I thought the silly season was August? Incomprehensibly, our politicians seem to have chosen the New Year to lose their collective minds.
First, it was Liam Byrne, who chose to leak a policy statement on Welfare to the Daily Mail (#howstupidisthat) which promised to get tough on benefit scroungers.
Had he gone mad? Try reading the articles that Labour lefties wrote in response, which were characterised by an almost complete disregard to what he actually said! Suey2y hammered him for attacking people on disability benefits although he had explicity said he wasn’t talking about people on disability benefits. Owen Jones’s reply openly attacked tha man not the policy. And Richard Seymour ascribed to Byrne a whole range of beliefs somewhere to the right of Reagan, and then attacked Byrne for those beliefs … even though Byrne’s article had advanced none of them.
The only person actually to address the policy statement itself was me! Everybody else seemed to be rushing around shouting ‘the sky has fallen’.
Next, Lord Glasman – whom we think of as a supporter and mentor to Ed Miliband – published a piece in the New Statesman describing Ed’s leadership as: ‘no strategy, no narrative and little energy’, and Labour’s economic policy as: ‘all crap’.
I presume he wants to destroy the Party? Most commentators saw it as an internecine attack on Balls, but the Tories rejoiced as he had handed them a gift for any PMQs on the economy.
Then today, the day after the Stephen Lawrence verdict, Diane Abbott (whom I like a lot) sent a racist tweet.
It is hard to emphasise enough the significance of the Lawrence verdict, which was for racism what the Saville report was for Bloody Sunday. Meanwhile, Abbott is a media-savvy shadow cabinet minister … who inexplicably tarred all white people as ‘divide-and-rule’ post-colonialists.
Bonkers. Apparently she wanted to persuade the nation that – as we take one step forward in race relations – Labour is the Party to send us all back to polarisation.
And also today, with a lot less hou-ha, Stephen Twigg briefed on Labour’s new policy statement about education. From what I read, it seems even more anodyne than Byrne’s non-statement about Welfare.
But it was, yet again, a policy announcement, made by the Shadow Cabinet, which has NOT been first run past the rank-and-file Labour membership.
Why do they do this? They bring out statements without consulting the rank-and-file, and then wring their hands that the rank-and-file seem to be apathetic about supporting them. They make policies, and Labour members – who have not been asked what they think – are constantly faced with a ‘take-it-or-resign’ decision over policies over which they have no ownership or input.
Most amusingly of all, I found out yesterday that there is currently underway a membersnet.Labour consultation – end-date 31st January 2012 – which is trying to find out: ‘How do we ensure that members feel closer to the policy making process and more able to participate?’
Hilarious, or what?
So? Five days into the New Year. Christmas decorations not down until tomorrow. And we have a Labour Party RUSHING to portray itself as a right-wing, racist, divided, top-down organisation.
And what about the Coalition?
Well, today the Independent reported a speech by Danny Alexander in which he argued that the rich should pay MORE taxes. Although the actual measures proposed fall far short on the kind of thing Richard J Murphy or myself would want to see, nevertheless we have a Coalition talking taxes.
And, at the same time, the government is organising cross-party talks on social care, and today David Cameron has attacked tax avoidance and made some almost sensible remarks about the need to coordinate health care and social care.
The Tories remind me more and more of that lovely film, Mars Attacks, where the Martians went to meeting after meeting declaring ‘we come in peace’ … and then promptly killed every human in attendance.
But? Five days into the New Year. Christmas decorations not down until tomorrow. And we have a Tory-led government donning the sheep’s clothing of progressive taxation and social care.
You have to laugh.