This post is fictional. The conversation recorded here is pure imagination and did not take place in real life.
MI5 Morning George. It’s time we had a chat about Jeremy Corbyn. Getting serious, I think.
MI6 Do you believe so? Poor ratings. Of course you can do a lot of damage by an ill informed national debate not that he wants to talk about security. What do you think is at risk?
MI5 Well the usual subjects of course.. Trident and our nuclear defense is the obvious issue. A Corbyn led government would cancel Trident.
MI6 If he could. He might not have a majority for that. But poor support for NATO is more real, I think. He would be so busy spending money that he would rat on the 2 percent of GDP. And then we have to think of our own services: lower budgets, of course, but a lack of parliamentary consensus could be very damaging.
MI5 What I fear most is neglect. I can’t imagine Corbyn active on the world stage protecting British interests. I fear ignorance and indifference rather than a plethora of wrong-headed decisions.
M16 You are too complacent. I think we shall have a number of poor judgements some of which could be very serious indeed. Imagine the press conference after a meeting with Putin. ‘ I have expressed my sympathy to the President for his wish to reincorporate territories into the Russian Federation. There are historic claims to the Baltic States and Ukraine that deserve serious consideration. We should all sit down together in friendship and talk about them.’
M15 That’s over larding it I think but I get what you mean. More seriously, what can we do about it?
M16 I could arrange a brain transplant. (laughter)
M15 Don’t tempt me!!
I do not wish to be parochial or small-minded. But the world, at least my world, is behaving in a most peculiar manner. Take Brexit, or don’t take it, from my point of view, very large numbers of British people admitted that they might be worse off if there was a Brexit – but they voted Leave anyway. ‘What do people like us have to lose ‘ they said. Quite a lot actually: your job, higher shop prices, a collapse in annuity values and cancelling the annual holiday to the Costa Brava or some such place. Such warnings were greeted with a shrug. ‘So what’ and ‘they could hardly get worse’. Are you real don’t these things matter any more?
And take Corbyn – I wish you would -and the Labour leadership contest. Owen Smith has made himself as close to an identikit candidate as he could (excepting devising a way to stay in the EU and renewing Trident, that I admit from my point of view are extremely important). He is well educated, presentable. well-informed, has management experience and the confidence of the Parliamentary Party .Shouldn’t we Labourites give him a majority? The reply:’I agree he is very presentable and would make a good Prime Minister.but I intend to stay with Jeremy.’ Why doesn’t he agree with me?
Look at the Corbyn closely, listen to his speech, imagine him representing Britain at an international conference (no placards allowed) or mastering a complex document at No 10?You can imagine him doing these things??? Congratulations for it is quite an achievement.
‘Don’t worry. It will never happen.’ I hear you say. Are you really content with a Conservative Government as far as the eye can see. ‘What will be, will be.’ I hear you say.’I doubt if it will make much difference.’
Wake up, wake up, wake up!
Filed under Alistair Campbell, Boris Johnson, Commons, Europe, Guardian, House of Commons, Jeremy Corbyn, John Martin, Labour leadership, Labour List, Larisa Martin, Liberal Voice, Momentum, New Stateman, Politics, Referendum, Uncategorized, Unemployment
Corbynism has entered our political vocabulary. What does it mean? I suggest it means a social movement or cult centered on the Leader of the Labour Party with the objective of changing Labour from its role as a broad church parliamentary party to a social pressure group with parliamentary representation.
Since its foundation in 1918 to the present time Labour has been a parliamentary party supported by a membership at a grassroots level. From time to time these roles have come under pressure but the difficulties have always been resolved in favour of the Parliamentary Party.
In representative democracies, such as our own, it has always been the case from 1688 onwards that sovereignty and right to govern rested with parliament and that policy outcomes were dependent on compromises between interests.
The management of a parliamentary majority has always required great skill and experience and for the most part parliament has attracted individuals of talent with the ability not only to ague a case but to create legislation that will implement political ideals and talent.
