Tom Harris, right-wing Labour MPs and my politics


by Sunny
22nd August, 2009 at 10:55 pm    

A funny little spat took place over the weekend. I signed a Compass statement for a High Pay Commission of some sort. That statement was criticised by Labour MP Tom Harris on his own blog. I then outlined my reasons for supporting the statement, making expressly economic arguments (which you can agree or disagree with) and criticised Tom Harris’ arguments. He then responded to that and I subsequently tore up his supremely stupid argument that anything that penalised the extremely wealthy would hurt Labour’s electoral prospects.

Tom Harris MP – then unable to make any economic or political arguments, thought he’d be clever and wrote this blog post saying I was hypocritical because I’d earlier signed ‘a statement of ethical blogging’. But I hadn’t, making him look even more idiotic. (Clearly Iain Dale is still smarting over the fact I called him out when he libelled Tom Watson (I posted this on Tom Harris’ blog but he didn’t let that comment through – didn’t want to offend his mate obviously).

So why am I posting all this? It’s a bit of background to the argument I want to make. On Tom Harris MP’s blog, Sunder Katwala of the Fabian society says:

On Sunny representing “Labour” views, my friend Sunny Hundal is not (for sure) and has never been (as far as I know) a member of the Labour Party. He has blogged that he intends to vote Green.
He is anti-Tory, he is somewhat sympathetic to Labour (in that he often argues about what the party should do to connect to disillusioned liberal-lefties like himself and others at Liberal Conspiracy). For that reason, some people (esp LibDems) say that LC is somehow a ‘Labour front’ but anybody who comments there in any way supportively of Labour will know this is nonsense.

But I don’t think Sunny is well placed to tell Labour MPs and members that they are not really Labour in his view, even if his argument is that he would join if other people left. This is the factionalism and in-fighting which LC is theoretically against, and ‘no factionalism except for those New Labour bastards’ falls a little way short for me.

Let me explain this properly. I see myself on the political left and therefore I’m loyal to the left and to lefties. I have stated loads of times I don’t like factionalism and in-fighting on the left. But I’m not a Labour Party tribalist and not a member of any political party. I see Labour, the Libdems and Greens as broadly progressive parties and roughly left of centre. But I’m not attracted to anyone very specifically right now enough to join them.

So while I’m not a party political tribalist, I am a leftie and proud of being one. The reason why I attack Tom Harris is because he’s not of the left. He may be within the Labour Party but that doesn’t make him left-wing. He can’t even make a political argument, let alone an economic one on why he doesn’t a High Pay Commission (and there’s plenty of valid criticisms to be made), and the only thing he can do is accuse others of ‘politics of envy’ or play these cheap shots.

And there are lots of others precedents for this. Look across the pond and there are plenty of progressives who will support the liberal wing of the Democratic party but will not come anywhere near traitors like Joe Lieberman. They will actively campaign against the right-wing elements of the Democrats (the ‘Blue Dogs’) and I’d happily approve of that strategy.

I’m not interested in supporting or defending right-wing elements within the Labour party just because of their political affiliation. This is a political war and they are on the wrong side. Once the left-wing blogosphere starts campaigning and fundraising, we should be supporting left-wing and progressive elements of Labour, Libdems and the Greens – while actively rejecting people like Harris who like adulation from the Tories.


              Post to del.icio.us


Filed in: Party politics






36 Comments below   |  

Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. pickles

    New blog post: Tom Harris, right-wing Labour MPs and my politics http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5620


  2. Splintered Sunrise

    RT @pickledpolitics Pickled Politics » Tom Harris, right-wing Labour MPs and my politics http://bit.ly/UWn6X


  3. GuyAitchison

    RT @pickledpolitics: New blog post: Tom Harris, right-wing Labour MPs and my politics http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5620


  4. Kurt

    Pickled Politics » Tom Harris, right-wing Labour MPs and my politics http://bit.ly/2bCmbN


  5. The last word on the High Pay Commission | And another thing...

    [...] last word on the High Pay Commission Sunday, August 23rd, 2009 HAVING inadvertently caused some offence with my rabid right-wing views on trying to avoid a Tory victory at the general election opposing [...]


  6. thabet

    Sunny draws the battle lines! http://www.pickledpolitics.com/archives/5620




  1. CTerry — on 22nd August, 2009 at 11:01 pm  

    Sunny I don’t think I have ever agreed with you more. Politics should be about ideas, not parties. Ideas should be debated on their merits, not on their electoral strategy. Electoral strategy is important, don’t get me wrong, but electoral strategy is electoral strategy and that is for parties to debate.

  2. Andy Gilmour — on 22nd August, 2009 at 11:12 pm  

    Clearly no-one should ever make the mistake of assuming that, just because someone is a member of parliament, and has the basic technological knowledge required to blog, such a person has any great intellectual abilities.

