No Summer Break from Trumpism

Bannon’s Bile and Brexit

Recent revelations that the Tory Right has been meeting with Steve Bannon should be cause for grave concern. Bannon is a proud ethno-separatist, and any reading of his views would see him firmly in the neo-fascist camp. He is the sort of individual that used to be placed under an exclusion order in the UK, but now he consorts with the tiresome Rees-Mogg, and purportedly has sought to advise Gove and Johnson. In short, the Brexit fanatics are either showing their true colours, or are so desperate that they have only the far right to turn to, or a combination of both. Nothing the likes of Bannon offers should be accepted; his is the politics of hatred and division, and his hankering for the strongman has obvious parallels with the rise of fascism in the 1920s and 30s. Any democrat or anyone claiming to be a parliamentarian should be shunning this worst of the worst that America has to give. The Bloated Boswell to Trump’s Doctor Johnson, Bannon taps into white anger like a bogus preacher in the boonies. It is appalling that a large section of the Conservative party think that he’s a valid political commentator, but there we are. We can recall David Cameron’s infamous tweet in 2015 that a vote for Ed Miliband was a vote for chaos. How comparatively innocent those times seem now, a mere three years ago, before the storm. Theresa May must do more to marginalise and shame her ultra-nationalist wing before they shame her party further.

Attempted Diplomatic Surrender

Trump’s summit in Helsinki with Putin saw the fake president abase himself on many levels. He is clearly in hock to the Russian premier, for financial and/or personal reasons. Who knows what was said in their secret meeting? Did Trump promise to recognise annexed Crimea in the near future? What was discussed about the mid-terms, and Russia’s hacking? One thing we know for certain is that the Liar-in-Chief was prepared to throw a loyal public servant, and former ambassador to Moscow, Mike McFaul, under a bus. That he would even consider a distinguished ex-diplomat to be questioned by the FSB was shocking enough, but the fact that his Proxy-Liar Sarah Sanders said that the matter was under consideration from the White House was galling. It is a core principal of diplomacy that diplomats have protection before and after their term of duty for their time in foreign service. This covenant is broken only under extremely infrequently occurring circumstances, and none of the former ambassador’s behaviour comes under this banner. He is on Putin’s enemy list, and is in distinguished company there. Congress rapidly passed a resolution to underline that McFaul will not be used as some bargaining chip in Trump’s appeasement of the Russian gangster premier. There is little that Blotus [sic] won’t do to stay beyond the reach of the law. There can be no entertainment of his authoritarian impulses. He will do what he can get away with, or is allowed to do. Where the latter can be prevented, it should be.

Mid-Term Fears

The US mid-term elections are less than 100 days away. That’s just over 3 months in which Russia will be implementing active measures, including disinformation campaigns, possible vote hacking, and sponsorship of friendly candidates. There is real concern that the outcome of November’s polling will be neither free nor fair. There’s already been signs that candidates hostile to Moscow are being targeted and the working assumption in the US intelligence community is that Trump is either encouraging this or turning a blind eye to such activity. It’s always been the opinion of this commentator that the first citizen been is a traitor, put in by Moscow to do their bidding. Any vote rigging in 2016 will have been scrubbed clean after it happened. The denial is not that Trump won, but that he cheated, as he might say, on so many, many levels. There is a simple and effective way to call a halt to Russian interference in the mid-terms, and that’s to mandate that any electronic voting system has a verifiable audit trail. If this can not be guaranteed, there should be a return to paper ballots. The vote is the most precious duty and gift that a citizen has; to have it cheapened or robbed because of a commitment to failed procedures is an outrage. American democracy is deeply flawed, yet there is a structure that can be reactivated that would uphold the integrity of the system. The Republicans who oppose this are threatening the very fabric of democracy itself. There are still grounds for optimism that Trumpism can be defeated, but there are significant hurdles to overcome. In the end, most people don’t want him. They need to stay woke, remain angry, and still be shockable. Trump relies on exhausting his opponents; don’t give him that satisfaction.

