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Wed Nov 23, 2016, 06:25 PM


Tony Blair wonders whats gone wrong with politics. How sad he cant see it


If Tony Blair is the answer, then the question is high on illicit substances. He is reported to be launching an organisation to examine why the “centre left” has been overwhelmed by the forces of populism. It’s as though he’s a spectator, a passive commentator, a bystander, rather than a leading contributor to this age of political calamity. Someone who should be in the dock is electing himself chief prosecutor.

Just consider this. In July, Tony Blair was damned by an official inquiry for his role in a war that cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of human beings, including 179 British service personnel, and which contributed to the rise of fanatical Islamist terrorism. That’s before we even mention Blair’s lucrative service for foreign tyrants. If normal rules applied to men of power, he would retire from active political life in disgrace. And yet, less than five months later, here he is, plotting a return to the frontline of politics. His career is like the T-1000 at the end of Terminator 2: it just will not die. If Blair wants material for his vanity project – “why are people so disillusioned with establishment politics?” – then how about starting with politicians who face no penalties for their colossal misdeeds, and continue to exert huge power and influence without any apparent shame or even penitence?

Tony Blair is one of the most loathed politicians in Britain. His small but determined fanclub might not like this, they might believe it is unfair and the British public are all suffering from some form of mass delusion or false consciousness that prevents them from seeing his greatness, but there it is anyway. Even before the Chilcot report was published, polls showed that more than half the population said they would never forgive him. “And the reason this country’s full of people who are so cynical about politicians is down to Tony Blair,” as Labour voters who have defected to Ukip tell focus groups.

When Blair became prime minister in 1997, social democratic parties under “centrist” leadership such as Lionel Jospin in France and Gerhard Schröder in Germany were on the march across western Europe. The Clintons were in the White House. This was a different era, and it is gone. This form of politics had its last hurrah earlier this month when it was defeated by an unhinged proto-fascist in the United States. Its USP was electability: you may trade some principles, but at least you’ll get elected. Donald Trump saw that off. Hillary Clinton was the only bulwark against the calamity of his presidency, but her establishment “centrism”, in part, doomed her.

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Reply Tony Blair wonders whats gone wrong with politics. How sad he cant see it (Original post)
Ken Burch Nov 2016 OP
Ken Burch Nov 2016 #1
T_i_B Nov 2016 #2
Bad Dog Nov 2016 #3
T_i_B Nov 2016 #5
Bad Dog Nov 2016 #6
Ken Burch Nov 2016 #4
Bad Dog Nov 2016 #7
Ken Burch Nov 2016 #8
Bad Dog Nov 2016 #9
Ken Burch Nov 2016 #10
Bad Dog Nov 2016 #11
Ken Burch Nov 2016 #13
Bad Dog Nov 2016 #14
Ken Burch Nov 2016 #16
Bad Dog Dec 2016 #17
T_i_B Dec 2016 #20
Bad Dog Dec 2016 #21
T_i_B Nov 2016 #12
Bad Dog Nov 2016 #15
T_i_B Dec 2016 #18
Bad Dog Dec 2016 #19

Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Wed Nov 23, 2016, 06:27 PM

1. More:



Perhaps Blair thinks that the plight of Europe’s centre-left parties can be explained by their abandonment of his form of politics. Why, then, does Labour’s terrible polling in Britain still leave it one of the best-polling social democratic parties in Europe? Why are the German Social Democrats – whose leader espouses third way, Blairite-type politics – in the electoral doldrums?

I am not one of those who overlooks the achievements of the 1997-2010 Labour governments such as the minimum wage, public investment, and LGBT rights. But nobody can explain Britain’s current political situation without referring back to other aspects of Blairism. First, the Iraq war, without which Jeremy Corbyn would almost certainly not be Labour leader, and which provoked fury across the political spectrum. Second, a pact with Lucifer, otherwise known as an improperly regulated financial sector, which left Britain exposed to a financial calamity that still defines political life. Third, mass immigration without making the case for it, and without addressing economic grievances such as the lack of housing or secure jobs. Fourth, the failure to reverse the economic damage suffered by many former industrial areas, many of which decisively voted for Brexit.

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Response to Ken Burch (Original post)

Sat Nov 26, 2016, 06:36 AM

2. Thought provoking

The current nationalist cancer took root in Blair's era, and during that time very little was done to challenge anti-immigrant hysteria for fear of upsetting the applecart. That much is certainly a factor in the current mess and Blair was a big part of that. Under Blair Labour came to be about apologising for liberalism rather than defending liberalism.

