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Post-Labour Politics; the death of a party.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 2:26 pm 
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I’m thinking out loud here; these thoughts aren’t completely finalised. But please bear with me.

The Labour Party is dead. What we are seeing now are the death spasms. In fact it has been dead for some time, some might say it has never truly been alive.

The PLP was formed in 1906 from the Liberals because many of the increasingly educated and vocal representatives of the working class felt that they and their interests were not adequately represented in the Liberal party. Formed to promote the interests of the working classes.

I think I can make a case that, apart from two exceptional periods, the Labour Party has never achieved that objective, and that in each case there was a considerable Liberal influence in their policies and actions. Remember that this Liberal Party was the party that passed the 1832 Reform Act, followed by the second and third Reform Acts, the Elementary Education Act 1870, land reform and disestablishment of the C of E in Ireland, and that from the 1880s Gladstone was pressing for a Concert of Europe, as opposed to the system of alliances which led to WW1. It was the Third Reform Act and creation of single-member constituencies that brought about the Lib-Lab section of the party. The Liberals passed the first Old Age Pension and other Social Security in 1906. The Poor Law was reformed to be less brutal.

This was Social Liberalism, which eventually led to the research and planning at the heart of the Welfare State.

So the first great, effective Labour reforming government, 1945-50 took its ethos from the Labour Movement but its spirit from the Social Liberals, such as Beveridge and Keynes.

The second great reforming Labour government was that of Blair and New Labour from 1997 to 2008. With such an emphasis on education it could be seen as being a continuation of those Social Liberal measures which stretched from the 1870 Act to 1944, and indeed the whole basis of Butskellism.

I know from comments made to me by people who may know, that part of the ‘Third Way’ was intended to be a rapprochement between Labour and the Social Liberals. Blair did not anticipate the scale of his success in 1997 and expected to form a Lib-Lab coalition - or more formal arrangement. He was still prepared to offer this to Ashdown in 1997, to create a liberal coalition of the broad left that would keep the conservatives (note capitalisation) out of power for a generation if not more. Unfortunately Ashdown is not bright enough to see the possibilities of that and several key Blairites such as Blunkett and Clarke would not play. So Labour continued, very successfully, on what could just as easily have been described as a Social Liberal programme. Just take away the capitals. Capital letters beset this argument.

In the meantime a group of Liberals looked back to an earlier, non-Gladstonian, economic liberalism. Or market economics as we might say. For the first time there was an overlap between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives. These Economic Liberals, the Orange Bookers, took effective control of the party under Nick Clegg, entered into coalition witht the Conservatives in 2010 and helped bring about the disastrous consequences we see around us.

Now we find ourselves in the position that the Labour Party has eschewed almost all social liberal aspiration. That is the significance of Corbyn and Momentum. The Conservative Party has never been liberal, and since Thatcher has not been social.

Yet there is still a social liberal tradition in this country. 48% voted remain, and one might think that they tended to vote that way for a pretty homogeneous cause. The Brexiters, although a larger group as a whole in fact represent a coalition of differing interests and obsessions and spectrum of commitment to their cause - the Outers, the Little Englanders, the Racists, the Profoundly Uneducated, the Protesters and the Resentful. That is why Brexit is such a problem. I think there is still a chance that it may never happen.

So in Richmond, admittedly a well off and highly educated constituency, we see the emergence of social liberalism again. Wolmar was rejected by the twin forces of tactical voting and distaste for Corbyn’s Labour. For the first time in memory the Labour Party lost its deposit. If I were Tom Brake I’d be grinning my face off just now. The Lib Dems could retake all of their South London seats with this sort of showing.

So is it time for the great social liberal coalition that Attlee embraced and Blair hoped for? Personally I think it is. I’d like to hear the thoughts of others.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 2:49 pm 
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We have only had three majority Labour governments, Attlee 1945-51, Wilson 1966-70 and Blair/Brown 1997-2010, other than that Britain has been Conservative, with the odd minority Labour government.

I think the success in 1945 was down to the peculiar conditions after World War 2 when the Conservatives were in a very weak position and associated with two big pre war failures, appeasement and mass unemployment so people wanted a new approach, also the Conservatives in 1945 were really just the Churchill show.

Wilsons 1960s government was a reaction against the sleaze and incompetence of the Macmillan/Home government of 1959-64, as was Blairs against the similarly inept Major government.

I think Britain is, intrinsically right ish and tends to see Labour as a default option for when the right cock up. They then have to make tough decisions, which often involve putting taxes up, become unpopular, and lose the next election, so the country reverts to type and returns a Conservative government

To me, a vacuum has opened up, with Brexit accentuating the two sides, the Leave side has attracted the usual Tory, Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells types, as well as racists and the generally fed up, mostly ex Labour voters in the north, a similar mentality which propelled Trump in the USA.

The other side I now feel is best led by the Lib Dems, Labour has turned in on itself, can not present a united front or offer any kind of leadership. A coalition across parties may be the only way, Lib Dem, Green, non Corbyn Labour, SNP, maybe even a few non head banging Tories?

