Saturday, 18 July 2015

If anyone is behaving like a "petulant child" it's Chuka Umunna.

The Labour Party business secretary Chuka Umunna has waded into the party leadership debate with some incredibly ill-considered and divisive comments that can only possibly be seen as damaging to the Labour Party.

His comments in a Newsnight interview with  Allegra Stratton included accusations that the Labour Party are "behaving like a petulant child who has been told you can't have all the sweeties in the sweetie shop" and "screaming at the electorate". He also launched a bizarre attack on the most left-wing of the leadership candidates Jeremy Corbyn, saying that his political views are "not a politics that can win" and hurling a totally unsubstantiated assertion that Corbyn supports increasing benefits to people who refuse to work.

The lack of self-awareness here is astounding. Umunna launches a scathing attack against elements of his own party for supposedly telling the electorate what they should think, but then in the very same tirade he blatantly presupposes what he thinks the electorate want when he says that Corbyn's politics simply can't win.

From what I've heard from Corbyn is that he believes Labour got it all wrong under Miliband (thanks to the woeful guidance of right-wingers like Ed Balls, Liam Byrne and Chuka Umunna himself), and that what he wants to do now is to offer the public is an actual coherent alternative to the Tory ideological austerity agenda that has already done such catastrophic social and economic damage to the UK.

For Umunna to claim that the public definitely don't want that, and would prefer the kind of Murdoch approved Blairite Red-Toryism he envisages for the party, is to show precisely the contempt for the electorate that he accuses Jeremy Corbyn of.

It hardly looks like a coincidence that a self-serving career politician like Chuka Umunna would make the presupposition that what the electorate want is precisely what would be best for his own political career. I mean if Corbyn wins the Labour leadership election it would have meant en end to Umunna's time near the top of the party hierarchy because Corbyn would have very little need of careerist red-Tories like him, but now that Umunna has launched such a divisive attack on his potential future leader, his political career will be all but over if Corbyn wins. In fact I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Umunna cross the benches to join the Tory Party if Corbyn wins, or to quit politics altogether to work for one of the big businesses he's spent the last few years sucking up to.

To launch such a blistering attack on an increasingly popular potential future leader of the his own party looks like a pretty foolhardy move, but what must be more alarming to Labour Party supporters is the intense disloyalty he has shown to a significant number of Labour Party colleagues and supporters who support, or at least have sympathy for, what Jeremy Corbyn has actually been saying (rather than the unsubstantiated drivel that Umunna just made up to attack him with). Surely Umunna's ire would have been better aimed away from his own party rather than within it?

One of the most absurd assertions Umunna made during his attack on Jeremy Corbyn was that "ultimately we betray our people if we don't get elected", which is very easy indeed to counter with "ultimately we betray our people if we get elected by adopting the very same politics as the party that ours traditionally exists to oppose".

It's precisely this "no principle is important enough to stick to if it means pissing off Rupert Murdoch" attitude that has made the Labour Party such an unappealing and rudderless organisation that they couldn't even prevent an incredibly unpopular Tory Party from taking a parliamentary majority. The Labour Party needs to find some actual principles and stick to them, rather than relying on focus groups and think tanks to come up with Tory-lite policies that they think will play well in the pages of the right-wing press.

I'm not a member of the Labour Party, but if I was I'd be furious. First of all that Umunna's ill-considered tirade can only be seen as damaging and divisive, but more importantly that such a vacuous, imprudent, unprincipled waste of space of a career politician has risen so high within the party to begin with. It takes quite a breathtaking lack of self-awareness for Umunna to realise that it's the rise of hopelessly inadequate politicians like him that has made Labour so much more unelectable, not the fact that there are still a few people left in the party who stand for traditional Labour values like championing social justice, combating poverty and investing in good public services and infrastructure.

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How Ed Balls' austerity-lite agenda ruined Labour's election chances
Austerity is a con
Labour vs the Lib-Dems in the strategic ineptitude stakes
Secret Courts and the very Illiberal Democrats
George Osborne has created more debt than every Labour government in history combined

The Tory ideological mission
How the Lib-Dems were just as compassionless as the Tories
Margaret Thatcher's toxic neoliberal legacies