Labouring Over Facts

As a member of the working-class, I wear my class bias proudly. That is why I stood in the general elections for the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC). And while support at the ballot box was not as large as we had hoped, especially given our positive reception on people’s doorsteps, TUSC still succeeded in presenting the largest left-of-Labour challenge since World War II.

Former Labour County Councillor Denis Bown takes me to task in his letter (August 6, Leicester Mercury), arguing that promoting working-class policies is “meaningless if you do not win.” Referring to “master Tony Blair’s” historic victories, Bown’s case has “been proved,” apparently “you have to occupy the middle ground to win”.

It seems I am guilty of being unable to sort out the facts from what I think they should be, hence my mistaken support for a socialist alternative to Labour. But Bown misses the point. Labour lost the election precisely because they failed to oppose the Tories’ austerity lies. This also explains why so many of their potential supporters refuse to engage in the continuing degradation of electoral politics.

Yes, the Tories “were elected with an increased vote”: in 2010 the Tories obtained the support of 24% of the electorate, while in 2015 this soared up to 24.4%. Moreover, the Labour Party showed their potential voters their true blue colours when they united with the Tories to impose “Project Fear” upon the Scottish working-class, thereby ensuring the loss of all but one of their 41 parliamentary seats in Scotland.

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Labour County Councillor Leon Spence bolster’s Bown’s bizarre fact-free arguments in the same edition of the Mercury. Spence focuses his worries upon the “idealist, rebellious, anti-Blair candidate” Jeremy Corbyn who is encouraging Labour to “retreat to its public good/private bad comfort zone” (by opposing austerity), thereby apparently running the “risk of ostracizing” Labour voters.

A few days later, Labour City Councillor Vijay Singh Riyiat joined the fray, arguing for Labour to reject Corbyn and fully embrace austerity (August 8, Mercury). Riyiat refers to Blue Labour acolyte John Cruddas’s discredited “official Labour Party analysis” of Labour’s electoral demise.

This analysis rests upon a poll that Riyiat says showed that “59 per cent of people don’t support anti-austerity policies” (which was not actually what it found). But as even the results of Cruddas’s poll puts it, “60 per cent agree with the statement, ‘the economic system in this country unfairly favours powerful interests’… while 43 per cent agree that, ‘I am most likely to vote for the political party that redistributes wealth from rich to poor’, against 22% who do not.”

Combined with the misleading questions utilized by Cruddas’s poll, such results led Corbyn to draw opposite conclusions to Cruddas, conclusions that were supported by a poll conducted by YouGov in January.

Stephan Shakespeare, YouGov’s CEO determined that this earlier poll showed that not just Labour voters but also the party’s swing voters prefer “a leftist Labour Party than a Blairite one”. “It’s as if the electorate are saying: give us some meat, we’re sick of austerity”.

This letter was sent to the Leicester Mercury mailbox on 10th August. Published on 25th August as “Seeking Labour’s Soul.”

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On 9th September Denis Bown responded with this bizarre letter:

Bown letter

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