If @UKLabour lasts a 1,000 years then May 1940 will always be one of its finest hours … There is no Left or Right in a foxhole @JeremyCorbyn … What Would #Labour’s Bevin Have Thought of #Corbyn’s Request for My Views on #Syria

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If Labour lasts a 1,000 years then May 1940 will always be one its finest hours …
There is no Left or Right in a foxhole Jeremy Corbyn …

I am convinced he would have thought twice about extending the Royal Air Force’s strikes from Iraq into Syria, but I am even more convinced that he would shape any response to ISIS in the terms of this philosophy that he expounded in 1950:

“Foreign policy is a thing you have to bring down to its essence as it applies to an individual. It is something that is great and big: it is common sense and humanity as it applies to my affairs and to yours, because it is somebody and somebody’s kindred that are being persecuted and punished and tortured, and they are defenceless. That is a fact.”

I mention Bevin for two reasons, he is more in tune with those who vote Labour today than is Jeremy Corbyn and he was in very much the same position in his own day. He also persuaded the Labour Leader of his time, considered to be the one with whom Corbyn has the most in common, to resign as Leader of the Labour Party.

He addressed George Lansbury thus:

“You are placing … the movement in an absolutely wrong position by hawking your conscience round from body to body asking to be told what to do with it.”

They say history repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce. Is Corbyn now setting the stage for a farce? Bevin ended the tragedy of the early 1930s thus:

“(George) Lansbury has been going about dressed in saint’s clothing for years waiting for martyrdom. I set fire to the faggots.”

Lansbury’s successor was Major Clement Attlee.

I am ever more certain that Corbyn does not look at how policy, foreign or domestic, applies to an individual. He thinks in terms of abstracts.

Corbyn recently said, “How dare Cameron’s Conservatives pretend that they speak for Britain.” I assume that this was an attempt to challenge any suggestion that Corbyn, personally, is unpatriotic. Corbyn went on to remark:

“We stand for this country’s greatest traditions: the suffragettes and the trade unions.. the Britain of Mary Wollstonecraft, Shelley, Alan Turing and the Beatles… and perhaps our finest Olympian – and a Somalian refugee – Mo Farah.. an Arsenal fan of course.

And for the working people of this country who fought fascism.. built the welfare state.. and turned this land into an industrial powerhouse.

The real patriots.”

Setting aside the fact that Corbyn’s idiosyncratic list is one requiring many footnotes, he succeeds in making his definition of patriotism an exclusive one. He divides when he should be seeking to unite, even in the margins of quite a lengthy, rambling speech. Please, Seumas Milne, I beg of you, get Jeremy Corbyn enrolled on some public speaking and presentational skills courses, pronto! And fire his speechwriters whilst you are it!

Corbyn could not, it seems, bring himself around to put the case, the extremely credible case, that, without the support of Major Attlee and Arthur Greenwood in May 1940, Winston Churchill might well have been forced to sue for terms with Hitler by the leaders of the rump of the Conservative Party, Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax. Churchill, supported by Attlee as his Deputy Prime Minister, went on to lead a coalition of all the political parties, represented in the House of Commons. Any other Leader of the Labour Party, except seemingly Corbyn, may cite the history of the darkest days of 1940 to show just how patriotic the Labour Party is when it really matters. One in the eye, surely, for Tories like Cameron?  Tories, who have much more in common with a Halifax than a Churchill, but not one in the eye for many a Conservative voter who would, I am sure, recognise the contribution that Labour made, alongside their chosen party, in defeating Nazism.  There is no Left or Right in a foxhole.

On 2 September 1939, Neville Chamberlain spoke in a Commons debate and said, in effect, that he was not declaring war on Germany immediately for having invaded Poland. This non declaration greatly angered Leo Amery, a Conservative Member of Parliament present in the House at that moment, and was felt by many present to be out of touch with the temper of the British people. As Labour Party Leader Clement Attlee was absent, Arthur Greenwood stood up in his place and announced that he was speaking for Labour. Amery called out to him across the floor, “Speak for England!” —which carried the undeniable implication that Chamberlain was not. England then meant the United Kingdom.

Corbyn now has the chance to speak for the UK (and not just Islington Man and Woman), to craft a compromise that would put him at the head of the Labour Party and allow him to create a (temporary) coalition within the House of Commons to defeat David Cameron’s plan to extend the Royal Air Force’s strikes from Iraq into Syria. He must, however, do more than merely oppose the Government. He must stop adopting the persona of a rather irritated headmaster of a third rate prep school, who, a few months off retirement, is wearily having to correct, once more, the homework of the school dunce. He might start by arguing that extending the RAF’s operations into Syria would be a diminution of force, a weakening of its efforts in Iraq, and that its schwerpunkt, its main effort, should remain Iraq and Iraq alone.

