For a kinder politics

Three claims in particular distress me about the claims being made by MPs leaving the Labour Party to create an Independent Group.
1. that Labour are putting their policy views ahead of the needs of the country;  
2. that politics is broken;  
3. that politics needs to address the needs of our times, (of the 21st Century), and it doesn’t.
–  
To which –
1. that Labour are putting their policy views ahead of the needs of the country;  dressing up differences in vision for the country as betrayal is often cited but is anti-political;  and charges like this were made against New Labour when we were in power too; 
2. that politics is broken; party politics deciding affairs is the fundamental test by which you assess whether we have a free society;  party political allegiances are under strain at the moment, but that’s cos the referendum took away simple party loyalties away from MPs and cos the decision to Leave was ambiguous about how to leave; 
3. that politics needs to address the needs of our times, (of the 21st Century), and it doesn’t;  except this is another anti-politics charge that has been made for decades, indeed probably from the time of Cock Robin.  And my main response to them is that Labour’s policy responses are much stronger responses to the challenges of today.

Polls are reporting lower scores for the Conservatives and for Labour with 10 points or so for the Independent group, to which I’m either surprised  or underwhelmed and I’m not sure which.  Cos on the one hand, 10 points is a lot and on the other, the SDP had much higher scores when its was launched in 1981.  
It is perhaps inevitable that social media responses – where people can make statements without being held to account – might be more trill than is warranted, but the trillness Is not not good for us in the Labour Party, as has been shown by –
– the Parliamentary Labour Party giving those leaving a round of applause, clearly believing they have been treated badly and that many of them are receiving poor treatment too; 
Tom Watson’s statement, with a particular emphasis on Luciana Berger being a victim;
– most tellingly, John MacDonnell dropping plan A (Monday – they all need to resign as MPs and stand for fresh elections) and adopting Plan B (Tuesday – the national party needs to listen to the concerns raised)
– Barry Gardiner expressing regret at the treatment of Luciana Berger MP by anti-Semites from the front bench.

Because there has been conduct in the party and from outside the party against MPs that has been too brutal.  Some of it has been anti-Semitic.  A lot of it has been macho.  Some of it – e.g. votes of no confidence in their MP by branches using emergency motions and thus not informing all branch members – has been wrong in principle and according to the rules of the Labour Party.  
So we should acknowledge that we can improve.

If we’d adopted a listening approach – 
– we could have refrained from saying MPs who have changed parties should resign their seats – 1) only 4 out of the most recent 64 have; 2) we need people in Parliament to be voting on Brexit; 3) people get elected as individuals; and everyone who stands know that they stand on that basis; elected representatives are just that and are not delegates to be withdrawn;  and there are no mechanisms yet designed that can make a delegate approach work; 
– we could have refrained from saying people have made decisions to leave lightly – cos people who have been elected have invested significantly in the Labour Party and for years, and cos they have deep convictions too;  indeed the testimonies of roots and life stories was the strongest part of the launch on Monday;
– we could have refrained from suggest they are careerist – especially when I think they’ve done something that will end their careers as MPs at the next election; and because people say this of all representatives;  it’s actually a dig at the way a free society decides who decides and a way of stopping people think about the issues;
– we could have refrained from saying MPs are mandated by the party national manifesto, cos before the Summer of 2015, loads of MPs were congratulated by not standing by the manifestos of Blair and Brown;
– we could have refrained from saying a vote for a Labour candidate was a vote for the Labour manifesto; cos whilst a win gives the party the opportunity to implement the manifesto, we certainly don’t say vote for the manifesto or don’t vote for us at all; and in 2017, we actually said, don’t vote for Theresa May, she’s not a good PM, has had a terrible campaign and she des not offer string and stable government.  
And we could do without those rolling out defences of those who have been anti-Semitic (e.g people haven’t been, or the favourite – “I’ll say what I want when being critical of Israel and no code is going to stop me”); cos the Labour Party has a problem (and it’s annoying cos we are supposed to be the best at being anti-racist).

These analyses look cruel, shrill, out of touch and condoning of very poor bullying and racist behaviour. Having a tin ear rather than listening.

Smarter to celebrate the ambition we have – including re-implementing levies on banks that have cost public services £5,000 million and created the space to campaign against further proposals to cut Corporation tax by 2% at a cost public services £8,000 million.

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Universal Moral codes

Help your family and your “group”, return favours, be brave, divide resources fairly and respect other’s properties – can get along with these.
But being deferential? to superiors? Nah. Unless they’re trying to get at understanding others’ knowledge and experience and drawing from it. Ditto, address and etiquette.
The whole is qualifiable too.
Bit of sexism at the top – the mother loves, the father protects.
Adopting local conventions can’t be at the expense of universal human rights.