I do hope it isn't the end of Labour, but next GE could be a collapse

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 2:56 pm 
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Yes, I think it is time. I've felt for some time that a realignment in western politics is due, not just here but in the USA and Europe too.

Simply, the old poles of right and left don't really apply any more. I remarked a few years ago that in the USA, a New England republican would probably be seen as more socially liberal than a "blue dog" southern democrat. Likewise in the UK, where I probably have more in common in terms of social attitudes with a Tory-voting professional from the home counties, than with a working class white man from the post-industrial north. The shift will come sooner or later, and the realignment will be along lines of inward or outward looking, to give it a name. There are a few obstacles though.

First, there's inertia. Resistance to change. Political reportage and commentary in the UK (especially in England) is couched entirely in terms of left vs right, Labour vs Tory. Any new party or movement has to be described and explained within that context - "further right than the Tories", or "On the hard left of Labour". Second, the media (who play a huge role) like the current arrangement, so will dismiss any new movement or alignment shift in terms of flip-flopping, "At least you know where you are with Party X" and so on. Third, it will take effort to convince serious people to leave existing parties where they know that even if they're not in power, they still have seats at the table; instead forming new organisations that have to make immediate impact and succeed or die.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 3:15 pm 
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Quote:
So is it time for the great social liberal coalition that Attlee embraced and Blair hoped for?


Well, your historical analysis holds up, and the boy Farron seems to be making the right noises, noises that you'd not conceive of Clegg, in his made-to-measure Tory suit, ever grunting. So that side of any putative social-liberal coalition would appear to be greased up and waggling its arse provocatively in the air ready for action (please forgive my imagery).

But the other half remains hopelessly mired in the festering sludge of Corbynism and seems to have its zipper stuck. I don't think I fully agree that it is totally dead yet. I think that it still, just, has a pulse.

I fear that it may well take the unprecedentedly catastrophic defeat that Labour is heading for, and the acquisition of a party leader with genuine vision - leadership viagra, if you will - to get Labour moving on this.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:08 pm 
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There are echoes of the split in the Labour party that led to the SDP. Could an alliance be made between the LibDems and those in the Labour Party who do not want to be associated with the direction Corbyn's taking?

I would vote for such a party.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 4:36 pm 
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Corbyn is a social liberal and is one of the more refreshing traits about him. I am to on social issues (as are many Tories) but I'm not an economic liberal or radical liberal but a socialist by conviction and that is the way I'll stay. The right for working people to organise through participation and unions and gain political muscle is a central pillar of a democratic system. As is the quest for economic equality over platitudes about equality of opportunity. Capitalism has deemed large swathes of our society of no use in the past 30 years and that is where we are. This PLP in-take is one of the most impressive I've seen and if Richmond Park has shown anything it is that the centre ground is there for the taking. There is only one obstacle to all this and we all know what it is.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 5:06 pm 
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In what way is he a social liberal? I've seen no evidence of it. He's an authoritarian socialist.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 5:19 pm 
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Corbyn's fairly anti-drug prohibition and favours decriminalising laws around sex work.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 5:33 pm 
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That's not what social liberal means. That's socially liberal. It's a very small part of liberalism.

A social liberal is about progress by opening up processes and structures, about freedom and development, egalitarianism. Think JS Mill.

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 9:59 pm 
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I like Corbyn a lot. I came across him numerous times when he was my MP and I was an activist. He's a decent person, incredibly dedicated to his (deprived) constituency, and is one of those principled non-team-player-intransigent-buggers that every party needs a few of. Devoted to niche causes like the plight of the Chagos Islanders and those uncomfortable issues that governments would rather avoid. But he's been a terrible leader, saved only by the fact that he's faced with an internal opposition who are so bad they can't beat Jeremy Corbyn in a leadership election.( And I'm not discounting the fact that even his own side haven't given him a chance before anyone says).

And yes, Kier Starmer would be a better leader, as would other candidates, but right now I'm fundamentally depressed about the state of democracy. I supported Ed Miliband (I may be in a minority here) He'd have been a far better PM than Cameron with some decent ideas on social justice. I saw how his leadership was undermined from within his own party, but the external forces were completely stacked against him. When Murdoch moves to the UK to coordinate the opposition for the week before the election, when the Telegraph runs CCHQ press releases verbatim rather than act like a newspaper, when the Mail questions his family's loyalty to the country, it's beyond complaints that the press is a bit biased. It's about a fundamental undermining of the democratic process. And that's before we look at the biggest selling newspaper in the UK registering as a campaigning entity in order to fund a political campaign, rather than report on it, and the Mail denouncing the judiciary as enemies of the people...

We've had Brexit, a situation in which half the country bought a load of nonsense, not caring because it was a chance blame foreigners and to stick it to someone percived as doing better than them, and unleash their inner bigot. And the US election where the fact that the winner is a incoherent, racist, misogynist, ranting gobshite, with the temperament of a toddler, is what's attractive to 50m voters who've treated their election like some amusing reality TV show.

