Labour Conference

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8 September 2022

Labour Conference

Excitement Mounts

by Don Urquhart

Mug shot of Don Urquhart

The Labour Party Conference will be in Liverpool from September 25th to 28th.  Why should anyone care?

It is a depressing time for those of us with a social democrat agenda.  We will only vote Labour if Starmer and the rest apologise fulsomely to Jeremy Corbyn and reinstate him.  And of course they will not.

It is the devil’s own job being a political activist.  Dominic Cummings managed to get people voting in a way that surprised professional psephologists.  He didn’t do it by changing people’s minds but rather by offering something that appealed to their prejudices.  For example there are many white racists in our country and the Brexiteers could make them feel that they would be able to stop other races from coming to the UK and what they saw as the unfairness of them jumping queues for housing, jobs and other complaints real or imagined.  I have often been astonished by the racism of my own acquaintance.  One friend still sends me Diane Abbott jokes.  I used to regularly receive anti-Islam jokes sent in a spirit that had me as part of a racist groupthink.

Up North it wasn’t hard to have people believe all their problems as being down to a Southern elite and the good old BBC before the 2019 election dug out people to say all their problems were down to Corbyn’s policies and complimenting the Tories for providing foodbanks.

Most people do not think about politics.  They live in a miasma of prejudice which can easily be exploited.  Sir Oswald Mosley had success with the white working class blaming their issues on a Jewish conspiracy.

Boris Johnson promised systematically to the red wall voters about how he would transform their lives.  He and his acolytes betrayed them.  For Boris Johnson is a salesman.  He is larger than life like Lord Sugar.  They are two of a kind.   Plenty of superficial charm but you should not entrust to them the care of your children or the running of your country.

I am a football supporter so am no stranger to irrational prejudice.  On Sunday the Arsenal’s Martinelli scored a perfectly good goal only for the referee to be surrounded by Manchester United players demanding that he cancel the goal on the basis of a foul perpetrated by an Arsenal player in their own half.  After a bit the referee succumbed.  Every supporter will recount similar events. I will always believe Arsenal’s version of events just as I will always believe Jeremy Corbyn’s version of events although many of my acquaintance will never do so.  So how do you deal with a world where everyone’s prejudices butt against each other.  A friend told me he prefers First Past the Post (FPTP) because you get strong government.  I think it just allows you to blame a single political party.  In 2019 FPTP delivered Boris Johnson to Downing Street and he has run rings round anyone who has tried to hold him to account.  One of his apologists is now in charge and seems minded to take a similarly autocratic approach. 

The Labour Party leadership does not want to change the electoral system.  They think FPTP will put them in power in 2024.

But 2 years is a long time and the Tories will be able to harness the media to spread all sorts of nonsense about Starmer’s Labour as they did against Corbyn. And now they have GB News, LBC, Talk TV and Times Radio to add to the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky to get their message across.

Plus a formidable social media presence which instantaneously generates a thousand likes every time Andrew Pierce farts.

Comedian Joe Lycett was allowed on Laura Kuennsberg’s Sunday Morning political programme. He cheered Liz Truss and declared himself to be right wing.  And it kind of held together until he declared her election to be the Tories scraping the dregs of the barrel.  I don’t think Laura let him speak after that.  The Daily Mail and Liz Truss were quite put out.  The Emily Maitlis lecture where she claimed that Robbie Gibb was a Tory agent on the BBC Board will not get much further traction.  Come a General Election and the media will raise their game.  Nobody articulate with a vaguely socialist point of view will be allowed on.  You will probably see plenty of the wooden unappealing MPs so abundant on the opposition benches.

It could be that embracing PR is Starmer’s only way of winning the next election.  I think many people would vote Labour if they believed he would do this.  And there could be the rub because to date he has shown himself to be an untrustworthy individual.

I’m hoping that Starmer loses control of Conference and that they vote for Proportional Representation as apparently most members and trade unionists wish. 

Here’s the result of a survey of Labour Party members published by Labour List today:

The proposal that Labour backs the use of a proportional representation (PR) voting system in general elections was strongly supported. More than 70% of respondents said the Labour Party should back a move to PR, compared to 22% opposed.

So far he has managed to control the party with an iron hand while moving it radically to the right.  He and his acolytes are openly appealing to Tory voters.  I wonder if he cares how many Socialists he has lost on the way.  Will a new socialist party emerge from the wreckage?  If it does and it puts up enough candidates, bang go his chances of winning a General Election.  Just getting the Tories out will not be good enough if you are finding the obvious alternative to be just as bad.

The Labour Party Conference will be in Liverpool from September 25th to 28th

I shall be in Bridlington myself.

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