Thursday, 15 September 2016

Labour Leadership Stuff Part 2

A wall of beige.

In the last post, I waffled on about why a load of people are fed up with politics and why Jeremy Corbin got elected as Labour Part Leader. In this post, I'm going to waffle on about what's happened since.

So, given that I'm quite a lefty and now Labour has a lefty leader, why am I not joining as a member? Well, to cut a long story short, the Labour Party has been hit by an apocalyptic shitstorm of political dickery. I mean, since Corbin's election, there's been a lot of negative press but, while unfair, that's simply part of the political ecology of the UK. A large part of the press has always been right wing and quite openly hostile to anything with the vaguest whiff of Socialism about it. We get it, we're used to it. But what's changed now is that the same hostility is now apparent within the party.

As I see it, there are two sides at play here. On the one hand, we have those who believe that the party needs to command the political middle ground, because they believe that this is the only way to secure a majority of votes and get back into power. On the other side are those who believe that they should be returning to their Socialist roots.

Of the two, I'm personally much more on the side of that second group. Here's the bullet-pointed whys:

- Capitalism doesn't work in the interests of the majority. In fact, what seems to happen is that wealth, and ownership of things that generate wealth, is transferred from those who have least of it to those who have most already. Inequality is the result, and the public right now are feeling that things are pretty fucking unequal.

- The public generally agrees with Socialist principles. There's a lot of support for things like nationalising the railways. Our privatised industries seem to be causing more and more problems - they're costing more and yet delivering less. The principles of the NHS (free at the point of use) are overwhelmingly supported.

- If Labour moves rightwards again, what really seperates them from the Conservatives? What is the point of the party? And in Opposition, how are they going to act as any kind of brake against the Tories when there's so little difference between them?

A Labour Leadership Debate

And now, a tangent. I used to play an online game called Eve Online. In some ways, it was quite brutal in that when you died, you normally lost everything you had with you at the time. You could also be blown up by another person for no reason and with no provocation. As the game grew, some players, particularly newer ones, would petition for changes that would make things a little more forgiving. This was often passionately resisted by others, with the argument that the unforgiving nature was what made the game unique - if that's not for you, there's plenty of other games that are easier. Just don't change this thing we love and make it like everything else.

The reason for that little tangent is that I think there's something very similar going on in the Labout camp right now. At a time when there's little trust in politicians, a lot of people feel quite protective towards Jeremy Corbin - don't change him, if you want something more right wing, there's other political parties. Just leave us with this one bit of old-school Socialism.

Owen Smith, on the other hand... well, I don't really know what to say about him. At a time when people want a change of  both style and substance in politics, I don't think Owen Smith can represent that. During the Victoria Derbyshire debate I watched a few days ago, there were too many instances where you could see him doing things like quoting Corbyn out of context, avoiding direct answers, and doing all the things that turned so many people off politics in the first place.

"But Owen, you said I could be... oh alright then"

It doesn't help him that his leadership bid has come on the back of a vicious wave of resignations. Now, if you have genuine problems with the leadership of your party, by all means resign - but the recent resignations seemed a little more calculated than that. There was the suspicious regularity of them - no sudden rush, they seemed to be drawn out in order to keep them in the news for the maximum amount of time. Considering the near-constant opposition from his own party that Jeremy Corbin has faced since his election as Leader, to have that series of resignations just before Angela Eagle did whatever she thought she was doing and Owen Smith decided he'd quite like to be Leader... well, again, that's the kind of politics that people really don't want. It's the type of politics that drew so many to support Corbyn in the first place. It's telling that that majority of people who were undecided at the beginning of the Victoria Derbyshire debate were, at the end, preferring Corbyn to Smith.

I think this is a deciding moment for Labour, certainly one where my own support will be decided. If Owen Smith and what he represents to me, win out then I think it's a sign that the Labour Party has abandoned the values it had, and is now concerned simply with winning power at all costs. And if Corbyn wins, then it'll be a sign for me that Labour has a chance of still being relevant to people who really need a political party that represents them.

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