Lefties: stop bloody fighting each other


3:00 pm - November 14th 2010

by Sunny Hundal    


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The Republican party in the United States is, to my mind, the most successful* organisational and political movement in the world since the 1970s.

Its most successful leader Ronald Reagan had an 11th Commandment: ‘Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican’, and it has worked fantastically since.

I say this in the context of the absurd sectarianism that has broken out since the student protests, and I would implore people to stop being intolerant and engage in this orgy of self-mutilation.

On one side are socialist-lefties and liberal-lefties who played down the excessive nature of the event and immediately became protective of the protesters. Many then went overboard by attacking NUS President Aaron Porter and accusing him and others of “selling out” because they condemned the violence.

On the other side are centrist Labourites who think the message was completely over-shadowed by the violence. Their priority is to distance themselves from these “idiots” and condemn protesters in the strongest terms to get back the credibility they think they lost.

I simply say this: ‘UR DOIN IT RONG’ – there is another way.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

When I call myself a ‘movement lefty’, this is what I mean.

I see the Left as a very broad church that includes not just socialists and liberal-lefties, but people from different political parties. Not just trade unions but also feminist groups, environmentalists and even people protesting against tax avoidance. It is broader than the Labour party movement or the Trade Union Movement: ideological, organisational and political.

In short, we are never going to agree on a range of issues and I’m not suggesting we should. Neither am I saying people should be banned from taking a different stance.

But this infighting is a whole different problem because at its heart lies the belief that others in the movement have no right to do things differently.

That is not only fundamentally intolerant, but in this case quite self-destructive since we share the same aims: to stop the Coalition from permanently destroying the post-war welfare settlement.

So let’s stop the in-fighting; let’s accept there is space for people to do things differently; and let’s spend our energies taking on the government not each other.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Hence, I reject calls by people who think ‘sell-out’ Aaron Porter should be sacked**. This is absurd – he had to respond to media questions and no one in their right minds is going to defend the guy who threw the fire-extinguisher.

I also reject calls by Labourites who say Labour should distance itself from these “extremists” and only be the “moderate” face. The party would simply end up alienating a new generation of idealists who want to see a better world.

The party has utterly failed in the past decade to harness the energy that has developed around the environment, feminism and civil liberties. If it now rejects the growing energy in the movement to defend public services (even it contains some people who go over the top) then it will remain full of careerists who have no real passion for the problems that people face.

I may abhor the Republicans but lessons from the Tea Party movement are instructive. The left needs to campaign hard for public services and build a movement against the Coalition, but also understand not all the public see things the way we do. Moderates in our movement are necessary.

Labour needs to work with the movement, without the Sarah Palin / Christine O’Donnell types taking over, but remember the infamous quote that underscored the Republican resurgence: “Moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

—-
* It is also the world’s most dangerous movement but that shouldn’t stop anyone learning from the enemy.
** If you’re going to say he’s ‘just another Blairite like other NUS Presidents and isn’t a leftie anyway‘, then you haven’t got the point. Purity tests are part of the problem.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


We in the UK left have suffered defeat after defeat, we need to be modest and learn from others who have succeed in moving things closer to social justice, hope some readers can have a look at this and gain inspiration http://another-green-world.blogspot.com/2010/11/tour-by-joel-linares-grassroots.html

I sympathize with this Sunny – although the secret of the Tea Party’s success is to develop a demented hatred of the government based on lies, paranioa and self-deception, and completely overlook the fact that your own policies are incoherent and all your beliefs are contradicted by facts. That’s one way to form a powerful movement. Not sure we want to copy that.

(on that note, I know you won’t like this because you hate HP, but check out this story about just how cut adrift from reality that lot are. Bush almost comes out of it looking good.

http://hurryupharry.org/2010/11/12/im-going-to-be-roosevelt-not-hoover/

3. the a&e charge nurse

Blair’s NuLabour arose on the back of calls for less dissent amongst lefty groups, unity only works if you are backing the right cause.

The student protests are one thing but given that the party, and the left in general has reached a stage of reflection (hopefully) after defeat at the last GE then some degree of squabbling is almost inevitable?

Isn’t it better to air these grievances now, during the first years of opposition, in order to establish some sort of consensus, and even vision for the future?

You think the US Republican Party is a more dangerous movement than Al-Qaeda?

Wow.

By defending Aaron Porter you’re defending someone who tried to shelter himself from criticism by spuriously claiming that his demo had been hijacked by a ‘tiny minority’ of outside troublemakers. Doesn’t that make him the very kind of schismatic your article opposes?

Porter tried shift the blame on to members of the anti-cuts movement – or at least mythical infiltrators. While the Left ought to be presenting Wednesday as outpouring of legitimate anger and sense powerlessness in the face of attacks on education and the working class, people like Porter are taking up the Right’s ‘troublemaker’ narrative and depicting the demo as something sinister.

It would be nice to think that (Newer?) Labour IS actually on the left, but many of us remain to be convinced Sunny. There are still more than enough of the “usual suspects” clinging on, trying desperately to revive the putrefying corpse of New Labour – like the Bourbons they have forgotten nothing and remembered nothing.

I feel a real sense of disquiet being called upon to bury the hatchet with a bunch of authoritarian control freaks who share a huge responsibility for the mess we are in now due to their supine acceptance of crypto-Thatcherite, neo-liberal agenda which saw them not just enact but actually GLORY in policies which turned the stomachs of many people on the progressive left.

To be brutally frank, I don’t trust Labour and I don’t buy the damascene conversion to radical and progressive values, because I don’t think it is sincere.

