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

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