The second factor that has played a huge part in Labour's current troubles, which was a big part of Blair's legacy was the tendency towards top down, careerist politics. This created a huge divide between Labour and the people the party is meant to represent, which has in turn lead to the current internal civil war in the Labour party. It has also resulted in Labour becoming too remote to take advantage on those occasions when they've actually done something that's been a success!

If, as Owen Jones claims Labour are polling better then other left wing parties across Europe right now that is of no comfort at all as Labour are doing so very badly. It merely suggests that the left across the western world is facing incredible adversity and has major problems which go beyond whereabouts people stand on the left / right political spectrum.

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #2)

Sat Nov 26, 2016, 09:41 AM

3. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

And I've got it in spades. Blair's biggest domestic mistake was to allow a load of Polish immigrants into Britain two years before they were allowed into other Western European nations. The influx was massive, the amount of immigrants forecast to enter the UK was the same as those who came to Southampton. Things didn't really change that much when the Poles were allowed into other countries, because Britain had such a large ex pat Polish population it became a far more attractive destination than say Germany.

legitimate concerns about housing, school places and healthcare were dismissed as xenophobic and the likes of UKIP and the Mail were allowed to spread the narrative that Britain was being swamped by Poles, Bulgarians and Romanians. Stories about Romanian gypsy beggars using children in London hit the headlines and ensured that was how many people viewed the migrants.

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Response to Bad Dog (Reply #3)

Mon Nov 28, 2016, 02:44 AM

5. The problem was compounded....

....by Labour then failing to state the case for immigration for fear of upsetting the applecart, which allowed the rise in bigotry to go unchallenged.

The result has been the rise of a political culture where bad politicians seek to blame immigrants for absolutely everything regardless of facts, and the public (especially in areas with very low immigration levels, where people's only experience of said immigrants is tabloid scare stories) lap it up.

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #5)

Mon Nov 28, 2016, 06:30 AM

6. Gordon Brown falling over himself apologising to Gillian Duffy st the tone.

She was, is, and will probably remain, a bigot for the rest of her life. Once the Labour party started sucking up to these people it normalised it, legitimised it.

It's not just a fear of immigration, it's a fear of modernity. They're just as intolerant towards gay people, alternative comedy, modern music and anything else that wasn't around when they were kids.

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #2)

Sun Nov 27, 2016, 06:52 PM

4. Labour indeed has major problems.


NONE of which can be solved by continuing to try to remove its current leader.

Jeremy Corbyn was elected BECAUSES of all of those factors, and the leaders of the continuing campaign to get him to just resign(something the PLP really no longer has any right to ask of him) are united in wanting not only to remove him, but ot erase his supporters and their principles from the party.

The party would be in at least as bad a state if David Miliband(who would simply be an exact continuation of sectarian Blairism if he had become leader) Liz Kendall(the essentially Tory figure most of the PLP wanted if the couldn't get David-The-Stabbed), Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham were the leader at this point.

They anti-Corbynites haven't learned anything. They still won't tolerate any real break with the Third Way(nobody ever believed Owen Smith was anything but a Blairite), they still oppose any re-establishment of internal democracy, they still want the party's grassroots to be powerless and irrelevant. They don't want the party to be politically alive or to be open to any of the ideas and groups that represent the possibility of real change-they just want to go back to Labour's offer being "it's enough that we're not THAT lot"I was going to phrase it as "It's enough that we're not THEM, but thought fans of Van Morrison's mid-Sixties pop band might have been offended). They refuse to listen, they refuse to dialog, they refuse to do anything but simply demand that they be treated as if THEY are the party and no one else is.

I've said this before...but Corbyn probably would have stood down if, instead of the PLP simply demanding that he go and the hundreds of thousands of people who voted to elect and re-elect him as leader, it had agreed to Corbyn's internal democracy agenda and accepted the legitimacy of Momentum and the rests of Corbyn's supporters playing a meaningful role in how the party is run, and if it they had agreed, at a very minimum, to totally repudiate Blair's foreign and defence policies.

Would that REALLY have been so much to ask?

Did it have to be a Holy Blairite Restoration or nothing?

