Dear Momentum….

June 28, 2016

Dear Momentum,

My name is Jamie. I am a centre-left voter. Traditionally, my family has always voted Labour, I’ve oscillated between Labour and the Liberal Democrats for my voting years (I’m 30 now). I tend to be suspicious and critical of all power structures, including the leader of the opposition.

I want to vote Labour. I really do. I feel naturally drawn to the Labour Party. At the beginning of Corbyn’s leadership, I was willing to give him an opportunity and to defend him against criticism where I felt it not right. For example, I felt his comments that the killing of Bin Laden was tragic, were taken out of context and cynically used. As were his comments on Emwazi’s killing, in fact, I wrote on it here.

But here’s the thing; I cannot vote for a man who thinks Hamas are “…dedicated to social and political justice” (he genuinely did say that, it’s on film, it cannot be dismissed as ‘oh he just wants to get them to the negotiating table) and signs motions that imply a genocide attempt in Kosovo was invented by the US. Nor can I vote for a man you put forward – in a very UKIP manner – as fighting the establishment, when he’s spent a good thirty years defending some of the most dictatorial establishments (like Chavez) on the planet, worked for Russian State media, and didn’t have too much of a problem with Gaddafi. Nor can I vote for a man who seems to have half-arsed his way through the EU referendum debate, never challenging the clearly false claims made by the Leave side. I just can’t. And there are plenty of centre and centre-left who feel exactly the same. My local MP is a Labour MP, and because I feel my values – where social justice is not anything like that of Hamas – have been abandoned by Momentum and Jeremy Corbyn, I am unlikely to vote Labour. The PLP are not evil red Zionist Tories, they are real people worried for their jobs. Which is an electoral problem.

Here’s the thing; excusing religious supremacy should be as far away from the Labour Party as excusing racial supremacy. It should be a line that none of us cross, when we walk into the voting booth. We accept that Israel’s right wing is a bigoted group determined to block a peace process, but that does not mean we suddenly side with Hamas. We should side with those abused by both Israel and Hamas, and we should promote liberal, democratic, secular values, not defend and excuse groups that seek to impose the exact opposite. We should look at World leaders regardless of whether they hang out on the left or the right, and criticise them the moment they start to restrict free expression, threaten LGBT, and harm journalists. We should not defend them as Corbyn has done with Chavez in the past, and as I suspect a lot will do when Castro dies. Chavez was a man who, according to Human Rights Watch:

“Under Chávez, the government dramatically expanded its ability to control the content of the country’s broadcast and news media. It passed laws extending and toughening penalties for speech that “offends” government officials, prohibiting the broadcast of messages that “foment anxiety in the public,” and allowing for the arbitrary suspension of TV channels, radio stations, and websites.”

Journalists silenced and threatened, judges imprisoned  for refusing to condemn critics of Chavez, and a failed state legacy. How did Corbyn respond to that grotesque abuse of basic liberal principles?


. Again, support of those who stomp on rights all over the place should be a line we don’t cross, as liberal Labour voters. I wont cross that line. And that will be echoed across the country. Labour MPs who are now revolting, are doing so because the values of the Labour leadership, the Socialist Workers Party, and Momentum are nowhere close to being aligned to the values of constituents. They are nowhere near aligned to my values; libera-left, secular democrat.

Further, I have been a constant critic of the Tory Party. I have been a constant critic of malicious Tory rhetoric since 2010. I have criticised members of the Labour Party for refusing to challenge Tory narratives. The Tory use of the Philpott murders to attack the concept of Welfare, I consider to be one of the biggest cases of grotesque opportunism I’ve ever come across. Their defence of Saudi Arabia to the point where they aided their rise to the chair of the UN Human Right Council, is astonishing. I want the bedroom tax gone for all the misery is has inflicted. And yet for this, if I criticise Jeremy Corbyn, you will label me a ‘Red Tory’, or a ‘traitor’, or part of a vast Zionist conspiracy. When I gave my support to strategic and limited airstrikes on IS targets to aid allies who have now – with the help of airstrikes – liberated much of previously held IS strongholds, you responded by telling me I support killing children. How do you expect to win an election with that? When we read that your supporters are threatening Labour MPs, how do you expect to win support for that way of doing things?

Do not take this as an undemocratic swipe. I do not think it wise for the PLP to overturn Labour rules and replace a Labour leader democratically elected by the members. I think the members should be in control of who the leader is. I am pleading here, as someone who doesn’t want another decade of Tory rule, for the members to elect a leader who can actually win an election, and not just a man who happens to be on the left. Please, critically analyse him.

