Things ain’t what they seem, Comrade

Things are very rarely the way they seem from the outside. ‘What things?’

‘All kinds’, I might reply with equal brevity, ‘But especially the Labour Party’. I joined itĀ over a year ago in a bid to support Jeremy Corbyn.

Here at last was a politician I could believe in. Someone who didn’t abstain when asked to vote on the government’s controversial Welfare Bill. Someone who isn’t a warmonger. A voice of reason in a thoroughly unreasonable world. A good man in a bad land.

I naively thought my move would be met with a flurry of fanfares and comradely embraces. ‘Welcome to the fold, brother! It took you many years but you’ve finally found your home.’

How wrong could I possibly be?

Very, it seems. Especially on Twitter. ‘Entryist!’ howled a formidable Greek chorus of existing comrades, behaving as if I’d stolen their favourite sofa cushion and torched it in front of them. ‘Leftard. Trot! Idiot!’ yelled libertarians from over the pond. Charming, but what business is it of theirs?

Hopes of comradely joy were further quashed by toxic Blairites hoping to oust Mr Corbyn at all costs. This, we’re assured by both the PLP and the ‘Daily Mail’ (strange bedfellows) is because he’s unelectable. Both want to create a self-fulfilling prophesy to suit themselves. They may as well be on the same side.

While it’s true that many loyal socialists shelter under the lofty eaves of Labour’s broad church it’s apparent that the PLP is intellectually challenged. The Tories are behaving like oafs in office. Theresa May grabbed power by standing back and letting the other candidates self-destruct. A once United Kingdom looks more like the Disunited Kingdom on a daily basis.

The PLP’s response is to launch a bitter, explicitly public internecine war, openly disregarding the wishes of ordinary members. We voted for Jeremy Corbyn, and either the Labour Party is democratic, and represents people like you and me, or it does not. If it wants to reinvent itself as a club for the benefit of a chosen few, then it should at least be honest about that and go ahead.

Too many people living in the Disunited Kingdom find themselves disenfranchised. I, for example, have always thought of myself as a progressive, left-of-centre socialist. Apparently, in the context of modern Britain I’m a foaming Trotskyite. How insulting. And how utterly wrong.

If the Labour Party was a person, you’d accuse her of gross hypocrisy. ‘You claim to be something you’re not and expect no-one to notice, but we can see right through you.’ If the Labour Party was a ship, you might take to sleeping in one of its big red lifeboats and pray it doesn’t leak. Nothing is guaranteed these days, apart from treachery.

Not for the first time in my life I’ve been cut adrift by one of the few things that seemed worth trusting. I certainly trust Jeremy Corbyn, but I’m learning to dislike the Labour Party, and it’s unwise to alienate the very people who have your best interests at heart. They might learn to bite back.


Arise ye Starvelings!

Should I ever jump into the murky shark infested sea of political discussion, it often ends in tears. If you’re left-wing the same arguments are wheeled out over and over again with relentless tedium.

Here is a selection to help me exorcise my demons. People tend to be less than original with their criticisms.

Utopias don’t work! That’s why Socialism can never be put into practice.‘ – but I didn’t say I believed in them… I don’t in fact. This plea usually falls on deaf ears. After all it’s my job to adopt woolly ideas. But seriously, ‘Utopian Socialism’ is an imprecise term, and it can mean different things in different contexts.

Socialism has failed and no-one can deny the success of global Capitalism.’ – They’re right. Internationally, Socialism hasn’t done well and has failed to find a niche power base. But if you call our current setup successful I’d hate to imagine what failure looks like. I think of Greece, and worry.

If you measure success in terms of how many people on Planet Earth are self-serving and visionless, then modern Capitalism has indeed been a resounding success.

You would say that. That’s the badge you’ve chosen to wear!‘ – Who says I chose to be me? I would argue that it’s hard NOT to see the world from a given perspective based on personal experience and observation.

To counterbalance this, I’ve had some great conversations with like-minded people. And the thing about the political left is, we have a real sense of camaraderie… when we’re not arguing with each other.

The worst rebuttal I’ve had is, ‘So you’re a Socialist. Hitler was a Socialist!!‘ This came from a graduate, suggesting that at least some graduates are a bit dense. Or if not, how about blinkered?

I almost forgot the other regular put-down I’ve encountered. ‘You’re just being nasty, and you don’t have any alternative solutions. I think you’re jealous of other peoples’ success.‘ This betrays a depthless well of ignorance, as very often the political right creates more problems than it solves! It also reveals an unwillingness to think things through

There is plenty of literature out there for the interested – much of it packed with ideas for improving society. ‘But socialism has failed!’ On it goes…

I think any discussion about political values should be based on the truth about various systems. British Socialism is nothing like Russian Communism for example. One is democratic and the other totalitarian. This is obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t want to see it!

And Anarchism (for example) is as much about Order as anything else. That’s why there’s a big letter O around the big letter A. I’m not an anarchist, but I certainly have tendencies that way.

It amused me when I heard a university professor say, during a radio interview, ‘If that happened here we would end up with complete anarchy!‘ Even among academics the word has become a proxy for ‘chaos’. If educated people don’t understand it (they don’t have to agree, just understand) this suggests there’s something fishy about academia.

I remember reading something by the poet, Robert Graves (disliked by many academics – how dare someone have original ideas). ‘An academic is someone who dare not question the dogma of their academy. If they did they would be ejected from it.’ Or words to that effect.

I don’t think there’s an authentic political dialogue here in the UK. Perhaps there never will be. If I tune into TV or radio programmes, such discussions are always about the status quo (Conservatives versus Labour). They never touch on possible alternatives without sneering at them. If they did I suggest those programmes would be taken off the air in a fire-storm of public outrage.

After all, we are a free society. We can discuss anything… Rubbish! We only seriously discuss what serves the interests of the state and the business community. Broadcasters are too terrified to do otherwise.

If you try to think outside of the box many people will try to bully you into adopting their own ideas. This isn’t something I encounter daily – but it is something I encounter all too often, and it can be hard to function under such circumstances.