I used to buy into the idea that the Left won the social argument and the Right the economic one. Actually I now think that the Left wins the social and economic arguments. However, no one is interested in debate or argument in good faith. It's all suck it up buttercuck snowflake, you lost, get over it.

But what can we do? We have facts on side, but as has been pointed out, we're bringing facts to a culture war.


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PostPosted: Fri Dec 02, 2016 10:47 pm 
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Catkins wrote:
I like Corbyn a lot. I came across him numerous times when he was my MP and I was an activist. He's a decent person, incredibly dedicated to his (deprived) constituency, and is one of those principled non-team-player-intransigent-buggers that every party needs a few of. Devoted to niche causes like the plight of the Chagos Islanders and those uncomfortable issues that governments would rather avoid. But he's been a terrible leader, saved only by the fact that he's faced with an internal opposition who are so bad they can't beat Jeremy Corbyn in a leadership election.( And I'm not discounting the fact that even his own side haven't given him a chance before anyone says).

And yes, Kier Starmer would be a better leader, as would other candidates, but right now I'm fundamentally depressed about the state of democracy. I supported Ed Miliband (I may be in a minority here) He'd have been a far better PM than Cameron with some decent ideas on social justice. I saw how his leadership was undermined from within his own party, but the external forces were completely stacked against him. When Murdoch moves to the UK to coordinate the opposition for the week before the election, when the Telegraph runs CCHQ press releases verbatim rather than act like a newspaper, when the Mail questions his family's loyalty to the country, it's beyond complaints that the press is a bit biased. It's about a fundamental undermining of the democratic process. And that's before we look at the biggest selling newspaper in the UK registering as a campaigning entity in order to fund a political campaign, rather than report on it, and the Mail denouncing the judiciary as enemies of the people...

We've had Brexit, a situation in which half the country bought a load of nonsense, not caring because it was a chance blame foreigners and to stick it to someone percived as doing better than them, and unleash their inner bigot. And the US election where the fact that the winner is a incoherent, racist, misogynist, ranting gobshite, with the temperament of a toddler, is what's attractive to 50m voters who've treated their election like some amusing reality TV show.

I used to buy into the idea that the Left won the social argument and the Right the economic one. Actually I now think that the Left wins the social and economic arguments. However, no one is interested in debate or argument in good faith. It's all suck it up buttercuck snowflake, you lost, get over it.

But what can we do? We have facts on side, but as has been pointed out, we're bringing facts to a culture war.


Let's not forget that Corbyn was probably the most compelling candidate form the 4 when he first won the leadership.
That says less about him than the dearth of potential leaders in the party at the time.
It's not a problem limited to MPs either; part of the rise of the SNP is down to the utterly piss poor rabble they've stood in Scotland.

I think it's a tragedy that Ed resigned after the last election.
He had the makings of a good leader, smart, had direction and was never far from raising uncomfortable truths for the Tories to deflect.
His press reception was something quite disgusting, and it really takes the biscuit for the press to concoct anti-semitic labour scares after the way they acted.
We remember the cartoons, the headlines, the "stab in the back" myth.

I regret that's all gone and the party is functioning as a rump.
I do fear that UKIP will gain a second wind - propelled by the popular press, who rather enjoyed the power they gained during the referendum.
I'm also not sure whether there is a way back for Labour, but I hope there is, because I recall some of the conniving tricks of the LibDems past.
Until the rise of UKIP they were the Tories second eleven.
Some MPs are great, but I wouldn't depend on their party for effective opposition.

So where is the future: I honestly don't know - and thinking about it points to despair.
The Tories are not only unpleasant, but incompetent at being unpleasant.
Labour looks to be in its death throes - through that's been predicted before.
If anybody is in control it's a small cabal of tabloid editors - and there's no way that May will bring them to heel.
And post Farage UKIP looks to be a smaller, but increasingly unpleasant presence - promoted by the tabloid editors to keep May "honest", but also a rallyiong point for increasing hordes of BNP and EDL types.

My own personal lifeboat - Scottish independence, wouldn't be my first choice, and is no longer withing Scotland's power to grant.
The other - head back to Europe to work, is blocked off by famliy, and work circumstances and utterly fucked by differential housing costs and the fall in the pound.


Stay strong Comrades.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:20 pm 
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Time makes fools of us all - eh readers!


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 8:53 pm 
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The centre ground is still for the taking. Labour made in-roads in this election but its still all to play for. Corbyn's got a lot of work to do and needs people who know what they're doing to spot the snares. Although Jez is becoming quite the fox himself.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:08 pm 
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And we've still got to win another sixty seats next time round.

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 18, 2017 10:24 pm 
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They were talking today (I think for the first time) about the problem with non-tariff barriers. I reckon they're going to go full on Single Market soonish. By then I think the damage will be evident enough that they'll keep the "heartlands".


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