Thursday 30 July 2015

Stuffing the House of Lords - How David Cameron's maths just doesn't add up

In the wake of the scandal involving the House of Lords peer John Buttifant Sewel (where he was filmed taking what appeared to be cocaine and cavorting with prostitutes) the unelected and anti-democratic nature of the House of Lords has come back under scrutiny.

The SNP famously oppose the House of Lords and do not accept unelected peerages, so their condemnation of the system carries much more weight than the others, however the Liberal Democrats, Green Party and all four of the Labour leadership candidates have all stated that it's time for the long overdue reform of the House of Lords to make it more democratic, more accountable and less bloated and expensive.

David Cameron has taken a completely different stance, declaring his intention to do nothing whatever to reform the House of Lords, and instead continue to stuff it full of even more unelected peers (many of them major Tory party donors no doubt), using the absurd excuse that he needs to add even more unelected peers to the already bloated chamber to rebalance the composition of the House of Lords to match the composition of the House of Commons.

Before I get to demonstrating the absurdity of David Cameron's claim to be rebalancing the House of Lords in the name of fairness, it's important to point out how his plans to add even more unelected politicians to the Lords while planning to cut the number of elected members of the Commons is an affront to the concept of democracy. Cameron claims that the House of Commons needs to cut back 50 elected MPs in order to save money, yet in his time as Prime Minister he's already added an a staggering 197 unelected peers to the House of Lords, and intends to add at least another 50 more as soon as he gets the chance, and even more after that.

How David Cameron's maths just doesn't add up

David Cameron has consistently claimed that he needs to continue stuffing the bloated House of Lords with ever more unelected peers in order to rebalance the composition of the chamber to match that of the House of Commons, hence his decision to add dozens of Liberal Democrat peers alongside the scores of new Tory peers during the last parliament.

Under the current anti-democratic shambles of a system it's obviously not possible to remove Lib-Dem peers because their minor party is now massively over-represented, because it's not even possible to remove convicted perjurers like Jeffrey Archer, the jailed expenses cheats Paul White and John Taylornor even the convicted arsonist Mike Watson

Given that the House of Lords won't even remove convicted criminals, including two who were jailed for stealing from the taxpayer via their House of Lords expenses, it's not likely they're going to remove Lib-Dem peers for massively over-representing their dwindling party. So the only way for the House of Lords to be rebalanced is to increase the number of unelected peers from other parties until they are proportionate to the Liberal Democrat share of the House of Lords. There are two ways of doing this, it can either be done by balancing the number of peers per party to the share of votes cast at the last election, or by balancing the number of peers per party to the share of MPs in the House of Commons.
Balancing to the vote share

The Liberal Democrats took 7.9% of the vote at the 2015 General Election, which means that in order to be proportionate every 7.9% of the General Election vote a party got should return 101 unelected peers, or more simply, each 1% of the vote should be worth 12.78 unelected peers.

If we try to put this method of introducing proportionality into practice, the House of Lords would have to almost double in size to almost 1,500 unelected members (including the 179 unelected crossbench peers and the 26 unelected Church of England bishops).

Given that UKIP took 12.7% of the vote compared to the Lib-Dems 7.9%, they would need to increase their House of Lords contingent from the current 3 unelected peers to 160.

The Green Party would be entitled to another 47 unelected peers to add to their single member, the SNP would have to be offered 59 unelected peerages (which they would decline on principle) and various other smaller parties such as Plaid Cymru and the DUP would be entitled to several more unelected peers too.

In order to make the Tory and Labour share of the unelected peerages match the General Election vote share without removing any of the 101 Liberal Democrats, they would need an additional 241 and 172 seats respectively.

Under a system where the number of peerages is matched to the vote share in the General Election, it would be necessary for David Cameron to create almost 700 new completely unelected life peers.

Balancing to the number of MPs

If creating an additional 700 unelected peers in order to rebalance the House of Lords sounds crackers, then just think about how many new unelected peers would be needed to balance the House of Lords to match the share of MPs in the House of Commons.

