Wednesday, 6 October 2021
The Need To Heed
Well, that speech must have been entertaining enough if you liked that kind of thing. A lot of people do. As for what they are going to be voting for, arguably since the end of the Coalition, and undeniably since the fall of David Cameron and George Osborne, most Labour MPs have been well to the right of the Government.
And in the last two weeks, one way and another, the Government has officially become well to the left of the Labour Party. That is now a body of irremovable MPs and their fan club. Irremovable, that, is, except by the score at the next General Election, at which, inter alia, most people who were members of the Labour Party at the start of September 2021 are not going to vote at all. But they have plenty to be getting on with.
Why are there never mass demonstrations outside the Labour Party Conference? Labour is not in government. There would have been against the Iraq War, against measures strikingly similar to the downlift in Universal Credit and to the breaking of the Triple Lock on pensions, and against legislation practically paradigmatic of the Covert Human Intelligence Sources (Criminal Conduct) Act and of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
There never were, because Labour was last in government before the social media age. Yes, it has been as long as that. And it is going to be a lot longer yet. But life goes on. John Ware has had to withdraw his bullying libel action against Jeremy Corbyn after £35,000 were crowdfunded to fight it. It will take time, but the "anti-Semitism" hoax is falling apart, and with it what little credibility might attach to Keir Starmer or to his party.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is implementing as much of Corbyn's project as he can get away with, while keeping his own party faithful sweet with bad puns and what have you. That, and winning elections. As for the rest, a luta continua even when, as in Manchester this week, there are Police snipers on the roofs, with their guns pointed straight at you. What is so feared? Is it the sheer sight and sound of the people who had thought of such much that was already happening, or which very soon would be, but who had thought it through a lot better?
Those snipers provide some context to the debate around vaccine passports. Now, don't get me wrong. Everyone should be double jabbed, and if I had a shop or a pub then I would not let anyone through the door if I knew that they had refused to be vaccinated. But there is a large role for the State, and then there is a large space in which it has no place. A little-reported fringe meeting at last week's Labour Party Conference heard Rebecca Long-Bailey, Dawn Butler, Bell Ribeiro-Addy, Emily Benn and Shami Chakrabarti make the case that these identity card schemes always hit our people hardest.
They are always intended to. Mark Drakeford has blotted his copybook with this, Plaid Cymru has shown that it has not quite forgotten Welsh rural Radicalism and the Nonconformist peace tradition, and Gareth Davies has not abstained by accident, because that is not the kind of thing that happens. The Conservatives have made this possible in Wales as a kind of experiment, like the Poll Tax in Scotland. We have been warned. Now we need to heed the warning.