Sunday 9 January 2011

And a note on Labour sleaze...

My Mum is disgusted.

"We should be above this." She keeps muttering darkly.

Woolas, Chaytor, Byers in "cash for access" - It's just not meant to be like that.

Yes, Mr Dale, Mr Fawkes, I could go on, but my point would be the same.

In any Labour tribalists mind, sleaze is for Tories.

We only set up the Labour party in the first place, because of the disgusting exploitation of most of the working population, the "old boys network" the endless Tory backhanders and blatant abuse of power.

The early nineties were smug times for us lefties. Neil Hamilton and his cash for questions, Jonathon Aitken and Jeffrey Archer even went to prison for their arrogance and abuse of power.

The noughties, not so much.

We've discussed this one endlessly.

Conclusion : Frankly, all the while Labour selects it's candidates from the same narrow public school, Oxbridge elite and ignores the very people it purports to represent, why on earth should we be surprised that their candidates behave like..... well, Tories?

This is one area where Ed M has made very promising noises. An academy for hopeful MPs, no more parachuted-in candidates, a more representtive Labour Party, a genuine effort to achieve a more equal gender balance - I hope more than almost anything that all of this comes to pass, otherwise, why on earth wouldn't they all behave like crooks?

If the Labour Party is defined by anything, in my mind, it is defined by Keir Hardy, taking his place on the opposition benches when there was no opposition, just Liberals and Tories. In his tweed suit and flat cap, can you even begin to imagine the sneers, the insults, the condescension he faced? Just because an MP is working class and passionate, does that mean we turn our backs on the "Third Way"? How very arrogant to think that we would.

Don't get me wrong, I have no problem at all with the Harriet Harmans and the Tony Blairs. To leave public school a socialist takes strength of character and independent thought. We just need a lot more Alan Johnsons and John Prescotts to claim the mantle of party of progress and integrity. When Ed M said he would go out into the country to see what ordinary folks thought, I sighed a jaded sigh. A Labour leader should be moulded by the opinions of ordinary folks, he should at least aspire to higher ideals. Tories cheat the working family, they lie, it's what they do :

Can Labour try really, really hard not to please?


  1. So all the labour chaps that are due before the courts are from oxbridge are they.I think you will find they are from working class / union roots.
    "Tories cheat the working family, they lie, it's what they do"
    I think you will find its all politicians that do that. Isn't politics wonderful.

  2. Lol, ArtCo, I did say it was tribal.
    I do think there's a serious point to be made about making the Labour Party more representative though.

  3. Oh, and at least as far as manifestos are concerned, Polly T had a pretty damning indictment on whether Tories lie more than Labour yesterday. I linked to it in my "Interesting Articles" list and in the post.

  4. We definatly need more working class Labour politicians at all levels but your right to mention at the end that we should also accept the Harriet Harmans. More so that her though is he greatest Labour politician and socialist of the last 50 years was from the aristocracy and thats Tony Benn. Tam Dayell was also a good leftist orator but an aristocrat. The balance in Labour became skewed, New labour wouldn't allow for any dissent, they were terrified of any voices not in agreement with them. There was some justification, what happened to Labour in the late 70's and early 80's can't be allowed to happen again but the right in effect have done exactly what Militant tried only from right wing instead of left. We need a balance of views in Labour. Labour is at its strongest when all sides can speak and we come to democratic decisions about policy.

  5. And BTW, I know all about Militant, I was member for a number of years until I saw sense. I'm still on the left of the party thought

  6. Peter - Well put. It's the mix that seemed lacking, and I agree totally that Labour needed to run a tight ship for a while. Now's time to let the ship sail perhaps though and see where she takes us?
    I'm going to bed before I strangle any more metaphors :)

  7. Whilst I have very little sympathy for those MP's who have been caught fiddling expenses I think Labour were always going to be damaged most by the expenses scandal for three reasons. Firstly at the time of the scandal there a lot more Labour MP's than Tory MPs. Secondly many Labour MPs respresented constituencies well aay from London so were likely to have second homes.
    Thirdly hen it comes to fiddling expenses Labour MPs are rank amateurs compared to the Tories, most Tory MPs have worked as accountants, lawyers or in business so they are familiar with the art of creative accounting.

    It's a real shame that the media didn't spend a lot of time looking at what value for money we got from our MP's. Many Tory MPs collected full-time wages and claimed maximum expenses yet spent a lot of their time moon-lighting in the City. Having a publicly subsidied flat in the City must be handy if you have a dozen or so directorships. Perhaps a league table should have been published where MP's wages and expenses were divided by the amount of hours they spent working in parliament and in their constituencies.

  8. Great comment Crispin.

    No-one made much much of the fact that my closest Lab MP at the time, Laura Moffat, (Crawley) claimed nothing at all. (Or was it 36 quid?) anyway, it was the lowest and she had a campbed in her office instead of claiming accommodation.

  9. Sue

    Alan Johnson and John Prescott are perhaps not the best examples of working class NuLabour MPs.

    The fact that they are the only well-known examples of working class politicians at cabinet rank says far more about why people from working class backgrounds [like me] have left the party in droves.

  10. "To leave public school a socialist takes strength of character and independent thought."

    I'd be more surprised if they'd left such a school without such values.

  11. The Cowboy Online - Really? Now this I have experience of. You are taught to be a Tory at public school. To uphold the status quo and reject anything vaguely progressive.

    To leave public school a socialist makes you rather unusual, believe me.

  12. Sue

    "To leave public school a socialist makes you rather unusual, believe me."

    You're right... the only one I can think of is George Orwell who went to Eton.

    It was obvious that LP MPs would be more blamed for all the reasons you mentioned... but IMO it is primarily the stereotype.... LP MPs are supposed to be honest, but no-one is surprised by a Tory using public money for cleaning out his moat!