Friday, July 1, 2016

The ineptitude of the failed Corbyn coup


The most interesting thing about the failed anti-democratic attempt to bully Jeremy Corbyn into resigning as Labour leader (just 10 months after he was elected with the biggest democratic mandate of any UK party leader in history) is the sheer ineptitude of it.

If there was anything that the Blairite New Labour movement was undeniably good at in its heyday, it was stage managing the news agenda. They were masters at it. The glib soundbites, the cultivation of links between the party top brass and the press pack, the schmoozing with Rupert Murdoch, the pre-written editorials fed to the hacks to be lazily churnalised into newspaper column inches, the showy and modernistic presentation. In fact I'd say that stage management of the news agenda was the single most significant hallmark of the Blair years.

Damn, they were so persuasive that they even managed to convince about half the country that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was going to be a great idea!*

The remarkable thing about the pre-planned anti-democratic coup against Jeremy Corbyn was the sheer ineptitude of it. Not only did the Blairites carefully pre-planned operation leave their target still standing after they threw everything they had at him in a 24 hour "blitz", their explanatory narratives made no sense whatever and they left a trail of incriminating evidence all over the place.

Pre-planning

The coup was pre-planned. There is absolutely no doubt about that. The people who were planning it were so confident of success that they even briefed the Daily Telegraph about their plot to overthrow Corbyn ten days before the referendum result was even announced!

The fact the coup was pre-planned blew a large hole in the narrative that Corbyn had to be ousted because of his supposedly weak EU referendum arguments ruining the Remain campaign. In order for that narrative to make sense, the plotters would have had to have known the result of the referendum in advance, which they couldn't have done.

The Canary have done some sterling investigative work into the shady network of dodgy PR companies stuffed full of Blairites, shell companies, BBC collusion and so forth who are implicated in the coup attempt. It was inept enough to leave such a trail of evidence to follow up on, but the sheer hubris of telling the newspapers what they were going to do ten days before they did it looks like the kind of PR cock-up that Blair, Mandelson, Campbell and the like worked strenuously to avoid during their time at the top.

Apparently the methods are pretty much the same as classic Blairism, but the execution has become sloppy, over-confident and bizarrely incompetent.

A big misjudgement

Whatever the reason they decided to gamble on Corbyn caving in and resigning, it backfired terribly when he refused to go and defiantly challenged them to put up a candidate in a democratic election.

Perhaps the people who orchestrated this anti-democratic coup attempt believed their own propaganda a little too much? They'd spent the last 10 months, ever since Corbyn was elected as leader, briefing the press that he's a such weak leader, so maybe they thought he'd just meekly capitulate to their stage managed coup attempt?

Whatever the reason for this over-confident assumption that Jeremy Corbyn would simply roll over and resign (betraying the 250,000 Labour members who voted for him just ten months previously as a consequence), they got it badly wrong and put themselves in a terrible bind.

They've been scrabbling around looking for for their ideal "Anyone But Corbyn" candidate to stand in an election that Corbyn is almost certain to win, especially given the way he's attracted so many new people to the party that it's literally doubled in membership since he became the star of the Labour leadership election last summer.

An additional problem for them is the fact that 60,000 people have joined the Labour Party in the week since the attempted coup plot was launched. Anyone imagining that the majority of them are people enthused about voting for the as-yet-unnamed ABC candidate must be as delusional as the bunch of Labour MPs who actually seem to consider a low-profile, strategically inept, gaffe prone, insincere, iraq war approving political water carrier like Angela Eagle to be more electable than Jeremy Corbyn.

By putting themselves in a position where Jeremy Corbyn can take them on in re-election which he will almost certainly win with an even bigger mandate, they've clearly endangered themselves dramatically. Corbyn had demonstrated that he was willing to work with them and allow them to survive within the party, but by trying to stab him in the back and missing, they've now given him the chance to run a leadership election based on giving constituencies the right to deselect corrupt/right-wing/venal/self-serving/party damaging MPs and replacing them with people who might do a better job of actually representing their constituents interests rather than their own.

Just like David Cameron's EU referendum gamble, the Blairite coup gamble has backfired spectacularly too.

The bigger picture

The Labour MPs who were planning this post-Brexit coup obviously got so giddy with excitement, and so locked into the mindset of putting their narrow party political plot into action, that they completely lost sight of the bigger picture.

The aftermath of the biggest Tory cock-up in decades and the resignation of the Prime Minister was the least opportune moment to kick off an internal party political spat imaginable.

Just look at it from their strategic perspective for a moment. They claim to care about the Labour Party (so much so that they shed crocodile tears on the telly over it) and they claim that Corbyn doesn't do enough to hold the Tories to account.

If they had any strategic nous, and if these clims were true, instead of attempting their coup immediately after Brexit, the plotters (Hillary Benn, Angela Eagle and the like) could have made a huge show of attacking the Tories for Brexit, they could have used their friends in the media to give their criticisms prominence, whilst Corbyn's get ignored, belittled and disparaged.

Instead of helping the Tories out of the Brexit hole they'd dug for themselves and booting the Labour Party down there in their place as they did by launching their coup immediately, the plotters could have won plaudits for their own strong responses in the crisis situation, boosting the Labour Party rather than trashing it, and ensuring their own stars were rising in the process.

