Posts Tagged ‘Hyndeman’

Labour Rebels Want to Create Party within a Party, and Corbyn’s Response

July 31, 2016

Mike’s put up two pieces reporting and commenting on the plan of unnamed Labour rebels to set up a separate party within the Labour party against Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

It was reported in the Mirror and Torygraph that senior Labour rebels were so convinced that Corbyn would win the leadership, they want to create virtually a second party, with its own shadow cabinet and leader. They would also issue a legal challenge to get control of the Labour party’s name and assets, and would petition John Bercow, the Speaker of the House of Commons, to nominate them as the official opposition.

Mike comments that the idea seems ‘hopelessly naive’. He makes the point that if they did carry out their plans, they would disrupt opposition to the Tories, and convince the majority of Labour members and supporters that they are really ‘Red Tories’ – Conservatives in disguise. Any attempt to gain the party’s name and assets would fail without the support of the majority of members. Mike also notes that they are also making a huge assumption that the majority of their rebel MPs would stay with them, when one of them, Sarah Champion, has already recanted and re-joined the Corbynites. He also notes that none of the leaders of this supposed plot have had the courage to reveal their identities, thus demonstrating once again the cowardice that has led their detractors to call them the ‘Chicken Coup’. And without knowing their identities, for all we know the story may have been made up by the Mirror and Torygraph. He concludes by stating that the only thing this will do is undermine Owen Smith’s own bid for the leadership.

See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/30/contempt-for-democracy-labour-rebels-plan-to-start-their-own-party-within-a-party/

Later yesterday Mike also put up a piece from the Groaniad, reporting Corbyn and McDonnell’s response to news of the plot. Corbyn said

“We are getting into some fairly bizarre territory here where unnamed MPs, funded from unnamed sources, are apparently trying to challenge – via the Daily Telegraph, very interesting – the very existence of this party.”

He stated that the Labour party was founded by pioneers, brave people, and that under the registration of parties act, they are the Labour party. There isn’t another, and he was very proud to be the leader of the Labour party. He also stated that it was nonsense that his leadership could cause a split, as membership had doubled since he became leader, and activity had increased.

McDonnell urged Smith to condemn the minority of MPs supporting his campaign, who were trying to subvert the election and damage the Labour party. Smith, when asked for a comment, said he refuses to indulge in gossip.

See http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2016/07/30/bizarre-labour-rebels-can-never-steal-the-partys-name-and-assets-corbyn/

The Labour party has suffered a series of splits over its century-long history. Hyndman’s Social Democratic Federation, which was one of the Socialist groups involved in the foundation of the party, later split away in the 1920s to form, with other groups, the Communist Party. Keir Hardie’s ILP also split, to carry on as a radical Socialist party. One of its most distinctive policies was a complete rejection of the wages system. Outside the Labour party it very swiftly declined. The last time I heard anything about it was thirty years ago, when I found a copy of its magazine/ newsletter in Cheltenham Public Library.

The most recent and notorious of the splits was that of the SDP in the 1980s, formed by the right-wing Labour MPs Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins and David Owen. They claimed to be ‘breaking the mould of British politics’, and Owen at the 1987 election told the party faithful to go back home and prepare for government. There was then, almost inevitably, a Tory victory. Screaming Lord Sutch later offered Owen a place in his Monster Raving Loony Party, saying cheekily that if Owen had joined them, he would be preparing for government. The SDP forged an alliance with the Liberals, and the two eventually merged to become the Liberal Democrats. They have also signally failed break the mould of British politics, despite the Guardian telling everyone to go out and vote for them at the 2010 elections. As for Owen, in the 1980s he was so desperate for power that at one point he even offered to support the Tories in a coalition, just as thirty years later Clegg decided to get into bed with Cameron.
And the SDP were also influenced by the neoliberal ideas of the Chicago School. Ann Soper, their Shadow Education Minister, was a fan of Milton Friedman’s ideas for school vouchers, which parents could use either on state education, or private.

If such a split did occur, it would be extremely unpleasant indeed. The wrangling about party assets and name could take years to settle. The vast majority of grassroots members would depart, and stay with Corbyn. And I’ve no doubt that rather than establishing themselves as the ‘official’ Labour party, the coup plotters would find the British public turning their backs on them as treacherous and untrustworthy intriguers. They’d decline into another rump party, while Corbyn’s faction would probably expand. They might also go the same way as the SDP, and try to join the Liberal Democrats after the number of their MPs declined past a certain point, no doubt all the while grumbling about ‘unelectable’ Corbyn being somehow responsible for the misfortunes they had all brought down on themselves.

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Gun Rights, the Second Amendment and Early 20th Century Preparations for Revolution in Britain

March 6, 2016

One of the major issues that concerns the Republicans, and particularly the extreme right-wing of that party, is gun rights. They point to the Second Amendment in the Constitution guaranteeing American citizens the right to bear arms, which they view as one of the key democratic freedoms in America. They see it as the article in the Constitution that enables Americans to fight back against a tyrannical government. Hence the hysterical rage amongst the NRA and people like the conspiracy theorist, Alex Jones, at the mere mention of gun legislation. This is always greeted with cries of ‘They’re coming for our guns!’ and the defiant snarl that they’ll only be able to take the weapon, ‘from my cold, dead hand’.

