Our free and fearless press has nothing to report on the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. But the press, as nature itself, abhors a vacuum, and so has rushed to fill it - mostly with uninformed, speculative and pejorative garbage, so no change there, then. Sadly, some in and around Labour are, perhaps inadvertently, playing the press’ game by engaging in leadership arguments of their own.
Now, it is not for Zelo Street to tell Labour members what to do, or not to do, but some of the arguments are only going to help the Tories and their cheerleaders, who will be watching eagerly for any sign of disunity. Already today we have the Murdoch Times - whose editor John Witherow has overseen some of the most vicious and unprincipled hackery of recent times - trying to stir it up over the party’s post-election discussions.
Today’s front page article, “Labour anger at ‘arrogant’ Miliband’s inquest role” consists of no more than Andrew Adonis whinging, plus a Tweet from Ben Bradshaw. The rest of the article is culled from anonymous “sources”. It’s nothing more than knocking copy. But it shows the level at which the right-wing press is operating right now.
You think I jest on this subject? The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph has run the headline “Labour leadership frontrunner Rebecca Long-Bailey said she would like to rule party with ‘iron fist’”. How did they make this deduction? In a 2015 interview, she “said she had no control over other members when presented with criticism of her predecessors, Ian Stewart and Hazel Blears”. And? Do go on.
She went on “I can’t rule it with an iron fist, much as I’d love to … It’s up to councillors and politicians to be accountable”. Or, to put it another way, Tenuous Maximus. Which brings us to some of the ideological purity froth which is now being generated across those social media platforms. The kind being used to insult and discredit leadership candidates.
Whenever Jess Phillips or Yvette Cooper is mentioned, out come the howls of “Blairite”. Never “Brownite”, you’ll notice. Always “Blairite”. Which has become a term of abuse intended to shut down discussion. And, d’you know, I couldn’t give a flying foxtrot whether someone conforms to that stereotype. Nor should anyone have any truck with the idea that only those who were wholly loyal to Jeremy Corbyn for the last four years get to stand.
That last appears intended to take out Keir Starmer. And it’s a sad reflection of how something that was an obsession of those on the right has been picked up elsewhere: only those of ideologically pure thought being allowed into the contest. I have news for those thinking along those lines: the electorate couldn’t give a stuff about your purity test.
Were there any chance of that happening, they wouldn’t have elected a congenital liar and serial adulterer as Prime Minister, not even with the press pack behind him. The electorate needs to be shown someone prepared to lead, to express their leadership in straightforward terms, to inspire that electorate to identify with that leader and their message, and have their party united behind them. That is all.
In the meantime, as Tories and the press scrape the barrel in their search for anything to beat up on Labour, the message is straightforward: don’t do their dirty work for them. They want to see a party out of touch with reality, and scrapping among itself. Don’t let them in.
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Maybe the best thing Labour can do is elect a leader whose prepared to resign a couple of months before the next general election. The press can monster, demonise and generally make shit up about him/her for 5 years, scaring the electorate shitless, only to have said leader replaced by someone nobody outside the bubble has ever heard of, and the press have largely ignored. Labour can then campaign on the only truly important thing that matters in a general election, their policies.
In one way it scarcely matters who the next leader of the Labour Party is. Far right corporate media will launch lying propaganda tirades against him or her. 'Twas ever thus and ever thus will be.
Nor is it a matter of "ideological purity". The fact is this nation has been subject to systematic socioeconomic attack for the last four decades. All those attacks originated with the far right corrupt Ridley Plan of 8th July 1977. All subsequent governments pursued that disgusting agenda. The inevitable results are all around you.
It doesn't take "ideological purity" to stand up to it - all it takes is a reasonable measure of human decency and a sensible agenda, plus an ability to avoid weasel words and mealy-mouthed public relations phrases. Jeremy Corbyn's leadership did precisely that, which is why he was subject to such organised propaganda hatred. The same methods will be used against any leader who refuses to bow the knee to the Establishment and its worthless front-thugs like Andrew "Dipshit" Neil.
