Saturday, 20 August 2016

Weep for the voiceless, who have known the cross without the crown of glory!

Weep for the voiceless, who have known
The cross without the crown of glory!

I have been struggling these past few weeks with my own innate pedantry. Faced with a choice of two opposing trenches in the Labour Party leadership battle I have been scoring the mud spattered candidates on their inconsistencies and inabilities. There is much that has disturbed me .......... from the shadow chancellor proclaiming on a public platform that 175 Labour MP's were "f*****g useless" (see it here - an embedded video in a New Statesman article) to Corbyn's idea that extending the right to buy to private tenants would solve the housing crisis (he is quoted here on Labour List in June 2015) , and I could go on with many other issues where I find myself to be at odds with the Corbyn agenda.

Let me be pretentious for a moment

I have to say that I am unconvinced by many in the Labour Party who oppose Corbyn, just as I was in the 2015 leadership contest where I had a choice of 3 who promoted varying degrees of continued austerity but the only anti-austerity candidate was a man who claimed Hamas and Hezbollah as friends ........... that was not a choice so I voted for nobody. I will not make that mistake again. Now we are where we are, staring at each other from entrenched positions whilst between us no-man's land is pock marked with shell holes of distortion within which lay the casualties of the Labour war ............... the voiceless whose only hope is a return to a Labour government. 

The Joseph Rowntree Trust state that there are 13 million people living in the UK who do not have enough to meet their needs. It is they who suffer from austerity but gain nothing if Labour does not get back into power ............ that's 20% (and rising) of the population whose only hope is that the Labour Party wins the next general election.

The crux of the debate


That for me is the crux of the debate; not as some term it a battle for the soul of the party, nor is it a clash of ideologies however hard some try to push that idea. Even though it is tempting to make comparisons with the 1980's and the expulsion of Militant Tendency or the struggle for supremacy of the Bennite purists and the pragmatism of Wilson .................. this now is a different debate .............. should the Labour Party be a broad based movement tolerant of shades of opinion from far left to social liberalism (as expounded by L.T. Hobhouse) and thus attract voters from left, right and centre or should it redefine itself as an expression of grassroots power. I detect a sense that we are revisiting the debate of 1906 where the alliance of trade unions and socialist political groups, coexisting under the Labour Representation Committee banner, decided to call themselves The Labour Party. The core of that historic decision was that the party would seek to promote the interests of those it represented via the ballot box; to gain power through Westminster. Thus was born the Labour Party that gained so much success in the following 100 or so years. The idea that a balance between ideology and pragmatism would be electorally successful and result in such radical social change was but the stuff of dreams in the 19th century. Electability was the key.

Current UK polling for the 2020 general election. Source: link to Wikipedia
UK Opinion Polling for the 2020 election including polls which started on or before 12th August 2016 (moving average is calculated from the last ten polls)
  Conservative
  Labour
  UKIP
  Liberal Democrats
  SNP
  Greens

The decline in Labour support following the EU Referendum in June is marked. I am afraid that Corbyn's assertion that he will have to appeal to potential Tory voters only elicits a shake of the head in disbelief. So back to Oliver Wendell Holmes:


A few can touch the magic string,

And noisy Fame is proud to win them:--
Alas for those that never sing,
But die with all their music in them!

We are letting so many people down, by failing to get elected we condemn them to more misery, more lost opportunities and failure to live up to their potential. It's called inequality. 

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