It came as a shock to me to realise that Corbynism requires weak leadership. The role of a leader of a social movement is to listen and to articulate the needs of pressure groups. The Leader listens and opposes the establishment on all the main issues of the day as articulated by groups of people who – or so it is said – do not get listened to at the present time.
Corbyn is an ideal person to fulfill this new role. He is certainly weak. My political path has crossed with Corbyn. I was a member of the Hornsey Labour Party of which Corbyn was an organiser and we were both councillors on the Haringey Borougth Counci’ I was not impressed. I do not wish to be unkind. However, consider Jeremy’s qualifications and human characteristics. Corbyn is an intellectual failure: two A level’s with an E grade; a drop out from a university course after 1 year; and a career as an organiser at a humble level?And no management experience other than putting out the milk bottles.Of course, people were not impressed. But there is worse to come. People such as Jeremy feel bitter when they are passed over by others. They become devious, obstinate and they plot. Others object and get rid of him.
His adoring followers are not concerned about that: after all they wish to shape social life in Britain and Jeremy is willing to give voice to them.
I have news for the Corbynistas. Their desires for social change and their methods for bringing change about have many historical parallels.Movements such as these always fail. Weak leaders are swept aside by stronger and more able people. Some of them finish up as undesirable dictators that subvert the social order of free societies and turn them into authoritarian regimes. As Churchill once remarked, ‘Democracy (he meant representative democracy) is a poor form of government. It’s only virtue is that it is better than any other.’
‘The time has come’ the Corbyn said, to talk of other things,
Of protests, flags and demos,
Of Engels, Marx and other friends,
And why the birds have wings.’
The Corbyn thought of many ways
His message to convey,
Of tweets, and leaflets, mail and phones
And calls to Higher Things.
The Limpet, on his slimy rock,
Had gifts to give his friend,
A mighty shell to ward of blows.
A stickyness to stay on post.
And thus their friendship was replete,
The blast of revolution complete
The raging waters that they stirred
Was soundly rooted in the deep.
It may have escaped your attention but a miracle has happened: in a mere 48 hours 180,000 people joined the Labour Party the majority of whom want to vote for Jeremy Corbyn as Leader. To put this in perspective, and to the best of my knowledge, the total membership of the Conservative Party, quarried out over many years of campaigning, is 160,000! If Jeremy Corbyn were to take a brisk walk to the Serpentine this morning many observors would expect him to walk on water. Of course he couldn’t do it but his dream of becoming Prime Minister burns brightly for him – or so he thinks.
In public discourse most people describe their opponents as nice people and the more they recognise disagreeable character traits in others the greater the need to be polite about them . I have crossed paths with Jeremy as a member of the Hornsey Labour Party and a Haringey Borough Councillor. There were many objections to Jeremy in Haringey. He was generally regarded as a person of limited intelligence and management experience who made up for his limitations by devious behaviour. People objected and then finally acted against him.
How can Jeremy’s opponents convey their real objections to him and his supporters? They need to convey to others that they regard him as mediocre and an unsuitable person to lead a major political party in modern Britain. If this were a job application which we have all endured, he wouldn’t be interviewed: poor educational qualifications, no management experience, inability to work with others, personal deficiencies and an inabilty to work with others.
History is littered with successful politicians with Jeremy’s attributes who have ploughed their way to power. It must give Jeremy hope. The issue for the Labour Party can be paraphased. How do good people come to the aid of the party? Is it the wrong time for the talented and the good? God save us all.
I bow to no-one in my detestation of the Ghadaffi regime- or the Yemeni, Syrian, Iran or Tibetan regimes – to say nothing at all about the world’s petty tyrannies in such places as the Ivory Coast and Zimbabwi. I am all for assisting peoples caught up in natural disasters and who are the victims of tyrannical regimes wherever they are are – but not by invading their territories in the name of Western democracy. But I do not wish the armed forces of the UK to involve themselves in the civil disturbances of other countries unless it can be proved without reasonable doubt that the happenings in these countries directly involve our national interest and their regimes are a threat to other countries including our own.
