What would Clement do?

A Labour blog that witters on about Clement Attlee. Hurrah for The Major!

Archive for the tag “Blair”

“…No more apologies…”

“… I’m so tired,

I’m so sick and tired…”

Our apology for a Government seems to be spending much of its time saying “sorry” at the moment.  And, just like Morrissey, I experiencing a distinct increase in my level of fatigue with them.

Firstly, Little Nicky pops up to make us all feel his pain on youtube, saying sorry for promising something he could not deliver, and for in fact doing the opposite on tuition fees. The instant auto-tuned hit has been an enormous flop in terms of convincing non Lib Dems that they are anything other than a puddle of yellow water on the steps of number ten.

Clegg was using a mix of two political techniques, borrowed from two other progressive leaders:

 Firstly he used the “Blair Gambit” – “hey, I am a decent guy who had to make a tough choice in hard times, but I am a pretty straight guy…’ 

Secondly, he employed what has become known as “The Clinton defence” – “Y’all caught me out, aw shucks, I’ll never do it again, and I feel your pain – please, feel mine. Can I give you a hug? Can we forget about it?”

Most interestingly, his apology was less for introducing an increase of £9,000 in student fees, and more for promising to eventually abolish them. In essence, Clegg is saying that his mistake was to propose and campaign for a progressive measure. Breathtaking cynicism. Employing the techniques pilfered from “the fornicator in chief” and possibly the most mistrusted and reviled British politician of recent times – lets see how that works out for you Nicky…

 And then we have Andrew (Grant) Mitchell. Oh dear. Not good Mr Mitchell, not good at all. Up until last week, most of us believed that the Conservatives were in a committed relationship with Ms. Laura Norder, although they may have had the odd fling with that G4S hussy. Apparently no more, “the Bobby on the Beat” has become “the pleb at the gate”. Step forward Mitchell, and display the fruits of your expensive education…

 … Andrew Mitchell used that other weapon in modern political  warfare, the “Non Apology Apology”. Used often over the years by GW Bush, Hilary “misspeak” Clinton and over here by Peter Mandelson. Manfully, he stepped in front of the news cameras to say, in effect ” I never said that, but I am very sorry for the things I never said.” Of course you are Andrew, of course you are…

A word to the wise Andrew, try not to swear at Policemen, however hard your day has been. They tend to have notebooks in which to write stuff down, and as Leveson is proving, access to the media. As anyone who has been on a demonstration in the past thirty years knows, or as any Football fan could tell you, they tend to get a bit narky when insulted…

In general, politicians, like the rest of us, do make mistakes – most of them are human after all. Of course, sometimes an apology is welcome, and a useful part of the process, yet in these cases the words do not ring true.

Much of the left has spent years shouting loudly at Tony Blair, demanding that he apologise for Iraq and Afghanistan, and that he should then be put on trial. Blair refuses to apologise because he does not believe that he was wrong – to my mind he is right not to, as it would be a palpable lie in this case.

In any case, since the Clinton era of misdemeanour-lie-apology-next misdemeanour -apology ad infinitum, the tactic of simply using a form of words to cover your ass is devalued.

Part of Nick Clegg’s problem here is that his version of the Coalition narrative no longer rings true to many who voted or campaigned for him in 2010. Mathematically, the only stable coalition was between the two partners in Government now, but there were other alternatives. Firstly, a minority Tory Government, backed on a looser “confidence and supply” basis by the Lib Dems, secondly, and more interestingly, there was the never discussed option for another General Election.

It is fairly obvious as to why no party would want this – they had just spent all their cash on the original campaign. However what did the voters want? The hung parliament indicates that it did not want the Tories to run the country, and did not want Labour to continue in the old way. Nick Clegg and the Orange Bookers bottled their chance, scared, as was everybody else, by what could possibly happen in the global markets should another election (that is, actually asking us what we think again). 

 I doubt we will ever get an apology for this… 

 

 

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Left Foot Forward, Or A Right Load Of Old Cobblers?

A post left on Will Straws’ site Left Foot Forward has opened a debate on where we are going in the Labour Party, and predictably it focuses attention on not moving too far left.

