Monthly Archives: November 2015

Corbyn’s Labour: Uncomradely Behaviour

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do not cross

 

It had to happen sooner or later; the signs have been there all along – it was only a matter of when.

 

Andrew Fisher, an aide to Jeremy Corbyn, has been suspended from the Labour Party and faces ‘calls for his expulsion after suggesting people should back a Class War candidate in May’s election instead of Labour’s candidate’. It’s worth quoting the BBC report because the details are important:

 

[Andrew Fisher] had faced calls for his expulsion after suggesting people should back a Class War candidate in May’s election instead of Labour’s candidate.

Mr Fisher apologised but critics accused him of showing “contempt”.

Mr Corbyn has said he still has “full confidence” in Mr Fisher amid reports the aide was still working for him.

Channel 4 News said Mr Fisher had been suspended for “administrative” reasons.

Labour former ministers Caroline Flint and Siobhain McDonagh, who complained about the tweet, said in a joint statement they were “pleased” the party was enforcing its rules.

They said they had been acting “on behalf of those hard working members who were offended by Mr Fisher’s activities which included supporting a candidate against Labour.

Mr Fisher’s appointment is one of a number to Mr Corbyn’s close circle that have proved controversial among Labour MPs.

The economist and former trade union official posted a tweet in August 2014, which has since been deleted, saying “if you live in Croydon South, vote with dignity, vote @campaignbeard” – the Twitter name of the Class War party candidate.

Class War, an anarchist group, has suggested that there is “no difference” between any of the Westminster parties.

Labour’s official candidate in Croydon South, Emily Benn, granddaughter of Mr Corbyn’s political mentor Tony Benn, lodged a formal complaint about the tweet.

BBC: 6 November 2015 (my emphasis)

 

Firstly, let me make it clear that I have no personal involvement in the above and I know none of the ‘actors’. My observations are based on my past experience as a shop steward and full-time trade union representative as they relate to the operation of disciplinary procedures.

 

Such was my experience in representing members and negotiating disciplinary procedures that after I behavioural limitsburned-out and changed careers, my employers required me to write training courses for managers on this subject. Managers were making serious mistakes and the human resources staff wanted them educated in how to operate the procedures properly and fairly. Later, when I trained as a psychotherapist, the same issue arose around interpersonal boundaries – we need them.

 

We need to put boundaries around peoples’ behaviour because some behaviour is directly harmful. And if someone purposefully engages in harmful behaviour, especially within an organisation such as the Labour Party, then it is quite correct that disciplinary procedures should be invoked for the sake of everyone. So I agree with Caroline Flint and Siobhain McDonagh, it is a good thing that Labour is enforcing the rules, but only up to a point.

 

When I was first being trained to represent members at disciplinary hearings, the point made by the tutor, a full-time TU official, was that procedures were there to ensure the panel did their job properly. Many a management attempt at imposing disciplinary sanctions would fail if it could be shown the procedures had not been followed; that the penalty was too harsh; and/or disciplinary standards were being applied unevenly or unfairly. This last point is particularly relevant in Andrew Fisher’s case.

 

Emily Benn FB
The Pot and the Kettle

As I understand it, during last May’s election, Andrew Fisher sent a humorous tweet suggesting in folk in Croydon South vote for Class War candidate. The official Labour Party candidate for that constituency was Emily Benn, granddaughter of Tony Benn, who was aggrieved at Fisher’s behaviour and complained about him. Yet following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader, the very same Emily Benn posted a ‘retweet’ to her Facebook account suggesting women should leave the Labour Party and join the Women’s Equality Party instead.

 

Emily Benn tweet

Given that Ms. Benn had already complained about Andrew Fisher’s behaviour earlier in the year, it would be reasonable to assume that she was fully aware that the Labour Party has rules about encouraging members to join another non-affiliated political party yet, despite her recent encounter with this rule, she retweeted the recommendation following Jeremy’s election.

 

If Labour’s rules are applied to all party member’s, I await Ms Benn’s disciplinary hearing in due course, particularly if Mr Fisher’s punishment is to be expelled. To fail to call her to account for her actions would bring Labour’s disciplinary procedure into public disrepute. I would hope that both Ms. Flint and Ms. McDonagh concur, after all that’s what rules are for, aren’t they? Ms Benn’s misconduct carries a greater gravitas because she herself had complained about Mr. Fisher – she knew the rules. What’s good for the gander is also good for the goose.