Thus, a few weeks, or months after Brexit, when the public narrative was clearly set that Brexit was the fault of the Tories, they could have tried their rebellion, pointing to the fact that they laid all the big hits on the Tories in the wake of Brexit, not Corbyn.

They didn't play it that way because they lost sight of the bigger picture: That some things in life are actually more important than who is the leader of the Labour Party, and the vote for Brexit was undeniably one of those things.


Insincerity, unjustifiable claims and delusional rubbish


The hubris of briefing the Telegraph about what they were planning to do before they did it was bad enough, but some of the dire stuff the plotters came out with after the coup attempt was launched was staggeringly bad. Angela Eagle's resignation letter was catastrophically insincere. Just two weeks after praising Corbyn's determined hard work and blasting the mainstream press for the lack of Labour coverage during the campaign, she bitterly criticised him for conducting the campaign with "half-hearted ambivalence"!

Another example of an utterly appalling resignation letter is that of the Darlington MP Jenny Chapman who joined in the carefully choreographed sequence of resignations desgned to inflict as much damage as possible on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. In her letter quitting the shadow education brief she claimed to be speaking on behalf of her constituents in saying that they had lost confidence in Jeremy Corbyn. When she posted this letter on her Facebook page she was inundated with furious comments along the lines of "how dare you presume to speak on my behalf". The overwhelming majority of replies expressed confidence in Corbyn and an extreme lack of confidence in her.

Tristram Hunt probably wins the prize for the worst resignation letter of all though. In it he actually claimed that "Labour urgently needs to play the role of effective opposition" because the current crisis is as bad as Suez in his opinion. Apparently launching a failed coup attempt against your own party leader and completely letting the Tories off the hook for their culpability is his definition of "effective opposition". He then went on to slam Corbyn for making a supposedly poor case for Remain. In Tristram Hunt's constituency of Stoke on Trent 69.4% voted for Leave (in Jeremy Corbyn's Islington constituency 75.2% voted for Remain). Talk about trying to shift the blame! Apparently Hunt's own Constituency Labour Party have already had a vote of confidence supporting Jeremy Corbyn followed by a vote of no confidence in Tristram Hunt.

Forged signatures


Making bizarre claims to be speaking on behalf of your constituents when resigning is one thing, but listing 500 local councillors who you claim have signed a letter supporting the coup against Corbyn when the list contains the names of numerous councillors who back Corbyn's leadership and are utterly furious that their name has been added to the letter without their consent.

Claiming that somebody has signed a letter when they haven't is tantamount to forging their signatures. LabourList should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for such deceitful behaviour, but they're not. They're far too concerned with their anti-democratic efforts to force Corbyn's resignation than they are with maintaining anything resembling decent standards of truth and honesty.

Conclusion

Blairism has undeniably lost its shine. Tony Blair was once the golden boy who won landslide after landslide, but he isn't anymore. He's widely reviled, and his sequence of attacks on Jeremy Corbyn during the leadership election in 2015 probably did more to raise Corbyn's profile than any other factor. Blairism lost two General Elections in a row (2010 and 2015) and in electing Corbyn with such a huge mandate the Labour members were crying out for a change of direction,. But Blairites think they know best, so they've been sabotaging Jeremy Corbyn at every turn culminating in their the launch of their inept coup attempt after just ten months.

The problem that this failed coup attempt exposes is that the Blairites aren't even good at the stuff they used to be. In the age of social media, their attempts to manage the news agenda have failed spectacularly. They may have the entire press pack on their side supporting their grubby self-serving coup, but social media is alive with criticism of the mainstream narrative, and the more they try to force their version of events down people's throats, the more people are seeing their crude manipulative propaganda for what it is.

Perhaps the most telling thing of all is that the failure of their own coup attempt means they can be hoisted by their own petard. If Jeremy Corbyn is as weak and incompetent as they've always claimed, how incompetent must they be to have failed so spectacularly to overthrow him, despite planning it for weeks and then throwing everything they had at it?


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* - The million+ of us who marched in London on February 15th 2003 thought differently mind.

What do the Labour coup and Brexit have in common?


It struck me when reading yet another comment stating that Jeremy Corbyn is not a good enough leader that listed all of the ideal qualities that a Labour Party leader should have (charisma, nicely presented, a good orator, experienced, engaging, no baggage like Iraqi blood on their hands, not too left, not too right ... ).

People who still support the cynically premeditated coup against Jeremy Corbyn are a lot like Brexiters.

I opposed Brexit on the grounds that bailing out of the European Union under a hard-right Tory government would likely be a classic "out of the fire, into the frying pan" scenario. However I understand the concerns people had about the EU, after all, I've probably written more critical analysis of the EU than 99% of the people who actually voted for Brexit.

What I couldn't understand was the naive optimism that things would somehow get better without any kind of plan of action for what comes next. I confronted right-Brexiters and left-Brexiters about this alarming lack of anything resembling a coherent plan of action. right-Brexiters tended to howl that they do have a plan (not that they ever got around to explaining it in any detail, and whatever it was seems to have crumbled into dust now) and left-Brexiters tended to answer the query with stony silence.

