Luke Akehurst and Respect

I couldn't find a normal-sized picture of Luke Akehurst so I've taken the easy way out and cut and pasted an image from his Twitter feed. I'm sure you get the idea.

In the context of an article discussing the supposed ‘resurgence’ of Respect, Sunny Hundal on Liberal Conspiracy yesterday pointed out an interesting debate on Twitter (yes, there are interesting debates on Twitter apparently…..) between Salma Yaqoob/various Labour leftwingers and Labour councillor Luke Akehurst. The gist of the debate was that many of the Labour lefties found more common ground with Respect than their “comrades” in the Labour Party. Akehurst commented thus:

“Digusted by sectarianism I am reading of alleged Lab members preferring Respect to their own party comrades. Shocking. Sick……….Labour left should be as hostile to Respect as loyalist Labour right was to SDP. SDP and Respect both scab parties.”

(I’ve had a quick look at Akehurst’s twitter feed and blog and he seems to belong to the ‘modernising’ wing of the party. That is to say he seems to want to return working class politics to a pre-LRC state. So not very modern really. But anyway….)

Akehurst seems to be the embodiment of the brainless, apolitical tribalism that dominates so much of the right wing of the Labour Party. And that’s me being charitable. If I’m being really honest I think that most of them are just fucking Tories in the wrong party.

He’s right that the SDP were dogshit, but to condemn Labour left-wingers for being more sympathetic to the written policies of Galloway’s party and to describe Respect as a ‘scab party’ is quite extraordinary hyperbole of the sort you normally only ever find on this blog, and highlights the flaws in his thinking.

Let me make a few observations at this juncture that are probably going to prove controversial to Akehurst but are nevertheless true:

  • Who is this “loyalist Labour right”? The loyalists who were prepared to spend the 80s attacking the socialists in the party and ‘decontaminating’ the Labour brand so it now accepted Thatcherite economics wholesale? Who followed the political agenda of those who jumped ship to form the SDP almost to the letter? Who were happy to deliberately undermine the campaigns of left-wing Labour parliamentary candidates and councillors? Are those people ‘comrades’ of the left? And what kind of ‘loyalism’ is that?
  • We have a Labour leadership which pointedly refuses to repudiate the savage, pointless austerity being meted out by the government. Respect, on paper at least, have an agenda way to the left of that and explicitly oppose the cuts. Why wouldn’t Labour lefties find more political common ground with those people?
  • When right-wing Labour members come out with the sort of unfiltered anti-union shit I discussed a few days ago is it really a surprise that left-wingers are turned off from official Labour politics?
  • I have no time for Respect, Galloway or Yaqoob, and little for any of the anti-Labour electoral challenges for that matter, but that is largely because they aren’t having any impact and won’t for the foreseeable future (and the rather dodgy politics of Respect, but that subject has been done to death). Right now I see no alternative to fighting in the existing Labour and union structures. I understand however why people who had years of disillusionment in the Labour Party have walked away from it, disillusionment at the hands of the cynical, treacherous bastards that Akehurst now lionises. It’s a perfectly understandable response to years of desperate disappointment, witch-hunts and wholly unprincipled policy shifts. I have more time for them than many of the tossers currently determining Labour Party policy. People on the left of Labour should be working with those people who felt they couldn’t remain in the party to oppose the government’s austerity and privatization agenda, not dismissing them blithely as ‘scabs’ (a word Akehurst clearly doesn’t really understand)
  • As I suggested earlier Akehurst seems to have bad case of tribalism. Political parties are a means to an end, not the political equivalent of a football team, who one supports come what may. In the case of Labour supporters, the aim is a fairer, more just society where no one is left behind. That’s why most people join the party, isn’t it? If some other party delivers on those aims I would transfer my support to them in an instant (they won’t, which is why I grudgingly remain committed to Labour). It is Akehurst in fact who is the ‘sectarian’- another word he clearly misunderstands the meaning of.

