Sunday, 26 February 2017

What happens after Copeland?

The recriminations have been going on the last three days what happened in Copeland is everybody's fault but mostly Jeremy Corbyn. Or so say everybody who hates the Labour Party who hates leadership of the party who hates the possibility that there might be a socialist party in Britain trying to break out of the inertia of the last two decades.

What is most depressing is the endless criticism of Jeremy Corbyn and the endless blame game that so many in the Parliamentary Labour Party and elsewhere seek to put on Corbyn. What is odd is that all those who call for a new leader are reluctant to name that new leader he appears to be the leader whose name we dare not speak of. It is a safe there is a spectre haunting the Labour Party and that is the one that we dare not speak its name but we imply that he is some sort of Prince over the water or some businessman/property owner/world leader in exile whose name inspires fear and loathing throughout the country.

It is time to make it clear that what happened at Copeland was nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn or the changes that are taking place in the Labour Party. What happened Copeland is as everyone seems to agree a result of the alienation of working people from what was once the People's party. How did that happen everyone is asking but come up with only one explanation "it must be that dangerous Islington radical with a beard and a history of standing up for such causes as international justice, defending the health service, fighting racism, opposing monopoly capitalism and representing ordinary working people.

Copeland was once a seat of one Jack Cunningham, he was the son of a huge power broker who was a leading figure in the GMB union and by way of remembering a friend of T Dan Smith once big cheese in Newcastle. The fact that Jack the Lad was parachuted into Copeland of course was merely a coincidence. If you want an explanation of what went wrong in Copeland there is only one word that can explain it and that is Scotland. Jeremy Corbyn was not responsible for the loss of over 50 seats in Scotland, what happened there was the people of Scotland were fed up with being treated simply as voting fodder for a Labour government and the Labour Party that took them for granted and gave nothing in return.

Until the Labour Party nationally and locally understand what Jeremy Corbyn means when he argues that the party needs to be built up once again from the bottom, from the local communities organising, agitating and educating then the Labour Party is doomed to be irrelevant to most people's lives. It is interesting how badly UKIP did in Stoke a place where they were expected to do well

There is no doubt that there were many people in Stoke who believed in the right-wing ideology of UKIP, after all not so long ago that Stoke had a bunch of BNP councillors and indeed it had the highest brexit vote in the country. But the reason that Stoke did not go far right is probably because UKIP chose as their candidate someone not from the town but rather parachuted in because he was the party leader. The people Stoke had already had that experience of someone being parachuted in, Tristan Hunt, who decamped to the Victoria and Albert Museum a job approved by the Tory government was like so many others of late in the Labour Party. He was the chosen candidate of Lord Mandelson and the Blairite clique. I suspect the folk of Stoke new what sort of candidate Nuttall would be, they are ready had that experience.

The lesson of Copeland that needs to be learnt is that the party will only succeed when it selects Parliamentary candidates and indeed local council candidates who actually represent the people they claim to. They need to come from the communities that they wish to serve, they need to know the real issues that confront real people daily and not what the press office and spin doctors of the party tell them.

Much of the criticism that has been levelled at the current leadership has been prefixed by the notion that the leadership is out of touch. But if you live and work in the community then you know what the issues are that concern people and if you live in a working-class district then those problems are there on your doorstep every day.

That is not an ideological position it is old-fashioned common sense, it is the sort of common sense that socialism was born out of, when Keir Hardie was elected in a Welsh mining constituency it was because he knew about the lives of miners, after all he had been a miner himself.

When you look at the grandees of the Labour Party or rather new Labour Party what you see is indeed a political elite. The fact that many working people have seen through the contempt with which the Mandelson's and the Blairs and all like them hold working people in, then the rise of populism of the right cannot be ignored. But you do not defeat such populism by appeasing it but rather challenge it and remind people that we still live in a class ridden society and the only people who can resolve the problems of working people are people themselves

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The world has gone mad or so it seems

This is an experimental blog, I am not writing it I am in fact dictating it to a machine that is called Dragon, and so far so good.

Talking to a machine seems more sensible at the moment than watching the news or even reading a newspaper everything seems to be going to hell in a hand cart. It's hard to believe that the United States, the place where people fled to escape tyranny, intolerance, hatred and all that could be found in the old world. Who could believe that the country that called for the huddled masses to seek sanctuary could end up with a bizarre president like Donald Trump. Of course America has a dreadful history it massacred the indigenous people set about creating unfettered capitalism and it destroyed everything in its way.

America, has been a contradiction since the founding fathers laid the basis of a nation that was in many ways a product of the Enlightenment. Of course even founding fathers were not perfect, even Thomas Jefferson owned slaves and my favourite president John Adams was not above a bit of political chicanery but compared to what we have now he was indeed a shining light in mankind's history.

