Having written this morning in response to a piece of writing by Owen Jones on the state of Labour’s polling, I felt the need to further my thoughts on where this unlikely incendiary figure sits within the Labour ‘family’.
For me, the difference between me calling it as I see it in Labour and Owen Jones is that I’m a nobody and there’s no real repercussion from me point the finger squarely at Labour’s Third Way. I call them remnants, a failed experiment, zombies, detritus, carrion and it has no impact on them, they don’t care what someone like me thinks or says. Maybe some of the others in the PLP might read it and it might summarise what they think about them too or might embolden them to see them for what they are and take a stand but that’s probably just fanciful. If Jones talked about them in the same way and talked about excising them from the party it would get their hackles up and what chance would that give to a moderating voice that wants them to ‘sit this one out’? Right now Labour is stuck with these people among them and the best moderates can hope for is that they neutralise their actions against the party. That may seem like an abomination, especially given the members of the public who have been purged by them in their attempt to usurp Corbyn, but it’s a reality that, no matter how much we want it, those Third Way entryists can’t just be expelled. I don’t agree with all that Jones writes and I don’t agree with the ambiguities that sit within his work that we have seen grasped by Labour’s Right Wing for their own ends but I can also see that Jones seems to be treading his own center ground.
I also think people might be expecting too much from Jones. With the greatest respect to Jones, he’s not some intellectual heavyweight; he’s just a person with opinions, like the rest of us, he just happens to get paid for his. Does that make him a genius political strategist? Of course not; he wouldn’t profess to be one. He’s an interested observer, with enough literary skills and ambition to position himself in a place where people pay him for his prose. People get annoyed with him because he is one of the few mainstream media voices that sides with social-ish politics and, I’d say, he’s a moderate voice and is trying to tread a moderate line, which isn’t always what is needed or wanted. He a professional writer that has positioned himself in the political world and I do not feel I am in a position to decide where his allegiances lie, beyond being Labour Left. He’s part of the politico-media circus, a bubble that few of us “ordinary” Labour members reside within, and I think that does come with a language of its own that doesn’t always sit comfortably with the rest of us. Their bubble has its social niceties that seem as obscure; why, for example, is a politician as toxic and hated as Michael Gove trumpeted by so many in the bubble for being such a nice guy? I expect that, in part, it is because, to me, Gove is a politician and not a person and I don’t have to deal with him on a personal level.
I could be wrong but I view Jones writing as from a positon of a moderate that is trying to walk a middle path, with an appreciation of the current limitations. Inflaming Labour’s Right Wing will serve no purpose, given the damage they participate in when they are motivated to do so. I don’t know but I think where Jones and I part ways is that he may believe that the Third Way can be salved, can be appeased, can be content with not being Labour’s ruling faction and I think they can’t but nothing I’ve read from Jones indicates that that is anything other than my interpretation. Jones may well agree but it serves him to be more political about it.