In Defence of Liberty

Driven by data; ridden with liberty.

Honest Debates

Should Blairite MPs leave Labour? (Edited: Greg Knapp)

Should Blairite MPs leave Labour? (Edited: Greg Knapp)

Over at Open Democracy, Jeremy Gilbert has written an open letter of questionable seriousness to Blairite MPs in the Labour party [1]. Here are some excerpts:

Instead you simply accept, as you always have done, that there is nothing worth knowing or caring about beyond the world of the corporate elite, its assumptions and its interests, and you have yourselves sought a route to prosperity and advancement in the service of that elite: a route which happens to have taken the form of becoming a Labour MP.

This is followed by:

It’s a career path that even carries with it a decent enough chance of following Blair and others to the heights of the global, billionaire-befriending, super-elite: and if not that, then at least to some Bilderberg meetings, or Davos. Nobody can blame you. You’ve done nothing illegal. Mostly.

This open letter is finished by:

So why not save us all the pain? Why not just move on? Follow your heroes David Miliband and Alan Milburn into the corporate end of the NGO sector or the private healthcare industry. Take up those City consultancies. Become a TV historian. Let someone who actually wants the job of being a Labour MP in this new party take it up. Avoid the conflict and the mess and mutual recrimination. We’ll be better off without each other.

“Historic Values”

“Corporate elite”, “billionaire-befriending”, “Bilderberg”: are you testing me, Satan?

Whilst the author says in the comments that the article “was never supposed to be very serious”, the central thesis is seriously re-asserted in response [2] to political adviser John McTernan:

All I call for is for MPs who clearly do not share any of the party’s historic values or commitments to do the decent thing and go. The fact that you can’t take on my arguments on their own terms is very telling.

Incidentally, the idea that there is a financial elite controlling the world aligns well with the beliefs of Jeremy Corbyn supporters discovered by the polling company YouGov [3]. In August 2015, 28% of Corbyn supporters strongly agreed with the statement that “the world is controlled by a secretive elite”, more than double the national average of 13%.

Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn had a distinct outlook compared to the other candidates. (Source: YouGov)

Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn had a distinct outlook compared to the other candidates. (Source: YouGov)

Beyond these conspiratorial tones, the belief that a legislator who serves neither their constituents nor any political principle is in the wrong occupation is utterly trivial. The problem is demonstrating, substantively, that there are any such MPs. Mr Gilbert permits no effort in this regard, and instead presumes that all such MPs must be “Blairites”.

It is a supreme disservice to assume, without an atom of supporting evidence, particular MPs are active within politics solely for reasons of financial or social gain, to become part of a “super-elite”.

“United and determined”

Moreover, this call is dissonant with the aims of the new Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who wants the Labour party “united and determined” for the 2020 General Election [4]. Mr Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet demonstrates political diversity, with only four Corbyn nominees (including the leader himself) being elevated to these senior positions [5]. By contrast, 11 MPs who nominated Andy Burnham in the contest now sit in the Shadow Cabinet, along with eight MPs who supported Yvette Cooper and a lone Liz Kendall advocate, Gloria de Piero, who is now the Shadow Minister for Young People and Voter Registration.

In politics, we are involved in debates, exchanging our ideas, trading our analyses, sparring our conclusions, so our arguments may be refashioned, reforged and revitalised. By assuming our opponents are spurred on by personal gain, instead of genuinely holding their beliefs, we insult our opponents and deny ourselves the opportunity to improve our own positions.

References

[1] Gilbert, J., 2015. “We’re better off without each other” – an open letter to Blairite MPs. Open Democracy. Available from: https://opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/jeremy-gilbert/were-better-off-without-each-other-open-letter-to-blairite-mps [Accessed: 17th September 2015]

[2] McTernan, J., 2015. A response to Jeremy Gilbert – nothing is possible without power. Open Democracy. Available from: https://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/john-mcternan/response-to-jeremy-gilbert-nothing-is-possible-without-power [Accessed: 17th September 2015]

[3] Sayers, F., 2015. “You may say I’m a dreamer”: inside the mindset of Jeremy Corbyn supporters. YouGov. Available from: https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/08/27/you-may-say-im-dreamer-inside-mindset-jeremy-corby/ [Accessed: 17th September 2015]

[4] Daily Record, 2015. Labour’s new leader begins task of appointing shadow cabinet and announces that Rosie Winterton will stay on as chief whip. Available from: http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics/labours-new-leader-begins-task-6432609 [Accessed: 17th September 2015]

[5] Demianyk, G., 2015. One-Third of Jeremy Corbyn’s Shadow Cabinet Nominated Andy Burnham for Leader. Huffington Post. Available from: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2015/09/14/jeremy-corbyn-shadow-cabinet-nominated-burnham-cooper-_n_8133610.html [Accessed: 17th September 2015]

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This entry was posted on September 17, 2015 by in National Politics and tagged , , .
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