Monday, 2 May 2016

'Kinder, Gentler Politics'



I was going to have a blogging-free day today, given the bank holiday, but having read thoughts of Unite boss Len McCluskey on Labour MPs undermining Jeremy Corbyn, I felt compelled to say something.

The first thing is that demanding Labour MPs to show more loyalty to their leader is a bit like calling for Count Dracula be put in charge of the local neighbourhood blood bank.

Because, as everyone knows, Jezza was a serial rebel throughout his 32 years as a backbench MP who voted against his own party line over 500 times, as well as being a persistent thorn in the side of every Labour leader in recent memory including: Neil Kinnock, John Smith, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ed Miliband.

So, Len is re-writing history in similar fashion to Ken Livingstone who caused the whole row in the first place by claiming 'Hitler was a Zionist' and that a person can only be anti-semitic if they hate all Jews across the world, not just those living in Israel.

Now Len's comments are extensively reported in The Guardian (see link below), yet strangely the Unite boss has nothing to say about Comrade Livingstone's behaviour or the extremely stupid and hateful things the former London mayor said. 

Instead McCluskey lashes out at named Labour MPs and even has the brass neck to attack Liz Kendall's 4.5% share of the vote in Labour's leadership election, when Len managed to attract only 6.8% of union members who voted in Unite's leadership election.

Still it's nice to see the Corbyn style of 'kinder, gentler politics' at work.

  

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/01/jeremy-corbyn-len-mccluskey-attacks-treacherous-labour-mps

Corbyn ally Len McCluskey attacks ‘treacherous’ Labour MPs

Union leader accuses Labour figures of setting ‘false traps’ for leader, as polls suggest party is on course for worst local election results in 35 years
 

Jeremy Corbyn pictured with Len McCluskey during his leadership campaign. Among those accused by McCluskey are Liz Kendall, Michael Dugher, Ian Austin and Wes Streeting. Photograph: Rob Stothard/Getty Images

By Rajeev Syal and Heather Stewart

A key ally of Jeremy Corbyn has accused MPs of employing treacherous tactics designed to undermine Labour’s leader, as an analysis of the latest polls by a leading academic suggests the party is on course for its worst local election results for 35 years.

Len McCluskey, the head of the UK’s biggest union, Unite, claimed former shadow ministers Liz Kendall and Michael Dugher, Gordon Brown’s former aide Ian Austin and newly elected MP Wes Streeting have made interventions meant to damage Corbyn.

McCluskey’s intervention comes as a new projection conducted for the Guardian shows that Labour is on course to lose 175 council seats in Thursday’s elections.


Psst - pass it on! (16/09/11)

Image result for Psst! pass it on + images

Psst, pass it on!

Len McCluskey of Unite has a smaller 'mandate' than Dave Prentis of Unison see post dated 14 September 2011 - People in Glass Houses

Dave has a big whopper of a mandate compared to Len anyway and depending on how you count the votes.

But Dave's 11.2% puts Len's 6.8% completely in the shade and here's a earlier post from November 2010 which explains why.

Now I don't think that size really matters unless people go around making complete dicks of themselves by saying that they've got a bigger mandate than anyone else.

Because normally that's not true and men tend to be a poor judge of size, or so my women friends tell me anyway.

"Election Mandates (24 November 2010)"

Len McCluskey election as the new leader of Unite has prompted lots of Guardian readers to comment on the newspaper's web site.

Most people registering a view are rightly unimpressed at the poor turnout.

Less than 16% of the union's membership participated in the ballot which does raise serious questions about trade union democracy.

If 84% of the electorate cannot be bothered to vote something is clearly wrong and union leaders should do more than just shrug their shoulders and move on.

Some commentators also attack Len McCluskey, on a personal level, which is clearly rather unfair.

Len has still been elected after all he just needs to avoid getting too carried away.

Because any over the top attack on the government and its mandate to govern will sound completely ridiculous.

From a union leader elected with the backing of only 6.8% of Unite's 1.5 million members.

Labour in Denial (01/05/16)


The Labour Party has been plunged into crisis because of a stupid, yet deliberate attempt by Ken Livingstone (one of Jeremy Corbyn's closest allies) to claim that Adolf Hitler was a Zionist.

On top of that, Ken went on to share his view that someone can only be anti-semitic if they hate all Jews across the world, not just those living in Israel.

Noe there's been some powerful writing over the weekend about the background to this latest Labour farce and here are there examples from The Scotsman, The Observer and The Independent newspapers.   

I think that the piece by Andrew Grice (Independent) is perhaps the most factual and even-handed, Nick Cohen's (Observer) the most passionate, but I would say the most telling is Euan McColm's (Scotsman) who gets to the heart of the problem facing the Labour Party with the following paragraph:

"None of this will, I fear, put an end to Corbyn’s leadership. He is supported by an overwhelming number of halfwits who are content to believe their man’s a victim of the malign actions of others."

