Defending Democracy

The Labour Party is a great party, it has achieved so much and has been the vanguard of democracy both at home and abroad, indeed, while in government, the Labour Party has sent our young people in to military action in defence of democracy. Given this, one would imagine, no! One would expect, the Labour Party to fiercely defend the democratic process internally as strongly as it does externally, after all if it is a principle for which good people have died in order to protect! Unfortunately, however, this is clearly not the case for many of our elected representatives in Parliament.

The current crisis in the Labour Party flies in the face of democracy.  Corbyn supporters will argue, with some justification, that he (Jeremy Corbyn) has a true democratic mandate to lead the Party. After all, Corbyn received some 60% of the vote of ordinary members in last year’s leadership election! While Labour Party members rejected the stance of the so called ‘Blairite’ supporters, with the candidate seen as having the closest policies to the Blair government, Leicester West MP Liz Kendal, receiving around 5% of the vote. Yet, in the Parliamentary Labour Party, Corbyn enjoys no such support! Over the past week we have witnessed the resignation of the vast majority of Labour’s front bench and shadow ministerial team in a coup that is not only ripping the Party apart, but, is also frustrating an electorate that desperately need strong political representation more now than it has since the Thatcher years.

The Parliamentary Labour Party acts as an independent section of the Labour Party, above ordinary party members, with an absolute right to decide who their leader should be. Those involved in the coup argue that ‘they’ [Labour MP’s] are answerable, in the first instance, to the electorate, Party 2nd and party membership bringing up the rear. Labour MP’s enjoy a different relationship with the Party membership than do, for example, Labour Councillors who go through a full selection process before each election. MP’s, however, avoid deselection by the membership completely, giving them the prospect of a job for life and a false belief that the membership are not relevant. And here lies a problem! Some Labour MP’s view politics as a career option not the privilege it undoubtedly is. Since the 1990’s it has become much more difficult for someone from the wider community to get on the list of perspective Labour MP’s let alone selected for a ‘safe’ seat. The majority of Labour MP’s come through the educational conveyer belt with a great degree but little in the way of experience of life in today’s cutthroat world of work and worklessness. They ‘choose’ a career in politics rather than feel compelled to ‘act’, compelled to stand-up for their communities, to stand-up for their families and for families like their families, creating a disconnect between our elected representatives in Parliament and the electorate they seek to represent. This disconnect is at the very heart of British politics and the party system today, as was evident in the recent Brexit referendum.

Throughout the Country, since the financial crash, people have been sending a message to the political establishment which, until the results of the Brexit referendum, had largely gone unnoticed. In the week since the referendum, however, that message has been received loud and clear! The ‘Leave’ vote resulted in the resignation of the Prime minister, disarray and bitter division in the Conservative Party and a coup in the Labour Party. The Parliamentary Labour Party has used the ‘Leave’ vote as their excuse to remove Corbyn as Leader, through drip-fed resignations and recriminations ranging from support for racism to the manipulation the Labour Party ‘Remain’ policy to ensure a ‘Leave’ vote. Their tactics involve Piling-up the pressure on Corbyn to force his resignation rather than following the Party’s own democratic process by putting-up a candidate, with 51% support from Labour MP’s, in a new leadership election to stand against Corbyn. It beggars belief that a Political party which so strongly defends democracy would ignore the democratic process when they feel it is a threat to their ‘jobs’! Democracy isn’t something you can use or reject when it suits, it is a fundamental principle that has been hard fought and defended with the blood of heros!

If the Labour Party are to become relevant again then ‘they’ would do better than to manufacture crisis after crisis and brief against each other at the first hint of a journalists pen! They need to understand that their actions are being viewed as a self-indulgence they can ill afford! A couple of questions I was asked on Thursday night is typical of the way in which the Labour Party is seen by the wider public…

“If Labour MP’s don’t want to follow their own rules, how can we trust them to represent us?”

“If they [Labour MP’s] can’t sort themselves out what hope do we have in them sorting out the mess the Country is in now?”

I could offer no answer!



Response to Paul Mason, Guardian June 25th 2016

​This is a really good article from Paul Mason, however, it does suppose that the Labour Party is populated by principled politicians, who represents the wider community. This is not, in my experience, the case!

The Labour Party has embraced the notion of career politics and have encouraged people to stand for office, both at a local and national level, for nothing more than quedos, or status.

Our political representatives should reflect wider society and accept that to be elected is a privilege not a career choice and that personal status is a barrier to true democratic representation. We need our representatives to reflect our communities, to have experienced real life not merely read about it in some obscure Oxbridge reference book!

