The spineless Statesman….
I don’t particularly like the politics of Dan Hodges. In fact, I genuinely struggle to remember a occasion on which we have agreed on anything (having said that, I think we broadly agreed on Refounding Labour). So, it is not natural for me to feel sympathetic to him at all but I am, frankly, disgusted by the actions of the New Statesman in forcing him out. He was forced out – if I was told I was having my article spiked because of a call from the office of the Labour leadership I would walk out but still insist very strongly I had been forced out. Obviously, there are jellyfish with more spine than the editorial board of the New Statesman and Hodges actions, in seeking a publication that will support his right to speak freely, even if they are using him as a political weapon against his own Party are understandable. Frankly, I think I would trust a right-wing paper on free speech more than I would a left-wing one and that in itself is a sad state of affairs.
Two versions of the events that led to the departure have emerged – the account of Hodge’s himself and the one offered by the New Statesman. I find the former more plausible, the New Statesman has become Pravda-like in its devotion to the Labour leadership and I get the feeling that if Ed’s office called and asked it to pulp the latest edition and spontaneously combust it probably would. Hodges was the Blairite Aunt Sally to provide the veneer of plurality but even that seemingly became too much for our hyper-sensitive leadership to endure.
Let’s be quite clear shall we, a leadership that can’t endure criticism, that won’t stand tall against its critiques and answer them with ideas, with facts and stand on its own merits, is no leadership at all – it’s a dictatorship. Too long Labour members have accepted this amid furtive calls for ‘unity’ but it is precisely this that killed the Party stone dead in government – that cut it off from the people it was supposed to represent and led to our ultimate ejection from office. Labour members who want to get back into government would do well to consider this before they make ill-advised calls for unity. If we want to show the electorate we are ready to govern, that we are a mature party of government again we need to embrace the sometime seeming chaos of democracy and a rigorously critical culture. People trust rebels more because they are more likely to be sincere than apostles of a unity that isnt truly felt but only sought as an imagined necessity.
The story of Dan Hodges and the New Statesman is another which illustrates the sheer contempt and lack of understanding the orthodox left shows for democracy and democratic principles. It is this that guarantees the left will continue to be on the margins of society and exercise minimal social influence. Until it understands this and begins to confront this the left is doomed to purgatory – wandering alone, watching capitalism fall apart but unable to change the course of events in its favour.