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The Unjust Ruler – Trump Tests Resilience of the System

The potential tyranny, of the US president, has been underestimated by many. The last few weeks, with a combination of detaining children at the Mexico border, cosying up to brutal dictators, condemning age-old alliances, seeking to damage democracy in Germany, have all contributed to this being one of the more chaotic and frightening periods of Trump’s turn in office so far. You always think there’s a rock bottom, only for him and his ghoulish thug circle to go even lower. If he’s brought to justice, it could be the saving of the liberal democracy. But, for now, he holds the reins of power.

The pictures from the border detention camps of children separated from their families have shocked most Americans and right thinking people. This cruel and inhuman policy is a direct follow-on from the president’s racist campaign rhetoric and pledges. The fear is that this is a prologue to further outrages. This is the ethno-nationalism, fascist, hard-right, in ascendancy. Appeal to the base at all costs, dehumanize, lie, and gaslight. The push-back has been strong, and this could be part of the straw that breaks the camel’s back for the Republican establishment. For if not this, what will it take? Trump can stop this NOW, but he chooses to use these children as political pawns to get his wretched wall. MAGA voters have no shame.

The pseudo-event summit with North Korea is part of this pattern of a move from democratic to authoritarian values. Trump reveled in the moment. His meeting with Kim produced nothing for the US above temporary spin, and a very short-term de-escalation of tension. A responsible grown up would have prepared for the summit, not bet the house, and not praised one of the most despicable dictator’s in power. Trump’s whole demeanor suggested he was enthralled to have met an equal. The ego is everything. Can you seriously imagine Obama behaving in a similar manner for so little in return?

Then there’s Germany. Trump’s ambassador there has already tried to undermine the democratic process by favouring the far right AfD and other extremist movements in the EU. Trump has jumped in, where else but on Twitter, to stir the pot, by lying about crime and immigration in that country. Merkel is everything Trump isn’t; consensus focused, a moral leader, committed to democracy, and open to the exchange of ideas. He fears her openness. If Germany or France were to fall to the neo-fascists, the EU as we know it would be finished. That is one of his, and Putin’s, main goals.

The most venal president in US history may force the world into recession with his cack-handed knowledge of economics. The trade war has started. The G6, as it now is minus the US, is not going to cave in to American demands. He tried to bully his way at the recent meeting in Canada and the other countries were rightly having none of it. His demand that Russia be readmitted into the G7 was another attempt to drive a wedge in the western alliance. But even the new Italian government, where the extreme right serves in cabinet, baulked at his suggestion.

His renunciation of the Iran deal sealed his reputation as a dangerous international adventurer. The deal wasn’t perfect, but it was the result of serious negotiations by serious people. He has shown that the US, under his watch, cannot be trusted to keep their word. He has walked away from this deal mostly to spite his predecessor, that is how petty a man he is. His moving of the US embassy to Jerusalem was a needlessly inflammatory move.

Underlying all this is corruption. His daughter and son-in-law making millions while being employed by the government is just the tip of the ice-berg. The secretary of the EPA is destroying the environment while enriching himself, the cabinet is barely functioning except to facilitate lobbyists who want to eradicate most consumer protection and health & safety legislation. Beneath all of this is the ticking time bomb of the Robert Mueller investigation into 45’s links with Putin. He is an immoral, inadequate, failure of a man. For Trump, money and lying go hand-in-hand.

Most observers veer between optimism and pessimism. To look at the latter first; who is to say that Trump won’t succeed, that he goes on to win in 2020 with a combination of Russian help and voter suppression? What if he fires Mueller and the reaction to that isn’t enough to bring him down? That is a possible outcome. But it is also possible that this phony, this race-baiting moron, this worst of the worst, will end his life in the justice system, failing to raise anything but a rabble, in a country that is no longer listening to him, seeing him for the fake he always was.