The Lib Dems have 101 peers, but just 8 of the 650 MPs (1.2%). This means that for each 1% of the number of MPs a party has, they should be entitled to 84 unelected peers.

Due to the bizarrely unrepresentative nature of the House of Commons electoral system UKIP and the Green Party wouldn't fare too well, with an entitlement of just 12 unelected peers each to reflect the fact that they only got one MP apiece, despite bagging well over five million votes between them.

The big winners would be the SNP who would have the opportunity to decline the offer of 717 unelected peers to match their share of the MPs in parliament; the DUP, which bagged as many seats as the Liberal Democrats would be entitled to increase their number of unelected peers from 4 to 101; and Paid Cymru would be entitled to increase their representation of unelected peers from 2 to 38.

Labour and the Tories would once again be the biggest winners. Labour would need to increase their representation from 212 to 2,975 unelected peers, and the Tories would need to increase theirs from 226 to 4,225.

Using the number of MPs in the House of Commons as the base to which the House of Lords is rebalanced would require an upper chamber with 8,411 members (including the 205 bishops and crossbenchers)

So what is David Cameron's idea of fairness?

David Cameron clearly has no intention of properly balancing the House of Lords to reflect the vote share, nor the number of MPs, otherwise the House of Lords would have to become by far the most bloated legislative assembly in the entire world (it's already the biggest in the world outside of China).

What David Cameron means by fairness is stuffing the House of Lords with dozens more Tory supporters so that his government is able to force through deeply unpopular legislation (such as scrapping of the "free at the point of need" principle from the NHS) without resistance from the Lords, and screw the fact that the Liberal Democrats are massively overrepresented compared to all of the other minor parties.

David Cameron doesn't give a stuff about fairness, he's only using the concept of fairness as a convenient excuse for stuffing even more of his cronies and party donors into the unelected upper chamber. If he gave the slightest damn about fairness, then he'd not have completely ruled out reforming the House of Lords to make it a democratic and accountable institution, rather than the anti-democratic bastion of unelected and unaccountable establishment privilege that render claims that the UK is a democracy utterly laughable.

A much simpler proposal

The supposed "logic" behind David Cameron's efforts to rebalance the House of Lords is that the make up of the Lords should reflect the wishes of the electorate. However, rather than constantly adding ever more unelected Lords in order to rebalance the make up, it would surely be much simpler to introduce democratic elections so the public can directly influence the process, rather than have David Cameron load the place full of unelected establishment cronies.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

The campaign for fair votes
Labour vs the Lib-Dems in the strategic ineptitude stakes
What the response to the Fair Votes petition tells us about the Tory mentality
George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
What do Tory donors get for their cash?
The Tory ideological mission
How the Lib-Dems were just as compassionless as the Tories
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Yanis Varoufakis: The man who could do nothing right (according to the UK mainstream media)

In July 2015 a number of stories appeared in the UK mainstream press (from the supposedly left-leaning Guardian to the hard-right Daily Telegraph) slamming the former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis for his admission that he had set about making arrangements for a parallel payments system in an effort to prevent the Greek economy from descending into absolute chaos should the EC-ECB-IMF Troika have decided to eject Greece form the Eurozone.

As it turned out the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras caved in to the hardball tactics from the Troika and agreed to push on with imposing even more of the asset stripping and harsh austerity measures that have kept the Greek economy in a perpetual state of crisis for so many years, meaning that Varoufakis' parallel payments "Plan B" wasn't necessary.

The tone of the articles were severely critical, even suggesting that Varoufakis should be arrested and tried for treason for daring to make preparations in case Greece ended up being driven out of the Eurozone. Many would argue that his decision to prepare for such an eventuality was the only sane course of action, especially given the way the ECB took the incredible decision to starve the Greek economy of liquidity during the referendum process in a desperate attempt to intimidate the Greek people into voting the way the Troika wanted them to.

