Progress are here to stay, get over it

by Curtis McLellan

It’s been a strange few weeks to be a Progress member, a Unite member and a Labour party member.  It is almost like me and my kind are persona non grata.  Well, I am not ashamed.  My kind are part of a long proud lineage of revisionist thought in the Labour party.  My kind and our thought laid the philosophical foundations for an unprecedented 13 years of Labour government.

My kind bided our time whilst the other side had their 1983 manifesto, we fought against Trotskyist entryism, siding with the unions to remove that threat.  We had internal victories and internal defeats, but there was one thing for certain: we were in perpetual opposition.  And then, in 1996, many of my predecessors formed a think-tank to generate ideas for the fledgling New Labour project. A year later, well, the rest is history.

For all of you still pretending that it is simply an “organisational” spat, who still believe in the platitudes that we are a broad church, be under no illusion.  This is an ideological attack on Progress and the philosophy of New Labour, cloak and dagger.

In all honesty, anyone on the centre should have seen it coming.  We were in the ascendancy for too long, and now we are in decline.  That is the cyclical nature of internal Labour party politics, and it is now time for revenge.  They’ve got their party back.  For those of you who disliked Luke Akehurst’s Niemoller analogy, look away now: prepare for a period of Stalin-like rewriting of history.  Unite call the last Labour government “a bitter disappointment”.

Why?  Was there too much employment?  Too high a quality of life (certainly better than before and now)?  Did the minimum wage grind their gears?  Perhaps the low number of strikes annoyed them.  Or maybe there were too many hospitals and schools built, or the top tax rate was too low.  I don’t know, but it certainly wasn’t what some union leaders had wanted.  But it’s not just the past, and how bad New Labour was that draws union leaders’ ire. It’s the influence of New Labour now.

I should hope that Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, two members of New Labour government, feel quite insulted that they are not thought to be able to think for themselves.  The times that they adopt centrist policy, it is claimed by Unite, is only at the times that those nasty Blairites lean on them:

“‘it was Progress who argued that Labour’s front bench needed to support cuts and wage restraint. Congress regrets that Ed Miliband caved into this pressure. Congress notes with concern the support by Ed Balls and Ed Miliband for public sector pay restraint, thus giving credibility to Tory arguments about the deficit”.

For the record, Progress did not argue that.

If you are not alarmed by this amount of agitation, you will be soon.  We are only in the early stages of an ideological fight.  That’s why I congratulate Progress’ response; to challenge its opponents to play the ball not the man.

It is an intelligent move, to respond to the ad hominem attacks and removing them as a stick to beat the organisation and its members with, to challenge those who oppose New Labour ideas to attack us on our thoughts and ideas (and ultimately, the success of those ideas previously).  Progress can no longer be tarred as a corrupt, shadowy ‘party-within-a-party’, a mythical organisation to scare poor CLP Secretaries to vote the ‘right’ way. The changes to Progress should expose its most vehement critics for what they are – anti-New Labour ideologues.

This is a time when we should be confronting an incompetent government, to be united behind Ed Miliband and campaigning for a Labour win.  We should be proud of our past but focussed on our future.  I hope that those critics can find the courage to play the ball and not the man, and I hope that they do it in a constructive, positive way to foster a healthy debate that all in the party can participate.  Yet, I remain fearful, I really do.  There may just be too many scores to settle.

Curtis McLellan is international officer for Labour Students

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10 Responses to “Progress are here to stay, get over it”

  1. You get to be a part of the movement. You just don’t get to run the show single-handed anymore. If you like, consider it a triumph of New Labour that at the end of its term the wider labour movement feels confident enough in itself to contribute in the marketplace of ideas, rather than slinking in the shadows.

  2. john P reid says:

    The niemoller remark was turnign a blind eye to oen form, of opression as Niemoller was so dedicated to the National socialists erbuilding a Broke germany that he thought their Opression of one race that didnt’ effect him was justifable if the Nazi’s got the country up and running, those who criticised Luke akehrsts comemts werethose who felt that Livingstone welcoming The IRA with open arms to county Hall, was justifable in their killing of Little kids and the protection rackets and their drug selling as they (the GLC) were doing things liek getting the transport sorted out) The same GLC who then welcomed the stirking Mnes to Posh hotels during the strike, despite those miners leaders sending Some miners to a bridge to throw rocks on A car taking a democratically Non striking miner to work, and the Union leaders said ‘they couldn’t take blame for the dath of the taxi driver as it wasn’t part of their strike’ and ‘if the miner that he was taking to work had been on strike he wouldn’t have been there’ also the Racist murderers who Killed A P.C in thw tottenhnam riot after the P.C was trying to protect firemen that the rioters were originally trying to kill, the Left hid them and held them up as heroes too,

