Friday 19 April 2024

Making Progress, Getting Real

Born in the Blair years, the new New Labour boys even look like the old New Labour boys, to whom they are probably related. And Grandmammy David Lammy is pulling old New Labour's favourite trick of declaring absolutely anything to be "progressive" if the politician saying or doing it happened to hold a Labour Party membership card. Although in those days it was more often called "centre left", and that change is important in itself.

For example, it is "progressive realism" to support British sanctions on an Iranian drone programme in which Britain has no part. Is the pointlessness of this progressive, or realistic, or both? But remember, it would be a ban on arms sales to Israel that would be a meaningless gesture, yet at the same time an existential threat to Israel. One part of that must be the progressiveness, and the other the realism. But I cannot begin to imagine which is which.

Just as I cannot begin to imagine which part is which of the outrage at Iran's killing of no one, which progressives and realists alike would once have taken as a win while realists would have been sympathetic to Iran's response to the bombing of its consulate, and the indifference at Israel's deliberate killing of tens of thousands of women and children, as well as of three British military veterans whom realists would openly and progressives would quietly have understood were working simultaneously as aid workers and as intelligence operatives.

The bombing of aid convoys is necessary to the starvation of Gaza as a weapon of war, as advocated by Keir Starmer, so that it must, by definition, be progressive realism. And what of the killing of more than four thousand embryonic human beings by the bombing of Al Basman fertility clinic, which could not have been mistaken for anything else? The IDF can take out specific individuals when it bombs consulates, or aid convoys, or the relatives of Hamas leaders. It does not do accidents, or collateral damage. Over to at least the noisiest American Evangelical Protestants, and far more reprehensibly to some of the noisiest American Catholics, to dare to make any attempt to get out of this one.

From Gaza, to Ukraine, to anywhere else, Lammy and Starmer hold no foreign policy position that would differentiate them from Liz Truss, or Suella Braverman, or Richard Tice, just as Labour opportunistically pretended to oppose the abolition of the 45p rate of income tax, the only mini-Budget measure that had not been in Truss's prospectus to Conservative Party members, but it supported every single one of the others. Had Kwasi Kwarteng's loony list ever been put to a Commons vote, then the Labour whip would have been to abstain. While calling themselves PopCons as ostensible adults, certain people are looking for a Trusssite Restoration. They are looking in the wrong party.

Labour is a party of extremely right-wing people who lack the social connections to make it in the Conservative Party, and whose two defining experiences were being brought up to spit on everyone below them, which was everyone else where they grew up, and discovering in their first 36 hours at university that they were nowhere near the top of the class system, a discovery that embittered them for life. Centrism and right-wing populism are con tricks to sell exactly the same economic and foreign policies to different audiences by pretending to wage a culture war.

But when I tell you that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair's Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.

I have no plan to join the Workers Party of Britain, although nor would I expect to stand against it. If, however, it did not contest North Durham, then I would. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. There does, however, need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not. We have made a start.