Corbyn must also accept that he is not only the Leader of the Labour Party, but the Leader of the Opposition, a role which requires him to make alliances across party lines, if he is to be effective. He must articulate an alternative course of action around which his party may unite and which will attract the support of the other opposition parties and those members of the Conservative Party, who are doubtful of the arguments presented to date by David Cameron. Corbyn must accept the fact that until now he has managed to do what Miliband never did, make Cameron look statesmanlike!

If Corbyn needs any advice about how to build a consensus on a single issue then he need look no further than Labour’s leadership in the House of Lords, but of course the party there is headed by a woman and Jeremy shares David’s disease, when it comes to women. If he needs advice about what might constitute an effective considered amendment to that being put down by Cameron then he should consult with, not lecture, his colleagues in the Shadow Cabinet and Parliamentary Labour Party. He should speak with the leaders of the other opposition parties, including Nicola Sturgeon; experienced statesmen like Lord Ashdown; foreign affairs and defence experts and last, but not least, representatives of the victims of ISIS.

Corbyn must not think, for one moment, that his 50:50, Phone a Friend and/or Ask the Audience approach is anything, but an abrogation of his responsibilities as the leader of the Labour Party, his own 21st Century take on Lansbury’s “hawking” his “conscience round from body to body asking to be told what to do with it.”

Corbyn needs to understand and seek to address the genuine concerns and positions being taken up by MPs, like Chuka Umunna. Umunna has said he would vote on his conscience whatever the leadership decides and is minded to vote in favour of the government’s plans:

“My own personal view is that where are our national security is threatened it would be wrong simply to leave it to others to deal with it. We can’t ignore the barbarity of this death cult, who throw gay people off buildings, systematically rape women, [and] carry out mass executions. Now, do I think that military action – and by the way I am minded to support military intervention, but we have yet to see the wording of the motion – is going to resolve this conflict? Of course not. Do I think it is the only solution? Of course not. But what I do think it can do in the interim is … start to dismantle what Isil are doing.”

Corbyn may be paralysed by Iraq, but others genuinely fear that inaction may have worse consequences than action. No one, I am sure, wants to see any reruns of what happened in, for example, Rwanda. Yes, the deaths there were on a massive scale and one hopes unrepeatable, but then how often before has the human race said that? Moreover, one preventable death is one too many and to misquote Harold Wilson, to the murdered man or woman, murder is 100%.

Corbyn runs the risk of not just portraying the Labour Party, under his leadership, as unpatriotic, but as a national socialist party. A party for whom troubling issues in faraway countries, of which we know little and care less, are best left to media columnists, those with views of disturbing certainty, and the echo chambers of the Internet. Such an isolationist policy is similar to that advocated by Farage. The Labour Party of Bevin was, as is today’s, an internationalist socialist party. Bevin spoke for the many not the few and, especially the working classes when he said, “I’m not going to have my people treated like this!” The people of whom he was speaking at that moment? They were the Jews and trades unionists being persecuted by the Nazis.

Corbyn’s indulgence of the (self appointed) fascists of Momentum (aka New, New Labour’s Sturmabteilung or Thought Police) and their bully boy tactics provides unwanted echoes of the 1930s and is a sure fire recipe for splitting the support that brought him to power. Momentum’s bend your conscience to our way of thinking or face deselection approach is not endearing itself to many who voted for Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party. People, who I am convinced, believe in freedom of conscience, even for elected politicians.

Will Momentum, the militant wing of the Stop the War Coalition, soon don (ethically sourced) oatmeal coloured hair shirts in order to police Labour Party meetings? Many of them are not Labour Party members and would fall foul of its rules, if they tried to join the party today, but will that obstacle be removed in the coming months as dissatisfaction with Corbyn’s leadership increases and he feels ever more besieged?

Corbyn’s “sudden consultation with party members” is one “for which there is no constitutional basis in the party, and anyway is so haphazardly organised that it cannot be a reliable test of party opinion,” and it “also looks like an effort to ally the leader with the party rank and file against MPs.” In fact, Corbyn’s poll was “statistical junk”.  Yet another example of Corbyn adopting an exclusive, not an inclusive approach which is unlikely to be sustainable in the medium to long term.

Corbyn won the leadership of the Labour Party not a General Election in September 2015. He was elected leader of the Labour Party with 251,485 votes out of the 422,664 cast. The turnout was 76.3% and the total number of eligible voters was 554,272. The party’s national poll ratings are currently around 27%. They are heading towards parity with the polling figures for the Scottish Labour Party, currently at 25%. The Labour Party received 9,347,304 votes on May 7th 2015. Jeremy Corbyn’s 251,485 equates to 2.7% of the voters represented by the Labour Party as a whole.

“A mooted emergency meeting of the national executive, asserting that the terms of the Labour conference motion on Syria have not been met, would also portray him as the party democrat fighting his out of touch MPs.” A viewpoint that may be undermined when people wise up to what Corbyn means when he talks about indicative online polling. Such polls will not result in binding resolutions and may well be ignored, if they produce results which do not accord with the views held by the person who put the poll in the field.