However pragmatic such a "Plan B" might seem, especially given the behaviour of the Troika, the UK mainstream media have tried to create the narrative that Varoufakis was behaving like some kind of treasonous rogue element who now deserves severe punishment for his actions.

One of the main thrusts of the case against Varoufakis is the fact that he made these preparations in secrecy, but only a simpleton would think that such a process should have been conducted openly. What on earth would the Greek population and the global stock markets have made of an announcement that Greece was making official preparations for going back to the Drachma? The idea that there should have been full public knowledge of such a contingency plan is ludicrous.

Aside from the widespread panic that such an announcement would have triggered, there's also the claim that the Troika had control of the Greek tax system at the time, meaning that any request for access to their own citizens' tax records by the democratically elected Greek government would have alerted the Troika to the their contingency plans.

As far as I'm concerned, the only legitimate criticism of Varoufakis' "Plan B" is that it was so small-scale that it surely never would have worked effectively. The idea that a team of five people could come up with a system to keep an entire economy of 10.8 million people afloat if their currency was suddenly discontinued was over-optimistic to say the least. Such a scheme might have mitigated some of the worst economic chaos of a forced Eurozone exit, but the idea that such a limited programme could have ensured a relatively smooth transition is complete fantasy.

Returning to the coverage in the UK mainstream media, it's easy to imagine the utterly outraged reaction if Greece had been ejected from the Eurozone and Varoufakis hadn't made any plans whatever for a parallel payments system to keep the economy alive. He would have been slammed as reckless and incompetent. It seems that whatever Varoufakis might have done, the reaction from the UK press would always have been extremely critical. The overarching narrative was always going to be that Varoufakis is a bad/dangerous/criminal man who deserves to be severely punished.

The reason for this overarching narrative is pretty obvious. Varoufakis is one of the very few politicians who has dared to criticise ideological austerity and the asset stripping schemes that are being forced onto the people of Europe in the strong terms that they warrant. It's admirable that some UK political groups (the SNP, Plaid Cymru, the Green Party and the Corbyn faction of the Labour Party) have criticised ideological austerity as the economically incoherent gibberish that it is, but Varoufakis has gone much further, accusing the Troika of economic terrorism against the people of Greece.

The established paradigm in the vast majority of the UK press is that there there is no alternative to ideological austerity, and that the bizarre assumptions, historical revisionism, misleading propaganda and outright lies that underpin the ideological austerity narrative must not subjected to critical scrutiny. The fact that Varoufakis has stepped well outside of the accepted spectrum of debate makes him an obvious target for condemnation. 

 In taking such a strong stance against ideological austerity and the asset stripping of whole nation states Varoufakis has made himself very popular, which means that the pro-austerity mainstream media see it as their job to take him down, hence all of the headlines and articles accusing him of "treason".

It's pretty easy to see why the Daily Telegraph and other elements of the right-wing press are so keen to turn Varoufakis into a totemic hate figure (he dares to question their beloved ideological austerity agenda), but the reason for the supposedly centre-left Guardian to take a similar stance is a little harder to fathom. It's either that the Guardian has moved so far to the right over the years that they now actively support the continued devastation of Greece by a bunch of ideologically driven unelected right-wing ideologues, or they're so chronically understaffed these days that their so-called journalists are just doing "churnalism" by reworking articles they've read in the Daily Telegraph or wherever, without subjecting any of the underlying assumptions to the slightest amount of critical scrutiny.

As far as I'm concerned Varoufakis is far from perfect. He's an interesting and intelligent guy who is prepared to speak his mind, but like all of us, he's not without his flaws. One thing I am sure of though is that if he's so hated by the unelected technocrats of the IMF and the unelected bankers at the ECB that they refused to negotiate with him, and the right-wing dominated media in the UK are so obviously determined to turn him into some kind of frightening totemic hate figure, then he can't be all that bad can he?

