Sunday, August 21, 2016

Sadiq Khan's woeful intervention in the Labour leadership debate


For a while I naively assumed that Sadiq Khan had a little bit of tactical sense. He kept his distance from the Anyone But Corbyn coup plot, and then adopted a neutral stance in the leadership election. If the Labour Party was ever going to recover from this spectacularly ill-timed and incompetently executed coup plot, it was going to need high profile bridge-builders. The deputy leader Tom Watson had already demonstrated his intention to burn any potential bridges to their foundations with his bizarre "Reds Under The Bed!" fearmongering attack on Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters, and now Sadiq Khan has decided to follow suit with a confused and self-contradictory endorsement of the Anyone But Corbyn candidate Owen Smith.

Khan published his Anyone But Corbyn in the Guardian, which has clearly established the tactic of posting one anti-Corbyn hatchet job per day alongside another article reporting the fact that some Labour Party figure has written an article attacking Jeremy Corbyn. The Guardian know that the Labour leadership ballot papers are being sent out this week so they're engaging in one last desperate propaganda push to sway their readers against Jeremy Corbyn. Interestingly their drip-feeding of anti-Corbyn attacks to their readership closely mirrors the coordinated sequence of resignations that the coup-plotters used to try to bully Jeremy Corbyn into quitting as Labour Party leader

There have been some woeful attempts to undermine Jeremy Corbyn, but Sadiq Khan's is one of the weakest to date choosing to recycle tired mainstream media "Corbyn Bad" tropes and outright lies in lieu of any coherent justification for voting for Owen Smith. 

Khan's article relies heavily on lazy rehashes of the "unelectable" trope, and on the "Blame Corbyn for Brexit" nonsense. 

The closes Khan gets to providing an actual reason to vote for Smith is that apparently "poll after poll shows that Owen is far more popular with the public than Jeremy – and far more likely to win the next election". So the general public prefer the guy they haven't heard of to the guy who has been subjected to a savagely biased mainstream media propaganda campaign? Instead of trying to construct a counter-narrative you just fold and then put a new guy forward to be subjected to exactly the same kind of right-wing smear campaign that Corbyn has been hit with, and Miliband before him, and Brown before him. 

In the space of his short leadership campaign Smith has proven time and again that he's extremely gaffe prone. He's displayed utter contempt for the plight of exploited Sports Direct workers, he's kicked up a media shit-storm over his comments about Theresa May and he even suggested that ISIS should be invited to the negotiating table. It's laughably naive to imagine that the right-wing press wouldn't rip Owen Smith to shreds over gaffes like those once they'd succeeded in their primary objective of getting Corbyn out of the picture. 

Khan even has the gall to blame Corbyn for the fact that a a lot of Labour Party members were reportedly confused about the official Labour position on the EU referendum when he knows full well that this was the fault of a Labour Leave campaign that was completely bankrolled by Tory money and Labour Party politicians like Gisela Stewart riding around on that bloody £350 million for the NHS bus with her mates Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and the UKIP MP Douglas Carswell.

Given that Corbyn's arguments for Remain were undermined by the Tory bankrolled Labour Leave campaign and Gisela Stewart's open cavorting with the lying Vote Leave mob it's remarkable that 63% of Labour voters voted Remain. That's just 1% below the 64% of SNP voters who voted Remain, and they didn't have a Tory Trojan Horse Leave campaign operating in their ranks.

Why is Khan's anger over Brexit aimed at Corbyn rather than the Labour Party MPs who took Tory party cash to bankroll their campaign to undermine the official Labour Party position? It just doesn't make any sense.

Neither does it make any sense to continue blaming Corbyn for Brexit when David Cameron was the one who decided to gamble the entire future of the UK economy in return for a little bit of party political advantage at the 2015 General Election, then lost the gamble when 58% of Tory voters ignored him and voted to quit the EU.

Maybe Corbyn didn't engage in the same kind of hysterical project fear and false-promises as the majority of politicians on either side of the debate, but in many people's judgement it's actually to his credit that he decided to treat the electorate like adults rather than a bunch of sub-juvenile halfwits who can be goaded into supporting one side or another through threats, fearmongering, false-promises and outright lies.

