The current chaos suggested that this was a party in disarray because nobody was dictating ‘strategy and communications’. Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you had suspected that a guiding hand was behind the dishevelled spectre that is Labour today – you may have imagined the archetypal anarchist. A reject from ‘Occupy’ perhaps; all tangled dreadlocks, tattoos and snarling face bedecked with ironmongery. Or perhaps the stereotyped gruff voiced union leader, ‘brung up the hard way’, with a conversational style designed to shout down any possible alternative view?
Try the super smooth, Winchester-educated son of a former Director-General of the BBC. Admittedly the first Director-General to actually get fired from his spot amongst the fat cats. Seumas followed his father to Winchester where he stood in a mock election as a ‘Maoist’ (as a point of interest – fees at Winchester are actually higher than those at Eton) and later to Baliol. “He spent his entire time at Balliol,” a college contemporary recalls, “wearing a Mao jacket and talking with a fake Palestinian accent”. He is such an ardent believer in socialist values that he bussed his own children across London to the Tiffin School – one of the best in the country. He lives in a £2 million pound house in leafy Richmond – having inherited a share of his Father’s multi-million pound estate. All very champagne socialist.
He follows the usual pattern, as does Corbyn from a similar background, of supporting any dodgy dictator in disagreement with the US over anything at all. He called Iraqis who helped rebuild their country after the Iraq war ‘Quislings’ for working alongside the US – they should, presumably, have lived proudly amongst the rubble without essential services.Two days after the 9/11 attacks he wrote in the Guardian that Americans were ‘reaping a dragons’ teeth harvest they themselves sowed’.
He is a total believer in the power of democratic votes when it suits him – the election of Corbyn as leader, naturally – though this was a vote amongst Labour activists, not Labour voters – an important difference. Yet famously railed against the 99.8% vote in favour of remaining British from the Falkland Islanders, calling it a ‘North Korean style ballot’. He bitterly denounced Britain’s role in defeating the forces of Fascism in WW2 as ‘not something they should be proud of’, but then went on to shake Putin’s hand and chair a meeting at the Valdai international discussion club – legitimising the aggressive and authoritarian invasion of Ukraine.
Not all Guardian journalists are so resolutely crypto-communist, the fact that he has remained a Guardian journalist officially ‘on secondment’ to Corbyn is a sore point with other journalists there. His fellow Guardian columnist Suzanne Moore reacted to his appointment by saying: ‘I fu*king hate these public school leftists. Bye bye Labour.’
His background is of interest today, because of a new report from academics Tim Bale, Monica Poletti and Paul Webb. Academics ironically funded by the European Union. The report showed that over half the new members (55%) believed that an MP should be deselected if he criticised his leader – apparently blithely unaware that Corbyn’s main claim to fame before they signed up was criticising past Labour leaders!
It also showed that less than 1 in 6 of the new members who had voted overwhelmingly in favour of Corbyn as leader could in anyway be described as ‘working class’. The majority were university educated and profitably employed – not the furnace stokers and engine fitters, nor the unemployed or marginalised that Labour traditionally supports.
It makes me wonder why so many public school educated and wealthy members of the ‘elite’ do support hard line left wing policies. An entire generation of academics and intellectuals have moved sharply to the left in recent years.
Is their support of Stalinism or Maoism a genuinely altruistic desire to improve the lot of those in the lower strata of society – or do they recognise in Stalin and Mao a very effective way of maintaining control over the overwhelming numbers of the ‘working-class’ and thus a way of protecting themselves by aligning with the elite of a future dictatorship?
Answers on a recycled postcard, please.