Now that the Brexit vote has happened it's clear that neither side did actually have a plan. The deceitful Vote Leave mob rowed back on their pledges lies within days and the Tory government was paralysed with inaction as David Cameron decided to leave the pressing of the self-destruct button to whoever picks up the poisoned chalice of succeeding him (mightily pissing off the other 27 EU member states in the process). The lack of an Article 50 notification and the power vacuum in government has left the country in a bizarre state of limbo.

The Labour Party reaction to Brexit was even more bizarre. Instead of laying out their plans for what a Labour Brexit would look like, high profile Labour Party Brexiters like Kate Hoey and Gisela Stuart jumped on the lynch Corbyn bandwagon. There's something awfully distasteful about Labour MPs who actively campaigned for Brexit jumping on the idiotic "sack Corbyn because of Brexit" bandwagon, but that's what they did.

So people on both sides of the political spectrum campaigned for Brexit with nothing but rose tinted optimism about what was to come next. They threw the country into turmoil to achieve a situation they didn't even know how to handle.

The premeditated coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn displayed the exact same kind of thinking. The objective was to get rid of Jeremy Corbyn. The "blitz" of negative news items fed to the media by dodgy Blairite PR companies, the furious condemnations, the carefully stage managed sequence of resignations, the crocodile tears. 


Just like the Vote Leave shit-show, it was all designed to get an outcome, but the exact details of the outcome are unclear, not least because Corbyn was weakened, but not destroyed by the operation. He still has a small band of loyal MPs and he still has the backing of the party membership, which actually counts for a lot in a political party with a democratic constitution. Corbyn's refusal to resign and his determination to re-fight and re-win his democratic mandate to lead the party has thrown a big spanner in the works.

The Labour MPs who conducted this coup operation clearly value their membership of the Westminster Establishment club above the interests of the Labour Party, the party membership and the country in general (which could have benefited from a unified opposition rounding on the Tories who created this mess, instead of their own leader who clearly didn't), but their ruse failed to work out as they planned meaning that they now have to find a candidate they think can beat Corbyn in a democratic election.

They're now looking for this mystical political superhero within their ranks who can oust Corbyn in a fair fight, when they surely know as well as anyone that they're a very limited bunch. If an insincere, gaffe-prone, Iraq war approving, political water carrier with virtually no public or social media profile like Angela Eagle is anywhere near the top of the list they're in very serious trouble indeed.

The same goes for the country. Unless Jeremy Corbyn somehow manages one of the greatest political resurrections of all time, the next Prime Minister is going to be one from a rag-tag bunch of five universally unappealing Tory leadership candidates:

  • Angela Leadsom: Serial tax-dodger, but probably the pick of the bunch because she's not as smeared in shit as the other four.
So there we have it: The Labour coup plotters are left to pick a patsy from an uninspiring bunch of MPs to face almost certain defeat to Jeremy Corbyn in a re-run of the leadership election he won so handsomely just 10 months ago. And the UK will be left in the even more precarious situation of almost certainly being led by whichever one of the five woeful candidates the Tory party choose to select.

The conclusion "be careful what you wish for" seems apt, but it's too cliched and not quite right. Brexiters were on the whole wishing for a better Britain (well maybe a few just wanted to watch the world burn?) and the Labour coup plotters were wishing for a better Labour party leader (even though they had a pretty decent one anyway in my opinion).


The problem isn't that people wish for things, but that life is never as simple as wishing for things and having your dreams immediately come true. Life just doesn't work like that. Making improvements takes a lot of time, and effort, and planning, so it's no good tearing your unsatisfactory house down when you don't actually have anything resembling a decent plan for building a better one.

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Jeremy Corbyn: The 3 main myths



Other UK political leaders have suffered sustained political attacks before, but there's been absolutely nothing to compare to the absolute bombardment of vitriol and abuse aimed at Jeremy Corbyn.

The ever escalating anti-Corbyn campaign started during the Labour leadership election last year, but criticism from desperately unpopular pariahs like Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson sounded like ringing endorsements in the ears of millions of people. Corbyn won the Labour leadership with the biggest mandate of any party political leader in UK history (over 250,000 votes).

The campaign to criticise Corbyn and to destabilise his leadership escalated after his resounding victory. Opponents within his own party regularly conducted staged resignations, fed negative stories to the press and generally spent far more time criticising their own democratically elected party leader than they spent criticising the Tory government they were supposed to be holding to account.

The press had it in for him too. In November the S*n ran their ludicrous "Nod in my name" smears about Corbyn's lack of patriotism, and the supposedly liberal-left Guardian has run numerous anti-Corbyn pieces practically every day for a year.

After Brexit was announced things reached fever pitch. The entire Westminster establishment club (including 172 of his own MPs) turned on him, Labour party grandees tried to intimidate him into resignation, and the supposedly left-liberal mainstream press (Guardian, Mirror, Independent) savaged him too, but somehow, against such an unprecedented tide of criticism, and with so many knives in his back, Corbyn has stood tall and refused to let the Labour Party membership down by capitulating to such an anti-democratic coup.

There have been three core themes that run through this ever escalating barrage of anti-Corbyn criticism. All of them are myths that are based on ideological propaganda and not on fact.

Unelectable

The Blairites settled on this epithet early on in the 2015 leadership election and Corbyn critics have stuck with it ever since. It's been rote learned by millions of people, and it's such a commonly used criticism that he could use it like an ironic middle name if he wanted to.