Appeals for unity are all very well, but when it comes to the important issue of values and actual policy Sunny, where’s the beef?

When I’m convinced Newer Labour is actually progressive and radical things might be different; right now I’m not convinced, not by a long chalk!

Quite rightly no-one has actually defended the guy who threw (possibly dropped) the fire-extinguisher, but what was it that NUS President Aaron Porter said?

“Not on our side were the very small minority of violent protesters – estimated at 200 – who sought to hijack our organised success for their own agendas. The organisers of this splinter action are not known to us but we suspect they are not even students. ”

All those arrested were students. There were clearly thousands involved in the Millbank protest, not 200.

What you seem to be suggesting is this – anyone who expresses criticism of an elected student leader, one who attacks his own members on national television, is a lefty splitter who should shut up in the name of unity. ‘Moderates’, meanwhile, can say whatever they like, no matter how sectarian they intend to be.

No really, that sounds completely reasonable to me…

Fine line between criticism and destructive behaviour so good to discuss, not convinced that the US right is especially united, all the UK right seem to be keeping from attacking each other.

5 and 7 are cases in point.

Isn’t it better to air these grievances now, during the first years of opposition, in order to establish some sort of consensus, and even vision for the future?

Hah! No chance of that happening. I’m not asking people to have a joint vision – I’m asking that people work in a non-sectarian way. Those are two different things.

Blair’s NuLabour arose on the back of calls for less dissent amongst lefty groups, unity only works if you are backing the right cause.

Not really. He just ignored them, and he could because they were too busy fighting each other. He ensured there was more discipline within the Labour party, and that did help him, though not the party.

I’m talking about the left movement here, not the Labour party.

Kevin:
All those arrested were students. There were clearly thousands involved in the Millbank protest, not 200.

Maybe he was referring to the 200 or so that were actually scuffling with the police rather than standing outside.

The guy wasn’t at Millband when all this was happening… and all he could hear was reports through the media. What would you say? Pretend nothing is going on?

What you seem to be suggesting is this – anyone who expresses criticism of an elected student leader, one who attacks his own members on national television, is a lefty splitter who should shut up in the name of unity.

Some of those people deliberately smashing windows, burning things and throwing fire-extinguishers were a bunch of fucking idiots. There – I said it. Please expel me from your movement sir.

Porter said what he had to say because shit happened and he had to react to it in the news cycle. He took a different approach than Clare Solomon, but he explicitly didn’t go out to tar all students.

If people now want to join up with Tory Bear and Guido Fawkes and call for Porter’s head – go ahead, but it’s not going to help any anyone, and yes it is sectarianism. The focus should turn back to the cuts, not our own side.

Luis – indeed they are. Some people are never going to get my point.

Porter tried shift the blame on to members of the anti-cuts movement – or at least mythical infiltrators.

Err, no. He said a few people were being idiots. Indeed, they were. I’m not going to defend everyone who went on that protest either. But if you now want to spend your time attacking lefties who don’t echo the same line as you – please go ahead. Porter has NOT attacked the anti-cuts movement, and has since repeatedly said he wants to focus more on what the govt is doing rather than what happened at the protests. End of story.

When the usual suspects on the right start howling with suspiciously good synchronisation for Aaron Porter to go, then it should be obvious to anyone on the centre left that they would be best advised not following suit.

I agree that what Sunny describes as the left is a broad church, and would urge that it should remain so. And digging up anything about Tone isn’t helpful – and remember, Blair has not been Labour leader for over three years. He’s part of the past for the purposes of UK mainstream politics.

As to the potential infighting, perhaps we could take a leaf out of Jon Stewart’s book and just, well, turn it down a little – and try and respectfully disagree. Remember that sign he thought up for the Rally To Restore Sanity: “I disagree with you but I’m pretty sure you’re not Hitler”.

Stewart, in conversation last week with Rachel Maddow, demonstrated that two people can debate at length and enjoy a measure of civility, even when they disagree:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/11/11/rachel-maddow-jon-stewart-interview_n_782538.html

A welcome call for Unity on the Left Sunny. There is indeed more to unites us than there is to divide us, and yet I see on this site the headline – AJ confuses Labour’s economic message again – linking to a srtory which I presume (yet to read it) criticises Alan Johnson.

Unity starts at home.

It’s not just about fire extinguishers and broken windows. There is simply no way Labour can credibly oppose education funding policies which are no more than a logical progression of those introduced by the last government. The rest of the “movement left” is of course free to campaign for the magic free money tree which was the cornerstone of the Lib Dem manifesto.

“I also reject calls by Labourites who say Labour should distance itself from these “extremists” and only be the “moderate” face. The party would simply end up alienating a new generation of idealists who want to see a better world.”

Yes, we did very badly by alienating “idealists” and winning three elections on the trot. The way progressive parties win is by connecting with the moderate majority, not by sucking up to a bunch of callow young things who think they’re reinventing the wheel by being all inspirationally extra-Parliamentary, man, because the latter represent about 2% of the population.

“It would be nice to think that (Newer?) Labour IS actually on the left, but many of us remain to be convinced Sunny. There are still more than enough of the “usual suspects” clinging on, trying desperately to revive the putrefying corpse of New Labour – like the Bourbons they have forgotten nothing and remembered nothing.”

Hah ha ha! I love this kind of shit. So, Galen10, care to share with us what you yourself, as a lone individual, have heroically done to promote socialism in our time that outshines the boring, patient discipline of credible policy-making and regular canvassing on behalf of the nation’s major centre-left party? Muppet.