 

Labour Party Discipline

For those in Labour celebrating the suspension of Andrew Fisher, I would point out that if you start what you allowenforcing rules upon Corbyn aides, you will raise collective awareness that Labour has disciplinary rules and this means those same rules apply to you too.

 

At present and in matters of ‘uncomradely behaviour’, there is growing mountain of evidence that rules are not being applied equally across the membership. A harsher behavioural regime is apparently being used to ‘police’ party members who support Jeremy Corbyn.

 

We are being required to endure a level of aggression and highly personal disrespect from some actively anti-Corbyn members. Indeed I blogged about this only a few days ago. Whilst unfamiliar with the party’s disciplinary procedures, I would be astonished if the relentless insults I was subjected to by a former Parliamentary Labour Party Special Advisor did not fall squarely into the category of  ‘uncomradely behaviour’.

 

ExSpAd to meBrimir’s opinion is that Corbyn is an unelectable disaster who will destroy the Labour Party. Over the course of the day he informed several of us engaging with him that we were ‘anachronisms’, ‘deluded sect members’, ‘off with the fairies’, ‘£3 tinpot Trots’, members of ‘the fruitcake permanent opposition party’ who were better expelled and, in my own case, ‘a deeply sad individual destined to be disappointed’.

Corbyn’s Labour: A Bloody Rotten Audience

 

 

manipulative people

I found it curious that within 48 hours of Brimir alleging Corbyn supporters were a ‘sect’, Tristram Hunt was saying something very similar. Indeed, Mr Hunt went on to inform Cambridge University students: “You are the top 1%. The Labour party is in the shit. It is your job and your responsibility to take leadership going forward.”

 

Jeremy Corbyn won the leadership of the Labour Party fairly and squarely – in all voting categories – by a massive majority. We could exclude all the votes from ‘£3 tinpot Trots’ and Jeremy would still have won the leadership by a massive majority. What does it say of the Parliamentary Labour Party that we now have leading members, with a very public platforms, briefing the media against their democratically-elected leader and hounding activists for mistakes that they themselves make? What interests me is whether this form of ‘uncomradely behaviour’ falls within the remit of the party’s disciplinary procedures and if it doesn’t, why not?

As news of Andrewleadership results Fisher began circulating on the social media, various other MP’s who have exhibited  ‘uncomradely behaviour’ towards Jeremy are being identified. This points to the possibility of a witchhunt and, under the desistance rules I am bound to comply with, my social responsibility will not permit me to remain a party member under such circumstances. I am boundaried by law and disciplinary rules – to remain a member during a witchhunt would be to collude with a party that has no boundaries to its behaviour. It is my duty to society to remove myself from such politics. But there’s more…

 

Because I’d had to abandon my attempt to engage Brimir after Tristram Hunt’s speech has sent him into deep into offensive behaviour, I took time to reflect on what I knew about the messages he’d been tweeting to me and came to this conclusion:

 

Additionally, Brimir is fully aware he is promoting political policies which purposefully and knowingly exclude my voice, on the grounds of his exceptionalism and my absolute worthlessness. This is the same narrative being propagated by the Tories I have standardsand the evidence says it is fatal to folk like me.  It is also the same narrative currently used by the State of Israel when describing Palestinians. The resultant death-toll is of as much supreme disinterest to Israel as my kind of benefit-death is to Brimir. I wonder if he was at all aware of how much he was unconsciously communicating in the other realms of elementary intelligence?

And if Brimir is aware, then is it reasonable to assume that his behaviour is abusive? If it were to be determined that a Labour Party member was shown to be actively and purposefully attacking the existential value of another (more vulnerable) member up to and including state-sanctioned lethal outcomes, does anything get done about it?

I ask because both my conscience and my social responsibility as a desister forbids me to remain aligned with those of murderous intent because to remain is to condone such behaviour – I’d be putting my shot at social redemption at risk if I were to remain. The austerity narrative was why I could not align with Labour before Jeremy’s election. Further, Jeremy knowingly excludes lethal force from his narratives – something I am required to comply with as a desister. It’s why I rejoined. If, however, the practical expression of Corbyn’s Labour is to allow some members to target others with lethal narratives for the sake of a ‘broad church’, then I can have no part of it.

