THEY’RE at it again; the Labour leadership are tearing each other to shreds when they should be tearing the Tories to shreds. Rumours are flying of more leadership challenges with John Prescott accusing Harriet Harman of using her position as Deputy Leader to put herself forward. Meanwhile Lord Peter Mandelson indicating that he would be prepared to give up his nearly-new slightly-soiled peerage in exchange for a chance at a safe seat so that he could take over the leadership “if Brown decided to resign”.
The rest of the Cabinet probably wouldn’t touch the Prime Minister’s job with a bargepole right now, with a catastrophic general election defeat seemingly inevitable within months. Presumably Mandelson is hoping to become Labour opposition leader against a Cameron government while the party disintegrates around him. He won’t be popular but he would be well rewarded. And his move is an indication to the European Union leaders that New Labour remains their faithful servant while Cameron’s party can never be that.
But EU help will not save Labour from a swingeing election defeat.
The sickening thing is it would be so easy for a real Labour Party to completely turn this situation around. The voters are not in love with Cameron - the Tory vote is not rising numerically; it’s Labour that is losing support so fast.
If Brown were to launch a massive council house building programme to house the homeless and those about to become homeless because of the recession; if he were to scrap Trident; if he were to pull out of the Afghan War; if he were to reverse privatisation; if he were to stand up to the banks and if he were to get Britain out of the EU - he would easily win the next election.
Ironically he has done one or two pro-working class things but has been shamefaced and apologetic about it instead of boasting about it.
He has nationalised a couple of banks - but he still has no more control over the bankers. In political power terms the global banks far outweigh any elected government and this is now becoming obvious to everyone.
He has renationalised the East Coast mainline - out of necessity - but is rushing to re-privatise it. He appears to be reconsidering the Trident upgrade and there was sudden talk a week ago about opening talks with “moderate” sections of the Taliban in Afghanistan, hinting at a search for a face-saving exist strategy.
Brown has pulled British troops out of Iraq; he has agreed to a full inquiry into the war and he does slowly seem to be taking on board some green issues.
And in the Lindsey Oil Refinery strike a few weeks ago the Tory anti-union laws against solidarity action, although still on the statute book, were not used. No doubt both Brown and the bosses involved realised that to do so would provoke a real confrontation with the organised working class of this country. They backed off - and anyone who thinks the working class is weak now should note that.
Returning to the spat between Harman and Prescott, mentioned above; Harman last Sunday in a television interview said the economic crisis was caused by men and that the Labour leadership should not be entirely male.
Her first assertion was correct; the higher echelons of banking are more male dominated than almost any other sector. There we see the true values and prejudices of the tiny ruling class that governs global capitalism. But working class men have no more chance of getting into that tiny circle than working class women.
Harman is right to continue to voice concerns about women’s equality in the workplace; in the ruling class equality is a contradiction in terms.
She is right to say that the leadership of the government of this country should be just as open to women as to men. But when we look at the women who have risen through the ranks of all the main political parties, they are no better than the men. Once again it is the real ruling class that does the choosing and for them principles and integrity are saleable commodities. In a bourgeois dictatorship like ours no one, whatever gender, colour, or ethnicity gets near a position in government without trading in their soul on the way.