One of the biggest problems with the "unelectable" tag is that Corbyn has actually proven quite good at winning elections despite the constant barrage of criticism and the backstabbing antics of many of his own MPs. It must be quite difficult to perform at your best when you're constantly having to pull daggers out of your back, but Corbyn has still, somehow, managed to do quite well.

  • To become leader he won the biggest electoral mandate of any UK party leader in history. More people voted for him as Labour Party leader than there are members of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties combined! He won 60% of the vote in a four horse race!
  • Since becoming Labour leader Corbyn has overseen four by-election victories out of four. All with increased majorities.
  • In May 2016 Corbyn defied the polls predicting heavy labour losses in the local elections. He didn't win many new seats, but he managed to hold firm and keep the huge percentage of council seats won at the absolute high point of Ed Miliband's leadership. The Labour plotters were hoping for failure but their coup attempt in May fizzled out when it became clear that Corbyn had done far too well, even despite a meticulously timed smear campaign designed to inflict as much damage as possible on the party.
  • May 2016 also saw Labour win the mayoral contests in London and Bristol.
Aside from his track record proving that he's far from "unelectable", there is another argument too. The so-called "reasoning" behind the claim that Corbyn is "unelectable" is that he'd be incapable of winning over middle England Tory voters.

The idea that nicking voters off the Tory party is the only way to achieve electoral success is utterly absurd. At the 2015 General election 24% of the electorate voted Tory and 34% of the electorate didn't even vote! There's a huge demographic of disenfranchised voters who could be won over to backing an anti-establishment candidate who is promising to put an end to the Westminster gravy train and give them more say over how their lives are run.

Then there are the two thirds of Liberal Democrat voters who evaporated overnight when Nick Clegg decided to enable a savage bunch of Tories back into power. How about some Charles Kennedy style policies aimed at winning them over the the Labour Party?

After Brexit there are also UKIP voters to consider. Now that they've achieved what they set out to, surely it's time for Labour to try to win back the UKIP working class vote by demonstrating that UKIP is a hard-right Thatcherite political party, and that Thatcherism is the reason so many working class communities are in the appalling state that they are.

The idea that the only way to win an election is by seeking to nick Tory party voters by aping Tory party policy is so narrow-minded it's astonishing, but then there are an awful lot of people who don't bother to inspect the underlying argument behind a claim for logical flaws, they just hear it on multiple occasions and then start repeating it.

Too left-wing

The argument that Jeremy Corbyn is too left-wing is pretty weak too. If you believed the tabloid hype you'd think he was some kind of raving Stalinist lunatic who plans to nationalise the entire country including your own house and clothes, and turn the UK into a dire oppressive command and control economy like the Soviet Union at it's absolute worst.

A look at his actual policies (which the mainstream press almost never actually take the bother of explaining) reveal that he's a traditional social democrat who wants to have certain key services run by not-for-profit public institutions, such as the NHS, the railways, the police, the courts, the roads and our kids' schools, while trying to restructure the UK economy to make it more like the high-tech, high-skill, high-pay economies like Germany and Switzerland. 

Yes Corbyn is so left-wing that he wants more public control over the banks so as to avoid a repeat of the 2007-08 financial sector insolvency crisis, but who thinks that's a dangerously left-wing idea?

Corbyn isn't too left-wing for the British electorate, in fact he's just about right. 84% of people want the NHS run as a not-for-profit public service, 68% want the UK energy infrastructure renationalised, 67% think the Royal Mail should never have been sold off in the first place and 66% would support his policy of renationalising the railways.

Corbyn isn't too left-wing for the public, he's too left-wing for the sociopathic hard-right press barons like Rupert Murdoch (S*n, Times, Sky), Jonathan Harmsworth (Daily Mail, Metro) and the Barclay brothers (Telegraph, Spectator) who all see it as their job to control the spectrum of public debate.

Incompetence

As mentioned before, it's clearly difficult to perform to your best when you're repeatedly having to pull daggers out of your own back, but Jeremy Corbyn has actually done quite well, despite the constant attacks on him from inside and outside of his own party.

Since his sudden rise from backbench anonymity, Jeremy Corbyn has managed to literally double the membership of the Labour Party. An awful lot of the new recruits are young, educated and highly-skilled. Another key demographic in this membership surge is left-wing people returning after years of exile after the party was stolen by a bunch of Thatcherites,

Only a true Blairite could consider a doubling of the party membership to be some kind of disaster and a sign of the leaders' incompetence!

Another thing to note is that in less than a year as leader of the opposition Corbyn has managed to force more Tory backtracking and U-turns (the Tax Credit cuts, the disability benefit cuts, that sickening deal to run prisons in Saudi Arabia, the force privatisation of every school in England, police budget cuts ...) than his predecessor Ed Miliband managed in five inept years.

If anyone is looking for displays of Labour Party incompetence, how about some of these?
Amazingly these incompetent nitwits are amongst the Labour Party figures clamouring most loudly for Corbyn to resign!

Even their claim that Jeremy Corbyn did badly in the EU referendum is sketchy as hell. 63% of Labour voters backed Remain, which is just 1% less than SNP supporters who had a massive incentive to vote Remain and hope that England voting Leave would give them grounds for triggering a second independence referendum.