I really should go back to not reading this place, it’s just too funny.

Though there is a kernel of something in what Sunny says – you guys need to realise that you represent the barest sliver of “real world” social categories and it is only new Labour that dug the British left out of the hole which a lot of you want to jump right back into. So, yes, you do need to listen to “the moderates” (who in reality are the decent men and women who spend thankless amounts of their time in their communities connecting the Labour Party to its voter base).

15

“Hah ha ha! I love this kind of shit. So, Galen10, care to share with us what you yourself, as a lone individual, have heroically done to promote socialism in our time that outshines the boring, patient discipline of credible policy-making and regular canvassing on behalf of the nation’s major centre-left party? Muppet.”

Oh yeah..I’ll do it around the same time as you demonstrate how the boring, patient discipline of credible (hahahahahahahahahahahaha) policy-making and regular canvasing actually promoted radical, progressive centre-left policies……

…that’d be never then? Dupe!

17. the a&e charge nurse

[15] “it is only new Labour that dug the British left out of the hole which a lot of you want to jump right back into” – some people say we are in a hole right now because conditions have never been better for bumping up Uni fees, or privatising the NHS.

Some have even gone so far as to say that the coalition are merely harvesting the crops assiduously planted by a party that was so in thrall to the market that it stopped listening to it’s grass root supporters – if Tony “A Journey” Blair had listened we might still not be counting the dead in Iraq, amongst other things?

Yes, we did very badly by alienating “idealists” and winning three elections on the trot.

One might think, of course, sacrificing principles by – I don’t know – lying to promote war, covering up torture, succouring the banking sector, defending tyrants and curtailing civil liberties is relevant, regardless of the party’s popularity. If it has to sell out to gain power one has to wonder what its point was in the first place.

15

“……..it is only new Labour that dug the British left out of the hole which a lot of you want to jump right back into. So, yes, you do need to listen to “the moderates” (who in reality are the decent men and women who spend thankless amounts of their time in their communities connecting the Labour Party to its voter base).”

Talking of this site being too funny….. this really IS hilarious. New Labour and proud… you must be about as rare as fans of Nick Clegg by now, which isn’t that strange of course as you probably have a similarly cavalier attitude to principles.

Didn’t it even ONCE occur to you over the 13 years they were in power that you had fallen through the looking glass? That your much vaunted election winning machine had sold it’s soul?

Using a long spoon to sup with the devil is one thing….. sticking your tongue down his throat is different entirely!

What makes me annoyed is that some on the left have bought into the media lies that the Millbank incident was just a few drunken anarcho agitators. In fact, it was much larger, much more diverse, there was active discouragement of violence by many, and the initial sit in was peaceful — and then the cops turned up. If everyone on the left said, “The media is telling many a fib on this one” as a prefix to whatever their views, I’d say fair enough. But let’s at least start from a position of being honest in that, as usual, most journos wanted a story, not the truth.

Galen, how charmingly blood-curdling of you! Have you considered a career as a fire and brimstone preacher? I felt a certain Gothic shiver down my dastardly evil moderate centre-left spine. Rather like George Galloway saying that those who voted Labour had sold their souls, hmm?

BenSix, your talking points are not of interest except for the bien pensant lefties who frequent echo chambers such as this. That isn’t even most of the Labour Party or movement, I fear. For what it’s worth, I’m glad the last government took national security seriously – there is an important and difficult balance to be struck between civil liberties and security, and I think Labour did pretty well. Most of the electorate seem to think we were a bit soft, but you can’t please everyone, can you?

I, like a majority of the Iraqi people, think we were right to depose the sadistic Ba’ath, but you know, no one ever seems very interested in asking those most affected. Not an easy decision to make, for sure, arguments on both sides, undoubtedly. But it seems the only people we’re meant to listen to are those who have strong views on the matter but have nothing to do with Iraq or its people. Strange.

Anyway, although I have no particular brief to defend TB, I think you’ll find that he is only really hated by a small and rather, ah, “single-minded” set of people on the far left, mostly.

22. Luis Enrique

Sunny we need a new headline please change to: lefties, start fighting!

23. the a&e charge nurse

[21] “no one ever seems very interested in asking those most affected” – a tricky ask if you are dead – some commentators have put the documented body count at more than 100,000.
http://www.iraqbodycount.org/database/

This is the political position equivalent of let us agree to disagree, and I agree

There seems to be a worryingly large number of potential recruits for the Judean Popular Peoples’ Front here …

Have you noticed its only ever those within groups which seek to dominate discourse who ever call for ‘unity’?

I have absolutely no intention of uniting behind a party which took us to war on a pack of lies and suppressed dissent at home, nor do I wish to see capitalism replaced by a no-less exploitative system of State control.

What the last few decades taught us is that the State is utterly incapable of delivering on its promisses and that the left is better organising itself at local level, through unions and other organizations, to resist domination in all its forms.

21

Your last para is breathtaking… apparently you don’t get out much. As for not having a brief to defend Tony Blair, oh purleez!! Talk about “methinks he doth protest too much”!

As shatterface says @26 your chances of many people on the left uniting behind the nauseating remnants of New Labour aren’t just small, they are about as high as Clegg’s chances of rediscovering his principles.

Galloway is a ridiculous stereotype… but unlike Blair and his minions he was never in any danger of gaining power, and thus unlike Blair and New Labour wasn’t a clear and present danger to our liberties.

You appear to have swallowed Blair’s Journey whole.

I heartily hope you choke on it.