    So when those criticise Akehurst commetns remember they said nothing when the IRA killed kids, they said nothing when the Unlawful striker’s blocked the road and kiled A taxi man taking a miner to work and they said nothing when racist murdeers killed A white Policeman

  3. The Future says:

    Is there something inherent to the right wing of the Labour party that they have to feel like they are permanently manning the barricades? Progress can’t get enough of this “threat,” it gives you a reason to exist. Progress is just as bad as the far left when it comes to childish behaviour and this article is very childish.

    “wah wah wah he is going to stop me playing”

    The irony being that it’s the self absorbed progress members that mean no one listens to them. Oh well. Carry on. You may not be listened to in the party but at least you get to play fighting the far left.

  4. teresa james says:

    Don’t Labour members have anything better to do than this ridiculous civil war b/w Progress and the Unions. This is nothing short of ridiculous now.

    Incase you hadn’t noticed the Tories are currently in power and making all sorts of dangerous changes to the country. Is this not where our focus should be?

    Labour Uncut: enough with these Progress vs the Unions articles!

  5. teresa james says:

    In fact, upon reading this article again, I am bewildered as to how it ever got published.

  6. wg says:

    “My kind and our thought laid the philosophical foundations for an unprecedented 13 years of Labour government.”

    So, what philosophical foundations were they then?

    Wars? Ploughing missiles into high-rise buildings? Is that a philosophy?

    “Why? Was there too much employment?”

    Oh, we had a boom that created masses of employment, most of it on the back of PFIs and migrant workers.

    And what of those 13 years – several classes of schoolkids could have put together a party to beat the Tories – so hopeless were they.

    And what were New Labour ‘progressing’ towards – fingerprinting, DNA databasing, ID cards, indefinite detention, rendition, cash for peerages – it felt like we were progressing towards a nasty authoritarian tin-pot dictatorship.

    If you’re worried about the worker’s representatives playing the man and not the ball, stop throwing childish shit at them.

  7. paul barker says:

    It would be more to the point to say that the far-left are “here”, embedded in the heart of the labour movement. Back when I was an entryist myself we would never have dreamed it would be so easy to take over big, mainstream unions.
    Let me make it clear – the far-left arent much bothered about winning bourgeois elections – their goal is to take over or break up your party & right now I dont see whats to stop them.
    Millibands attendance at the miners gala is the perfect symbol of how the labour leadership are being slowly dragged to the extreme & away from the voters.

  8. robertcp says:

    The bad side of the last Labour government included Iraq, tuition fees, attempts to introduce long periods of detention without trial, “reforms” of health and education, cutting the benefits of the disabled and single mothers, neo-liberal economic policies that were a disaster, collusion with Bush on rendition, not criticising Israel’s invasion of Lebanon and being a close ally of the worst American President of modern times.

  9. Curtis McLellan says:

    I agree Theresa. See my last paragraph.

    I don’t want an internal war, I want good debate. But more importantly, I also want to campaign with all of those across our broad church (something I am very proud of) to get rid of this awful coalition government without being called a Tory or being a victim of a witch hunt.

    I don’t think you can say fairer than that.

  10. john P reid says:

    paul barker, how can the far left destory labour, thee’s an opt out clause for left wingers who join unions for their sub to got to labour and, the PCS a Union who’s meembers are declining as fewer of them striek arent’ affiliated with labour nor is the RMT, regarding Ed attending the Durham miners it didn’t get a bad headline frankly no one cares, and as for,

    wg, fingerprinting was aboutf or years and DNA is A good idea to catch rapists, as for innocent peoples DNA being on a data base there i agree, indefinite detention 28 days was as far as it went with the lords blocking 42 days, but then In America if they’ve think you’ve done something can’t prove it they say your a material witness and set bail at $1m dollars and in france italy they jsut ignore the ECHR ruling on detention anyway,
    Remind me cash for peerages that was when the cases agaisnt Lord levy and jonathon powell were dropped weren’t they

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