In all honesty, the recent Labour Party leak has done little more than confirm what many on the left already suspected about the party. This being, that labour since possibly the mid to late 80’s has been led by the right side of the party. The apparatus and the bureaucracy surrounding the Labour Party are soaked in neoliberalism. With a new leader this faction will be desperate to maintain control of the party at all costs, while showing zero interest in improving the lives of working class people around the country. The recent leak has proved yet again that Labour consists of two parties under one roof, each side indistinguishable from the other, while the centrist shadow deeply damages the socialist cause.
The left in general have always looked towards radical change. But now more than ever, the world needs a real political shift, requiring big bold ideas that can burst open the straitjacket of capitalism. The right of the party in contrast claim to be pragmatists, incessantly declaring that nothing can change without power, but nothing perceptible will change if you sell out to attain power. What this recent leak has shown is the disdain certain senior staff members at Labour HQ had for the hundreds of thousand of members who joined because of the ideals that Jeremy Corbyn represented.
To remain as a member or even a casual supporter of the Labour Party as it stands now, would be to adopt the role of “a useful idiot” as Noam Chomsky would say. Remaining would serve the party’s right wing by bolstering the numbers, putting money in their coffers, while they arrogantly think of you as scum. We had a small window of opportunity to elect a truly socialist Labour leader as Prime Minister, that moment has now passed. Members and supporters of Labour have been repeatedly betrayed by people who were supposedly on the same team. For decades it has been an abusive, one sided relationship and now I suggest it’s time to walk away.
The newly leaked report (full report here) emphatically dismantles claims that The Leader of The Opposition Office (LOTO) was responsible for sabotaging the efforts of the Labour Party tasked with dealing with anti-Semitism. On the contrary, it was the Blairite right wing of the party fuelled by hatred of the left that were the ones who made a conscious decision to drag their heals over any complaints regarding anti-Semitism. Thus creating a crisis that was conveniently blamed onto Corbyn and his team. This report also dismisses any notion put forward on the BBC’s Panorama programme that Corbyn’s office was to blame for this failure.
The upper reaches of the party HQ have been implicated in this treachery, including former General Secretary Iain McNicol. With further spotlight on the Governance and Legal Unit (GLU) largely responsible for disciplinary issues within the party. The report uncovers that the GLU failed to act on the majority of complaints, including those related to anti-Semitism. This inaction created a huge backlog which was egregiously used to imply Corbyn was soft on anti-Semitism. Information to support these alleged actions has been accumulated via extensive What App messages involving 6 top Labour Party Officials.
Further to this, there are examples in the report of officials within Labour’s HQ deliberately giving false information, suggesting these complaints were being dealt with quickly and professionally. Worryingly, the Chakrabarti Inquiry, which stated that the Labour Party was clearly not overrun with anti-Semitism was repeatedly ignored by members of GLU. The GLU also argued that the findings of the inquiry should not be uploaded onto the Labour website. It is fair to say, that this current leaked report does a good job of correcting the record regarding the failures of dealing with anti-Semitism and the people responsible for such failures, but it does contain flaws.
Where it falls short is the lack of acknowledgment regarding the weaponisation of anti-Semitism, while repeatedly stressing the word “denialism” throughout. To refute any incidences of anti-Semitism or racism in general within the Labour would be to ignore the reality of British society. However, “denialism” in this case has been utilised to rubbish any potential discussion around the use of anti-Semitism for political gain. Accounts of anti-Semitism within the Labour Party are tiny, compared to those both in wider society and the Conservative Party. Sadly in this case, context and proportion were concepts wilfully dismissed in order to sustain a political project.
Moving away from the issue of anti-Semitism, it is blatantly obvious reading the content of the What App messages that certain members of Labour HQ wanted Corbyn to lose in 2017. One Labour staff member even declared that, Corbyn’s good result in 2017 was against everything they had been working for over the last 2 years. Electoral disaster was clearly what certain high ranking members of the Labour Party were hoping for, realising that this would strengthen their case to boot Corbyn out.
Further to this 5th column activity, any MP who was considered even marginally on the left was labelled a “Trot”, including moderates such as Andy Burnham, Ed Milliband and Sadiq Khan. Meanwhile, members of Corbyn’s team were given derogatory nicknames by top staffer Emilie Oldknow such as, calling Corbyn’s political secretary “pube head”, while she mocked black MP Dawn Butler for bringing up the issue of racism in the party. In fact, Oldknow seems to have a particular penchant for verbal abuse, calling Karie Murphy one of Corbyn’s team both “fat” and the “Medusa Monster”. This group within the Labour Party HQ also discussed hanging, burning and shooting Jeremy Corbyn.