The fact that you seem to have misstated Iraq’s public opinion could be an oversight. The fact that you laud the government’s “serious[ness]” on national security despite the fact that it repeatedly obscured real or imagined threats might be carelessness. The fact that you consider torture, coddling dictators, and succouring plutocrats to be “talking points” and “not of interest” makes me wonder what in the heck you ever signed up to Labour for. An affection for the colour red?

29. Chaise Guevara

@ 25

Tim, you know very well that we at the Judean People’s Front would never stoop to arguing and namecalling. Those responsible are clearly those braindead turncoat bastards at the People’s Front of Judea.

“The Republican party in the United States is, to my mind, the most successful* organisational and political movement in the world since the 1970s.”

Really?

What I don’t understand is that although everyone can see that Republicans are total losers, there still seems to be this idea that everything that has happened in the last forty years is the result of a Rep party conspiracy, even its quality has been declining monotonically the entire time.

“Yes, we did very badly by alienating “idealists” and winning three elections on the trot.”

And by introducing tuition fees, and by fighting wars everywhere from Bosnia to Afghanistan, and by sucking to to US foreign policy, and by introducing detention without trial, and by freeing up business even more than it was before to run riot and destroy the world’s economy, and by introduding a culture of blatant lies into UK politics (not just twisting the truth which has gone on for years, but blatant, bare faced lies), and by continuing the policy of offshoring the jobs of working class people (and therefore the futures of their families) without providing any credible alternatives except for a culture of benefits, and by continuing the disasterous war on drugs which has ruined millions of lives throughout the world and helped organised crime, and by… feel free to add to the list.

That was @15 btw.

Quite. Aaron Porter wasn’t just defending himself – he was defending the NUS against accusations that it deliberately sought to create trouble. At the same time, other members of the NEC have strongly defended the Millbank protest.

What I’d like to see is calls for Aaron to go to end, and also for there to be no recriminations against those members of the NEC who’ve publicly taken a different view (as has happened before on certain issues). That best embraces the fact that the NUS itself is a broad church.

BenSix. Your second link doesn’t deal with the question of whether Iraqis think it was worth it for Saddam to have been deposed. You must have missed that. Your first link doesn’t provide evidence against my assertion – it provides conflicting data. Do try to use stats appropriately and don’t expect the mere fact of your supercilious tone to convince. P15 of the below is useful:

http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/sep06/Iraq_Sep06_rpt.pdf

Why would the government want an independent inquiry into the London bombings? We know what happened and why. You only need an inquiry if there are unexplained events. Clearly not the case. Now it seems to me that our security services backed up by the govt and the police have been doing stirling work in stopping terrorist actions. Unless you believe the power of nightmares thesis that it’s all imagined and if you stick your fingers in your ears lalalalalaalala… In which case I pity you. You see, as a a social democrat I’m very much in favour of the state protecting its citizens – that’s kinda what states are meant to do. Nothing Tory about providing security – that’s why people like you are totally out of the picture when it comes to having a real world debate with the electorate. Just stay in the cupboard.

Now Galen. The problem with the histrionic nature of your rhetoric (asking me to choke on TB’s biography, well really. That’s nice.) is that it completely turns normal people off. Only a tiny minority have a pathological hatred of a former PM who happened to win three elections (including the one after the invasion as well, of course). I suggest you get with the programme and stop being so silly. I haven’t finished TB’s biog, actually. Right on the money in many ways, but a little on the self-serving side for my liking. So I suppose you could say I have indigestion from it. I’ll try hard to suffocate next time I dip in, just for you.

Now, I’m not going to persaude either of you to turn over a new leaf in favour of reasonable moderation and to eschew conspiracy theories and dark hankerings for the death of your (eeeevil, remember!) moderate centre-left oponents like me, so I think I’ll just say go swivel, and go and get myself a nice cognac. Cheers!

I think those on the left should pull together but not with the Liberals. After all. They’re in bed with the enemy so how could they ever be trusted again?

Never mind what happened at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust Hospital or in the treatment of the elderly in NHS hospitals after surgery, the left mustn’t criticise the NHS. C’mon.

Ben –

We’re veering off-topic, but to deal with your misunderstandings (the second of which provokes some unforgivable superciliousness – richly deserved, I’m afraid)…

Your first link doesn’t provide evidence against my assertion – it provides conflicting data. Do try to use stats appropriately and don’t expect the mere fact of your supercilious tone to convince.

Indeed, it does provide conflicting data. That’s ‘cos, unsurprisingly, a nation with 25+ million people rarely arrives at a consensus. However, the BBC poll – which, you’ll note, was carried out after your WPO example and thus is more relevant – shows that a small majority feel the invasion has been baneful. (Naturally that doesn’t include the many dead, and I suspect it doesn’t account for the homeless millions either, though I could be proved wrong.) The second link illustrates that Iraqis are becoming more pessimistic about the direction their nation is going in and, thus, are unlikely to have changed their minds.

Unless you believe the power of nightmares thesis that it’s all imagined and if you stick your fingers in your ears lalalalalaalala… In which case I pity you.

I don’t believe it’s “all imagined“. I do, however, believe the state has exaggerated and obscured the dangers with alacrity. That’s because – sadly – they have.

Why would the government want an independent inquiry into the London bombings? We know what happened and why. You only need an inquiry if there are unexplained events. Clearly not the case.

O RLY?

(Lolz etc.)

This is a very sweet idea, but I would say is that what is perceived to be infighting is merely an ability to understand nuance, which is something large sections of the right are incapable of.

And I do find the idea that challenges to Aaron Porter are somehow misguided slightly fatuous. The unconditional toeing of any line is not something that sits well with critical and free thinking.

