8 December 2019

Labour’s Election Campaign - Expect the Worst – Hope for the Best

Corbyn has only himself (& Seamus Milne) to blame for Labour’s predicament

This article was first printed in the Weekly Worker 

In previous elections I had little difficulty in predicting the outcome. It was clear in 2015 that Ed Miliband’s ‘austerity lite’ would fall fail. In Scotland it was a complete disaster.
In 2017 contrary to all those who believed that Labour’s election campaign would be a rerun of 1983 under Michael Foot, the ‘longest suicide note in history’ according to the late Sir Gerald Kaufman MP, I foresaw that the Tory campaign under ‘strong and stable Theresa May would crumble. 
In two blogs, on April 20th and on June 3rd I foresaw that a hung parliament, or even a Labour victory, was possible.
Why? This was the peak of Corbyn’s popularity. The ‘anti-Semitism’ moral panic had still not got off the ground, the Labour Left was still united. The Corbyn movement and what was a popular upsurge demonstrated that it wasn’t a handful of entryists in the Labour Party, as the Labour Right tried to fool itself into believing, but a popular movement outside the party that had impacted inside the party.
Above all young voters turned out in unprecedented numbers and voted decisively for Labour. According to an NME‘s exit poll 56% of 18-34s voted in the 2015 election, including 53% of those aged between 18 and 24, a 12% increase over 2015.  60% of 18–34s and two-thirds of those aged 18–24 voted Labour. The results of this were shown in the unprecedented victory of Rosie Duffield in the university town of Canterbury.
However if one week is a long time in politics then two and a half years is an eternity. The Labour Party today is not the same party that campaigned so confidently in 2017. Certainly its manifesto is more radical than it was two years ago but it is equally clear that it is having much less of an impact.
Chris Williamson giving a lift to Brighton's village idiot, currently suspended for racism and sexual harassment, Luke Stanger
Today you cannot speak of a unified left inside the Labour Party since Jon Lansman’s Momentum has got into bed with the Right. When the NEC came to decide, in the wake of the High Court decision that Chris Williamson’s suspension was unlawful, it decided by 21-5 that he would remain suspended and ineligible to stand as a Labour candidate. He had been resuspended just before the High Court hearing as a precaution against an adverse verdict. Just one of the trade union representatives, from the FBU, joined 4 out of the 9 CLP representatives, in voting to rescind Chris’s suspension.

