Friday, 22 January 2016

Seven rubbish defences for Labour’s defence policy review

While the party membership has been convulsed by the burgeoning civil war over the Corbyn leadership phenomenon, policy has – understandably – taken something of a back seat.

However, in recent weeks it has been in the news over one area. Surely, you say, it must be how to rework Labour’s economic policy to make it more electable? After all, aside from the public’s lack of personal engagement with Ed Miliband, that’s the factor generally accepted (including in Labour’s own post-mortem, the Beckett report) to have essentially lost it the last election?

Oh, how naïve. It’s defence, of course. Not because it was an election-loser for Labour, you understand, or even figured highly in doorstep conversations, but because it is a personal hobby horse of Our Beloved Leader and his entourage (prominent kitchen Cabinet members Andrew Murray and Seumas Milne, for example, being long-time Stop the War Coalition stalwarts).

The original brief for the defence review thus considered everything the Stoppers hold dear, from dumping Britain’s Trident nuclear deterrent to leaving NATO. That said, last week the leadership rowed back from the latter and sidelined Ken Livingstone from the defence review, realising that leaving NATO was really a step too far for most.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

The best of 2015

And so we come to the traditional year-end round-up of the Centre Left's most popular posts:

5. Five dangers for Labour as the finish line approaches - In those heady days when we had merely slightly-hopeless Ed Miliband rather than disastrous Jeremy Corbyn as party leader, there was actually a time when many felt that Miliband was on track to become Prime Minister. Yes, thanks to some fairly serious differences between pre-election polling and the final result, many languished under that comfortable delusion. The Centre Left did not, even though even this blog did not fully appreciate the scale of defeat which awaited us.

4. The Muslim Manifesto and Labour's useful idiots - In March, a few signs of the madness currently gripping the national party started to make themselves evident. Here we had a (thankfully small) group of MPs inviting a hate-preacher to speak in Parliament, a clear indication of The Madness. With well-known Hamas sympathisers Andy Slaughter and Yasmin Qureshi leading the charge - thanks, guys.

3. Why backbenchers talking to terrorists is not the same as senior politicians talking to terrorists: a primer Later, during the leadership election, many attempted to defend Corbyn's association with terrorists by comparing it to the UK government talking to the IRA. This piece looked to gently explain why that argument is rubbish.

2. Tory fumbles put Labour back in the race - A few weeks before the general election saw the Tories wobble with a few serious gaffes. It put Labour back in the race in everyone's minds, only to have our hopes cruelly dashed on election night itself.

And, at Number One:

1. "Unite is proud to associate itself with Lutfur Rahman" - Or thus spake Andrew Murray, right-hand man to Len McCluskey and the leader's Chief of Staff at the Unite union. Only he turned out to be wrong when McCluskey changed his mind. Rahman, of course, was stripped of his office as Mayor of Tower Hamlets in April, after an electoral court convicted him of electoral fraud. What a sweet, sweet day was that for some of us (well, he did once try to have me arrested).

That's it - a very happy New Year to all Centre Left readers, after a year when we actually broke into the top 40 of UK political blogs for the first time. Thanks for all your support, we'll be here as long as you keep reading.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Twas the night before Christmas (with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore)

Twas the night before Christmas, and in Labour’s house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Jeremy soon would be there.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Labour has reached peak groupthink

groupthink, n., [grüp-ˌthiŋk]: a pattern of thought characterized by self-deception, forced manufacture of consent, and conformity to group values and ethics
- Merriam-Webster online dictionary
The saddest thing about party conference this year, as commentator Iain Martin remarked, was “otherwise nice/sensible people trying to persuade themselves it will be ok”.

If there were a fortnight to convince the world otherwise, this must surely have been it.

Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of Labour’s position on bombing Isil, the aftermath of the terrorist attacks in Paris and the rebellion on an actual vote for renewal of Britain’s nuclear deterrent, have all been an unmitigated shambles.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Paris, the Stoppers and straight talking, honest politics

It was no surprise, naturally, when the Stop the War Coalition (or rather, Stop The Wars That I Say But Not The Other Ones) decided to blame the horrific bombings and shootings in Paris last Friday night on "Western intervention".

But the first post which came out from this perennially dreadful crew was particularly crass, even by their own low standards. As people died on the streets of the French capital, the best they could come up with was: "Paris reaps whirlwind of western support for extremist violence in Middle East". 
"Without decades of intervention by the US and its allies there would have been no 'war on terror' and no terrorist attacks in Paris."
Yes, that's right, it was all the fault of the evil West that the bombing happened. Victim-blaming at its best. Even though jihadist violence long predates Afghanistan and Iraq.

And then, as if by magic, it disappeared from the website, as did the tweet that accompanied it did from Twitter. Jeremy Corbyn then made an unusually measured statement condemning the atrocities, which did not even contain the traditional "but" we have come to expect from the Stoppers in such situations (i.e. it's all terrible...but we deserved it):
“Today, all our thoughts and sympathy are with the people of Paris. 
“What took place in the French capital yesterday was horrific and immoral. 
“We stand in solidarity with the people of France – as with all victims of terror and violence.
“I have cancelled my engagements today to hold discussions on events in France with shadow cabinet colleagues and be briefed by Downing Street security officials. 
“It’s vital at a time of such tragedy and outrage not to be drawn into responses which feed a cycle of violence and hatred.
“We are proud to live in a multicultural and multi-faith society, and we stand for the unity of all communities.”
Almost sounds normal, doesn't it?

The Stoppers themselves then came up with a much toned-down piece, which did still blame the attacks on "Western intervention", but took five paragraphs to get there.

Why do the antics of the mad Stoppers matter to the Labour Party? I'll tell you.

First because, until a couple of months ago, the chair of that august organisation was one Jeremy Corbyn MP. He is still closely associated with it in the minds of the media and the public. In short, the foreign policy of the Labour Party is, or at least soon will be, as the Corbynites consolidate their hold on party structures, the foreign policy of the Stop the War Coalition. That depressing and highly-damaging place is where the once-proud internationalism of Ernie Bevin has fallen to.

Second, and worse, because the Corbyn statement was not even honest. It was inherently disingenuous. It was "this is not what I think, but rather what I think I can get away with in the media".

We know what Corbyn thinks: he has made it abundantly clear over his thirty-two years in Parliament. Because he was never a career politician and never remotely expected to lead his party, there are records of his words everywhere.

So, assuming he has not suddenly had a Damascene conversion to a moderate foreign policy in the last two months of those thirty-two years, it is pretty obvious that he has not said what he thinks, which is essentially what is written in the first post. It was the West's fault.

Welcome to the Corbyn foreign policy era. 

"Straight talking, honest politics."
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...