Friday, 31 July 2015

The Cult of Change

President Obama recently visited his fathers home country of Kenya, a welcome home for Obama, who Kenyans consider a long lost son. The homecoming however was somewhat spoiled by Obama’s gentle reminder of their need to alter positions on human rights and same sex marriage. This has been the general theme of African Tour. Obama’s speech writes itself as he begins the end of his presidency, a farewell world tour jaunt from the soon to be former ‘Leader of the Free World.’ Basking in adulation, praise for the strides made by a continent whilst instilling a reminder that they have some way to go. The problem is that the same speech could very well be the eulogy of his presidency.

With 18 months left of a presidency that offered so much, an opposition House and Senate the chances of any ground breaking new initiatives by a 2nd term president are unlikely. Obama will always be remembered as the first African American President of the United States, a symbol of the progress the U.S. has made in racial equality. Yet there is so much work left to do.

In Obama’s America income inequality has continued to rise more than doubling from 1980 levels. The top 1% now account for almost 20% of the national income. With gun related homicides set to overtake auto mobile deaths, with a seemingly never ending stream of national tragedies based on racism, homophobia and untreated mental illness, all of whom pass current criteria for gun ownership.

Obama, came to power under a groundswell, that change was not only possible but realistically achievable. ‘Yes we can’ was the mantra that engaged a generation of disaffected. When he leaves office in January 2017 it will be these same people who will be less optimistic, and less likely to believe in change.

For any president the first term is where the real session of potential change takes place. With a majority in government, Obama could have pushed through his legislative agenda. Instead he sought consensus particularly on Obamacare, resulting in half measures which did not tackle the gross inequalities or corporate greed of medical insurance. It is in this issue that highlights the difference between those who the media would portray to be left wing politicians and the right.

After 9/11 George Bush, with Republican majority parliaments easily pushed through legislation amid mass public and democratic protest. The Patriot Act was not to be discussed and consensus delivered, you either agreed or were unpatriotic. Obama on the other hand seemed his ultimate goal was to ensure a second term, reneging on his promise to dismantle the Guantanamo Bay torture camp , or to withdraw troops from failed foreign wars. Recently, following another tragic mass shooting, Obama announced that eventually America would have to deal with the issue of gun control. Is this not why you are in power? What is the purpose of his presidency if he is already passing the load onto the next one?

As much as you can be opposed to and despise their policies the Conservative Government today has instilled their ideological beliefs tearing apart the fabric of our society. Does the right have a stronger ideological strength than the left in implementing their course of action?

One in the same? Bush and Obama.
To agree with this we must fall for the notion that Obama wanted to offer real change. The truth is that Obama, like others before him who promise so much, was just as much a part of the establishment as George Bush was. Similarly the New Labour Government promised real change but inevitably offered little in the way of substantial transformation. We will not for some time at least see the SNP vision of change they promised in the referendum but what is for sure is that a pro NATO, pro Monarchy, pro big business and neo liberalist party would have a hard time making the metamorphosis often promised.

Dictators like Mao and Stalin used a cult of personality to widen their appeal, today it seems that establishment parties are using the cult of change to convince voters that they will be different. But without real action these will only just be words and voters will quickly tire of another false dawn, allowing the current crop of corrupt political drones to maintain the stranglehold on power both domestically and throughout the world.

It is up to the voters to begin to realise false prophets and it is up to political parties who would genuinely offer that change to show the way and become a realistic alternative. Until that happens the change we seek will never amount to much more than minor shift, than the permanent revolutionary change we are beginning to see so much support for.  

Thursday, 23 July 2015

The Sharks Are Swimming As The Red Becomes Diluted...

The sharks are swimming around the pool, unaware that theirs is the only blood which is draining away. If Tony Blair has it his way the crimson blood will be diluted permanently by the deep blue sea.

Not since the release of the YouGov poll which put the yes vote ahead one week before the referendum, has the ground below Labour HQ devour itself as much. News that outsider Jeremy Corbyn is ahead in polls by some distance has sent shock waves through the Labour establishment, still not unsure as to why the membership do not see things their way.

This Labour leadership contest has gotten ugly, already coups are being discussed by the Parliamentary Labour Party, Chukka Umunna is doing the media rounds urging Labour MP’s to refuse any shadow cabinet positions offered by Mr Corbyn. Then the big guns came out. Former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair threw his tuppence worth into the ring, although judging by his previous receipts it will have cost more than that. Blair, ever the one for the pithy soundbite, sent a stark warning to all misbehaving members who are planning to vote for Corbyn.

“People who say their heart is with Corbyn, get a transplant.”

Tony Blair at home with Progress tearing apart the heart of Labour

Of course there is no need Tony, the job of removing the heart of the Labour Party was done a long time ago by yourself and the rest of the New Labour hacks which decimated any standing this once proud party had, particularly in Scotland.

The venue of Blair’s appearance shouldn’t surprise either. To use Tony’s own medical analogy, Progress has been to Labour the cancer which has destroyed everything that was good within the party. This reception ironically for a former Labour leader is the only place he can actually attend without being drowned out by fellow members or placed under citizens arrest for war crimes. Yet the most startling statement from Blair was his first. When jovially asked where he would place Corbyn, 1st or 2nd. Blair responded,

“No that’s actually the Tory preference... Erm I’m a Labour leader.” before remembering he no longer was.

