What would Clement do?

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

Archive for the tag “David Miliband”

An Evening with Bananaman…

A cunning email has reached Clem from Hackney and Shoreditch Labour Party, inviting me to the annual dinner – guest speaker a certain David Miliband.

I’m all a fluster at this tempting offer, but who should I take? Lady P says no, and her redoubdtable mother will be too busy (I would have loved to witness the heckles), so that only leaves Hillary Clinton. Who gets embarrassingly “Mrs Robinson” when David hoves into view ( “Oh David, show me your Whitewater…”)

And there is one other problem – what do I call him? I have settled on Bananaman, after that photo – as “Monkeyboy” is too close to “Monkey”, and I liked the TV series as a kid – chop-sockey heaven at teatime.

The menu includes Banana Fritters, there would be the chance of making another weak joke, or even telling him I voted for Ed, it could make decent copy…

Oh, what to do? Any ideas comrades? Should I stay in, or should I go? 

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Clem’s Christmas Roundup

It was (almost) Christmas Eve  babe,

and in the drunk tank,

an old man said to me,

” I could go nuclear…”

So time to take stock of the year, and consider the good and bad that we’ve been through…

First of all, losing the election has been a massive blow, yet Gordon Brown managed to leave office with more dignity and in better grace than David Laws did less than a month later. A fundamentally good man made way for a shyster.

The coalition was initially heralded as a “New kind of politics”, yet has settled down into the most radically conservative Government  since 1983. Everyone agreed that Ham Face and Little Nicky looked jolly nice on the lawn, giving civil partnerships a boost.

The Government decided that you and I would be better off with 50 less MPs, as it cost too much for us to have adequate representation. We all agreed that 50 less Coalition MPs would have been a good thing. the Guardian felt silly, and The Daily Mail  was grumpy, possibly that UKIP didn’t win outright. The Daily Telegraph did its best to bring the Coalition down by chatting to Liberal Democrats.Sales of Werther’s Originals plummeted in Tory seats.

The BBC found the correct term for a Conservative Culture Secretary. Jeremy should go far…

Liberal Democrats have been apologising to their best friends after admitting they don’t really like them, and apologising to the rest of us for making such a rotten deal. they still held on to the Ministerial cars though…

It was decided that not only would tuition fees have to treble, but that funding for Higher Education would be cut by 80%. A well organised, fearsomely armed group took control of the streets around Westminster – The Metropolitan Police.

The Duchess of Cornwall was poked with a stick, and (oh, the irony) went on to a Royal variety performance featuring 25 minutes of Les Miserables – featuring student revolutionaries waving flags – ” Did she hear the people sing…?” don’t worry Camilla old girl, they were French.

Speaking of our allies, it was decided that the Royal Navy should specialise in becoming a landlord – renting out 50% of our carrier force to Les Bleus. Can’t see them defending the Falklands, but still, annoyed a few yanks…

Wikileaks told us what sensible people already knew, namely that diplomats don’t always like their hosts.

Julian Assange may or may not be someone that you would like your daughter to meet on a regular basis.

Once again, the world failed to find a collective answer to Global Warming, whilst we shivered a bit, and were given no credible answer as to why the country cannot deal with a little snow. Boris claimed to have bought the deserts of Araby, and then slunk off to cancel FIFAs bribe – sorry, all expenses paid stay at The Dorchester for the duration of The Olympics.

Gideon Osborne, The 14th Earl of Whyborn, sat on the Treasury Benches looking more and more like a pale evil toad. Dr Fox ( no, not that Dr Fox) let it be known that although he doesn’t like it, he was prepared to sell servicemen short. Again. The police warned that without constant pay rises and overtime payments, crime would rocket. Then proved themselves inadequate to their core task of keeping the Queens peace, thrice.