Do try to use stats appropriately and don’t expect the mere fact of your supercilious tone to convince

irony.

How can there be a united left? Does that mean you invite the Socialist Workers Party inside your tent? Is anti-oil company type environmentalism left wing? And all that Climate Camp and disrupting airports ‘flash mob’ stuff?
What about the campaigns against GM foods and nuclear power?
It was only a couple of years ago, direct action people were pulling GM trial crops out of the ground. Now many more people think they can be beneficial to mankind.

Even the student fees thing is a bit of a red herring, as former students will just be paying a slightly bit more tax. For people on average earnings (25,000) just 7 quid a week.
(I think).

I’m glad the last government took national security seriously – there is an important and difficult balance to be struck between civil liberties and security, and I think Labour did pretty well. Most of the electorate seem to think we were a bit soft, but you can’t please everyone, can you? …

… as a a social democrat I’m very much in favour of the state protecting its citizens – that’s kinda what states are meant to do. Nothing Tory about providing security – that’s why people like you are totally out of the picture when it comes to having a real world debate with the electorate. Just stay in the cupboard.

I think the purpose of the state is to facilitate our freedom. One of the means of doing so is providing ‘protection’ or ‘security’ but there is always a trade-off.

It’s interesting, by the way, that “most of the electorate” are prayed in aid when they appear to agree, but ignored when they disagree.

““The Republican party in the United States is, to my mind, the most successful* organisational and political movement in the world since the 1970s.”

What about Japan’s Liberal Democrats and Singapore’s Peoples’ Action Party?

I think a lot of people (and, apologies, I’ve not read all of the posts here) are missing the point. Yes, lots of former NUS presidents have behaved terribly. Yes, I disagree with what Aaron said. Yes, some some will disagree with what people did at Millbank. But let’s not waste any more time arguing about it for as long as the Tories are trying to destroy our country – OK?

Thanks,

Adam

@Sunny

Bang on!!! Lefties are always fighting each other rather than the real enemy.

You think the US Republican Party is a more dangerous movement than Al-Qaeda?

This is trivially true, in the same way that alcohol is more dangerous than methamphetamine. Al-Qaeda is more evil than the Republican Party – but has virtually no power or serious support, and never will.

Back on-topic… Ben, the main reason you’re wrong isn’t because of the appalling stuff Labour did, but because it wasn’t even popular. In 2005, Labour won with a lower share of the vote than they’d scored in any post-WWII election apart from 1983 and 1987. At that point, the economy was still booming – voters were turned off by Iraq and by the excesses of the NuLab machine (note that the Tory vote was flat from 2001-2005, so it’s not that voters were grumpy about Labour’s lack of hanging, flogging and sending ’em back home – the lost votes went to the LibDems, who at that point were believed to be some kind of liberal party).

Sunny starts a post appealing to lefties to stop fighting with each other. Lefties respond throughout the thread by fighting with each other. I am reminded of the journalist whose name escapes me who wrote a book about Catholics being in denial about the closeness of the RC church to the fascists during WW2. Catholics responded by denying the RC church was close to the fascists. Thus proving his point.

Gotta love some of those links from BenSix. ‘SpinWatch’? ‘Ceasefire’? You just know you’re going to get the unexpurgated truth at those sites, don’t ya?

If you want to present a theory about football and invoke Graham Taylor to support it, that’s one thing. But don’t kid yourself it’s Bill Shankly.

Thanks for the comments everyone. I didn’t expect everyone to agree obviously… I know there are some idiots who’s sole purpose in blogging is to attack others on the left and accuse them of ‘selling out’ every day. Brownie et al are part of that.

The usual suspects can be ignored, and I’m pleased that more broadly there’s been a very good reaction to this post.

A few comments in response:

The rest of the “movement left” is of course free to campaign for the magic free money tree which was the cornerstone of the Lib Dem manifesto.

There are other threads for discussion about education – I’m not interested in re-running that again.

Yes, we did very badly by alienating “idealists” and winning three elections on the trot. The way progressive parties win is by connecting with the moderate majority

Yeah, good luck explaining that 29% vote share then. These sarcastic comments aside Ben – you seem to be conflating several different things. No one is talking about alienating the moderate majority.

In fact the moderate majority is quite opposed to the idea of high tuition fees. Check the polls if you don’t believe me. If you want to intentionally piss off the angry students, the angry local campaigners who want to save their services, piss off angry nurses who want to oppose cuts to the NHS, piss off policemen who don’t want to see cuts either – be my guest.

Just don’t pretend that the movement to defend the welfare state is 2% or something. And given the massive ‘shellacking’ the Labour party has just had – a bit of introspection would be nice too.

I really should go back to not reading this place, it’s just too funny.

That would be just fine, Ben. You’ve not added anything interesting to this discussion.

Naadir:
Quite. Aaron Porter wasn’t just defending himself – he was defending the NUS against accusations that it deliberately sought to create trouble. At the same time, other members of the NEC have strongly defended the Millbank protest.

Spot on.

olching – I’m not asking people to toe any line. I’m saying let’s stop demanding that people should resign, or spend our time condemning them, rather thsn focus on the real issue here.

There are idiots with Facebook groups calling for Porter to resign, and I’ve got an email from another leftist group saying they want to go and heckle Porter. Really takes the biscuit how short-sighted some people.

I think those on the left should pull together but not with the Liberals

I’m talking about lefties who are liberals – which is different to Libdems… though there will be some Libdems who are sympathetic to our cause, and we should embrace them.

