Keir

As if coronavirus weren’t enough to worry about. (Especially for us oldies, who are so much more vulnerable to it. I’m half-expecting to be struck down at any moment; and even if not, my generation looks like having to endure self-isolation for far longer than anyone else – another four months at least, and possibly to the end of the year. See https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51895873.)

On top of that, however, comes disturbing intelligence about the Labour Party; on which Lefties like me would ordinarily be relying for some measure of salvation in the present situation, but whose upper echelons are currently wracked with internal divisions, and with evidence of some quite despicable right-wing (or ‘Blairite’) plots against its leadership – including that ‘anti-semitism’ canard – during the last election. Not only that, but its new leader appears to have abjectly surrendered to the Jewish Board of Deputies on that last question, which some of us, from a socialist-internationalist and pro-Israel but also pro-Palestinian and anti-‘Zionist’ perspective, feel is pretty important, to say the least. (See  https://www.timesofisrael.com/keir-starmer-elected-uk-labour-chief-apologizes-to-jews-for-party-anti-semitism/. )

I voted for Starmer in the leadership election, and am sticking by that – for the time being; but only because I’m convinced of his socialist instincts in other matters; impressed by his previous career in the public service, as a human rights lawyer and Director of Public Prosecutions, no less (which is why he’s a ‘Sir’ now); and believe he may have the kind of ‘gravitas’ that will impress voters the next time around. It’s going to be difficult for the Tory press to paint him as a traitor, a Soviet spy, a terrorist sympathiser, and a poor dresser. Which is not to say that it won’t dredge up something unflattering from his past. Perhaps as DPP he let off a murderer or two, on good legal grounds but against the lynching instincts of the mob? And after all, aren’t the judiciary ‘enemies of the people’? But we’ll see.

Some left-leaning socialists – a few, I hope – are already threatening to leave the party because of him. These are the purists,  who won’t settle for anything less than ideological perfection, and who in the past have often been accused of preferring to be right and forever in opposition, rather than to sully themselves and win. I’ve never been one of those, always opting for the prospect of half a loaf rather than none. It might be different if there were another radical party one could jump over to. (I once foolishly thought the Liberal Democrats might fulfil that role, on the only occasion when I forsook Labour, under Blair.) But there isn’t.

That’s basically because our electoral system makes it almost impossible for our politics to adjust to new movements of opinion, by spawning and nurturing new parties that properly reflect these views. Compare Sweden’s ‘proportional’ system, for example, which is far more flexible.  (I’ve blogged on this before: https://bernardjporter.com/2016/02/29/first-past-the-post/.) I know it would be a wrench, especially to politicians who have done well out of the existing system; but abandoning – or at least modifying, as I propose there – our ‘first-past-the post’ model might have gone a long way to solving many of the Left’s political problems over the last few years. But that’s in the future, hopefully.

In the meantime we socialists will have to stick with Starmer. You never know: circumstances – like the coronavirus – might push him and the entire country to the Left; just as our last great national crisis, World War II, did. Just now we’re in an unprecedentedly dirty political world, with Murdoch, the Daily Mail, the ‘Israel Lobby’, Machiavels like Cummings (where’s he hiding just now?), and congenital liars like Johnson manipulating us all. You can’t overcome all this, without becoming just a little besmirched. Starmer’s stance on Israel might be a necessary smudge. At the very least it should keep the anti-anti-semites off our backs.

On the other side of the pond Bernie Sanders, my American political hero, and a soul-mate of the sainted Jeremy Corbyn, is clearly thinking along the same lines; as is shown by his recent exit from the Democratic race and backing for the centrist Joe Biden instead. But then American radical Democrats have nowhere else to go, either. It’s that bloody ‘First Past the Post’, again. (In their case, of course, it resulted in the election of a rogue President on a minority of votes.)

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Keir

  1. I have never voted Labour. I might have voted Conservative decades ago, I can’t remember. I voted Libdem in 2010 because although I knew my candidate couldn’t win (against Rory Stewart!) I thought, in the overall count, it might strengthen the case for coalition. In that I was right – it’s just a pity Cleggy blew it! I usually spoil my paper, which in my mind satisfies the call of civic duty to go to the polling station, and at the same time satisfies my need not to take part in a rotten process. As for the ‘local MP’ aspect, which you refer to in your previous post, I have NEVER been ‘represented’ by ‘my’ MP, having had MPs to the far right, (Tony Marlow), the far left, (Maureen Colquhoun), and Thatcherite / Howard supporter ( David Maclean). So the ‘local MP’ argument has little weight with me! I won’t vote Labour because that party has never shown any support for electoral reform, which I believe to be the first requirement to bring in better government, but I don’t expect to see it in my lifetime.

    Like

  2. Tony says:

    The anti-semitism issue will continue to haunt Labour, not because it had much substance in reality, but because it was an effective means of undermining Corbyn and the left and the Labour Party in general. The prime movers in this were a motley group of ‘excluded’ right wing Labour MP’s, right wingers in the party organisation and Blairites outside it, in cahoots with newspapers like the Jewish Chronicle. The fall-out will continue, as we have seen from the ‘leaked’ report (probably by disgruntled left wingers). Starmer can’t win, if he takes a resolute line he is accused of caving in to the jewish lobby, while trying to draw a line and move on will attract accusations of collusion with anti semitism. As Joe McCarthyism proved in the US, smears don’t have to be true to start a long-lasting virus in politics, polluting and distracting political discourse and bringing many fine people down.

    Liked by 2 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s