Because if you want to win an election, which I assume you do, I assume this isn’t all grandstanding, I assume it’s not all a show of power with no goal in sight, then you’re going to need to win back voters on the centre of the spectrum, because if you don’t, the Tories will. You’re going to need to win back voters from the centre-left, because if you don’t, they’ll vote Liberal Democrat or just not bother to vote at all. You cannot just insult us, dismiss our concerns, and think it’ll be fine… it wont. You’re going to need to talk about immigration, because if you don’t, you’ll lose even more working class voters to UKIP. And we then have to watch as you hand another election to the Conservative Party. So far, you insult all centre and centre-left voters as Tories despite our continued battle against them, you insult working class people by refusing to acknowledge their concerns about immigration, and you refuse to acknowledge that winning an election requires a rainbow of voters, not just those dedicated to the far-left. You have abandoned every principle necessary for victory, and all the people you need to win over. It is difficult to tell what your goal actually is.

A general election is a likely scenario following the appointment of a new Conservative leader. And the Tories are in freefall at the moment, they are – as always – tearing themselves apart over Europe. For this, we need a Labour Party that can win an election. Whilst you’re hemorrhaging working class voters to UKIP, centre-left voters, and centre voters elsewhere, the Labour Party under Corbyn cannot win an election. The game is up. It’s time to move on.

Jamie.

Advertisements

Brexit: Democracy to anti-democracy.

June 25, 2016

It’s an odd one, is democracy. It brings out all the hypocrites spectacularly quickly, and they rather like to scream the loudest. 

I voted for the United Kingdom to remain a part of the European Union. Naturally I was called a traitor, as I suspect a lot of Leavers were called racists. But not only did my side lose, the town that I live in voted to Leave. I lost. My side lost. And whilst I don’t particularly feel comfortable with 51.8% of the population stripping me of my European Citizenship and rights without my full consent, I wont be signing the petition calling for a second referendum like some in the remain camp are doing (and apparently Nigel Farage).

I wont be doing that, because if the result had been the other way around, I wouldn’t be calling for it, and nor do I expect most remain voters would have called for it. I wont be doing that, because I was fine with the rules of the referendum and made no complaint in the lead up. I wont be doing that, because I respect democracy. Something that a few Leave voters have already decided to abandon.

The dust had barely settled at the polling booths, before the Leave elites were taking to the air-waves to distance themselves from their leading arguments during the campaign. Hannan was much more subdued in his comments on immigration, despite Leave whipping up fear of immigration in the final days of the campaign, with hideous leaflets about Turkey, and posters with queues of brown people. Farage insisted there will not be £350m extra to pump into the NHS, despite a Leave voter just moments before explaining how she was excited for that extra money to be pumped in. They never claimed the NHS would have more spent on it, said the voices of the Leave campaign who have in the past expressed their delight at the idea of privatising the health service. They never implied it, they said. Except when they did, which was always, and except when they were confronted on it, and simply refused to answer, turning instead to empty substance-less sentiments like “make Britain great again!“. Except here:

NHS
As well as completely distancing themselves from manipulative claims that essentially won them a momentous vote, they’ve also appeared to distance themselves from the very democratic values that they’ve run an entire campaign on. Indeed, Boris insisted the result of the referendum was a victory for democracy! They – along with the Mail, Telegraph, and The Sun – had defeated the establishment. No longer would elected elites appoint unelected leaders to govern as the head of a large state. Boris Johnson. A man – a Royalist man, incidentally – likely to be appointed by a small group of Tory elites, to the role of head of the UK government, with a new agenda that apparently I shouldn’t be allowed to vote for or against. But wait!, say the Brexit hypocrites! That’s how our system works, so it’s absolutely fine to abandon the “let the people beat the elites!” mentality. In this instance, because it’s ‘just the way we do things around here’, it’s fine apparently. A new government is going to be distinctly more anti-EU than the current lot, a completely different ideological mentality. A Brexit government. Let’s be clear; no one voted for a Brexit government. This wasn’t on the ballot paper. No one voted for Boris to lead the country. No one voted for Farage to have a place in it (which he likely will). They will be appointed, not elected. But it’s our system, so they say it’s now fine to adopt a principle you fought against 24 hours prior. If I had run an entire campaign against the ‘establishment elites’ who are appointed by elected officials, and then I – an establishment elite – agree to be appointed by elected officials, and not the British people, I suspect I might feel like I’d completely abandoned an essential principle.

