Explaining Councillor Adam Clarke’s “Neutrality” in the Face of the Labour Coup

Not every socialist is principled and willing to stand-up to defend working class interests, and some socialists even pretend that the most appropriate way to deal with crises is to remain resolutely silent. Just such a position of quietude is one that Councillor Adam Clarke publicly professes is politically expedient to hold, although his recent online missives seem to contradict this.

Self-described “middle-class democratic socialist” Cllr Adam Clarke was first elected to Leicester City Council to represent Aylestone ward in 2011, and he is one of Sir Peter Soulsby’s assistant mayor’s, with the portfolio responsibility for Energy and Sustainability.

Notably, Cllr Clarke has refused to publicly back either the anti-democratic coup against Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party (which has been openly supported by Sir Peter, Rory Palmer and eight other city councillors), or the more recent campaign to oppose this coup, which has been backed by eight of Leicester’s 52 Labour city councillors.

This leaves Cllr Clarke among the 34 Leicester city councillors who pretend that the coup is none of their business. Such an unwillingness to stand up for justice is however severely problematic, especially given Cllr Clarke’s previous outspokenness, just last year, to publicly back Yvette Cooper against Corbyn for the Labour leadership.

Keep Corbyn Salfrod July 23
Salford Rally for Corbyn, July 23, 2016

Compare Cllr Clarke’s studied silence to that of the words of shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon who, speaking to a packed audience of 1,700 people in Salford at the launch of Corbyn’s leadership campaign on Saturday, explained:

“Martin Luther King famously said: ‘At the end of the day, what you remember is not the words of your enemies but the silence of your friends.’ And the truth is friends, is that many people in the UK who look to the Labour Party to be their friend, started to think that Labour, rather than being a friend speaking out, was a friend being silent. So silent, in fact, on issues that mattered, that people wondered whether we were their friends at all.

“But what we’ve had since Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party, is a Labour Party leadership that isn’t standing by, a Labour Party leadership that is standing up, a Labour Party leadership that is speaking up, a Labour Party leadership that can’t in any way be accused of being a silent friend in times of trouble. And under Jeremy Corbyn, whatever they say in the newspapers and elsewhere, we’ve seen Labour working, we’ve seen Labour winning…”

This is why silence for an elected Labour politician in such testing times is simply untenable.

But, as it turns out, Cllr Clarke has spoken out, writing a blog post in defence of political “neutrality,” which as it happens actually did quite the opposite.

His short blog post titled “It’s my Party…”, which was published on Friday (July 22), outlines Cllr Clarke’s evident angst: “I feel like a neutral at a particularly poor football match, wanting nothing more than the final whistle.” His strangely apolitical description of the ongoing coup against Corbyn is portrayed like this: “The Labour Party is mid-transition. It is a painful transition. Excruciating.”

Adam Clarke Leicester city councillor 2016

Cllr Clarke admits that “If Jeremy Corbyn remains leader, he will continue to enthuse and inspire a large base within the party membership…” Although in order to remain neutral he completes this sentence with the pessimistic prediction — repeated ad infinitum in the corporate media — that Corbyn would only be supported by “a limited cohort within the electorate.”

In his faux bid for neutrality Cllr Clarke then disparages both potential Labour leaders, both Owen Smith and Jeremy Corbyn, writing:

“The bloke from big pharma vs the bloke who could be mistaken for a pig farmer…
(I know the above is unfair to both but couldn’t resist…)”

But even Cllr Clarke is able to see that Owen Smith, the Blairite corporate lobbyist, is not the best option for the Labour Party. He thus continues: “Personally, on a superficial level and broadly speaking, the latter [Corbyn] is generally more preferable to the former.”

Nevertheless, despite his superficial preference for Corbyn, Cllr Clarke believes that Labour under Corbyn would fail, which is hardly a neutral position to take regarding the democratically elected leader of his own Party. Corbyn, Cllr Clarke might do well to remember, is also being subjected to the most relentless media smear campaign in living history, a campaign of lies and disinformation that Cllr Clarke is doing nothing to rebut.

Cllr Clarke ends his ill-informed post in the same way that he began it, by echoing the mumbo-jumbo “unknown unknowns” rhetoric first popularised by rightwing US militarist Donald Rumsfeld (Ironically the “unknown unknown” nonsense was also used to by another local Labour representative, for more on this see “Sundip Meghani Demands that ‘Jeremy Corbyn Must Be Deposed’”).

As such, the opening paragraph of Cllr Clarke’s post noted: “Many other ‘unknown unknowns’ -for good or for ill- could render the below completely redundant…”; and he concluded his post by saying, “lets hope that some of those good unknown unknowns become known sooner rather than later.”

The only fitting response to Cllr Clarke’s repetitious talk of unknown unknowns and fictitious neutrality, is to make clear that by refusing to publicly support the leader of his own party against the anti-democratic actions of many of his colleagues, he is:

  1. making it known how little he cares little about democracy within the Labour Party, and
  2. he is ensuring that his own future as a soon-to-be retired Labour Party representative will soon make him an unknown in the annals of Labour history.
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