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

Austerity is a con
Greece as Sissyphus: The use of figurative language in political analysis
The annihilation of PASOK in Greece
George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
How Ed Balls' austerity-lite agenda ruined Labour's election chances
The Tory ideological mission
Anti-austerity = Epic Win / Austerity-lite = Massive Fail
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies

Sunday 26 July 2015

Scrap the leadership election - Have the Blairites gone completely crackers?

In my last article about the Labour Party leadership contest I concluded by noting that every time Labour right-wingers like Tony Blair, John McTernan, Chuka Umunna, David Blunkett and the three other leadership contenders spout their extraordinary anti-Corbyn rhetoric, they're actually helping him by boosting his public profile. 

Just like the way that the bigoted antics of so many Ukipper fruitcakes has kept UKIP firmly in the headlines, the more hyperbolic fuss the Labour right-wingers make about Jeremy Corbyn, the higher his public profile becomes.

Judging by his lunatic assertion that the unelected interim Labour leader Harriet Harman should cancel the leadership contest because the wrong candidate might win, it's pretty safe to assume that the Labour MP John Mann is not a follower of my work, nor smart enough to figure out for himself the self-defeating nature of his ludicrous suggestion.

52,000 people have joined the Labour Party since the General Election in May and the Another Angry Voice Facebook page has been flooded with comments from people stating that they've joined/rejoined the Labour Party in order to back Jeremy Corbyn. However this surge of new members is not being welcomed by the Blairite rump of the Labour Party at all.

After the Scottish independence referendum the SNP gleefully celebrated a huge rise in party membership which made them the third biggest political party in the entire UK; before the General Election the Green Party were delighted with the rise in membership they called "the Green Surge"; after their catastrophic General Election performance the Liberal Democrats took some solace in the surge of new membership; but the Labour Party seem to have a completely different attitude to this big surge in interest in Labour politics: Instead of welcoming and engaging with their new members, people like John Mann openly resent them, and even describe them as "infiltrators"!

Any other party would be delighted to have picked up 52,000 new members and counting in just ten weeks, but the Labour old guard are not. It seems that they'd rather stick with the failed austerity-lite rubbish that ruined their chances in the last election and set about driving all the new members back out of the party, rather than let Labour Party members choose the proper straight-talking left-winger they'd like to see given a chance to prove himself.

Of course the decision to allow anyone who was prepared to pay £3 to become a registered supporter and have a vote in the Labour leadership contest was a very silly idea from the beginning, however once the terms of the leadership contest have been decided, and some 17,000 people have already paid their £3, it would be insanity for the Labour Party top brass to suddenly scrap the contest because they're afraid that Jeremy Corbyn might win.

Just imagine the reaction if John Mann got his wish and the leadership contest were to be abandoned. There would be an awful lot of discontent within the party about the decision, and Corbyn's public profile would get another huge boost as "the man the Labour leadership are so terrified of they scrapped their leadershipelection rather than have him win".

Even if the Labour leadership found some way of ensuring that Corbyn couldn't win the revised leadership contest, what legitimacy would the new leader have when it is obvious to all (including very many Labour Party members) that this other candidate only managed to get the job because the rules were redrawn to prevent Jeremy Corbyn from winning?

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

The Blairite attacks on Jeremy Corbyn
Labour vs the Lib-Dems in the strategic ineptitude stakes
Ukippers say the funniest things
George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
How Ed Balls' austerity-lite agenda ruined Labour's election chances
The Tory ideological mission
How the Lib-Dems were just as compassionless as the Tories
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies

Saturday 25 July 2015

How feminism is damaged by crude gender stereotyping and the use of sexist language

I'd like to begin this article with a declaration that I am a male feminist.

I strongly oppose injustice and discrimination and I strongly believe in the empowerment of women. In fact I support the empowerment of all people because I believe that the more politically and economically empowered people there are in a society, the freer and fairer that society is.