Forgive this post, it will be erratic, as its now six in the morning, and I am just going to read up a little and get some shut-eye….(06.00hrs). Ah, that’s better…

The article – “Labour Must Speak Not Only For Organised Labour” by Rob Marchant, starts off in a reasonable tone, yet ends up, like the deply popular and loved Tessa Jowell, pressing in effect for a shift to the right.

Rob starts off identifying Labours two historic constituencies, Public and Private sector Organised Labour, and asks whether we are ignoring the growing numbers of Private sector workers with no Trades Union. As one of these, I suppose I should respond.

Mr Marchant writes of the “genius” of New Labour (a good indication of where he is going) in reaching out to these workers. In this, like some others, he has rewritten history to suit his ends. Under Clement Attlee in 1945, Wilson in 1966 and Blair in 1997, Labour won by connecting with significant numbers outside of our heartlands, this is nothing new. a brief look at the period between 1992 and 1997 shows that we would have won in’97 with the late John Smith – our most mourned leader never to be PM. It hardly took genius to beat John Major in 1997,but it takes chutzpah to forget that. It is also a feat of selective memory not to recall both the loss of two million votes between 2001 and 2005, and the utter unpopularity of Tony Blair by the time of his exit.

Mr Marchant also seemingly discounts the “grey vote”, which is odd, since it is proven that there is a direct correlation between voting and age…

In response, Darrell Goodliffe at Left Futures is no less strident – indeed his article is the very model of  polemical passion. For Darrell, the centre ground of politics is a fantasy comparable to The Tooth Fairy. My nephew will be disturbed to find out that The Tooth Fairy is a fantasy, but no matter. As far as Mr Goodliffe is concerned, it only exists in the mind of idealogues who wish to push Labour ever rightwards.

He makes the point ignored by Rob that real wages are falling across the board, and that this is comparable to the 1920s, to quote the Mervyn King. This is important – very few non-unionised private sector workers probably have any sympathy with the huge bonuses in the City, nor do they see any benefit for them in their bosses continued pay rises. At the same time, they see cuts in services that they use and need.

At this point, Mr Goodliffe becomes almost a parody of the kind of writing that can be found in any copy of Socialist Worker, or worse, an old copy of Militant, circa 1988.  Darrell wants to see “a trenchant critique of a capitalist system which has failed not just the poorest … but also failed the hopes & dreams of anybody who is not a member of the super-rich elite.”

Fine stuff, although unlikely to encourage anyone not already versed in left wing politics to join in is it?

In response to both these articles I say the following – yes, the centre ground is vitally important in politics, and the point of political parties is to shift it.

The Economic Crash has shaken the certainties of the post-1974 monetarist consensus. this takes time to feed into the political system, but the signs are there. Non-Unionised private sector workers, such as myself, are scared, and have seen wage cut and redundancies. we see a Government of Millionaires warning us not to “price ourselves out of a job”, whilst watching our bosses and bankers trouser huge bonuses. We want fair taxation, and that means more bands at the higher levels of pay. We want an end to tax avoidance, and to the corruption in the higher levels of the state. we would like meaningful rights to join a Union, where we could be ensured that we won’t be blacklisted, particularly in hospitality. We like the minimum wage, and we love the NHS.

We are the people that both Marchant and Goodliffe should be campaigning and organising to get to the March 26th TUC Demo.

Mr

“A period of silence from you would be most welcome.”

So said the great Major Attlee in response to Harold Laski, and I have to say, after reading Harriet Harmans’ words in the New Statesman (www.newstatesman.com) this morning, it seems like good advice  to all those who are busy hawking books around,  responding or commenting on them.

The seemingly endless reams of gossip, innuendo and self justification that have deluged the public over the last few months have served no positive purpose, and like most political autobiographies, are of limited historical value. Hysterical value is in abundance. Where is Leo Abse when you need him?

None of the major players in the New Labour drama have much to say outside of their little set, save for walk-on parts for the general public and various moguls, charlatans, villains and comic figures.

This constant re-fighting of battles lost and won brings little to the debate inside our Party, and the wider Social Democratic world, save vanity. So please, Gordon, don’t add to this pile of nonsense – write another biography instead, like the one you wrote on Jimmy Maxton, I think Manny Shinwell is due one right now…

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