This is the new directive for anti-Corbyn Blairites, to imply that this is an all wonderful Tory coup that they want an ultra lefty who is unelectable, rather than.....Well that’s just where their theory breaks down. Rather than what? A leader(any of the others) who refused to oppose a welfare budget which possibly tear deeper than Thatcher into the social fabric of our society.,that set in motion the next five years of destruction and decimation of the welfare state and NHS; The two pillars which the modern Labour Party was built upon. I would imagine that Cameron and Osbourne would be very happy with either 3 of the red Tories, who leave the opposition to 56 MP’s from up north.

Jeremy Corbyn: The last hope for Labour? 

The truth is that the Tories would be quivering at the prospect of a united opposition of a real Labour Party, opposed to nuclear weapons, support renationalising the railways, adopting a real living wage, higher taxes on the wealthiest in our society, supported by the membership and the majority of the public. Working together with the SNP, Greens and other nationalist groups to hold this vile and wretched government to account.

The reality, however is somewhat different, Even if Corbyn maintains his high lead, he will not reach the magic 50% required on the first ballot, it is unlikely that any supporters of Burnham, Cooper and Kendall will transfer their votes to him, meaning a likely winner of one of the three who have no understanding of what the Labour Party members who are left are holding out for.

In Scotland this is no different, unable to understand their own incompetences, they will continue to pursue the tactic of SNP bad, whilst forgetting the very reasons why so many in this county, including myself once voted for them.

The challenges that face us over the next five years of Tory rule, will not be remedied by a Tony Blair ideologically driven New Labour. Nor will any progressive opposition to the SNP come from Labour in Scotland. The only hope we have to maintain our progressive politics is for the people to hold to account those who think they know better than those who elected them. For the SNP to have a credible opposition in Scotland, which must come from the left, be it a red, green or amalgamation.

As long as Tony Blair, his acolytes or the Progress movement still have a strangle hold on the Labour Party, it doesn’t need a transplant. It needs the last rites.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Time to Face the Facts

Faster and faster it is time to upload the new leader of the Labour Left. It used to be once in at least an election cycle that we had to renew the vow for what Labour stood for. Often times we waited a period of several years holding out for leaders who said the right things but scarcely delivered both in or out of power.

Now we are more fortunate, we in the left have a Labour candidate who will be the left’s saviour once every 6 months. Labour for Independence offered a wider redemption, but following the referendum and Johann Lamont’s resignation it was Neil Findlay who waved the red flag. Like the sacrificial lamb, Neil took his defeat to arch Blairite Jim Murphy with good grace, accepting a position within his cabinet. Jim himself suddenly re-found his socialist roots when he realised he had to appeal to the whole of Scotland rather than the well to do of East Renfrewshire. Yet that radical thinking was never able to conjugate with what Jim truly believed and no amount of drinking at football would make Jim seem electable.

Now we have a new leading light of the left in Jeremy Corbyn. At last it seems Labour has found it’s home... Rather it has come home. Corbyn stands (apparently) for everything the Labour left has been calling out for; reversing anti- union legislation, paying a living wage, backing striking workers (underground) and granting Greek debt relief. Finally a voice for the masses..

Corbyn represents the Labour left, but that support is dwindling

Except within the Labour Party today.. It isn’t.......

Chris Leslie as current Shadow Chancellor reversed the parties position on the 50p tax rate. None of the other, more likely leaders would acknowledge one... just one of Corbyn’s measures. Yet this seems to be the sum and the hope of the Labour Party, or at least the left who still support it. Make the token left gesture then find excuses until the current leader is sacked then the carousel with another @Leftie goes on again.

Today, I passed Ninewells Hospital, and as we went by the protesting porters we tooted and raised our fists in solidarity. My ten year old son, panicked thinking those porters would get in trouble the fact we supported them.

In 2015, 30 years after the miners strikes I had to tell my son that this was the last right of the worker, to withhold their labour if they were not being paid properly for it. 30 years ago the ten year old kids who were explained the same thing are now older than me. Nothing has changed. Another Tory Government we didn’t vote for. Another lifeless opposition. The only difference being that in 1985 they knew what they stood for.

And so the Corbyn fans, the Findlay followers, I ask you , what does it achieve? As the world watches Greece and their left wing government, what voice do you have with the main political parties? What does a protest leadership election battle do for what we really believe in?

Theoretical politics has a place, it is in the good times.. This is not one of those moments. In every town, city, street and home there is a movement waiting in the wings. There is a child unfed, a parent out of work, a student who can no longer afford to go to school, a pensioner whose glory days have become a never ending struggle. There is no Labour leader who understands this. Their home, their plight, and their struggle lies within the Scottish Socialist Party.
Join the Scottish Socialist Party here

This is the party who will ensure the rights of those who need it will be given it, who will ensure fairness, equality and social justice not just as a leadership pamphlet but rather a way of being.

For those who are working tirelessly for Jeremy Corbyn, I say you must now know. That as the Yvette Coopers and Andy Burnhams rule supreme, further and further away your hopes of a ‘Real’ Labour becomes. It is time, time to rise up and begin to make a new way, supporting a party which is unequivocally anti austerity, pro republic, pro independence, pro a distributive local tax model, which has a plan for a 21st century energy policy. Who is pro peace and anti war. A party that stands up for those who deserve the help rather than those who pay for favours.