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Democratic Forbearance, Italy in Turmoil, Rise of the Bot

Whither resistance?

In their of-the-moment take on Trump and the state of American democracy, Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt’s ‘How Democracies Die’, the Harvard political scientists posit that while the US constitution has been flexible and robust enough to have survived the trauma of civil war, it may have hit the buffers. They argue that their country’s exceptionalism isn’t that exceptional at all. By looking at the coming to power of authoritarians around the world, past and present, they show some startling similarities to the path Trump is on, namely, stacking of courts, attacking a free press, and ballot rigging. They don’t believe America has fallen yet, but warn of the dangers if there if the current trends continue. The authors make a strong case for saying that the primary system in the States has got rid of the old gatekeeper protections; smoke-filled rooms served to weed out candidates that would not serve the country well. Levitsky and Ziblatt state that one of the key ways a democracy functions is from the practice of not going outside the spirit of the law, namely forbearance.

Forbearance means not doing something just because you a can. The most recent high-profile example of this is the GOP refusal to confirm Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court nomination, in effect stealing the seat for Neil Gorsuch. While the Republicans were within the law to do this, they were breaking decades of senate tradition and unspoken courses of dealings. They were outside the spirit of the law. The authors ask if the resistance to authoritarianism should go down the same route. They don’t see impeachment as a priority. This is a mistake. A president is not above the law and should be held accountable just as every other citizen should be. They argue that political and civil opposition could suffice. Unfortunately, the barbarians are beyond the gate by now. Trump must be impeached for both his emoluments and his collusion with Russia. A failure to do so will allow future despotically inclined individuals to be nominated, and possibly to win. The Trumpian Right laughs at forbearance; the credo of ‘they go low, we go high’ has its limits. Democracy is at stake in America; the Democrats must impeach the President if they are returned with a majority in November in, what remains to be seen, free and fair elections.

Italian Crisis

Italy is undergoing a constitutional crisis following the recent Five Star/Liga proposed coalition. The president Sergio Mattarella vetoed the appointment of a Euro-hostile finance minister, fearing market turmoil. He was within his rights to do so. Mattarella appointed a former IMF technocrat, Carlo Cottarelli, to the position of acting prime minister. Five Star is a populist anti-politics party, while Liga is a far-right heir to the neo-fascists. In short, Italy is in a bind of the electorate’s making, an electorate who have shown little inclination to return to a moderate fold. If the two parties increase their seat numbers at the next election, then there is a real threat to the heart of the European project, and yet another country will be governed by aspirant authoritarians. The Italian president could have practiced forbearance, but made a call on an impossible decision. Hopefully, the next few months will prove the wisdom of that choice. There were and are real risks to the Italian economy no matter who is in charge. It is to be hoped that cool heads will prevail, but Italy has seismic cultural and political divisions that will need leaders willing to unite, rather than divide. It is yet another first world crisis that highlights the possibly fatal fault lines in Italian political system.

Information Warfare

The rise of the bot is not quite how we saw the future of the internet from those distant days twenty years ago. If you’d been told an army of fake accounts could swing an election in the US and change the course of a momentous referendum to leave the European Union, you’d have been surprised by how mundane it all sounded. There would be no need for a Room 101, for the most part, no robot overlords would be required. Instead, it would appeal to prejudices which just needed to be brought to the surface. Russia under Putin, and other bad actors, recognized not just the importance of fake news, but the importance of fake people. Propaganda has existed since the Greeks, but social media allows for such instant amplification of malicious information so that the fire-fighting to dampen it down is a huge demand on resources. People like Trump may or may not end up disgraced or behind bars, but the information warfare that brought him to the White House will continue. It can be challenged by democrats, and education is the key. It is here to stay, though, and that is one of the many tests faced by constitutionalists in the coming years.

