Friday, May 29, 2020
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Paul T Horgan: Labour’s Hard Left is here for the long haul

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Yesterday, I suggested that Jeremy Corbyn does not actually lead the Labour Party. The leadership is being performed by a Soviet-style central committee, which Corbyn may not even chair.

What evidence is there for the existence of this secret committee? Well, there have been numerous reports, before the mass walkout last summer, of Corbyn refusing to meet his shadow ministers and when he did, not to make any decisions on their policy presentations.

One former shadow minister stated that “at shadow cabinet meetings, where Jeremy tended to read from a prepared script, didn’t respond to our questions, and didn’t convey any sense of strategic direction or leadership.”

A reasonable explanation is that no final policy decision could be made until Labour’s ‘Politburo’ had met. Corbyn was not permitted by the Politburo to decide such things on his own. It could also be that the policies were too ‘moderate’ for the Politburo, or that with victory in 2020 already written off, they were not actually needed.

When it was announced that Corbyn would be making a speech where he would state ‘Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle’, all it took was one telephone call from Diane Abbott to lead to this being appended with the words ‘ but I don’t want that to be misinterpreted, nor do we rule it out.’, which made the line all but meaningless. The tortuous backtracking phrasing could only have come from a committee.

When quizzed over his support for Moorside nuclear power station, Corbyn stuck to a set script that was ambiguous on the topic. It was only much later that it was announced that a decision had been made to support it. A reasonable explanation is that the issue had to be subject to a vote by Labour’s Politburo. True, politicians are usually evasive, Mrs May was so on the fate of a hospital local to Copeland. However, it is unusual for a senior politician not to be briefed on a major issue affecting a constituency during a by-election, and then to make a decision shortly afterwards.

The aims and objects of Labour’s Politburo may be similar to the Bolsheviks. Communism is bad at taking power. It relies on opportunities, when its opponents are badly weakened to seize control. It is, however, very good at holding on to power once it has taken it. Despite all his setbacks, Corbyn’s position as leader is secure. This is unprecedented in British politics.

The objective of Labour’s Politburo may not actually be to win a General Election in 2020. Outside London, Labour is facing disaster. However, it is likely that the survivors will be of the Corbynite Left, comprising Corbyn and his three London allies, plus MPs in solid Labour seats with massive majorities that no amount of incompetence by Labour or Corbyn will eliminate.

The Hard Left Labour Party, backed by Len McCluskey’s Unite, with strong links to numerous extremist organisations, like the Socialist Workers Party and Momentum, just has to wait until a new political opportunity comes their way. Moderate Labour MPs have already started to quit Parliament as losing their seat in 2020 or being in perpetual opposition thereafter are not attractive futures for impatient high-flyers like Tristram Hunt. Jamie Reed realised he could best represent the nuclear industry in his constituency outside Parliament.

It may take a decade, it may take two, but sooner or later the Conservative Party will be voted out of office by voters who want a change. This is inevitable. Which party will replace them? By this time, Labour will be a fully-fledged left-wing entity, not needing to make compromises with the electorate and being able to prevent moderate entryism. The failure of the SDP in the 1980s indicates that it is not possible for a centre-left party to exist so long as Labour do so at the same time.

The Hard Left will wait for their time. It worked for Syriza in Greece. Eventually, it may work here, especially if Brexit is perceived by voters to cause severe turbulence. Labour is already describing it as a ‘Tory Brexit’, despite supporting triggering Article 50 in Parliament. Corbyn’s Politburo is laying the foundations, probably not for 2020, but for 2025 onwards. Like Corbyn himself, Labour’s secret Politburo is willing to wait for decades if need be.

(Image: Garry Knight)

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Paul T Horgan
Paul T Horgan works in the IT Sector. He lives in Berkshire.

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