In determining our national interest I reject the argument of spheres of influence. When the Soviet Union claimed the right to determine the political complexion of Eastern Europe as being essential to their national interest and within their zone of influence I argued against it. I was still against it when the Russian Federation invaded Georgia. I am against it now when Britain, France and Italy, the former colonial powers, claim a right to determine the political complextion of Northern Africa as being part of ‘their zone.’
It is time to stop all this because the time and geographic horizon is unlimited. William Hague has stated unwisely that other Middle Eastern tyrants need not think that the killing of their rebellious subjects has gone unnoticed. He unfolds for us all a road to nowhere and a decade of ceaseless interventions by Western powers.
The naievity of all this is shocking. Iraq is a highly complex society and a bewidering confusion of ethnic and religious differences. To believe that you could replace a dangerous tyrany with a democracy in a few weeks of military destruction was always absurd. Similarly you cannot realistically imagine a stable future in Afghanistan without a deal of some kind with the Taleban. Left to themselves most divided countries will sort lut their own affairs. Take the so called humanitarian disaster that awaited Benghazi were Ghadaffi to occupy it again. What would he actually have done. The most active of the insurgents would have slipped across borders to Tunisia and Egypt and as for the rest they would do all that was required to survive. The citizens of Libya are used to doing this. Ghadaffi is an old man and cannot survive for ever. Left to themselves the civil war in Libya would now be over. The casualties would have been lower than they will be now and the sorting out would be done by Libyans in their own time and in their own way.
It is time to bring the whole gory adventure to a halt. It is time to stop. Iraq, Afghanistan and Iraq has taught us that intervention to change political regimes does not work and what limited success we can achieve has been bought at huge human cost
Filed under Afghanistan, Arab League, Army, Bahrein, BBC, Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Colonialism, Egypt, France, Iraq, Labour Blogs, Labour leadership, Lib Dem blogs, Libya, Middle East, Nick Clegg, Politics, RAF, Revolution, Sarkozy, Syria, Uncategorized, Wlliam Hague, Yemen
Than you Charlie for coming along. I always value your contribution, Same as usual then, No, not the whisky. Confidential and discrete. OK?
Charlie, I would like you to report that this is a government that is getting on with it. All those years sitting on the Opposition benches, listening to prevarication, the ifs and buts and maybe’s!. I made a resolution when we got power we would put an end to it and get things done, decisive, resolute and immovable.
Hold it Dave. Aren’t you running a very big risk. The more you do the less you think. Slap bang. Sometimes right, sometimes wrong. That’s very unfair. We do sometimes make mistakes but we are bold people – we backtrack. Take shool sports. Gove made a hopeless mess of it but we changed direction as quick as a flash. Why, you can hardly spot the seam. What about the things you couldn’t change and can’t put right. Give me an example. Child Allowance and the absurdity of the income levels. Gotcha. Hold on Charlie. We have a budget in three week’s time. Time enough to fiddle it right.
Well done Dave I concede you a few points there. But what about bigger things than these. The NHS reform. All the experts agree that this could go horribly wrong with standards of service falling and at this time next Winter, when you are hoping for some cheer in the opinion polls, you could have several hospital closures. Charlie boy, you are too dismal. We shall get these reforms right and by the time we get to the polls in four years time the public will begin to recognise our success. That’s the whole point really. Get the difficult things out of the way at the very beginning, endure the sniping and set backs and the sweep to victory in 2015. I learn’t that from Tony Blair.
