In a speech to the Lib-Dem conference Gina Miller lamented the fact that “centrism is really struggling to make headway” before going on to call people to the left and right “fascists” with “cold hard ideologies”.
The obvious problem with centrism is that the term itself is a complete misnomer that implies that hovering aimlessly around near the centre has some special moral virtue no matter how far off into the political extremes the prevailing political orthodoxy might go.
Thus during the post-war decades the political centre was the mixed economy of public ownership of vital infrastructure, services and industries combined with a strong welfare state and regulated capitalism (a position occupied by Labour, the Liberals, and the Tories), and the privatise everything, “greed is good” deregulate the financial sector right-wingers were fringe lunatics.
Fast forward to 1979 and the hard-right fringe were propelled into power and their mass privatisation, welfare-wrecking, deregulation mania has continued unabated for four decades with truly appalling consequences.
Just look at the behaviour of the self-declared centrists between 2010 and 2016 and you can see the disastrous consequences of this morally weak and utterly wrong-headed determination to occupy the centre ground between raving ideological extremism of the Tories and the Blairism that went before it:
Centrist collusion with Tory austerity dogma had appalling consequences: The longest period of sustained wage devaluation on record, public services put under massive strain or shut down entirely, in-work benefits slashed, soaring food bank dependency, exploitative employment practices like Zero Hours Contracts and fake self-employment spreading like wildfire …
Then it came to the Brexit vote and suddenly the complacent centrists were trapped in a pit of their own digging. The far-right Brextremists opportunistically blamed immigrants and the EU for the wage collapse, the failing public services, the in-work poverty, the suffering … But the centrists couldn’t fight back with the truth that these things were the result of austerity, because they were all complicit with austerity.
The only way the centrists have countered the far-right anti-immigrant anti-EU lies would have been to admit that ‘centrism’ itself was a fraud!
Amazingly centrists still occupy this bubble of delusion that it’s somehow morally superior to triangulate with hard-right Tory austerity dogma than to oppose it. That all the ‘centrist’ MPs abstaining on Theresa May’s vile “hostile environment” policy was acceptable and palatable xenophobia, but the xenophobic Brextremist lies were somehow so much worse than a policy they couldn’t even be bothered to oppose that eventually led to British citizens dying in exile abroad!
The problem is that centrists promised us that their watered down version of neoliberalism would bring prosperity, but what it’s actually delivered is Tory austerity dogma, collapsing wages, failing public services, exploitative employment practices, ridiculous privatisation scams, grotesque “hostile environment” policies, soaring in-work poverty, and eventually the centrist‘s own worst nightmare; Brexit.
But rather than admit their culpability in creating this dreadful situation, they’re intent on moral high-horsing and abusing everyone to the left, and everyone to the right of them as “fascists”!
And it’s exactly this kind of self-aggrandising and aloof sneering that’s going to keep them in the political wilderness, because like it or not, the idea of aimlessly drifting around in the totally artificial territory of the ‘centre ground’ is finished.
The choice now is between the hard-right neoliberals who want to keep us on the same course we’ve been on for four decades (more privatisation, more undermining of workers rights, more public service cutbacks, more under-investment in infrastructure spending and research and development, more welfare cuts for the poor, more tax cuts and lavish handouts for the mega-rich) or those on the left who want to change direction and make Britain more of a high-tech, high-skill society with a decent welfare system like Norway, Finland, Germany, or Denmark.
Of course it’s necessary to take an ideological position to step away from the complacency and aimlessness of the political ‘centre’, but there’s nothing “cold” or “hard” about opposing the political orthodoxy of welfare cuts on the most vulnerable people in society (the sick, the disabled, the working poor, the jobless, the children, the elderly and infirm …) in order to lavish corporations and the mega-rich with ever more tax cuts and handouts.
Quite the contrary, it takes a “cold hard” heart to go along with such barbarity solely because you want to maintain the illusion that by doing so you’re somehow a ‘moderate’ occupying the ‘centre ground’!
When centrism actively helps the Tories grind the most vulnerable people in society into absolute destitution for five years in order to feed the greed of the mega-rich, and then centrists accuse others who object to this horrific agenda of “fascism” and having “cold hard ideologies” then you really can’t expect anyone other than your ever-diminishing echo chamber of delusional ‘centrists’ to applaud your unbelievably hypocritical message.
One of Jeremy Corbyn’s main points of appeal (beside his longstanding commitment to genuine democratic socialist values when so many Labour MPs abandoned them), is his policy of democratising the Labour Party and making it much more responsive to the views of ordinary Labour Party members.
Without open selection contests how many potential Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez type figures within the Labour Party are being denied the chance to shine in favour of keeping utterly complacent and self-serving old-timers in their party political sinecures?