    But Mr. Sunny, why care what the right honourable member has to say for themselves anyway? (or what anyone else happens to say on the r.h.m.’s blog)? There’s a bit of a risk of this turning into HP part the second, perhaps?

  3. Tom Harris — on 22nd August, 2009 at 11:13 pm  

    “… saying I was hypocritical because I’d earlier signed ‘a statement of ethical blogging’.

    Er, no, I didn’t. Read the post.

  4. Splintered Sunrise — on 22nd August, 2009 at 11:18 pm  

    If I can add a little perspective from the further left, I couldn’t agree more that unthinking tribalism – as opposed to straightforward party patriotism – is not a healthy thing. Despite my disagreements with Bob Crow or Dave Nellist, I would vote for them in a heartbeat. But there are plenty of others who wouldn’t on frankly sectarian grounds.

    What you’re saying is quite important in terms of shifting the debate. It’s important because we can’t make a simple conflation between the Labour Party and “the left” in a broad sense – maybe we never could, but it definitely won’t wash now.

    If your Labour candidate is a good leftie, fine. But if you’ve got some rightwing clone standing for Labour, while you might have a decent alternative candidate from the Greens or Plaid or Respect or whoever… It’s the sort of thing online progressive activism needs to think about. Like the way the US Christian right give out report cards showing where candidates stand on the big issues – except we’d mark them differently.

  5. Joseph Edwards — on 23rd August, 2009 at 12:01 am  

    I’m perpetually shocked, honestly, that people even need to restate this.

    It’s rather similar, in many ways, to the ludicrous ‘debate’ over whether the Greens and far-left parties should simply withdraw from Westminster in case they get in the way of the lesser evil.

    From my own fairly hard-left perspective; Yes, all things considered, we’d rather most Labour candidates got in than most Conservatives; at the same time, we also have no wish to STRENGTHEN the right-wing elements in Labour that can be more damaging to our causes than the Tories ever could be.

    Labour does not have a monopoly on leftist views, especially after ten years where they have for the most part gone completely against fundamental principles held by many on the left.

    If Labour or any other group wants the left to back them, they can’t do it based on bloody tribalistic grounds.

    Oh, and pretty much everything that Splintered Sunrise said, also.

  6. Joseph Edwards — on 23rd August, 2009 at 12:01 am  

    Double post, urgh.

  7. Shamit — on 23rd August, 2009 at 1:04 am  

    What are left or right views?

    Shouldn’t ideas be debated upon their merits rather than their ideological inspirations? Shouldn’t public policy be driven with what works and would benefit the public most?

    Why are so many of us so much in love of those left – right labels? Do they still exist?

  8. Sunny — on 23rd August, 2009 at 1:25 am  

    Er, no, I didn’t. Read the post.

    I have. And if that’s not the point you’re making then perhaps you should be more clear. Or perhaps the point you’re trying to make is as obtuse as saying that taxing the super-rich is a huge vote loser.

    Andy – my point here is to explain how I see the left and where my loyalties lie. People keep thinking I’m in league with various political parties or that I should be doing this or that.

    Right – left are not dead. What is dead is the ideological differences between New Labour and the New Conservatives. And Tom Harris is the prime example of that.

    SS and JE – agreed.

  9. Andy Gilmour — on 23rd August, 2009 at 1:56 am  

    Fair enough. I’ve always assumed that you were, much like myself, primarily in league with Satan.

    Which is, of course, quite tricky when all the evidence suggests that he’s a fictional construct designed to blackmail people into agreeing to dogmatic nonsense.

    Ah, well. Can only try your best, eh?

    :-)

  10. Boyo — on 23rd August, 2009 at 8:09 am  

    doh. the greens are right-wing, why do you think they’re full of toffs?

  11. Left Outside — on 23rd August, 2009 at 4:05 pm  

    @Boyo. You’re right, your social background entirely predicts your politics and opinions. Thank you for pointing that out…

    Anyway, I couldn’t agree with you more Sunny. I’ve always considered myself more or less a Labour supporter, but I’ve never voted Labour because a better left wing alternative was available.

    I think it can be a bit tribal (Kier Hardie, Bevan, Benn yada yada yada), but at the same time I do think Labour can pull its finger out and become a party with some morals again.

  12. MaidMarian — on 23rd August, 2009 at 4:41 pm  

    Oh Sunny – It was all going so well, such a good artice, and you go and blow it in the last paragraph.

    ‘This is a political war and they are on the wrong side. Once the left-wing blogosphere starts campaigning and fundraising, we should be supporting left-wing and progressive elements of Labour, Libdems and the Greens – while actively rejecting people like Harris who like adulation from the Tories.’

