Neil Kinnock

Tone-deaf Labour

First published in the New European

Why is it left to Tony Blair to point out the government’s Brexit failings, asks Richard Angell

She may have voted Remain, but after the country opted for Leave, Theresa May performed an about-turn to appoint herself the leader of the latter.

Her ‘Brexit means Brexit’ slogan and the appointment of Boris Johnson, Liam Fox and David Davies is supposed to reassure the 52 per cent that she is the champion they have been waiting for. It has fallen to Nick Clegg and Tony Blair to head up the 48 per cent.

Yes, the referendum has split the country in half, but considering how many were heavy-hearted Leavers or reluctant Remainers, it seems odd that the prime minister uniquely positioned to unite us seems intent on entrenching our division. The question the public will be asking is: who is speaking on behalf of all of us? (more…)

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Keep asking till you get the ‘right answer’

First published on Progressonline

We need to talk to about what happened with Trident this week at Labour party conference. Before we do, it is worth remembering the reccurring horror show that this debate has long been for Labour.

The last time Labour was in the wilderness, its unilateral disarmament stance was cited regularly by voters as a reason to not even consider Labour a party fit to govern. Margaret Thatcher was considered strong on defence while Labour was described by would-be voters as ‘lunatics on defence’ according to Philip Gould in his book the Unfinished Revolution. As part of a long and painful march back to respectability, Labour party conference in 1988 voted down a motion backing unilateral nuclear disarmament. By 1992, Gould who worked for Neil Kinnock, was able to report that, ‘Gerald Kaufman [had] brilliantly abandoned unilateralism’. While 1992 was not the result we wanted, Labour was at least respectable to voters again. Winning would only come later and after further modernisation. (more…)

Militant’s modus operandi

  First publish in Progress magazine

Keep ‘cybernat’ politics at bay

At 242 pages, Michael Crick’s book on Labour in the 1980s and how the far left dominated its politics, The March of Militant, is one of the shortest on this period of the party’s history. But I would argue it is one of the most important. Crick chronicles how this small sect left Labour further from power and its voters prey to the worst instincts of Margaret Thatcher. ‘Militant is more than a well organised and far-left Labour party pressure group’, he argues. ‘Its philosophy descends directly from Marx, Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, and virtually nobody else.’

It is now top of my rereading pile as the party repeats history and its terrible consequences for working-class Britain. Why? Because not only does Crick retell the stories of Militant Tendency at its best/worst (delete as appropriate), he has a unique understanding of its modus operandi. (more…)