Tony Greenstein | 19 April 2017 | Post Views:

John Woodcock Must Not be Allowed to Stand

There is no reason that this scab should be a Labour candidate

It was Harold Wilson who said that a week is a long time in
politics.  Seven weeks is a political
eternity.  Theresa May has taken a gamble
that her 21% lead will hold.  It is a
gamble that she may yet come to regret.

There is only one direction that her lead can go and that is
down.  Once her lead falls then a
snowball effect can take over.  What is
essential is that Labour marks out the key areas on which it is going to base
its appeal.  The danger is that Corbyn is
going to continue with his ‘strategy’ of appeasing the Right and appealing to
all good men and women.  If so that will
be a recipe for disaster.

No election is guaranteed to be without its surprises.  Theresa May is a cautious conservative.  She is literally the product of her
background, a conservative vicar’s daughter. 
Reactionary, parochial and small-minded, she is a bigot for all
seasons.  What doesn’t help is that she
is both wooden and unoriginal.  The
danger is that Corbyn tries to emulate her.
The key question is whether or not Corbyn can rise to the
occasion.  Over the past 18 months his
performance has been little short of dire. 
There is point in pretending otherwise. 
The question is whether he will rise to the occasion as he showed
glimpses of doing during the leadership election last summer.  There has been a conscious strategy of
appeasing the Right in the hope that they will come to accept Corbyn’s
leadership.  This has resulted in his
passive acceptance of a witch-hunt.  When
Labour’s crooked General Secretary, Iain McNicoll was busy digging into members’
twitter feeds last summer in the attempt to suspend enough Corbyn voters to
swing the vote, Corbyn said nothing. 
After he won he blew his best chance to get rid of this disloyal toad, a
man who did his best to keep him off the ballot paper.
Labour’s recent policy announcements are still inadequate to motivate Labour’s base
Even Jesus, with whom Corbyn shares his initials, didn’t
allow the gospel of love to prevent him from driving the money lenders from the
temple with whips.  That should be the
approach to MPs like John Woodcock. 
Woodcock says there are no circumstances in which he will vote for Corbyn
as Prime Minister.  Fine, but the Labour
Party has elected him leader with just that in mind.  Woodcock should therefore be left to either
join the Tory Party or stand as an independent. 
On no account should John
Woodcock be a Labour candidate at this general election.
Corbyn’s inability to call out the ‘anti-Semitism’
witch-hunt has symbolised the problems with his leadership.  It has always been the traditional response of
supporters of Israel to attack supporters of the Palestinians as ‘anti-Semitic’.  There is no mystery about it.  You only need to google ‘anti-Zionism = anti-Semitism’
to understand what the Jewish Labour Movement and Labour Friends of Israel have
been playing at for the past 18 months when they alleged that there was a
problem with ‘anti-Semitism’ in the Labour Party.
The Guardian’s only concern is to attack Labour under Corby
Unfortunately Corbyn forgot where he had come from and
everything he once espoused on Palestine under the guidance of  a kitchen cabinet of Seamus Milne, James Schneider,
Lansman et al.  Corbyn has done the exact
opposite of what was required.  He has
compromised with a Right which will accept nothing less than his head.
Corbyn’s only hope lies in outflanking Theresa May and
setting the agenda.  For example Corbyn’s
recent policy announcements including calling for the building of 200,000
houses including 100,000 council houses. 
I can remember when Labour under Harold Wilson in the 1960s called for
the building of ½ million houses yet the housing crisis now is far worse than
50 years ago.  Another recent policy
announcement is that nationalisation of the railways will be enabled by preventing
 renewal of existing franchises.  That will take 15 years.  In other words it will never happen.  Labour needs to pledge an immediate renationalisation.  Within one year the entire railway system in
this country will be unified. 
The National Health Service is another major issue but it
has never been an election winner since the Tories have always professed that
it is safe in their hands.  That means
that it is not enough to pledge meaningless figures.  There has to be a pledge that not only will
private involvement will be reversed but that contracts will be statutorily
cancelled.  As regards PFI (Private
Finance Initiative) contracts which are bankrupting the NHS, thanks to New
Labour, there should be a pledge that these financial instruments will be
cancelled, that the contracts in question will be statutorily reversed saving
billions of pounds.
Already the contours of the campaign are becoming
clear.  Brexist is going to be a major
issue and the Lib-Dems are going to make gains on this issue.  Labour at the moment is in the worst position
of all.  It is effectively supporting
Theresa May.  In the House of Commons Corbyn
laid down a 3 line whip that people should back May’s invocation of Article
50.  I know that Corbyn agreed with Tony Benn’s
position of withdrawal from the European Union but it should now be obvious
that this has led, not to a socialist revival but the growth of UKIP and narrow
and nasty chauvinism and racism.

I somehow doubt that Corbyn is capable of drawing the necessary
lessons but Labour should make it clear that it is the anti-Brexit party, but
from a position of opposition to a free market Europe.  In other words a position which says that we
disagree with Europe’s espousal of free market capitalism but we are also
opposed to Theresa May’s ideas of a low tax Britain, some kind of offshore tax
dodging island off Europe. It is essential that the Lib-Dems do not corner the
anti-Brexit market.

To those who say this will be disregarding the vote against
Brexit, I have only one answer – rubbish. 
People didn’t vote for leaving the single market, increasing
unemployment, higher inflation etc.  They
voted against what they perceived was an establishment which has pauperised
them in the past 30 years, which has deindustrialised Britain and created a ‘flexible’
Labour market.  They saw, quite falsely, immigration
as the cause of that impoverishment.  It
is Labour’s job to point to the real causes of poverty.
Which brings me to the major theme that Labour should
employ.  Instead of swapping useless and
meaningless statistics about the deficit and national debt, Corbyn should
simply call their bluff.  If the goal is
about reducing the debt then why cut taxes for the rich?  What is really happening is a transfer of
wealth from the poorest to the richest. 
Austerity is the means by which to do that.  Corbyn should vigorously argue that a society
where the top 10% own 50%+ of the wealth is one in which the needs of ordinary working
class people are subordinated to the market and the needs of the rich.

Corbyn has a number of advantages.  For a start we can say to Labour voters
tempted to vote Lib Dem that the announcement that the Lib Dems won’t support a
Labour-led coalition under Corbyn means that they will, in the event of a hung
parliament, go into coalition with the Tories, i.e. a vote for the Lib Dems is
a vote for the Tories.  Secondly  in those few seats where a Green candidate
can make a difference to Labour winning or not, like Brighton Kemptown, we
should do a deal.  In Brighton it should
be that Labour will stand down in Brighton Pavilion to give Caroline Lucas an
easy win in return for the Greens standing down and explicitly backing Labour
in Brighton Kemptown.
And one other thing.  Corbyn
and Labour should tackle head on the major theme of the BBC at the moment – Corbyn’s
‘unpopularity’.  He should admit that as
a result of a systematic attack on him by the media and the BBC, that opinion
polls are negative.  He should therefore
go onto the attack against not only a conservative dominated press, the
Guardian included, but a BBC in thrall to Conservative politics, witness the
fact that Nigel Farage has a monthly appearance on Question Time.

There is everything to win if Labour has the courage of its

Tony Greenstein 

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Tony Greenstein

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