It's hard to believe that the country that has so many different peoples, but has a history of almost tolerance- you have of course to remember Phil  Ochs memorable song "Mississippi find some other country to be part of". America cannot forget or ignore the tragedy that was and in some ways still is slavery. But for a few years it seemed that the American people understood that dreadful history and was prepared to make changes to ensure that Afro-Americans, that Latinos, that Native Americans would eventually be treated with equality and justice.

As someone who hated the American hegemony who objected most strongly to American imperialism who objected to the exploitation of other people's by the US military it did all seem to be changing. There was a time when after the Vietnam War there was a dawning in popular consciousness that America was no longer the world's policeman, why it could even elect an Afro American as president, there was a moment in history quite recently that things seemed to be getting better.

But all that fell apart last November when the political establishment of the Democratic party elected as its candidate another waste of space. There was a time when it would have been possible to have welcomed Hillary Clinton as a real change but that time came and went and we were left with just another opportunistic mediocrity. Had the Democrats listened to the mood of the people and perhaps given Bernie Saunders, the Vermont Senator the chance to bring a new political vision to the jaded elite and enthuse the millions of young people who are believed that Obama was merely the start of a new process of political involvement then who knows what could have happened.

However we all know what happened we know that a cynical manipulation of public opinion a juxtaposition of the notion that a billionaire property developer somehow could speak for unemployed factory workers and the urban dispossessed is frankly absurd.
Horror of horrors, as I was reaching the end of this near perfect blog, no spell checks nothing going wrong the phone rang as i was reaching my conclusion, and the dictation process ended.So you may never know how far I think the world has gone mad!

Monday, 6 February 2017

How much bleaker can it get?

There have been many dark times during my sojourn on this planet.Like so many others I thought the time of the Cuban Missile crisis in 1961 was a highpoint of grimness.If you remember it was a time when a new and inexperienced US president, advised by such halfwits as J Edgar Hoover and John Foster Dulles and even his younger brother-the US Attorney-General and onetime  assistant counsel to Sen. Joe. McCarthy.
The Russian leader N>S> Khrushchev seemed at the time to be a bit of an adventurer but in hindsight played a canny hand, and by removing some missiles from Cuba got a guarantee from the Americans not to invade Cuba,and that agreement seems to have held-until now!
That was then and now is now.
Nobody needs a rehearsal of the tragedy that has occurred in the US.The cleverest and most sinister election campaign has resulted in a 'President' that makes Nixon and Reagan seem moderate and reasonable and even gives George W Bush a patina of intelligence.
Things must be bad when billionaire Koch,principal funder of the tea party numpties has called together a bunch of fellow billionaire right wing donors to find ways of shutting down Trump.
Even the most reactionary free market zealots have spotted that protectionism,a trade war,closing borders and picking fights even with the right wing media is not healthy for the good old American capitalist system.
The red necks may well have rallied behind the demagogue and they may well believe that he will open all the mines in West Virginia and the steel  plants in Ohio but the masters of the universe know better and as a more savvy class of capitalist know that their favoured system of exploitation requires the international movement of both capital and labour.
Probably something a frequently bankrupt property developer was unaware of, but even he might have noticed that one of the auto companies he wants to talk to is called 'Fiat-Chrysler'-bit of a clue in the name Donald.
But then of course he shuns elites,preferring to hunker down with his red-neck buddies and those of his supporters in the white sheets and the pointy hoods!
Why I'm so depressed is not simply Trumpy, I have confidence that the American people will take care of him,sooner I hope than later -impeachment is one of my favourite words, and Tom Jefferson and John Adams put enough hurdles in the constitution to screw up any passing illiterate narcissist.
My worries are not simply   lodged in the White House,the contagion is far wider, the arrogance of the Brexiteers and the growing strength of the far right in Europe.
there is indeed a spectre haunting Europe right now and it 'aint socialism, it's national socialism.
What we are seeing step by step is not a revolt against elites, not a resistance to the haves from the have-nots it is pure unadulterated racism! and for the moment Trump and Farage and those like them have given respectability to Le Pen and the rest of the fascist rabble throughout Europe.
And in turn the pressure is on to give way at the edges- Labour politicians burbling about 'immigration' and 'controlling numbers' and the Tories sneaking in little bits of legislation to satisfy the Daily Mail and the Daily Express.
Curb health tourism today is the big idea, although they have to admit that it costs 1/1000 of the NHS budget, and will almost certainly cost more to administer as the BMA (hardly the natural base of the SWP) point out 'implementation will cause chaos in the health service'
I understand tat the former Archbishop of Canterbury,Lord Carey,thinks we should,nt be beastly to the Donald.
The dead parrot sketch lives and breathes after all!