After a drawn out campaign, the much-vaunted David Miliband was done low by his supporters, notably Lord Mandy, who then wrote a rubbish book, and still has no inkling as to just how much everyone in the nation hates him. Tony Blair wrote nonsense, and we learned about both his sex life and his toilet regime. Lucky us. Mr G W Bush turned out the best book of all three, at least in terms of fiction and plot.

Ed M became our leader, and has scored a few telling points against Bullers Dave, yet the hardcore Blairites, after three years of disloyalty, have still to learn that unity cuts both ways. A few right wing placemen showed their true inclination was to power rather than principle.

Phil Woolas was finally ousted from both Parliament and from The Labour Party, after running a nasty smear campaign that really did us no good.

Charlie Kennedy proved top be correct when it came to the coalition, fat lot of good it will do him.

And the government Front Bench looked for all the world like the Thirteenth Earl of Whybourne from The Fast Show…”Me? With my hands on the public purse? With MY REPUTATION?”

The BBCs Nick Robinson, at last able to see his pals in power, looked on the verge of a massive orgasm every time
he reported for the News. Is he sponsored by Kleenex we wonder?

The Big Society turned out to be a big “fuck you” from Millionaires to the rest of us.

Pavement reformed and toured the USA and Britain, and The Pogues started a long fairwell tour – though Spider stacey hinted at this only being a break – please let it be so…

Iraq, Ed, David and the rest of us…

IRAQ – RIGHTS AND WRONGS

For all that he said in his first leaders speech, few can doubt that the most important moment for many on the centre-left was Ed Miliband’s apology on Iraq. In very careful language, reminiscent of Robin Cook, he made the legal and diplomatic case for the thinking opposition. Big applause, or not, depending on your point of view. This was the moment that Labour finally started to reach out to many of those inside and outside the movement who deserted us in droves after 2001, finding a home for their votes in The Greens, or in the Liberal Democrats.

It was a move, however, fraught with difficulty, encapsulated not only by the recorded reactions of elder brother David, but followed up by pieces on the national press from pro and anti-war voices, such as todays article in The Times by David Aaronovitch.

A someone who started out as instinctively against the Iraq adventure, yet came to believe that although very flawed, it was the right thing to do (albeit awfully executed), I think I can add something here. Since 2001, the spectrum of centre-left opinion has been divided rancourously and dangerously over Iraq. The two sides have expended much bile and energy on each other, rather than on supporting arab Democrats and Trades Unionists across the middle east. The terms of debate have become increasingly extreme, the result being that many opportunities to challenge the real “neocons”,  “imperialists”, and “excusers of tyranny” have been ignored. Rational debate on Israel, Islamicism and attitudes to Human Rights has all but vanished.

There were honourable people on both sides of this clash, some, like Johan Hari and Nick Cohen, have changed sides over time, others, like David and Ed Miliband have not, but no matter, the point is that amongst ourselves we need recognise what this has meant to the hopes of the Left. My position would best be summed up by paraphrasing Nick Cohen in his book “Whats Left?” –

“OK, I didn’t initially support the War for a number of reasons – knee-jerk anti-americanism, a feeling of being rushed, the dodgy dossier and lack of a clear UN sanction, as well as suspicions as to the motives of GW Bush and his oil-rich friends. I marched, I shouted, and still we went to War, which in military terms was won quickly and with ease.

However, I could still see that deposing Ba’ath tyranny was a good thing for the people of Iraq, and that there was a chance to build a democratic, federal Iraq. The occupation, hamstrung by Washington’s obsession with doing things on the cheap and via private companies, has been a disaster, making mistakes detailed in books such as “State of Denial”. Nation building is still an honourable ideal, if done on an open, honest basis.

The trouble is that most of the hardcore anti-War campaigners have moved from opposing “Imperialism” to supporting an insurgency that is comprised of old Ba’athists, Clerical Fascists, and is in large part backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran. It repeatedly targets intellectuals, women, and the most progressive parts of Iraqi society. Whatever the obscene death toll in Iraq post-war, the largest number of those killed by violent means have been killed by these people. Faced with a choice between some freedom and none, I have to choose some freedom under occupation.”

