Sunday, July 19, 2015

Akehurst's "mutual respect" plan for Labour falls apart

The Labour blogger and activist Luke Akehurst has gone on an interesting 'journey' during his party's leadership election.  While nominations were underway, he openly called on Labour MPs to tactically nominate Jeremy Corbyn, so that members were not denied a chance to vote for or against the important current of opinion that Corbyn represents.  He said that this was a matter of "mutual respect", because left-wing members worked just as hard for Labour as anyone else during the general election.  He wanted to avoid resentment caused by the belief that Corbyn would have won if only it hadn't been for a stitch-up from the nefarious parliamentary party.  And lastly, he claimed he had sufficient confidence in the superiority of his ideas to know he and those of like mind would defeat Corbyn in a fair and open contest.

But since succeeding in getting Corbyn onto the ballot, Akehurst has gone on TV to issue a desperate plea to supporters of Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall to use their lower preference votes in a tactical way to prevent Corbyn from winning.  Now, to be fair, there is no direct contradiction here, because preferential voting is part of the process, and is a perfectly legitimate way of defeating Corbyn "fair and square".  But many of Akehurst's colleagues are going much further, by either demanding that the contest be called off (on the spurious grounds that the Daily Telegraph are trying to rig it in Corbyn's favour), or by plotting Corbyn's quick downfall if he emerges as leader.

The irony is that if these people had only been able to contain their panic, Akehurst's original plan would probably have worked beautifully.  Corbyn's presence is energising the campaign, making the left feel less marginalised (at least for the time being), and yet he probably isn't going to win - the likelihood is that he will finish either second or third.  The right-wing zealots are tossing all these gains away, because regardless of whether Corbyn wins or loses, his supporters will now know that there were many MPs who were quite prepared to subvert the rules to prevent him becoming leader.  That's a million times worse than simply using the existing rules to keep him off the ballot paper in the first place.

Can you imagine what the reaction would have been if the left had threatened an internal party coup in the event of Denis Healey being elected leader in 1980, or Roy Hattersley in 1983?  The press would have been screaming about a sinister threat to British democracy, and I'm struggling to see what the difference is here.  The cornerstone of democratic values is an acceptance that if the other guy gets more votes than you, he wins - even if you think he is wrong about absolutely everything.  Even if you think he's "dangerous" or whatever, he still wins.  It's high time that Burnham, Cooper and Kendall made a binding commitment that they and their supporters will accept the outcome of the election, regardless of what it is.  If they fail to do so, Labour may never recover from the fallout.

Incidentally, all this stuff about the Daily Telegraph trying to fix the contest would have a lot more credibility if they weren't sabotaging their own efforts with characteristic stupidity.  They're suggesting that people who register as Labour supporters to vote for Corbyn should tell the party they're doing so to "consign Labour to electoral oblivion".  Don't you think it's just possible that those people will be weeded out rather easily?


  1. This is somewhat typical of Labour - arrogant and completely out if touch. It was very obvious to anyone other than the deluded upper echelons of the Labour party, that should Corbyn get on the ballot he would do very well. The fact that the Trade Unions can organise their members to sign up and vote (Corbyn has spoke out against the Tory union reforms) and his team can organise on social media and left wing people are more motivated to vote for Corbyn than for 'ever more Tory' should have given the Labour MPs pause for thought but no unthinking hubris means the right wing Blairites will end up with a left wing leader that might actually stand for what the membership believe in.

  2. Good analysis James.

    It is indeed staggering that the westminster establishment at the top of the Labour party have become so arrogant and out of touch they think nothing of threatening to overturn a democratic leadership vote.

    It beggars belief that those Labour MPs agitating to overturn their own leadership processes can do so without fear of sanction or even the disapproval of the other pitifully weak leadership candidates. Regardless of who wins the contest, parliamentary labour party seem hellbent on proving that the only result that matters is one they approve of and fuck the membership or anyone else for daring to think otherwise.

    You do have to wonder just how far off the deep end the top of the labour party have gone as you watch them flail about right now. They still cannot seem to grasp that we have absolutely iron-cast proof that the endless Blairite triangulating not only just failed to win them an election but can only ever end in complete disaster.

