Monday, May 04, 2009

Labour's meltdown part 247

In my last school, at a time when everyone else in the department was battering out reports for a year group that I didn't take, my illustrious faculty head asked me to proof-read them. Working on the assumption that the devil makes work for idle hands, no doubt. My imminent departure from this particular citadel of learning allowed me the latitude to make an impertinent observation, which I put something like this: if you're going to write reports with snooty remarks about the kids' grammar and punctuation, one would have thought the least you could do is punctuate them properly.

Anyone noticed this is often the way? People whining about collapsing standards in schools who can't spell, people banging on about the decline in modern manners who are insufferably rude - and people complaining about other people doing the politics of personality and then go and do it themselves. Enter Dennis McShane. If you want to deepen your understanding of just how completely fucked we are come the next election, you could do worse than read his latest offering from Comment is Vacuous.

One scarcely knows where to begin with this piece of shit. How about the beginning, in the goddamn title?
"The Tories' sole offer is anti-Brownism."
It doesn't seem to have occurred to Mr McShane that this might prove to be something of a selling point because, in case he hadn't noticed, the Brown premiership is a car crash of really quite spectacular proportions. The background to his musing is, apparently, various noises of disloyalty coming from various quarters from... who cares where? Because this isn't re-arranging deck-chairs on the Titantic so much as arguing about who's going to be captain after the damn thing's just hit the fucking iceberg. Anyway, Dennis's bizarre analysis of the situation seems to have something to do with dividing the Cabinet into two helpful categories:
"A good cabinet should have both technos and electos."
'Electos' are, apparently, people who have actually had to fight competitive elections; 'technos' are people who have gone from 'policy-wonking' (sic?) to safe seats. I think we can dispense with any further discussion about what the exact balance of 'electos' and 'technos' is in the present Cabinet since Mr McShane is overlooking two details that one would have thought were rather important:

1) We don't have a good Cabinet. I suppose you could address the question and ask: to make this a good Cabinet, what do we need - more 'electos' or more 'technos'? Or - you could stop yourself and conclude that the question is a bit mental because it is avoiding what is to everyone else fairly obvious: this is the weakest Cabinet in living memory and the reason for this has to do with the second point Mr McShane has missed...

2) There's a third category in the Cabinet. Those who have never fought competitive elections - not because they've been parachuted into a safe-seat after a few years of policy-wanking but because they're Scottish. Unfortunately the most significant figure coming from this political culture where the selectorate is the electorate is none other than the primus inter pares himself. The fittest that survive in this political ecology are those who build networks of patronage where promotion and inclusion are based on loyalty rather than talent. Do you really think it's a co-incidence that the background that formed Gordon Brown also produced characters like George Galloway and Tommy Sheridan? If you can't see the similarity, you're blind. The difference with them is Galloway and Sheridan have charisma but no power; Brown has power but no charisma. But all three have political gangs - followers who are devoted to a person rather than a cause or even a coherent programme. And all three are complete fuck-ups as far as I can see.

For us to love our country, our country ought to be lovely - and if you're going to do the politics of personality, it helps if the personalities in question have something appealing about them. Failing that, you could always make unfavourable comparisons with the other lot - based on some prolier-than-thou shit that has fuck all to do with politics, socialism or even class as properly understood, leaving only culture - as exemplified in this dog-shit posing as a political argument:
"There is an alternative Labour narrative – whether "meta" or not I can't tell, since I don't know what meta means. [Is this supposed to be part of the appeal to the peepul - by putting your fucking ignorance on display? Honestly! - Ed] It was on display on Sunday. John Prescott and I were out with three of Labour's Yorkshire MEP candidates, together with about 30 Labour activists, knocking on doors in Rotherham and Sheffield. Prezza had already done Liverpool and Manchester and later would do Doncaster. He spent his first years in Rotherham and when he failed the 11-plus, that was our future deputy prime minister en route to a working-class future. He points to the church where he was not allowed to sing in the choir because he was always arguing with the vicar and, instead, was only allowed to pump the organ bellows. They know Prescott around here, and come out of terrace doors and retirement bungalows to be photographed with him."
Jesus H Christ on a pogo stick - are we reduced to this? But why stop there? I could run for Parliament at the next election on the grounds that I went to borstal for head-butting a nun or something. Doesn't get any more gritty and authentic than that. Plus I can down a bottle of Buckfast in one go. If that isn't qualification for high office, I don't know what is. It gets worse...
"It is a long way away from London and the public school tones of David Cameron and Nick Clegg."
Yes, don't vote for them - they aren't horny-handed sons of toil like Two-Jags; they're posh fuckers who went to expensive public schools. We don't want them. Unless of course they happen to be our posh fuckers, like Tony Blair. Remember him? The posh barrister fucker who went to Fettes and actually won an election or three?

I'm taking issue with this at length because this nonsense is fairly representative of the sort of garbage being spouted by quite a few Labour-leaning journalists and bloggers. The reason people like Ashley and Toynbee got all moist about the prospect of a Brown premiership in the first place was because they mistook being grumpy and Scottish for social democracy. He's serious, unflashy, Calvinistic... Oops! As it turns out, Mr Parsimonious Presbyterian has been running the Exchequer like a drunken sailor with a credit card. Oh dear.

I mean, honestly! Follow the logic of these numbskulls and we would have felt obliged to vote for John Major - a Prime Minister with a genuinely humble background. But we didn't because he was a Tory. That's enough, isn't it? That's why we're not going to vote for Cameron. Not because he's a posh-boy but because he's a Tory. A Tory like the decidedly less posh, grammar-school educated, Michael Howard. Is there any reason to think he would have been less evil than Cameron because of this? If you can answer this in the affirmative then you're mental.

Anyway, post-defeat no doubt there'll be lots of arguments about whether to move left, or right, in, out, or shake it all about. Here's my own suggestion: how about embracing democracy? The lack of it in the Labour party has been seen in the coronations of Brown in Westminster and Wendy Alexander in Holyrood. Do you really think the disasters that have followed were despite this sorry excuse for party democracy? Other symptoms include the dismal failure to reform the House of Lords properly or to carry out the 'renaissance in local government' that the late John Smith used to talk about. The alternative is to continue mistaking your core support for the electorate, which leads you to doing stupid things like prancing about constituencies wearing top hats and then going on to lose the election.

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