A New Kind of Politics? | @teach_well

tgillTarjinder has worked as a class teacher in challenging inner-city primary schools in Birmingham, London and Leicester. Described once as ‘Old School but New School’ and liked it. Any view or opinions presented are solely those of the author.

While  in the audience for Question Time, I happened to be sitting next a youngish looking man. At the end of the programme he spoke to a woman in the row behind. He was stating bitterly how unfair the question about Jeremy Corbyn was (“Is Jeremy Corbyn a threat to national security?” was asked by a member of the audience). She replied that people just didn’t understand him and that the media was out to get him. As she offered him a lift in the direction he was going to, it occurred to me that they were not mother and son as I had presumed. Instead, I thought to myself that there is a good chance that they are Corbynistas who’ve met on some sort of rally. Maybe, maybe not. Who knows, I didn’t ask.

It did hit me though that Corbyn didn’t really remind me of any of the previous Labour leaders, not even the more left-wing ones such as Kier Hardie. Then it hit me, he does remind of a leader, just not one from the mainstream political parties. Despite their completely different political ideologies and ideas, Corbyn’s style of leadership reminded me of Oswald Mosley. The similarities that occurred to me were as follows:

  • Offering utopian ideals instead of incremental change;
  • Preference for fluid party/movement;
  • Disdain for the establishment while being part of it;
  • Belief in the possibility of shifting the Overton window;
  • Dodgy international connections;
  • Cult of personality;
  • Preference for rallies and run ins with the opposition at ground level;
  • Associating with and encouraging more thuggish and abusive elements of their movement while publicly distancing themselves;
  • A lack of commitment to democracy as a system.

The last of these is the most striking to me. I still can’t quite fathom why a leader of the opposition would encourage a protest outside a party conference. Why link himself to it at all? It wasn’t organised by the Labour Party, he didn’t attend it and more to the point, he knew it was to disrupt a legitimate party conference, no different to the one his party had held.

Yes, the Conservatives are the government but it is one thing to demonstrate against them in London, quite another outside their conference. Would it be ok in reverse? Should Conservative leaders wish protesters outside the Labour Party Conference well? I can already the hear the cries of they are doing it via legislation instead but this is where the Labour Party has to decide if it is just the political arm of the union movement or is it a political party in its own right regardless of whether unions back it or not. The fact that Jeremy Corbyn then rocked up to the post workers rally just came across as triumphalist. I know he’d booked it in advance, but he is the leader now and I am sure he had lots of events booked in which he has had to change.

It doesn’t matter what I think of the Conservatives, democracy is about allowing a range of political parties to gain power, otherwise I am advocating dictatorship of the party of my choice. Which I think is what some Corbynistas want deep down and I am not convinced that Jeremy himself does not see attaining power as a means of pushing his own personal view of how Britain should be. It is a case of subscribe to his vision or don’t bother.

One of the comments that Corbyn made on the Andrew Marr programme recently that struck me the most was his answer to the question: “what if the party members vote to keep Trident?” His answer was that he would hope to persuade them round to his way of thinking. So really, the democratic process within the party is acceptable so long as they vote for the policies that he wants? Otherwise what? He does what he thinks is right regardless? His announcement that he would never press the button of the nuclear deterrent effectively determines the current position of the party before they even debated one. Is this really respect for democracy?

13 thoughts on “A New Kind of Politics? | @teach_well

  1. This is extraordinary. So you equate Jeremy to a fascist leader, racist and traitor because:

    2 of his supporters were friendly towards each other at Question Time

    A lot of bizarre assertions about his positions with no examples to support them

    He wants to persuade people towards his opinion

    Can I remind you that the party regularly adopted a policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament which successive leaders chose simply to ignore. Can you explain why trying to persuade is worse than ignoring? Why Jeremy’s quiet optimism is somehow fascist while Gaitskell’s desire to “fight and fight again” on the same issue has always been quoted favourably?

    I get it. You disagree with Jeremy on a number of policies, including Trident. Can’t we debate the policies rather than these ludicrous empty character assassination attempts?

  2. Thank you for reading Duncan. I feel you seem to have misunderstood. QT was just the setting that sparked something.

    I made a comparison not the same as equating. I think I was clear that they do not share a political ideology. The only person using the word fascist is you.

    As usual you are too busy condemning anyone who dares to disagree with Comrade Corbynistas rather than engage with the points.

    Has the party embraced unilateralism again? I understood there was no debate or vote on it. My main point was the lack of commitment to the democratic process. Talking about Gaitskill and unilateralism is just a straw man here. It was the process of decision making not the decision itself that was the point.

    In fact you don’t seem willing to address any of the points and concerns re: respect for democracy. We can debate policy when they have one on something that doesn’t change on a whim.

  3. I don’t understand your point about democracy. The Gaitskell reference was not a straw man. fight and fight again broadly equates to trying to persuade people. Why is that only undemocratic if Corbyn does it?

    Your other points are genuine straw men. There was an entirely legitimate and democratic protest by the TUC at Tory conference. Assorted anarchists spitting and whatever else had nothing to do with Jeremy or the Labour Party. Your sense that Jeremy wants power to put his ideas into practice is likely accurate; framing that as somehow undemocratic is simply bizarre.