    Did the labour party somehow not fucking notice that the lib dems just spent the past five years doing EVERYTHING the Blairites ever dreamed of??

    Calamity Clegg threw his parties principles straight into the bin and RELENTLESSLY shifted his entire party to the right. True, he had the coalition to 'thank' for how 'easy' it was, but at the end of the day he achieved precisely what the Blairites and those at the top of the Labour party still seem to want.

    Clegg threw principles out the window, embraced tory policies and positioned his party EXACTLY where he and the orange bookers (and the Blairites) mistakenly thought would win them the most votes.

    So how DID that turn out for Clegg and his ostrich faction in May then??

    Oh, that's right, they were utterly humiliated by the voters and are now an irrelevance.

    That leaves the question the Blairites still have no answer to.

    Little Ed lost big but according to the delusional Blairites (and not uncoincidently the westminster bubble and right-wing media) it was because little Ed somehow didn't triangulate enough on the tories. (Obviously the westminster bubble don't understand Scotland's result or want to pretend it didn't happen since that too is 100% proof that the tory spin that little Ed was too left-wing to win an election is hilarious bollocks)

    So perhaps it's long past the time the Blairites and westminster bubble fuckwits told everyone precisely where this imaginary 'sweet spot' is between little Ed's right-wing triangulating (which saw him embrace tory austerity and welfare cuts) and Clegg's extraordinary lurch to the right?


    From the results it is self-evident that BOTH of them got their arse handed to them by the voter. Yet it was Clegg who has almost completely annihilated his party altogether by going the furthest down the Blairite path of tory triangulation and the complete abandoning of principles.

    That hardly points to the current Labour worship of tory policy and neo-liberal establishment spin as being anything other than a death sentence for a party the further down that road they stupidly march.

    On their own heads be it then. Clegg's ostrich faction used to think things couldn't get worse,yet year after year after year Clegg and the voter proved them 100% wrong. So too will it be for Labour if they keep listening to the same out of touch westminster bubble thinking that got them into this mess in the first place.

    1. England and Scotland are now so very different in political outlook and aspiration that the rationale for Scottish independence looks ever stronger. This is perhaps one reason why your view of the wider political landscape outside of Scotland is so strange. The views you express here that the Liberals and Labour Party did so badly in May because they were too centrist and Blairite is entirely wrong. England is, for now at least, a wholly moderate and centrist country; the reasons for the failure of Labour and Liberals are exactly the opposite from that you suggest. Left of centre political views are simply not popular enough outside of Scotland to get anybody elected.

    2. The only thing that is "strange" is you expecting your comical and out of touch westminster bubble view of the world to be taken seriously on here.

      The facts of the election results speak fro themselves.

      Good luck persuading anyone stupid enough to actually believe that the lib dems were humiliated and annihilated for being too left wing - instead of the blindingly obvious - that they were hammered by the voter for being the tories unprincipled poodles.

      Likewise the idea that little Ed was some Stalinist menace is absurd enough for the dumb as fuck tory tabloids to drool over. However, nobody with any common sense will believe that in the face of his weakness and capitulation to the Blairites in accepting tory austerity and the nasty party attacks on welfare and the disabled.

      It's also abundantly clear that none of the westminster establishment parties could enthuse their own supporters or the electorate to any meaningful degree with the dire turnout. The tories themselves had to settle for a tiny majority less than John Major's after so many of their supporters returned to being to ashamed to admit to the pollsters who they were voting for.

      Pretty hard to reconcile all that with some imaginary 'triumph' of a right-wing consensus. But then you singularly failed to offer any evidence or reason for your view other than an amusingly simplistic assertion that I was wrong.

      While it is true that Scottish politics are more left wing what isn't true is that automatically makes right-wing/far-right politics utterly dominant or the only way to win an election. That delusional view may bring comfort to the Blairites and tories but it sure as fuck doesn't bring much comfort to Clegg's ostrich faction or little Ed who tried tory triangulation and paid such a heavy price for it.

      Finally, the source of most of your confusion and inability to understand the political realities outside of the westminster bubble is the usual incorrect view of where left and right spectrum lies. We see it all the time from those who don't know any better than Daily Mail headlines and the witless spin from tories and Blairites. Howevre, the truth of the matter is the lib dems and labour haven't been left-wing or even centrist for many years. They are on the political right of the spectrum as we can see here.

