Home > Labour Party News > Farewell Derek. Again.

Farewell Derek. Again.

I had to laugh at this story. Derek Draper is resigning from Labour List because the outcry about the smears discussed between him and McBride are proving to be a distraction. Apparently the Red Rag scandal is taking time away from the inane psychobabble, his part as a pro-government pitbull and a hardcore dedication to empty rhetoric and boring puff pieces. Labour List is still shit, with Draper, without Draper, it makes absolutely no difference. I think many of the committed socialists remaining within the Party are waking up and noticing that the composition of the Party has changed to become 60% idiot, 30% apolitical and 10% socialist. Labour List will remain shit because it draws most of its commentary from the first two groups. I would give a more detailed commentary, but I think I’ve pretty much exhausted myself detailing where and why Labour List has gone wrong, and why the vast majority of its commentators are just plain irritating, when they aren’t outright reactionaries.

Categories: Labour Party News
  1. May 7, 2009 at 8:12 am

    No problem with the substantive issue of the post -DD being not very useful and LL being rubbish – but I think there’s a post to be had from one of the informal trio about political consciousness within the Labour party.

    I think you underestimate the’apolitical’ % by quite a long way, though I accept the term would need to be defined in relation to how it differs from your definition of ‘idiot’.

    There are still lots and lots of people in the party simply because they are not not in the party, but who haven’t really ‘done politics’ for a long time now (this isn’t of course different in the Tory party), and we shouldn’t assume too much about grassroots members’ views/beliefs, which research (albeit from 80’s/90’s by Syed and Whitelely showed consistently to be to the left of the national party (that’s not rocket science).

    A key loss to the party, in its move to be a’campaigning party’ (i.e. depoliticised by the centre) is that of ‘political education’, the post of which remains in standing orders for branches but is rarely now filled.

    All fairly obvious stuff about the need for grassroots drive etc etc. Suppose I’d better try to get to the LRc thing in Manchester on Saturday and be told how to do it.

  2. May 7, 2009 at 5:52 pm

    No, you’re quite right, we can’t assume too much.

    What I’d love to know is how one can be “apolitical” and still want to be part of a political party. Let’s face it, the odd Labour Club around the country might still exercise a cultural pull on people – but on the other hand, there are a lot of middle-aged types involved who aren’t ever likely to make a selection list and who continue to turn up to meetings.

    As for idiots, well pretty much everyone climbing their way up the slick career ladder, who are either already principle deficient (because not intelligent enough to develop any detailed critique of society) or are dropping those principles as they go, rationalising it by claiming that they can do good from ‘the inside’.

  3. Mil
    May 7, 2009 at 9:22 pm

    Brings to mind the quote I have on my place by David Brin:

    “It is said that power corrupts, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.”

    That’s the problem with political systems – they inevitably involve apportioning power to individuals.

    Anyhow, I think it’s time to dust off my old idea from Members Net days of setting up an online academy of left-wing thought. Something which scrobbles for thought what Last.fm scrobbles for music – that expands one’s mental horizons around a structure of Web 2.0 participation and political preferences. Anyone got the technical knowhow and resources – or perhaps more importantly the inclination – to put it into practice?

  4. May 7, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    I’m sorry to argue with you Mil, but I think the idea that power corrupts to be one for philistines. Power doesn’t corrupt – or, at least, it isn’t power that has corrupted the Labour Party.

    I’m all for setting up an online academy of Left-wing thought. It’s eminently do-able. The problem is, of course, that this will invariably and inevitably lead straight to Marxism, as essentially the only body of consistent, rigorous and academically available work from the Left. Liberalism and non-Marxist socialism (such as by J.S. Mill) are hardly worth comparing to Marx.

    Of course, such an endeavour would be instantly alienated on the blogosphere, with its preponderance to the Right (both of the Party and generally).

  5. Mil
    May 9, 2009 at 10:22 am

    I think any such academy could include two focusses – one, didactic and pro-active, the other browsing-based with a “see where the tide takes you” approach. That’s why I mention Last.fm and not Spotify. You seem to suggest a Spotify model where we choose what we already know and home in on that; I would prefer a broader brief in that stretching-of-existing-horizons sense that Last.fm exemplifies through its Neighbourhood Radio model. I would, in fact, like to set up a site with a much broader brief than that, but, if truth be told, I think sponsorship is only possible if you focus on one area of thought. No one is honestly interested in breaking down the walls. And perhaps it would not be useful, after ten years of the Third Way, to want to continue to try doing so.

  6. May 9, 2009 at 10:31 am

    I don’t understand the difference between Spotify and Last.fm, so I don’t get the reference – care to explain?

    What I do know is the “see where the tide takes you” approach. I’m all for that, and so are most of the socialists I know. Having read authors from Soren Kierkegaard to Rene Descartes to Kant to Plato, I’m fairly certain that ‘the tide’ is only useful so long as it provides answers to the questions we need answered in a here and now context.

    When you say an online Academy, do you mean merely a disinterested dialogue between intellectuals (meaning, those interested in the development of their intellectual powers)? If so, I would suggest no such thing will ever exist. Surely the purpose of an academy, while allowing for debate amongst ourselves over theoretical and practical questions, is ultimately to turn out the next generation of scholar-activists?