Thanks Nick, anyway, there is a real danger today that attitudes towards Iraq will become the touchstone for a division within our party, between those who wanted David, and those who didn’t. This would be the worst outcome for all concerned. It would also be against the stated wishes of a certain D. Miliband MP…

AN INSURGENCY OF OUR OWN?

From the moment a couple of weeks ago that Ed emerged as a real contender for the Leadership, those closely linked to the New Labour “Project”  swung into action. Tony Blair very wisely mentioned no candidate by name, followed by Lord Mandelson, John Rentoul, Alistair Campbell and David Aaronovitch were much more specific, as were the Murdoch Press. Attacks on Ed as being “Red”, a geek, too young, too leftwing, too odd etc became increasingly heavy. This is all part and parcel of debate in an election, and is fair enough, however, from Sunday onwards, “New Labour” voices in the Media intensified their attacks.

In a breathtaking reversal of Labour history, it was now the rightwing, having lost a Leadership election, that seems to want us to commit political Hara-Kiri, just so its favoured son can pick up the pieces after 2015. It is very tempting to describe these voices as latter-day Bennites of the Right, if so many of them hadn’t been Bennites back in the early 1980s that is. A more accurate description of this situation would be the distrust between the pacifists and non-pacifists in the Labour movement post 1918. It is often glossed over, but throughout the inter-war left, divisions arose over attitudes to The Great War, and not everyone was able to re-unite immediately post November 11th. Clem Attlee is an outstanding example of someone willing to work with both sides, while himself being a wounded Gallipoli veteran. It took (pacifist) McDonalds treachery, and Bevins harsh 1935 speech attacking George Lansbury before the wounds were healed in general terms. In the meantime, other internal battles – with the ILP, The Socialist League and perpetually with Morrison expended valuable time and effort better spent combatting unemployment, The National Government and the BUF. (Shades of today?)

Another parallel would be the destructive and futile decade long battle between the Gaitskellites and Bevanites for the soul of labour in the 1950s. Remember, we lost in 1951, although polling one million more votes than the Tories, and the fratricidal warfare that Attlee tried so hard to prevent led to us losing those votes and every election until 1964 – thirteen wasted years indeed.

IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY…

It seems that, having still not got used to losing grip on the levers of power, a tightly knit group of politically motivated individuals are hell-bent on sabotaging our chance to effectively renew, oppose, and defeat this Coalition.

It does not have to be like this – I doubt very much if electing Ed has ushered in a period when we embrace the 1983 manifesto like a long-cherished Bible. The vast majority of our new members (myself included) are eager to return to Government, with a new purpose, although we may be a little to the left of the “true” Blairite tendency. We want the power to save the NHS, create a fairer, more equal Britain, stop the atomisation of our education system along class lines, rebalance the economy and effectively regulate the city. We want to see fair voting system, and elect The House Of Lords amongst many other things.

Surely, we can have a rational debate about policy and outcomes, rather than harmful sniping that could become outright war if we don’t all grow up now. We owe it to our Party, to ourselves, and to our Nation.

D Mili quits the frontline…

Earlier today David Miliband put an end to speculation as to his political future. Now as a member of the left of Labour, I will go on record as saying I am sorry to see him go. David has had an extraordinary run at the top of Labour politics since 1997, both as an advisor and an MP. He was a competent Foreign Secretary, and can be an inspiring speaker. His relative youth means that his return to the frontline should not be a problem.

Unlike some of his supporters, he has decided that it is time to move on, and to give brother Ed his chance. I welcome his constructive attitude to the media pressure of the last few days, and wish him well.

NOW COULD ALL THE “NEW LABOUR” WHISPERERS PLEASE SHUT UP, AND UNITE BEHIND HIS BROTHER, SO WE CAN WIN IN 2015????

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