In this article I'm going to raise some criticisms of a piece of feminist literature, not because I oppose feminism, but because I think that blatantly sexist material that is dressed up as feminism does an awful lot of damage to the general concept of feminism, and provides opponents of feminism devastating ammunition with which to attack the whole concept of female empowerment.

What is sexism?

Before I get to the image that exemplifies the kind of sexist approach that has infected some kinds of feminist literature, it's worthwhile to briefly explain what I mean by sexism.

It isn't sexist to point out that there are differences between men and women. It isn't sexist to acknowledge that on average men are taller, stronger and faster than women. It isn't sexist to note that on average girls do better than boys at school. It isn't sexist to think that perhaps people with the capacity to actually grow another human being inside themselves and then nurture them from their own breast might have a slightly different understanding of life to those of us who don't.

What is sexist is gender stereotyping. It is sexist to assume that just because a person has a penis, that they're a potential rapist. It is sexist to assume that just because a person has the capacity for childbirth, that somehow they're automatically more caring than someone who hasn't. It is sexist to assume that just because someone has a specific gender, they're ill suited to particular professions. In essence, sexism is judging people by their gender, not by their attributes as a person.

The sexist male abuse wheel image

Sexist and narrow-minded language like this is severely damaging to
feminism. Not only is it possible for women to do all of the things
in the segments to men, at least half of the stuff around the edge is
enjoyed between many millions of consenting adults, meaning
that defining it as "abuse" without a single word about the
importance of consent is alienating to people who like BDSM.
The widely shared* image that really wound me up (on the right) actually contains quite a bit of useful information about abusive relationships. What bothers me so much about it is the way that it assumes that the abuser is male and that the victim is female. 

The English language has a gender neutral third person pronoun ("they") so I really can't understand why the designers of this image felt it necessary to paint the abuser as always being male by using the gender specific "her" to describe the victim, and labelling what is clearly a description of controlling behaviour as being "male privilege" (as if being bossy and controlling is an inherently male thing).

The stated defence of this image is that the majority of abuse that goes on in relationships is perpetrated by males against females. I don't disagree with this assertion at all. Domestic abuse perpetrated by females against their male partners is certainly much rarer than abuse inflicted by males on their female partners. The problem with this assertion isn't that it's inaccurate, it's that it's an absolutely crap defence of the use of sexist language. Just because the majority of abuse is inflicted by men, that doesn't mean that it's not sexist to gender stereotype males as abusers and females as victims.

To give an example of how rubbish this defence is, let's think about another kind of advice wheel style infographic, but this time about how to be a good parent. It's undeniably true that in our society females on average still do far more of the family care work than males, therefore, using the same "logic" as the abuse wheel, it would obviously be "fair" to gender stereotype the parent as a female wouldn't it? Therefore we'd end up with sentences like "she should ensure that her children eat a balanced diet", "she should take care to arrange regular medical checkups for her children", "she should be careful to build a stable emotional environment for the family", "she should ensure that her children's educational needs are met"  ...

I'm pretty sure that any such thing would rightly infuriate a lot of feminists, and also rather a lot of modern men (who take a great deal more responsibility for family issues than the men of their fathers' or grandfathers' generations), but such an image would be backed up by an identical pseudo-logical defence as the one posited by defenders of the blatantly sexist abuse wheel image. 

Anyone who would find offence in an infographic that gender stereotypes the female as the primary carer because it's more often the case, must surely also find offence in an infographic that gender stereotypes the male as the abuser and the female as the victim because it's more often the case. To take offence at one and not the other would clearly be hypocrisy.

Male victims of domestic abuse

It is easy to see how the gender roles could easily be reversed in every single segment of the abuse wheel. It's also easy to understand that there are large numbers of men out there who may have suffered one or many of the types of abuse detailed.

Is it the job of feminists to stand up against all forms of physical and psychological abuse regardless of the gender of the perpetrator, or is the the role of feminism
 to raise awareness of physical and psychological abuse only when the victim is female, and to use sexist gender stereotyping to sweep the existence of male victims under the carpet?