And can you at least see that the PLP is being destructively arrogant in wanting to simply expunge Corbyn's ideas and his supporters from the party?

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #4)

Mon Nov 28, 2016, 06:44 AM

7. The PLP should not have tried to unseat Corbyn after he won the election.

Corbyn will not win the next election, it's not his politics it's him. He puts people off, and he'll never convince a huge bloc of potential Labour voters that he's interested in anything other than ideology. The first thing he spoke about when becoming leader wasn't Health, Education or Unemployment, but bloody Trident. You can argue the rights and wrongs of Britain's nuclear deterrent but the fact is that a significant section of the electorate believe that's what stopped the Russians invading.

I'll still be voting Labour anyway, I'm not the one you need to convince, but there won't be another Labour government until 2025 at the earliest, and it's a crying shame.

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Response to Bad Dog (Reply #7)

Mon Nov 28, 2016, 07:20 PM

8. Isn't it a valid point, though, that there aren't the resources to do anything Labour cares about..


...while still maintaining those insanely expensive and no-longer-needed implements of death?

You can have nukes, or you can have social democracy and a state with humane values...we now know the UK can't have both.

I am glad that you'll be voting Labour in any case.

The big problem with replacing Corbyn is that there is no one out there who represents a more-electable alternative. If Owen Smith had been more electable, there would have been polls released showing that and he probably would have won.

Would you at least agree that the people trying to dump Jeremy should at least not make their fight against him a fight to kick out or silence everyone in the party who supports the guy? If those hundreds of thousands of people are driven away, there won't be much of anyone left in the party to do the work of campaigning for it in elections. Before Corbyn, the party membership figures were getting damn close to extinction. You can't win an election without doorbellers and without anyone feeling any enthusiasm for what the party stands for-and no one would be an enthusiastic supporter of the kind of party the PLP wants...which is a party that essentially reduces its policy offer to "it's enough that it's US doing the cuts".

Labour would be just as weak in the polls with David Miilband, Liz Kendall, or Yvette Cooper leading it. No one would think the election of a Labour government with any of those three as leader would mean any meaningful change at all-especially since all three would CONTINUE British military intervention in the Arab/Muslim world and continue the Tory war on benefits claimants.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #8)

Tue Nov 29, 2016, 05:34 AM

9. Trident is expensive, but it's not that expensive.

Like I said, I'm not the one you need to convince, but if Labour focuses on decommissioning Trident while Putin runs round like a dog with two dicks then opposition is all the future holds. You might be happy with principled opposition, some people like to wag their finger sanctimoniously while the country goes to pot. I don't, I think the country would have been far better if Thatcher hadn't been elected three times.

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Response to Bad Dog (Reply #9)

Tue Nov 29, 2016, 05:55 AM

10. For that, blame the right-wingers who formed the SDP


Because they couldn't accept Labour democratically rejecting their pointless insistence on nukes and austerity.

There's no reason to think agreeing to keep Trident would cause any appreciable increase in Labour support.

I want the Tories beaten, too. But that can't be done by agreeing with them more often than not.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #10)

Tue Nov 29, 2016, 08:38 AM

11. The SDP played their part.

But all the blame for Labour's electoral defeat cannot be laid at their feet. The Falklands played its part too. I would rather have a less idealistic Labour party in office than principled opposition. And principled opposition is all we will get with Corbyn in charge. It's not his politics so much as him, bearded sandal wearing and fuzzy. John McDonnell would make a far better leader, working class with a bit of fire in his belly.

And without the working class vote Labour will not get into power. UKIP's Scouse Nutter is poised to move in on our power base, and there's a lot who think he's talking their language and is one of their own.

We will never attain office with Corbyn as leader, I really wish I'm wrong about this, but I can't see it happening. 2020 will be 1983 all over again, and it will take another decade at least to get back in power. By then it may be too late, we might already be the 51st state.

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Response to Bad Dog (Reply #11)

Tue Nov 29, 2016, 05:17 PM

13. I could live with McDonnell, too.


My guess is that Corbyn would stand down(he has said he'd do so if he thought he was dragging the party down)if it weren't for the fact that the PLP wasn't just insisting on Corbyn's departure from the leadership but also on trying to either drive away or silence all of Corbyn's supporters, while erasing anything those supporters want from the party's policy offer.

Why couldn't they have left it at just getting Corbyn himself to go? Why did they have to make it a war against everyone who supports him?

