Today, I’m going to quickly talk about something I don’t usually talk about – women, and their scandalous lack of representation in public life.
We live in a grim society where, for thousands of years, being a man had been treated as the default setting. Men were naturally assumed to be superior, more suited to leading and dealing with big responsibilities, and women were thought to be naturally predisposed towards domestic chores.
Eventually, after a painfully long wait, a good chunk of the population woke up to the fact that was utter bollocks. But unfortunately, that hasn’t proved enough to shift us from a situation that’s still fundamentally skewed in favour of penis owners.
50% of the population is female. Thus, 50% of practically every profession should be female. To help achieve that, we need all sorts of positive discrimination – society acknowledging the historical disadvantages women have faced, and giving them a leg-up to real equality. Continue reading
Jeremy Corbyn has won the Labour leadership election. He won by a landslide – a 59.5% knockout in the first round. Andy Burnham got 19%. Yvette Cooper got 17%. And she seems like a decent human being. She’s definitely not deserved the personal abuse she’s received throughout the contest, much of it from our side. But Liz Kendall got 4.5%. I’ll leave it at that.
I was entirely unprepared for the Corbyn phenomenon. I’ve known about and been a fan of Corbyn for ten years, give or take, and he’s someone who I hold in the highest esteem – he’s unerringly principled, utterly committed to the causes he believes in, and has dedicated his life to helping the poorest and most vulnerable, which to my mind is the best thing you can say about anyone.
And despite all that, if you’d have asked me what I thought the chances were of Jeremy Corbyn becoming Labour leader back in May, just after Ed Miliband stood down, I would’ve said ‘less than 1%’. If you’d have asked me what I thought the chances were of Jeremy Corbyn or anyone vaguely left-wing even getting on the ballot paper, I probably would’ve said the same. In the run-up to the general election, I wrote a blog post specifically designed just to remind people the parliamentary Labour Left still existed – praising Corbyn, McDonnell, Skinner and co but generally lamenting its current weakness and poor prospects for the future. Continue reading
Since Mrs Thatcher, British politics has been horrifyingly right-wing. Big business, the financial sector, the corporate media and the Westminster political establishment have colluded to present an extreme neoliberal vision of what society should be like as somehow being ‘centrist’, ‘moderate’, ‘sensible’ – the country’s unquestionable default setting. ‘Fiscal responsibility’ and being ‘a credible alternative’ now mean governing in the interests of the corporate-financial elite, and the wealthiest people in Britain. Politics is now a one-way pipeline – to ‘modernise’ is to give even more ground to the overpaid, overpowered and sociopathically self-interested.
Austerity and the all-consuming fixation with ‘the deficit’ and ‘balancing budgets’ is just an ideological smokescreen, masking the most radical upwards redistribution of wealth in modern history. Between 1997 and 2012, the wealth of the richest thousand people in Britain quadrupled from £99bn to £414bn. In the years since, it’s risen to £547bn. During the same period, wages and living standards for the vast majority have fallen – ignoring inflation, the average worker’s wage is now lower than it was in 1979, a fifth lower for the very poorest. Continue reading
Labour rightist ray of sunshine Luke Akehurst has been criticising Jeremy Corbyn for being a rebellious MP. He’s also been criticising Jeremy Corbyn for everything up to and including having the sheer temerity to exist, but this newest line of attack is especially revealing about the way he and the other Anyone But Corbyn zealots see the world.
Akehurst and others have been heavily implying that Corbyn’s record of defying the Labour leadership in parliament makes him unsuitable to be Labour leader. Asked whether, as a self-described party loyalist, he’d back whoever won the election, Akehurst said he would – bear that in mind if Jeremy does win – but that “Corbyn displayed no loyalty at all to Kinnock, Smith, Blair, Brown and Ed Miliband”.