I don't think it takes a great deal of empathy to understand how a male who has suffered physical or emotional abuse might feel when confronted by an image that defines him as the aggressor and his abuser as the victim. Given the extremely negative emotional response this kind of sexist gender stereotyping might trigger, it's obviously possible that an instinctive reaction might be to angrily dismiss the concept of feminism as a load of inaccurate sexist rubbish.

How prudishness alienates people

The crude gender stereotyping in the abuse wheel infographic isn't the only really poor thing about it. If we read the list of words around the edge, it clearly defines a lot of things as "Physical and Sexual Abuse". I'm pretty sure that few people would contest the assertion that things like kicking and punching are abuse, but some of the other stuff is clearly dependent upon the incredibly important concept of consent.

There are many millions of people out there who like a bit of rough and tumble when it comes to sex. Tastes range from hardcore BDSM stuff all the way down to a bit of gentle biting, bottom slapping or hair pulling. The idea that all of this stuff is 
"Physical and Sexual Abuse" is so incredibly prudish it would be laughable if it wasn't giving the concept of feminism such a bad name.

The idea that stuff like biting, slapping, hair pulling, shoving (against a wall), throwing down (onto a bed), grabbing and even choking are automatically 
"Physical and Sexual Abuse" without a single word about the importance of consent is appallingly ill-judged, and frankly offensive to anyone who likes anything even a little bit more kinky than standard vanilla sex.

Damaging gender narratives

In my opinion the worst thing about this image isn't the fact that it could be upsetting or alienating to men who have suffered relationship abuse, or to people of any gender who enjoy a bit of kink with their sex, it's that it creates really damaging gender narratives.

It's my opinion that spreading the gender narrative that it is the female role in society to be the victim is every bit as bad as spreading the gender narrative that it is the male role to be the abuser.

When confronting relationship abuse, a much stronger, and less sexist starting point would surely be to condemn all forms of relationship abuse, instead of defining relationship abuse as something that is only ever inflicted by men on women, as if it's some kind of social norm that males abuse their female partners, rather than abuse being something that can happen both ways, even in a single relationship.

To give an example of what I mean by abuse happening both ways even in a single relationship: It's entirely possible that within a dysfunctional relationship where trust and respect have broken down, that one partner may use their economic advantage to impose their will on the other, while the other partner fights back with abusive language and threats to take the children away. The gender narrative that the male is always the perpetrator and the female is always the victim is not only a damaging thing to accept as a social norm, it's also blatantly inaccurate in a great number of cases.

Perhaps it might be better for feminists to begin by defining what constitutes a good relationship (one built upon a foundation of love, trust, respect, honesty, affection, emotional support ...) and saying that this is the kind of stuff everyone has the right to expect from their partner, no matter what their gender, rather than just picking a load of horrible stuff and building a blatantly sexist gender narrative over the top of it?

Damaging feminism

The use of sexist language, Victorian style prudishness and the propagation of damaging gender narratives are all incredibly harmful to the concept of feminism because for every person who is capable of understanding that one sexist and narrow-minded infographic isn't representative of the whole concept of feminism, there are probably many who wouldn't be.

The feminism I believe in promotes equality and eschews sexism and crude gender stereotyping. A great number of people have less knowledge about the subject of feminism than I do (and I hardly claim to be an expert), and have the warped idea that feminism is a form of female supremacism which has the aim of repressing and subjugating men (the tabloid definition of what feminism is).

In my view the widely shared sexist abuse wheel infographic is only ever going to convince such people that feminism is indeed some kind of sexist vendetta against men, which is incredibly damaging to legitimate feminist philosophy because it inevitably ends up gets tarred with the same brush.

If feminism is to have more success, feminists really need to be careful in their use of language. They have to understand that alienating men through the use of sexist language, alienating people with non-vanilla sexual preferences with unbelievable prudishness and building harmful gender narratives on top of serious issues are all things that do the concept of feminism far more harm than good.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.