    A political war? Please, this is talkboard hyperbole at its worst. But even so, you can’t really be suggesting that there is a great groundswell of opinion swinging to the left? If there was, Cameron would not be top of the opinion polls.

    And that’s before we get to questions of whether the greens can reconcile with the left (answer: not in a million, if you think those can come together, you have learnt noting from New Labour) or if the libdems are left.

    And as to the left-wing internet sites campaigning and fund-raising, what then has it been doing for the past ten years!?!?!?!? How has the operation been going in recent by-elections?

    Sunny, the article is really good and the bits about tribalism are excellent, but the only response to that last paragraph are that there are none so blind as those who will not see.

  13. Joel — on 23rd August, 2009 at 7:45 pm  

    I’ve never agreed more. The High Pay Commission would nail Labour’s colours to a post, and do more to define them than the current unideological centrism does. And as far as funding and donations go– they receive most of their funding from Unions and Unionists, do they not? A source of funding which would not be offended by a High Pay Commission. There are plenty who would like to see moves like this, and those who do not are already monopolised by the Conservatives.

    As far as I can tell I’m in almost the same position. On the left, partyless, and free to be perfectly suspicious of rightwing elements as I decide my vote. Factionalism is only damaging if it compromises a party enough to open up the door to the conservatives. But idealists should be able to express their ideals, especially if their loyalties are not to a party but to something more, as mine are.

  14. MaidMarian — on 23rd August, 2009 at 8:07 pm  

    Joel (15) – ‘But idealists should be able to express their ideals, especially if their loyalties are not to a party but to something more, as mine are.’

    Well, yes, but if idealists want to follow that route they need to remember that there is a very fine line between ideals and self-indulgence. A lot of people in America decided to follow their ideals for Ralph Nader rather than being a bit more pragmatic and look where that got us.

    With all respect, government and politics are not there to legislate for the prejudices of dreamers. Nor should it be.

  15. Joel — on 23rd August, 2009 at 8:47 pm  

    Good point, though it’s not 100% certain whether Nader’s candidacy affected the outcome of the Florida recount.

    Voting is a bit of a separate matter, though. I agree with you, and I’ll vote pragmatically– Sunny, I think, was referring more to criticism and speech.

  16. Boyo — on 23rd August, 2009 at 9:31 pm  

    get those oiks off my easy jet!

    ever since the industrial revolution the wealthy have been green – economic power gave their serfs ideas above their station. it’s really no different now – i doubt lucinda staging her sit-in at stansted would expect it to get in the way of her gap year in belize, building sustainable yoga resources or some such, which are quite a different thing

    and hunting is more eco friendly than poison, don’t you know

  17. Katy — on 23rd August, 2009 at 10:03 pm  

    MaidMarian:

    Sorry to chase you over other articles, but in case you haven’t noticed I replied to you on the Climate Camp article. I know that is ‘old news’ now, but I feel like you kinda left me hanging. A sentence at least would be nice, especially as you accused me of not replying to your points.

    If not, sorry to have bothered you and good day.

    P.s. Sunny, good luck at Climate Camp- wish I was going!

  18. Andy Gilmour — on 23rd August, 2009 at 11:49 pm  

    Boyo,

    I’ve got a strong ‘green’ tinge, I’m a single parent on less than £14k a year, and have never displayed any signs of ‘toff’-ishness.

    But please, do keep up the impressively cogent reasoning, you’re starting to make me see the error of my ways…

    Cheers,
    Andy

  19. MaidMarian — on 23rd August, 2009 at 11:56 pm  

    Katy (19) – ‘MaidMarian: Sorry to chase you over other articles, but in case you haven’t noticed I replied to you on the Climate Camp article.’

    No, you are not sorry, what you are doing is hectoring and rude. Not to mention derailing a good thread.

    ‘I know that is ‘old news’ now, but I feel like you kinda left me hanging.’

    I had not noticed your reply. I am not a professional talkboard writer and I move on.

    ‘A sentence at least would be nice, especially as you accused me of not replying to your points.’

    I accused you of not answering a straight question. What you gave me was a load of words around the subject, not an answer. And you gave me a meely mouthed inference that because I disagree with you I am stupid, which I suspect is a favourite debating technique of yours.

    ‘If not, sorry to have bothered you and good day.’

    I only wish you knew how good a day I’m planning. And when it comes to your apology, I just don’t believe you.

    Do you have anything to say on this thread?

  20. Boyo — on 24th August, 2009 at 7:17 am  

    i suppose that makes you the equivalent of a working class tory andy ;-)

  21. Cauldron — on 24th August, 2009 at 9:38 am  

    The idea of a High Pay Commission is a wonderful idea. Far better to have these things controlled by the good and the great than to achieve policy objectives by more decentralised methods like varying the top tier of income tax, by making shareholder votes on executive pay mandatory rather than consultative, by requiring pension funds to be more transparent in their voting records or by banning boards from appropriating proxy votes. No, none of these policies that attempt to influence the behavior of individual agents is anywhere near as effective as good old-fashioned quantity rationing. Nothing gives as much satisfaction as a good old banning.

    In fact, why should we stop at the High Pay Commission? As every intelligent person knows, over the past dozen years quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations have done a phenomenal job of bringing unparalleled degrees of efficiency to Britain’s activity. Indeed, it’s scandalous to think that fully 52% of the UK’s economic activity is still determined by individual economic agents making their own decisions about value and utility based on nothing more than their own selfish interests.

    Every serious commentator must surely agree that prices and resource allocation are far too important to be left to these barbarians. Much simpler to have a commission to set the prices and quantities of everything – we can call it the ‘Planning Commission’ for short. And in recognition of the speed at which technology changes as capitalism hurtles towards self-destruction, the Planning Commission can dynamically alter its plans every five years!

    Indeed, because anti-people monopolists are to be found everywhere, no business should be allowed to add to productive capacity unless they have secured a license from the Planning Commission. Even better, in recognition of Britain’s rich colonial legacy, we can call this new economic framework the ‘License Raj’.

    Let nobody underestimate the difficulties of achieving this new regime. But, with luck, we can pull off the incredibly difficult task of achieving several decades in which our economic growth rates lag behind everybody else’s and soon the whole world will be in awe of the ‘Anglican rate of growth’.

  22. Katy — on 24th August, 2009 at 9:42 am  

    MaidMarian:

    I don’t think you are being fair.

    Everyone else:

    I sincerely apologise if anyone feels I’ve derailed this thread. I don’t want to discuss any more on here that is irrelevant.

    I just wanted to draw MaidMarians attention to the other thread because I spent time and energy composing my thoughts in reply only to have my points either evaded or ignored.

    It takes me quite a while to post on here because the problems facing our future are very emotive for me and I always make sure I am saying what I want to say in the clearest way. It still doesn’t always work. So posting on here causes me quite a lot of stress and I’m not sure if I have a thick enough skin. Or enough free time!

    So, I have read this entire thread, it is really interesting and I would like to post something relevant, but I truly don’t have the mental energy. Maybe another day, although by that time things will have probably ‘moved on’. I can’t keep up with you all.

    Sorry again, I hope my self indulgence in explaining myself hasn’t pissed everyone off too much. Hope you have a good Monday.

  23. douglas clark — on 24th August, 2009 at 9:54 am  

    Asking for a reply is hectoring and rude?

  24. Cauldron — on 24th August, 2009 at 10:50 am  

    Far ruder, and scarier, is the thought of some Compass-appointed commissar telling private individuals and entities how to run their lives.

  25. Cauldron — on 24th August, 2009 at 11:14 am  

    Professor Petras sounds like a really well-balanced individual. Perhaps he might be invited to serve on the High Pay Commission.

  26. Sunny — on 24th August, 2009 at 12:04 pm  

    There’s no point even making fun of him. Mostque is a troll and is banned. His comments will be deleted.

  27. Andy Gilmour — on 24th August, 2009 at 1:19 pm  

    Boyo,

    Why do you assume I’m working class? I only gave you details of my gross annual income. Interesting conclusion ye took from it. :-)

    And what exactly constitutes “working class”, anyway?

    Cheers.

    p.s. I’m in the (extremely long) queue to dance on Thatcher’s grave, so don’t count on the ‘Tory’ bit any time soon. :-)

  28. dawood — on 24th August, 2009 at 5:00 pm  

    So while I’m not a party political tribalist, I am a leftie and proud of being one. The reason why I attack Tom Harris is because he’s not of the left.

    If the only reason why you attack Tom Harris is because “he’s not of the left” then that makes you a partisan political ‘tribalist’. Which is probably why you write oxymoronic articles like this one.

  29. Left Outside — on 24th August, 2009 at 8:05 pm  

    dawood, it appears that you are the only one who thinks that politics is expressed solely in party terms.

    You can be left wing and not support Labour. In fact these days I’d say if you you are left wing you have to not support Labour.

    Being left wing doesn’t put you in a tribe. It means that you experience and interpret the world in a left wing way.

  30. dawood — on 25th August, 2009 at 4:17 am  

    dawood, it appears that you are the only one who thinks that politics is expressed solely in party terms.

    That is precisely what I am *not* saying. But Sunny, the author of this article, has inadvertantly admitted that the only reason he attacked Tom Harris was because “he’s not of the left”. And I suspect that would apply to anyone whom the author perceives to be “not of the left”.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Pickled Politics © Copyright 2005 - 2010. All rights reserved. Terms and conditions.
With the help of PHP and Wordpress.