Corbyn is considered to be doing badly or very badly by 13% of those who voted for him as leader and 1% are unsure about him. A 14% drop in support in about 3 months that equates to a decline in support from 59.5% to 51.2%. Does Corbyn really want to be remembered as the Leader of the Labour Party, who ruled, not led the party, with the help of Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and Diane Abbot and the support of intimidatory tactics deployed by Momentum? One might think that Momentum, going on current form, see themselves as the descendants of Mosley’s boot boys.

Chamberlain’s Government fell at the end of the Norway Debate in May 1940. Amery spoke in that debate, “This is what Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation. You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”

Corbyn may face that injunction, possibly from the trades unions, if he does not stop following a Bushite line. Remember if you are not with us then you must be against us? The Labour Party is a broad church and rarely has less than three strands of opinion on any issue. And you may not call yourself a socialist, if unable to start a disagreement about ideology, with yourself, in an empty room!

Oh, and, if you are unfamiliar with the biography of Ernie Bevin, he was a British statesman, trades union leader, and Labour politician. He co-founded and served as General Secretary of the powerful Transport and General Workers’ Union from 1922 to 1940 and as Minister of Labour in the war-time coalition government. He succeeded in maximising the British labour supply, for both the armed services and domestic industrial production, with a minimum of strikes and disruption.

Bevin’s most important role came as Foreign Secretary in the post-war Labour Government, 1945 to 1951. He gained American financial support, strongly opposed Communism, and aided in the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Bevin’s tenure also saw the end of the Mandate of Palestine and the creation of the State of Israel. Bevin was arguably the greatest British Foreign Secretary of the 20th Century. He was, to quote his own words, “A turn up in a million” and he never forgot “it is somebody and somebody’s kindred that are being persecuted and punished and tortured, and they are defenceless. That is a fact.”

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Please sign petition calling on George Osborne to remove the 20% VAT on vet’s bills #LabourDoorstep

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Paul Streeting is a pet owner, who lives on a small income.

Paul’s dog has helped him in lots of ways.  Helped him through some tough times.

Paul finds the 20% VAT on vet operations, a rip off for many pet owners and also many of those who are on small pensions.

Pets are a great comfort to many, including those who live alone, the elderly and people suffering from poor mental health.  Sometimes taking Winston Churchill’s Black Dog for a walk really means going out for a stroll with a four legged friend.

Please spend a couple of minutes and sign Paul’s petition.  And, if you are happy to do that then Paul would be very grateful, if you would encourage other people to put their names to the petition, too.

Thanks!

What Would #Labour’s Bevin Have Thought of #Corbyn’s Request for My Views on #Syria (#SyriaGasAttack)

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I am convinced he would have thought twice about extending the Royal Air Force’s strikes from Iraq into Syria, but I am even more convinced that he would shape any response to ISIS in the terms of this philosophy that he expounded in 1950:

“Foreign policy is a thing you have to bring down to its essence as it applies to an individual. It is something that is great and big: it is common sense and humanity as it applies to my affairs and to yours, because it is somebody and somebody’s kindred that are being persecuted and punished and tortured, and they are defenceless. That is a fact.”

I mention Bevin for two reasons, he is more in tune with those who vote Labour today than is Jeremy Corbyn and he was in very much the same position in his own day. He also persuaded the Labour Leader of his time, considered to be the one with whom Corbyn has the most in common, to resign as Leader of the Labour Party.

He addressed George Lansbury thus:

“You are placing … the movement in an absolutely wrong position by hawking your conscience round from body to body asking to be told what to do with it.”

They say history repeats itself, first as tragedy then as farce. Is Corbyn now setting the stage for a farce? Bevin ended the tragedy of the early 1930s thus:

“(George) Lansbury has been going about dressed in saint’s clothing for years waiting for martyrdom. I set fire to the faggots.”

Lansbury’s successor was Major Clement Attlee.

I am ever more certain that Corbyn does not look at how policy, foreign or domestic, applies to an individual. He thinks in terms of abstracts.

Corbyn recently said, “How dare Cameron’s Conservatives pretend that they speak for Britain.” I assume that this was an attempt to challenge any suggestion that Corbyn, personally, is unpatriotic. Corbyn went on to remark:

“We stand for this country’s greatest traditions: the suffragettes and the trade unions.. the Britain of Mary Wollstonecraft, Shelley, Alan Turing and the Beatles… and perhaps our finest Olympian – and a Somalian refugee – Mo Farah.. an Arsenal fan of course.

And for the working people of this country who fought fascism.. built the welfare state.. and turned this land into an industrial powerhouse.

The real patriots.”

Setting aside the fact that Corbyn’s idiosyncratic list is one requiring many footnotes, he succeeds in making his definition of patriotism an exclusive one. He divides when he should be seeking to unite, even in the margins of quite a lengthy, rambling speech. Please, Seumas Milne, I beg of you, get Jeremy Corbyn enrolled on some public speaking and presentational skills courses, pronto! And fire his speechwriters whilst you are it!

