Fraternal Ferrets

One thing we can say about the Labour Party, be that “New Labour”, “Old Labour” or even “Real Labour” is that they have a penchant for making themselves look foolish. Indeed it might even be described as a virus in the heart of Labour.

They are tearing lumps out of each other in a way which simply demonstrates that Labour are really at least two political parties sharing a tent and they detest each other much more than the other parties, at least in England. (They unite around the policy “SNP Bad!” if nothing else.)
Dave Ward, the general secretary of the Communication Workers Union, said: “There is a virus within the Labour party and Jeremy Corbyn is the antidote.” The Leader of the CWU, which has 200,000 members, said Labour must loosen the “grip of the Blairites” as it became the latest union to confirm it will encourage its members to vote for Mr Corbyn.


Asked by the BBC’s political editor-in-waiting, Laura Kuenssberg, whether thecomments made by Communications Workers’ Union chief Dave Ward were offensive, Liz Kendall, replied: “Yes. I think he also said that the party needed an antidote to the Blairites.” Well that’s a masterpiece of political put down.

At a Leadership hustings in Warrington, Andy Burnham used that old stunt of tearing  up his summing up speech to tackle head on the criticism of his decision not to vote against the welfare bill.

“This party is confused isn’t it? It’s crying out for leadership. Something has happened this week, I owe you an explanation. People are asking why I voted to support the party line on the welfare bill and I’ll tell you why” he said.

One heckler then interrupted to say he wanted an explanation.

Someone said ‘yeah’. I’ll tell you why,” Mr Burnham said. “Because I was not prepared to plunge this party into civil war.” Mr Burnham also described himself as a ‘Northern Powerhouse’ to take on the Tories. No signs of arrogance there then!

Yvette Cooper said that she wanted welfare reform but said that the past week had been a ‘real mess’ for the party and those who wanted to oppose Tory cuts to benefits. Ms Cooper urged the party not to choose the candidate ‘who makes you feel good’, but to instead pick a potential Prime Minister, someone who would give David Cameron ‘a real women problem’.

But sadly, this is nothing new from the Comrades. Many of us can still recall Johann Lamont’s disgraceful speech to the Labour Conference in 2013 when, in a speech peppered with references to Alex Salmond, Ms Lamont delivered the most virulent attack on the “politics of nationalism”. Although she did not name any particular examples, such as Nazi Germany, she described it as a “virus that has affected so many nations and done so much harm”.

Over many years we have become used to Labour’s inability to articulate a reasoned argument without resorting to personal abuse and even now many regard this is a normal part of politics. One of my early mentors was Bill Johnston from Clydebank. Bill was a lifelong Trade Unionist and was a mover in forming the ASNTU an early forerunner of the SNP Trade Union Group. Bill taught that you have to analyse the problem, find a solution and then work out how to bring others with you. When you have to resort to abuse you have lost the argument.


As in so many ways, Bill was spot on. Labour’s big problem is that when you look at the options in that way only one thing stands out. That they have all lost the argument!