All they were offering was to give Jeremy a meaningless post as "party president"-in which capacity he would have no say over policy and no way to protect his supporters from expulsion, but would be expected to unquestioningly defend every rightward tack and every undemocratic internal party structure, being reduced to telling people that "it's enough to get 'a Labour government'-that's ALL that matters".

How could they ever have expected Corbyn to have agreed to betray the people who elected him leader like that?

And why, as you see it, does the PLP refuse to change?

They are still adamant about making sure that Corbyn is replaced and replaced by a right-winger(that's what "moderate" means in Labour Party parlance, for the benefit of my fellow Yanks-it means, in particular an unquestioning defender of Blair's imperial-militarist foreign policy and an enforcer of Blair's vindictively anti-socialist economic policies), and that no change at all be made in how the party is run.

Why, as you see it, does the PLP refuse to take any real lessons in what has happened to the party since 2015? Why doesn't it matter to them that the people THEY wanted in the leadership have twice now been overwhelmingly rejected?

And why do they insist on believing that Corbyn's supporters are all "Trots"? We're talking Trotskyism, the most divided, despised, and hopelessly ineffective sector of the British left. Why on earth do they think THAT lot could suddenly just take over a party the "moderates" had run as a virtual fiefdom since 1994?

It's the blind stubbornness and delusional thinking on their part I can't get my head around.

(btw, I still wish Tony Benn, rather than Michael Foot, had been elected leader in 1981. Their views were identical, but Benn was always brilliantly effective on television and may have been the only Labour figure with the personal charisma to overturn Margaret Thatcher's political dominance. Callaghan would have lost again if he had stayed on and fought the 1983 election as leader, and I think Healey would have, too-too many people hated Healey for negotiating the pointless IMF loan).

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #13)

Wed Nov 30, 2016, 03:39 AM

14. There's lots of counter claims going on.

I heard that Corbyn stopped his regular briefings of the PLP, and turned his back on a lot of established protocol. And had I been an established MP I wouldn't be happy about the prospect of an influx of new members trying to get me deselected.

The Labour party is doing what it does best infighting, and it's not a fight any of us can win.

I know what you mean about Trots, I've been to a enough SWP functions to realise they're big on arguing finer points and little else, but they can muck things up for everyone else.

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Response to Bad Dog (Reply #14)

Wed Nov 30, 2016, 01:57 PM

16. The UK Trots are the crowd who inspired the "People's Front of Judea" sequence in THE LIFE OF BRIAN.


That lot couldn't organize their own flats, let alone takeover a major political party.

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Response to Ken Burch (Reply #16)

Thu Dec 1, 2016, 03:54 AM

17. The only people who find 'Marxists and Trots' a threat.

Are the far right. Nutter has started off his tenure by attacking Marxism in society. I can't see it anywhere. They do it deliberately, if they're spitting feathers about Marxists, people won't see they're fascists.

What Marxists we do have are just men with beards who argue finer points all day. They're not a threat, I've always seen them as more like this bloke.

Btw, I don't think Benn would have fared any better than Foot. Thatcher won because of the Falklands, and she even managed to position herself as a champion of anti-fascists in the process.

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Response to Bad Dog (Reply #14)

Tue Dec 6, 2016, 07:33 AM

20. The bad news....

....is that it looks like Trots are very active in Momentum, and are having a predictable effect.


Lewis Bassett of Lambeth Momentum has eloquently described the inevitable conflict between the two political strands which merged with Momentum’s inception — Labourism, those people steeped in the traditions and ideology of the British Labour movement, and Movementism, those activists which had previously spurned party-politics in favour of innovative and exciting campaigning organisations like Occupy, UK Uncut and Climate Camp. However, I would add to these two strands a third one: Trotskyism. Some people take offence at this term being used — understandably, as it is Tom Watson and the Labour right’s insult of choice for us. But we would be engaging in collective self-denial if we were to downplay it’s prevalence in Momentum. Dyed-in-the-wool Trotskyists are not the majority in Momentum. But they are a vocal, disruptive and over-bearing minority who have won themselves key position in the regional committees, National Committee and even the Steering Committee. To be clear, I am not anti-Trotskyist per se, and I recognise the enormous contributions that some Trotskyist thinkers and groups have made to political discourse, but the sectarian attitude taken by Trotskyist groups within Momentum is destructive to our movement.


