Here’s why Alastair Campbell’s intervention is ridiculous

Here's a man of the Labour Left who Alistair Campbell could support: Tony Benn. He passed away last year, meaning the new generation of spin doctors that has replaced Campbell could make his past words mean whatever they wanted.

Here’s a man of the Labour Left who Alastair Campbell could support: Tony Benn. He passed away last year, meaning the new generation of spin doctors that has replaced Campbell could make his past words mean whatever they wanted.

Yesterday’s men are popping out of the woodwork, desperate to slow Jeremy Corbyn’s momentum in the Labour leadership race – the latest being Alastair Campbell.

It’s a shame because, while enjoyable on chat shows, Campbell can hardly be described as a socialist – therefore his desire to counsel Labour members against supporting a return to the ideals for which they probably joined up in the first place should be a lost cause and he’ll suffer a backlash.

As a sufferer of depression, Campbell should also know better than to try to blot out other people’s hope; apparently that hasn’t occurred to him.

It’s an even greater shame that, it seems, Mr Campbell has nothing new to say. His article claims that “Corbyn will be a leader of the hard left, for the hard left”, even though that position has already been disproved. Corbyn is left-wing, yes – but he’s not “hard left”.

Corbyn’s claim that Labour lost because it wasn’t left-wing enough, deplored by Campbell, is correct; look at the SNP’s victory in Scotland. That party claimed an anti-austerity, pro-investment platform and trounced “austerity-lite, anti-investment” Labour. In England, Labour simply didn’t seem different from the Conservative Party – or at least, not different enough.

And that is a problem that has dogged the party ever since Tony Blair took office in 1997. The party lost votes at every subsequent election as the realities of his sub-Tory policies sank into an electorate that was initially unwilling to accept them. Where Campbell states that the argument that Labour hasn’t been left-wing enough has “been put forward by some in the Party all my political lifetime, and the ultimate beneficiaries have always been the Tories not Labour,” he is mistaken.

Who benefited from New Labour’s attitude to privatisation in the health service? The Conservatives.

Who benefited from New Labour’s failure to restore the rights of trade unions? The Conservatives.

Who benefited from New Labour’s policy on social security, moving towards a privatised, insurance-based system? The Conservatives.

Who benefited from New Labour’s introduction of private ownership into education, with academy schools? The Conservatives.

Who benefited from New Labour’s failure to regulate the banks? The Conservatives.

These are just headline examples of right-wing policies supported by New Labour. The Conservatives took them and ran with them, and we now have a government that slipped into power on a lie that Labour overspent, when the financial crisis was caused by profligacy among rich bankers who should have known better. We have a health service that is slipping into the hands of greedy privateers, a social security system that pushes genuine claimants off-benefit and into destitution, despair and death, and wages are diminishing rapidly with unions unable to stand up for their members.

That is only part of the legacy of New Labour, but Alastair Campbell wants you to believe that left-wingers are responsible for Tory success.

Yes, New Labour were better for working people than the Cameron-led Coalition, or the current Conservative Government seems likely to be – but that’s like comparing influenza with ebola.

Campbell even admits that Labour lost partly because of the “catastrophic misjudgement” of failing to rebut the idea that Labour caused the crash – a misjudgement of Blairite New Labour hangers-on, not left-wingers who have spent the last five years screaming for their front bench to get a clue. Just look at Michael Meacher’s blogs if you don’t believe it.

Note also that Campbell discusses the country’s desire not to have a Labour/SNP government, without every admitting that Ed Miliband had ruled it out; it was never going to happen, no matter what the result of the election.

Campbell resorts to the (now-familiar) suggestion that Corbyn is a dream for the Conservatives. This is not true. The Tories have put forward a bluff that they want Corbyn because he is unelectable, and like-minded members of New Labour, such as Campbell, have swallowed it without question – like good little Tory-lite boys and girls.

In fact, the Tories – and Blairite New Labour – are terrified because Corbyn represents a huge shift in the thinking of the general public. They will do anything to block that movement because it will throw both sets of politicians off the gravy train they currently occupy.

Neil Kinnock spent a lot of time dealing with left-wingers in his party (not the “hard left” of Campbell’s article, although there were certainly more in the Labour Party at that time because it was more representative of the country than it is now) because they knew he was a right-winger who wanted to drag the party away from its ideals and, ultimately, into the same neoliberalism as the Conservative Party.

There is no mention of particular policies in Campbell’s article. He writes things like, “Some of the positions winning him the loudest applause in his packed meetings are those that will be met with the most deafening silence when campaigners get out on the doorsteps of the undecided come election time.” What positions? Perhaps Campbell is silent because his choices will be exactly the policies that are winning Corbyn the most votes.

Worst still – for Campbell’s argument – is the fact that he cannot say anything in support of any of the other three leadership candidates. He can’t see them winning either. And that means he can’t address their worst obstacle at the moment, which is the fact that the general public currently sees the leadership race as being between Corbyn and the others, with no distinction between them. They are already also-rans.

So let’s put a cap on Campbell’s outburst, with a demonstration of how ridiculous his viewpoint really is.

If Alastair Campbell is so unhappy with Jeremy Corbyn’s candidacy, but the party’s grassroots are determined to have a left-wing leader, let’s propose an alternative: The late Tony Benn.

