Thursday, 21 July 2016

A Dreadful Waste of Money

'Crowdfunding' has become common in recent years to accumulate small sums of money from many people to achieve a particular objective. So far, so social and, potentially at least, progressive. But what is one to think of the reported 180,000-plus people who have recently joined the British Labour Party at a cost of £25 each, giving it some £5 million? Even with the lower value of sterling, that is a dreadful waste of money.

The Labour Party deserves disdain, at a minimum, even if one were ignorant of its blood-strewn history as a defender of (British) imperialism when in government. In all manner of wars and subterfuges, from the partition of India, to Vietnam, to Ireland, to Iraq and the Middle East in general, the Labour party has been the proponent of, or an ally in, a wide variety of imperial crimes.
An apparently saintly Jeremy Corbyn, embattled leader of the Labour Party, shares the same sins. Apart from being a member of the Labour Party for more than 30 years, he is now a member of the Privy Council. This Council includes senior political figures from all major parties, who are informed about the ill-doings of the British state and pledge not to tell. The oath is as follows:
“You do swear by Almighty God to be a true and faithful Servant unto the Queen’s Majesty, as one of Her Majesty’s Privy Council. You will not know or understand of any manner of thing to be attempted, done, or spoken against Her Majesty’s Person, Honour, Crown, or Dignity Royal, but you will let [ie stop] and withstand [ie prevent] the same to the uttermost of your Power, and either cause it to be revealed to Her Majesty Herself, or to such of Her Privy Council as shall advertise Her Majesty of the same. You will, in all things to be moved, treated, and debated in Council, faithfully and truly declare your Mind and Opinion, according to your Heart and Conscience; and will keep secret all Matters committed and revealed unto you, or that shall be treated of secretly in Council. And if any of the said Treaties or Counsels shall touch any of the Counsellors, you will not reveal it unto him, but will keep the same until such time as, by the Consent of Her Majesty, or of the Council, Publication shall be made thereof. You will to your uttermost bear Faith and Allegiance unto the Queen’s Majesty; and will assist and defend all Jurisdictions, Pre-eminences, and Authorities, granted to Her Majesty, and annexed to the Crown by Acts of Parliament, or otherwise, against all Foreign Princes, Persons, Prelates, States, or Potentates. And generally in all things you will do as a faithful and true Servant ought to do to Her Majesty. So help you God.”

Corbyn's principal divergence from this blood-oath loyalty to the British state shortly after becoming Labour Party leader was ... not to kneel before the Queen. Perhaps his knees were playing him up a bit.

My message to those who have already pledged their £25 to the Labour Party, or may do so, is that they would have a much better chance of a positive outcome by betting on a three-legged horse next running in the Grand National.

Still better a reward would be secured by purchasing, reading and reflecting upon an informative book by, admittedly, a right-wing, former Labour Party member, Edmund Dell: A Strange Eventful History, Democratic Socialism in Britain, Harper Collins, 2000. It should be read with critical eyes (what should not?), but this book is well-written, full of enlightening information and is available at much less than the otherwise wasted £25.

Tony Norfield, 21 July 2016


Biswadip Dasgupta said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Biswadip Dasgupta said...

Hi Tony it is precisely because of the Labour Party's "blood-strewn history as a defender of (British) imperialism when in government" that so many people are excited by the election of Corbybn. Please note that Corbyn also has a history going back several decades of opposing British and US imperialism in Iraq, Ireland and elsewhere. You may well be right that the Labour Party is never going to be transformed into a vehicle for socialism but I think you are alienating yourself from the hundreds of thousands of people who are desperate for an alternative and think, perhaps wrongly, that they have found one. We need to engage with those people and show them the contradictions between what they want (and indeed what Corbyn wants) and what Corbyn would be forced to do nonetheless if he were in government. We do, of course, also need to point out the vacillations and ambiguities in Corbyn's policies such as they are. But I do think we need to engage with the hundreds of thousands of people who see the injustices of contemporary society and want to do something about it rather than simply dismissing their aspirations for change and their desire to do something about it however misguided. If the Labour Party does split as a result, which is looking increasingly likely, that could potentially win over a significant proportion of these activists to a genuinely post-capitalist politics.

Tony Norfield said...

An error in my blog comment was perhaps to give the impression that the Labour party only supported British imperialism when in government. Of course, the Labour Party always supports British imperialism, which includes sometimes helpfully suggesting different strategies when in opposition.

My ‘engagement’ with those who think Corbyn is an alternative is to tell them that they are wrong. Furthermore, given recent events, anyone who thinks that the Labour Party could be any kind of alternative is clearly suffering from a failure of cognition. Only when they stop believing in six impossible things before breakfast, might they be worth talking to.

Tony Norfield

SteveH said...

I sort of agree with this article but when people pay £25 they are paying for hope, the hope that Corbyn can somehow transform the beast into something more cuddly.

But if this is pie in the sky what should people be doing politically?

Unknown said...

Strange. I've been reading your blog posts all evening on the dynamics of the global economy and found it sober eyed and well thought through. I've ordered the book. Then I come across this. You seem to take less care when it comes to the dynamics of politics. Corbyn's membership of the privy council is a very superficial way of looking at his impact, which has been - whether he has intended to or not - tobdrive a wedge in British social democracy and cause a historic fissure. This is an absolutely essential precondition of the emergence of any systemic and thorough going opposition to British imperialism within the UK.

Tony Norfield said...

Reply to Unknown: You underestimate how far the loyalty to the British state, as reflected in the cringing Privy Council declaration I cited, is an 'absolutely essential' sign of no serious opposition to British imperialism. Which is why, whether Labour splits or not, will make very little difference to the evolution of British politics, except to supply some further short-lived illusions for Labour-oriented lefties.