Wednesday, July 29, 2015

An alternative to Blaixit, or "Pinochet without the tanks"

Over the last couple of weeks, I've made a few mentions of Diane Abbott's dictum that it's always the right that walks out on Labour, not the left.  I think that's probably correct, meaning that if there is any split in the party after the leadership election, it's much more likely to be caused by an SDP-style Blairite breakaway ("Blaixit") than by an exodus of the left.  But there is one possible exception to that general rule, which could come about if anyone is foolish enough to listen to the man with a unique track record of having helped Labour lose elections in both Australia and Scotland over the last couple of years, namely the one and only John "the Gardener" McTernan.

Astonishingly, McTernan has said today that Jeremy Corbyn should be instantly removed from office if he is elected leader.  I had assumed that the Blairite plan might be to give Corbyn a year or two, in the hope that his eventual demise would look like an organic process brought about by poor opinion polls and local election results.  But there would be no cover story for an immediate overthrow - it would be a coup, plain and simple.  Presumably the leadership election rules would then be swiftly changed to block off any possible mechanism for reversing the coup, even in the long-term - so how could the left possibly remain within the party after that?  It would inevitably be seen as Labour's own internal version of the Chilean coup of 1973 - Pinochet without the guns and tanks.

You could easily imagine a "Real Labour" party being set up, led by "Labour's legitimate elected leader" and financially supported by the trade unions that backed Corbyn.  It wouldn't necessarily be only a Campaign Group outfit - many soft left MPs would be so infuriated by the death of democracy within official Labour that they might just be tempted to make the move across.  As McTernan is supposedly so keen on "realism" and winning at all costs, it would be interesting to know how he thinks provoking such a schism would help defeat the Tories in 2020, especially under an electoral system that severely punishes split oppositions.

If Corbyn is elected, and the parliamentary party find that they really can't live with him as leader, the most elegant way of averting a disastrous split would be some kind of negotiated "retirement" after two or three years, in return for a Corbyn proxy such as John McDonnell being appointed to a senior position in the Shadow Cabinet.  That would doubtless horrify McTernan, but in the "real world", John, the idea that the left can win a leadership election fair and square, and that you can then just ignore that and pretend that it has no consequences, simply isn't tenable.

Incidentally, the German Social Democrats won the 1998 election "in spite of" the left-wing Oskar Lafontaine being both party chairman and Finance Minister-designate (ie. Shadow Chancellor).  So the assumption that modern electorates will never countenance voting for a party with a strong traditional left component doesn't stack up.

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McTernan also added that he thinks Corbyn's popularity is an emotional spasm, because "so many people believed Labour were going to win this election". Of course, McTernan himself didn't merely "believe" Labour would win, he knew it for a fact. At his Summerhall lecture that I went to just over a year ago, he told us that he could "guarantee" a Labour government if we voted No in the independence referendum.

We're still waiting for our money back, John.

21 comments:

  1. Why is he called "the Gardener"? Is it something to do with fertiliser?

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    1. At the Summerhall lecture, he angrily denied being a spin doctor. "I'm a journalist! I like Aussie Rules! I'm...I'm...a gardener!"

      Even Gerry Hassan reacted with some scepticism.

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    2. If only all MSM journalists were as smart as McT!

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  2. I thought the Labour Party in Scotland had finally wised up and put him on gardening leave before letting him sink into the compost without trace!

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  3. I thought maybe a Mafia type name...pronged forks and spades and all that

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  4. Seriously, why do Labour keep hiring this guy? I can see why many thought Jim Murphy would reverse Labour's fortunes in Scotland, since his own electoral record up to that point was very good - but McTernan's CV is nothing but failure after miserable failure. Is he somebody's nephew or something?

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  5. After Two Jags Prescott went on TV to say McTernan has no authority you'd think he'd take the hint and crawl off into oblivion, yet for some reason he still believes his opinion counts. Has the SNP Tsunami made him lose what grip he had on reality? It's a puzzle.

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    1. I don't think he n ever had a grip on reality. I think he was hired for entertainment value.

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  6. Actually I can see this working. We seem to be in a period of increasing volatility in politics, a Blairite breakaway would obviously be supported by the corporate media but a proper centre left group advocating a de-privatised NHS, re-nationalised railways, rent controls, bringing casino banking under control, getting rid of Trident etc could start to become wildly popular especially when the effects of Tory cuts start to kick in.

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassJuly 29, 2015 at 11:16 PM

      Mikeboy old chap you forgot to mention the Buses. Mr Souter the man who benefitted from Tory privitisation. And the Nat took his donations. Tartan Tories at their best profitting from Tory Privatisation. Fuckin hypocrites och aye ra noo. You Nat sis can hide from your history but it will not be expunged.

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    2. Piss off back to the manure heap of the DHeil you mangy troll.

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    3. On the subject of history, no doubt the shredders at Glasgow City Chambers will be running day and night come the spring of '17. All the better to hide decades of misdeeds.

      Coolheads Prevail

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  7. Glasgow Working ClassJuly 29, 2015 at 10:42 PM

    Ms Abbott was the leftie who was against private education and what did she do! And she cuddles up next to Michael Portillo who does good rail programmes and the Paisley Slapper sorry got carried away the Paisley Grammer Boy. She will end up in the Lords along with some SNP hypocrites. Westminster sucks them in. Wee Eck is a certainty for the Lords.

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    1. What an astute, erudite and composed response. Another example of the incisive correspondence associated with your nom de plume. I also note the trademark charm, grace and wit, you little tease you...

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    2. Glasgow Working ClassJuly 29, 2015 at 11:55 PM

      Och Andrew your choice of words overwhelm me. Swallowing words from the dictionary is not what we working class do.

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    3. Are we working class folk not allowed to educate ourselves, and by so doing, improve our lot? Are we to be shackled by ignorance based on our perceived place in the social order? Answers on a postcard...

      Coolheads Prevail

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  8. I think ternan is a great employee if labour. He does a huge amount of work for the opposition its fantastic. Long may he remain an employee. May he spend many many minutes on air afforded uninterrupted comment. He exposes the seedy disgusting underbelly which slithers around the corpse of labour. It's beautiful.

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    1. Glasgow Working ClassJuly 30, 2015 at 12:04 AM

      If Labour is a corpse then you should be in a position to replace them. Any progessive ideas then? Other than the bus pass and giving money to bus, rail and ferry rackateers.

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  9. Don't know why ANYONE gives credibility to McTernan. He is a prize idiot. A chump who should not be given the time of day. Everything he touches fails.

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  10. Is McTernan actually still employed by the Labour Party? I got the impression his contract had ended.

    He seems to be looking to build himself as a go-to talking head for controversial comments on politics. A sort of political Katie Hopkins if you like.

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  11. Hey James, have you seen this survey?

    https://twitter.com/RichardAngell/status/627062733633134592

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