Posts tagged ‘election’

Is Labour in Danger of Becoming the New Nasty Party? An Open Letter To Jeremy Corbyn

Dear Jeremy

I was pleased that you came out with such a strong statement on sexual abuse and harassment. It was long overdue. But there is another form of harassment – in fact there are three kinds of harassment – that you have not stood up forcefully against. Allowed to continue, this abuse and harassment will turn your party into a nasty party, and you will not get elected as PM.

But before I list them, let me say that I would like to see you become the next PM. I admire the vision enshrined in your manifesto, which is so attractive, clear and understandable. A government that sets out to achieve even a few of those aspirations would be welcome, since change in our society is sorely needed. I watched your annual conference and found it full of positive spirit and energy. This is because you have given people hope after so many years of fear and anxiety.

But there are problems in your party that you need to deal with now. There is a level of vitriol and abuse emanating from the left wing of the Party which if it is allowed to go unchecked will become a hindrance to your aims, and will create the image of a nasty party which will stop you getting elected.

I base my opinion on a number of incidents from the past year. One is the problems is Anti-Semitism, which has not been dealt with adequately. The second is abuse directed at some of your own women MPs by other Labour members and the third is abuse directed at Tory candidates by Labour supporters. Each one of these shows a clear pattern of unpleasant and uncalled for harassment, which is harmful to your cause, and will repel a great number of voters.

The Anti-Semitism problem was poorly addressed by the Chakrabarti report although at conference the party did adopt a new standard to judge Anti-Semitism. This was a positive move, but the missing ingredient was your failure during your speech to take a strong personal stand against Anti-Semitism, and this showed a lack of leadership. To see real leadership in action, look at the response of the US Air Force Academy leader after five black cadets had “Nigger Go Home” scrawled on their doors.

He told the perpetrators of these hate crimes to go home if they were not able to accept diversity. Not suspension or a dressing down – just get out. Simple and effective. Instead, the Labour conference once more had a messy fringe event in which Jews again felt unwelcome, where some people called for Jews to be expelled from the party, and another speaker declared that Holocaust denial was a legitimate area of debate. Can you imagine the uproar that would ensue if at a Labour event people called for Muslims to be expelled from the party or that denial of slavery was deemed a suitable subject for debate?

Anti-Semitism in the Labour party is not like neo-Nazi right wing race hatred. It is political Anti-Semitism, which emanates from the Israeli-Palestine conflict. The righteous anger that many of your members feel about Israel  can easily morph into an anti-Jewish stance. This is a danger to society as a whole, since anti-semitism is like the canary in the coal mine, it is a precursor to a darker, larger and more pervasive set of hatreds. The only solution to anti-semitism is to fight it decisively and stop it in its tracks.

The second area where there is a toxic atmosphere is the relationship between the wings of your party. In 2016 a number of Labour women MPs wrote you complaining about the abuse levelled at women MPs. Their letter said: “Rape threats, death threats, smashed cars and bricks through windows are disgusting and totally unacceptable in any situation.This is acknowledged by all factions yet the simple words of condemnation offered in response are inadequate. We expect swift and tangible action against those who commit such acts. “

Harassment of Labour MPs, whether female or male, by fellow Labour members is dangerous and divisive. If you want a unified party, you must stop attacks like this.

The third area of concern is electioneering. At the recent general election, a Tory councillor running to be an MP suffered the following abuse from Labour supporters:
She was spat on many times and was abused verbally on the street, called a nazi, scum, and a whore. Her posters were defaced with similar epithets and her campaign headquarters vandalised. Lies about her voting record were published in Labour election literature and had to be withdrawn after breaking electoral law. Canvassers were threatened to the extent that police had to be called out. A canvasser’s car was spray fainted with vile abuse. Momentum members congregated outside the candidates’ home to intimidate her and her family. Voters were afraid to put posters in their windows for fear of retaliation.

These three kinds of harassment in your party are your Achilles Heel. They will cause you to go lame just at the time when you will need all your strength to continue the struggle. You have given people a new sense of hope, and now you must give them a feeling of protection, and by protection I mean security, an essential requirement of a successful state. You need to convince voters that you will fight terrorism, will reduce levels of crime, and create a society that does not live in fear. If your supporters engage in divisive acts of harassment which make people feel a mixture of fear and wariness, you will not succeed. The voters will not trust you; they will be scared.

In the short term this kind of intimidation may win seats, but its success will inevitably lead to an escalation of these kinds of tactics which will become self-defeating. Don’t allow shock troops to flourish. If you allow your party to become the new nasty party you will not be able to unite the country in the way you desire. There are people who will be attracted to this kind of nasty politics, but are they the people you want to attract?

Your aim is to support the many, not the few. But in order to get power, and to have the chance to really support the many, you have to convince them to support you. As long as you do not crack down on all forms of harassment, and show true strong leadership, you will not convince enough of the many to vote for you, even if they are attracted to your ideas.

Kind Regards

Mark Forstater

November 9, 2017 at 12:25 pm Leave a comment

My ‘vote’ for Jeremy Corbyn

I’m not a member of the Labour Party and I missed the voting Deadline, but I’d like to cast my ‘vote’ for Jeremy Corbyn. Why?

Like many people I’m not happy with the way this country is going. It has lost some of its soul. We are no longer the more caring and compassionate society we once were. Today we are not too concerned that our fellow citizens are going to food banks to feed themselves, or that parents are missing meals so at least their children can eat. If this is the way we treat our neighbours (who are in reality our friends) then how do we treat our enemies? David Cameron says let’s promote British values to the world. What values are we to promote? Inequality, Greed, Indifference? These are not values that will convince anyone, let alone Isis.

And they don’t convince all Brits either. People want change, they believe the current economic and social model is life-negating and not life enhancing. They want change and no politician is offering it – except for Jeremy Corbyn. He terrifies the Labour establishment because they think electing Corbyn will plunge the party back into its 1980s internecine conflicts. They believe he is unelectable. But 1980 was 35 years ago. It is a different world now, and a different world needs a different approach. Only Corbyn is expressing this, and this is why people are flocking to him. This is the first true grassroots movement that the party has seen for many years. The last time people were energized like this was the march against the Iraq war in 2003.Then over a million people took to the streets to say no to the war, but a Labour government went ahead with it anyway, lying to the people. So when Tony Blair gets up to diss Corbyn what do you think those millions will say: if Blair’s against Corbin, then he must be good.

Politicians are like heads of film studios. The studios keep producing versions of whatever movies are successful now. They always miss what is new and upcoming, like sleeper movie hits which the studios would never make. The studios only copy fresh ideas when they are proved successful in the market place. Politicians do the same. They all repeat (with minor variations) the policies that they see as viable in the marketplace of voters. Since Cameron and Osborne were so successful in winning the last election with their austere and damaging policies, politicians from the other big parties believe that surely it would be mad to go too far against these policies, because of their great electoral success. They don’t understand that in the marketplace of voters there are millions of people who want to see a change. These people are appalled at the hidden suffering they see around them, and they (like millions of others) are also suffering reduced living standards. They demand a different approach, and their numbers will grow. The sooner Labour politicians realise this, the better it will be for the Labour Party and for the country. Inequality will kill us unless it is stopped.

This is why I am ‘voting’ for Jeremy Corbyn.

September 10, 2015 at 6:19 pm Leave a comment

The Blog That Fell From The Sky

Reflections on an age of anxiety.