A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Reclaiming Labour from Reclaim Labour

I think there's something pretty cowardly about dishing out political attacks whilst hiding behind the anonymity of a pseudonym like "Harry Perkins" over at http://reclaimlabour.blogspot.com/.

"Harry", assuming you are actually a Labour Party member and not a spoof, why don't you have the courage to write under your own name and be held politically accountable for what you say? How do we know you don't sing a different tune in real life? For all we know you could be a careerist soft leftie in the flesh.

The title of your blog is also a bit of a joke - "reclaiming" something that was never your's in the first place. Bennites wanting to "reclaim Labour" is a bit like fleas wanting to reclaim a pet.

But keep up the good work because every bad tempered rant you post helps show younger party members why the politics of the early '80s were so damaging and reminds the rest of us why we don't want a re-run.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke Akehurst, are you stupid? If Harry Perkins was a careerist soft leftie (which you suggest he might be), what would be the motivation for writing his blog? Doesn't it seem more likely that he actually subscribes to the views he expresses? Otherwise he's wasting his time a bit isn't he?

And as for him being a fictional character, what does it matter, as I doubt you know the real Harry(s)? And to be honest, I find it hard to believe that you're not a fictional character, having seen your photo and read your opinions!

In future why not try and engage with Harry et al with political discourse, rather than crying to mummy about how 'it's not fair'...

10:26 pm, November 15, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

No, I'm a factional rather than fictional character.

The difference is that I'm politically accountable for what I write - "Harry" isn't.

I don't think it's "not fair" I just don't get why if you believe something as strongly as he does you wouldn't write it under your own name. Would he send letters to a newspaper or stand for election or turn up and speak at his local Labour Party under a pseudonym?

The author might well be a "careerist soft leftie" - there are plenty of people, including MPs, who talk soft left publicly to advance their Labour Party careers but are privately holding unreconstructed hard left views (and rightwingers who pull the same trick as well as soft lefts who pretended to be Blairite when that was fashionable).

10:58 pm, November 15, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rant of a madman. I rest case.

11:03 pm, November 15, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The rant of a madman. I rest my case.

11:04 pm, November 15, 2006

Blogger Shamik Das said...

Luke, Hamer Shawcross (also fictional) wrote a good expose on "Harry" - http://britishbullshitfoundation.blogspot.com/2006/10/when-bag-carriers-get-over-excited.html

"Anecdotal", I hardly think that describing those who have the temerity to agree with our democratically elected leader and Prime Minister as "thick, demented, McCarthyite tossers", as Herr Perkins is prone to doing, qualifies as serious "political discourse".

11:42 pm, November 15, 2006

Blogger Benjamin said...


I can understand your point about hiding behind pseudonyms. I don't do it myself, because (like yourself) I do think that a certain accountability is important.

On the other hand some folk feel they have quite legitimate reasons for using pseudonyms; they are worried about their privacy on a broader level. Perhaps they feel they need to guard it from over zealous employers, work colleagues, or even stalkers.

Some of these fears may be unjustified, but I can have a certain sympathy for that view too.

1:59 am, November 16, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

The reality is, of course, that no matter how "hard" or "soft" the socialist views of comrade Perkins may be, there's no room for people like him in the Labour Party.

There's plenty of room in the Party for people like Tony and me, but not for the likes of John McDonnell, Clare Short, Tony Benn, Dennis Skinner, Harry Perkins and their ilk.

They can sod off and found their own political party. We've stolen this one and we're damned well not giving it back if I can help it.

Mind you, having said that, the Labour Party never was particularly socialist, of course. It just used to tolerate a few reds. But not any more. Blue through and through!

10:52 am, November 16, 2006

Blogger Derek Wall said...

I assume like the SWP, labour expels critics so may be he or she needs to be anon.

2:11 pm, November 16, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Actually no, Labour doesn't expel internal critics - see my post earlier about breaking the whip in parliament. You have to either be a member of another political party, nominate or campaign for a candidate of another party, or carry out a sustained course of conduct prejudicial to the party or bring the party into disrepute to get into any kind of membership trouble. Everything "Harry" says is being said by one of the candidates to be Labour Party leader.

4:45 pm, November 16, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Luke... Assuming that you had the dick bigger than the size of an acorn (and a non ugly post Chernobyl mug of a face)...?

By the way i aint "Soft left"... I'm a careerist Hare Krishna.

8:22 pm, November 16, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

See description Luke:

"All leech species are carnivorous. Some are predatory, feeding on a variety of invertebrates such as worms, snails, insect larvae, crustaceans, while a very few are haemophagic parasitic blood-sucking leeches, feeding on the blood of vertebrates such as amphibians, reptiles, waterfowl, fishes, and mammals (including humans)."

remind you of anyone?

8:55 pm, November 16, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are you on about Akehurst?

"Everything Harry says is being said by one of the candidates to be labour leader"?

What a load of tosh. John MC hasn't mentioned Watson, Meacher, Reid, Short or any of em...

In his speeches and on his campaign blog he's focussed on policies not personalities. I suggest you ignore harry's hype, and get yourself along to one of J MC's grass root events. That way you might have to engage with his policies, I know, but it won't be to scary, and everyone will be nice and civil and won't look down on you too much.

J MC can hardly be blamed that one of his more 'gonzo' supporters has decided to entertain the rest of the t'internet, with a very amusing blog can he?

So stop fretting, and getting all het up, and crying to yer mam, and come and join the debate.