Yes, I’m well aware that Mr Benn has passed on. This makes him perfect for right-wing Labour. Whenever a new issue is raised, the party would have to look to pronouncements made by the great man when he was still among us.

And then, no doubt spin doctors in the mould of Mr Campbell could twist those words to make them seem to support whatever they want instead.

The voters would have their left-wing leader, and the neoliberals would still have power. It’s the best of both worlds.

That’s about the size of it, wouldn’t you say, Mr Campbell?

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  1. Richard Paine August 11, 2015 at 11:44 am - Reply

    The likes of Campbell, appear affable, nice & reasonable. But, they ain’t to be trusted.

  2. Bill Kruse August 11, 2015 at 11:51 am - Reply

    Perhaps Campbell’s worried if Corbyn gets elected The Hague will be knocking on the door chez Campbell asking difficult questions about sexed-up dodgy dossiers and millions of dead Iraqis.

  3. Marie Meaden August 11, 2015 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    Leave us, the electorate, alone, we are in charge of our own vote, unfortunately for you remember we the common people (who should listen to wise men like AD) at leasy we still have the vote. JC we are behind you all the way, best wishes!

  4. Nick Fourbanks August 11, 2015 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    The only people in life who snipe from the side-line’s do not forget are always the ones who have had in the past are (A) have had some involvement and (B) lead a comfortable lifestyle

    Jeremy Corbyn only speaks in general for those that wish to live a normal lifestyle be it at home or abroad and that’s the values that all normal people across the world aspire to hence he on the world stage will be very popular as his views are the majority of the peoples worldwide views

    Campbell’s views have never been the views of the people and although well spun the penny drops eventually that these views are just sound bites and have no meaning on any level

    Tony Blair’s new labour /conservative views were always seriously flawed as on the one hand with tax credits for example it looked good but the message was in reality that business were cheats and would never pay you properly so government will top you up
    but this was nonsense
    Who wants to work for a slave like business and that’s what the public was sucked into and that should never have been entertained

    You either pay a living wage or if I were the prime minister I would close your business down and that’s the end of the story pure and simple job done and would then get good business from across the world to locate in the uk to prove that it is possible

    On this basis the public would be standing on their own two feet knowing that what they were being paid was providing for a reasonable lifestyle free from debt and free from the burden of having to rely on other people and making great strides in providing for an overall better and unified society

    This is my vision of the uk and am sure this is also the vision of Jeremy Corbyn

  5. Franklin Percival August 11, 2015 at 2:24 pm - Reply

    Campbell is a self-absorbed s***.

    • Mike Sivier August 11, 2015 at 3:16 pm - Reply

      You are the third person today who has wanted to swear on my site.
      Please bear in mind that it isn’t allowed.
      I get tired of editing in asterisks to obscure these words; in the case of repeat offenders I may just decide to trash the comments.
      That would be a shame, if the comment was otherwise informative.
      Please keep your comments free of profanity, expletives or other forms of swearing, so everybody can enjoy this site and your contribution to it.

  6. John White August 11, 2015 at 4:05 pm - Reply

    I can go with a lot of what this article says. It’s good to see the Labour Party being reclaimed and throwing out the Europhile blairites. however, I just don’t believe its remotely true Labour’s opposition is in any way scared of a Corbyn win: the Labour leader is more irrelevant than ever as long as Labour thinks it can win a government through English votes under first past the post. Blairism was an attempt, really, to try to win under FPTP by hovering up enough floating voters with a populist middle that drew the female vote: but post Iraq/Credit Crunch, voters don’t float that way. At best, A populist corbyn might make a new anti-austerity Tspiras-like figure, who will obtain the same results. Next time Greece will vote in a far right party that will tell the Germans to FO, and that would be the same post Corybn too. Only by leaving the EU and demanding true PR for all future elections, including 2020, can Labour remotely deliver on its promises

    • Mike Sivier August 11, 2015 at 5:59 pm - Reply

      I disagree with much of that.
      Labour doesn’t try to win through English votes, but by appealing to the whole of the UK; the problem – as demonstrated glaringly in May – is that the current Labour leadership very clearly has no idea how to appeal to the whole country. Corbyn has hit the right note. He won’t be a Tsipras figure because he’s not in the same tight spot as Tsipras – the UK has its own sovereign currency, unlike Greece, and therefore has a huge amount more leeway in terms of fiscal policy. Also, he doesn’t have the Iraq war clouding up his past.
      Leaving the EU? Not an issue for a future Labour PM (at least, not at the moment). We’ll have a referendum on it during the current Parliament.
      Proportional representation is another matter. I support it because I think certain other parties deserved more in the general election than they received – including, in fairness, UKIP. I don’t like that party at all but it received millions of votes and returned one MP. That’s not right.

  7. casalealex August 11, 2015 at 8:24 pm - Reply

    What is this blithering idiot babbling about?

    He who was involved in the preparation and release of the “Iraq Dossier” (or “Dodgy Dossier”) in February 2003. These documents argued the case for concern over possible weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) in Iraq.

    In 2003, commenting on WMDs in Iraq Campbell said, “Come on, you don’t seriously think we won’t find anything?”. He resigned in Aug 2003 during the Hutton Inquiry into the death of David Kelly who had believed that the government exaggerated the Iraqi threat in the Iraq.

    And he has the gall to deride a decent guy who was against the Iraq war. in which he colluded with Blair and Bush!

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