The Early Days of a Better Nation

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I agree with Tony Blair

The man of blood and son of perdition is, in this instance, right. Stand by the son of the manse (pictured left). Vote strategically, not tactically: vote Labour. The Lib Dems will cheerfully bank any tactical votes from Labour supporters as votes for them, and use the resulting diminished Labour vote as an argument for coalition with the Tories. So it makes sense to maximise the Labour vote, even where (as in the constituency I live in) the Labour candidate has no chance, and even in Lib Dem/Tory marginals where a Labour vote might let the Tory in. (Yes, I am that tribal - about the Lib Dems. It's an old North Islington Labour Party thing.) I have lots of reasons to detest New Labour (and Old Labour, come to that) but Labour is still the only party that the British working class has come up with, so there you go.

And hey, Captain Picard!


I like Chris Betram's analysis at Crooked Timber:

No party is a party of the working class - they're all parties of the political class.

They rely on people voting for them out of habit and tribal loyalty whilst doing nothing for those they're meant to represent.

They rely on people voting for them out of habit and tribal loyalty whilst doing nothing for those they're meant to represent.

Yet, at the end of the day, "doing nothing for" slightly edges out "doing plenty to." Frustrating, isn't it? Try being left-wing in the US sometime. Electoral reform would be nice, if it could be accomplished without empowering the "Build a wall from our current darkies' bodies to keep additional darkies out" party, or the "Mandatory homeopathy and abolition of vaccination" party. Or the Greens.

Sorry, I wish I could vote Labour.

I still might, but only because my local candidate is a more decent man than the incumbent.

As it stands I'm torn between Labour and the Liberal Democrats, even though according to vote for policies my agreement is with the Greens on most issues.

It's going to be a hard choice.

Hey Ken - hear hear. Remember Steve Cullen's graffiti the night of the 87 election - "WE WILL RESIST THE TOBIES". He only found out the next day, hung over, that he had mis-spelled 'Tories'. Classic. Confused the residents of that part of Edinburgh for years. I love that JR Clynes quote from 1924: 'As we stood waiting for His Majesty amid the gold and crimson of the palace, I could not help marvelling at the strange turn of fortune's wheel which had brought MacDonald the starveling clerk, Thomas the engine driver, Henderson the foundry labourer and Clynes the mill hand to this pinnacle beside the man whose forbears had been kings for generations.' "Labour is still the only party..."

Ginja - if you want to vote for polices, yes, vote Green, but I'm suggesting that anyone torn between Labour and Lib Dem is more likely to get something closer to what they want by voting Labour.

James - I like the graffiti story. Almost as good as the story of the British communist in WW2 who woke up to find he'd written across a railway bridge: OPEN THE SECOND FONT NOW. Everyone thought it was a sly protest at the number of babies being fathered locally by US troops.

And from our childhood: remember the huge slogan on the wall of the Port Glasgow Municipal Cleansing Dept: 'FREE DUPCEK' ? I'm not sure if that was a misspelling or the effect of the Clyde weather wearing the 'B' to a 'P'.

Agreed, Ken. I live in a LibDem/Tory marginal, and almost everyone I know is voting Lib to "keep the Tory out." I'll be voting Labour, because:

1) Tribalism! I'm a West Country socialist, and my hand would detach itself from my body if I asked it to vote Liberal. The Tories are the opposition, the Liberals are the enemy.
2) The popular vote is very important - more so than usual in this election, and more so than ever if we are about to change to PR.
3) I suppose, in the end, Eugene Debs: "I'd rather vote for want I want, and not get it, than vote for what I don't want, and get that."

Besides, is a Tory government with Libs in it so much better than a Tory government without?

Incidentally, the continuity Liberal Party has been out canvassing for the UKIP, on the grounds that exit from the superstate is the sine qua non of proceeding towards the liberal paradise. God, this is a weird election ....

.... my own analysis, which I offer only because it may well be unique, is that the Tories lost this election because of hunting (here in the West Country, literally the only thing I’ve heard anyone say about them is “I’m not voting for they, them wants to bring back hare coursing”- if they have any other policies, nobody down here has heard of them), and Labour lost because of the smoking ban (I know several “heartland” Labour voters for whom that was the final straw, emblematic of a party now consisting of “posh women who hate us and wish we were dead,” as one lifelong Labour activist put it to me.)

- Mat C

Mat, I agree about the smoking ban being a last straw for many Labour voters. And not just Labour - maybe you could pop over and have a kind word with Frank Davis ('Banging on About the Smoking Ban'), a decent enough guy who used to be a Lib Dem voter and now thinks the only allies he has are on the right. I've recomended your great rant to him, but to no avail. A lot of what he says about the anti-social effects of the ban are quite close to what you said.

