Not sheepish, but individ-ewe-al
2017-07-25 06:36 pm (UTC)
I can certainly get where you're coming from here, and sympathize with some of what you're saying, but I think there's more cause for optimism than you make out.
I think the causes of celebration among progressives were, among other things:
- Relief that there hadn't been the expected Tory landslide
- Refutation of the theory that a left-wing leader and set of policies would inevitably lead to electoral oblivion for Labour
- That the Tories lost their overall majority in Parliament
- Belief that Theresa May and the Tory party in general were fatally damaged, and that the new government would not last long
- Expectation that the worst of Tory policies would have to be moderated in response to their weakened Parliamentary situation.
I think the first three are justified, the fifth seems to be partially justified, but I suspect the 4th may be over-optimistic. I suspect that Theresa May herself may not last that long, possibly going as soon as this autumn, possibly at the end of the Brexit process, but that the Tory/DUP government could well stumble on until 2022. Maybe not, maybe something will cause the coalition to fall apart, but there is no necessary reason why it must be so.
I think the Labour policies are much more positive than you make out. For example, on an issue that is very close to both of our hearts because of people we know, abolition of the Work Capability Assessment, and generally massive improvements in the benefits situation for disabled people.
There's also a lot of good stuff in terms of higher spending on health, education and infrastructure, higher minimum wage, better conditions for workers generally, making the benefits system less punitive and more generous, tenants' rights, some good stuff on mental health, and quite a lot else. It's not revolutionary, but there's a lot of stuff that would make a genuine difference in a lot of people's lives.
I am disappointed by the leadership's attitude to Brexit and immigration. I think they should unequivocally support remaining in the single market and free movement. I think they think they're being strategic, not opening themselves to attack and waiting for the government strategy to fall apart, but you need to be proposing a clear and positive alternative, which they are not. The pandering on immigration is very bad, and is clearly not what Corbyn actually believes and has been supporting all his political life up to now. I would not wish to offer any defence of this.
I think you are exaggerating the 'dear leader' thing. I don't think Corbyn is an autocrat. He is giving preference in the Shadow Cabinet to people who stood by him when his party enemies tried to bring him down, which is hardly surprising. I don't actually see any sign of a 'purge' of non-Corbynite MPs; there have been no moves to encourage widespread deselection, for example. I think
has the right of it in seeing the irony in the "Oh Jeremy Corbyn" chants and the general "Corbynmania".
There is a tendency, on the left as elsewhere, to insist on absolute orthodoxy (for whatever value of orthodoxy), and condemn any deviation as betrayal, often accompanied nowadays by severe online abuse. This is a huge problem, but it is not new or unique to Corbyn supporters; I think by and large the worst abuse comes from the right, but that does not of course justify when it comes from the left. Corbyn himself has repeatedly condemned such abuse, not that that stops some of his supporters of course.
I certainly don't want to minimize this, online abuse especially is horrific in the way it effects women and minorities etc., but I don't think it is characteristic of the current Labour left-wing movement as a whole, as a key feature of its nature: it is something that exists within all political tendencies.
Overall, I think there is a lot to be positive about in UK politics at the moment, including in the Labour Party. Other voices on the left and center-left are also extremely necessary, including the Lib Dems, Greens, SNP and PC. On Brexit in particular, Labour needs to be pushed in a more pro-Single Market, pro-free movement direction.
There's a lot to be negative about too, chiefly that the Tories are still in power, albeit weakened. I think there's a good prospect, though no certainty of them being defeated at the next election, but the question is how far away that is and how much damage they can cause before then, which could be quite a lot. The hope is that the mess they are making and their own internal divisions will lead to a collapse of the government sooner rather than later, but that is not certain.
If and when they are kicked out though, I think that the Corbyn-led Labour Party, hopefully in a position where it needs to make deals with other parties, offers the best alternative government program we've seen in a very, very long time.
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