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The ‘moderate tendency’ and the entitlement delusion

mcnicol

A terrible affront to democracy has taken place in full view of Britain’s ‘free press’ and they have turned a collective blind eye. Estimates suggest that as many as 180,000 Labour Party members have been denied a vote in the leadership election, either as a result of suspension or expulsion, or because they joined the Party after January 2016. A further 60,000 simply didn’t receive a ballot paper. It is widely accepted that the overwhelming majority of these are supporters of Jeremy Corbyn.

For the print and broadcast media to ignore this gross injustice is bad enough, but it goes much further than that. They have actually been complicit in it. The BBC in particular has been at the forefront in laying down covering fire for bureaucratic attempts to nobble the election. They have routinely peddled unsubstantiated stories about plots, intimidation, misogyny and anti-semitism.

During a recent episode of the Beeb’s Question Time programme, Corbyn ally and Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell was subjected to what, in my view, can only be described as bullying and harassment, while the shows ‘moderator’ failed to ensure any semblance of balance. Newspapers did elect to report the heated exchanges, but only in the context of backstage comments McDonnell is alleged to have directed at fellow panellist Alistair Campbell.

campbell

Shows like Panorama and Channel 4’s Dispatches have sought to create a perception, in the eyes of the public, that there exists a culture of chaos and fear inside the Labour Party, while laying the blame for this squarely at door of Jeremy Corbyn and his supporters. To call their evidence flimsy, would be an understatement. In truth their ‘undercover expose’ found absolutely nothing, but somehow they managed to make activists seem sinister, by using peculiar camera angles and eerie music.

In 21st century Britain we have the spectacle of journalistic ‘entryists’ infiltrating what are completely open and transparent meetings and uncovering such horrors  as ‘Trotskyist creches’, or as many of us would call them, creches. We have been informed that activists on the left have been campaigning to replace people who don’t represent their views, by recruiting new members and convincing them to vote for left-wing candidates instead.

None of this is actually news. In fact there’s a more accurate term for this sort of thing; they call it democracy. After all, if its not democratic for members to organise themselves in order to ensure they are represented by people who share their views, then how does the N.E.C. deal with ‘Saving Labour’s’ campaign to recruit thousands to their cause, in order to ensure a victory for Owen Smith? Or is this only undemocratic when the left do it?

Of course there’s a reason why the ‘moderate tendency’ within the party cry plots and takeovers every time their positions are under threat; its because this is actually how they took control of Labour back in the 1990’s. In case you were under the impression that the massed rank and file dreamt up the concept of ‘New Labour’ and the resultant lurch to the right, let me put you straight. This whole project was cooked up by a small group of determined individuals operating out of Labour’s headquarters at Millbank Tower.

As a consequence over time membership plummeted, allowing this wing of the party to exert ever greater control. In the same period conference was reduced to little more than an annual rally, decisions about policy and the selection of prospective parliamentary candidates have been increasingly the preserve of the centre and a powerful bureaucracy has emerged that now sees its self as the first and last word on all matters. What’s more it behaves in ways that suggests it has an absolute right to be in control.

This sense of entitlement, coupled with the belief that somehow the market on truth has been cornered, is both delusional and extremely dangerous. To suggest that opponents are living in the past, while at the same time aggressively advocating a doctrine that is now thirty years old, is indeed odd. But its is deeply worrying when it leads to the stifling of debate, closing down meetings and silencing alternative viewpoints. In doing so, they demostrate that the title ‘moderate’ when applied to them, is an epic misnomer.

Ordinary members and in particular new recruits, many of them young and enthusiastic, have been treated appallingly. Instead of being warmly welcomed, they have been smeared and treated with derision. They should have been viewed as the foundations of a future General Election victory, instead every attempt has been made, including through the courts, to exclude them from the democratic process.

Recently Owen Smith’s campaign team have been boasting that the vote will be much closer than anticipated; despite polls that suggests Corbyn is on course for an even bigger victory than he achieved a year ago. What could explain such hubris? Could it be anything to do with the unprecedented purge of Jeremy’s supporters?

dispatches

Of course if you are a Smith supporter, or an opponent of Labour, you may not care about any of this. You really should though, and here’s why. The tumult inside the UK Labour Party is an illustration of how narrow the political discourse in our country has become. It shows what can happen to anyone who puts forward an alternative perspective, and it’s not pretty.