Corbyn could not, it seems, bring himself around to put the case, the extremely credible case, that, without the support of Major Attlee and Arthur Greenwood in May 1940, Winston Churchill might well have been forced to sue for terms with Hitler by the leaders of the rump of the Conservative Party, Neville Chamberlain and Lord Halifax. Churchill, supported by Attlee as his Deputy Prime Minister, went on to lead a coalition of all the political parties, represented in the House of Commons. Any other Leader of the Labour Party, except seemingly Corbyn, may cite the history of the darkest days of 1940 to show just how patriotic the Labour Party is when it really matters. One in the eye, surely, for Tories like Cameron?  Tories, who have much more in common with a Halifax than a Churchill, but not one in the eye for many a Conservative voter who would, I am sure, recognise the contribution that Labour made, alongside their chosen party, in defeating Nazism.  There is no Left or Right in a foxhole.

On 2 September 1939, Neville Chamberlain spoke in a Commons debate and said, in effect, that he was not declaring war on Germany immediately for having invaded Poland. This non declaration greatly angered Leo Amery, a Conservative Member of Parliament present in the House at that moment, and was felt by many present to be out of touch with the temper of the British people. As Labour Party Leader Clement Attlee was absent, Arthur Greenwood stood up in his place and announced that he was speaking for Labour. Amery called out to him across the floor, “Speak for England!” —which carried the undeniable implication that Chamberlain was not. England then meant the United Kingdom.

Corbyn now has the chance to speak for the UK (and not just Islington Man and Woman), to craft a compromise that would put him at the head of the Labour Party and allow him to create a (temporary) coalition within the House of Commons to defeat David Cameron’s plan to extend the Royal Air Force’s strikes from Iraq into Syria. He must, however, do more than merely oppose the Government. He must stop adopting the persona of a rather irritated headmaster of a third rate prep school, who, a few months off retirement, is wearily having to correct, once more, the homework of the school dunce. He might start by arguing that extending the RAF’s operations into Syria would be a diminution of force, a weakening of its efforts in Iraq, and that its schwerpunkt, its main effort, should remain Iraq and Iraq alone.

Corbyn must also accept that he is not only the Leader of the Labour Party, but the Leader of the Opposition, a role which requires him to make alliances across party lines, if he is to be effective. He must articulate an alternative course of action around which his party may unite and which will attract the support of the other opposition parties and those members of the Conservative Party, who are doubtful of the arguments presented to date by David Cameron. Corbyn must accept the fact that until now he has managed to do what Miliband never did, make Cameron look statesmanlike!

If Corbyn needs any advice about how to build a consensus on a single issue then he need look no further than Labour’s leadership in the House of Lords, but of course the party there is headed by a woman and Jeremy shares David’s disease, when it comes to women. If he needs advice about what might constitute an effective considered amendment to that being put down by Cameron then he should consult with, not lecture, his colleagues in the Shadow Cabinet and Parliamentary Labour Party. He should speak with the leaders of the other opposition parties, including Nicola Sturgeon; experienced statesmen like Lord Ashdown; foreign affairs and defence experts and last, but not least, representatives of the victims of ISIS.

Corbyn must not think, for one moment, that his 50:50, Phone a Friend and/or Ask the Audience approach is anything, but an abrogation of his responsibilities as the leader of the Labour Party, his own 21st Century take on Lansbury’s “hawking” his “conscience round from body to body asking to be told what to do with it.”

Corbyn needs to understand and seek to address the genuine concerns and positions being taken up by MPs, like Chuka Umunna. Umunna has said he would vote on his conscience whatever the leadership decides and is minded to vote in favour of the government’s plans:

“My own personal view is that where are our national security is threatened it would be wrong simply to leave it to others to deal with it. We can’t ignore the barbarity of this death cult, who throw gay people off buildings, systematically rape women, [and] carry out mass executions. Now, do I think that military action – and by the way I am minded to support military intervention, but we have yet to see the wording of the motion – is going to resolve this conflict? Of course not. Do I think it is the only solution? Of course not. But what I do think it can do in the interim is … start to dismantle what Isil are doing.”

Corbyn may be paralysed by Iraq, but others genuinely fear that inaction may have worse consequences than action. No one, I am sure, wants to see any reruns of what happened in, for example, Rwanda. Yes, the deaths there were on a massive scale and one hopes unrepeatable, but then how often before has the human race said that? Moreover, one preventable death is one too many and to misquote Harold Wilson, to the murdered man or woman, murder is 100%.

Corbyn runs the risk of not just portraying the Labour Party, under his leadership, as unpatriotic, but as a national socialist party. A party for whom troubling issues in faraway countries, of which we know little and care less, are best left to media columnists, those with views of disturbing certainty, and the echo chambers of the Internet. Such an isolationist policy is similar to that advocated by Farage. The Labour Party of Bevin was, as is today’s, an internationalist socialist party. Bevin spoke for the many not the few and, especially the working classes when he said, “I’m not going to have my people treated like this!” The people of whom he was speaking at that moment? They were the Jews and trades unionists being persecuted by the Nazis.

