sees the same process at work. Here’s a section from his blog last Sunday 3
August: “This morning
the media is again full of plotters engaged in the planning of coups and
counter coups, conspirators, infighting and character assassination. It’s just
another day in the life of New Labour.
“The Blairite New Labour spin machine has gone into overdrive in promoting
David Miliband throughout their usual media outlets. Yesterday it was
embarrassing to read exactly the same eulogies to Miliband from the likes of
the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee that she had written initially for Tony Blair and
only 12 months ago for Gordon Brown. Now in the Sunday papers we have Blair’s own
revenge attack on Brown published.” ( www.johnmcdonnell.org.uk
Blair has allowed a memo in which he described Brown as ‘lamentable’ and
‘vacuous’ to escape into the wild. Blair no doubt blames Brown for his
downfall. For him this is payback time. In doing further damage, he shows the
loyalty he has always given to the Labour Party – none whatsoever.
Labour supporters are naturally disgusted by all this. They are in
despair as to what it means for Labour at the polls. All the Labour leadership
candidates (people who are very happy to knife one another as long as they are
an unattributed source, but swear eternal loyalty to Gordon Brown if they
venture out of the shadows) are briefing, spinning and damaging the
government’s standing even further. Any impartial observer will see that New
Labour is a nest of vipers. Why vote for them?
Philip Stephens adds in the FT (29.07.08) “Somewhere along the way I
must have missed something. I had always thought that governing parties wanted
mostly to stay in power. Not so, it seems, in Britain. The consuming topic of
conversation in Gordon Brown’s Labour party is how best to lose the next
Given that most MPs’ main concern is holding onto their seats and
careers, and in some cases genuine concern for their electors, why are so many
behaving like this? Don’t they see the damage it’s doing?
They are behaving like this because it’s the New Labour way of doing
politics. For ten years Tony Blair held sway by maintaining a lie machine at
Number Ten that ran unattributable briefings against his colleagues. Gordon
Brown, for instance was described as ‘psychologically flawed.’ Everyone knows
this rumour came from the PM’s office. Perhaps Brown is psychologically flawed,
but is this the best way to build a winning team? Blair didn’t want a winning
team and a successful mass party. He wanted to surround himself with talentless
nonentities loyal to ‘the project’, yes-men and women who lacked any critical
The press laps this stuff up. Unattributable gossip and innuendo debase even
the shallow pseudo-democratic political process in this country. That’s why
Tony Blair was so good at it. The media can run a story up based on absolutely
nothing but a few winks and nods. This is journalism on the cheap!
There is another basis for the PM’s power over the PLP. It is the
payroll vote. ‘Make him a PPS (Parliamentary Private Secretary). That’ll shut
him up.’ Then there’s the thuggishness of the Whips. We all know the stories
about Whips ringing up backbench MPs at 2 o’clock in the morning and demanding
they nominate Brown for leader so there would be no contest. ‘Otherwise you’re
finished in the Labour Party’. And we all know the stories are true.
On top of that the machine now controls the selection of the candidates.
Anyone of independent spirit is ruthlessly weeded out. As a result the
Parliamentary Party is stuffed with timorous careerists. People incapable of
running a whelk stall are supposedly running the country.
This is why not enough backbenchers were prepared to nominate John
McDonnell to force a leadership contest last year. Now the same people are
grizzling because Gordon Brown hasn’t turned out to be the man they thought he
was. Well, if we’d had a contest, and Brown had been forced to set out his
programme, then the Party would have been given a choice. Out of cowardice, foolish
shortsightedness and some plain greed the PLP stole that choice from us. We
warned them and we shall not let them forget it.
So not a soul in the country has voted for Gordon Brown. Yet he’s the PM
of a land of 60 million people. Surely they can’t just knife Brown and install
another as PM without the British people being consulted yet again. Such a
procedure smells more of the saga of a Viking vendetta than the practice of a
modern Parliamentary democracy. That seems to be what the backstabbers believe
they can get away with.
Now Brown has inherited the machine and the methods of Blair. The
purpose of the PR machine is to suppress dissent within the Parliamentary
Labour Party and ruthlessly implement the New Labour programme. But the machine
has begun to stutter and malfunction. Why?
Because the New Labour ‘project’ is now irretrievably up a gum tree. It
seems whatever they do they are going to lose the next election.