If the Labour Party ignore the membership calling for democratic reselection in order to protect incumbent Labour MPs from democratic accountability, it’d be a betrayal of one of Corbyn’s main points of appeal.
Next week Jeremy Corbyn faces probably the biggest test of his credentials since the General Election, so let’s hope he manages to pass it.
One of the first world leaders Theresa May met after she was appointed Prime Minister was the fanatically right-wing Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.
Since then the Tory party have continued to cosy up to Orbán and his anti-Semitic, xenophobic, judiciary-rigging, free speech-attacking regime.
After Orbán retained power in the 2018 Hungarian elections which featured a massive anti-Semitic poster campaign the then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson Tweeted gushing praise for Orbán and his party.
And in September 2018 Tory MEPs in the European Parliament sided with all the exreme-right nasties in Europe (Front National, Golden Dawn, PiS, PVV, AfD, Swedish Democrats, True Finns, FPÖ, Lega Nord, and Britain’s own UKIP) in order to defend Orbán’s government against a motion of censure that was overwhelmingly supported by the European centre (from conservatives, through liberals to the socialists and greens).
The Tories were the only (supposedly) mainstream government in Europe to ally themselves with Orbán and the extreme-right.
Here’s one of Orbán’s most notorious quotes about Jews: “We are fighting an enemy that is different from us. Not open, but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world”.
Isn’t it extraordinary that the mainstream media spent the entire summer digging around in Jeremy Corbyn’s past to cherry-pick absurd out-of-context quotes, fixate over images of him laying a wreath (at a graveyard where none of the Munich terrorists were even buried), and even smear a Jewish Holocaust survivor as an anti-Semite to paint Corbyn as an anti-Semite … but when yet more evidence of the Tories’ active collusion with a horrifically right-wing government led by an unmistakably anti-Semetic tyrant comes to light, suddenly the mainstream media anti-Semitism guns have fallen silent?
Orbán’s extremism isn’t just limited to anti-Semitism either. He’s continually attacked Muslims as “invaders”, he’s been rigging the Hungarian judiciary by stacking it with pro-government figures, he’s clamped down on free speech and attacked the free press. His supporters have even drawn up a blacklist of charity workers, campaigners, journalists, academics and other public figures considered “enemies of the state”.
It’s quite incredible that Theresa May and the Tories have openly colluded with this vile regime right in front of our eyes, for years, safe in the knowledge that they won’t be held to account for it by Britain’s docile, compliant, and ridiculously right-leaning press.
Even now, when the Tories’ scandalous support for this vile regime is incontestably recorded in the voting record of the European Parliament, there’s nowhere near as much condemnation and noise from the people who were howling at Corbyn, and making hyperbolic accusations that Labour are an “existential threat” to Jewish people just a few weeks previously.
Instead of vehemently condemning this outrageous Tory collusion with one of the most notorious anti-Semites in Europe, the Jewish Board of Deputies expressed only “disappointment”!
Others to have whipped up the anti-Semitism furore to attack Jeremy Corbyn and undermine the momentum towards genuine democratic socialism haven’t even said a word.
The day after this Tory collusion with Orbán, Jonathan Sachs stood up in the House of Lords to talk about anti-Semitism and didn’t even mention it!
BBC heavyweight Andrew Neil, who has repeatedly pushed the anti-Semitism attacks against Corbyn remained silent, which is hardly surprising given his personal involvement with the Hungarian government.
All of this raises the question of how stupid and gullible they think we are.
They seem to imagine that they can manipulate us into believing that the lifelong anti-racist campaigner Jeremy Corbyn is the Jew-hater, whilst they actively turn a blind eye to Theresa May and her party repeatedly sucking up to the most notorious anti-Semite in Europe!
In reality this is such a spectacular display of over-reach that swathes of the mainstream media are permanently wrecking their own reputations.
Repeatedly trying convince people that black is white is bad enough, but then after posing as valiant anti-Semitism campaigners for the entire summer of 2018, their deafening silence on the Tory collusion with Orbán clearly exposes their political partisanship and their utter hypocrisy.
If you decide to present yourself as a valiant anti-Semitism campaigner all summer, then you’d better not turn a blind eye to it in the autumn when your political allies are up to their necks in it, otherwise you’ve just burned your journalistic reputation to the ground.
Anti-Semitism is a vile form of racist bigotry that needs to be confronted wherever it’s found.
It’s not a convenient issue to be weaponised and used as political ammunition, only to be immediately forgotten about when your political allies decide to defy the European political consensus and actively support the most notorious anti-Semite in Europe.
This political weaponisation of anti-Semitism is particularly disgusting because it cheapens the fight against anti-Semitism by making the issue seem like partisan political point scoring, rather than a serious problem that need to be confronted wherever it arises.