Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The Militard Tendency

The big focus in our media yesterday was largely around the movement of non-enitities in and out of cabinet and shadow cabinet positions. While the details are deathly dull it's worth noting that Ed Militard carried out a bit of a mini-purge of the remaining Blairites in the shadow cabinet. As you'd expect he's shoring up his support and doing more to draw support from his union sponsors. Of course this is being interpreted as a 'further move to the Left', as though those labels mean anything any more. Despite some valiant attempts to put space between the parties, when it comes down to the fundamentals of the EU and climate change/environmentalism there's still nothing in it.

However, one thing that may start to happen is that some of the moribund 'Left' who've drifted aray from New Labour may start to be drawn back into the fold. A basic cleavage of the Left in years gone by was between those who brandished the slogan 'Vote Labour With No Illusions' and those who refused to back Labour no matter what. The various Trotskyite and Stalinist proponents of 'No Illusions' preferred a Labour government because they felt it energised the unions and that it opened the way for 'Left' influence at grass roots levels. The hope was that a more energised union movement would inevitably make impossible demands of a Labour government and that when the conflict came it would create the space for the far-Left to organise and grow.

Tony Blair put an end to all of that. The 'No Illusions' line was harder to sell when there was so little difference between New Labour and the Tories. In some ways this has given us the Respect coalition (formed to oppose Labour's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) on the one hand and the various organisations and alliances around Bob Crow and the RMT. While numerically small in number there's a hard core of militants who are actively anti-Labour and on the Left. It may be that the more that 'Red Ed' postures and makes moves apparently in their direction, the more likely it is we'll see the return of the 'No Illusions' line.

In such a case it may mean that a part of the old Left that has moved away from Labour and put its energies elsewhere may switch tack and give Ed the conditional support and activists on the ground that he will need. This is something that Ed needs. Not because these are people who are likely to vote for the Tories, but because these are people who can get to working class voters who are attracted to UKIP.

Let's not forget that it's not just the Tories who are fearful of losing support to the anti-EU voter, it's Labour too.

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