This is our truth, tell us yours
If you believe all we’re told merely gossiping about the leadership of North Korea,in North Korea, is enough to get you executed.
I’m not suggesting the latest wave of expulsions and suspensions from the Labour Partyis on the same scale as shooting inconvenient generals with an anti aircraft gun but it’s one of the analogies that came to mind when I heard of even more pointless suspensions from Labour.
Up here in the north east, Terry Mcpartlan, a senior trade unionist is out, for the time being. There’s no link between Roz’s suspension, and Terry’s expulsion, and no logic either.
There is a link though, not just to North Korea, but to the last days of the Workers Revolutionary Party, although, again I’m not suggesting Labour is run by a sex offender, even if some of its parliamentary officer class have skeletons in their well furnished closets.
In the absence of a strategy, or a plan, or even some tactical nous, the Labour Right is lashing out at all around it. The problem is, bluntly, that it’s trying to fight off a cavalry charge with a dagger. The world has changed, drastically, and the Labour Parliamentary right is left trying to pick off individuals in a way that is neither structured nor constructive, but which most resembles malice.
The Labour Right still thrills to the memory of Neil Kinnock announcing the expulsion of the Militant Tendency. It was a bravura speech, witty, aggressive and determined. The members of Socialist Appeal who have been expelled have not been denounced from a conference platform, but have simply received a letter in the post. In thirty years time no-one will thrill to the memory of those badly drafted letters being delivered by bored posties weighed down with junk mail. To all intents and purposes it looks as if, unable to target the real issue (the popularity of Momentum) the Labour administration have taken out an obscure Trot faction to make it look as if they have some kind of power.
The suspension of Roz Kaveney is even more incomprehensible. Every democratic political party needs critical friends. The ability to listen to critical friends, to respond to their criticisms, and to be patient and tolerant when they rage at us, as they sometimes must is the gold standard of political maturity.
Labour has decided, by way of contrast, to indulge itself in a charade of a disciplinary process, where individuals are shown no evidence,offered no explanations, and suspended before they even know the nature of the charges against them.
A line of Kaveney’s from a review of Tolkien comes to mind – ‘we all know fear and despair, we all need, whether in daily life or politics, to find a way of coping with the world that lets us look in the mirror without shame.’
Being absolutely opposed to the current comic opera inquisition that is the Labour Party’s disciplinary process is one of my ways of being able to look in the mirror without shame.
Mirrors are not magical devices. They reflect what is there. A mirror held up to the Labour Party right now would revel an image resembling a corporate re-invention of Munch’s scream as, hands clasped tightly over its ears, Labour tries to refuse to hear what the world outside is telling it.
I mentioned the WRP above; some of us are old enough to remember how it fragmented into pieces, each disagreement heralding a new split, a new fracture along lines of disagreement that became ever more obscure. Labour appears to prefer that option to the harder task of looking at a changing world, and accepting it must change with it, of listening to its new supporters, and changing to face their fears and to enable their futures.