Eugene Debs: "I'd rather vote for want I want, and not get it, than vote for what I don't want, and get that."

Damn. I'm in a Lib Dem/Labour marginal; I've been dithering for the last few days between voting Green (agree with 90%) and Labour (agree with 60%, violently disagree with most of the other 40%, but the only realistic hope of getting the Lib Dem out). Ironically, on policies I agree with the Lib Dem about 80%, but the risk of a Tory/Lib Dem alliance is just too great.

I probably will end up voting for what I don't want (Afghanistan, ID cards etc) in the hope of getting it, on the basis that it might stop me getting what I really, really don't want. Keeping the Tories out would be something to be proud of having been part of.

Let me just recommend Phil's finely argued post that he links to above.

Well, I went down the spoilt ballot route and cast a vote for the SPGB - coz someone has to.

I suppose, in the end, Eugene Debs: "I'd rather vote for want I want, and not get it, than vote for what I don't want, and get that."

Drat. Of course Debs would have already expressed my "doing plenty to" bit, and far more eloquently. I'll never be able to entirely forgive FDR for coöpting just enough of the socialist platform to take the wind out of their sails.

Anyway, if the FiveThirtyEight crowd have tuned their models sufficiently well, the LibDem tide has peaked, the Tories are looking at 312 seats, and a Labour / LibDem governing coalition is no longer possible. This is looking like the Canada 2006 scenario. You have my condolences, and I hope I can count on some reciprocity when Republicans make large gains in the US Congress this November and render this country even less governable.

Another write-in-vote for the SPGB here.

Echoing mds - try being a lefty in the US. Where I live (New England) we're so far removed from the Indian wars, slavery, expulsion, enclosure and resource exploitation that still define the South and the West that we've managed to drum up a tepid technocratic managerial liberalism "unsullied" by class conflict, land fights, smallholder retrenchment or misdirected Tea Party angst.

Losing ground, here, means *losing access* - unless you're part of the unseen brown unterclass, and then it means paying your gas bill three months late, instead of two, or just not at all.

The political organizations which represent coastal and urban liberalism don't have any fighting labor components whatsoever, because labor has never regained its independent strength, following the destruction of the wobblies and the red agitators. American trade unions are so compromised that even ones which represent actual proles (and not just the highly remunerated landholding technicians of the AFL-CIO umbrella) can be counted on to organize for war party Democrats.

New/Old Labour may be a carbuncle encrusted sinking whale of questionable longevity, but it at least has access to an unsuppressed history of British and European labor agitation.

The American Democrats, on the other hand, had thirty years of anomalous lip service to working class concerns (in the interest of revolution prevention) before they keel hauled themselves back into the shape of a strictly capitalist war party. Their informing logic is the above mentioned managerial liberalism, not class conflict.

Their interest is in protecting a professional core of "creative" consumers who embrace cheap (because the luxury and access that affords them the time and space is paid for in alienated labor, by the unseen foreign and domestic brown people) social tolerances, such as gay rights platitudes, nebulous secularity, United Benetton sentimentality, "green" business and technological literacy.

Who have absolutely no compunction about selling and celebrating good wars as long as George Clooney or Angelina Jolie wick a few tears from their company sponsored faces.

As for the Republicans - well, they might be right rat bastards, but they are (a) cheerfully honest about it and (b) still willing to serve as cowboys to corral the religious and nationalist agitators who occasionally leap from questioning bigubmint to questioning big business.

What's a lefty to do, in that environment?

And isn't it an interesting weekend.

Gordon Brown is coming across as an idiot, but can one trust the media? There's going to be a post-election Night of the Long Knives in the Labour Party. but maybe they'll be able to come back pretty quickly. Let the Conservatives take the blame for the cuts everyone is agreeing on.

Similarly, a coalition with the Conservatives would be suicide for the Lib-Dems. Trouble is, they're the party which have hung back on the authoritatianism. Can they hold back a new dark age made more sinister by the lights of perverted science?

Excuse me, the BBC is telling me that it's time for the three-minute hate.

The reason labor doesn't have a party is that people keep finding artfully bogus reasons to vote for Labour.
If you want a real party for the people, you can't keep voting for the bad old parties. THEY COUNT ON YOU DOING EXACTLY THAT.

