This is our truth, tell us yours
Labour has a tradition of doing pledge related merchandise at elections. This year is no different.
Labour has a tradition of supporting immigration controls. This year is no different.
We are now in full election mode, where stunts and photo opps are used in the interests of the moment.
So I was unsurprised when semi detached political activists, keen to secure their place at the high tables of TV and the broadsheets, started to make a noise about Labour’s pledge mug promising immigration controls. Yes Owen Jones and Diane Abbott, I’m talking to you. For Owen and Diane politics is about them, their profile and their status as senior members of the commentariat. For Abbott, who’s never been as effective a politician as she likes to believe, andwho has all the intellectual depth of a puddle, it’s a chance to secure her place as a fearless critic of her own party, allowing broadcasters to ignore her track record as a useless parliamentarian and hopeless advocate for any progressive policy that reaches beyond the electorate and selectorate she needs to persuade.
For Owen Jones the opportunity is there to secure his place as an authentic voice of the left. Never mind that he’s no record of campaigning , or activism, or of involvement in grassroots trade unionism. Owen is the antithesis of those Blairite politicians who went straight from uni to a role as lobbyist before being parachuted into a safe seat.
Why do their antics make me cross?
Labour is in a classic squeeze at this election, one it hasn’t faced for a while. To its right are the Tories and the LibDems. To its left are the remnants of the leftist LibDems, the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru (although, to be fair, both the nationalist parties are also to the right of Labour when it suits them.) Stoking up a row about a pledge that is consistent with the policy of all mainstream parties since the early 1970s, at the start of an election, as if you’ve only just discovered that truth, is self indulgent fakery. It only gives succour to those, like the Greens who, in the absence of a coherent policy programme, wish to spend all their time making holier than thou attacks on the Labour Party. Do we really need Abbott and Jones to give potential Green voters an excuse to abstain from the real debate on the NHS and welfare cuts which is the real dividing line between Labour and Conservative?
I have no doubt there will be intelligent, clever voters who will look at the situation where they live, decide a Labour vote is the equivalent of abstaining anyway and vote Green as a way of saying ‘Labour should be better than it is’. That’s fair enough, but in any seat where there’s a choice between Labour and Conservative, no-one should be under any illusions. For people with a national profile like Owen Jones and Diane Abbott to engage in distraction in order to improve their marketability is shameful self-indulgence.