Wednesday 17 August 2016

Managerialism vs Participatory democracy

The leadership battle between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith isn't actually about policy or competence, it's actually a power struggle between the Labour Party establishment and the Labour Party membership. It's an attempt by the party elite to crush the move towards democratisation and re-establish their control of the party by returning to the managerialist style.

In policy terms the contrast between the 2015 Labour Party leadership election and the 2016 re-election forced by the Anyone But Corbyn coup plotters couldn't be stronger. In 2015 Jeremy Corbyn was a lone voice of reason amongst four candidates arguing that the Labour Party must begin actually opposing George Osborne's socially and economically ruinous austerity agenda rather than weakly imitating it. 

Within a year of Corbyn's victory the consensus has changed because the Anyone But Corbyn faction have realised that the only chance they have of beating him is by fielding a candidate who imitates his policies.

Within a year Jeremy Corbyn has forced a complete change of direction out of the Labour Party establishment. After the 2015 General Election Labour Party right-wingers brazenly tried to claim that Labour had lost the election because they hadn't done a good enough job of imitating George Osborne's ideologically driven economic madness. Jeremy Corbyn has forced them to recognise that what people actually want from the Labour Party is opposition to the massive upwards redistribution of wealth that the Tories have overseen for the last six years. Millions of ordinary people are furious that an economic crisis caused by the super-rich bankers has been used as an excuse to transfer as much wealth as possible from the poor and ordinary to the super rich, and they want Labour to offer an alternative rather than "more of the same but not quite as nasty" austerity-lite rubbish.

The fact that Owen Smith is posturing as a radical left-winger and pillaging a load of Jeremy Corbyn's policies is more than a demonstration that Corbyn has won the argument on opposing austerity, it's also a demonstration that the rebellion against Corbyn isn't motivated by his left-wingness but by something else.


The coup-plotters have  clearly realised that they can't beat Corbyn in a leadership ballot by pushing deeply unpopular right-wing austerity economics, so they've tried to reframe the debate by claiming that their objection to Corbyn is his incompetence.

The problem with this narrative is that it that hardly rings true coming from people who loyally stuck with Ed Miliband for five excruciating years as he stumbled incompetently from one miscalculation or missed opportunity to another.

These people whingeing about Corbyn's competence are the same people who obeyed Ed Miliband when he told them to help Iain Duncan Smith write himself a "get out of jail free card" by abstaining on his retroactive legislation to cover up his unlawful treatment of unemployed people.

Labour could have dragged Iain Duncan Smith over the coals for years over that appalling incompetence, but they just let him off the hook completely. The most incredible thing is that the retroactive legislation Miliband let the Tories ram through parliament in a single day was subsequently found to be unlawful too!

Jeremy Corbyn was one of the 50 odd Labour MPs with sense enough to defy Ed Miliband's demand that Labour MPs collude with Iain Duncan Smith's effort to write himself an unlawful "get out of jail free" card.

When Jeremy Corbyn does something as staggeringly incompetent as repeatedly abstaining on a bill in order to let the Tories ram an unlawful piece of legislation through parliament to cover up their previous bit of unlawful behaviour, then the concerns of people who abstained on that vote can be taken at face value. Until then nobody with any sense would allow those people to appoint themselves arbiters of who is and isn't politically competent.

Everyone could see that the Labour Party was sleepwalking into a disaster at the 2015 General Election apart from the factions of the Labour Party who now keep slamming Corbyn as "incompetent" as if they've got a proven track record of spotting and eliminating incompetence, rather than one of incompetently losing five million voters between 1997 and 2010 and losing 40 out of their 41 seats in Scotland with their watered-down Tory slop in 2015.

Managerialism vs Participatory democracy

Issues like policy and competence are clearly not the main motivation behind the Anyone But Corbyn coup. The real reason is that the Labour Party establishment are increasingly terrified about the direction the Labour Party is taking because they see their own power and authority being eroded.