Then the Left need to take back the Labour Party. A LibCon pact, disastrous for other reasons, might actually be the best outcome for both a leftier Labour Party (and maybe even for a Labour win next time.)

(as I vaguely argue here: )

@Ken Brown. From a Continental perspective I am forced to see things differently and more pessimistically. Here the conservative politicos all use the Credit Crunch to play upon people's insecurity in several respects: immigration and financial for starters. They do so to either remain in piwerbor get there (as I just read). Magic words are tax cuts and limits on immigration. Playing on individualism and primativism seems to work. So I fear that ANY right-wing movement that uses such techniques has a good survival chance, which is one reason the Nazis attained power.

Well, it's done. On the down side, things are going to get ugly for a while, Hammersmith and Fulham ugly. On the up side, perhaps this deal and its consequences will finally unmask the Orange Book wing as the Tory-Lite opportunists they are. "[T]he Labour Party never took seriously the prospects of forming a progressive, reforming government." So we, er, went with the Conservatives to get those things.

Nice how Brown resigned earlier than anticipated just to stick it to Clegg, though. Hope Labour use their time in the wilderness wisely.

Jack Crow - I have no idea what a lefty should do in the US. But I saw some pictures of the May Day demos, and in some cities they looked big.

@Ken McLeod--I hear from friends in Nerw York State that some demos, as well as other related demos (anti-bomb), went totally unreported. At least one was in NYC and concerned disarmament. All attention was directed to the car-bomb affair.

Confession: I loved The Execution Channel, right up to the denouement, which I thought was out of tone with the rest of the story and, frankly, completely implausible.

And now this!

Ha! Well, if they have evidence, no doubt we'll soon know. I'll wait.

In The Execution Channel it wasn't the North Koreans who developed the device, in fact it's not clear exactly where it was developed. The North Koreans just applied with unbounded enthusiasm.

I really enjoyed writing the pages of boilerplate commie bombast, escalating from Russia through China to NK.

Evident delight in writing political bombast? In a Ken MacLeod novel? Never! :-)

Meanwhile, the New Haven May Day parade and rally was a fairly large gathering which didn't make the front page of the local paper. Or anywhere else in it, if I'm using LexisNexis correctly. Far more important to have an article speculating on the Unbomber's favorite color, or some such.

"What's a lefty to do, in that environment?"

Sigh. Indeed. In grand UK style, it's enough to make me vote for a center-right-dominated third party in November, just to teach the Democrats a lesson and deliver Congress into Republican hands. Since they're doing such a bang-up job of keeping the religious nationalist crazies in check, what's the worst that could possibly happen? Come the revolution. (Which phrase, by the way, some far-right teabagging bloggers are using ... non-ironically.)

Talking of bad spelling in political slogans. I once helped author, on a dark night opposite Strathclyde's McCance Building, the immortal anti-war slogan


And during a 1980s election in Glasgow's Hillhead constituency, on the little passage that runs from Byres Road to Ashton Lane, some genius wrote


Iain Fraser Grigor.


I wish a rally mattered here. I might be willing to pose for the police camera men if I thought it helped. We Yanks will never be like the French* when it comes to taking to the streets, sadly. They at least can turn a national take off to the beach into a barricades holiday.

With great respect,

~ Jack

* - This sentiment should not be treated, otherwise, as an endorsement of France.


Up north of Boston, it's even worse. Most of the street gatherings end up being pretty right wing. I scoped the Tea Party clatch last time they gathered (about a thousand of them), and it was a who's who of local skins, neonazis, gun fetishists and Republicans.

You gotta go to frozen country, way up by Burlington, Vermont, to get any people willing to break those ranks. Then it's socialist secessionists, anarchists and honest to dog hippies working side by side with small holding sheep farmers and orchard owners to buy up land around the city, for the city, to turn them into public farms. I take hope from Burling's Town, but otherwise Stateside is dreary prospects.



I would like to add to Jack's post that Burlington is one of the most beautiful towns I know. I wanted to move there many years ago. If the Nazis get many seats in the upcoming Swedish Paliament, then I shall escape to Burlington and help set up the Burlingsche Ratenrepublik, which shall be rather like one of those parts of London which Our Host wrote about.

"Socialism in North Dakota"

- really fascinating piece at

- Mat C

Mat - yes indeed. Another place with all sorts of odd socialistic elements is Minneapolis. The civic architecture and statuary look like those of a workers' state, and everyone calls the local Democratic Party the DFL: its official name is still the Democratic Farmer-Labor Party. Eugene Byrne and Kim Newman had some fun with this in a very dark chapter of their 'Back in the USSA'.

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