Corbyn’s Labour: Tristram Hunt and the University of Life

 

As a woman with considerable long-term professional experience in the field of discipline and boundaries, I see no reason to change my assessment. If Andrew Fisher is sanctioned whilst other offenders remain undisciplined, it will signal to me that Labour is not the democratic party it claims to be and in the court of my conscience, it will be found blameworthy and summarily dismissed for gross misconduct.

 

consequences ahead

 

 

 

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Corbyn’s Labour: Tristram Hunt & the University of Life

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never play w hearts

 

Funny how synchronicity works. The day after I post ‘Corbyn’s Labour: A Bloody Rotten Audience‘ the media starts reporting Tristram Hunt’s views on the Labour Party delivered to an audience of Cambridge University students.

 

He was remarkably honest, I thought. In the company of our own kind, folk have a tendency to relax and say stuff they wouldn’t usually say to a ‘mixed’ crowd. He certainly inspired a triumphant Brimir to resurrect into my mentions after I’d posted the link on my feed. I had to block him. He made his nature as a troll Semitic_peopleobvious by calling me anti-Semitic for listening to all Semitic people in Palestine rather than just Israel’s narrative. His unapologetic insult made it plain to me that here is a man who does not want to be included in a Labour Party democratically led by Jeremy Corbyn. To continue to engage my compassion is to disrespect him because he clearly affords it no worth in his relationships. Equally, to continue to permit him to behave without compassion in my mentions disrespects me. So I blocked him.

 

Whilst I’m sure Brimir can trot out a CV to dazzle his peers, mine looks a little different. My qualifications come from the University of Life. For example, one thing I discovered there is people don’t ‘learn’ only in the way Oxbridge-type intellectuals tell us we do.

 

failure

In the University of Life, there are four ‘elemental’ ways of learning:

  • intellectual knowledge
  • emotional intelligence
  • wisdom of ‘spirit’
  • practical application

Of all the ‘elements’, intellect (air) is the most restrictive in the development of intelligence, particularly when it refuses to be ‘educated’ by other elements. That sentence probably looks prejudicial, but I submit an example – the Cambridge University reporter’s response to the media reaction to Tristram Hunt’s speech. Perhaps Corbyn’s intellectuals could follow its progress through the other elements and see how it stands up. I have no problem with an emotionally-intelligent intellect.

 

So next size up in the elemental University of Life is emotional intelligence (water). This ‘school’ is now openly present in Labour discourse by Corbyn’s active inclusion of mental health issues. So I invite our mental health Corbynites to form an opinion on the power dynamic occurring in A Bloody Rotten Audience; what does it suggest might be happening to some new party members? In the watery elements, it is a matter of interpersonal respect that we are allowed to have feelings about how we are treated; in healthy exchanges, this calls for boundaries on all sides, not just some.

 

Once embarked upon the voyage of emotional intelligence, the student in the elemental University of Life will inevitably encounter ‘spirit’ dimensions, not to be confused with religion. This kind of wisdom (fire) dwells at the heart of many things human. We find it in ethics, morals and any quest for ‘truth’. What is certain here is that anything claiming to be wisdom that not rooted in some form of Love of Creation is bound to fail. It is not possible to healthily gain wisdom in this element without the presence of Love in some form or another. Without it, any knowledge gained here belongs to the dark side of the Force; it is the realm of Deatheaters; the undeniable fingerprint of the Holdfast archetype:

 

educating the mind wout heart“He is the hoarder of the general benefit. He is the monster avid for the greedy rights of ‘my and mine.’ The havoc wrought by him is described in mythology and fairy tale as being universal throughout his domain. This may be no more than his household, his own tortured psyche, or the lives that he blights with the touch of his friendship and assistance; or it may amount to the extent of his civilization. The inflated ego of the tyrant is a curse to himself and his world – no matter how his affairs may seem to prosper. Self-terrorized, fear-haunted, alert at every hand to meet and battle back the anticipated aggressions of his environment, which are primarily the reflections of the uncontrollable impulses to acquisition within himself, the giant of self-achieved independence is the world’s messenger of disaster, even though, in his mind, he may entertain himself with humane intentions. Wherever he sets his hand there is a cry (if not from the housetops, then – more miserably – within every heart): a cry for the redeeming hero, the carrier of the shining blade, whose blow, whose touch, whose existence, will liberate the land.”

