Life & death Mr Harris? Too right
Compass' John Harris has helpfully set-out the Labour left's strategy for destroying the party for the second time in 30 years in the Guardian today: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/aug/09/labour-leadership-mandelson-cruddas
His narrative is:
- write off all the achievements of Labour in government as "outrages and disappointments" - the betrayal myth
- casually attack and insult the PM for "serial failures and Neanderthal style" - without naming the failures, possibly because there haven't been any?
- write off the General Election now and start planning for the mother of all faction fights
- drive false ideological wedges between leading figures in the party to exacerbate the factional split
- crudely smear your enemies as believing in "genuflection to business, an insistence on the market-driven reform of public services, a belief that Labour should dispose of its residual belief in equality"
- make veiled threats about leaving Labour for "a new life alongside a few potential allies: Lib Dems, Greens, the unreconstructed Old Left" (I'm tempted to react with an anglo-saxon invitation to do so)
- then, with complete hypocrisy, falsely accuse cabinet ministers with roots in the party going back generations of plotting a "realignment of the centre-right via the ultra-Blairite split that some Labour insiders have been mischievously predicting for a few years"
- elevate Jon Cruddas to the messianic status accorded to Tony Benn last time round - the problem being that like Benn he will probably lose his seat if Labour loses as badly as Harris seems to be willing us to
Mr Harris is right, and Lord Mandelson wrong, in just one regard - that Labour faces a life and death struggle just as it did in the early 1980s.
But the internal battle can be averted if for the time being we focus on an external battle - the General Election - which remains winnable if we have the will to win it.
And then if we do face an internal battle Mr Harris and Neal Lawson and their rag-tag and bobtail army of student Trots and dinner-party activist Guardianistas won't be facing the chimerical enemy of their dreams - market-crazed ultra-Blairites - but the broad coalition of moderate mainstream, sane Labour MPs and members - people who don't wallow in ideological debate because they are too busy delivering socialist values in their roles as councillors or trade unionists. People who understand that Labour's core working class supporters want a party to vote for that can deliver sensible policies on crime, tax and defence, as well as social justice and greater equality.
We have had this battle before and won it, long and difficult though it was. If we have to have it again, so be it. We will take on the John Harris's of the world and the nonsense they spout at every ward meeting and GC and conference until we prevail. The alternative is endless Tory government and all its attendant horrors.