With friends like these…. | @srcav

cavStephen Cavadino is a maths teacher (and fanatic) from Leeds. He is a member of the Labour party. You can read of his musings on maths, teaching and life at cavmaths.wordpress.com . When he isn’t teaching; writing about, or doing maths he spends the majority of his time with his family, watching rugby (both codes) and playing guitar.

I’ve just read this post from @teach_well on Labour Teachers. It’s a terrifying hatchet job which suggests the new Labour leader is similar to the infamous leader of the British Union of Fascists.

With an almost worryingly bizarre irony the post suggests that Mr Corbyn is working against democracy. Corbyn has been elected by a massive majority of party members. And membership has swelled even further since his election. This shows that he has a massive democratic mandate to create policy. The others in the parliamentary party backed their own horses and found them, and their policy ideas, rejected by the party as a whole. It seems to me that it’s actually the PLP that are working against democracy by blocking the policies that the party as a whole selected democratically over the summer when it elected Corbyn.

These personal attacks on Corbyn and his followers are all too prevalent in the media and in social media. Coming often from purported supporters and members of the party. But bizarrely we also hear of Corbyn supporters attacking the non “Corbynistas” as tories. I’ve not seen any of these attacks, but masses of attacks the other way.

The post attacks Corbyn for answering a question about policy disagreement with the phrases “I would try to change their minds”, suggesting this is undemocratic. But actually this is the very crux of democracy. The whole point of the parliamentary system is to engage in debate and try to persuade others to come around to your way of thinking. That’s why we have commons debates, Lords debates etc etc. So to suggest that a debate is undemocratic is an absolute nonsense.

The post also attacks the right to peaceful protest. A democratic right that we have in this country. The author seems to think that party conferences should be exempt from this, and that by exercising a democratic right to protest those involved are campaigning for a dictatorship, which is ridiculous inference. By protesting and lobbying the general populous can show the political classes their views, and potentially affect policy decisions.

It’s bizarre that so many members of the Labour party, a democratic socialist party, are so vocal in their opposition to Corbyn, a socialist who was democratically elected leader. The party is a broad church, often referred to as “the coalition on the left”, Corbyn has embraced that and wants involvement from all areas of the party in policy making. Yet those who didn’t want him don’t seem willing to engage, the knives are out and they’re being sharpened. With friends like these…..

8 thoughts on “With friends like these…. | @srcav

  1. Oh dear – rattled cages.

    Is it now a problem to compare leaders, politicians, parties with different ideological leanings? You are aware that politics students do this kind of comparison as standard. If there are any comparisons that are not valid then maybe you should outline them.

    Corbyn needs to decide who is making which policy and when. No good saying it will be the conference but when they make a decision you disagree with, you override them afterwards. Why waste his own and the party members time?

    Persuasion is the crux of democracy? Not representation? Because believe it or not that’s why we elect MPs – to represent us. Worrying that the basic tenets of democracy are being misrepresented in this fashion.

    Also has it occurred to Corbyn or his supporters what is a reasonable response if people aren’t persuaded? Because he is not all that great at compromising or agreeing to disagree it seems. If it is going to be his way or the high way – that might work for his supporters but it won’t work on the general electorate, or me for that matter.

    Right to a ‘peaceful’ protest I agree, but it wasn’t peaceful was it? Also is it ok for one party leader to openly support a protest outside another parties conference? Would it be ok for David Cameron to send tweets of solidarity to a group who then intimidate, threaten, egg, spit at and punch Labour Party members? Why did Corbyn get involved at all? Want to answer that question instead of making up one of your own?

    You seem to have hit the nail on the head in your last paragraph – Corbyn is a socialist but socialists are not always democrats, just as democrats are not always socialist. Hence why I questioned the commitment.

    For a party rebel – he seems happy to force others to toe the line and as for Corbyn supporters like yourself – you are not going to persuade me that you are pro-democracy or debate by refusing to engage with any critique or questions asked.

  2. But he doesn’t. This is the nub of the injustice of your remarks. Could you give me an example of any party leadership that has been as tolerant of dissent as this one?

    1. Well he could demonstrate his tolerance by ruling out mandatory deselection. It would also be helpful if his people did not tweet out the names of all the MPs who abstained on the austerity measure, which served not purpose other than to encourage trolling of those MPs.

      1. He has already ruled it out (unfortunately as, outside the current distrustful atmosphere, I consider it a useful democratic instrument).

        Odd how, after accusing Jc of being undemocratic, you focus on limiting accountability of MPs?

        1. How is it limiting the accountability of MPs? Or are they only held to account when they make decisions for themselves. Sorry but when the leader has voted against his own party hundreds of times as a backbencher, he can’t deny others the same choice.

          He said that he didn’t want mandatory re-selection but if the conference voted for it he would go with the decision. That doesn’t sound resounding does it?

  3. “I’ve not seen any of these attacks,”

    There were dozens of them on the Guardian comment page under any article about Corbyn during the run up to the declaration of the leadership election results. Mind-bogglingly nasty, especially to people who had been in the party for years but were worried about Corbyn’s chances in a general election.

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