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Amber Rudd’s Departure, Lying for the Liar-in Chief, Centrist Yearnings

April 30, 2018 Leave a comment

Rudd Leaves But Backs Remain

The resignation of Amber Rudd shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, even if the timing, late on a Sunday evening, was somewhat unexpected. She had come under sustained pressure for her handling of the ‘Windrush Affair’(whereby descendants of the Afro-Caribbean 1948 generation were treated as non-citizens) which left her open to the charge of not being up to her brief. The Home Office has been the graveyard of many an ambitious politician, and little seems to have changed (the office of state being split into two has not stopped the dysfunction on the operations side of things) since John Reid labeled the department as unfit for purpose. But there are other implications with her firing too.

There is, with all the Brexit insanity, and a consuming of nearly all substantial government time, a balance in Theresa May’s cabinet between Remainers and Brexiteers. Rudd is one of the former and was a strong advocate for a remain vote in the 2016 referendum. While her replacement, Sajid Javid, also campaigned to stay in the European Union, she was someone prepared to be vocal in her opposition to some of Boris Johnson’s wilder forays. She is, despite the policies she had to stand over, a liberal by inclination.

There’s the hope that Rudd will have the freedom on the backbenches to speak up even more now that she has lost ministerial responsibility. She’s certainly a voice that needs to be heard on Europe. Yet, she has to carry the can for a government department that seems to have targeted British citizens for the colour of their skin. Sajiid Javid has a full in-tray today. His main aim should be to change the tone of the department. It is doubtful if he has the backing, though, to make Britain truly a more tolerant place for those seeking to live there.

Lying for the Liar-in-Chief

The latest Trump flare-up was for once something he didn’t do himself. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House Spokeswoman who has barely gone a day telling the truth, was supposedly personally belittled by comedienne Michelle Wolf at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Andrea Mitchell, Maggie Haberman and other grandees of the inside-baseball club that pass for fearless, incorruptible reporters, took umbrage at what they claimed were remarks made about Sanders’ appearance. If you play the tape, you’ll see that the remarks were at worst ambiguous, and can just as easily be applied to Sanders’ behavior as Trump’s serial liar in chief.

And here in lies the rub. There are some excellent journalists who were at that dinner, and weren’t, who rightly pointed out that if you’re offended by some remarks about Sanders, where were you for the last two years as Trump’s bullying and racism went lower and lower? It’s possible to personalize this even more; some of those correspondents are paid many multiples of most of their colleagues. What do they offer? Access. And how do they keep that access? By pretending that Sanders is just a normal press officer doing her job.

They need to wake up. America is still in big trouble. Only Robert Mueller and the November elections stand between the fight back of democratic norms, and the consolidation of authoritarian power in the three branches of American government. Sarah Sanders is fair game for any criticism. She is an apologist and propagandist for the bully-in-chief. Trump’s modus operandi is to punch low and hard. Sure, you can aim high. But if you aim high all the time, he will steam roll you, just as he did with most of the US press who were unable to challenge his lies. He played them for suckers, and won.

Centrist Musings

The recent Observer story about plans to start up a centre party based around remain, retro third-wayism, and liberal social policies, highlighted just how much there may be a yearning for an alternative, but that the practicalities of setting up such a party may be insurmountable. While many centrists look across the English channel and admire and wish to emulate Macron’s example, such is the inertia in the Westminster political system, that such an outcome may be a long way away. There is a vehicle for disillusioned remainers out there, and that is the Liberal Democrats. But they may not have the traction to make an electoral breakthrough.

There are moderate Tory voters who are turned off by the hard Brexit rhetoric coming from the leavextremists. Most of the Labour parliamentary Labour party is still soft-left and opposed to Corbynism. Nearly 50% of the country voted to stay in the EU. Sadly, for those who dream of a big-bang change, the legacy of the last centrist start up, the SDP, is not a good one. England is more polarised now than for any time since the 1970s. There is no easy way out of this. Centrists fear things will get worse before they get better.