Like I said – I hate purity tests.

damon – yes. As I said – it’s a broad church.

The Japanese Libdems are fairly dead right now… and though they were successful at one point – I don’t think they match the Republicans on organisational power.
The Singaporeans have no real power across the world 🙂

If you think liberals and socialists can fight on the same side, then you should really read Karl Popper’s ‘The Open Society and its Enemies.’

Socialism is no different to traditional conservatism. Conservatives wanted the landed gentry to hold all the power, and socialists want all power to be held by government. Both ideologies seek to subjugate the people and that can never be tolerated by anyone who appreciates their freedom.

I call on all liberals to reject the notions that conservatives and socialists have that we are the lower orders and need to be subordinate to their interests.

34 Ben

” I haven’t finished TB’s biog, actually. Right on the money in many ways, but a little on the self-serving side for my liking. So I suppose you could say I have indigestion from it. I’ll try hard to suffocate next time I dip in, just for you.”

That probably says all we need to know about how seriously to take anything you say. Roll on your next dip; it’ll be one less hopeless Uncle Tom come the next election to try and re-elect a buch of authoritarian, spin-obssessed crypto-Tories.

There is no credible Left in our politics because the entire Left seeks to reconcile the irreconcilable… or square a circle.
In order to receive the attention of our American masters and their media we have accepted their approach to capitalism and the free market and mass migration.All of which are force fed to the electorate as ideals by any politician who has any hope of political success here.
It does not benefit the British born underclass to be pitted against slave labour ….either from foreign competition or imported scab labour brought in by our enormously powerful immigration and asylum industry.
Neither do we “need” more immigrants in a nation that is now clearly unable to cope with its current population and is increasingly compared to a Third World nation over issues like unwanted pregnancies,single parenthood,early pregnancy,sexually transmitted diseases,drug abuse,urban crime,etc by one piece of research after another.
Britain is now effectively part of the USA Behemoth in a host of ways…culturally,economically,and politically.Since the fall of communism the Wall Street Mafia have moved in and taken over completely.And you young pretend lefties are in a very understandable quandry,because your personal ambition and lust for power and fifteen minutes of fame leads you into the sort of hypocrisy seen so clearly in the New Labour years.
When I became a Young Socialist in 1964 the sort of people who now claim to represent the Left had an entirely different philosophy from anything I see being misrepresented as “socialist” now.What happened?What happened to our “disappeared” connection with BRITISH working people?
Listening to the pretend Left today you get the impression that we have a duty to provide welfare and a legal system for every other person in the World…EXCEPT our own folk.Yes…that`s fine if you are not born here…but unless you want another dose of national socialism in its previous form it`s time to re-engage with folk like me who can only presently see the BNP and the Irish nationalist IRA making any practical sense to us.

51

From young socialist in 1964 to BNP and IRA admirer in 2010!? WTF!

And here was me thinking Sunny’s intellectual journey from endorsement of the LD’s prior to the election to Labour Party member now was a bit of a stretch!

I doubt anyone here is going to take your rantings at all seriously: once a headcase, always a headcase it seems!

BTW…Sam…I have tried to read Popper and his apprentice Soros and it`s mesmerising drivel. And why do our media not investigate Soros and his Open Society Foundation and their buddies in the CIA? They are enormously powerful here and across the world.
It enrages me to listen to the so-called Left claiming that we don`t do torture here when the CIA practically run Britain and have torture chambers in the EU that we are inextricably linked to.
HUMBUGGERS!

Galen…go back to your Yankee masters and get them to dream up something more intelligent for you to gibber. Apparatchiks like you have had their day…we need to re-engage with our roots not Wall Street!

54

Apparatchik? Having a Yankee master?!

Not only stunningly inaccurate but a tad rich coming from a crazed conspiracy theorist who is “persuaded” by those intellectual heavyweights in the BNP and IRA.

Go and troll somewhere else where like minded fantasists care about your facile political circle jerking about outlandish conspiracy theories.

Sunny: But this infighting is a whole different problem because at its heart lies the belief that others in the movement have no right to do things differently.

The problem with this statement that there are issues of major importance upon which the “left” does not agree and cannot practically agree to disagree.

You brought up feminism, for instance: feminists, unsurprisingly, mostly see equality for women as non-negotiable. You also have on the “left” people who think that the use of sexism as a campaigning tool against right-wing women is a great idea, or who think that “women’s rights” are a “special interest” or “not part of politics”, or who think against the evidence that equality has already been achieved, or who believe that the abolition of capitalism will magically end sexism so there’s no need to do anything about it until then. This is not a situation where they can usefully “agree to disagree”.

I do not see how you can have a “unified left” that is both one that feminists would generally be happy to be associated with and has space to “do things differently” regarding “the radical notion that women are people”, and I think it’s utterly unreasonable to expect feminists to be loyal servants of the [mostly male] “left” and only attack sexism when it’s perpetuated by the Tories, and ignore it from their nominal allies.

[Copy and adjust for anti-racism, LGB&T rights, disability activism, fat acceptance, anti-ageism, anti-classism, and all the other issues that can be broadly classified as “people who are X are people”]

Gotta love some of those links from BenSix. ‘SpinWatch’? ‘Ceasefire’? You just know you’re going to get the unexpurgated truth at those sites, don’t ya?

Here’s a fun game, Brownie: look at the claims in the articles then go and find their sources or cross-reference them with other accounts. It’s a useful distraction on a dreary monday morning and a better way of evaluating research than just thinking, “Spinwatch? LOLZ!”