The main criticism of Corbyn's approach seems to be that Jeremy Corbyn actually presented a balanced rational argument instead of engaging in the Doomsday fearmongering rhetoric of the Tory remain camp, and he didn't tell a load of blatant lies, or promote naive wishful thinking, or make fascistic appeals to anti-intellectualism like the appalling Vote Leave mob. 

Jeremy Corbyn was one of the only ones who spoke to the public as if we're adults. He didn't speak in simplistic black and white terms, because things are never black and white. Agree with him or not about the EU, he was one of the only ones who spoke to the public as if we're adults, rather than simple-minded idiots who can be swayed one way or another with fearmongering threats or by a load of spectacularly unrealistic spending pledges.


What people are saying when they criticise Jeremy Corbyn for "not campaigning passionately enough" is that in modern British politics, honesty and rational considerations are rubbish debating tactics. That Jeremy Corbyn was politically naive to try to speak to the electorate like we're adults, and that he should have assumed that we're all a bunch of intellectually lazy halfwits and pushed some crude absolutist propaganda at us.

The glaring problem with this argument is that Corbyn delivered 63% of Labour voters for Remain (despite the Tory funded Labour Leave campaign constantly undermining his work), while Cameron's crude threats, fearmongering and bizarre non-sequiters about the likes of Putin and ISIS ended up delivering 58% of Tory voters for Leave!

People who argue that Corbyn should have been more dramatic and passionate like David Cameron in order to win more votes are clearly arguing that black is white.


Conclusion

The three most oft-repeated criticisms of Jeremy Corbyn are all extremely tenuous when actually subjected to critical analysis, but the right-wing Labour MPs and propaganda merchants are relying on the idea that the general public are a pack of idiots who will midlessly rote learn and regurgitate whatever counter-factual gibberish the mainstream press drip feeds them.

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Is Angela Eagle more "electable" than Jeremy Corbyn?


It's now absolutely clear that a large majority of Labour MPs have completely lost touch with reality.

Brexit was a massive Tory disaster. Indisputably their biggest cock up in decades. Stuff like Black Wednesday dwindles into insignificance in comparison to the Prime Minister gambling the entire future of the UK in order to win a bit od short-term political advantage at the 2015 General Election, losing the bet and then announcing his resignation the next day, leaving the Tory party rudderless and the country in a bizarre state of limbo as the hopelessly divided Tory government decide to further infuriate the remaining 27 EU member states by announcing that they're going to delay the start of the EU withdrawal process for as long as they can get away with, because they don't actually have anything remotely resembling a sensible plan of action for what comes next.

The Labour response to this gaping open goal was not to unite in condemnation, furiously demand answers and begin explaining a clear Labour Party strategy for what should come next, but to immediately descend into outright civil war.

It's now absolutely clear that the anti-democratic coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn was pre-planned. The Blairites behind it were so confident of success that they even briefed the Daily Telegraph about what they were going to do 10 days before the EU referendum result was even announced.

The Labour MPs who have participated in this coup attempt have inflicted enormous damage on the party. They saw the Tory party struggling in a deep hole of their own digging, but instead of aiming their concentrated fire at the stricken Tories, they gave them a helping hand to climb out and then kicked their own party down there in their place. By drawing the media spotlight away from the Tory chaos and onto Labour Party infighting they completely squandered the biggest party political advantage they've had in years.

These clueless Labour MPs were obviously so giddy with excitement at getting rid of their democratically elected leader, that they completely neglected to think about the bigger picture.

When the orchestrated "blitz" of resignations and the storm of negative newsbites about Corbyn fed to the mainstream media by some shady Blairite PR company failed to dislodge Corbyn, they were left with no choice but to call an unconstitutional vote of no confidence in the hope that Corbyn would resign in shame. But again he stood firm against a spectacular display of treachery against their own leader, the membership who elected him, and the entire labour movement.

The Labour Party constitution dictates that an incumbent leader automatically gets to stand in a leadership contest if they want to, so Corbyn will stand, which is a disaster for the Blairites.

In the last leadership election Corbyn won 60% of the vote in a four horse race! Since then his popularity amongst Labour members has soared and he's attracted so many new people into the party that it's literally doubled in size (only a Blairite could consider a doubling of the party membership to be disastrous!).

If the Parliamentary Labour Party want to defeat Jeremy Corbyn in a democratic election, they're going to have to pick someone truly magnificent from their pack to even stand the remotest chance of beating him, which brings us most inappropriately to Angela Eagle.

The PLP can clearly only field one candidate against Corbyn because they can't afford to split the vote, and the "unity" candidate they appear to have selected is Angela Eagle.

People may be forgiven for not knowing much/anything about her. After all, few people had heard of Jeremy Corbyn before his meteoric rise from the backbenches to the Labour Party leader with the biggest mandate in history in just a matter of months.

One of the most important things to note is that Angela Eagle voted in favour of the catastrophic invasion and occupation of Iraq, and then repeatedly voted against an independent inquiry about it. This is no surprise. Apparently they looked for a candidate without Iraqi blood on their hands, but found that all of them were actually in Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet!

Another important thing to note is that Angela Eagle has got no appreciation of the bigger picture. If she'd had any strategic sense whatever she would have pleaded with the Blairites to hold off their coup attempt at least until the public narrative had been set that the Tories were to blame for Brexit. Had she played it that way she could have made as big a show as possible of attacking the Tories, then when the pre-planned coup against Corbyn was launched, she could have pointed out that it was her, and not Corbyn landing all the heavy punches on the Tories.