Dave, if this was warefare and I your senior officer I would never promote or engage you in a serious military campaign. Solidity, caution, a care of casualties , the awarenes that the enemy can be ingenious and resolute. These are the qualities of the successful senior officer. These qualities you have not. Well Charlie, this is not a military campaign. No its not. Let’s take big business. For these large-scale endeavours you have some good qualites: panache, confidence and quick-wittedness. But I wouldn’t have you here either. Charlie, why not? I think I would be a big success. Sometimes I wish I had taken that route. Several reasons. Over-confidence and a lack of attention to detail, Dave. The House of Commons has cottoned on to that so why not the general public? What will happen is that there will be an almighty cock up on a matter the public cares deeply about. And that will be that Dave. You will be for the high jump.
Too dismal Charlie. I’m so quick we shall have moved on and the public will hardly notice. Have another whisky. Bottoms up.
Filed under Cabinet, Cameron, Coalition Government, Commons, Education, Michael Gove, Nick Clegg, opinion polls, Politics, Schools, Uncategorized
NB This post comes with a health warning. No one without a sense of humour should read it.
What I do from time to time is to talk to you about the real purposes of the Coalition. Of course, it is common ground among all political parties that urgent and difficult decisions need to be taken to reduce the financial deficit. That difficult burden is placed on the Coalition. However, our adminstration offers the British public something different: we really are serious about diminishing the role of Government and shifting power to you the people. When some fuddy-duddy objects it is quite clear that they are misguided: public service union officials trying to hold on to their membership and their jobs; pressure groups with odd objectives, well-meaning but misguided; and of course politicians nervous that fair representation will lose them their jobs. You know the kind of thing. They simply don’t get it.
Let’s consider policing. The Police Federation has suggested that expenditure cuts will cause a big loss in the numbers of policemen and that after 4 years there will be 60,000 fewer. I’ll be frank with you. In my judgement the loss will be greater. Would this be a disaster? No. Not if we do the right things.
As you know, I am a Revolutionary and something of an expert on Russian history. (Stop laughing, please, at the back). Our dreadful political and economic disasters are akin to those confronting first Lenin and the Stalin. They were confronted with similar circumstances. Power lay with the State. The police served a narrow bourgeois interest and were resistant to change. What did Lenin do? Well, he was a pioneer of the Big Society. He called upon volunteers and instituted the creation of Druzhinicks (Volunteer Guards). Companies were obliged to volunteer people for Guard Duties. A vast body of men and women were issued with uniforms, arm bands and a whistle and they patrolled the streets. (More laughter). It was a holiday with pay spent in the fresh air. Of course, like Community Policemen today, they had no powers of arrest and when confronted with really difficult situations had to call the police. But it worked there and then. People confronted established power and made it subject to their will.
We have a plan. (we usually do). Let us replace these policemen with volunteers. These men and women could be recruited from two sources of manpower: first the growing number of unemployed and secondly the release of short stay prisoners from prisons onto this form of Community Service. (Even more laughter). Of course, there will be objections. Those on Job Seekers Allowance and Disability Allowance might object. They must be told ‘get serious’. If you want some of our money you must earn it! It is certainly possible to patrol in a wheelchair when accompanied by an able bodied person. Some objections might be raised by the media and the general public to the use of delinquents. But who better to catch a thief than a former villain. Remember they will be in uniforms. A good uniform can help the process of rehabilitation and change personal behaviour.
Of course there are expenses here but just think of the savings: no new prisons, the release of 20,000 short stay prisoners and up to 100,000 high paid policemen made redundant. What is the cost of 120,000 whistles compared to these savings? And the benefits to 100,000 of a life in the open air and the handing back of responsibility for policing to communities will have enormous advsantages.
The Big Society worked for Lenin and several generations of Soviet citizens, so why not for you, and for us. Those who want to try out a whistle can get one as they go out. (Laughter and the blowing of whistles?)
Filed under BBC, Benefits, Big society, Cameron, Coalition Government, Conservative Home, Disability Allownce, Disabled, Job Seekers Allowance, Labour Blogs, Lenin, Lib Dem blogs, Liberal Voice, New Stateman, Police Federation, Politics, Revolution, Russia, Stalin, Uncategorized, Unemployment