Since Jeremy Corbyn busts onto the scene in the summer of 2015 the Labour Party membership has almost tripled to make them by far the biggest political party in the UK. In fact they now have more members than all other UK political parties combined.

Bizarrely the Labour Party establishment refuse to see this remarkable growth in party membership as a remarkable success. In fact clearly see this influx of new members as a terrible threat, hence the decision to deliberately stem the tide of new members flowing into the party by introducing retroactive rules to disenfranchise new members.

Had they not introduced these terror-motivated anti-democratic rule changes the leadership re-election would likely have enthused hundreds of thousands more people into joining the party, but the Labour Party establishment seem intent on driving new members away by disenfranchising them and then repeatedly smearing them as "arm-twisting Trotskyists", "quasi-communists", "entryists", "dogs", "infiltrators", "cultists" and even "Nazi stormtroopers".

The reason the Labour Party establishment are so terrified of all of these new members that they're resorted to sickening tactics like election rigging and an appalling tide of abuse is that they can see their power and influence evaporating. They can see that Jeremy Corbyn is steering the Labour Party towards participatory democracy where Labour Party members have much more democratic say in how the party is run, which obviously means that the power is less centralised in the hands of Labour Party MPs, millionaire donors and political insiders like them.

The Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson really gave the game away completely during his "Reds under the bed!" fearmongering diatribe about "arm-twisting Trotskysists" when he went on to describe the democratisation of the Labour Party under Ed Miliband as a "terrible error of judgement" and expressed a desire to see the One Member One Vote electoral system replaced with one where Labour Party MPs have the power to over-rule the will of the party membership.

Self-entitled Labour Party MPs like Tom Watson are so terrified about the threat that participatory democracy represents to their power and privilege they have become almost rabid in their efforts to oust Jeremy Corbyn and reverse the democratisation of the Labour Party.

Launching a coup against the democratically elected leader of the Labour Party within ten months of Corbyn taking office with the most convincing democratic mandate a Labour Party leader has ever won was a very clear demonstration that an awful lot of Labour MP see their opinion as being far more important that Labour Party members. The decision by the Labour Party NEC to enforce a complete lockdown on local Labour Party democracy in order to stop local constituency parties from holding votes of no confidence in their coup-plotter MPs was another demonstration that the Labour Party machine is terrified of democracy. Tom Watson's explicit attack on the democratisation of the Labour Party as a "terrible error of judgment" merely confirms what was already clear by their actions.

The coup-plotter MPs hate the idea of participatory democracy because they don't want to be accountable to the people who elect them. They see themselves as a superior managerial class who get to dictate the political agenda and drip-feed it downwards to the lower ranks who will then do their bidding. The idea of politicians as public servants elected to represent the will of the people who elected them fills them with fear and revulsion, hence their incredibly poorly timed and incompetently executed coup attempt.

The concept of participatory democracy is fundamentally incompatible with an aloof bunch of self-entitled politicians who see themselves as a managerial class who, by virtue of their positions, better understand the political will of the lower orders than they do themselves.

As far as this managerialist class of politicians are concerned the new members who have flooded into the party are delusional idiots who need to be disempowered and driven away as quickly as possible so that things can return to business as usual. As far as coup-supporting MPs like Tom Watson are concerned it was a terrible mistake to let ordinary people ever think that they could have any real influence over the political realm, and the sooner these insolent plebs are shown the error of their ways, the better.

The Labour Party leadership re-election isn't about policy or about competence, it's about an aloof and self-entitled bunch of managerialists declaring war on the party membership on order to stop the erosion of their own power and privilege.

Make no mistake, if Jeremy Corbyn wins he would have a second mandate to reaffirm the move towards participatory democracy. If Owen Smith wins he will be under enormous pressure from Tom Watson and the Blairite coup-plotter MPs to immediately get rid of the One Member One Vote electoral system so that the ordinary members never get the chance to threaten the supremacy of the Labour Party managerial class again.

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