Instead of playing it strategically she was as giddy as the rest of the Labour Party career politicians who have more in common with the Tories they pretend to oppose than with the Labour Party members and voters they pretend to represent.



In fact she was so giddy with excitement that she made herself look spectacularly insincere in her resignation letter. Within two weeks of praising Corbyn for "pursuing an itinerary that would make a 25-year-old tired" she was slamming him for making the case for Remain "with half hearted ambivalence". The sheer insincerity of such a volte face would be astounding if she was anyone but a professional politician, and stands in stark contrast to Jeremy Corbyn's track record of honesty.

Another interesting thing to note about Angela Eagle is that she has virtually no social media presence. She has just 13,300 odd Facebook followers compared to Jeremy Corbyn's 688,300+. To put Eagle's paltry social media following into perspective a bit, Corbyn has picked up 34,000+ new Facebook followers in just the last week. 


Anyone who thinks social media is some kind of fad with no impact on modern politics is hopelessly out of touch. Of course Eagle will have the mainstream media on her side, but Corbyn will absolutely annihilate her in social media reach.

Another thing to note about Angela Eagle is an appalling foot in mouth moment that is bound to come back and haunt her if she ever makes it past Corbyn and faces the Tories and the right-wing press in a General Election. 

In April 2008 when working as Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury she made a howler every bit as bad as Liam Byrne's ludicrous "there's no money" note (if not worse because what she said wasn't even intended as a poorly considered joke). Eagle's response to Liberal Democrat concerns that the UK was experiencing a housing bubble was to dismiss those concerns as "a colourful and lurid fiction that has no real bearing on the macroeconomic reality"

We all now know what was actually going on in 2007-08; how property prices crashed; and the financial sector ended up being rescued from complete insolvency which resulted in the biggest state sector interventions in history being handed out by her government. It's absolutely clear that if anyone in had no understanding of "the macroeconomic reality" back in April 2008 it was clearly Angela Eagle.

One final and important point is that just ten months ago Angela Eagle stood in the Labour Party deputy leadership election and finished fourth out of five candidates. It's absolutely incredible that a bunch of people who have been constantly smearing Jeremy Corbyn as "unelectable" have suddenly decided that a woman who practically nobody has heard of and who came nowhere near competing for the Labour party Deputy Leadership just ten months ago, will somehow be more electable than he is!

Angela Eagle is a strategically inept, insincere, gaffe-prone, Iraq invasion supporting career politician who has virtually no public or social media profile (despite being an MP for 24 years) and who could only finish fourth in the Labour Party deputy leadership election just 10 months ago.

Apparently there are a load of Labour MPs who think that Eagle has what it takes to beat Jeremy Corbyn in a re-run of the Labour leadership election. And then, if she somehow manages that, go on to beat Boris Johnson/Theresa May (and the Tory media machine) in a snap General Election, even after driving disgusted voters, members and (most importantly) activists away from the Tony Blair Party in their droves.

These people are so clearly out-of-touch with reality it's bizarre.


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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

What motivates people to defend the '£350 million a week for the NHS' lie?


It's incredible how many apologists crawl out of the woodwork every time anyone refers to the double lie* that the Vote Leave mob came up with about spending the £350 million a week on the NHS.

The most commonly occurring line of defence is some absurd semantic point about the lie about the EU costing "£350 million a week" and the "Let's fund our NHS instead" bit being two different sentences on the side of the bus, but this point is spectacularly undermined by other versions of the claim that explicitly link the two things (see the image above featuring Boris Johnson).

Another commonly occurring line of defence is that "it was obviously a lie from the beginning so you would have had to be an idiot to believe it". This is such a ridiculous attempted defence it's hard to understand the stunted mentality of the people who keep using it. It's essentially saying that it's perfectly fine for politicians to lie to the public (which it shouldn't be).
How on earth is it ever going to be possible to restore some actual standards in public debate if people actually believe that it's perfectly acceptable for politicians to lie to the public?

Another point about this "you would have had to have been an idiot to believe it" defence is that it is clearly insulting anyone who isn't clued up politically. An old person who doesn't know much about politics, but knows they've been waiting ages for a hip operation could easily buy into the simple idea that all the money that is "wasted" on the EU could be used to make the NHS better. They're not an idiot to believe that, they're just politically uneducated. 

It's funny how during the campaign Brexiters were so often keen to paint Leavers as patronising and arrogant when we pointed out that most of the profoundly ignorant knuckle-dragging racist types (like Britain First) were promoting Brexit, but then after they got what they wanted, it's now suddenly OK to for them to dismiss any politically naive people who fell for the Vote Leave lies as "idiots".

It's easy to attack the apologist arguments about the £350 million a week for the NHS lies in their own right, because a defence of something that everybody knows to be a lie is always likely to be even even weaker than the lie itself, but the interesting thing is the mentality of the people who are so keen to leap to the defence of such egregious lies.

I understand that people picked a side in the referendum debate, I chose to argue for Remain on the grounds that bailing out of the EU with a rabidly right-wing bunch of Tories in power would be a massive act of self-harm, especially given that most of the social and economic damage that has happened over the last four decades was actually caused by the right-wing economic ideology of the Westminster establishment, not by the EU.

