Friday, 29 April 2016

Enough is Enough - When You Are In An 'Ole, Stop Digging ...

I have been weighing up whether the Labour Party is worth the candle after around nine months of re-engagement, having, once again, observed it from the inside. I decided to try and be as objective as possible - does it match what I believe and is it good for the people of this country? These are the only two considerations for me. There is another consideration: is it good for my petty personal interest but, frankly, I would probably never have been a Labour Party supporter if that was so. Politics is about interest but it is also about values and I place values before interest while others (which is their right) do the opposite. Let us weigh up the evidence.

FOR THE LABOUR PARTY

1. There is no other party that at least purports to protect the interests of the most vulnerable in our society although a) the least worst is perhaps not the best, b) the record of Labour in office under Blair was chequered to say the least with its distracted interest in international issues, and c) there are 'conservative' forces that are equally evidentially concerned with the causes of poverty and with solutions (represented within the Labour Party by the increasingly isolated Frank Field).

2. A significant element in the leadership including the Leader represent the forces of peace and redistribution although a) the rest of the leading networks in the Party seem determined to oust it by fair means or foul and b) this values-driven element (of which I approve) seem to be consistently politically inept and naive.

3, It still represents the bulk of the Labour Movement although a) the trades unions seem no longer to be concerned about society as a whole but only with their special interests and b) the trades union movement is now largely associated (with exceptions such as the sterling work done in the transport, construction, retail, banking and manufacturing sectors) with a defensive strategy to maintain a large and often inefficient state sector as producers rather than having much concern with the services to be supplied.

AGAINST THE LABOUR PARTY

1. It is not organisationally fit for purpose. It has hollowed out in the North. It has lost Scotland and is under pressure in Wales. In the South, it has become dominated by naive cultural activists of the liberal-left in a state of alternating outrage and despair. In some urban areas, its structures are controlled by ethnic feudal elites. Its elected representatives are narcissists and out of control. Its leadership is weak, though not always a weakness of its own making. The party apparat (the professionals) have far too much influence and control within a supposedly democratic party. It is collapsing from within.

2. It has become dominated by cultural and identity politics for short term urban electoral reasons at the expense of class and national interest politics. Its European policy - thrust upon it by the apparat - alienates much of its working class base and is deeply flawed in its analysis of the nature of the European Project, aligning it further with the international liberal economic system. It has allowed itself to become distracted by urban culture wars between ethnic groups. It has also aligned itself with the movement to control thought and language and avoid free debate ('liberal totalitarianism') and it connives in the rewriting of history for political purposes. It has refused to face the very real problems created by global flows of migrants and tried to suppress all debate on the matter. Parts of its apparat have been taken over by sectional identity elements, most notably radical feminism (which is not to be confused with the commitment to social and economic equality between persons of all genders).

3. It has totally neglected any form of political education nor has it encouraged critical thinking and open debate (although the Leader has made moves in this direction on Trident and other matters though signally not on Europe). It has confused political organisation and building a party with issues campaigning as if it was little more than a giant NGO. It has acted as claque for the campaigning of NGOs that collude with other political interests. If its policies are coherent (which is to be doubted), they are poorly communicated.

In short, on the debit side, the democratic socialist and labour party of the early twentieth century has turned into a chaotic and naive liberal-left party that floats on the tide of history instead of creating it. It became little more than a mass of aging tribal loyalists supporting a small number of paid opportunists and cynics (amidst which men and women of integrity are undoubtedly to be found), all of limited horizon and education, but also without or with decreasing experience of mass social and political organisation.

The 'Corbyn revolution' merely brought all this out into the open - within a party that has been rotting for decades - by introducing a new and unstable force of passionate and inexperienced people who contain within their cohort ideologues as their most active element, an element even further disconnected from those in the working class whose livelihoods do not depend on the public sector.

From being a national working class party, the Labour Party has become an inchoate coalition of sectional special interest groups including urban ethnic groups and ideologues with increasingly little to say to a people who are suffering not only from austerity in the short term but neo-liberalism in the long term. The commitment to a subsumption under a European ameliorative neo-liberal project should be the last straw for many natural supporters of a genuine class and community-based democratic socialism.

The positives for the Party would be enhanced if a) it ceased its trajectory towards a civil war organised from the Right and unified itself around a national redistributive and democratic programme that eschewed culture wars and identity politics and offered a viable anti-austerity strategy or b) it was simply destroyed and replaced by a national democratic socialist party that could undertake this programme more effectively.

To recover ground would require a) the re-imposition of party discipline at every level around a programme that mediated between the party members and the general public where the party apparat and elected representatives were subject to the authority of a Leader elected by the members, b) the intellectal content of the party's programme to be radically upgraded to rely on only evidence-based solutions to value-driven problems instead of rhetorical and cultural position-taking c) the trades union movement either returned to a socialist position or partially sidelined as a special interest group and d) the liberal internationalist programme to become secondary to a pragmatic national democratic and redistributive programme.

None of these changes seem likely. To maintain and vote for the Party in its current condition is irresponsible. Placing values to one side, the national interest would not be served by having a Government of half-baked thinkers with ill-thought out policies and a propensity to legislate in the direction of thought and language control, let alone behaviour control. Worse, this Party would have half its eye on the absurd dream of transforming the European Union into a socialist paradise and be subject to the whims and fancies of whichever faction demanded some life-denying ideological policy to maintain a Parliamentary majority.

So, as Lenin, put it - 'What Is To Be Done?'. First, when one is in an hole, the first rule is to stop digging. This mess is not something that ordinary members can possibly have any control over. There is no sign that the Party Leadership has a grip on things and can make the necessary changes. Across the Party and the Labour Movement, the ruling elite are like ferrets in a sack or large rats fighting over a small cake. There is nothing to be done within the Party. It is degenerate in the most fundamental sense.

All the ordinary person can do who has the values that should have been expressed by a strong Labour Party is to stand back and not only let it implode but hope it implodes quickly so that something can take its place or that, perhaps, one or other of the 'civil war' wings of the party can be transformed into something that can represent the aspirations of the mass of the population while not being led by some maniacal cuckoo in the nest like the unlamented Tony Blair, the Conan of the Middle East.

The argument that anything is better than the Tories does not stand up any more. Idealism is not enough. Politics is about power and that means the competent control of a powerful and dangerous State, including the deep state aspects of it. It does not mean getting office in order to be taken over by the State as happened under the last Labour Government. Whoever is incompetent at controlling the State leaves the Deep State to control us. A competent democratic force that challenges the State is always preferable to an incompetent one that is the creature of the State. The Tories need to be challenged by something far more competent than they are, tougher, disciplined, even brutal in its support for core values of redistribution, democracy, community and individual freedom, including the freedom to dissent.

The Labour Party has become a waste of the space given to a radical, progressive, democratic force in this country. It will cease to have my membership. It will cease to have my support until it deals with the key issues of organisation and discipline, cultural and identity politics and values-deriven political education. None of these changes are likely and so I await something new that can do practical things for our poorest and most vulnerable, ensure maximum freedom and opportunity for the majority, maintain our national identity along progressive lines and control and limit the State and other institutional forces. I look forward to seeing pigs arrive at Terminal 1 Heathrow ...

My text of my resignation letter to the Party will follow in due course. This farrago was not what I signed up for.