Category Archives: Opinion & Comment

Triangulation = Strangulation

Saw this clip of Labour MP, Thangam Debbonaire, and Martin Manear, a member of the Momentum National Committee, being interviewed on ITV in the South West, and was fascinated by the MP’s logic.

In the interview Martin refers a number of times to the failures of  ‘triangulation’. Triangulation is an approach to the positioning of political parties developed by Bill Clinton’s team in the USA, and attempts to blend ‘the best’ of policies from both the left and the right and by doing so transcend these old political factions to constitute a third force in the debate, i.e. Tony Blair’s ‘Third Way’.

To those of us in the UK this sounds remarkably like the Liberal Democrats, who have not been in government in the UK since 1922! Nonetheless this ‘centrist’ idea was presented by Blair as being something new and something guaranteed to win elections because it would appeal to uncommitted floating voters, because the Third Way was presented as a pragmatic, post-ideological politics that was almost apolitical, thus appealing to apolitical, floating voters. It was also presented as if devising pragmatic policies to achieve practical, real-world outcomes, could be free of ‘divisive’ value judgements or ideological assumptions. Indeed, the Blairites cried, the pragmatic, rational, Third Way would surely appeal to all voters except of course the ‘crazy’ ideologues on the extremes of the old left and right wings?

In this interview several times Thangham Debbonaire (you really couldn’t make that name up could you) said, “We have to win over Tory voters to win an election.” She went onto explain that its no good appealing to left wing voters because they all live in labour safe seats and won’t win us an election. To me this seems a quite startling statement for a Labour politician to make; surely it is the Tory parties job to provide policies attractive to Tory voters, not the Labour Party? Continue reading

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Orwell’s Newspeak is alive and well on the right-wing of the Labour Party.

Newspeak is the fictional language in the novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, written by George Orwell. It is a controlled language created by the totalitarian state Oceania as a tool to limit freedom of thought, and concepts that pose a threat to the regime such as freedom, self-expression, individuality, and peace.

The Labour Party establishment rebellion against Jeremy Corbyn has now entered the realms of Orwellian Newspeak as Corbyn’s opponents use language and rhetoric to present the world as the exact opposite of how it is in reality.

In this PLP Newspeak universe, Momentum are ‘thugs’; Corbyn is unscrupulous and the professional politicians and Party bureaucrats are defenders of democracy and ‘victims’ of abuse and threats. Continue reading

Do I want Labour to win an election? Depends what the policies are!

A very angry little man recently asked me if I “wanted Labour to win an election?” This was in the context of the Corbyn Crisis and he was implying that because I had joined the Labour Party in September to support Jeremy Corbyn as Party leader, that I was an ‘entryist’ to the Labour Party determined to purposefully stop it winning elections.

My reply to this man was, as it always is to this question, “it depends what the policies of the Labour Party are at the time of the election.” Continue reading

# This Is A Coup?

I’ve just watched Paul Mason’s 4 x 30 minute films on last year’s Greek crisis, # This Is A Coup, they are all available on YouTube.

I had last week reluctantly decided to vote Remain in the forthcoming referendum on EU membership but these films have thrown me into doubt and confusion again. Continue reading

Political Principles And The Labour Party?

Further to my earlier post Maybe this is really at the root of the split in the Labour Party?Adam Buckham pointed out that I had omitted to discuss political principles in the first draft of the piece. I then rewrote it to refer to the concept of political principles but feel I’d like to explore that idea a bit further.

Being ‘principled’ is a personal moral trait akin to ‘integrity’. It means having accepted or professed rules of action or conduct, and abiding by them regardless of the costs to you as an individual.

Political principles are fundamental, primary, or general laws or truths from which others are derived. They are for a political party the distinct, fundamental doctrines or tenets that distinguish the party from other parties.

So having to have a set of underlying ‘political principles’ is not unique to the Labour Party, it is a necessary characteristic of ALL political parties. Supporting a political party is not, or perhaps more accurately, should not, be like supporting a football club. People are in theory, supposed to support political parties because, after due consideration, they have decided that a particular party most closely reflects their political views and aspirations. Continue reading

On Public Opinion And Policy

One of the principle arguments of Blairites in the Labour Party seems to be that it is the job of the Party to align itself with public opinion. If ‘public opinion’ is in favour of renewing Trident then the Labour Party should be. If ‘public opinion’ is in favour of halting immigration then the Labour Party should be.

It’s funny though, how the argument only gets used when it suits the Blairites. If you point out that 65-28% of the public want to bring back hanging suddenly it all goes quite and very few will argue that If ‘public opinion’ is in favour of bringing back hanging then the Labour Party should be.

Most of those using this argument would also acknowledge that adopting a ‘populist’ strategy of chasing public opinion on EVERYTHING would be doomed to failure. Continue reading

On Deterrence and Trident

Yes deterrence can be a powerful defensive tool. It is often said that Argentina chose to invade The Falklands when they did because they gambled that the UK would not defend the islands. If they had known the lengths we would go to to get the Islands back they probably wouldn’t have invaded. When I was a kid I was going to be beaten up by a gang of skinheads. My mate told them I had seven brothers in the army. I don’t have any brothers. But the skinheads thought I did and left me alone fearful that these magnificent seven Jury brothers would seek revenge if they did me. So I get it. Deterrence can be a perfectly rational and very effective defensive posture.

However, that doesn’t really resolve anything. The questions we have to answer about Trident are:

  1. Does the UK need a nuclear deterrent?
  2. Is Trident an effective deterrent?
  3. Is the cost of Trident proportionate to the deterrence protection it provides?
  4. Does the UK have the resources or geopolitical status to provide such a deterrence?
  5. Should this deterrence be given priority above the myriad calls on the governments economic and financial resources?

In the case of Trident my answer to all of those questions is ‘no’. So despite accepting and understanding the ‘logic of deterrence’ I can, and do, still reject the idea that Trident is a proportionate or effective way of achieving it, or that the UK has the resources or geopolitical status to even be involved in the deterrence game.

A brief analysis of the costs involved in renewing Trident can be found on the BBC website here.