Friday, October 16, 2015

The supposed 'hypocrisy' of critics of Labour MPs who abstained on Osborne's Fiscal Charter vote

So 20 Labour MPs abstained over Osborne's Fiscal Charter, rather than vote against with the rest of the party. There has been fury from many in the party about that. Others however say that, as Corbyn rebelled and voted with his conscience on many occasions, so these 20 MP's are now entirely within their rights to do the same.

Maybe. It depends why they abstained. Did they abstain because their conscience on the Fiscal Charter required it of them? Or did they abstain  to try to help bring down Corbyn? A lack of explanation from them as to their reasons looks suspicious (why, if they are simply undecided about Osborne's Charter, not just just say so?). Surely they owe us such an explanation, as our elected representatives?

Abstaining on conscience is one thing. Abstaining in order to try to damage and bring down a leader elected and mandated by the members of the party by a huge majority is quite another. It's a far more serious offence. In effect, MP's abstaining for that reason are saying 'Fuck you' to the members. And the members are then fully entitled to say 'No, fuck you' in reply and move to deselect them. Nothing inconsistent or hypocritical about that.

That's not to say I think MPs should be deselected if it turns out they're just voting to bring down Corbyn. That may not be desirable at all. But the 'hypocrisy' charge made against those Corbynites furious at MPs whom they suspect of voting or abstaining to try to bring down Corbyn is bullshit.


Derrick Knight said...

It's not hypocritical to criticise the Labour MPs who have abstained on the vote. However, as you've pointed out we don't have the reasons for the abstentions. But it would be reasonable to think that the abstentions are protests. And a protest vote is a vote of conscience.

Stephen Law said...

Sure it is a vote of conscience. But it is also a 'fuck you' to the membership. And the membership are entitled to respond accordingly.

Toby said...

(Taking this off Twitter as it needs a longer format.)

You distinguish between two cases (a) abstaining or voting against the leadership (let's not nit-pick over the difference for now) for reasons of conscience and (b) doing so to bring down the leadership.

Is there such a clear difference? I may as a passionately commited Labour MP believe that the best way of achieving a fairer society is the election of a Labour Government. I may also believe (quite reasonably) that a Corbyn leadership is almost certain to lead to a crushing electoral defeat and give the Tories a free hand to take away what little social protection remains. If I believe this can I, in all conscience, support the Corbyn leadership?

There are issues of democratic will that you raise, but these are separate considerations.

Yes, JC was elected by 59% of the electorate (whatever one thinks of the electoral system that gave rise to this). But he himself defied his Party in the New Labour years when there was a landslide victory and mandate for the leadership (again, whatever one thinks of the electoral system). Are the cases so very different?

Stephen Law said...

Hi Toby - sure I think that an MP might in good conscience vote in such a way as to try to bring down Corbyn because he or she thinks that's best for the party and country. I don't criticise that. I am just pointing out that if the members then call for them to be deselected, they'd be within their rights.

Stephen Law said...

Point is, Corbyn was not voting to try to bring down Blair or the Government. That was not his aim. Had it been his aim, he might well have faced deselection, and rightly so.

Phil said...

Toby - the difference seems pretty clear to me. It's the difference between
"I will not vote for raising taxes on the poor, as the leader asks, because I'm opposed to raising taxes on the poor"
"I will not vote for what this leader asks me to, whatever its merits, because I believe that this leader needs to be replaced".

Corbyn defied his party - for reasons of conscience, on specific issues. He didn't defy the Whip as a means to the end of undermining a leader he disapproved of. That's the difference, and that's why he'd be entirely within his rights to ask for loyalty. Or rather, either loyalty or a reasoned argument grounded in principle.

Toby said...

I agree that the Membership has always had the right to deselect - for a variety of reasons. I also think practically, that the 20 or so MPs who rebelled have taken this into account. Probably why there are so few of them.

I am still not convinced there is a massive difference between voting on conscience against a policy (repeatedly) of you leadership and voting on conscience against that leadership.

I also think that the rebels could say "I abstained because in conscience I cannot engage in Osborne's stupid stunts over the Budget Charter". That would make it OK in your eyes. My earlier example ("I cannot in conscience support the Corbyn leadership") would not.

Derrick Knight said...

I don't know if it is a "fuck you" to the membership but then again as a Labour voter (but not member) I'm not very impressed by the current membership anyway!.

Anonymous said...

No offence, but anyone who thinks party politics in Britain (or any major Western 'democracy') matters is engaging in wishful thinking. You cannot begin to understand how these countries are run, by whom, and for whom, unless you know this:

This is the reason we're all neck-deep in debt that even our children can't repay. It keeps us docile, busy and poor, and that's how our masters like it. Whenever there is mass discontent that threatens to overthrow the system, a war breaks out. WWI, WWII, Vietnam, and some day, WWIII. After the war, most of the young men that would have led the revolutions are dead.

"What about the Communist revolutions?," I hear you cry. "Surely, they overthrew capitalist regimes, at least for a while?" Not so fast. During the Cold War, apart from the US and its allies, all the world's most populous countries practiced economic self-sufficiency. This freed the US from major economic competition for half a century, while stagnation befell potential competitors like Russia, China, India, Brazil, Vietnam, etc. Once the 'free world' had been thoroughly integrated into the debt-dollar system, China was brought into the fold in the late 1970s (and is now one of the largest holders of US government debt). Finally, the Soviet Union 'miraculously' collapsed, and Eastern Europe quickly subsumed under the debt-dollar umbrella.

Was all this just a coincidence? Not likely. The West owes its post-war economic prosperity to the fact that potential competitors were under Communist regimes that didn't compete with Western exporters and banks (smaller economies like Japan and South Korea were dependent on the US market, to which they had to limit exports in return for Uncle Sam's protection). The Iron Curtain only came down when the 'free world' had been saturated by debt and needed new markets. Did anyone ever wonder why Communism collapsed so quickly and easily?

The powers-that-be are not ideologues. The US State Department went out of its way to support the Chinese Communist Party over the pro-capitalist Kuomintang in the 1940s (much to the chagrin of many anti-communists in the US, who accused Washington of 'losing China' to the Communists). A capitalist China was the last thing the bankers wanted. Same with Russia. Western banks helped to finance Russia's Communist regime from the get-go, right up to the end of the Cold War. Despite possessing the only atomic bombs, the US allowed Russia to take half of both Europe and Germany, crippling potential economic competitors.

Future plans may well include WWIII to weaken Russia and China yet again (for China, this will be the third time since the Opium Wars). For good measure, Europe may be thrown in the mix (again). Then a new round of debt, possibly under a new global currency (google 'personal carbon credit') to ensure no more competition from pesky sovereign states. Not sure where Jeremy Corbyn fits into all that. I just hope I'm wrong about WWIII.