  7. Mil
    May 9, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Spotify.com allows you to choose your music (band, singer, composer, whatever) and listen only to that. Last.fm allows you to do that for a price or – for free – provides you with the option of Neighbourhood Radio. Neighbourhood Radio involves you keying in your favourite band and getting to listen to a couple of their songs, and then moving ever-outwards (automatically) to other music which users of the community have tagged as similar. Thus the “tide” I mention, as you slide from similar to similar to similar. It means you end up listening to stuff you’d never dream of listening to. You can then tag what you like as a favourite, and this – in turn – affects how the system serves up further content. A more controversial aspect of Last.fm is the scrobbling feature it supplies – which can be disactivated – and involves telling the world what you are listening to on your PC. Using this concept for thought – identifying readers and reading habits – is an issue, of course. But then we’ve been happily buying from Amazon without considering the privacy implications for years (well, perhaps most of us have – maybe not all).

    An online academy could involve two wings – the highly scholarly aspect which could be pay-only and then a kind of “everyperson’s” version which would involve the scrobbling and Web 2.0 approach I outline above, and would, with initial ground rules, hopefully be self-generating. I went on a two-weekend seminar with the Labour Party on progressive thought some years ago and found it a most exhilarating experience; since then, I have always wanted to widen this experience and make it available online for a broader audience.

  8. May 9, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    What did the two-weekend seminar entail?

  9. Mil
    May 9, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    It involved an overview of what – at the time – I considered a broad range of historical as well as what styled itself as current socialist thought; a tracing of the development of that thought; and an overview of how that thought underpinned modern Labour practice. There were plenty of allusions to European social democracy, as you might imagine, and the principles seemed wonderful, even if circumscribed (I see this in hindsight) by a hobbling of certain fundamental freedoms.

    But the freedom to speak out, the ability to exchange one’s opinions with others who were either actively in left-wing politics or seriously thinking about becoming so, was never in doubt. There was an atmosphere at these seminars I have never come across since within the Labour Party; it wasn’t a “win at all costs” kind of approach but what I remember as a truly sincere attempt to define and draw out a useful outline to a non-capitalist legacy of thought which belonged to real men and women who had to struggle with many realities not to their liking. Not to your liking either, this seminar and its proponents, I would imagine – but as editors and publishers we have to act as curates of what we have in front of us as well as be clear about what we would prefer to see:


    An online academy *would* have to square many circles to reach a threshold of popularity and acceptance – and perhaps this would be distasteful to you; but popularisation is an important factor in any learning process. You know from your teaching that first you must gain the acceptance of your learners; their complicity, their unfidgeting presence in the classroom. That’s how I see the challenges of such an online academy. It would need to listen as well as speak to be truly representative of progressive politics. To be an orator with a microphone is fine. To stand at Speaker’s Corner and exchange views with your audience is, however, much truer.

  10. May 9, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    I don’t see why we should square circles in exchange for popularity. I am all for persuasion and convincing others, but this results from a conviction and from grasp of the facts. We let the latter slip when we’re modulating what we say in order to reach a wider audience.

    Bearing in mind that the convictions of my politicial discipline result from an interpretation of the objective world, in to which we all fit, however complex it may appear to us subjectively, is it not the case that our role is simply to work with the materials presented to us (that is, people’s real experiences) and to interweave them with the underlying theory that explains them both by discourse and practice?

    I submit that it is the latter of these two in which the real hobbling takes place within Labour.

  11. Mil
    May 9, 2009 at 3:59 pm

    I don’t want to get all post-modernist on you (done that before, I think – not going there again!), and I’m certainly not going to relativise all experience; but one of the things that really hobbles the Labour Party is the belief some have that they are the repository of all truth. Our experiences are generated and moulded as much by our behaviours and the behaviours of those we come into contact with as they are by what you might term an objective perception of a reality which supposedly we can all share exactly.

    As teachers and trainers who impart what we know, we are also reflective practitioners and learners who allow others to share with us what we don’t. If we believe we are in possession of a theoretical structure that allows any further evidence of any kind to be conveniently included, without in any way reshaping the theoretical structure in question, our relationship with our learners can only be one way. We cannot learn from them. Only they can learn from us.

    If that’s what one believes, then that must be the shape of one’s learning processes. But, I would submit, that’s not the direction the 21st century appears to be leading us in. Or, at least, from my point of view, it’s not the direction I perceive.

  12. May 9, 2009 at 4:04 pm

    And that’s a fair enough position to hold. However, you’ve offered no evidence in support of such a contention.

    I would say this; the theoretical structure (presumably I could substitute the word “method” here) by which we might grasp the evidence presented to us (in itself a learning process) and put it to good (i.e. practical) use is never set in stone.

    It can be superseded or proved wrong; it is, after all, scientific and based ultimately on a reference to the empirical. That it has never been so is my ultimate and overriding contention. Otherwise, I wouldn’t use it; I would use something else to interpret the actions that go on around me.

  13. Mil
    May 9, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Don’t know if it answers your request for evidence to support my supposition. But here’s something this discussion has provoked me to write this evening:


    The parameters are changing. The relationship between productive labour and paid labour is not automatic. Something is shifting in quite a fundamental way and I really am not sure that those who are used to running our countries these days are quite as aware of it as they should be.

  1. May 8, 2009 at 12:29 pm

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