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Russian Nerve Attack, Danger of Bolton, Brexit Tick-Tock

March 30, 2018 Leave a comment

Putin outside the Pale

The welcome news that Yulia Skripal has recovered consciousness does not negate the seriousness or effect of the attack on her father. The international response to this outrage has been good on the diplomatic front, but lacks real teeth when it comes to tackling the washing of Russian dirty money in the international markets. There is a recognition that Putin has, once again, gone too far, and that he must pay some sort of price for his flagrant flouting of international norms. The man is himself a rogue agent on the world stage, has been given chance after chance in organizations like the G8 and G20, and does not play by any rules of basic decency or constitutionality. He has brought this on himself. Putin still has many defenders in the West who choose to ignore his appalling human rights abuses and the fact that he is a dictator in all but name. Instead, western fellow travelers back him to the hilt because he is an enemy of the liberal international order, and this has become the new bogeyman for both the hard right and the hard left. If we really want to hurt the Putin regime and help the Russian people, supporters of democratic freedoms may have to accept a riskier world as a result. We don’t know for sure what his reaction will be if we go after his ill gotten gains, but we know there may be other incidents like the nerve agent attack. The Kremlin has sought to bully their way in global affairs, be it in Georgia, Ukraine, or Syria. Putin only understands a tough approach and sees the West’s divisions as a sign of its inherent weakness. Now we have an opportunity to try and disprove his cynicism and to stand up for what we believe in.

The Eve of Destruction?

The chances of an accidental or deliberate nuclear conflagration have risen since Trump has announced the appointment of John Bolton to replace HR McMaster as an imminent replacement for HR McMaster. McMaster was considered one of the ‘adults in the room’ in the rogue administration and a steadying influence on Trumpian insanity and ignorance. His replacement is more than the opposite. He is an American foreign power nationalist, holding inflammatory views about intervention in both North Korea and Iran. The hard work that the Obama team did to win the Iran deal will probably be for naught now if Bolton has his way. He may then urge the waging of war on two fronts, with consequences that are impossible to predict to any degree of clarity. His is the counsel of an intemperate, unqualified, and calculating individual. Trump may well, and hopefully will, have his presidency end in impeachment and disgrace, but that is by no means a given. He may well set the wheels in motion that lead to catastrophic consequences for the Korean peninsula or in the Middle East. Bolton will speak comfort and warm words to power when what the not strategically-minded president will lap up as a confirmation of Trump’s own brilliance. The chaotic last fourteen months has confirmed most observer’s worst fears. This is someone who only has his own and his family’s interests at heart. He does not have the capacity for empathy to understand or appreciate nuance. In Bolton, Trump has a soul-mate. A bull in a china shop, arrogant and ignorant. We’re so used to the clown show that we lose sight sometimes of the real dangers, the things we should be scared of. John Bolton is not in post yet. It will be a dangerous time for us all when he is.

May Madness in Going Broke for Brexit

Only a year to go before the United Kingdom is out of the European Union. What’s even stranger is the thought that less than three years ago, it looked as though Ed Miliband was on course to become Prime Minister, and history would have been so different. The May minority government can stop this madness but refuses to do so. It looks like a Eurosceptic Labour party leader may well vote with her anyway when the negotiated settlement comes before parliament. Corbyn’s recent sacking of front bencher Owen Smith over calls for a second referendum shows his natural inclinations. Brexit will happen, and it will go down as one of the biggest strategic errors made in modern times by a major economic power. But as long as the leavers have their blue passports and the other cultural ephemera, they’ll be happy. They’ll be poorer, most of them anyway, and will still blame Europe or ‘foreigners’ for most of their woes, yet they’ll claim they’ve taken back control. Labour needs to stop taking a step forward, step backwards, and represent the real needs of working people, who will be worse off for leaving the EU. The clock is ticking.