One thing that Galloway’s victory has achieved is in highlighting the number of people in many parts of the country that are sick of a political class all committed to the same basic, Thatcherite ideas. (Labour won 8.5 million votes in 1983 standing on radical socialist programme that the leadership did its best to undermine at every turn, lest we forget) There are people looking for an alternative or at least thinking about it, and that is the important issue in this debate, not which party the people creating or offering that alternative happen to hail from.

Akehurst’s politics stem from disorientation, myopia and intellectual bankruptcy, and the Labour Party is in serious trouble indeed if his ideas are pre-eminent right now. His vitriolic ranting yesterday was disgraceful.

A starting point in any useful debate about the future of Labour needs to be that the ‘modernisers’ in the 80s and 90s were reactionary troglodytes and utterly wrong. History has provided ample demonstration of this and there needs to be radical reassessment of the shibboleths that many in Labour Party still desperately cling to.

(NB: More on Akehurst being a silly dickhead here.)

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Luke Akehurst and Respect « Representing the Mambo | My Blog
  2. Andy Hicks (@andyjameshicks)
    Apr 12, 2012 @ 21:15:25

    Luke has a very weak grasp of political and religious language, calling Salma Yacoob an Islamist and since then has tonight claimed he had no idea of that words widely understood meaning: https://twitter.com/#!/lukeakehurst/status/190222391459332096

    Reply

  3. John D Clare
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 09:08:02

    Thiough ideologically I am on the left of the Labour Party, I believe we need to be very careful on two counts.
    Firstly Luke Akehurst is loyal Labour, and if we drive away the Luke Akehursts of this world we really do reduce ourselves to a marginalised rump.
    Secondly, merely airing these rows in public damages our chance of getting elected – these are debates that need to be conducted in private and face-to-face (not on twitter) as part of a Party-organised policy forum.
    My views, for what they are worth, are humbly outlined here: http://bit.ly/IrE9KA

    Reply

  4. representingthemambo
    Apr 13, 2012 @ 11:00:03

    Hi John, many thanks for your comment. I’ll respond in full to this and your blog post a bit later when I get home from work. I think you may have slightly over-estimated the importance of our ‘collective’ ; )

    I do need to firstly make it clear though that I don’t think I’ve ever suggested that people should be driven out of the Labour Party, however violently I disagree with them (and however much it bewilders me that they are members of a party calling itself social democratic). That isn’t what we believe in here.

    The years of witch-hunts and exclusions in the Labour Party were the right getting rid of the left, not the other way around.

    Loyalty isn’t always a noble characteristic. Loyalty to principles, yes, loyalty to a party, come what may, not so much.

    Reply

  5. Jim Denham
    Apr 15, 2012 @ 16:39:57

    Blairite Labour of the Akehurst variety must be fought and defeated. They’re the right wing of the labour movement. But Galloway (and his less repellent face, Yaqoob) are simply reactionary communalists. No serious person who wants working class power should have any other attitude towards Respect but to seek its destruction at the earliest possible moment.

    Reply

  6. Rojito Roy !
    Apr 24, 2012 @ 13:17:48

    “Nuevo Labour” have lost the plot, their anti trades union and anti working class policies are Thatcher light.
    I remember arguing with Neil Kinnock at Durham Miners Gala on how his and Labours selling out of the miners, may give them short term gain but in the long run would turn millions of staunch Labour voters off, and if a new party offering a socialist agenda appeared to fill the void then Labour could well be marginalised within a generation.
    While not professing to be Nostrudamus if Respect can take all the minority left wing parties under its umbrella, and offer a real alternative to the Thatcherite agenda of all 3 main parties, then Labour will become a minority party.
    Their lack of a real leader really hurts them too, a college boy “socialist” whose life experiences have come through a sheltered book driven enviroment and quite honestly should be leading a student union not a major political party to me is nausiating.
    When has Milliband ever had to worry about putting food on his families table or walked a picket line ? That should be compulasary for a Labour leader, let’s be honest Labour have deserted their roots and now their roots have a real socialist alternative, my prediction Labour after the next general election will offer an olive branch to Respect and their MPs or it will be a hung Parliament, and Respect unlike the Lib Dems will hold the Labour coalitions feet to the fire and not roll over on every policy issue !

    Reply

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