Hero with a Thousand Faces, 2nd Edition

 

I intend to expand on the dangers of the archetypes swirling around Corbyn but not in this blog. This is simply to illustrate that such subjects are included in lessons from the University of Life, as are lessons on timing and our collective consciousness. I invite readers to imagine Brimir’s behaviour if I tabled such subjects in his presence. My own imagination sends me images of the weasel’s laughing themselves to death in ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit?’, or Tory mockery in the House of Commons when welfare issues are debated.

 

Which brings us on to the only Doctorate-level qualification issued by the elemental University of Life: practical application (earth). Unless we have lived it, we can never qualify. Bitter experience is the only measure. The human theories we create in our intellect need to be tested by water for kindness and compassion; they also need to be tested by the fire of human relationship using meExSpAd to measures of respect and fair play. We see the results in evidence (earth). The theories of humanity applied to me by Brimir posit the intellectual belief that I am totally without value to the Labour Party. This  has been supported publicly by Tristram Hunt who claims all ‘goodness’ to he and his.

 

“The tyrant is proud, and therein resides his doom. He is proud because he thinks of his strength as his own; thus he is in the clown role, as a mistaker of shadow for substance; it is his destiny to be tricked.”

ibid.

The absence of emotional intelligence means Brimir can do things like claim the only way for Labour to win elections is by appealing to Tory voters, whilst at the same time singularly failing to notice that Jeremy Corbyn is, in fact, already Oborne on Corbynattracting such agreement, if not support, from the same. I wonder if he regards Peter Oborne or Michelle Dorrell’s opinion with the same disdain as he regards mine?

 

Additionally, Brimir is fully aware he is promoting political policies which purposefully and knowingly exclude my voice, on the grounds of his exceptionalism and my absolute worthlessness. This is the same narrative being propagated by the Tories and the evidence says it is fatal to folk like me.  It is also the same narrative currently used by the State of Israel when describing Palestinians. The resultant death-toll is of as much supreme disinterest to Israel as my kind of benefit-death is to Brimir. I wonder if he was at all aware of how much he was unconsciously communicating in the other realms of elementary intelligence?

 

And if Brimir is aware, then is it reasonable to assume that his behaviour is abusive? If it were to be determined that a Labour Party member was shown to be actively and purposefully attacking the existential value of another (more vulnerable) member up to and including state-sanctioned lethal outcomes, does anything get done about it?

 

I ask because both my conscience and my social responsibility as a desister forbids me to remain aligned with those of murderous intent because to remain is to condone such behaviour – I’d be putting my shot at social redemption at risk if I were to remain. The austerity narrative was why I could not align with Labour before Jeremy’s election. Further, Jeremy knowingly excludes lethal force from his narratives – something I am required to comply with as a desister. It’s why I rejoined. If, however, the practical expression of Corbyn’s Labour is to allow some members to target others with lethal narratives for the sake of a ‘broad church’, then I can have no part of it.

 

It would be a shame to resign so soon after rejoining without at least trying to contribute to the discussion, particularly as Hunt and Brimir have tabled it and other educated opinions are now being tossed into the mix. In my own opinion, the politics of envy has no place in the Labour Party I wish to belong to. It would be interesting to hear from others what they make of it.

 

For the sake of all my peers, I hope this blog offers a representative-enough view of what a graduate of University of Life can look like. I’m not alone. There are many more smarter graduates emerging from my alma-mater into party membership – are they going being subjected to the same treatment Brimir offered me?

 

When did it become acceptable to treat anyone that way, especially in Labour?

 

 

emotional abuse

 

Corbyn’s Labour: A Bloody Rotten Audience

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You’re a bloody rotten audience whilst I am very good
If brains were made of oak and ash then you’d have balsa wood
I’m ethnic and authentic and I’m really full of class
While you’re ignorant, you’re cultureless, you’re philistines en masse.                                                                         Eric Bogle

So this troll turned up in my twitter mentions yesterday. For the sake of this blog, I’m going to call him Brimir because this is not about attacking him. It’s about the experience of engagement.

Brimir arrived in my mentions because I was engaged in a discussion about Jeremy Corbyn, the new leader of UK’s Labour Party. To say that Jeremy is a divisive figure within the higher echelons of Labour is to slightly understate the problem. As Brimir had previously worked within these hallowed heights, his tweeted views reflected this and as someone who has recently rejoined the Labour Party precisely because Jeremy had been elected, we were destined to disagree… vehemently. We are both people with very strong opinions.