When you strip away the hyperbole, the lies and the distortions, what have Corbyn and his allies actually done to merit such attacks? Surely opponents claims of incompetence can no longer be taken seriously, when they are made by the perpetrators of a gaffe riddled coup. How can we give credence to questions of electability, when his detractors have risked handing the city of Bristol to the Tories, as a result of a purge of Corbyn supporting councillors.

Furthermore, how hollow do accusations of misogyny seem, when weighed against the fact that two thirds of female Labour members support the current leader, while his opponent talks of smashing women ‘back on their heels’ and shutting up female opponents with gobstoppers.

In fact once you discount all of this nonsense, you are left with one extremely unpalatable truth. Far from being a threat to our security and prosperity, Corbyn is simply guilty of challenging the perceived wisdom of the permanent political class. He is a threat to their status and power, and they have shown that they will stop at nothing to undermine and destabilise his leadership.

Today it is Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn in the firing line, but what if tomorrow the illusive centre ground of British politics shifts a little further to the right? What happens if you find yourself out on a left-wing limb? Consider groups like the junior doctors, once held in high esteem, now pilloried and demonised as Marxists and trouble-makers, hell-bent on overthrowing the government. Could that be you one day? If we don’t stand up for democratic principles in the Labour Party now, it could well be.

The subversion of democracy, even when it seeks to damage those we disagree with, harms all of us. Whether you support Jeremy Corbyn or not, if you believe in the values of fairness and justice, you should be outraged at the behaviour of the ‘moderate tendency’ and their delusional sense of entitlement.

54 Comments »

      • I’d just like to echo Daryl’s comment.Nice one Jeff.It would be nice if the majority of the UK could understand just what’s really going on but unfortunately the huge media brainwahing machine seems to be quite effective.How you beat that,I don’t know.Keep plugging away and hope that it gathers ‘momentum.’

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Chillingly correct. But the greater public are totally unaware of what is happening to democracy in the LP and generally in the country. How we change that perception when we are up against such entrenched corruption with such a tenacious hold on the machinery of deception, I really do not know.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My worry is about how damaging this is to Labour’s chances of winning an election in 2020. The vote of no confidence could have repercussions well after the leadership race. Together with the continued attack on internal democracy that paints too many of the newer and returning members as not welcome in the Labour Party and have been so badly handled by some of the MP’s, the party hierarchy and some older figures of yesteryear, like Neil “Two defeats” Kinnock. Excellent article, Jeff!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I so agree with everything you have said Jeff. I have been shocked at the manner in which Labour supporters of Jeremy have been hounded, lies told about them, Momentum pilloried and yet there is still no evidence that any of these claims are true, despite every effort some people have gone to, in order to blacken everything connected with Jeremy. You really have summed up what so many people must be feeling today. Thankyou.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Jeff, This is so right. It is what I keep banging on about. If we don’t stand up now and ensure democracy wins through, then we will have Conservative right wing and Labour Right wing vying for power, forever. The NEC has broken the NEC’s own rules concerning suspensions and expulsions and it has also broken the Data Protection Laws. When the “data collector” gathers information he/she must use that information with “fairness”. No fairness equals illegal use of data. What we need, I think, is to collect enough money (Crowdfunding) to get the help of one of the best barristers in the land, Mike Mansfield, and fight this stuff through the court. I really & truly believe what we are seeing is the beginnings of an Orwellian police state. Thank you Jeff for all you have said here. I have tweeted it and hopefully a lot of people will read it and RT it. Cheers.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. A lot of your hypothesis is an exact description of the treatment the left social democratic SNP and Indy supporters have suffered at the very sane hands.
    The British Establishment has,and continues to smear and demonize those in Scotland that reject the Neo Con policies of successive British Governments.
    Scottish Independence is about fairness,democracy and decency,a rejection of austerity and patronage.
    The absolute pillars of the Establishment Corbyn is taking to task.
    Indeed before his terrible performance on his day trip to Scotland Corbyn was receiving more backing and support from SNP voters than SLAB in Scotland
    He then spoke and demonized and smeared Scottish Indy Movement.
    His support melted overnight.
    He needs to realise he has more in common with SNP ,than he does with the Blairite Scottish Labour wing that is now nothing more than a fringe rump.
    As long as Scotland remains in the Union he needscto reach out to the hand offered not bite it.