This is a good article but the call for a new left alliance, led by the Labour Party, is doomed to failure. Labour has lost its influence in our former industrial heartlands, people don’t just feel let down by Labour, they feel abandoned by them! So, a new left alliance, yes! But one that has, at its heart, the people who have been worse hit by the lack of any meaningful industrial policy and the worst hit by needless austerity!…




Since the British Government lost the vote in Parliament for military intervention in Syria, we have seen Conservative MPs, bloggers and television pundits tell who ever would listen, that the Leader of the Labour opposition, Ed Miliband MP, has lost the UK influence on the World stage and in particular, with the US President Barack Obama. Those decriers of Parliaments refusal to intervene with bombs in Syria, appear to brush over the fact that 30 Conservative and 14 Lib-Dem MPs either voted against their own Government or didn’t bother turning-up at all!!! Yet, they say, it’s all Ed Miliband’s fault even though the Labour amendment did not rule-out the use of force but called for time to obtain and review All the evidence, including that from the UN weapons inspectors.

Ed Miliband, they say, was ‘playing politics’ with the National interest , yet, David Cameron’s Conservative led coalition Government could, have accepted the Labour amendment (especially since Cameron must have known the numbers just weren’t there for him) and still had their military intervention. We must assume, then, that it was not in Cameron’s or Clegg’s Political interest; it would appear that Cameron’s Conservatives and Clegg’s Lib-Dems would rather lose a crucial Parliamentary vote than be seen to be supporting Ed Miliband’s Labour Party! So, we should ask ‘who is playing politics with the National interest? Parliaments refusal to accept military intervention in Syria was not an embarrassment to Britain but an example of democracy at its glorious best!

Members of Parliament have been much maligned over the years, particularly since the Iraq war. Voters on both sides of the pond, have an innate distrust of all politicians irrespective of party and with some justification. The evidence to go to war against Iraq was fundamentally flawed and the vote for the war by the British Parliament was seen as a forgone conclusion, even though an estimated 2 million people took part in marches against the war. The then Prime Minster, Tony Blair, made it clear that he could go to war without Parliamentary approval. MPs, presumably, felt that Parliament would be weakened if they voted against. Whatever the reasons, the majority of MPs voted to go to war and public distrust for their elected representatives resulted. Thursdays vote has helped to give back a little of that trust.

On Saturday 31st August President Obama argued for accountability of the Office of President and his decision to take military action against Syria. In what was a historic speech, Barack Obama informed the World of his decision to take military action and, crucially, to get authority to do so from Congress. Congress will now debate the issue when they return on Monday 9th September.

The US needs legitimacy for military action against Syria. If an international coalition could have been formed that would be all the legitimacy required (‘we are not alone in the need to take action’ etc.) but when your “closest ally” will not join the action and the UN route is ruled out, the President has no alternative but to look inward and seek legitimacy from Congress, with all the uncertainties that brings, it’s a brave move indeed! Having said that, it does show that President Obama is a democrat and not the evil despot some would have the World believe. Obama’s position is clear, he believes, truly believes, that military intervention in Syria to stop Bashar al-Assad using chemical weapons is absolutely necessary, however, he accepts that others may not agree. A despot would go ahead anyway, a democrat would open it to debate and a vote. The democratic route could back-fire on Obama but its a chance he’s prepared to take. What happens if Congress votes against military action is unsure. Will Obama go ahead anyway? We’ll wait and see; the sure thing is that he will be a very busy person for the next week or so.

So, now that the UK and the USA governments have discovered a greater version of the democratic process, perhaps they will use their collective energies to encouraging other Governments to trust elected representatives in the decision-making process and find some other activity for their trigger-fingers, at least for now!



The argument goes that by striking at SYRIA now, it will stop the use of chemical weapons in the future. But what target should be ‘hit’?
The only sure way of removing the threat of CW’s is by strategic strikes upon the weapon stores themselves, presumably, now relocated far and wide. The problem with this, is, we simply can’t be sure innocent civilians won’t be caught-up in such military intervention, either directly or through environmental factors such as the weather, we don’t control the weather!
In whose interests is it to have plumes of contaminated smoke rising above Syria’s towns and cities and along the border areas near Jordan and Israel?
Israel also has chemical weapons and have used them against Palestinians in recent years, are we going to bomb Israel as well? Of course not! So we can’t argue that these current deliberations have morality at its heart.
Then there’s the issue of aligning too closely with the Syrian opposition
coalition. Some groups within the Syrian opposition coalition have been in armed combat with British forces for over a decade and have their own reason for calling for military intervention by the West, one of which is the spread religious fundamentalism.
We have too often joined with the US and others to enforce a particular interpretation of international law, much, it has to be said, to the detriment of the reputation and ability of the UN, particularly in terms of conflict resolution.
Have any of our military interventions throughout the region resulted in a more peaceful region? Or ended the threat of terrorist attack here, in the UK, or elsewhere?
I’ll let you be the judge!