Monday, 29 August 2016

Party elitists vs ordinary members: The Labour civil war


Richard Burgon is the Labour MP for Leeds East and the shadow Justice Secretary. On the 27th of August 2016 he summed up what the Labour Party civil war is all about when he said:
"I believe it's important to stand up for Labour members. MPs are not 'a cut above' the membership. Myself and other MPs are just ordinary members who have been given the privilege of serving as representatives of our communities." 
Contempt for the membership

A look at the behaviour of the Labour Party establishment since September 2015 Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the party with an astonishing 59.5% of the vote in a four horse race provides plenty of proof of the contempt that a lot of Labour Party elitists have towards the ordinary members.

  • Certain coup-plotter MPs have taken to distorting events and outright lying in order to paint ordinary party members as a violent mob of bigoted brick-lobbing thugs. Angela Eagle is a particularly egregious offender in this regard having brazenly misrepresented the "notorious brick" incident, refused to correct allegations that she suffered homophobic abuse at a meeting she didn't even attend and outright lying about an even being cancelled due to "threats" when in reality the venue owner pulled the plug because he didn't want a political event in his hotel.
All of these actions demonstrate that the party hierarchy and the coup-plotters see themselves as a cut above the party membership. As far as they're concerned the will of 172 MPs completely outweighs the will of 250,000+ party members. Their opinions are well over 1,000 times as important as ordinary party members.

The deputy leader Tom Watson clearly expressed this contempt for the party membership when he described the decision to introduce a properly democratic One Member One Vote electoral system within the Labour Party as "a terrible error of judgement".

All of the above things demonstrate that certain Labour Party politicians see themselves as "a cut above" ordinary party members, but this disgusting elitist attitude is best demonstrated by the ongoing Labour Party purge.

The contrast between the standards of behaviour being applied to ordinary party members and people at the top of the party couldn't be starker.

Abuse

Ordinary members are being purged from the party for all kinds of spurious reasons, perhaps the most of all being the woman who was slung out of the party for posting "I fucking love the Foo Fighters" on her personal Facebook wall. Many others have been suspended with no explanation of what they are supposed to have done wrong other than generic "comments on social media" or "comments on Twitter" meaning they have pretty much no means to appeal the suspension because they don't even know what they stand accused of saying.

The fact that Labour Party minions are trawling through people's social media activities to search for reasons to exclude them from voting in the leadership election is bad enough in its own right, but the contrast between the trivial "crimes" committed by purged Labour members and the unpunished behaviour of members of the party elite couldn't be stronger.

Here are a few examples:

  • The Labour Party MP Tom Blenkinsop turning his Twitter feed into a tide of cry-bully abuse in which he yelled "idiot" and "entryist" at anyone who disagreed with his appalling behaviour, including a life-long Labour voter - Not suspended
  • Another coup-supporting MP to turn his Twitter feed into a severely damaging tide of abuse against the party leadership and other party members is the Labour MP Ian Austin. He was also allowed to get away with telling the leader of his party to "sit down and shut up" when he was speaking about the damning findings of the Chilcot report.
It's absolutely clear that when it comes to abusive and disreputable behaviour, ordinary members are being held to a much higher standard than members of the party establishment who seem to be able to get away with pretty much whatever they like.

Disloyalty


Another reason the Labour Party establishment have come up with for slinging ordinary members out of the party is "disloyalty". Several people have been purged for Twitter comments in favour of other political parties such as the Green Party dating from as far back as May 2014, long before they even became members of the Labour Party.

Contrast the ludicrous attitude that ordinary members who used to support other parties are unwelcome with what members of the Labour Party establishment have been allowed to get away with despite being high-profile members of the party.

It's utterly preposterous that Tweeting about having voted for the Green Party years before they even joined Labour is considered a "crime" that ordinary members must be suspended for, while people within the party establishment go completely unpunished for bankrolling rival political parties to the tune of £millions, appearing at rival party conferences and endorsing their political agendas, accepting Tory cash to campaign against the official party line and openly declaring that they'd rather Labour loses the next election to the Tories.

It's also worth considering the party establishment's attitude towards defectors from other parties.

  • During the Blair era numerous Tory politicians defected directly from the Tory party to Labour. Probably the most high profile was Shaun Woodward who defected to Labour in 1999 and was pretty much immediately put in charge of Labour's 2001 Election campaign. He was then rewarded by the party elite by being parachuted into the ultra-safe Labour seat of St Helens.
The fact that Labour has repeatedly accepted defectors from other parties shows how remarkable their double standards are. If you're party of the political club you can switch allegiance immediately, but if you're an ordinary person you can be barred from the Labour Party for having voted for another political party years previously.

Conclusion

It's beyond doubt that a large number of people in the Labour Party establishment (politicians, party donors, advisers, party administrators ...) see themselves and their ilk as "a cut above" the ordinary members. The coup plot has proven their contempt for the will of the party membership clearly enough, but the abject hypocrisy of the ongoing Labour Party purge is absolute proof that these people have the same mentality as elitists across the political spectrum, that there should be one set of rules for the little people, and an altogether more lenient set of rules for members of the elite inner circle.

The battle for the future of the Labour Party isn't really so much about policy (Owen Smith is blatantly pilfering Corbyn's policies) and neither is it about personality (If Corbyn is "unelectable" because of his lack of media training then putting up a gaffe-prone blunderer who pretty much nobody has heard to challenge him is utterly ludicrous).

What it's really all about is whether the Labour Party membership believe that the party is best run by a managerialist elite who see themselves as a "a cut above the lower orders", or whether they think it's best run in the actual interests of the Labour Party members and voters.

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