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree with much of your analysis. In particular I think Labour needs to recognise and understand that Scottish Nationalism is not the same as it’s narrow right wing equivalent in England. As you say I see the Indy movement in Scotland as being about social justice and democracy. It is way to the left of SLAB. Scottish and English socialists of all persuasions now need to accept new reality and work together where there is common purpose and perhaps JCS attempts to maintain unity within party influenced his rhetoric. I’d hope any damage isn’t irreparable however Indy movement probably needs to also understand that while socialists in England like me support your right to self determination and independence – we would prefer to have our Scots brothers and sisters fighting with us to transform government on this Island. We worry it will be harder if we separate although I can understand your position.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. It’s been like this for 30-odd years. They simply do not want anyone to the Left of Ghenghis Khan (literally, in the case of Blair!) anywhere near power, or even opposition. If he was elected, there’d probably be a coup. Like in Chile.

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  7. Jeff, your piece is a superb analysis of what is happening and it really is a fight for democracy with Jeremy Corbyn representing those who cherish every voice as having value. I think I would agree with Rod about how the establishment and MSM treated those who championed an independent Scotland in the same way Corbyn supporters are treated now. The whole thing reminds me of that poem by Martin Niemoller “first they came for the Jews” only in this case we can now see how others were marked out for this type of treatment in the past, Irish nationalists, miners, the People of Liverpool, Socialists, Scottish Nationalists, the poor, the disabled, refugees, junior doctors and Jeremy Corbyn supporters. Thank God there are people like Jeremy Corbyn to stand up for the less well off and vulnerable in our society.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Jeff, although I agree with your analysis and accept that the evidence you put before us (of media bias etc) is valid, I am going to protest your telling me what I should feel (“you should feel outraged at the behaviour of the moderate tendency and their delusional sense of entitlement”).

    There are things that irk me, things that annoy me and – possibly – some things that outrage me, but I don’t need nor do I appreciate your telling me how I should feel.
    Although I understand your passion, and that you may feel personally outraged, but your use of the word “should” is immoderate and uncalled-for. I find it directive and tending to the oppressive. There, I’ve said it. I do hope you will not take offence.

    My bottom line is this: I want to be able to choose for myself what moves to me outrage. Experience tells me that extremes of emotion are not a sound platform from which to launch action to mitigate oppression and to expose hypocrisy.

    At awkward time like this I suggest we stay calm and reasonable. Like Jeremy, who is (as we all agree) our best exemplar, guide and leader.

    Again, I hope my comments will be charitably read as they have been charitably framed. Yours fraternally, Peter

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Today especially I am upset by the sham of the so called democratic process – our votes are our voices and when we are silenced, discredited and disenfranchised it hurts. You put it so well – it hurts us all. I haven’t yet been purged or expelled and have voted in the leadership contest, but nevertheless I am enraged and outraged that so many other LP members/supports have been denied their vote. Although you haven’t told me how to feel, you have eloquently articulated everything I am feeling. A brilliantly worded yet measured article, and somehow reassuringly validating. Thank you!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I don’t want to be needlessly argumentative, Melanie, but I think our use of language on public media is important. Our critics can seize on every word we use and turn it against us. Jeff’s use of the word “should” – as in “Whether you support Jeremy Corbyn or not, if you believe in the values of fairness or justice, you SHOULD be outraged….” suggests that not to be outraged is not to believe in the values of fairness or justice. I am not outraged. I don’t expect the opposition to Jeremy’s position to be anything but dirty, discreditable and unfair. In my long life as a socialist and an activist I have come to expect it, but I am not resigned to it. It’s what they do. But I don’t rise to that kind of bait, it’s what they want.

      You may well feel outraged,as may Jeff. But neither of you are entitled to expect me to be outraged. My strategy and my tactics don’t include outrage, still less declaring it. Perhaps I am more subtle, you tell me.

      The ‘man and woman in the street’ isn’t going to response warmly to our expressions of outrage on their behalf. Solidarity means calm, reasonable and measured action to deal with injustice, exploitation and falsehood. Leave the sloganising to the gutter press and other oppressive and authoritarian outlets, it’s what they do, not us, not Jeremy..

