Sunday, July 17, 2011

For the first time in my lifetime, Labour need the far left (and vice versa)

Labour has, for some time, regarded the left as a bit of an irrelevance.

This is understandable for the most part. Nothing makes any campaign more doomed to failure than it's adoption by the SWP*.

But perhaps this is about to change - for a number of small reasons.

Firstly, historically, the far left may have bore Labour even less goodwill than it bore the Tories on the grounds of our betrayal ("if only Labour had allowed itself to become the vehicle for our campaign on , everything would be OK") and a wider inchoate beleif that Labour squat on ground that belongs legitimately to the People's Front of Judea or somesuch.

Secondly, we've seen political parties successfully uncoupling themselves from the expressions of their own Freudian Id. Cameron has enjoyed the kind of weather that has been made for him - often by UKIP-voting bloggertarians in the Tax-Payers Alliance. He's never been under any pressure to personally endorse their tea-party-ish demands.

It seems that the public no longer have expectations of politicians as 'thought leaders.' No-one has really attacked Labour for not endorsing UK Uncut. We all hated the Murdoch press enough to adopt a 'by any means necessary' approach to attacking it and we knew enough about how extra-parliamentary power works to know that it would have been too risky for Ed Milliband to be expected to lead this apparent coup d'├ętat (and let's not get carried away yet here - the right-wing press is far from finished...)

It seems that Ed piped up at just the right time - early enough to gain a few polling points from a manoeuvre that may have permanently spiked a long-term asset of the political right. The left will have seen that Labour parliamentarians (with lots of quiet support from the Lib-Dems!) have the ability to finish something off as long as the running has been made for them.

Labour now needs the left as a deniable asset - in the way that the Tax-Payers Alliance has performed this service for the Tories. And the left needs Labour. It seems to me that - for the first time in my lifetime - that the left may be prepared to play ball.

With a lot of activist energy...
  • supporting consumerist campaigns,
  • attacking poor private-sector management,
  • attacking private sector corruption and incompetence, and even public sector management where it's adopting private-sector managerial practices,
  • attacking corporate welfare,
  • attacking pay-disparities in all sectors,
  • attacking corporate governance that finances political parties or lobbying campaigns
  • making the same points about budget-maximising bureaucracy in the private sector that the right make about government bodies...
... perhaps the left and Labour have a happy partnership in prospect. As long as Labour stops seeing itself as being part of the left - and as long as the left stops demanding that Labour acknowledge the partnership.

Neither side need it, after all....

*Don't get me wrong - the actual SWP itself is still the poison that it always was. But my limited knowledge of the far-left tells me that they're no longer the ... er ... force (*snigger*) that they were.

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