I was hardly chuffed that this opinion put me on the same side of the binary EU debate as people like David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg, Theresa May and Tony Blair, but I accepted it, because to choose the other side would have meant being on the same side as Iain Duncan Smith, Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Britain First and Neil "cash for questions" Hamilton. The only other option was neutrality/apathy - which really isn't my style.

Despite being on the same side of the debate as Cameron and Osborne, I certainly never felt the need to defend them, in fact I repeatedly criticised their efforts to fearmonger and threaten the public into voting Remain as well as their brazen insincerity.

The apologists for the £350 million a week for the NHS lie have clearly taken a much cruder and more tribalistic approach to politics**. As far as they are concerned, everyone on the Leave side is an ally and everyone on the Remain side is an enemy. Therefore, whenever anyone on the Leave side comes under criticism from Remain forces, they have some kind of obligation to leap to their defence and try to fight a valiant rearguard action in order to help their comrade in arms escape the tight spot they've got themselves into.

It's amazing to see that so many people are so politically naive that they're incapable of understanding that it's possible to approve of someones stated objective (especially when it's something very vague like "making Britain Great again") whilst strongly objecting to their methods.

If you ever find yourself feeling the temptation to defend a proven liar simply because they're on the same side of a debate as you, maybe try asking yourself whether tribalism between people who share an objective is really more important than your own integrity.


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footnotes

* = It's a double lie because it's absolutely clear that the £350 million a week figure is wildly inaccurate, and because it was beyond obvious that a bunch of radically right-wing Tories were never going to spend the entire amount on the socialist NHS that they hate with a burning ideological passion (and which many of them want to see fully privatised).

** = It appears that many people take the football approach to politics. They pick a side and then continue supporting them no matter how woeful their performances actually are, because changing teams is forbidden.

Is this the last stand of the Blairites?


Under ordinary circumstances the anti-democratic coup attempt by the majority of Labour MPs against Jeremy Corbyn would be extraordinary enough, but the decision to orchestrate such a move at such a spectacularly damaging time for the party is something else altogether.

Whether you voted in favour of Brexit or not, it's clearly a monumental Tory cock-up for the Prime Minister to give the public a vote on leaving the EU in order to win a bit of short-term political advantage at the 2015 General Election, go on to lose the vote, then announce his resignation and his unwillingness to submit the Article 50 notification, which left the Tory party leaderless and divided and the country in a bizarre state of limbo.

The reaction of the majority of Labour MPs to this spectacular Tory open goal was not to present a unified criticism of the Tories and a demand for information about what the actual Tory plan of action is, but to set about savaging their own party leader!

How can anyone seriously believe that such a self-destructive reaction to a golden opportunity isn't utterly bizarre?


Simmering mutiny

It's beyond obvious that this coup attempt was planned long before the referendum result became clear. The right-wing of the Labour Party (who have more in common with the Tories they pretend to oppose than the labour voters they pretend to represent) have tried to undermine Corbyn's leadership at every move, by calling him "unelectable" at every opportunity, by constantly briefing against him to the press, by orchestrating staged resignations and rebellions, and by criticising him for supposedly "not holding the Tories to account" every time the Tories cocked something up.

The last one is a particularly bizarre criticism considering the fact that in just ten months he's forced more Tory backtracking and U-turns (the Tax Credit cuts, the disability benefit cuts, that sickening deal to run prisons in Saudi Arabia, the force privatisation of every school in England, police budget cuts ...) than Ed Miliband managed in five inept years. To give an example of how bizarre this line of argument is, in December 2015 Peter Mandelson wrote an entire article criticising Corbyn for not holding the Tories to account enough which didn't actually include a single word of criticism of the Tory party!

The stench of Labour Party mutiny was in the air back in March 2016 when George Osborne's budget of failure fell to pieces within days, but a load of Labour MPs were far too busy whining about their own leader to even bother about criticising the Tories!

This rebellion was always on the cards, the only question was when.


Ridiculous timing

The Labour MPs who are trying to oust the democratically elected leader of their party claim to be acting in the best interests of the party, but they're clearly not. Even if they're dissatisfied with Corbyn's leadership, the timing of their coup attempt couldn't possibly be worse for the party. As a result of doing it now, the press attention has been refocused away from the monumental cock up the Tories have delivered and onto Labour Party disunity and infighting.

These Labour MPs saw the Tories in a hole of their own digging, but instead of taking advantage they offered the Tories a hand out of the hole and shoved the Labour Party down there instead.


Surely anyone who actually gave a damn about the best interests of the Labour Party would have waited and allowed the press to focus their attention on the chaos within the Tory party in the aftermath of Brexit, the clear lack of a plan for what comes next, their decision to antagonise the remaining 27 EU member states by refusing to make the Article 50 notification ...

If they weren't satisfied with Corbyn's criticisms, they could have added their own superior ones, and then bided their time to call for his resignation after the storm of criticism against the Tory party had died down. Had they done it this way they would have allowed the negative press coverage to damage the Tory party, and potential replacement leaders could have given themselves real ammunition to hit Corbyn with ("I was holding the Tories to account far better than you were").