9:44 pm, November 16, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are either a master of the ultra-Blairite spoof or seriously deranged. What in God's name are you doing in the Labour Party. I hope Yates of the Yard kicks you all out soon. If the Militant tendency can get their collars felt then so can you lot.God bless John McDonnell and hisfriends in the trade union movement. The tumbrils are at the gate,comrade.

12:13 pm, November 17, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

I love that "You are either a master of the ultra-Blairite spoof or seriously deranged."

No - there are loads of us - we are the Labour Party - we are not going away when Blair retires. Get used to it.

12:39 pm, November 17, 2006

Blogger Hamer Shawcross said...

I LOVE Harry's different personalities! All of them so refreshingly similar...

One of the female manifestations of Harry's Multiple Personality Disorder, "Milly Tant", is slagging you off over on the Reclaim Labour site.

Milly Tant. Yup, sums it up really.

1:48 pm, November 17, 2006

Blogger Shamik Das said...

Milly Tant?

What might the "tant" be short for? Hmmm, I wonder ...

tantrum - n: childish fit of rage; outburst of bad temper

tanto - adj: too much; excessively

tantara - n: a fanfare or blast, as on a trumpet or horn; the sound of the tuba

Could be all three! :)

2:29 pm, November 17, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke writes
""reclaiming" something that was never your's in the first place. Bennites wanting to "reclaim Labour" is a bit like fleas wanting to reclaim a pet."
So what about people like Keir Hardie, George Lansbury, Nye Bevan, Barbara Castle, Jack Jones and others (even Ramsay MacDonald was against World War 1)?

3:38 pm, November 17, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Matthew, none of the people you list were Bennites. Hence the disgusting way in which the Bennite hard left undermined Michael Foot, a leader from the historic traditional Bevanite/Tribunite left (now the "soft left").

They represent a legitimate tradition in the party, though one I want kept in the minority.

The Bennite hard left represent something totally alien to the mainstream of European, let alone British democratic socialism.

4:30 pm, November 17, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

A legitimate position in the party? Be honest Luke. Like me you think that Bevan and his followers should have been expelled for opposing Gaitskell's rearmament budget in 1951 and if he had been expelled, should not have been allowed back in even though he recanted on unilatteral nuclear disarmament.......

2:32 am, November 18, 2006

Blogger Luke Akehurst said...

Andy, it's a fair cop...

11:06 am, November 18, 2006

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Luke - you're wrong. Obviously you'd expect me to say that as a self-confessed Bennite and also a labour historian, but you are VERY wrong.

One can trace the lineage of the various traditions in the Labour Party through its history with quite a good deal of success. The one tradition that I believe is a bastard (as far as having labour movement parents is concerned) - but I know others, such as Matt Carter, who have considered this in some detail would disagree - is the New Labour tradition. I find the T.H.Green-Tawney-Crosland-Blair 'story' enormously unconvincing. I think it is fair to argue that the 'ethical socialist' tradition in the party (which is rather retrospective label, and not entirely satisfactory) did end up having 'left' and 'right' wings by the seventies and eighties, it was - as far as the parliamentary labour party is concerned - best expressed at that time by Tony Benn (on the left of 'ethical socialism') and probably Roy Hattersley on the right. Both would cite Tawney and Crosland as major influences, Benn would tend to champion other figures from labour history such as Hardie, and major peace and anti-colonialist party figures, such as Fenner Brockway (and would feel that Crosland lost his way with his affluent society stuff). Hattersley consumed the affluent society stuff greedily, though in weak moments would probably have to concede that his hero had become more cynical than principled in his later years. For the Blair-as-successor-to-ethical-socialist-mantle argument to work, one would have to be able to draw a direct lineage from Hattersley to Blair, and I don't believe such a one exists. Despite the rhetoric Blair's "social - ism" - as he once put it - is not following Crosland's 'socialism in a modern, affluent context' tradition (thought the rhetoric of 'traditional values in a modern setting' was often intended to give that idea) but is one of the labour tradition in Britain having been an historical mistake. He has talked himself of the tragedy of the split in liberalism. No people from any labour tradition believe that 'split in liberalism' to have been a tragedy (indeed many would argue that there was no such split, just the welcome end to a brief marriage of convenience) because for it to be a tragedy, then the whole history of the labour movement as an independent working-class political and industrial movement is an error.

As for people around Blair, with deeper roots in the movement, they tend to be the cynical wing of the scientific socialists: former Marxists (of various sorts - 'Trotskyists' and 'Stalinists' aplenty amongst them) who have despaired and arrived at a new sort of politics, the ethical dimension of which it is hard to dig out - or they are the old trade union right-wing, who never claimed to be socialist in the first place.

So, in conclusion: while I dislike and to a degree reject the idea of two distinct 'scientifc' and 'ethical' socialist traditions (as I think there was a very clear ethical dimension to classical Marxism, and very little science - though I know very possibly Marx and certainly many friends of mine will want me strung up for saying that!!!) the Labour Party's federalist roots mean that there are a number of 'legitimate' traditions in the party. Various traditions went away and came back again over the years (the 'ethical left' of the ILP and the Socialist League, the 'scientific left' of the SDF and it's many and diverse children - including all those fourth international trotskyite sects you would prefer to disinherit!), the 'scientific right' of the Fabians, many of whom flitted twixt Labour and Liberal in the early days (because of many of them's intense dislike of the trade union movement) - all of them have a place in the labour movement. I would put you in one of those traditions too, Luke - though I wouldn't be so arrogant as to suggest which, I'm sure you have a clear idea of your own political identity. The 'Bennite' left - though actually rather multi-faceted - has its places there too. Blair himself - and a small group around him - I've never been 100% convinced.

1:52 pm, November 18, 2006


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