❶ The Voice Of The People, the Bassetlaw barker John Mann MP has spoken. Writing on Labour List he tells the world that Labour must get on with Brexit (he doesn’t say what kind of Brexit, just what The People voted for, whatever that may be). He writes “My voters are fed up with being patronised by a London-dominated, metropolitan elite within the Labour Party.” I have to say I worry that the phrase ‘metropolitan elite’ sounds awfully like an anti-semitic trope in the current poisoned atmosphere. What or who exactly is this ‘metropolitan elite?’ An equivalent term in the U.S. would be ‘liberal elite’ and that phrase has definitely been used as an anti-semitic trope against the left leaning, East Coast Jewish establishment. Might ‘metropolitan elite’ be used that way here? I think John needs to explain himself. On second thoughts, no.
I – let’s be clear – am not accusing Mann of using an anti-semitic term. But I am accusing him of using sloppy language, and worse I am accusing him of being a hypocrite. Check out his Wikipedia page – it’s as London-centric as you could wish for, so far as his career is concerned. From being a Lambeth councillor, a TUC training officer in North London, a Labour Party HQ staffer. He’s been a Labour MP for 18 years, and currently earns £74,000 in his Westminster Village job. According to Wikipedia, he still employs his wife as office manager on parliamentary expenses. Does this experience tend towards the Bassetlaw norm or the London norm?
Perhaps what really bothers John is his diminishing majority. At the last election his majority was half of what it was in 2001. So far as Brexit goes, his cris de coeur is with UKIP, so at least he won’t be joining the ‘funny tinge’ group anytime soon.
❷ Soooo. How good is the democracy thing these days? Lots of ink has been spilled on the Brexit referendum – on the lies, deceit, cheating and illegality that took place. But looking around the rest of the world the democratic ideal seems as unrealised as ever. Not forgetting Trump losing the US election in 2016 of course (at least the Democratic controlled House of Representatives is seeking legislation to stem gerrymandering). Now we have a stand-off between India and Pakistan, as each side toughs it out, with one side entering elections with a Prime Minister who wants to look top-dog tough; in Nigeria the integrity of the recent election has been challenged by the opposition (this does seem par for the course, for whoever loses in Nigeria); the last Venezuelan elections are being challenged by the ‘interim president’ (sic) and his fellow coup plotters; in Israel (if we’re allowed to mention it) Netanyahu is teaming up with the extreme terrorist related ‘Jewish Power’ party to bolster his hard right coalition chances in their coming elections (and now he has a corruption charge to add to his woes, the Palestinians will have more to worry about); in the UK a dozen or more constituencies are now represented by MPs who have renounced their membership of the party on whose ticket they were elected; one country in the UK – with its own parliament – voted to stay in the EU and is being ignored (what’s true for Scotland is also true for Northern Ireland).
As has been written about so often, to win elections these days it seems you have to be on the populist right, espousing nationalistic and xenophobic values. It is the reaction against neo-liberal globalisation (ironically the solution for which we’re told is more neo-liberalism). Even when the populist right don’t actually win an election, we see the tail wagging the dog. Take back control. End of.
It all began with Nietzsche, of course, this is merely part of the current long cycle of history which gloriously began with the statement ‘God is dead.’ What could God be replaced with? Dialectical materialism came in handy and for nearly a century, for some a new faith in human redemptive power was at least paid lip service to whilst taking a form that simply didn’t work (just as religion didn’t work). The loss of that twentieth century attempt to better ourselves through an ideological lens, resulting in what Francis Fukuyama called the end of history, now leaves us wondering what to do. In such circumstances what many people seem willing to do is turn inwards, the great experiments have failed and all that is left is the individual (and families, as some politician once said). With the added threat of an existential crisis (climate change), which will certainly cause catastrophe in the not too distant future, will we see a competitive or a co-operative human spirit triumph? The answer is blowin’ in t’wind.
❸ ‘Sir’ Oliver Letwin told us this morning that if Corbyn became PM, the UK would ‘become like Venezuela.’ Does that mean the U.K. would be hit by U.S. sanctions? Of course, he wasn’t asked to explain himself, he was on the BBC.
❹ Meanwhile, I wonder if Tom Watson (whilst doing all he can to ensure that Corbyn doesn’t become PM), should offer himself for re-election for Labour’s deputy leadership? I suspect he would be crushed. If such a contest doesn’t happen, I suppose he could always be charged with bringing the party into disrepute, because that’s what he seems to have set his mind on.