In the latest Political Barb, ‘General Election 2017 – Fox Hunting’ summarised here, Steve Beauchampé asks if anyone has seen Tom Watson – all but invisible since the General Election was called on April 18th:
“We shouldn’t be too surprised however, I’d always imagined that as an avowedly pro-New Labour, anti-Corbynite, Watson’s main focus ahead of June 8th would be developing a strategy to take back control of the party machinery from the several hundred thousand ideologically driven enthusiasts who have joined Labour since summer 2015. This, following the anticipated electoral disaster and subsequent dispatching of Corbyn to the margins of political history.
“So this Labour surge, even should it ultimately fail to deliver the party the opportunity to form a government, is deeply problematical for those in the Parliamentary Labour Party who so readily opposed or otherwise distanced themselves from the man who has suddenly – and quite unexpectedly – become arguably Labour’s biggest asset”
He notes that ‘missing in action’ are various leading Conservatives: Liam Fox, Sajid Javid, Preeti Patel, Andrea Leadsom, even Chancellor Philip Hammond. But Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who stood in for May during a BBC leaders’ debate last Wednesday ‘put in a combative performance’ leaving Theresa May owing her big time . . .
The ‘downgrading’ of chief political advisors Fiona Hill and Nick Timothy and enhanced rôle of chief strategist Lynton Crosby leads Beauchampé to ask: “Ah, would that be the same Lynton Crosby who oversaw Zac Goldsmith’s highly successful London Mayoral bid last year? Or the same Lynton Crosby who oversaw the equally effective Remain campaign for the 2016 EU referendum . . .
His conclusion: “Restoring Theresa May’s self-congratulatory, complacent, personal power grab of a campaign is probably beyond even Crosby. It is fatally tainted, exposed for its galaxy of emptiness and arrogant narcissism and it long ago ran out of road. Ultimately the mass transfer of UKIP votes to the Tories will probably save her, and might yet ensure her a healthy, workable majority. But Theresa May is diminished, with the clock already ticking on her departure date as internal party scores are settled and her enemies prepare to exact revenge. And who would have thought that the Conservatives would be the party we’d be writing this about seven weeks ago!
As for Jeremy Corbyn, blimey, he’s almost become a national treasure.
In a recent Birmingham Press article, Steve Beauchampé wonders, “Quite what those within the neoLiberal, New Labour wing of the party, including many Labour MPs and much of the party’s current political hierarchy, feel about Smith’s almost daily promises and pronouncements, can only be guessed at”.
Promises and pronouncements
During his leadership campaign Smith has pledged to scrap tuition fees, to give more power to Labour members and party conference delegates, to reverse privatisation within the NHS, to end the Right to Buy scheme and to raise the top rate of income tax to 50%. As Beauchampé points out: “Almost all of Smith’s domestic policy pronouncements are similar to those of his party leader and asked at the recent Labour hustings event in Solihull whether Jeremy Corbyn’s remedy for the UK would work, Smith replied: “Broadly yes.”)
The neoLiberal, New Labour response
“Horror would be a likely reaction, though tempered by the almost certain knowledge that the candidate they are probably now backing with reluctance will succumb to a decisive defeat and retreat to the back benches to see out what remains of his parliamentary career. So instead of a media and middle-England friendly, centre ground candidate, those behind the anti-Corbyn coup have ended up with someone who is trying to position himself as Britain’s most left wing man!”
Beauchampé surmises that if Owen Smith had been standing against Chuka Umunna, Dan Jarvis or Yvette Cooper his policy programme would be very different from that which he offers Labour members today, meaning that that House of Lords he wants to abolish and those Free Schools he wishes to take into local authority ownership would once more be safe.
Owen Smith’s series of ‘incoherent arguments and stances’ (of which mainstream media seem to be oblivious) are then highlighted:
- He claims to want to democratise the Labour Party and give power to its 500,000+ members, but remained steadfastly uncritical when the National Executive Committee denied around 120,000 of those members (widely believed to be largely pro-Corbyn) a vote in the current leadership contest.
- He criticises Corbyn for Labour’s poor performance in May’s Scottish Parliamentary election, whilst absolving from blame the party’s leader in Scotland, Kezia Dugdale, a supporter of Owen Smith’s who unequivocally distanced herself from Corbyn during that parliamentary campaign.
- Even more bafflingly, Smith stresses the need for Labour to attract disaffected Conservative voters whilst calling himself a proud socialist and proclaiming policies that would deter such a middle ground demographic in a thrice.
Beauchampé compares Owen Smith – who ‘comes across as both unconvincing and not a little desperate’, who has no discernible track record of being on the radical left and used to lobby government on behalf of a multi-national pharmaceutical company’ – with his opponent Jeremy Corbyn, ‘who has a forty-year history of standing unswervingly by his socialist principles and passionately-held ideals’.
And SB’s implied verdict is shared by the hundreds of thousands who have rallied to support Corbyn, despite the unceasing attempts by most mainstream media, their corporate advertisers lobby-friendly rightwing politicians to discredit him, preserving the economic and political systems which have served them so well.
To read the article, laced with sardonic humour, go to http://thebirminghampress.com/2016/08/hes-on-a-journey-folks/