I’ve also seen a quotation from George Orwell trotted out to support gun rights. I can’t remember the exact quotation, but it’s something like the household gun on the wall being the mark of the free worker. Now Orwell’s quote could be a remark on many things. In the 19th century the poaching laws introduced by the wealthy farmers during the Napoleonic Wars were bitterly resented, because many agricultural workers believed they had the right to poach rabbits on their employer’s land as part of the perks of the job. And this became more important as the economic situation deteriorated and poverty and starvation more common.

It was also an attitude shared by the Social Democratic Federation, an early British Socialist party, which was one of the organisations that formed the Labour party. The SDF was Marxist, although its founder, Hyndeman, had fallen out with Marx himself as he had not credited Marx with the party’s programme. Pelling in his ‘Short History of the Labour Party’ notes that in period running up to the First World War and the debate about rearmament, several members of the SDF, most notably Will Thorne, believed

in a form of conscription known as ‘the citizen army’, which was based on the idea that a revolution could best be effected when all members of the working class had some training in the use of arms. (p. 29).

Now I’ve no doubt that the idea of radical, working-class Marxists bearing arms ready to start the revolution is something that scares the right witless. Gun rights are all right for right-wing Whites, but when Blacks and the radical Left get them, it’s a major threat to decent American society. The Young Turks and Secular Talk have pointed out that the authorities in America suddenly became interested in limiting access to guns after the Black Panthers started walking around with them. The Panthers had read the Constitution, and found that nowhere in it did it say that only Whites could carry firearms. And so even before they started shooting people the American government got very alarmed, and started passing laws to limit gun ownership.

Back in the 1990s parts of the Survivalist movement grew so concerned about what they saw as the new Communist threat and the imminent collapse of society, that they started forming informal ‘militias’. Somehow I doubt very much that the same people, who formed and joined these, would be comfortable knowing that their opponents on the radical left back in the very beginning of the 20th century, shared their ideas and desire to acquire firearms training to overthrow a tyrannical government. The only difference being that it was a right-wing, economically conservative government that they viewed as oppressive. I can’t see them being terribly enthusiastic about that little episode of British history at all.

The Left Book Club: The Tory MP

November 29, 2015

Looking through one of the second-hand bookshops in Cheltenham a few weeks ago, I found a set of books in their ‘politics’ section published by the Left Book Club in the 30s and 40s. Amongst them were titles like ‘Production for the People’ and ‘Empire, Your Empire’. This last was definitely in favour of the British Empire, in contrast to the views of some Labour MPs, such as one Benn, who believed that Africans should be given back their countries as quickly as possible. This particular volume wanted Britain to retain her Empire, but for its administration to be made more humane, with the welfare of its peoples given much higher priority. It was critical of the way many countries suffered from starvation and malnutrition under the-then present administrations.

The book that particularly caught my eye was a sociological study of the social origins and class allegiances of Conservative members of parliament. It was called simply, The Tory MP. Essentially it told you at great length, and it great detail, what you probably know already: that Tory MPs come from the aristocracy and business classes and represent those classes against the poor and working class. There’s is a very pithy quote at the front from Benjamin Disraeli, one of the great founders of the modern Tory party in the 19th century, to the Marxist Socialist, Hyndeman. Hyndeman had told Disraeli that Socialism, or at least, his Socialist party, stood for the workers and was trying to get the best for them. Disraeli told him bluntly that the upper and middle classes would resist this with all the strength they had until the workers were utterly routed.

So much for Disraelian ‘one nation’ Toryism.

Cameron has been telling everyone he’s a ‘one nation’ Tory to try and present his party of blood-thirsty bigots, public school bullies and general bourgeois thugs and cut-throats as somehow being ‘caring Conservatives’, when all the evidence overwhelmingly points to the opposite. They have an absolute indifference to the poverty they’ve created. In fact, they positively seem to revel in the misery of the poor, the unemployed and the working class. Their ‘caring’ extends only to the rich and powerful.

The book extensively documents the aristocratic and business links of the Tory MPs of its time – which members came from which aristocratic families, whose family owned what business, and so on. And, almost needless to say, the same people, or type of people, dominated the civil service and colonial administration. As well as the armed forces. I didn’t buy it, as it was extremely dated. I am, however, tempted to splash out on it, as even if it was published eighty years or so ago, my guess is that little has changed over the last three-quarters of a century. My guess is that the same families are still firmly in power in the ranks of the Tory party, and pretty much the same firms, even if they have changed, merged and amalgamated with others in the intervening decades.

I think there actually should be rather more research like this. In the 1980s there was a lot of talk about ending class conflict, largely because of Thatcher’s victory and her immense popularity with certain sections of the working class. The result of that was Blairite ‘New Labour’, that stated, in Peter Mandelson’s words, that they were immensely relaxed about being rich. New Labour came to power by adopting the Tories policies and trying to appeal to middle class voters. In doing so, they abandoned and marginalised their traditional base, and opened the way for ATOS, UNUM and the other corporations to begin their campaign of fear against the long term sick and disabled. There many working class people at the time, who swallowed Thatcher’s line about being working class, because her father owned a shop, despite the fact that she personally hated the working class with a vengeance.

Whatever Cameron says, the Tories have never represented the working class, and books like The Tory MP, and Owen Davies’ book Chavs: The Demonisation of the Working Class, show it.