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Labour EU gambit & NRA on the run

February 27, 2018 Leave a comment

Labour Soft Brexit puts it up to Tories

The Brexit pendulum has moved markedly in the ‘soft’ direction following Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to favour a customs union. While there are many in Labour who would rather they go further and plump for the single market, it is progress for the majority of MPs and party members who have sought a softening of the leave blow. Half a loaf is sometimes better than no loaf at all.

The Brexit debate in Britain has been marked by enormous indecision and lack of leadership from Theresa May. Her policy seems to have shifted from supporting a customs union, to being against one. It’s as though Boris Johnson’s much derided statement about being pro-cake and pro-eating of cake has now become the fanciful negotiating line. The Brexiteers in cabinet have achieved no trade deals of note, or promises of same. They have been exposed as the charlatans their critics were expecting.

For Labour, Credit has to go to Kier Starmer in particular for holding the line. A relatively new parliamentarian, who is decidedly on the moderate wing, he has managed to temper Corbyn’s natural euro-scepticism, and directed policy in a more reasonable direction. There’s a political advantage to this too. As long as the hard right of the Tory party keep maintaining the not a foot, not an inch, approach to Brexit, the more Labour will seem like a credible alternative. A Labour government is committed to leaving the European Union. But, there’s still the possibility that this will only take place if a referendum on the negotiation outcomes is held. It’s not ideal, but it may be the most that remainers can expect.

The Irish government, for one, will welcome this policy shift, and will, and who would have written this less than two years ago, be rooting for a Corbyn administration. The contempt of the Little England Conservatives for the East-West relationship has been shocking to behold. It’s not really a surprise that they think this way, but it is of huge concern that they hold such sway over Downing Street. They now want to renege on the Good Friday Agreement which would hold them to a minimum of being a member of a customs union arrangement. There are Tories secretly supportive the  Michael Heseltine point of view; unfortunately, they are all too silent, and, among the activists, all too few.

The EU institutions and most member states are weary of the Brexit issue. They want to sideline, to cauterize it, such as was done during the Greek budgetary crisis. The risks of giving the British too good a deal are obvious; what is the point in membership if those outside the club are better off out than in? Those who voted leave may not immediately rue the day, but there will be a substantial cost to their folly. Remainers will hope to get back into the EU sooner rather than later. This is in all our interests.

Parkland Students Take On NRA while Trump Blusters

Another school shooting, and another grotesquely inappropriate reaction from the current US president. The shootings in Florida by a Trump supporter (his social media shows him wearing that totemic MAGA hat) have confirmed how the sociopathic septuagenarian has neither the empathy nor the capacity to deal with the problem of guns in America.

The killings in Parkland led Trump to push for the arming of teachers. No other civilized country has anything like the insane firearm laws that pertain in the US. So bought and sold by the NRA are GOP legislators, that any real measures to stop future school massacres will be hard to pass. But the students in Florida are fighting back. For the first time in decades, the gun lobby is on the defensive. Consumer boycotts are working, and if the 2018 mid-term elections aren’t hacked, then there will be a reckoning.

Trump prides himself on his self-perceived insight into the zeitgeist. He’s in for a rough landing if he believes culture wars will save him from the scope of Robert Mueller’s inquiry. The recent indictment of Russians engaged in disrupting the 2016 campaign shows that the scandal is real, and that, whatever the final outcome, that it is already as big as Watergate. There is no way he gets out of this unscathed. He is a marked man; whether he resigns, or is impeached, the odds are against him running again in 2020. He can count himself lucky if he avoids imprisonment.

While Trump is blustering, Mueller is working away, not leaking. He is focused on the job of going to where the evidence leads. All indications are that it’s inexorably heading to the Oval Office. The apologists for 45 will have to eat a lot of crow in the coming months. This is the year when the Republic strikes back.