Corbyn’s indulgence of the (self appointed) fascists of Momentum (aka New, New Labour’s Sturmabteilung or Thought Police) and their bully boy tactics provides unwanted echoes of the 1930s and is a sure fire recipe for splitting the support that brought him to power. Momentum’s bend your conscience to our way of thinking or face deselection approach is not endearing itself to many who voted for Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party. People, who I am convinced, believe in freedom of conscience, even for elected politicians.

Will Momentum, the militant wing of the Stop the War Coalition, soon don (ethically sourced) oatmeal coloured hair shirts in order to police Labour Party meetings? Many of them are not Labour Party members and would fall foul of its rules, if they tried to join the party today, but will that obstacle be removed in the coming months as dissatisfaction with Corbyn’s leadership increases and he feels ever more besieged?

Corbyn’s “sudden consultation with party members” is one “for which there is no constitutional basis in the party, and anyway is so haphazardly organised that it cannot be a reliable test of party opinion,” and it “also looks like an effort to ally the leader with the party rank and file against MPs.” In fact, Corbyn’s poll was “statistical junk”.  Yet another example of Corbyn adopting an exclusive, not an inclusive approach which is unlikely to be sustainable in the medium to long term.

Corbyn won the leadership of the Labour Party not a General Election in September 2015. He was elected leader of the Labour Party with 251,485 votes out of the 422,664 cast. The turnout was 76.3% and the total number of eligible voters was 554,272. The party’s national poll ratings are currently around 27%. They are heading towards parity with the polling figures for the Scottish Labour Party, currently at 25%. The Labour Party received 9,347,304 votes on May 7th 2015. Jeremy Corbyn’s 251,485 equates to 2.7% of the voters represented by the Labour Party as a whole.

“A mooted emergency meeting of the national executive, asserting that the terms of the Labour conference motion on Syria have not been met, would also portray him as the party democrat fighting his out of touch MPs.” A viewpoint that may be undermined when people wise up to what Corbyn means when he talks about indicative online polling. Such polls will not result in binding resolutions and may well be ignored, if they produce results which do not accord with the views held by the person who put the poll in the field.

Corbyn is considered to be doing badly or very badly by 13% of those who voted for him as leader and 1% are unsure about him. A 14% drop in support in about 3 months that equates to a decline in support from 59.5% to 51.2%. Does Corbyn really want to be remembered as the Leader of the Labour Party, who ruled, not led the party, with the help of Ken Livingstone, George Galloway and Diane Abbot and the support of intimidatory tactics deployed by Momentum? One might think that Momentum, going on current form, see themselves as the descendants of Mosley’s boot boys.

Chamberlain’s Government fell at the end of the Norway Debate in May 1940. Amery spoke in that debate, “This is what Cromwell said to the Long Parliament when he thought it was no longer fit to conduct the affairs of the nation. You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go.”

Corbyn may face that injunction, possibly from the trades unions, if he does not stop following a Bushite line. Remember if you are not with us then you must be against us? The Labour Party is a broad church and rarely has less than three strands of opinion on any issue. And you may not call yourself a socialist, if unable to start a disagreement about ideology, with yourself, in an empty room!

Oh, and, if you are unfamiliar with the biography of Ernie Bevin, he was a British statesman, trades union leader, and Labour politician. He co-founded and served as General Secretary of the powerful Transport and General Workers’ Union from 1922 to 1940 and as Minister of Labour in the war-time coalition government. He succeeded in maximising the British labour supply, for both the armed services and domestic industrial production, with a minimum of strikes and disruption.

Bevin’s most important role came as Foreign Secretary in the post-war Labour Government, 1945 to 1951. He gained American financial support, strongly opposed Communism, and aided in the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Bevin’s tenure also saw the end of the Mandate of Palestine and the creation of the State of Israel. Bevin was arguably the greatest British Foreign Secretary of the 20th Century. He was, to quote his own words, “A turn up in a million” and he never forgot “it is somebody and somebody’s kindred that are being persecuted and punished and tortured, and they are defenceless. That is a fact.”

What #InOurBritain Gospel Will Follow the Gospels of St Anthony of Blair & Saint Jeremy of #Corbyn4All?

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I endured the Blairites, but I was not a Blairite.

I had confidently assumed that the Church of St Jeremy of Corbyn, the lineal successor to the Church of St Anthony of Blair, would allow freedom of worship. The same freedom of worship practised by St Corbyn during his 32 years in the Wilderness of Westminster. After all, the Labour Party has since its founding always been a broad church, owing “as much to Methodism as Marx” (Gospel of St Anthony of Benn).