Meanwhile, waves of spleen-rupturingly funny Labour right-wingers have been tweeting variations on the theme: “lololololol what’s he going to do if he wins, rebel against his own party line?!!???!!!??! Lolololololoololoolololollool”. Continue reading
Labour has always contained a remarkably, probably impractically wide spread of political opinion. For twenty years, the leadership has been monopolised by the very rightmost bit of that spread of opinion – individuals whose views put them further to the right than some moderate Tories, and on the opposite side of the spectrum completely from the vast majority of Labour members and supporters.
Aggressively defending positions of power in the party from anyone who dared think differently, Labour’s ultra-right has hardened into a sort of grim, entitled political aristocracy – barely acknowledging the existence of, let alone consulting, the foot-soldiers who deliver the leaflets and drive old ladies to polling stations, and instead allying with big business, the corporate media, and obsessing over the swing-seat Tories who, in their eyes at least, offer the most sure-fire route to lucrative cabinet jobs.
Unfortunately for them, it now looks like Jeremy Corbyn, way out on the left of the Labour spectrum, might win the leadership election. They’ve reacted spectacularly badly, slurring Corbyn-supporting party members as nostalgic, stupid and extreme, and doing their utmost to make a Corbyn win look as apocalyptic as possible. Continue reading
For the second time ever, and the second year in a row, the Bemolution went to Tolpuddle on the free Sunday. It was basically the same as last year, but we’re reliably informed it’s basically the same every year. And there’s value in that consistency – it’s a respite weekend/networking event for socialists in neoliberal society, and it does it very well.
Essentially a sort of far-left Alan Partridge, we can take or leave the chanting and the speeches and the fist-pumping renditions of “There Is Power In A Union”. But what we particularly appreciated this year was the dedication shown by the staff and organisers – from the hi-vis-jacketed stewards spending literally hours in the sun making sure lemming-like festival-goers weren’t mown down trying to cross a main road, to the boundingly enthusiastic volunteer chuggers collecting spare change to help pay for it all (hello Sophie from Bromley Unite).
It’s a huge undertaking, and the TUC runs and pays for it every year, at a loss. Veteran Tolpuddler Dave Chapple, quite possibly Somerset’s most dedicated and active socialist trade unionist, was telling us that by the early ‘90s the festival had become a bit rubbish – a toothless, mainstream jolly for old-style trade union bosses, with tea and cake provided by ‘the wives’. Tony Blair even came. Then current South West TUC regional secretary Nigel Costley took it over, and turned it into the vibrant, egalitarian, subversive event it is today. Continue reading
After the cataclysmic shitstorm that was GE2015, The Bemolution was very content to take an extended/permanent sabbatical from talking about mainstream parliamentary politics. In fact, we spent June 3rd having a long lie down in a darkened room, although that was as much to do with a nuclear-grade migraine as the seemingly insurmountable shitness of the Murdoch-mediated, corporate-pandering, learned-nothing-from-the-crash neoliberal consensus.
Then veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn announced he was standing in Labour’s leadership election. And it was fantastic, because so far the contest has been disgustingly, disgustingly bad.
Even after Blair, Labour still contains everyone from Simon Danczuk MP to people left of Lenin. But the leadership contest doesn’t reflect that at all. Instead, Labour members and supporters have been offered a dismal selection of centre-right drones built out of spare bits of Peter Mandelson. It’s looked more like a dull fringe meeting by Progress, the Lord Sainsbury-funded ultra-Blairite pressure group, than anything approaching a democratic election.
Liz Kendall, Mary Creagh, Yvette Cooper and Andy Burnham have heroically trundled out to say how much they’d secretly disliked Ed Miliband’s politics all along (a man even they now portray as an enterprise-hating communist), and that Labour lost because it was too left-wing. Various analyses of how Britain voted, from Labour MP Jon Trickett’s to exit pollster John Curtice’s, show that’s just plain wrong. But Labour’s rising stars won’t let mere fact get in the way of parroting corporate media narratives in an attempt to get a leg-up from The Sun. Continue reading