    Comparing the democratically elected leader of the Labour Party with the leader of the British Union of Fascists must have been designed to get a response. I think I’ve been quite restrained in my responses. I’m utterly appalled.

    1. Persuasion is one thing but what if people simply don’t agree? I don’t trust someone who thinks they can persuade me to their way of thinking because I am ‘wrong’ and they are ‘right’ inherently. Where is the compromise? Where is the agreeing to disagree? Bringing Gaitskill into this is a strawman precisely because while you are entitled to fight for your cause, you are not entitled to impose it in a democracy. That’s how it works – democracy does not mean getting your way regardless. Compromise and agreeing to disagree are not part of Corbyn’s attributes. That is concerning in a democracy – yes.

      Corbyn needs to decide who is making the policy. He has a mandate to set out policies such as unilateralism. Why state that the party conference would decide, then when they choose not to adopt his policy, make a statement that negates it and effectively creates policy anyway. Why waste everyone’s time?

      Personally, I would have stated the policies that I had been elected for (debate and decision for him to be leader has already taken place) and any new policies put to the conference as they arise. Rather than say the conference will decide then undermine that position.

      Tit-for-tat calling something a strawman doesn’t make it so.

      You may wish to answer the question why is a party leader supporting a protest outside another party’s conference when they neither organised it or took part in it? I don’t think you can have it both ways – oh he was supporting the nice people not the nasty ones. That is precisely where same argument used by leaders of EDL, BNP, etc. Do you accept it when they say it?

      As for getting a response. Not at all. It was an post written in good faith because having studied British history in depth, it was a comparison that came to me. You do not address any of the comparisons made.

      I might also remind you that Mosley was both a Labour and Conservative MP before founding the BUF. In addition, would you also argue that Orwell’s comparison of the similarities between Fascism and Communism are illegitimate on the same basis?

      One last thing – associating oneself with repugnant views and behaviour is within the control of Corbyn as party leader. The appointment of Milne is yet another case in point.

  4. But none of your comparisons with Moseley are worth a moments thought.

    Moseley was obsessed with power, moving from party to party to find one that would make him fuhrer. Corbyn has been tribally Labour and has never shown any signs of personal ambition.

    He does propose incremental changes and isn’t remotely Utopian.

    The Labour movement rather pre-dates Corbyn (and Moseley)

    There is hardly any comparison between the extent of the two’s establishment credentials. Moseley was married into the upper echelons of the aristocracy.

    One thing Moseley and Corbyn might share is no interest in the bloody Overton window.

    Are these “dodgy international connections” dodger than the PM’s fawning over President Xi or closeness to the Saudis? (And let’s not imagine that’s just the current Pm)

    Cult of personality? Really? Compared with Blair?

    I thought we were in the same movement? Who are these thuggish elements he supposedly encourages? The BUF was wholly thuggish and Moseley did precious little distancing.

    Jeremy has an absolute commitment to democracy and your remarks on this do not get anymore coherent.

    So, yes, I think the comparison utterly wrong as well as hugely offensive.

  5. I take your point about Blair but he wasn’t actually supported by people who wanted to purge or deselect MPs like Jeremy Corbyn despite his rebellions. That shows a level of respect for the electorate that Corbyn’s supporters are unable to muster – your comments about the PLP is indicative of this attitude.

    Most of your comments above are factually incorrect. For example, Mosley interest in Fascism came after his disillusionment with mainstream politics not during his time in either party.

    You can find the comparison as offensive and wrong as you like. You may wish to demonstrate a better understanding of British political history while refuting though.

    1. Not going to get into debate about Blair’s control freakery. It was top down, but it was legendary. No comparison with a few gobby types on Twitter (which are only a mirror image of the people attacking Corbyn’s team and calling for sackings and expulsions after all; both are wrong).

      But the only point you choose to address is one I didn’t make: re when Moseley became a fascist. When he formed the New Party he was showing some tendencies according to Bevan, even though he originally pitched it as a Left-of-labour vehicle.

      You don’t give any further examples of supposed historical inaccuracy; I would be interested in that, at least, as this is a period and topic into which I’ve engaged in detailed primary research and given conference papers on. Discussing the history might be interesting. The comparison is absurd and as troll-like as anything I’ve seen from some Twitter Corbynista.

  6. I realise this is all very contentious right from the start, but can we avoid being personal about each other, please?

  7. Are these “dodgy international connections” dodger than the PM’s fawning over President Xi or closeness to the Saudis?

    Hell yes.

    Cameron wouldn’t give Xi or the Saudis the time of day if his country didn’t need something from them. Very important things.

    Corbyn chooses to hang out with some people many find distasteful because he likes their politics.

    Cameron is not going to try and make UK like Saudi or China — it’s a purely business arrangement. Corbyn would like to move the UK towards Venezuala.

    FWIW, I find the Mosley resemblance fairly striking.

    1. I’m glad it’s not just me!! I think your distinction is a fair one although I would rather Cameron didn’t work with the Saudi’s and Chinese given their record.

  8. Genuinely appalling piece. I’m astonished that those who don’t like Corbyn can keep a straight face complaining of abuse by others while writing clearly inflammatory pieces like this.

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