Alas, it would seem that the acolytes of St Corbyn have decided that Corbyn is my God, who brought me up out of the land of Blair, out of the house of bondage. I shall, therefore, have no other gods before him, but Corbyn. I shall not make for myself an idol, nor any image of anything that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: I shall not bow myself down to them, nor serve them, for Corbyn, my God, is a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and on the fourth generation of those who disagree with his followers, and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love him and keep his commandments.

It would seem, if I do not bow down before the Blessed Corbyn and worship him without dissent or doubt then I shall be named Blairite and thrown into the outer darkness by his devoted disciples, blessed be their name for they are perfect in their own sight.

It would seem that I study the teachings of too many ‘false’ gods such as the Webbs, Bevin, Bevan, Brown, Castle, Benn, Attlee, Hardie, Wilkinson, Foot, Kinnock, Miliband, Cook, Crossman, Crosland, Jenkins, Healey, Callaghan, Hain, Lloyd George, Churchill, Gladstone, Disraeli and so on. The Church of St Corbyn is a monotheistic one and ‘my’ god’s followers are suspicious ones and constantly on the alert for any ideological backsliding by the congregation.

As I look from the fanatical acolytes of St Anthony of Blair to the fanatical acolytes of St Jeremy of Corbyn and back again, I find it ever harder to distinguish between the two claques.

I fear that I may soon have to turn my back on the church of my forebears and head off into the wilderness in search of a more tolerant church that allows, if not encourages dissent.

But, lo, what do I see in the distance? Is it a diverse group of people? Is it the 9 million who put their faith in that band of Tribunes of the People beyond the Walls of Islington?

I believe it is!

And do I see the Standard Bearers of the Tribunes at the head of the crowd?

I believe I do!

And are some of those standards being held aloft, proud, soaring Eagles?

Indeed, they are!

Is that a man called Smith leading the charge?

A Welsh Smith to pick up where the Scottish one left off?

Although he never entered the Promised Land of Government, John (the Baptist) Smith, as St Anthony freely admits in the Letter to St Roy of Jenkins, created the momentum that swept Labour into power on Thursday 1st May 1997.

Owen Smith may not, himself, lead Labour once more into the Promised Land, but he may set it back on the road to being a broad church once more.  A church listening to the concerns of its parishioners a lot more and lecturing them a lot less about their sins.

Time will tell, as it always does, as to whether or not the Popular Representatives of the People will triumph over those hard faced men of the Praetorian Guard of St Corbyn, that ‘fine’ body of affluent, middle class white males led by the Arch Angels, John and Seumas the Wykehamist.

And so, for now, I will tarry by the Rivers of Babylon and pray for deliverance from the fanatical followers of St Corbyn, as I pray for him to be delivered both from his delusions of adequacy and his captors, those self same, self serving fanatical followers.

Time For A Conscience Tax, Margaret Drabble? #GE2015

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“And herein lies one of the big problems with politics today: instead of discussing the issues at hand, the baying mobs on all sides are waiting in the wings for someone to say something imperfect, and they pounce, hurling insults and escalating debate into personal attacks and rudeness, and nobody is talking about hungry people or how to feed them any more.

Instead it’s all those big, bad Tories’ fault, or the church shouldn’t be commenting at all because they have a bit of gold kicking about, or it started under Labour …

And the longer we all stand on opposing sides shouting over each other, the longer the queues around the food banks get, and the longer the benefit delays, and the longer the queues at the jobcentre.”

Jack Monroe

As night follows day and a General Election approaches, the Guardian prints articles like that of Margaret Drabble in the Why I Will Not Be Voting Labour Next May Series.  The Why I Will Be Voting Liberal Democrat Series (its popularity faded somewhat after May 2010) has been discontinued in favour of the Why I Will Be Voting Green Series, this season’s political black for the ethical, middle class, liberally minded left wing voter.  God knows what these ethical floating voters will do, if the Greens support a minority Labour Government next May in preference to triggering another General Election that might give a George Osborne led Tory Party a working majority.

I expect I shall wait in vain for the Guardian to run a Why I Will Be Voting Respect or TUSC Next May Series (I tip my hat to both parties (as well as the SNP, Plaid Cymru, SDLP and the Greens) for sharing the agony and ecstasy of electoral politics).  I mean it is one thing speaking for the working class, but quite another mingling with them, is it not?  I mean, Tarquin old love, they think £3.00 for a bowl of ironic breakfast cereal in an café down in Tower Hamlets (the new Islington for the aspiring financially challenged?) is not good value for money.  I mean, you would think they would appreciate us bringing a bit of Notting Hill glamour into their dull, little lives.  I certainly did not expect to learn that they could spell condescending and patronising.  Where?  Oh, on the wall of the artisan’s water closet.  Yes, we ‘reclaimed’ the tiles from a skip …  Harry Enfield certainly saw these guys coming!