      Fraternally yours, Peter

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think to be fair Peter, and I accept and understand your points, that was not my intention at all. Language is important and I am happy to provide clarification if that helps. I am asserting that in my view this IS an outrage and that I feel others should, if also be outraged, for the reasons I set out in the piece. That is my view, however I don’t believe that people who choose not to get too upset about it value democracy any less. The key is not how upset I get or anybody else gets for that matter, but what we do about it. I hope you understand that I made that comment in the context of a very subjective blog post. It is an opinion piece and there to be held up or shot down. That’s the beauty of democratic debate, which is sadly being oppressed in the Labour Party. I am outraged by it – I think others should be too – but I will respect good comrades like you, who believe in values of fairness and social justice, irrespective of whether they agree with my personal perspective.

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      • Thanks for the careful attention given to my comments, Jeff. I value yours, and your call to action which I agree is the way forward..

        Just to give this discussion a bit more wind, how do you respond to this argument of mine, which is framed in the same way as your original one.statement?

        “Whether we agree with the justness of the war in Afghanistan or not, if you believe in the values of fairness and social justice, you should be outraged that greedy civilans in Afghanistan are able to hire lawyers to accuse our brave soldiers of atrocities against them, when they were defending us against the Taliban and other terrorists who would do us harm.”

        “I am outraged at this, and so should others be (including you), but I still respect you if you aren’t”

        Liked by 1 person

      • I see what you are saying and that’s an interesting and provocative thought exercise. My response would be that I have issues with the substance of that statement, based on the fact that it seems to be based on a number of unsupported assumptions. That said I am not upset by your assertion that I should be equally outraged as I understand that is based on your interpretation. I’m fairly ambivalent on your use of should in that sense. It is more the substance of the argument that I take issue with.

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  10. As you spotted, I don’t believe any part of that statement about greedy civilians etc. It is made up of stuff I read in the paper, which I recognise is biased against those Afghanis who may well have legitimate claims of torture or ill-treatment by our troops. Of course any impartial observer would recognise that not all claims will turn out to be legitimate. They need to be tested in the courts. Human nature and a wish to be compensated without legal cause inhabits Afghanis just as much as those Brits who falsely claim whip-lash compensation.

    But your own comments also used generalisations/assumptions e.g. about people being deluded etc which are neither impartial nor testable (except by a psychiatrist perhaps; the word delusion has a specific medical meaning and should not be used as a term of abuse). So I created a thought-exercise as a challenge to anyone who thinks that solidarity means being willng think like the herd, and be outraged like the rest of the fair-minded in society, and made to feel like an out-rider, “on the fringes”, or a weirdo because they dissent.

    Now, I thought it was the Tories (and the anti-Corbyn gang) who had claimed “People Who Do The Right Thing” for themselves. I shall be very disappointed if those of you who support Jeremy take the same moral position on what other supporters SHOULD think and feel. May I suggest you think again about what you mean when you tell others they SHOULD do something. You did do this, even if it was unwittingly, and I hope you may have the good grace to admit it, and (perhaps) avoid using it in the same way.

    Cordially yours, Peter

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    • Yes I realised that the statement didn’t represent your views. The use of the word delusion in my piece was intended to describe a belief in something that has no basis in reality and not as a psychiatric diagnosis, as I’m sure you realise. Indeed a recent study reported in New Scientist suggests that delusional thoughts are common in general population – I suspect I have some too. The research quoted demonstrates as many as 90% of us have such ideas. Understanding ntent is very important when analysing language and I’m grateful you chose to challenge so that I may explain mine. Yes my piece contains untested opinion – that’s the purpose of my blog to share my mental model and I welcome alternative perspectives. I sometimes change my views based on the arguments of others and sometimes my views are strengthenrd in the debate. I hope, if you can’t accept the language I use, you can st least accept my intent was honourable

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      • I do so accept and I value your blog and your insights. As much as anything I admire your willingness to debate respectfully and thoughtfully with a critic as much as with an admirer. Our discussion encourages me lots about our common struggle towards a fully participative movement and party committed to action as well as words. Fraternally yours, Peter 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Jenny I appreciate the sentiment. Thanks for taking time to comment – not sure MSM would be willing to publish my work. I get the biggest buzz from fact that people like you read and comment on my stuff that’s good enough for me 😊

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  11. Yeah. Good stuff. But the fundamental question remains. .how to sell the old fashioned truth of the fight between the haves and the have nots. And how that actually works financially. Why should we not have a victorian based railway system when italy and most of Europe have subsidised systems? Well that argument falls down because most of Europe is bankrupt. …why can’t we control the multinationals and have fair wages?.. you tell me.. why are zero hours contracts actually bloody legal?… you tell me. Why are innocent people in Syria getting killed? .. you tell me.. why are faith systems who believe in some instances my book fictional deity arguing about how to dress and in somerror cases trying to inflict their beliefs on the rest of the world. In other cases being penalised for it. Personally I am on the verge of giving up hope for the future of humanity. We all seem to be too stupid to survive. Love and good night.