As published via the Daily Telegraph (8th Feb. 2019)

Unreasonable social media

“You need to know next to nothing to propagate Nazi or Soviet Jew-hating propaganda, reframed to fit today’s narrative, which spreads like wildfire, and is dangerous. But you need to know nearly everything in order to combat it.”
Rachel Riley, reported in the Jewish Chronicle.
Riley put out her opinions on anti-semitism, and had to face some fury.
Even someone as politically experienced as Owen Jones, has tried to compete on how much he is a victim of being attacked for standing against anti-Semitism (to which Riley says “I call BS” cos he’d suggested she triggers hostile responses), rather than seek common ground.

I’ve put out a modest support comment for my MP.
I’ve had to challenge in comments that suggested I was simple and used a photo of a man that suggested what a simple man might look like, then , whether land sales in The Meadows are legitimate, and now, whether I’m getting a share of land sales.  
“Not enough writers” said Siouxsie Sioux, and in the world of Facebook, we know why.

Light a Candle – Go Vote

Having been following the mid-term election campaigns for some weeks, and then viewing the coverage of killing 11 Jews in a synagogue, and the mail bombs sent to leading Democrats, I worry that the United States is about to go into a deeper political darkness.
A friend we celebrated yesterday said rather than curse such a darkness, you should light a candle.  The best way to light a candle is to vote, and if an estimated 90 million people cast votes in the 2014 mid-term elections, let us hope an extra 10, 20 or even 30 million candles be lit on November 6th.

– –

Found it re-assuring to see Channel 4 tv’s Jon Snow had gone to Pittsburgh in the USA to cover the murder of 11 Jews in a synagogue.
Was disappointed to hear him ask the Mayor what could be done to get the temperature of exchange by the political classes in the USA brought down a notch.

On one level, as if journalists and news media aren’t also a significant part of the problem.
On another level, cos the actual challenge is to equip people so that they don’t reward people who tempt them with messages of hate.
On another level, cos not all in the political spectrum are casting problems to an equal extent.

Cos the Alt-Right have triggered the anti-Semitic murders in the synagogue on Squirrel Hill.
Cos the Alt-Right have triggered the mail bombs to notable Democrat supporters.
Cos the Alt-Right were responsible for the death of a civil rights activist in Charlottesville last year.

Cos Donald Trump is culpable.
Cos when people are murdered in a synagogue in a hate crime, the response is not to suggest a degree of culpability cos they hadn’t employed a security guard.
Cos the first response to hate bombs being sent to opponents is not to say that you’ll tone down your language, but to say agents of justice will identify and try those responsible.
Cos the first response to Charlottesville should have been to condemn the anti-Semitism (remember “the Jews will not replace us”).
To paraphrase the movie “The Contender”, “culpable, but not responsible”.

A further challenge to the politics of the United States (and to all of us – cos they are that important) is is demagoguery and Nationalism.
– I don’t agree with those who call Trump a s fascist, but many pf the tests set out for fascism are ticked by Trump.
– Trump redefining the Republican Party as a Nationalist party, on top of the previous phase of what’s called Neo-Liberalism (but I see as globalism being used to give more to the very rich) rather than a conservative party grounded in the public health provision and the common endeavour of the two world wars.  (A phenomenon we’re seeing in the UK with the British Conservative party.)

So what should the common endeavour be?
Promoting a free society, where people are able to organise as they wish to win mandates to become the government of the country, principal authority or any other local authority.
A democracy – all responsible adults having a vote is very radical – underpinned by a full electoral register and proper elections.
Judicial systems and community safety.
Rights and responsibilities, that come with citizenship, for all irrespective against class, gender, race, sexual identity.
Full employment in proper jobs, and tackling all the other giant evils – with social security, housing for all, free education and free health at the point of use.
Tackling the opportunities and challenges that come with globalisation, people living longer, climate change and peak oil.
Proper conduct in public life, including being accountable for what you publish in social media (see Nolan principles below.
Audit systems and freedom of information to enable better debate and better journalism, especially over the ambitions and use of public assets and resource.
Politics overseeing how we organise and live, but not replacing it – everything is not political.
7_NOLAN_PRINCIPLES

Is the above only supportable by democratic Socialists?  Well, Socialism would go further – “no unjustifiable inequalities”, test what we do against deprivation, and greater emphasis on industrial democracy, public ownership and co-operation.

We don’t need a fresh constitution either – although “love, life and the pursuit of happiness” carries a certain zing (More fully”… in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity …“)
160120_FASCISM_FacismIntro-chart.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlarge
TO BE REVIEWED.
P.S. Not sure calling Donald Trump a Fascist is particularly helpful.
The Washington Post has done a check and think Trump falls short.
I think more a demagogue.