The reason they didn't play it like that was that they were so giddy with excitement at the perceived opportunity to oust Corbyn that they forgot to give the slightest damn about the wider picture.

Brexit blaming

One of the weirdest things about using Brexit to slam Corbyn is the fact that he actually delivered 63% of the Labour vote for Remain (just 1% lower than the SNP who had an extremely strong reason to deliver a Remain vote in Scotland). That Corbyn managed to deliver 63% despite a rogue Labour Leave campaign that was almost entirely funded by a bunch of hard-right Tories working to completely undermine his efforts.


If Labour MPs were actually furious about Brexit rather than just using it to push a pre-planned agenda, they'd surely target their anger at whoever it was that authorised Labour Leave accepting hundreds of thousands of pounds in donations from hard-right Tories wouldn't they?

And surely they'd reserve even more anger for the Labour MP Gisela Stuart, who was not only sharing platforms with hard-right Brexiters like Michael Gove, Douglas Carswell and Boris Johnson as part of the Vote Leave mob, but also the one who came up with the "let's give the NHS the £350 million a week that the EU takes" double lie (EU membership does not cost £350 million a week, and there was never ever any intention by any of them to actually give the full amount to the NHS).


That so many pro-remain Labour MPs are not furious at these people, but busy orchestrating a coup against Jeremy Corbyn is very telling. They're clearly only using Brexit as the excuse to do what they were planning to do all along.

What is the real issue?

The Chilcott Report into the invasion and occupation of Iraq is due to be made public next week (on July 6th). It is widely predicted to savage Tony Blair and Jack Straw for their role in fabricating the case for war, the appalling lack of adequate equipment or support for British troops and the devastating failure to plan for what was to actually happen after the invasion.

Jeremy Corbyn has stated many times that if the Chilcott Report shows that Tony Blair committed crimes, then he should be tried for war crimes. In fact he went slightly further than that, saying "everybody who has committed a crime should be charged".


Two of the main orchestrators of the coup attempt against Jeremy Corbyn just so happen to be arch Blairites. Conor McGinn is the one who stage managed the flurry of resignations from the shadow cabinet in order to inflict as much damage as possible, meanwhile another anti-Corbyn agitator is Will Straw, whose father Jack Straw was Blair's Foreign Secretary during the push for war back in 2003.

Hillary Benn is another who was at Corbyn's throat immediately after Brexit was announced, instead of aiming his criticisms at the Tory party. Benn voted in favour of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and then consistently voted against holding an independent inquiry into the Iraq fiasco. Angela Eagle has been touted by many as Corbyn's successor. she too voted in favour of the Iraq was and against holding an inquiry.

An awful lot of the 172 MPs who tried to force Corbyn's resignation with their no confidence vote just so happen to have voted in favour of the Iraq war, and then voted repeatedly against an independent inquiry into the Iraq war.

The majority of those who remained loyal to Corbyn or abstained are either the left-wing minority who rebelled against Blair's warmongering, or the new intake of MPs (2010 and 2015) who weren't involved in the vote to invade Iraq or any of the attempted cover-ups.

The Blairites' last stand

The attempt to oust Jeremy Corbyn is a battle for the very soul of the Labour Party. The Blairites want to force Corbyn to resign, because in a democratic leadership contest they know that Corbyn would eviscerate whichever Blairite patsy they put up to challenge him, which would provide him a mandate to allow local Labour constituencies to begin deselecting corrupt/venal/self-serving/out-of-touch/warmongering/right-wing MPs and replacing them with people who they actually want to represent them.

If Corbyn could achieve this it would loosen the choke hold that right-wing Blairites have had on the Labour Party since Tony Blair usurped it in 1994 and switched it's central economic ideology from social democracy to Murdoch approved Thatcherism.

If Corbyn is ousted, then the game is up for the Labour Party. Hundreds of thousands of members and activists would abandon it for good at the appointment of a Blairite shill, and millions of voters would walk away too, thus rendering them ... erm ... "unelectable".

The lack of public appetite for more of the same has already been demonstrated in Scotland where the SNP gleefully posed as the anti-austerity party while Labour parroted Ed Ball's suicidal austerity-lite agenda at an electorate that was already furious with them over the way they colluded with the Tories during the independence debate. Labour lost 40 of their 41 Westminster seats in the biggest electoral massacre in UK history, then went on to consolidate their losses by getting trounced again in the 2016 Scottish Parliament election.

The Blairites are ideologically blinded to the fact that nobody wants Tory-lite any more. People want real opposition and the chance of real change, or if they do (for some reason) want ideological austerity, they'll obviously vote for the real thing.

The Blairites are also blinded to the fact that their warmongering idol is widely reviled. In fact he is so reviled by the public these days that his barrage of attacks against Jeremy Corbyn during the Labour leadership election probably did more to raise Corbyn's star than any other factor!

The future


Whichever side wins this epic battle for the future of the Labour Party, it's unbelievable that the main opposition party decide to rip itself apart just at the very moment they could have unified and aimed a barrage of criticism against the Tory party at their weakest moment since the Lib-Dems enabled them back into power in 2010.

Whichever way it goes now, this staggering lack of unity has cost them dear. The golden opportunity to slay the Tory beast has gone now, and whichever faction of the Labour Party prevails now will have to carry the damage of this ludicrous descent into outright civil war at the least opportune moment possible.


 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.




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