I admire people who don't pull their punches. 

  

http://www.scotsman.com/news/euan-mccolm-corbyn-the-last-person-to-tackle-anti-semitism-1-4115550

Euan McColm: Corbyn the last person to tackle anti-Semitism


Ken Livingstone is mobbed by journalists outside Millbank following the controversial comments which led to his suspension. Picture: Anthony Devlin/PA

By EUAN MCCOLM - The Scotsman

IT’S not Jews, they say. They’re always adamant about that: they don’t hate Jews.

And then they say things that suggest they hate Jews. Instead of Jews, of course, they say Zionists.

But they mean Jews, don’t they? After events of the past few days, that’s a reasonable assumption to make, isn’t it?

The Labour Party hasn’t had controversy to seek since members last year took the, still baffling, decision to elect the incompetent Jeremy Corbyn as their leader.


http://www.theguardian.com/politics/commentisfree/2016/apr/30/labour-antisemitism-ken-livingstone-george-galloway

I saw the darkness of antisemitism, but I never thought it would get this dark


By Nick Cohen - The Observer

The party faces a huge problem that must be surmounted, if only for moral reasons
 

Ken Livingstone claimed Hitler was a Zionist. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Getty Images

Racism is not a specific illness but a general sickness. Display one symptom and you display them all. If you show me an anti-Muslim bigot, I will be able to guess his or her views on the European Union, welfare state, crime and “political correctness”. Show me a leftwing or Islamist antisemite and, once again, he will carry a suitcase full of prejudices, which have nothing to do with Jews, but somehow have everything to do with Jews.

The Labour party does not have a “problem with antisemitism” it can isolate and treat, like a patient asking a doctor for a course of antibiotics. The party and much of the wider liberal-left have a chronic condition.

As I have written about the darkness on the left before, I am not going to crow now that it has turned darker than even I predicted. (There is not much to crow about, after all.) I have nothing but respect for the Labour MPs who are trying to stop their party becoming a playpen for fanatics and cranks. It just appears to me that they face interlocking difficulties that are close to insoluble.



http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/corbyn-s-leadership-has-heightened-labour-s-jewish-problem-only-he-can-bring-this-row-to-an-end-a7005836.html

Corbyn’s leadership has heightened Labour’s 'Jewish problem'. Only he can bring this row to an end

Corbyn is on a fast learning curve. A half-hearted approach by the Labour leader would not only lose Jewish voters but repel others too

By Andrew Grice - The Independent

Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, addresses the Commons PA

A debate inside the Labour Party over Israel, which has simmered for years, has suddenly exploded into Jeremy Corbyn’s biggest crisis in his seven months as party leader.

With the Conservatives advertising their deep divisions on Europe daily, it should have been a moment for Labour, broadly united in support for EU membership, to make progress – not least in next week’s elections to local authorities, the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and for London Mayor. Instead, Labour has somehow managed to give the impression it is just as divided as the Tories.

After a costly 32-hour delay before suspending the Labour MP Naz Shah for suggesting in 2014 that Israeli Jews be transported to America, Corbyn learnt his lesson and acted swiftly to bar his long-time ally Ken Livingstone. Bizarrely, the former London Mayor leapt to the defence of Shah when she was no longer defending herself. The story became a farce as Livingstone suggested that Hitler was a Zionist and clashed on the stairs of a TV studio with the Labour MP John Mann.

Livingstone, who was co-chairing a review of Labour’s foreign policy, claimed in a round of media interviews that, in his 47 years in the party, he had never come across anti-Semitism. This, too, was bizarre, since a series of such allegations have had a high media profile in recent weeks.

Get a Grip, Labour! (30/04/16)


I listened to Ken Livingstone on the radio earlier today trying desperately to 'defend the indefensible' in terms of his comments about Hitler and Zionism.

As often happens on these occasions, 'attack' seems to be the preferred form of defence and instead of apologising for being such a dick, Ken sought to deflect attention away from his foolish words by blaming the whole business as a storm in a teacup whipped up by MPs who are hostile to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.

Now that takes a great deal of 'chutzpah' - a brass neck, as people are fond of saying in Glasgow - but I encountered a similarly dumb argument on Twitter the other day with a chap who couldn't tell me whether he thought that Jon Lansman (the Chair of the pro-Corbyn Labour group Momentum) is an arch-Blairite - see Twitter exchange below.

So while Ken and his chums continue to grasp at any passing straw, the biggest irony of all is that Ken Livingstone set out to defend the Labour MP Naz Shah who, by the time ken stirred up this hornet's nest, has already apologised for her offensive anti-Semitic comments.

Seems like the old Labour figures are badly in need of learning some new tricks, as today's cartoon in The Times by Morten Morland illustrates.

As Hugo Rifkind said on Twitter earlier today: "Arguing that Hitler was a Zionist is like arguing that the slave trade was pro-immigration. Get a grip."      

Exactly.