Not sure about the Republican analogy, but strongly agree that the British left needs to unite.

“The Republican party in the United States is, to my mind, the most successful* organisational and political movement in the world since the 1970s.”

fwiw, my vote for “most successful organisational and political movement, 1980-2010” would go to the Chinese Communist Party. Hon mentions to the ANC and Congress.

I’m not sure the lesson that I’d learn from the Republicans over that period is about their success in not fighting each other. The “conservative” Republicans have spent the last thirty years driving the moderate and liberal Republicans out of the party, and have a quite bewildering variety of purity tests which they impose on any potential candidates.

When did “respectfully, Ben” morph into this mad troofer?!

The Republican party in the United States is, to my mind, the most successful* organisational and political movement in the world since the 1970s.

I think a bit of term definition needs to happen here. Do you simply mean electorally successful in Presidential elections? Or in Congress as well (which is problematic because Democrats have controlled Congress for longer over this period)? Or in forcing national politics into line with their agenda (which is surely only partially the case – cf. abortion rights)?

Because there are political movements that have maintained their rule throughout this period (the Chinese communists, Castroite Cubans etc), there are others that have brought their countries to independence and ruled it since (ANC – and even ZANU(PF) – would fall into this category). If it’s ‘electorally successful within a democratic system’ then, even limiting it to Presidential elections, a record of won 7 lost 4 is not exactly unparalleled in world politics.

cjcjc –

Led astray by the permissive society, I suspect.

(The “respectfully” thing was a marvellous way of keeping oneself civil (I nicked it from someone – can’t remember who but apologies to them.) Unfortunately, after too many people calling one a “bien pensant lefty” for having a low opinion of people who cover up torture, or “mad troofer” for citing as yet unchallenged facts, the desire to be pleasant is, er — diminished.)

Time for you metroplolitan opportunists to find yourselves a coherent positive philosophy I think…rather than a miscellaneous rag-bag of incoherent rhetoric about racism and antifeminism …..and an absurd belief that we have a duty to import and maintain millions of Abu Hamzas and Sharmi Chakrabatis while the economy goes down the pan and the American-run and New Labour promoted “financial services industry” takes us to the cleaners.
And …Galen..stop making a prat of yourself with your tiresome BBC-style name-calling threats about silencing anyone who doesn`t allow folk like George Soros and the CIA to run Britain.
It`s all there on the internet without any need for a conspiracy theory……..and who says conspiracies don`t exist?Only apparatchiks paid to deflect our attention from the truth…like YOU!

Good grief Jim Evans, I can’t believe you just put Shami Chakrabarti and Abu Hamza in the same bracket. I’m afraid any sense you might have made or any sympathy you might’ve gained has swiftly dissapated. Go back to playing with your neo-fascist chums in the BNP, won’tcha.

On-topic: obviously I agree with this article. A shame it needs to be said, but still. Was it a deliberate trap to lure argumentative in-fighting lefties to this thread so they don’t argue in ‘public’ ? 😉

63

“It`s all there on the internet without any need for a conspiracy theory……..and who says conspiracies don`t exist?Only apparatchiks paid to deflect our attention from the truth…like YOU!”

No, really… it is to laugh!

I can see you now, sitting in your underwear and tin foil hat, eating frosties from the packet in a front room full of BNP memorabilia.

The conspiracy theoris you spout don’t exist, any more than the Protocols of the Elders of Zion existed…. mind you given your support for the BNP you probably think the Jews as well as the immigrants probably have something to do with it too huh?

65

Hmm as a black lady I’m sure my pure existence makes @Jim evens froth around the mouth but also I wouldn’t be so dismissive and stereotyping of a) what he looks like as a BNP supporter-I know, hear and see far too many who look like nice pretty boy/girl middle class folk who most likely grew up in Tunbridgewells and b) or what he is saying because again I’m sure if you to the layman in this country during the 50’s that else where the British were colonising those dark people and bringing back the profit to build this country up, he would most likely think you are being a conspiracy theorists!

Personally after what we saw happening in Iraq with those soldiers torture the Iraqi people, I am surprised in this day and age that one would be so quick to put someone down who is talking bout the C.I.A being corrupt???

Also come on, does anyone in this day and age really believe people in government has our best interests at heart? Really?

Sunny

damon – yes. As I said – it’s a broad church.

Well, any church that welcomes the SWP is to broad for me.
The are fantasist headbangers, and they wreck any popular movemnents by trying to control them, and they sound stupid with their silly chants.
”They say cut back – we say fight back – cut cut cut back – fight fight fight back.
It’s embarrassing.
And being anti-GM and anti-nuclear power is still seen as left? hmmmm.

Is their any room in the tent/church for these chaps?
http://www.battleofideas.org.uk/

63. Jim Evans

Racist pillock with the mind of a runny blancmange.

For long periods of my long life I would have agreed with many of the formulaic predictable “lefty” responses above….after all I listened to the BBC too …and read the Grauniad for years!

But though I would love to live in one great global meritocratic civilised social democratic society that offers the whole of humanity a fair deal…I don`t….and neither do you chaps either.

We live in a hopelessly overpopulated dog-eat-dog global capitalist world and so our immigration and trading policies are so disadvantageous to us that it`s obvious we don`t live in a real democracy ….so why are folk like you and the journalists,politicians and lawyers spending so much time bullying folk like me into silence when we have no voice anyway?

You have won…go get your reward from the Americans…an America with fifteen million unemployed and third world health care will be relieved you have managed to turn Britain into a mini-USA under “New Labour” and the Brown/Blair/Mandelson socialist alliance!