"Blairite" is a legitimate term for anybody who fully supported the Blair agenda. Which, lest it be forgotten, included a near-complete abandonment of Labour Party founding principles as well as a truly catastrophic loss of life and society through warmongering, to say little of Blair's cringeworthy dealings with an urfascist USA. Predictably, Blair rolled up within days of the last election to stick his sniveling narcissistic face in the trough while whingeing about Labour as "a protest group" - while he conveniently ignored the million who protested against his Iraq mass murder. Well, SOMEBODY has to organise and protest the kind of lethal muck he did because you can be sure none of the Blairites will. This isn't "ideological purity", it is plain common sense.
Each of the leadership candidates will have different views of the political situation. Each of them should be exposed to honourable debate. Any of them who openly espouses a Blairite agenda will be considered on the basis of Blair's public record and its disastrous consequences at home and abroad. We know where that took the country......or what remains of it. (For further evidence of the direction we are headed, see the sale of Cobham to a CIA front hedge fund in the USA.)
We have now reached the stage where corporate media can be discounted as an honest source of information. The likelihood of more Peter Obornes is retreating at the speed of light. Figures like John Pilger are an endangered species. We really are entering the preliminary stages of British urfascism hand-in-glove with the US version. The situation is that perilous.
All of which means the Labour Party must not lose the impetus it has achieved in recent years. The tories, LibDems and Blairites have shown time after time they are beyond redemption. If this means a continuous fighting resistance then so be it. Once Brexit is out of the way the choices will become even more stark, our national situation even more bleak. Any leadership candidate who fails to understand this will be a useless appendage to the Establishment.
John Kennedy once said " Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." Events since have shown just how true that is. In Britain we are nowhere near that stage. But time is beginning to run out.
It really is that serious. Which is why the Labour leadership election is vital for the future.
I don't doubt Keir Starmer's ability. To get where he did from his working-class background is very impressive. But he and Emily Thornberry, together with the endless pressure from 'People's Vote', were responsible for changing Labour's Brexit policy from the 2017 compromise - we accept the referendum result but we can get a better deal - to support for a second referendum. That was the precise point at which we lost Leave voters especially in the north.
Starmer and Thornberry may have been worried about losing their seats, and a very few others, to the Lib Dems. Instead they ensured we lost 50 seats to the Tories in our old heartlands. Difficult to forgive and impossible to forget. The serious talk of Starmer for leader now is a sign of just how far the rot has gone.
That is genius.
Tim, you confuse the pejorative "purity" with integrity and care.
A school child, and when sky news et al literally labelled it to the tory narrative of "the brexit election" could see that the loss was down to brexit and, just as they did in the 80's, the dishonesty and splitting by the Libdems.
After the Labour loss, I wish people wouldn't re-write history by the exact same people who never accepted corbyn and those policies in the first place.
They want the status quo to continue with some work on the edges, but like industrial policy with effect to the environment, little changes aren't going to work, the world and its younger poor are having enough.
Unfortunately, this time, we didn't have millions of angry soldiers having just got back after realising the crooks who run the country, ready for "radical" change.
All the runners, are going to pander to the right, because that's what's safe, for now.
It's not what we could have.
The UK media has turned into that creepy alien Ai thing from the film 'oblivion', and is exerting a similar influence.
Ah, the irony of people saying "don't rewrite history" and "it was definitely the support for a second referendum which cost Labour the election". Never mind that Remain-supporting Jess Phillips only lost 2.3% of her majority whereas Brexit supporting Caroline Flint lost 15%. And never mind that if Labour had come out fully in favour of Brexit it would no doubt have cost them a large number of Remain voters (who, let's remember, make up the majority of Labour voters.) It was definitely all the fault of People's Vote and nothing else at all.
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