ExSpAd to meBrimir’s opinion is that Corbyn is an unelectable disaster who will destroy the Labour Party. Over the course of the day he informed several of us engaging with him that we were ‘anachronisms’, ‘deluded sect members’, ‘off with the fairies’, ‘£3 tinpot Trots’, members of ‘the fruitcake permanent opposition party’ who were better expelled and, in my own case, ‘a deeply sad individual destined to be disappointed’. In his favour, however, the worst he imagined for us was Labour losing the election in 2020, which is probably why I continued the conversation. Usually trolls imagine far worse than that, especially if we happen to be women. Nevertheless, there were other reasons why I continued engaging.

Jeremy Corbyn has made it very clear, in both word and deed, that he views the Labour Party as inclusive, a broad church, Corbyn respectencompassing a wide range of very different views. As someone who joined because he is leader, I feel a personal responsibility to contain my engagement within these inclusive principles. Why? Because I have more than enough personal experience of being excluded, silenced, vilified and exiled from social discourse. I do no service to either society or the Labour Party by promptly stamping down on opinions I don’t like the moment my ‘team’ ‘wins’. Labour did that to its membership in the 1980’s and continued the same policy of ‘silencing the left’ over the following decades right up until Jeremy’s election. To repeat this process in reverse is to reinforce this division internally in an already deeply divisive political environment. So I had political reasons to continue engaging Brimir but I also had personal ones.

For reasons I cannot fully explain, Brimir touched my compassion. Here is a man whose personal history had dedicated 30 years of activism to the Labour Party. He has advised its leaders; has worked very hard to ensure the party would win elections and now he is faced with his worst nightmare. Everything his political narrative had told him to avoid at all costs has suddenly and unexpectedly resurrected, supported by the thousands of new members joining the party he regards has his. single storyIn human terms, it is neither reasonable nor fair to expect him to ‘get over it’ easily or quickly. The tone of yesterday’s tweets carries the emotional charge of someone whose world has just turned upside down in the worst possible way. As someone who knows what it is to have all my beliefs upended into nightmare, I can empathise with his difficulty even if I disagree with his analyses. Throughout the day, I found myself reflecting on him and still willing to engage, despite the sharp and sometimes hurtful edges of what I think of as his ill-informed stereotypical opinions.

There’s nothing wrong with being ill-informed – everyone is. There are always subjects we know well but the universe is a very big place and only the single narrative ever claims to have all the answers. Communities are far better served by multiple narratives, where we can collectively draw upon the knowledge and wisdom of many individuals. It is this knowledge that leads me to agree with Jeremy about the need for Labour to be inclusive, including Brimir and those who might feel the same way he does. In the multiple narratives Jeremy is now generating within the Labour Party, acknowledging and respecting Brimir’s opinion no longer requires me to disrespect or stifle my own. Nevertheless my narrative about Labour has been profoundly different from his. I have my own equally powerful feelings about how Labour has treated folk like me particularly in opposition and I’m not alone in feeling this way.

At present, the political gulf between us is so wide as to appear unbridgeable. Certainly it seems that way to Brimir, judging opening your eyesfrom his unhappier tweets about Corbyn’s Labour. Despite engagement, his feelings are largely unchanged and I could have been tempted to buy into his analysis and abandon him to his misery but for one thing. At the end of a very tiring day of sometimes bitter exchanges, he said something that completely floored me. He said he liked me. Given the way my compassion continued to be triggered, I suspect I might like him too. If that isn’t a first rope across the political chasm, then I don’t know what is.

There are other possible areas of agreement too. Brimir wants Labour to win the next general election in 2020. So do I. What we disagree on is the how… but then we have four years to build bridges of understanding across the gulf of the last forty years. In that time, the shock of change will have softened and, I hope for everyone’s sake, we will have enabled more opportunities to establish a much deeper mutual understanding of the social problems such a Labour government will be facing, together with potential solutions we may not like but are willing to try.

So here’s to the Brimir’s of the Labour Party capable of making a human connection with Corbynites they regard as a pain in the flipping arse. No worries lovelies, we’re inclined to think the same about you which, oddly enough, places us on the first level playing field in British politics I’ve seen in over forty years.

Salariat view of Corbyn