66

There is a world of difference between being suspicious of the motives and actions of governments and their agencies, and buying into crazed imaginings as Mr Evans has so obviously done.

A knuckle dragging apologist for the BNP and IRA is a low life however nice a suit he wears, or however plummy his accent.

69

History is sadly replete with examples of misguided, inadequate enablers like you duped by your lack of imagination into imagining that all the answers are simple, and that if only we could live in splendid autarchic isolation, and keep the immigrants/capitalists/jews/gays [delete hobby horse of choice] in their place, everything would be just dandy.

Don’t expect to come onto an avowedly left of centre site with your kind of filth and then complain when people point and laugh at your idiocy.

OK Galen Goebbles….why not explain in more detail what your answer to Britain`s predicament would be?How would you deal with our Wall Street/BBC/CIA dictatorship?
And here`s a tip for proto-mandelsons like you….you can overdo the jibes about racism/xenophobia….and the longer you let us drift into overpopulated multicultural chaos then the more extreme the totalitarian reaction may be.
No doubt when the rivers of blood do flow the Galens and others on this site will be somewhere very cosy and far away….but global capitalism cannot get away from pulling its old stunt of setting indigenous poor against immigrants indefinitely.
Now slither off and ask your master Mr Soros for further instructions before you tackle me again…OK?

72

In your case it’s not so much “tackling” as shooting fish in a barrel really isn’t it? You jst make it so easy it’s hardly a challenge.

Similarly, it’s not a matter of overdoing the racism/xenophobia accusation (it’s not a jibe by the way…), more matter of being branded with your own deeply unpleasant iron.

Anyone who can use the “rivers of blood” line instantly loses any shred of credibility they might ever have had (suppose I should have known when you said you used to be a Guardian reader…..no wonder your brain turned to porridge).

And the trick of accusing me of having a plummy accent (with the unspoken suggestion that you are a man of the people) won`t work on me “comrade”…..

You are almost certainly a public schoolboy or from an exclusive state secondary school like practically every New Labour/Tory “honourable member” of the House of Commons……but not so “common”…eh?

Those front benches aren`t suffering any cuts Galen…are YOU!?

Shred of credibility? Now you are mocking your core audience …gay one!

Come on Galen…answer a question without a lazy recourse to ad hominem abuse……what policies do you have…what positive ideas…you accuse me of wanting a final solution here in Britain (which you know is untrue) so let`s be hearing your ideas?
Or don`t apparatchiks in our political bubble have to think for themselves?

74 & 75

For what it’s worth (probably not a lot given your apparent immunity to common sense, let alone reasoned argument) the pop about plummy accents was in response to point made in ranters paradise post @ 66, which pointed out that racist scum (and their dupes like you) come in all shapes and sizes – which is fair enough.

To disprove your point, I’m the first in a thousand generations to go to Uni (to paraphrase the Welsh windbag), went to a bog standard comprehensive, and have the state to thank for my PhD.

I’m certainly more of a man of the people than a sad, xenophobic, racist turncoat like yourself.

76

Nah, thanks I’ll pass. Feeding trolls becomes boring after a while. Anyone who can trot out the nonsense you have about Britian being full, immigration, the great Soros/CIA plot, how the BNP and IRA have a point etc. etc… isn’t really worth dignifying with a discussion of a reasoned platform when they have so conspicuously jettisoned reason already.

A comprehensive…that explains why you haven`t slithered your way into Parliament yet….my deepest sympathies! A PhD in……. question avoidance and panic-stricken evasiveness perhaps?

80. Luis Enrique

here’s a win win situation.

ban jim evans and delete all his comments. then:

1. he goes away ecstatic with joy, having final proof that his truth telling has been censored by so-called liberal who are unable to defeat him by argument
2. we’re shot of him.

What really depresses me is that there isn`t anyone posting here with a coherent realistic policy to tackle global capitalism.
Yes…I know that in the real world all successful politicians only survive by serving the powerful….and the British working class are far from powerful.
At least the coalition have to accept some responsibility for being ineffectual puppets of Wall Street….but you creepy self-serving Mandelsonians carry on masquerading as friends of the poor when the NewLabour era proved beyond doubt where you loyalties really lie.
What a shower…we are lions led by donkeys and poodles!
Vive la France!!!

Luis-Enrique…..you have won…fear not..this is my final post on your depressing little website…..so there`s absolutely no need to remove my posts….unless the sight of real coherent ideas is all too much for you to bear at the BBC?

82

Result.

Though being accused of being a Mandelsonian (even by a wing nut)….somehow I just feel dirty 🙁

Galen10,

Is there anyone, anywhere, who might not feel dirty about being compared to Peter Mandelson? I can’t even see diehard Blairites appreciating it…

84

Diehard Blairites probably like a bit of abuse though don’t they…?

It’s not as if they shouldn’t be used to it 😉

On the other hand a conception of ‘left’ (as opposed to ‘right’) automatically starts to create artificial divisions between people by defining what you are against rather than what you are for.

All you self-describing ‘lefties’ just never learnt your revolutionary history, did you?

And that is why you fail.

86

As opposed to the crushing success of the alternatives?

So are you a self describing rightist, centrist, anarchist….or what? You just want everyone to have a group hug and be nice to one another?

Sheesh…

@87 Galen10
as opposed to the crushing failure of every revolution as it is swept up by the counter-revolution, civil war, persecutions, famine and aggressive wars.

I self-describe as a realist: I don’t want a group hug because my arms aren’t long enough and many people don’t smell very nice.

Weird, huh?


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