When I arrived what I witnessed was horrible. The generational divide was starkly visible for all to see. In the seats in the horseshoe-shape around the room were the pro-OMOV delegates — more likely to be younger, in the Labour Party and close to Momentum staff and Jon Lansman. In the seats in the centre of the room were the anti-OMOV delegates — more likely to be older, Trotskyist, seasoned in far-left factions, not in the Labour Party. It was like a doughnut of desire for change, with a sticky centre of angry socialist stalwarts.

The conduct of the most ultra-left delegates was disgraceful. Jill Mountford — leading member of the Alliance for Worker’s Liberty (AWL) — was openly bullying Huda Elmi — BAME officer for Labour Students. Jill was shouting at the younger delegates, heckling them when they spoke, patronising and mocking them directly to their faces, and leaping up out of her chair to contradict every statement they made. It is astonishing that such behaviour is tolerated in Momentum. Jill eventually succeeded in reducing Huda to tears — something she seemed entirely unapologetic about.


And all this division, bullying and dirty tricks for what? Ultimately, the aim of these assorted people is to oust the “evil” Jon Lansman, who is the Director of the company which holds all of Momentum’s data. Doing this will inevitably split the organisation in two, repelling the majority of members who did not sign-up for hard-left warfare. There are 165,157 people on Momentum database, 20,736 of which are Momentum members. That data would be gold dust for those who want to take over from Jon Lansman, and hugely aide them in advancing their own agenda. Before long, they will realise that they actually hate each other even more than they hated Lansman, and have extremely different politics, particularly on the emotive issue of Palestine, causing a secondary split in Momentum. After that, Jeremy Corbyn will inevitably make one compromise or concession that isn’t ideologically-pure enough for them and they will abandon him and Labour altogether to turn Momentum into a rival left-wing party. It will be a husk of a movement, nothing but a famous name and a huge database of disenchanted and disenfranchised members, which will only be utilised to support candidates like Nick Wrack, Jackie Walker or Jill Mountford to be Momentum MPs. When they lose those contests, taking a handful of Labour votes with them in the process, their Momentum Party will die the same pathetic death as every other Trotskyist party in British history. And the generation of young activists — inspired and politicised by Jeremy Corbyn— will lose their only opportunity to change politics for the better, and consequently become permanently disillusioned. So much for the “new kind of politics”.

The good news is that Momentum is not affiliated with the Labour party, many of the Trots are banned from joining the Labour party and as suc there might be an opportunity for Labour party to bring on board people from Momentum fed up with that organisations internal wrangling.

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #20)

Tue Dec 6, 2016, 08:22 AM

21. I remember going to a fund raising party for the SWP.

In the kitchen there were two blokes going hammer and tongs about what Trotsky's legacy actually is. It got very heated, they almost came to blows over something most people don't even care about. Most on the far left are more concerned with ideological purity than getting into power. They're very good at alienating supporters.

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Response to Bad Dog (Reply #9)

Tue Nov 29, 2016, 03:00 PM

12. Putin's influence is a major problem

Corbyn has been only too keen to apologise for Russian aggression in the past, and the currently fashionable far right politics we are all suffering right now is very admiring of Putin. From Nigel Farage to President Fart.

All very worrying as we need to be able to stand up to an increasingly aggressive Russian state.

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #12)

Wed Nov 30, 2016, 03:41 AM

15. You're right.

It's not the 'Marxism' that worries me about Corbyn so much as when he starts to sound like Donald Trump.

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Response to Bad Dog (Reply #7)

Sat Dec 3, 2016, 06:32 AM

18. I can totally understand why they did it

Corbyn is not up to the job, he cannot work with his own parliamentary colleagues and he's too set in his ways to improve into a strong leader who can hold the government to account.

The trouble is that the old guard are vastly outnumbered by the influx of new members, who seem to only be interested keeping Jeremy Corbyn as leader at any cost. The Labour party has gone from one extreme that cares only about grabbing power to another extreme that cares only about ideological purity.

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Response to T_i_B (Reply #18)

Sat Dec 3, 2016, 07:40 AM

19. Unfortunately it's just stengthened his position.

I can't see Labour making any gains in 2020. I hope I'm wrong I really do.

Following his success on Strictly there are calls for Ed Balls to be the next leader, but that can't be until post 2020. I don't know if it's a good thing, or a sad indictment of celebrity culture.

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