*Several people have tried to excuse the sexist language in the abuse wheel image that has been widely shared on Facebook by saying it was originally from a women's support group in the USA. My issues are that it's now been shared all over social media with no such context meaning that the vast majority of the millions of people to have seen it have no idea where it came from, and that the origins of the infographic don't even alter the fact that it promotes damaging gender narratives.

Don't read this article
"Your page is going to be taken down" - threats from the extreme-right fringe
We need to talk about cyber-bullying
Richard Dawkins and the far-right extremists
Why I don't speak on behalf of the collective left
Why you might well be more political than you think

Thursday 23 July 2015

The Blairite attacks on Jeremy Corbyn

The rising popularity and public profile of the left-wing Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn is sending the right-wing elements of the Labour Party into panic mode. In the wake of the almost unbelievably inept decision by the three Blairite leadership candidates to abstain from voting against the latest Tory attack on children, vulnerable people and the working poor, leaving Jeremy Corbyn as the only leadership candidate to actually oppose the Tories, right-wingers like John McTernan, Tony Blair and Chuka Umunna waded into the leadership debate to attack him.

Assumptions about the electorate

The first thing to note before I get to the specific comments from McTernan, Blair and Umunna is that their opposition to Jeremy Corbyn is built upon the foundation of a fantasy narrative about what the UK electorate want. Not only is it highly presumptuous to tell the electorate what they do and don't want, the idea that people don't want a left-wing government is also contradicted by a number of indisputable facts, including the fact that a party running on a centre-left anti-austerity platform just annihilated the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats in Scotland (more on that later ...) and the fact that an overwhelming majority of the UK public support the unmistakably left-wing policies of running the NHS, the nation's energy infrastructure, the Royal Mail and the rail network as not-for-profit public sector services (source).

The claim that a Labour Party that offers a genuine alternative to the Tory ideological austerity con would render itself completely unelectable is at best a display of bogus futurology, and at worst a complete denial of indisputable facts.

John McTernan

In order to understand how ludicrous John McTernan's attacks on Jeremy Corbyn were, it's important to understand who the guy actually is. Newsnight presented him as if he was some kind of expert on Labour Party politics, but in reality the guy should be considered an absolute laughing stock. This is a guy who was Chief of Staff to the humiliated Scottish Labour Party leader Jim Murphy. McTernan just played an instrumental role in the most catastrophic electoral collapse in British political history (from 41 Scottish Labour seats to just 1), yet he has the audacity to lecture the Labour Party about how they need to stick to the same Blairite centre-right policies he just failed abysmally with, or they'll be unable to win the 2020 General Election!

Aside from McTernan's complete lack of self-awareness or humility, he also displayed a very nasty streak too, calling certain Labour Party MPs "morons" for having nominated Jeremy Corbyn to the leadership contest. People who go around using mental health based insults to describe anybody they disagree with are odious enough, but to use such language to attack members of their own party is not only vile, it's also hugely divisive. Any genuine member of the Labour Party (whether they support Jeremy Corbyn or not) should be horrified at an absurdly discredited figure like McTernan publicly using such divisive and offensive language against fellow Labour Party members.

What authority does this joker think he has to call people "morons" and opine about what the Labour Party needs to do to win elections when he's just overseen the most humiliating capitulation in the entire history of the Labour Party? I can't actually think of anyone in the Labour Party who is more deserving of insults against their intelligence and mental faculties than McTernan himself.

The fact that McTernan is so lacking in self-awareness isn't the most important thing though, the more important thing is the way that the heavily biased mainstream media have picked up on his anti-Corbyn tirade and reported it as if it was the brilliant advice of some kind of sage and insightful oracle, rather than impotent ranting of the hopelessly discredited laughing stock that he actually is.