In the run up to the referendum, Nadine Dorries – from a Party that has forever referred to anyone implying that great wealth may not understand great poverty as indulging in the ‘politics of envy’ – went on a grand rant about a millionaire like David Beckham not understanding ordinary people. The hypocrisy at that point was at ‘breaking point’. But she isn’t the only one. The politicians positioning themselves as the great protectors of the British working class, against the elites, are the same politicians who vote to cut essential services, aren’t a fan of minimum wage, vote to cut taxes for the wealthiest at the expense of a safety net, & think the NHS should be abandoned. This is matched only by the utter uselessness of the current Labour leadership to wrestle those voters back.

And then there’s Toby Young. His article criticising the hyperbolic response by some remainers (the suggesting that Thursday was like waking up to find out the Nazis had won the war was a little bit bizarre, though if you search ‘nazis’ on Twitter, literally everything on the planet is compared to them at some point, including voting to remain) was going so well, until this:

“Over 33 million people have had their say about the future of these islands and those who woke up this morning to find things didn’t go their way must accept the result and work with the majority to do their best for the country.”

– I have several issues with this. In the space of about four hours, the UK had voted to leave the European Union with no plan in place for what comes next, the pound tumbled to 31 year lows, the Prime Minister resigned, Corbyn was under pressure to go, and the markets lost billions, but Toby Young would rather we all just moved on, despite a seismic shock.

The implication that a result of a democratic exercise – regardless of its instant ramifications – should not be scrutinised and we should all just accept it and move on, to be made by a political commentator is just bizarre. The arguments now being quickly abandoned, we should just get past it and move on. The dangerously divisive posters that imply sinister dark skinned men are about to swarm the country, we should just allow those who knew exactly what they were doing when they created it, to get away with no scrutiny and we should move on. People are genuinely scared for what has just happened, for the future, for their family’s future, and so those who voted for this do not get a free pass from criticism or political scrutiny. Indeed, I would argue that a very fundamental principle of democracy, is holding to account the winning side. Gove had dismissed the importance of experts, with their knowledge and reason, replacing it with pure belief… a very religious and irrational sentiment that I find unnerving to say the very least, because as the pound tumbled to its lowest level in 31 years (my entire life time), Young would rather we all didn’t scrutinise what led to it. The voices of belief over reason, and “I believe in Britain!” sentiments over practical implications win without question, when we imply their rhetoric, their narrative, should just go unquestioned.

Whilst Young criticised Remainers on social media, I will take the time to criticise Leavers on social media convinced that “It’s just my opinion” is a rhetorical shield that protects their opinion from criticism. It doesn’t. Your view is as open to debate, to mocking, to scrutiny, to contempt, as any other, just as Soviet Communism is, just as Islamism is, just as Nazism is. No view is to be protected. Including mine. And to scrutinise your view, is not at all similar to an all-out Saudi-style attack on your right to free expression. Express whatever you want, but do not expect complete silence. Whilst your right to a view must be respected and unmolested, whilst your absolute fundamental right to express your view in words and in art is to be absolutely defended and protected…. the substance of the view itself has no such right, and when it is aired in public, it opens itself up to scrutiny. That’s democracy. The very democracy you voted to protect. Deal with it, like I have to deal with my EU citizenship stripped from me.

So, the leading claims that they made and that arguably won them the vote, they now back away from, the democracy-over-elites narrative they pushed, they now adopt the opposite, and the fundamental democratic aspect of holding to account the victorious side, scrutinising their motives, actions, and ramifications they want you to put aside and forget…. for the good of this (my hand is on my heart) great country of ours. Democracy to anti-democracy.


Following Orlando.

June 14, 2016

The indescribable horror of the homophobic attack on the LGBT community in Orlando this past week seems to have set off a political storm of soul searching and hypocrisy.

49 people murdered, 49 scared beyond anything any of us can imagine, having their own lives stripped from them, and 49 families destroyed. 53 more with injuries and psychological scars that wont fade. A violent religious man who could easily obtain an assault rifle, drove for over an hour to specifically target innocent LGBT people at a place they should have been safe. And since then, I have sat and watched shameless political figures across the spectrum, who have either embraced or excused the most hideous homophobia in the past, suddenly hold vigils or moments of silence for the victims.

The House of Representatives today held a moments silence for the victims of the Orlando terror attack. Representatives who have long fought to withhold basic rights for LGBT people, who have taken to airwaves and public talks dehumanising LGBT folk, who would be fine with ‘no gays allowed’ signs in shops and workplaces across the country, who oppose non-discrimination in the workplace acts if they include protections for gay people, today stand and offer their grief over the deaths of those they’ve long considered not human enough for equal treatment, rights and dignity. Representatives who routinely vote to strike down any laws that might restrict the availability of assault rivals that all too often leads to the House having to hold moments of silence.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn joined a mass vigil in London’s Soho yesterday, in solidarity with the LGBT community. A community he didn’t give two thoughts about when he was describing gay-hating Hamas as ‘dedicated to peace and to social & political justice’. A group whose entire goal is a theocratic state that excludes LGBT not just from the political process, but from liberty itself. A group whose co-founder Mahmoud Zahar referred to the LGBT community as:

“…a minority of perverts and the mentally and morally sick.”

