Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Noam Chomsky on the Labour Party

by Brian Bamford
LAST Sunday, Trevor Hoyle wrote a comment on the 'McCluskey states the obvious' post on this N.V. Blog in which he claimed:
'Not clear what your position is Brian. "McCluskey states the obvious" -- well it is obvious because it's true that the vast majority of the mainstream corporate media are, and always have been, against Corbyn. ANY leader, no matter who, with such a sustained campaign of vitriol waged against him, including the so-called left-of-centre Guardian, would have struggled to overcome such a negative media image. '
Earlier this month dealing with the relative unpopularity of the British Labour Party, Noam Chomsky admitted to an interviewer:
'... that the current polling position suggested Labour was not yet gaining popular support for the policy positions that he supported.' 
Only last Saturday, Joshua Chaffin, in the Financial Times said that the polls 'suggest Mrs May is cruising toward a big victory on June 8.'
But by yesterday, with news that the 'dementia tax' was hitting the conserative party hard on the doorstep, Mrs May rewrote a major item in her election manifesto - social care reform - after four days of pressure; leaving her open to the accusations of show bad political judgement and being weak when the heat is on.
Meanwhile, over the weekend the polls showed that Labour under Corbyn, was closing the gap on the Tories.  Yet, still the Corbyn approach lacks charisma.
Professor Chomsky described to The Guardian what he thought was wrong:
' "If I were a voter in Britain, I would vote for him,” said Chomsky, who admitted that the current polling position suggested Labour was not yet gaining popular support for the policy positions that he supported.'
Pro. Chomsky then added:
'There are various reasons for that – partly an extremely hostile media, partly his own personal style which I happen to like but perhaps that doesn’t fit with the current mood of the electorate,'  he said. 'He’s quiet, reserved, serious, he’s not a performer.  The parliamentary Labour party has been strongly opposed to him.  It has been an uphill battle.'
Trevor Hoyle in his comment complains:
'I don't think Corbyn or McDonnell are dull at all.  They state their case and explain their policies in adult, measured tones.  To expect them to go all showbiz and join the media frenzy is to support exactly what is wrong with the political climate in this country.'
It might well be that a serious tone is preferable to those who read The Guardian like Trevor Hoyle, or The New York Times like me, but most of the people in the towns and cities in the North of England where the working-class target voters reside don't read these papers, and these people judging from what we are hearing prefer what Cyril Smith used to call Razzamataz than the kind of sombre socialism we might fancy.
When asked what motivation he thought newspapers had to oppose Corbyn, Chomsky said the Labour leader had, like Bernie Sanders in the US, broken out of the 'elite, liberal consensus' that he claimed was 'pretty conservative'.
Chomsky told Anushka Asthana, The Guardian Political Editor on Wednesday on 10 May 2017, that 'Labour needed to "reconstruct itself" in the interests of working people, with concerns about human and civil rights at its core, arguing that such a programme could appeal to the majority of people.'
Chomsky talks of the need for socio-economic programmes and the way the key defence against the existential threats of climate change and the nuclear age were being radically weakened, and then goes on to describe what he wants is the defence as a 'functioning democratic society with engaged, informed citizens deliberating and reaching measures to deal with and overcome the threats'.
This is all well and good, but the circles I move in among my neighbours  and other working people, I don't find much genuine concern about the kind of things that might concern Chomsky, Trevor Hoyle and me, like 'human rights'; 'civil rights'; or even the environment generally.
The great academic, Noam Chomsky who often describes himself as 'a kind of anarchist', and who is in Britain to deliver a lecture at the University of Reading on what he believes is the deteriorating state of western democracy, claimed that voters had turned to the Conservatives in recent years because of  'an absence of anything else'.
What the good professor ought to understand is that the left in this country since the Chartists, has rarely had a program or a strategy for social change which in any way will convince or inspire ordinary people, instead it continues to react to an aganda set by the establishment and the State.  Marching, protesting and demonstrating against cuts; Trade Union Acts; privatisation and the erosion of the NHS is all that the left reacts to.  There is very little vison on the British left, and that is why the right in this country these days always tends to have the initiative.

1 comment:

Trevor Hoyle said...

Thanks for this Brian. One correction: I don't read the Guardian. I won't even access it online because every click adds to their advertising readership claims.

I'm still befuddled about your stance re Corbyn. Are you a supporter of his? If so, do you think he should change his entire approach and become a media-friendly machine politician like Blair? And your criticisms of Labour (actually New Labour) are perfectly valid, but they pertain to the Labour party Corbyn is seeking to change. I've seen commentators (not you) blame Corbyn for losing all the seats in Scotland and putting up a poor show at the last election -- both events before Corbyn was elected leader!