Simon Jenkins, a Tory who writes in the Guardian (06.08.08), feels entitled to have a laugh. “With
the equilibrium of cabinet loyalty thus disturbed, Brown’s colleagues are
liberated to perform patricide in their or her own peculiar way. Once the
assassin has broken cover, this customarily takes the form of showering the
victim with support that suggests not only that he badly needs it but that he
cannot rely on it for long. When a man so recently anointed is described by his
three closest colleagues as "unquestionably the best man to lead us into
the next election", the questions raised are, why those three, why say it
now, and why the silence from the rest? Uneasy indeed lies the head that wears
And the reason for this failure and impending disaster is what New
Labour and the vast majority of the PLP have been determined to ignore –
politics. Political affiliation in this country remains dominated by social
New Labour has an ambivalent attitude to the working class. In public
they often deny we exist. ‘We’re all middle class now.’ Actually 68% regard
themselves as ‘working class and proud of it,’ and the number’s going up. In
practice New Labour exploits the working class politically. They rely on working
people identifying the Labour Party as ‘ours’ and ignore our interests as much
as possible while in office.
New Labour thinks the working class vote is in the bag. What they need
to do is hare after the middle class floating voters. These people are
described as ‘aspirational’ in New Labour jargon. In fact aspirational seems to
be a pseudonym for greedy.
“Rather than questioning whether huge
salaries are morally justified, we should celebrate the fact that people can be
enormously successful in this country. Rather than placing a cap on that
success, we should be questioning why it is not available to more people…any
progressive party worth its name must enthusiastically advocate empowering
people to climb without limits, free from any barrier holding them back.” John
Hutton, New Labour minister.
Purely in terms of political strategy,
this is half-witted. 74% of us think the gap between rich and poor is too wide,
and the other 26% will vote Tory next election as they always do anyway.
What the Crewe by-election, and the
local elections, and the Glasgow East by-election showed, is that the working
class have had enough of New Labour. They are so disgusted they are not
prepared to walk down the road and put a cross on a piece of paper for New
Labour. And nobody can blame them for that
The working class is aspirational in a different sense from Hutton’s.
Public sector workers ‘aspire’ not to have their real wages cut by ‘their’
government’s wage restraint. All working class families ‘aspire’ to be at least
as well off next year as they are this – and for millions it looks like that
will not be the case.
New Labour has failed. Their claim was to economic competence, not
ideology. In fact they have ended up in an economic mess because they lacked
the ideological base to understand what was happening. Talk of socialism was
just old-fashioned, old Labour ideological baggage, they claimed. Capitalist
crisis was a thing of the past. Gordon Brown had ended the cycle of boom and
New Labour is seen to have failed. They are ideologically bankrupt. All
the leading candidates are up to their necks in the shipwreck of New Labour.
You can’t put a cigarette paper between their politics. And that is why they
are fighting like ferrets in a sack.
We couldn’t care less what happens to New Labour, as long as it
disappears. It’s our political enemy. We don’t care about the worthless careers
of the useless wretches in the PLP who masquerade as tribunes of the working
class. But we do care about the future of the working class in this country. We
don’t want the Tories back. We care about the tradition of independent
political representation for working people built up over a century. We are
angry that the Labour Party is in danger of being destroyed by a bunch of
hijackers. They have achieved absolutely nothing. They have squandered a most
John McDonnell is right when he proposes, “We should impose a time limit
on the debate on whether there is to be a leadership election or not. This
would involve saying to all these various contenders that by the Labour Party Conference
in September you should declare whether you wish to stand for leader of our
party. If you wish to stand then say so and publish the policy manifesto upon
which you want to invite support from our members. So that there can be no
means by which the factions within the Parliamentary Labour Party can block an
election we should drop the rule which a candidate must secure a minimum number
of MPs’ nominations and thus veto an election.”
If there is a contest, and
John is ‘allowed’ to stand, Socialist Appeal will support him four square as
leader. That’s based on our politics and his record. If there’s no contest but
the grumbling goes on, Labour ranks and trade unionist activists will know who
to blame – the New Labour bigwigs. And if there’s a contest, we’ll do something
New Labour ideologues will find incomprehensible – we’ll decide whether anyone
deserves our support on published policy. But, at the moment, all the main
candidates look the same and they all have a miserable record of collaboration
with New Labour to overcome. So, stop scratching each other’s eyes out, you
right wingers, and come up with some policies. Put up or shut up!
Actually Labour could still win the next election. They can win if they
reverse the present policy. But they have to do it now. They can win it they
enthuse the working class instead of letting them down. Millions are uneasy
about the prospect of a Tory victory. But don’t hold your breath for Gordon
Brown, or any of the rest of the New Labour crew to suddenly turn policy
around. For Labour to win, the trade unions need to reclaim the Labour Party –
and they have to do it soon.