The politics of moderation are the problem….a reply to Conor Pope….
Conor Pope has an interesting piece on LabourList saying that the real lesson of the occupation of Millbank is that Labour must be the moderate opponents of cuts. Sadly, he could not be more mistaken. His narrative of events leading up to the occupation conflate the occupation with the violent actions of a self-appointed vanguard and that is the first fundamental mistake his piece makes. No mention is made of the fact that the initial occupation was by all accounts peaceful and the settled democratic will of a clear section of the demonstration. This makes that part of the events at least supportable while at the same time offering absolutely *no support* to the moronic actions of the likes of whomever chucked the fire extinguisher off the roof. These actions were clearly again rejected by a sizable part of the movement and that means it is perfectly consistently democratic to support the occupation while criticising and calling for the self-appointed elite who hijacked the wishes of the movement to be held to account and made to subject themselves to democratic will. These people are as much to be taken to task as the timid leaders of the movement and anybody who disarms the democratic will with talk of ‘moderation’ and ‘rationality’.
However, it is worth dwelling for a moment on how this clique is allowed to raise to prominence in the movement and be in a position to hijack things in the first place. It is through the prevalence of the politics Conor espouses within this Party that these people have the position they do and it is the failure of this Party to be a radical alternative that will allow them to strengthen their grip if we are not careful. In other words, what Conor says makes his position part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Conor seems uneasy with radical rhetoric which talks about war but this is exactly how this government is behaving. His talk of ‘rationality’ has nothing to offer those people driven right to the edges of desperation, those who I have highlighted before, who are calling The Samaritans in their droves. What hope does Conor offer them as they contemplate taking their own life? And yes, it is not inflammatory to say that is exactly what this Coalition is doing to people so he can prate in moralistic terms about ‘rationality’ but in real, rational terms, his Labour Party has nothing to offer these people.
People who are driven to the edges of despair, with nothing to lose, will easily fall under the sway of this self-appointed vanguard. They will become easy prey if their Party, the Labour Party, cannot not offer them any hope of a society remade after the crash. What happened at Millbank is the beginning and ‘moderation’ is simply a luxury we cannot afford if we are serious about winning power back in five years time. What is a minority now will become the majority as the ranks of the desperate swell exponentially and they will need a Party capable of fashioning their anger into the the fight for a better society. Whether Conor likes it or not he will be swept away in the tide of anger.
Within Labour the only force capable of this is the Labour left which, scattered and divided, is not currently fit for purpose. The first task is to unify the Labour left and to do that at a united conference. After coming together and forming a united platform we will have no choice but to fight as best we see fit and for societies most vulnerable.