How is it that after 13 years, after 13 bloody years, of Labour government, some people still don't get it?
So recently we've had a few rather excitable actions which have brought down a whole heap of condemnation on the more out there bits of the far left (or are one person, put it rhetorically, "enemies of the Labour movement?"); kettling the head of NUS for basically being pro-fees and pro-education cuts, occupying council meetings in protest at Labour councillors cutting services and protesting TUC chief Brendan Barber, apparently for not calling a general strike.
Cue much wailing and moaning about sectarianism, and the "infantile ultra-left". Now, all of these people, Labour loyalists to a man/woman, stood with that Labour government for 13 years (not Porter, too young). You remember that Labour government? The one that introduced PFI to every part of the public sector, that opened the door that the Tories are walking through? The one that presided over widening social inequality, that stood by as it got comfortable with the filthy rich, that left the anti-trade union laws as they were, that sat on its hands as the financial sector took over the country, that enabled massive tax avoidance by the rich, that started the demonisation of the unemployed and the sick, that put together a myriad of plans to victimise, humiliate and attack them. Yeah, THAT Labour Party.
They stood with that Labour Party, and they supported it, they gave it money, and they tried to make all of us vote for it. That Labour Party, the one that to this day, has only one serious gripe with Tory policy, the pace and depth of the cuts. The Labour Party that to this day, has no principled objection to privatisation (how could it?), nor any serious proposal even for reducing the influence of the finance sector over public policy and economic development.
All of these people are bureaucrats in that party. That party that sat down and chose its leaders, and chose its MPs, and returned people who are, undeniably, representatives of the very same class that has brought this country to its present situation, the situation that this country is essentially at the service of international finance.
Now you say, Jack, "representatives of the ruling class", it all sounds a bit sectarian and ultra-left! A bit serious-face, ranty marxist. But until we all get our heads around the fact that our political class, our entire political class, is composed largely of people just waiting for their turn to manage the status quo - that our interests, that any radically different future for us, is off the table - we'll continue to go round and round in demented circles.
There are people essentially pumping out the message that we just need to wait until the Tories are out, and it's "our" turn again. That when Labour get back in, everything will be fine again. That the opposition should be just enough to embarrass the Tories, but not enough to challenge the heavenly capitalist democracy we live under.
And fine, you say, a Labour government is the best we can possibly hope for. It might well be. But there's a difference between a Labour government taking power over a country that's angry, seething and desperate for change, and a Labour government taking their turn after we've all patiently waited.
I don't know if the attacks on Porter, Barber and the Labour councillors were great strategy or not, whether they'll have the effect they were supposed to. But I sure as hell would prefer that Labour Party officials and union bureaucrats knew that there are people out there with expectations, grievances and the will to press them, than not. Whatever the particularities of those actions, these people are "fair game" and centrists should stop being so precious about being challenged on the actual reality of their credentials.
Red Riding 1980 (2009)
23 hours ago