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    • I understand your despair – but you could easily be describing the problems of the 1930’s there. Europe was bankrupt at end of WW2 and the defecit was far greater than today – yet we solved this problems, created welfare state, universal education, NHS, housing and nationalisation. It’s about choices – we are 6th richest nation in the world – we have money for war and trident why not for housing the homeless or properly funding NHS? Keep the faith

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  12. Please provide evidence of these numbers? Particularly the 60,000 ballot papers. You also know that majority of those excluded was done in a democratic process by the NEC. That’s politics. Also everyone that thinks JC and his team are incompetent aren’t one homogeneous group, it’s disingenuous to pretend it is. If we have a hope of winning any election then we need to stop making excuses and blaming everyone else. The MSM isn’t going to change because we think they’re bias. We have to be more effective in managing them and our message or find an effective way of bypassing it. And either deselect MP’s or find a way of leading them effectively. This is politics. Years of Labour members whining about each other and the corrupt MSM isn’t going to win shit

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    • I’ll advise you to do your own research there is a great deal of evidence in the MSM to back those numbers up and I’m not going to argue that which isn’t contested. The high Court case it’s self was about attempting to get 130,000 who joined after Jan the right to vote. You say this was part of a democratic process but Im yet to see any evidence to support that assertion. Many members are still waiting for an explanation while others have had social media accounts searched for “evidence”. As for your other points – you are entitled to them and I’ll leave them here as your rebuttal and allow others to decide.

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      • But we all knew about the 130,000,they were voted on by the nec, i disagreed, but you present it together with an inflated figure of those barred as if it’s all new. The 60,000 ballot papers is a major part of your article and you want me to check the msm to verify it? The same msm which you slag off as biased. This is more conspiracy theories for the echo chamber i think.

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      • But they still had their vote taken away retrospectively when Corbyn had left the meeting. They had been told they could vote when they joined only to be denied it later far from a democratic process. Surely I have the right to comment on that whether it makes you uncomfortable or not?

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  13. Spot on article, if Labour don’t win the next GE it will not be because of JC and Momentum but because of the rabid Right proclaiming the party is unelectable …talk about a self fulfilling prophecy ! I’m really starting to believe that the Blairites don’t actually want to win as a) the Tories are doing what they would do if they won, b) they might have to do some actual work for once in their lives!

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    • Hi Paul, if Labour don’t win at the next election we shall have no-one to blame but ourselves. Blaming the rabid Right wing is a cop-out, old pal. Doing so at this juncture, before an election has been called, will be seen as a sign of weakness, a defeatist “self-fulfilling prophecy” as you pointed out yourself.

      An excellent antidote to despair is Paul Mason’s recent article “Find each other and act – Twelve principles for a new-Bevinite left.”: it’s a suggested blue-print for action we can each take to make the Party electable, despite all the opposition the others will want to throw at us, and will. Unfortunately I can’t set a link to the article here, perhaps Jeff might help. But the election will definitely be a challenge like no other. Keep the faith, be positive and do your bit, Paul.

      Let’s avoid negativity and let’s be careful what we say and write on social media that anyone can visit. No more “if we lose…….”, eh?

      Pete

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  14. You have the right to say whatever you like. It doesn’t make me uncomfortable if you want to delude yourself. But I think it’s wrong to mislead other people, including people I know who sent me the link. If you say 180,000 excluded or suspended, make it clear your including the group that were voted on by the NEC, not presenting it otherwise. You mention 60000 ballots going missing yet provide no evidence at all. When challenged about the facts you say check the MSM despite opening your article with “A terrible affront to democracy has taken place in full view of Britain’s ‘free press’ and they have turned a collective blind eye”. You have a few thousand subscribers and it is important not to perpetuate myth and innuendo to people even if it emboldens you. There’s enough heat and not enough light in the political sphere at the moment and this does nothing to enlighten anyone.

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