberal'?

If we created one of those ever-fashionable ‘word clouds’ from the posts of Corbynistas on social media, two phrases would probably appear larger and bolder than many of the others. One would be ‘neo-liberal’ and the other would be ‘MSM’ – their short-hand for what they describe as ‘mainstream media’.
The first of these two terms does have a meaning, but one which has become increasingly debased through misuse. The second is vacuous and means nothing at all unless you’re a fully-fledged conspiracy theorist.  So let’s leave the MSM just for the moment – I’ll maybe return to it another post – and focus instead on this idea of neo-liberalism.
Activist and Guardian journalist George Monbiot has described it is an ‘ideology that dominates our lives’ and says it ‘redefines citizens as consumers’. In the neo-liberal world, he argues, ‘tax and regulation should be minimised, public services should be privatised’. 
I don’t particularly disagree with his definition and interpretation.
The ‘n…

Back to the Future: Part Two

In the second section of my two-part blog, I trace the origins of Corbyn’s political antics today right back to their source: the 1980s.
As a teenager back in 1985, I spent a summer as a volunteer, helping to organise a peace camp in the unlikely setting of Clapham Common, south London. It was a project of Youth CND and the idea was to bring together a team of activists, who would then fan out around the local area and get involved in various small-scale demonstrations and meetings.
The bizarre plan was all made possible by the agreement of Lambeth Council, which consented to the erection of what must have been dozens of tents and a fairly sizeable marquee for the best part of a week.  I remember the Mayor rolling up in a posh car and the Leader of Lambeth – one ‘Red’ Ted Knight – hosting a reception for us at which he made a speech about the importance of ‘fighting for peace’.
No doubt many local residents would have felt Lambeth’s time, money and resources might have been better sp…

Corbynistas claim the 1940s as their own. Think instead of the 1980s.

What a fool I’ve been.
I seem to have spent a fair proportion of the past year debating with supporters of Jeremy Corbyn online.
I know.
It’s time I’ll never get back. But because I care about the Labour Party, I just can’t help myself.
As I’ve said in previous posts, the Corbynistas are the oddest collection of people, who defend their cause with a religious fervour. They are frequently bombastic and blinkered, often rude and rambunctious and, very occasionally, soppy and sentimental.
But sadly, one fairly common trait is a very muddled sense of history.
Many people who spent recent years slagging off the Labour Party are now members of it and claiming disingenuously to have its best interests at heart. And quite a few don’t really seem to know very much about previous Labour governments.
We realise, of course, that the name Blair is synonymous from their point of view with ‘war criminal’. I’m not going to get into the ins and outs of the Iraq issue here. Chilcot – remember him? – knoc…

How moderate MPs have ended up dragging Labour leftwards

One of the things we automatically assumed about the Labour leadership race was that it provided one last chance to drag the party back into the mainstream. Jeremy Corbyn would be faced down by concerned MPs with a clear political agenda to make Labour electable once again. And if they failed – and Jez’s numerical strength within the party proved too much – at least the rebels would have laid down a clear marker for the possible launch of a centre-left alternative.
But something rather bizarre and unforeseen appears to be taking place.
Rather than shifting the centre of gravity back to the middle ground, this election is actually pushing Labour even further to the left.
Owen Smith, the MP for Pontypridd, managed to persuade his colleagues in the Parliamentary Labour Party that he should be chosen as the challenger to Corbyn, rather the much more experienced Angela Eagle.  Part of his pitch was that he could appeal more readily to the ‘soft’ Jez fans, who admired the current leader’s …