The rhetoric now coming out of Labour’s supposed ‘left wing’ signals a ghastly shift for the party

Angela Rayner and Keir Starmer
Tracy Keeling

The election of Jeremy Corbyn in 2015 brought about a change in the Labour Party. It became a party of left-wing thinking and policy-making based on principles such as equality, justice, and unity. It was change for the better.

The rhetoric coming from some of the party’s supposed left-wingers now, though, shows another change is coming. And this time, it looks to be a ghastly shift for Labour.

Immigrants: the nuclear option

Durham hosted a deputy leadership hustings on 23 February. One of the questions in the event was on nuclear power and whether candidates envisage it to be “a huge factor in the need for green energy”.

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In her response, Angela Rayner – one of Corbyn’s allies during his leadership – spoke about the party’s manifesto plan for tackling the climate crisis. She raised the importance of “massively investing in our skills and in our infrastructure” so the country can “build” what’s necessary for a clean energy future. She then said:

Let’s not open up our borders for everyone to come in to give our skills. Why don’t we give our kids those skills as well and open up our education system and our regions and unlock [and] harness our own skills here

The cynicism and anti-immigrant sentiment in Rayner’s point was not lost on people, who were also confounded as to how Rayner managed to wedge anti-internationalist sentiments into an answer on green energy:

That Rayner used a question about the climate crisis to engage in such a talking point makes the “nonsensical speak” even worse. Because people in the global south are suffering the consequences of the climate crisis to a much greater degree than people, like Britons, in the global north (who have played a greater role in creating the crisis). So to argue against letting immigrants into Britain, many of whom will increasingly be escaping the environmental catastrophe in their home countries, betrays a complete lack of understanding of the situation or empathy for it.

Embrace what broke the camel’s back

Meanwhile, one of Corbyn’s high-profile supporters – Paul Mason – has now announced who his preferred candidate for the Labour leader’s successor is. Given that Keir Starmer is widely considered the establishment choice for successor, his endorsement drew some criticism:

But Mason doubled down:

So Mason is apparently blaming Corbyn’s general election defeat on unspecified ‘Stalinists’, claiming they now support Rebecca Long-Bailey. This is a ludicrous statement on two levels. First, ‘Stalinists’ didn’t destroy Corbynism – backing a second referendum with a Remain option did (along with endless anti-Corbyn propaganda in the mainstream media). And Mason himself was one of the people calling for an anti-Brexit stance. Second, who are these ‘Stalinists’? Does Mason mean the mass of Corbyn supporters who are throwing their weight behind Long-Bailey (the very people Mason himself was championing until recently)?

The twilight zone

So there we have it. Cynical and divisive rhetoric about immigration. Calling establishment candidates ‘left wing’ and left-wingers ‘Stalinists’. If this is where Labour is heading now in its post-Corbyn era, the party really is going nowhere good – for it or the country.

Featured image via the Labour Party/YouTube and the Labour Party/YouTube

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  • Show Comments
    1. Gosh! What a snide, skewed way of twisting what was heard at a hustings. Some other reporter attending the same event quite easily might have written up a completely opposite ‘pro-training of our own tract’ imbued with a bright positivity for a Labour Party Britain without bringing in, as this author does, throwing in the tatty racist, anti-immigrant card yet again. Equally, a third correspondent at the hustings could have been more balanced altogether between the two. Sigh!

    2. The deep fog of where all issues are relegated to political meanings. Politics is thinking! Critical thinking about issues without a political flavour now looks like a lost art.
      Darker days for humanity as the language of the politic decribes exactly who you are if your good or bad, indifferent.
      Politic speak looks like the rascism word now in popular use.
      Thank goodness politics doesn’t rule when the sun is supposed to shine or how the planetary orbits work.
      There is a real world out there.
      I can’t find it however in the language of politics.
      I’m sure I’m not alone.

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