The case of Chris Williamson is pivotal and marks the end of the Corbyn Project as we know it. I have seen proof that Corbyn had indicated to Chris before the NEC meeting that his suspension would be lifted. In the event Corbyn decided not to attend the NEC hearing and he made no statement in his support, as has been the case throughout the whole ‘anti-Semitism’ affair when his supporters, such as Ken Livingstone, have been targeted.
Chris Williamson’s original suspension for ‘anti-Semitism’ had not only been unlawful it had been based on a completely falsified and distorted version of what he had actually said taken out of context. His statement we have backed off too much, we have given too much ground, we have been too apologetic” was clearly referring to the false accusations of anti-Semitism as he had also prefigured it by saying that ‘The party that has done more to stand up to racism is now being demonised as a racist, bigoted party.’ 
Jonathan Freedland has led the Guardian's intelligence driven attack on Corbyn - using Jews as the prop
Whereas the Establishment and their media lackeys, from the Tory tabloids to the Guardian and BBC, were taken unawares in 2015, that is not the case today. The Labour Right too were stunned into silence. Who can forget the shock and horror on Stephen Kinnock’s face in the fly-on-the-wall documentary Labour: The Summer That Changed Everything when the exit polls predicted a hung parliament? His wife, ex-Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning Schmidt arrived and asked a shell-shocked Kinnock “Why are you doing this?” in respect of an interview he had agreed to.  “I don’t know.” he replied. “You don’t know anything.” she responded and his only comment was ‘“I know.”
Kinnock and others were stunned at the fact that Corbyn had gained the biggest swing to Labour since 1945 and increased the number of seats.Who can forget the predictions of the Observer’s Nick Cohen barely a month before the election was called that Labour would get around 25% of the vote. Apparently the Tories had ‘gone easy on Corbyn’ because ‘they want to keep them in charge of Labour’. However ‘in an election, they would tear them to pieces.’ 
This latter day Nostradamus asked ‘Will there be 150, 125, 100 Labour MPs by the end of the flaying? My advice is to think of a number then halve it.’  To those on the left who supported Corbyn he had only one piece of advice: ‘your only honourable response will be to stop being a fucking fool by changing your fucking mind.’ If I was a betting man I would look for the latest Nick Cohen prediction and bet on the opposite!
For neo-con Stephen Pollard, the main task of the Jewish community is stopping Jeremy Corbyn becoming PM
Today there are two issues that are dragging Corbyn down. The first is the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign. According to the Jewish Chronicle and others Corbyn is an ‘existential threat’ to Jews in Britain. Corbyn himself is, in the words of Margaret Hodge, a ‘fucking anti-Semite.’
For four years the Labour Party has been the subject of a concerted and determined campaign to paint it as anti-Semitic. The outlines of this campaign were the subject of a 4 part undercover documentary by Al Jazeera.
Tommy Robinson also condemns 'anti-Semitism' with his new film 'Shalom'
We even have Tory Ministers, fresh from the Windrush Scandal and their ‘hostile environment’ attacking the Labour Party as an anti-Semitic party whilst at the same time their MEPs in Europe sit in the European Conservative Reform group with fully fledged fascists, racists and anti-Semites, one of whom Roberts Zile, the Latvian member, openly marching every year with the veterans of the Latvian Waffen SS.
All academic and other studies of the Labour Party’s ‘anti-Semitism’ problem show that it is miniscule and indeed far less than in the wider society yet because it failed to rebut these allegations from the start and took them in good faith Corbyn has been wounded. Instead of a campaign against the very real state racism in British society we have had a concentration on what is at worst a marginal prejudice against White people.
It is no accident that those behind the false anti-Semitism allegations were responsible for a barrage of abuse that led to the cancellation of the launch for Bad News for Labour, a book by 5 distinguished academics. Facts and the ‘anti-Semitism’ smear campaign don’t make for comfortable allies.
Another lover of Israel if not Jews
The Labour Party jumped through all the hoops it was required to and on every occasion this rebounded on it.  It adopted the 500+ word IHRA ‘definition’ of anti-Semitism which as the Jewish former Court of Appeal Judge, Sir Stephen Sedley said isn’t even a definition. Labour agreed a ‘fast track’ system for expelling those accused of ‘anti-Semitism’,. It has led to people being summarily expelled for nothing other than hostility to the Israeli state.
The more people Labour investigated, suspended and expelled the more this has been taken as ‘proof’ of the problem. The more victims of false allegations the more Labour provided proof of the very problem they tried to deny. As Len McLuskey wrote in frustration at the campaign of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, they won’t take yes for an answer!
Although people rarely mention anti-Semitism on the doorstep or in conversations, what it has done is enabled the political narrative to focus on Labour rather than the racism of the Government. It has established a dominant ruling class ideological hegemony When Corbyn was challenged to apologise by Andrew Neil he should have responded that he had nothing to apologise too but instead Corbyn looked and sounded like a wounded animal. Instead of calling out the weaponisation of ‘anti-Semitism’ as a means of defending the world’s only Apartheid state, Israel, Labour decided to examine the minds of its members when racism is deadly, not when its expressed in tweets but when it comes in the form of immigration raids or fascist gangs.
The second major disaster and one which is likely to prove more damaging at the polls is Brexit. We have a Prime Minister who is by any definition amoral, who doesn’t even know how many children he has sired. Someone whose ability to tell the truth matches that of Donald Trump.  Even with the vicious bias of the Tory press it should not have been that difficult for Corbyn to put Johnson on the back foot.
Labour’s victory over its critics in 2017 was, to a large extent, due to the perception that it was opposed to Brexit.  Certainly that was true in the South. Now however Labour has got into the position where it’s seen by opponents of Brexit as supporting Remain and vice versa. Socialists can argue about whether Brexit has any positive virtues or whether, as I believe, it is a far-Right project, but it is difficult to see how taking a position not to have a position can be anything else than a self-inflicted wound. It is falling between 2 stools.
Apparently Corbyn is going to negotiate a withdrawal agreement and then, come a referendum, not support either his own deal or Remain. That is simply not credible. Instead of going to Labour voters in the North and arguing that Brexit will be an economic disaster for them, which it will, Labour is seen as having no position on the key political issue of the day.
How then will Labour fare in the election?  This is probably the most difficult election to call. I fear a Tory majority but there may well be a hung parliament though if the Lib Dems continue to slide in the polls that may be less likely. What is clear is that there is no surge to Labour. I cannot see a Labour victory or an increase in the present number of seats. By failing to see that the British Establishment would do all they could, in conjunction with the United States and Israel, to ensure that an anti-imperialist would not become Prime Minister the Left has to face the future with a Labour Party minus Jeremy Corbyn.
For that we can thank a number of people including Jon Lansman, Corbyn’s abysmal adviser Seamus Milne, the Socialist Campaign Group of MPs who said nothing throughout, John McDonnell who was always eager to please those who accused Labour of ‘anti-Semitism’ and above all Corbyn himself. I fear the exit polls on December 12th and only hope that, as Micawber remarked, something turns up.
Tony Greenstein

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please submit your comments below