24 November 2017

Why Corbynism should be a dirty word


Emma Dent Coad is the Labour MP who called (the black Conservative) Shaun Bailey a “token ghetto boy” and “ghetto man”. She also submitted a new logo for the party, of a Tory hanging from a tree.

Emma Dent Coad, in other words, is a perfect representative for that vortex of hatred, the “Labour Party”.

You know, the party that gave us Jared “fudge-packing” “poofters” O’Mara, member for Sheffield Hallam, and Nasreen “What have the Jews done good in this world?” Khan.

That these people aren’t aberrations (other than from civilised society), but are something more … official, is apparent, I think, from the way Corbynites leap to their defence, inside and out of Parliament. Here’s Clive Lewis MP, responding to Nimco Ali, when she criticised Emma Dent Coad: “If you think you can fight racism and be in the Tory party then I guess this conversation isn’t going to go very far I’m afraid.

(Is Clive Lewis the “On your knees, bitch!” guy? Or is that someone else — it’s so hard to keep up with unpleasant remarks by Labour MPs. Looking them up online is like cleaning up cat sick: you know you have to do it, but you want to shower immediately you’re done.  Yes, it is him.)

Were these people representatives of anything other than the Labour Party, they’d be vilified. When Labour cheerleaders can bring themselves to make even vaguely critical noises, however, it’s of the “Poor Jared! He’s on a journey and it’s all the Tories’ fault really” variety. Why?

I’m afraid the answer is almost too depressing for words. All of us — even those who aren’t black Conservatives, Jews, “poofters” or “bitches” — should be worried. I’ve written a fair bit about identity politics and my loathing for it, but the sheer unpleasantness of Labour goes beyond intellectual disquiet with a politics designed to push people apart into various minority-status groups. Labour’s capacity for hatred is much more inclusive than that.

Quite simply, the new Labour Party hates everyone who isn’t Labour. Failure to grasp this central fact about Labour-under-Corbyn is crippling the political response to it. Unsurprisingly (given his political origins), Corbyn’s movement has embraced the standard totalitarian/cult tactic: to dehumanise one’s opponents. Once you’ve convinced yourself that your enemy is less than human, a declaration of total war isn’t such a high moral hurdle. Let’s recreate society in our own image! Because we’re perfect!

Thus, the fact that Shaun Bailey is black, and therefore has the lived experience of a black man, is irrelevant to Emma Dent Coad. Shaun isn’t Labour; so he isn’t a good enough human; so not only is he undeserving of the anti-racist stance a good socialist would extend to any black citizen, it’s actually fine to use blatantly racist tropes against him. Because he’s a Tory and part of the structural reality of modern racism, man.

The tragedy is that this ethical relativism (it’s OK to be racist if you’re talking about a Conservative; it’s OK to be sexist if you’re a Corbyn-supporting MP; it’s OK to slag gay people so long as you’re a Labour MP on a “journey”) pollutes everyone on the Left, and not only its more overtly wicked members.

Here’s the supposedly moderate Labour MP Stella Creasy, tweeting about the budget yesterday: “Just to be clear then, government planning to spend more on brexit than the NHS – £3bn to £2.8bn.” Annual spending on the NHS for 2015/16 was £116.4 billion, according to the NHS website, making this moderate Labour MP’s tweet out by, ooh, around 4,157 per cent. I’m guessing she knew that.

Such perverted reasoning also explains the growth of insidious movements like the newspeak-named Stop Funding Hate, which is overtly attempting to destroy the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail’s crime? It’s not Labour. Oh you bourgeois, with your pre-revolutionary attachment to a free press; media that doesn’t support Labour is by definition an enemy of real, post-revolution freedom, and therefore a legitimate target for destruction.

You’d have to be naive in the extreme to believe that a movement such as this will stop, once it’s delegitimised black Conservatives, Jewish people, gay people who don’t vote Labour, and the Daily Mail. Movements like this don’t stop, not until they consume themselves.

We’re entering Popper territory here. The enemies of freedom aren’t playing by freedom’s (rational, polite, inclusive) rules. You can’t engage a fanatic, thirsty for the catharsis of destruction, in a reasonable debate about (for example) how to fund the NHS or universities. The fanatic wants your destruction, not your agreement.

It follows that they must be defeated, politically, on their own emotional terrain. The centre-Right campaign objective must be that good people consider it distasteful to associate with Corbynism and the people who push it.

That’s difficult, but not impossible: attaching Ken Livingstone to the smell of the company he kept played a key role in his defeat in Labour-voting London.

The correct response to Emma Dent Coad or Jared O’Mara or Clive Lewis, in other words, isn’t an A Level essay on Where Socialism Went Wrong. It is to wrinkle one’s nose in disgust. Given the nature of their contributions to public life (“On your knees, bitch!”), that shouldn’t be too hard, no?

Graeme Archer is a statistician and writer