The Revolution Will Be Splintered

10/04/2017 12:01

Yesterday I saw a video of a group from Momentum, - I believe it was organised by Momentum Camden - protesting the New Statesman and requesting thirty pages of pro-Corbyn coverage in the next issue.

Two things spring to mind that I really want to raise.

Firstly, while I have my problems with the New Statesman and its coverage of our current political situation - as I highlighted last week, I think it would benefit from proposing more solutions -, it is not a magazine linked officially to the Labour party. It doesn't even define itself as left-wing, preferring to describe itself as "liberal sceptical" (whatever that means). That means it is not required to say anything nice about Corbyn and his leadership (and beyond, "has yet to actually fall over during PMQs" would probably fail to find anything to say. Certainly, not enough to fill thirty pages).

If Momentum wants a magazine to say wonderful things about Corbyn then they should either lobby the nice people at the Tribune or they should set up their own magazine. If they have time to protest on a random Thursday afternoon, they have time to set up their own blog, where they can put forward their own views. Or they can just accept that other people have different opinions and stop reading the New Statesman.

The second point is I believe the more important one.

The visual of a left-wing organisation protesting a perceived left wing magazine, is one that will only cause problems in the future. Between Brexit, Syria, yet more changes to the NHS, Housing prices, the spike in racist attacks and the rest you would think that people would have plenty to protest and attack, the actually government about without having to go after people, who are ostensibly on their own side, because they raised a valid point.

Now the left has always splinted and divided into factions more times than the People's Front of Judea. Right back to the days of the ILP and actual Communists getting elected to Parliament, there are always those who think that others aren't left wing enough. There's a good reason for this. As the trailer for the excellent play "An Absence of War" puts it, the left's master is justice and "no two people agree what that is."

Now there's nothing wrong with people on the same side disagreeing with each other. Different opinions force people to consider their own views and why to hold them. But there is good disagreement, and there is what we have now. When members and supporters of the Labour party are attacking Labour MPs and other representatives - up to and including the Deputy Leader - on social media and telling them to "go and join the Tories" as if they aren't real members of the party, then that is when we have a real problem. That's not just disagreeing with each other, that's spilling blood in public.

The problem will become that people will start to notice this as it spills over, off the internet and into the real world, and Labour's chances of getting re-elected will drop like a stone through a wet paper bag. The Tories for all their faults, are great at presenting a united front, and keeping their arguments private, and so long as they look like they know what they're doing, people will plump for them over a disunited Labour party any day. Now of course at least some of these people don't care about Labour winning, what they care about is remaining ideologically pure. But at the same time, they tend to be exactly the sort of people who don't need Labour to be in government at all, and those who do, are left without a voice.

So, what's the solution? I don't know, right now I don't think there is one. I think Labour needs to take a long hard look, at what type of party it wants to be, and what views it represents, and how best it can accommodate all other views as well. But this will take a while, and in the meantime, I suspect we're going to see more protests outside the New Statesman, and more government policies going unquestioned.