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A broad church July 16, 2019

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

It’s interesting the ferment in the British Labour Party. So many issues. There are those who would query how wide a party it should be – and I’m not talking about those who left for the TIG who are, by my reckoning, simply not left-wing at all.

There’s always going to be a bit of a flux at the margins of any political group, and of course within such groups. Ideological position can be difficult to pin down. I was talking recently to a former Labour TD who went independent and would be regarded as quite left-wing. I was surprised to hear them argue that their view was using the tax system as a means of rebalancing matters rather than nationalisation. Of course it’s not either or, and nationalisation isn’t the ultimate panacea either – I think a much broader range of forms of social ownership offers greater flexibility and is more important by far than taxation in transformative terms. And the tax system is crucial too – albeit it is one lever amongst many.

But the point is that a British Labour Party unable to accommodate such views and many more wouldn’t be much of a broad church. It’s one reason I’m cautious about deselection processes. On paper it sounds fine, and in certain instances essential, ensure that only those with congenial views are elected, and yet the reality is that it could leave a string of seat losses and as we know the position of the Labour Party in the UK is far from robust. Indeed I tend to the view that a slightly more diffuse approach, of the sort that finally saw the TIG depart, is better than full frontal assaults. There may be those who the latter approach is more appropriate. But one interesting dynamic is that local CLPs often seem to tolerate MPs because they are able to be elected (I saw that in the WP too come to think of it). That’s a problem, but one has to wonder short of a massive change in the UK electoral system is there any great choice in the matter.

A lot, naturally, depends on what we consider the baseline positions of the BLP. I was a member during the last of the Kinnock years, and in all truth it was, whatever ones views on his leadership, reasonably left-wing in that period. Less so than my own position, but still clearly so. I felt that was largely true up to the advent of Blair. I wonder how I’d have felt were I involved in the early 2000s. I suspect that it would have been difficult to remain in the party during that period. Yet people, many very genuine and sincere and some very left-wing did, precisely because it was the largest and most diverse formation. And that was an enormous strength when as was inevitable the Blair project began to fall apart – and just on that I think one can easily argue that it took a good decade for that to finally disintegrate.

Sometimes it seems that there’s a view that there’s a sort of uncontested terrain that is the platonic ideal for a political formation, and yet look at how concepts and issue such as nationalism, republicanism and so on deeply divide political formations on the left and further left on this island. Which perhaps is another way of saying there are no easy solutions and sometimes acting as if there are weakens the very formations necessary to achieve them.


1. Phil - July 16, 2019

I couldn’t even vote for the party in the New Labour years. I had friends who remained members; there was a lot of ‘half a loaf’, ‘better than not doing anything’ rhetoric (at least until Iraq).

But I find it hard to be generous to the New Labour crowd, not so much because of what they did as because of what they still stand for. Not prioritising nationalisation is one thing, but when you’ve got people in the party who actually favour privatisation I’d say the church has got too damn broad. And this isn’t just a smart comeback – party policy in the mid- to late 2000s was, in effect, to favour privatisation, and there’s a whole tranche of MPs who were (s)elected on that understanding. I’ve thought for a while now that the Corbynite takeover would be a long job; I just hope it hasn’t stalled.


WorldbyStorm - July 16, 2019

I’d agree entirely – favoring privatization is a step too far. Indeed even sitting on hands on it is problematic. But I’d argue say someone who favors other forms of social ownership but not nationalsatui is a different issue


2. EWI - July 16, 2019

It’s one reason I’m cautious about deselection processes. On paper it sounds fine, and in certain instances essential

My impression of the Blairites is that they were dedicated to the ‘HQ imposes candidates’ model, and given that this was the Blairites then the majority would be leftwing in name only. In this situation, I’ve no problem with a more democratic selection process appearing to better reflect the actual membership.


WorldbyStorm - July 16, 2019

Which reminds me of the WP in 1986 in Dublin North East where the candidate (later successful) was disliked, no secret there, by most(?) of the membership but whre the leadership decided he was the guy, and I think the members too knew he was the only one likely to take a seat.


3. Paschal - July 16, 2019

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4. Paschal - July 16, 2019

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5. Paschal - July 16, 2019

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