One of the earliest playground jokes to make its mark concerned a rare tribe in deepest Africa. The tribe were known as the Wherethefuckarewe tribe. They got their name because they were a short people living in an area with very tall grass. Explorers reported regularly seeing a small body jumping clear of the grass, at the same time calling wherethefuckarewe?
Exactly like the Labour party today.
Yesterday’s debacle over the Welfare Bill highlighted the existential problems the party faces. Thanks to the IFS who skewered Osborne’s rhetoric (aka ‘lies’) it emerged that 13 million people will be at least £200 a year worse off after the budget. Of those 13 million, the poorest 3 million will be worse off by £1000 per year. Meanwhile the wealthiest enjoy further tax cuts.
Relatively straightforward you would think to establish a position based on such inequality and inequity. Not for Labour.
Acting leader Harriet Harman came out with a remarkable line that the party would not oppose the budget on first reading because ‘the tories had won the election and it is what the electorate want.’
Barely 1 in 4 of the electorate supported the Tories. That means 3 in 4 did not. This fact seems beyond the current crop of political numpties leading Labour. Of the four leadership candidates, three of them supported the abstention decision. Only Jeremy Corbyn put his principles first. He is derided by the Tory media as a ‘loony leftie’ yet says things which many electors agree with.
Compare and contrast with the Blaire-ite faction, Kendall, Umuna et al. Former Tory Chancellor Nigel Lawson said of Blair, “he paid the greatest complement to Mrs Thatcher by maintaining her policies when in power.”
Labour is in danger of disappearing. It was wiped out in Scotland for being ‘Tory-lite’ or ‘Tories with red ties’ and lost thousands of core supporters to UKIP in the north of England for similar reasons. The execrable election campaign targeted middle-class voters in the south-east to little effect. Tory lies, bribes and fear mongering were not challenged, allowing them to set the agenda.
All this chaos and confusion over its purpose and raison d’être goes back to when the party changed leader from Blair to Brown. Senior figures in the party were well aware that Brown was deeply flawed. Reports of his anger, even throwing mobile phones at colleagues circulated. There should have been a leadership contest, not a coronation. Later, as the election neared there were several threats of a leadership challenge which fizzled out. David Milband figured in some of them but did not have the nerve to carry it through.
The party is now in a mess. It has far too many professional political whores who lack principle and who are in politics for what they can get out of it. It has lost touch with its supporters and is thrashing around chasing Tory voters - the greedy and mendacious who are least likely to change their allegiance.
The welfare debacle crystallised the issue. What is Labour for?
Thankfully at least 48 Labour MPs had some bottle.
“I would swim through vomit to vote against this Bill and listening to some of the nauseating speeches in support of it, I might have to.” John McDonnell, Labour, Hayes and Harlington