      That's the reason we find the mindless shrieking at the top of the Labour party to keep lurching to the right so hilarious and jawdroppingly stupid. Not only are Labour already ON the right but we have just spent FIVE YEARS watching Clegg lurch his party as far to the right as possible.

      That right-wing triangulation from Clegg self-evidently resulted in one of the most stunning defeats and humiliations of a political party in modern politics.

  3. Ah yes,the pretendy Labour party's fixation with attracting English Tory voters.
    What we need is a Northern Alliance (not the golfing kind) between the SNP and progressive voices in the North of England who will act as a counter balance to the City of London centric forces and bring about economic regeneration outside SE England.

    1. I understand the desire for a northern alliance, it is an attempt to evolve perhaps beyond being simply anti-English, to become anti-southern English! But from what I can understand from those I know well enough in the North-east of England, rather than a northern alliance they would prefer to have a wall.

    2. Your time would be better spent trying to educate yourself on why it was Nicola won the election TV debates, rather than trying to spread your inept bigoted smears on here, anonotroll.

  4. One interesting thing is that none of the 4 candidates have a particularly engaging personality.

  5. Corbyn's relative success has been quite remarkable. He seems the one candidate who has a chance of achieving what the SNP achieved in Scotland during the referendum campaign - energising a segment of the electorate which normally do not vote, and pushing the political centre of gravity to the left. That there is a constituency in England for that kind of politics is apparent. Whether it would be enough to win a general election is another question, but with an almighty internal turf war coming up for the Tories it cant be ruled out.

  6. Looking at the CLP nominations map: Kendall is mainly popular in London. Burnham has weak appeal in Southern England

  7. Fascinating stuff going down in Catalonia right now. The two main independence parties have decided to form a joint list for the elections in September. If they win, they plan to declare independence from Spain within a year. How that pans out will be instructive for those in Scotland who advocate UDI. If it's successful, it will be the obvious route for the SNP to take. I am surprised this is not getting much coverage in the London media. Is there more in Scotland?

    1. Why would it be the obvious route for the SNP to take, unless the London establishment you support is planning to thwart a democratic mandate for an independence referendum? That's the only reason the Catalan parties are having to go down that road.

    2. Quite, James. Regardless of anybody's view of the conduct of the No side during the campaign, the fact is that Cameron respected the mandate of the Scottish government and granted it the legal right to hold a binding referendum at the date of its choosing using the question of its choosing. That alone makes it incomparable to the situation in Catalonia.

  8. I think Labour should take the plunge and try Corbyn.

    The swing they need in 2020 to overturn the current majority is even bigger than they got in '97 under Blair. So realistically the next election is almost a free throw of the dice for them in terms of having an opportunity to take a risk, and they certainly won't win it by playing safe unless the Tories somehow utterly implode.

    So why not Corbyn? If the British public really has lost their taste for left wing politics, then he'll get destroyed and they lose nothing except ridding themselves of a constant internal battle between their left and right wings.

    And if the punters really do want that left wing alternative then maybe he'll win big and give them a chance at government. It's got to be better than just trying to put in a diet-Conservative candidate and hoping for some kind of black swan event to kill the Tories off for them.

    Plus of all the candidates on offer, Corbyn probably plays best in Scotland if they want to start recovering seats up here.

  9. The only people laughing post the Corbyn leadership win, is the Tory party. DC by hook, by crook or by default, not lifting a finger, he's destroyed the Libs for a generation. Labour now has some serious cracks to deal with. The demographics of this with SNP haegemony in Scotland means Labour will struggle to get enough MP's to get a majority. The big problem is that JC is an idealist, idealism is always murdered by the real world, thats why pragmatism rules. The Tories will go all out to destroy Labour and we already see that, with the fear-mongering of NATO & trident issues less than 3 hrs after the vote. Blair, Brown and even David Milliband will be waiting in the wings to endorse and organise coups....Boris Johnson is probably smiling too, knowing he's likely to be facing Trotskist Corbynista's. Someone needs to form an effective opposition to the Tories, because they are doing what they like, and in a week where a 3 year old gets washed up on a beach, a tory MP moans about not getting a hair cut and refugees holidaying in the UK.