Drabble in her piece says Labour has lost her vote because of its policy towards the private education sector.  In explaining her position, Drabble manages to get in a reference to the Bedroom Tax.  I am sure the 900,000 or so victims of the tax will applaud Drabble’s principled stance about private education as they fall further and further behind with their rent (and into debt) whilst awaiting their next invitation to attend an Employment and Support Allowance Work Capability Assessment.  Labour not forming a government next May will mean no end to the Bedroom Tax and no reduction in the misery of regularly going through WCAs.

I would like Drabble to come and meet some clients I am trying to help.  Sadly they are some of life’s losers.  What can go wrong with their lives has gone wrong.  Some people are like lightning conductors for bad luck and they are a prime example.  Their grip on sanity has recently become tenuous at best.  They have principles, Drabble, that compound their problems.  They abhor getting into debt, a very old school working class trait.  They, not you, are representative of the people to whom the Labour Party should be devoted.

They incurred some unexpected and heavy expenses recently.  They have little money and the Social has not, to date, covered the whole of the bill they incurred.  The Co-Op (bless ’em), a fine example of working class self help of days gone by, are holding off seeking the balance of the costs whilst I, working on behalf of a Labour Member of Parliament, am doing my damnedest to force my former employer, the Department for Work and Pensions, into re-opening their case.  I am not, therefore, writing high minded articles for the Guardian going on about my principles and focusing on subjects of no interest, rightly or wrongly, to the vast majority of people for whom the Labour Party was founded.  I am putting my principles into action and hopefully making a difference.

Whilst I await, probably in vain, for a positive response from Iain Duncan Smith to my employer’s enquiries (an employer for whom I work unpaid) on our clients’ behalf, I am looking into the possibility of applying for a grant from a charity.   Yes, Drabble, in 2014 the State has rolled back so far that I have been forced to take such a Dickensian step.  Any ideas my readers have as to where I may seek help with one off expenses will be most gratefully received.  I would like to try to do something to lighten my clients’ worries before Christmas.  By the way, I am rather old fashioned too, I do not like to think of people applying for help in times of need being termed claimants so I call them clients instead.

As though the unpaid bill (and other Social Security related matters) were not bad enough, my clients are now having to pay the Bedroom Tax.  They cannot afford it.  They cannot downsize.  They cannot sub let (you will pay for that asinine suggestion next May, John Hemming).  They will slide into debt.  They will suffer not just the material consequences of debt, but the shame of it too.  They too have principles, a code by which they try to live.

I am afraid to say, however, that the term scrounger sometimes crops up in my conversations with clients like these.  Were I to be fastidious, Drabble, I might drop such cases because going along with that uncharitable attitude runs counter to my principles, but my old fashioned allegiance to the public service ethos prevents me striking a pose.  I cannot stand idly by and not do something to help people in need, because I do not like how, in the depths of their misery they accuse other people of abusing the system.  Sadly some people in need sometimes belittle, mostly through ignorance and with the aid of our rabid, right wing media, the suffering and needs of others.  I think that a pious lecture on a lack of class solidarity on such occasions would be unhelpful, to say the least and, any way, I ceased to be an Angry Young Man a long time ago.  Does not stop me, though, fighting the fire lit by others.

And there are, Drabble and friends, working class Tories so the Labour Party can never expect to corner the market in the votes of that particular class and I cannot, in all conscience, decline to help them when they are in need.  How easy life would be, if only people conformed to the rose tinted stereotypes some of the middle class have of them.  Aneuran Bevan (remember him?) was a realist and knew that a portion of the working class vote against their own interests and that is my beef with lefties like you.  You are not realists; you would rather, it seems to me, have no loaf rather than be compromised by half a loaf; you have never hawked your ideas door to door; never had one of Churchill’s dispiriting five minute discussions with the average voter or had to persuade the same to elect you into office.

You belong, Drabble, to the chatterati, a sub group of the Commentariat.  Trollope’s scathing analysis of those seeking to wield power without responsibility holds true as much today as it did 150 years ago.  Mind you, he (like Robin Day) ran for Parliament as a Liberal candidate.  Why do we bemoan professional politicians, but not professional political commentators who seem to have never done anything else?  I am a little surprised that, although disadvantaged as you are by a lack of experience in comparison with Day and Trollope, a novelist of your stature seems incapable of putting yourself in the position of a candidate or party seeking election.

Your obsession with an education system that educates a tiny minority of young people, some even not United Kingdom residents; your casual dismissal of Sure Start; the fact you seem to think the Bedroom Tax generates net income for the Exchequer and your idea, that wasting valuable Parliamentary time trying to unpick the privileges of the purveyors of private education will create true equality of educational opportunity suggests you have a very poor grasp of what is concerning those worried about the state of education in the UK today.  You neatly sidestep the cost, both financial and political, of abolishing the perquisites of what are, in some cases, centuries old charitable bodies.  However, do not let me stop you using your own money to hire a crack team of lawyers to crawl over the founding charters of these charities so as to identify whether or not they have breached them.  You might well achieve the end you seek without recourse to public funds.  By the way, how do you organise your own tax affairs?  I trust it is not along the lines advocated by Myleene Klass?