What’s deeply disturbing about all of this is, Emilie Oldknow was a top pick of Keir Starmer to take over as General Secretary of the Labour Party. I have no doubt that there will be a concerted effort by the Labour right to sweep this under a very large carpet. Starmer has proposed an investigation, but I wouldn’t get too excited if you’re hoping for a thorough and fair probe into what occurred at Labour HQ during this time. Judging by the outline of the investigation, it would appear the new regime seem more intent on investigating the “whistle-blowers” rather than the people named in the scandal.
This is a good example of what moderate or centrist technocrats think of politics. To them politics is just a charade, a game of chance, a way of feeding their egos, while using their wits and backstabbing treachery to gain an advantage over the other lot, be it socialists or the Tories. It’s a world devoid of principles or any notion of making the world a better place, except of course for themselves. These people ooze entitlement and privilege, a group who genuinely think they are suitably qualified to decide the fate of the Labour Party and indeed the country.
Obviously this sort of duplicitous behaviour wasn’t solely confined to the Labour Party HQ. The Parliamentary Labour Party also had a significant hand in engineering a Corbyn defeat in both elections. In 2016 the vast majority of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet resigned and 172 MP’s passed a motion of no confidence regarding his leadership. In 2019 nine Labour MP’s left the Labour Party, again blaming Corbyn’s stewardship, whilst suggesting a prominent culture of bullying and anti-Semitism. However, judging by recent accounts these activities seem to have been performed generally by the right of the party, with their claims of victimhood now presenting more like an elaborate “gaslighting” exercise.
This group would possibly describe themselves as part of the “intelligent minority”. This was a term given by the American writer and political commentator Walter Lippman whose stated function was to “practice democracy” by manufacturing consent. In Lippman’s world public opinion was not to be trusted, in his view, decisions should be made by a “specialised class” capable of social and economic management.
This report strongly indicates that this particular “specialised class” of MP’s and high ranking party staffers, over an extended period of time, arrogantly chose what was best for the Labour Party. This is despite the fact that Labour Party members, which still numbered over 500,000 in August 2019, overwhelmingly supported Jeremy Corbyn. This persistent deceptive behaviour demonstrates that the right of the party have no interest in democracy, whatsoever. However, this group and those they politically represent now have the audacity to ask lefties to support the current leader. A request such as this after 5 years of subversive behaviour is astonishingly contemptuous.
This centrist dim view on democracy is supported by figures, in 2018 the New York Times reported that centrists were more suspicious of democracy than both the far right and the far left. Furthermore, it states that this group are least likely to support free and fair elections. Even scarier still, centrists appear to be the least likely to support liberal institutions, such as civil rights. Finally, the centre are much more inclined to support authoritarianism than the far left. Disturbingly in the UK and the US, it is reported that centrists would also be more likely endorse an authoritarian than the far right, which kind of takes us back to the ideas of Walter Lippman.
Centrists and lefties have many irreconcilable differences. Centrists believe in a rigid, bureaucratic top down system of slick professional politicians, good speakers and party staff whose sole existence is to win elections. As principles are of little consequence, centrists are free to adopt or reject ideas dependent purely on whether they gain votes or not. Additionally, centrists will attempt to manufacture support, often by making promises they have no intention of keeping (see Obama for a case study). Or they will simply ignore public opinion under the auspices of doing “what’s best for the country” (see Blair and weapons of mass destruction for details).
In contrast, lefties are bound by a certain ideology, largely based around the idea of constructing a fairer, more just world, which centrist would determine as naïve. The problem is, this instantly binds the left to principles which can become our undoing when faced with people who recognise politics as nothing more than a pursuit of power. Many lefties will look at this recent report and acknowledge that this underhanded mutiny contributed to a lost opportunity, which aimed to make the lives of many people much better. They may also reflect on this betrayal and wonder how many more people have died needlessly due to politics of austerity at the hands of the Tories following Corbyn’s defeat.
Ethics and principles can place you at a strategic disadvantage when grappling with people who value nothing but narcissistic glory. This is why I firmly believe the two factions need to split, and soon. Neoliberal centrists need the left much more than we will ever need them. They require our votes to win an election, in order for them to gain power and control. After all, this is their only concern. In contrast, socialists need to divorce the centre in order to re-evaluate what principles are important to the left without constantly deferring to soulless political chameleons. If I had to choose between principles and vacuous power, I’d pick principles every time. However, I can’t lie, both would be nice.