Picture of a judge's wigThe Judge RANTS!Picture of a judge's wig

Date: 15/11/16

Labour, What Fucking Use Are You?

(Yes, I know that it's a question which could have been validly posed at any time since 1994, but...)

If ever any further proof was needed that the British Labour Party is now a profound waste of political and ideological space, it has come today: and from a most unexpected and unwelcome direction.

I used to have a lot of time for John McDonnell, MP. For many years he was head of the Parliamentary lobby on behalf of the union of which I have been - with varying degrees of pride and despair - a member for over twenty-five years. I viewed him as someone who knew what the fundamental principles of socialism were, and I was pleased when he became Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer last year because it indicated that there might be some clear moves towards a progressive and equitable economic policy should he ever be in a position to bring it about.

That was, until now. For today, John McDonnell - addressing a meeting in London - stated that Labour would do nothing - a big fat zero - to stop the far-right dragging the Benighted Kinkdom out of its most beneficial possible relationship with the rest of our continent.

To do so, he claimed,

..."would put us against the majority will of the British people..."

(Emphasis mine)

That's the 'majority will' which consists of that fabled 17.4 million people that the aggressive drunks in the Departure Lounge keep screaming at us about; in other words, about 39 per cent of the electorate.

This is one of the things that the howler-monkeys of British (c'est-à-dire, English) exceptionalism do not like to have pointed out to them; that they have made the assumption - common to all groups who have sought, here and elsewhere, to coerce the democracatic process to its will and its will alone - that those who didn't vote are ipso facto on the side of the change that they want to see, even if they happen to be dead (there are echoes of Gogol's Dead Souls here, although at least that was funny).

Having sought to justify his Party's latest capitulation to the narratives of the far-right, McDonnell then deploys a trope much used by several tiny groupuscules of the Far Left™ during the referendum campaign by adding that to seek to prevent the detaching of this land as completely from the continent economically and politically as it is physically would place Labour,

"...on the side of certain corporate élites, who have always had the British people at the back of the queue."

(Again, my emphasis: and here McDonnell is effectively playing what might be called 'the BBC card'; invoke 'the British people', and you are seeking to place yourself four-square behind the British (i.e., English) equivalent of all that American guff about 'Motherhood and apple pie'. It's utterly vacuous, but will do to engage the plebs.)

That 'argument' (if the word isn't too strong for it) was bollocks at the time of the referendum campaign, and it endures as bollocks to this very day and beyond. I can only commit the blogger's besetting sin of self-reference and repeat what I wrote at the time:

"May I now express a sense of bemusement - if not of despair - at those who claim to be on the 'left' (or, at least what passes for it here nowadays) who have taken the same side as the Johnsons and Goves? If necessity makes for strange bedfellows, then outright self-regarding stupidity can be said to create an odd ménage or two as well. Of course, those of the self-identifying 'left' who see no incongruity in shacking up with those who believe that the EU and all attendant upon it is a market-shackling conspiracy to pollute our bodily fluids and make us all into Muslim Socialists will maintain that their position is one of principle; they see the EU as a worker-shackling conspiracy to pollute our bodily fluids and turn us all into the slaves of trans-national corporations. In this, they may be nearer to the mark than the people they are allying themselves with; but they appear to be unable to see that, by taking the position that they do, they are in fact aiding and abetting the very people and processes which they claim to despise. For all that it has become to a far greater degree than it ever should have been a channel for pro-market corporate power, the EU has - such has been the rightward drift of the UK during my adult lifetime - still been a necessary inhibitor of the worst excesses of Thatcherite and post-Thatcherite mania. With that brake removed upon leaving the EU, what do the comrades think is most likely to happen? Do they think that the Westminster-Whitehall-City nexus will suddenly be overcome by an attack of, if not conscience, then at least an enhanced desire for self-preservation, and thereby do more to ameliorate the plight of those for whom the rising tide has not raised their boat because their boat sank years ago? Or is it far more likely that the drawbridge (sorry for the mixed metaphor: it's late) will be pulled ever more tightly shut, with those wielding political, economic and social power comfortable in the thought that they can always rely on the 'security services', most of the judiciary and the media to keep order if the Untermensch get restless enough to stop attacking each other and turn their attention upon them?"

Having thus coated himself in red-white-and-blue custard and wrapped the resulting mess in the Red Flag, McDonnell goes on:

"While Labour supported remaining in the EU to protect workers' rights..."

(Though not, I assume, those rights which his Party - whilst in government for over a decade - couldn't find it in themselves to restore, in case the 'business community' went running off to the Daily Mail to cry that they were being made martyrs of)

"...too much of the EU [...] [put] the interests of big business over ordinary people."

(Empha...well, guess: 'ordinary people' is the added clove in the apple pie, of course).

He then concludes,

"Labour [...] must embrace the enormous opportunities to reshape our country that Brexit has opened for us...It is time we all were more positive about Brexit."

And how - given that his Party is out of office now, will still be out of office if the far-right's schedule for exit is kept to, and is likely to be out of office for many years beyond that (unless in a form so denatured that any differences between them and the right could be etched in 48pt serif font on the head of a pin) - are they going to 'embrace' these fantastic 'opportunities', be 'more positive' and 'protect workers' rights' and no doubt also the 'genuine and understandable concerns' (the only latter-day cliché of political discourse which McDonnell seems to have neglected) of the 'ordinary people' and - at the end of this Golden Road - 'reshape our country'?

"I think that it's the moral pressure that we'll be able to exert."

It was at this point that Yer Judge found himself in need of an urgent change of nether integument.

The idea that - after twenty-odd years of Clintonite triangulation, of cosying up to every possible passing élite, of failing to put any case for a genuinely progressive programme for fear of annoying Rupert, Paul, Barely A Harmsworth, Dirty Dick and the Taxdodge Twins, of craven cowardice in the face of increasingly virulent populist hatred - the idea, as I say, of the Labour Party having any moral capital whatsoever to expend is ludicrous enough in itself. When it is up against the most extreme government of my lifetime, a government which gleefully allies itself with white supremacists and anti-Semites across The Pond (and whose supporters see nothing wrong with such a stance), and a government which - as we seem to have found out this very day - is thoroughly devoid of anything remotely resembling A Fucking Clue about what it is doing, and is still at over 40 per cent in the opinion polls, then the image of someone pissing into the wind comes inescapably to mind. And this from one of the supposed 'radicals' of the Shadow Cabinet!

That the Labour Party as a body (that's as in 'corpse') has been neither use nor ornament as an instrument of progressive politics has been sufficiently apparent to many of us for some time. That such sell-your-principles and sell-the-pass capitulation should now come from one of the people who - some of us hoped - would at least make Labour into an actual opposition to the prevailing snarling, vicious orthodoxy means that there can now be no doubt. The people of Scotland en masse have already seen it, and seen the way ahead by dumping them out of all possibility of power for a generation. It is surely time even for the bemused serfs in this western province of that happy land called Englandnwales to open their eyes, too.