Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Alan Johnson shows the good and bad sides of mainstream Labour

There is no doubt about the bust up of the day. It is Alan Johnson's pummelling of Simon Hardy from what is laughing called 'Left Unity' on the Daily Politics this lunchtime.

Johnson was absolutely right to question Hardy's blithe assumption that only his groupuscule of the left stands against racism, austerity and war.

He was right to defend the record of the Labour governments of which he was a part:
we introduced the minimum wage, when we introduced the education maintenance allowance, when we introduced sure start children’s centres, when we reduced child poverty, when we attacked pensioner poverty, when we gave trade unionists the right to be represented, the right not to be sacked for going on strike.
Part of Labour's problem is that it has made so little effort to defend the Blair and Brown years. Blair, like Harold Wilson before him, has become a nonperson despite winning multiple elections for the party.

Where Johnson was completely wrong was where he complained that Hardy is "a middle-class intellectual".

Of course he is. Labour needs middle-class intellectuals. Labour wins when it manages to persuade both the working class and middle-class intellectuals to vote for it.

Yes, it must be galling for someone like Johnson to be lectured on the meaning of socialism, but his attitude does remind you of stories about how moderate Labourites used to behave when they were in the ascendancy back in the Fifties and Sixties.

Then, if someone applied to join the party, the local membership secretary would call. If he saw books in the house the candidate would be told that the party was full.

Still, if Labour is to return to sanity, let alone government, then the party's mainstream will have to emulate Johnson's fighting spirit.

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