Where were you, Comrade Drabble, when Gove came earlier this year for the students of East Birmingham?  When across party and across community lines the citizens of Birmingham prepared to stand by the barricades to defend our city against a plot hatched in Whitehall.  Confusingly for some, there was agreement here that there were failings in our schools and that they needed to be addressed, but not at the expense of the students.  Students who have a poor start in life that has nothing to do with Eton’s tax privileges.  It cries out to Heaven for Justice that in the second decade of the 21st Century children in this country are still disadvantaged by the colour of their skin; the class and religion into which they were born and the place where they are growing up.  East Birmingham has some of the highest levels of unemployment in the UK.  Gove failed in his duty of care towards those students.  And I, Drabble, am a Bevanite snob, if Henley or Wimbledon or Glyndebourne or Stratford or the Tate are good enough for them then they are bloody good enough for us!

You want to raise an issue with Tristram Hunt then please, on my behalf, ask him why he, a Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Education did not come to Birmingham to meet the teachers, parents and students under attack from Gove?  The well being of those young people, not your trivial concerns are where Hunt should be focusing his efforts.  The jury is still out as to whether he fully appreciates that.  Whether he will grasp the mantle of Ellen Wilkinson and Estelle Morris or be a Gove lite clone concerns me.  I am against Eton and Harrow, but I think schools like Great Barr Comprehensive (my alma mater) should be Hunt’s primary concern.

I have headlined this post with the Jack Monroe quote because she has said so much better what I wished I had said.  There is a great deal wrong with how we conduct political discourse in our country.  It is not just elected politicians who take a particular pleasure in striking a pose and thereby generating more heat than light.  It bedevilled the fight back against Gove when the liberal left and atheists used the situation in East Birmingham to support their campaign against religious schools and religion in schools.  One expects Gove not to care about working class people, but surely not holier than thou lefties?

The sort of lefties who as the result of an “emotional spasm” (copyright, Aneuran Bevan) were promoting a boycott of Israeli oranges without seemingly any thought of the impact on the Arabs who grow and pick them.  I asked one person on Twitter whether he would donate the money he saved, by not buying the oranges, to an aid charity in the hope that might offset the likely impact of the boycott on Arab workers.  He said, no.  He went on to say that he would be buying his oranges elsewhere and that given the current suffering of the workers they would be unlikely to notice a worsening in their conditions.  He hated the Israelis and getting at them through a boycott was all that mattered.  I thought making a donation to Islamic Relief was a better way of displaying solidarity with the people of Gaza than, in his case, a selfish boycott.

The right, for example ukip, has its zealots too, of course.  They speak, so some Guardianistas like to assert, for those that Labour has left behind.  Now, it may have escaped their notice, but whilst ukip only says it will oppose the Bedroom Tax in government it will definitely repeal the Agency Worker Directive.  When I pointed out to one ukipper that such an act would worsen, in particular, the working conditions of agricultural labourers he said that as the directive did not make much of an improvement then its removal would barely be noticed (except, cynical me observed, by their employers).  The Agency Worker Directive was enacted into UK law in 2010.

If Labour wins next May then the Bedroom Tax will be repealed.  However, please do not let that consideration, Drabble, stop you voting selfishly in accordance with your conscience and principles.  However, I trust that if Labour loses the General Election that you will donate, on a regular basis, some of your royalties to help people like my clients.  We could call it a Conscience Tax.  In fact, how about something on account?  I guarantee that it will be most gratefully received.  So how much may I put you down for, Mr Scr …

I find your lack of empathy with the working class, Drabble, much, much worse than that of the likes of IDS.  He knows no better, but you profess to know better.  Whilst he holds tightly to a selfish philosophy, Samuel Smiles for the 21st Century, you lay claim to the moral high ground, whilst putting preserving your principles before improving the condition of the working class.  IDS lectures the poor and gives them meagre hand outs and punches in the gut whilst you lecture those of us wanting to give them a hand up about the condition of our fingernails.  I say hand up in memory of John Smith.  Our shared values transcended class.  A hand up for those who can and support for those who cannot.  Each giving according to their means and receiving according to their needs.  I think some call it socialism.

David Lloyd George (the man who enacted the State Pension) said you may keep your principles shining bright and not get your hands on the levers of power or you may tarnish them a little, get your hands on the levers of power and do something.  He was addressing people like you, Drabble.  Years later, Bevan had to remind the usual suspects on the left that socialism was the language of priorities or it was nothing.  You may, Drabble, keep your principles shining brightly and you may think your priorities are the right ones for working class children, but spare me your sanctimony, please.

Your particular Mount Olympus really must be a very lonely place if, as you say, “I feel bereft without anyone for whom I can vote.”  No progressive party in UK politics thinks your stance is a vote winner then?  Does that not suggest that it is you, in this policy area at least, who is disappointing people with your ideas rather than the Labour Party?  Either way, my clients, Drabble, cannot afford the Bedroom Tax and neither can they afford your principles.