Tony Blair

John McTernan is a hopelessly discredited figure saved only by the fact that practically nobody knows who he actually is. Tony Blair on the other hand is widely despised for misleading parliament and the electorate in his desperation to cement his legacy as a war leader through the invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Like Jeremy Corbyn I opposed the attack on Iraq at the time, but with the benefit of hindsight very many people who supported it have now come to realise what a catastrophe it turned out to be; how Tony Blair and his minions lied and deceived in order to get the bloodbath that they wanted; and how the destabilisation of Iraq led to a decade of brutal sectarian violence culminating in the rise of ISIS.

The incredible thing is that Blair's legacy of dishonesty and destruction in Iraq is not even the most glaring hole in his credibility. The clearest proof of all that the man has no credibility whatever to talk about the Labour leadership contenst is the desperate rubbish he spouted in a feeble effort to attack and undermine the groundswell of support rising behind Jeremy Corbyn.

The worst part of all in Blair's premeditated attack on Corbyn was his unmistakable assertion that he'd rather see the Tories win in 2020 than a Labour Party running on a left-wing platform. Here's precisely what he said:

"Let me be absolutely clear: I wouldn't want to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn't take it." [source]
This assertion that Blair would rather the Tories remain in power than see a left-wing Labour leadership triumph in 2020 tells us all we need to know about the man: Tony Blair is an enemy of the labour movement. He always has been. He usurped the Labour Party in 1994 and used it for his own purposes (to become rich and powerful), and now that there's a groundswell of opinion that the party should be taken back from his Blairite successors, he's saying he'd rather the Tories remained in power for another decade than see that happen.

Chuka Umunna

I've already written an article about Chuka Umunna's petulant wailing from the sidelines, so I'll keep this fairly brief. On the day after Tony Blair's attack on Jeremy Corbyn, Chuka joined the Blairite leadership candidates Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall in swearing that he'd never serve in a front bench role were Jeremy Corbyn to win the Labour leadership election.

The Guardian described this terribly divisive posturing as "a potential exodus of talent", which is perhaps one of the most bizarre misuses of the English language I've ever seen. People like Cooper, Kendall and Umunna are not "talent". They are precisely the kind of unprincipled self-serving career politician non-entities that the Labour Party need to sweep aside in order to rebuild their credibility. The fact that a Corbyn shadow cabinet would contain none of these three is actually yet another good reason for Labour Party members and supporters to get out and vote for Corbyn.


It's entirely clear that the Labour Party right-wingers who have queued up to attack Jeremy Corbyn in the mainstream press are pretty damned clueless because they are so keen to adopt the stance that they know more about what the British electorate might want in 2020 than the British public do themselves. However the thing that makes them look so outlandishly stupid is the fact they can't even understand the consequences of their own divisive diatribes.

Before the Labour leadership election the vast majority of people had no idea who any of the four candidates were. Those of a political disposition may have known about Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper from their various roles on the Labour front bench. Political nerds like me knew about Jeremy Corbyn because his name featured so often on the lists of Labour MPs sane enough to rebel against the party when they decided to do lunatic things. Liz Kendall was such an appalling non-entity that even a politics nerd like me knew nothing about her before the leadership election.

It's fair to say that all four of the candidates were suffering from low public profiles when they decided to enter the race to become the next Labour leader. The idiocy of the Blairites lies in the fact that every time they launch an attack on Jeremy Corbyn, they raise his public profile, meaning more people have heard of him and might have a look into what he actually stands for.

What makes these attacks even more self-defeating in Tony Blair's case, is that he's now seen as such an unprincipled figure than a condemnation from Tony Blair serves as a ringing endorsement in many millions of people's ears.

As far as I'm concerned, it would be a good thing if the right-wing elements of the Labour Party kept up their highly divisive attacks on Jeremy Corbyn, because each time they do it they raise his public profile and make it even more likely that he's going to actually win. 

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Austerity is a con
Labour vs the Lib-Dems in the strategic ineptitude stakes
If anyone is behaving like a petulant child it's Chuka Umunna
George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined
How Ed Balls' austerity-lite agenda ruined Labour's election chances
The Tory ideological mission
Who are the 48 genuine Labour MPs?
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies