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 â€œLabourâ€ 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 â€˜Labour frontâ€™ but anybody who comments there in any way supportively of Labour will know this is nonsense.
But I donâ€™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 â€˜no factionalism except for those New Labour bastardsâ€™ 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.
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Filed in: Party politics