Khan's article also includes a very interesting lie that paints Owen Smith as an opponent to the Iraq war. There's absolutely no evidence whatever that Owen Smith was involved in opposition to the Iraq war, and if there had've been, he would surely have used it during his leadership bid. In fact there is very clear evidence that in 2006, even after years of unplanned post-war chaos and looting, deadly sectarian violence, a massive refugee crisis and the revelation of sick US torture centres like Abu Ghraib, Smith still couldn't bring himself to admit that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was a catastrophe, and still defended the illegal concept of regime change.


Aside from offering nothing but the same old mainstream media anti-Corbyn tropes instead of anything even remotely resembling a policy-based reason for backing Owen Smith the thing that really sticks out is the way that Khan contradicts himself so readily throughout the article.

One of the most contradictory things is the way that Khan says he welcomes the surge of new members who have joined the party since Jeremy Corbyn powered onto the scene, but then states that he's going to vote for Owen Smith, which would undoubtedly result in huge numbers of Labour Party members quitting in absolute disgust and vowing never to vote Labour again. 
"It is undoubtedly a good thing that our party membership is growing. Vibrant political parties are vital to the health of our democracy. Our new members, like all of us, are desperate for a Labour government to make Britain fairer. And that is why I have decided to vote for Owen Smith"
In saying this Khan has demonstrated beyond doubt that he has no understanding of the reason that hundreds of thousands of people have joined the Labour Party in the last year. 

Labour now has more members than all of the other political parties in the UK combined because people have been enthused by a leader who actually opposes the hard-right Thatcherite economic dogma of the last four decades rather than pathetically imitating it like his predecessors, and because he's an honest straight-talking politician rather than a glib rolled-up white sleeves, sound bite repeating Westminster establishment clone. 

If Corbyn gets replaced by a style-above-substance politician who is backed by every single Blairite in the Labour Party, then huge numbers of people will give up hope of Labour ever offering an alternative to the political status quo.

Towards the end of the article Khan condemns the idea of a Labour Party split saying  "talk of a split or a new party is deeply irresponsible and would make it easier for the Tories to win again", but he fails to address the fact that Owen Smith is the leadership candidate who keeps on bringing up the subject of a Labour Party split in order to fearmonger people into voting for him.

Khan also neglects to address the fact that Smith has repeatedly refused to condemn the right-wing Blairite faction who keep writing anonymous threats to the newspapers threatening to paralyse the party with one leadership election after another if they don't get their way, a rebel shadow cabinet, legal action to steal the Labour Party name and assets or a breakaway party. Sadiq Khan and Owen Smith are on the same side as these appalling Blairites who would clearly rather destroy the Labour Party than allow Jeremy Corbyn a chance of success, yet they refuse to condemn them or name-and-shame the ones who keep making these anonymous threats to the press.

Khan's pro-Smith piece is full of lazily rehashed mainstream media attack points, paints an extremely dishonest picture of Owen Smith as an anti-Iraq campaigner and seeks to blame Jeremy Corbyn for Brexit.

The most telling thing about Khan's article is the brazenly self-contradictory nature of it. For a guy who says that "we can’t afford to spend another moment fighting each other" and that
 "no matter who wins the leadership contest, the Labour party must ultimately unite again" he spends an awful lot of his article hammering wedges into party divisions rather than trying to heal them. And for a guy to say that Labour needs to focus their efforts to "oppose this new Tory government" in an article that consists of nothing more than a long rambling criticism of his own party leader (without a word of criticism of the Tories) demonstrates a staggering lack of self-awareness.

Sadiq Khan had a brilliant opportunity to position himself as a very high profile bridge-builder, but he's completely ruined it by jumping feet first into the Anyone But Corbyn camp. The really disappointing thing is that throughout the entire article justifying his decision to join the Anyone But Corbyn camp, he's so fixated on explaining why he thinks people shouldn't vote for Jeremy Corbyn that he completely forgets to express a single compelling reason why people should vote for Owen Smith.


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