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Trump Attacks on the Press, Corbyn’s Purge

January 25, 2018 Leave a comment

Trump’s Dangerous Game

The recent arrest of a right wing extremist for planning a massacre of CNN journalists in their corporate headquarters should be a massive wake up call to any still complacent about Trump’s war on the press. He has attacked the fourth estate in virulent terms for much of the last two years.

The press in the US is far from perfect. The New York Times ran with the ludicrously over-hyped Clinton email story, putting it equal to, or above in importance, to Trump’s collusion with Russia. But responsible journalists, and much of the oft maligned main stream media, have tried to hold power to account, to react as quickly as possible to a daily torrent of lies from the White House, and to try to make sense of a president that is a stranger to the truth. Reporters who try to do their job are under siege, and things could get worse before they get better.

As the Mueller investigation leads towards what many see as its’ eventual denouement, namely the collection and presentation of a vast amount of evidence against 45 and his team of hucksters, the attacks on the credibility of the press will increase. The official spokeswoman degrades here office every time she opens her mouth. In a country with tens of millions of guns, she raises the threat level of journalists closing in on her boss. But she is just her master’s voice. Behind it all, terrified of a lifetime of lying finally being unravelled, sits the illegitimate president.

He likes countries where the press does the bidding of the powerful. He prefers leaders who neuter their critics. By allowing conspiracy theory websites and Breitbart into the briefing room, he is actively promoting the alternative facts one of his court jesters was so rightly derided for advocating. He is what he is, and will never change. Republicans on the Hill, however, should, and do, know better. Theirs is the failure of leadership, of any form of moral courage, in their failure to speak out. The noble exceptions do not gainsay the rule.

The worry is that Trump has so stoked up the hornets’ nest of NRA and white supremacy in the USA, that even his departure, and/or impeachment, which while not inevitable, is likely, will fail to stop attacks on the press move up the scale, from verbal, to fatal. America is better than this. Unfortunately, a large part of it isn’t.

Let the Moderates be Left (Alone)

The hard left of the Labour party is in the ascendant. The party’s national executive committee is being taken over by former Militant Tendency sympathisers. The battle the soft left thought had been fought and won in the 1980s is on again.

The party has always been a broad church. From the Russell Square Fabians, to the Durham Miners, there’s been a span of class, culture, wealth, and education within the movement. Kinnock did the heavy lifting against the Trots, and laid the way for the liberal democracy of the Blair years. The achievements of Blair and Brown were significant, and worthy. But Iraq was fatal to the New Labour legacy. Many activists genuinely wanted greater party democracy and some were even prepared to give Jeremy Corbyn, that unlikeliest of leaders, a chance. The results of the 2017 election will have left those activists satisfied with the way thing are going.

But at what price? There’s already talk of a ‘hit-list’ of Labour moderates. The hard left is openly calling for their de-selection. The critics of the leader are in real political danger. Some have resigned, some are focusing on Brexit as a way of channelling their energy away from internecine fighting. They are up against it. The hard left know how to take power at local level and hold on to it. When targeting a local branch, life just becomes to unpleasant for on the ground members and moderate representatives. Many will just leave.

The Corbynistas may prefer to be a party of the streets than one of parliament. But that is not where the history of Labour lies. The coalition that the party was founded on included trade unions, liberals, intellectuals, Christian socialists, and radicals. Parliament was where the great strides of the Atlee government were made, where Wilson encouraged the white heat of technology, where Blair gave more money in real terms to the NHS than ever before. The parliamentarians who drove these changes weren’t doctrinaire Marxists or supporters of the radical-chic. They were mainly centre left MPs who saw change as being mostly democratic rather than revolutionary,

The last two years has been ludicrously unstable in western democracies. While the cobbled together Tory administration seems to stagger from one crisis to the next, who would say for definite that Jeremy Corbyn will one day be Prime Minister? But even if he does become PM, the ends of achieving that do not justify the means of purging the moderates.

 

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