– To Corbyn ‘social and political justice’ starts and ends at opposition to either Israel or the West in general. The LGBT community in Palestine are considered expendable.

Conservative Christians who have spent years focusing their vitriol on the LGBT community – insisting they are dangerous, should be viewed suspiciously in bathrooms, shouldn’t be allowed to adopt or marry, as if there is something specifically sinister about them – take to social media to offer their ‘prayers’ to victims they may not wish to see murdered, but certainly don’t believe deserve equal civil rights, dignified treatment, and protections.

Ted Cruz took the time to release a statement on the homophobic murders in Orlando:

“If you’re a Democratic politician and you really want to stand for LGBT, show real courage and stand up against the vicious ideology that has targeted our fellow Americans for murder.”

– This is the same US Senator who was introduced on stage at last November’s National Religious Liberties Conference in Iowa by a Pastor who said:

“Yes, Romans Chapter 1 verse 32 the Apostle Paul does says that homosexuals are worthy of death. His words not mine! And I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! And I am not ashamed of the truth of the word of God. And I am willing to go to jail…

…Now my friends let me introduce to you the next candidate for the office of President of the United States, folks please make welcome Senator Ted Cruz.”

– The vicious ideology that Cruz speaks of is of course Islam. A homophobic set of doctrines that perpetuates and sustains dehumanising and violence against the LGBT community. The Qur’an is of course not that much different from the Bible; a vicious set of homophobic doctrines that Cruz and those who introduce him at religious liberties events use to dehumanise LGBT folk, threaten them restriction of basic rights, and with execution. It isn’t a great leap to go from treating LGBT as sub-human in a country based on human rights, to violence against that community.

Saudi Arabia released a statement condemning the murders as a despicable act of terrorism. The same Saudi Arabia whose Ministry of Education Textbooks for Islamic Studies: 2007-2008 is about as barbaric and homophobic terror as is possible to be:

“Homosexuality is one of the most disgusting sins and greatest crimes…. It is a vile perversion that goes against sound nature, and is one of the most corrupting and hideous sins…. The punishment for homosexuality is death. Both the active and passive participants are to be killed whether or not they have previously had sexual intercourse in the context of a legal marriage…. Some of the companions of the Prophet stated that [the perpetrator] is to be burned with fire. It has also been said that he should be stoned, or thrown from a high place.”

– The same Saudi Arabia that the Prime Minister insisted to Channel 4 News ‘….actually has a good record of deradicalisation’.

As much as humanity may try, it isn’t possible to simply mourn such a hideous massacre without politicising, and I’m not sure it is wrong to do so anyway. We must all confront the bigotry woven into ideologies from Islamism & those who make excuses for it, to conservative Christianity, that perpetuate dehumanising narratives aimed squarely at the LGBT community. These create the conditions for hate to grow and explode. Homophobia must be treated with the same contempt that racism is treated. At the moment – and when it comes to religion – it isn’t.

To confront the bigoted narrative, we should not allow the hypocrisy of self-serving politicians to undermine the discussion on homophobia and its root causes (almost exclusively religious doctrines based on a primitive, tribal misunderstanding of nature). I don’t want to hear Labour politicians quick to support and excuse far-right religious fascists tell me that “love will conquer”. I don’t want to hear Conservatives defend viciously homophobic regimes as heroes of deradicalisation. I don’t want to hear apologists tell me that ‘terror has no religion’ in a grotesque way to close down discussion; indeed any discussion on homophobia that does not include religion is spectacularly insincere and incomplete. I don’t want to hear Republican politicians who practically hand guns to extremists, whilst perpetuating the homophobic narratives that pull the trigger, tell me that a vicious alien ideology – an ideology whose homophobic beliefs those Republicans flirt with daily – is responsible. Here’s the fact; Holy Books and those who adhere to them have for centuries taught that homosexuality is a moral evil, a sin that must be punished, that continue to undermine and deny gay rights and dignity, that refer to the fight for liberation and protections as ‘the gay agenda’, that believe children are at risk, that tell us that same-sex marriage is the death of our culture. Further, Those liberals who seek to protect illiberal and homophobic tribal squabbles from centuries ago, sell the LGBT community to the first extremists who offer their hatred for the West. They are to blame. All of them. From Hamas to Corbyn to Cameron to Saudi to Cruz.