Labour’s Vietnam

by John Wall

There are parallels between what’s happened to Labour since 2015 and the Americans in Vietnam.

It comes down to underestimating or not understanding the opposition and forgetting that sometimes you need to do unto others what they would do unto you – but do it first!

Vietnam is controversial, although it’s difficult to argue that it wasn’t worth trying to prevent what happened after the Communist victory.

The Americans expended a lot of blood and treasure and won most of the battles, but when they left and were preoccupied with domestic issues, the North Vietnamese conquered the south.

The North Vietnamese were frequently down, but never out, and only had one objective, to reunite the country under their rule – and were prepared to play a long game.

Unless the Americans had reunited the country under South Vietnamese rule or maintained a permanent military presence the outcome was probably inevitable. That’s very simplistic as the memory of Korea was strong, particularly the Chinese intervening to prevent UN forces occupying the whole peninsula.

Hindsight is wonderful, and infallible!

I see Labour as having, basically, two creeds; social democrats (pragmatists) and socialists (dogmatists).

The former recognise that appropriately regulated markets and competition create wealth which can then be taxed. They see how innovation driven by the survival instincts of the private sector can be used to deliver public services. Politically, they consider the western democracies as a force for good.

The latter hate markets and competition and despise the private sector. To them America is the “Great Satan,” and Russia – whether Communist or under Putin – is an ally. Their mantra is inevitability, communism (where Corbyn and McDonnell fit), probably preceded by socialism, is the inevitable, and final, form of society.

After the early 1980s the hard left were – particularly during New Labour – little more than lost sheep.

It’s instructive to see the intolerant vitriol now directed at those who aren’t disciples of the bearded messiah, and the worst seems to be reserved for non-believers on the left.

The homophobic abuse (in a party that practices identity politics) against a heretical lesbian Labour MP is just one example.

The Labour leader of Harlow is leaving because of:

“…an active campaign against my leadership by a local Momentum organiser, being called a neo-Nazi by some Corbyn t-shirt wearing person outside the Labour Party Conference, and events at a national level targeting Labour Councillors and Labour Councils that do not conform to the particular form of ideological purity that seems to have taken a grip of the party…”

Previously, the Labour leader of Haringey quit saying:

“The sexism, bullying, undemocratic behaviour and outright personal attacks on me as the most senior woman in Labour in Labour local government have left me disappointed and disillusioned.”

These are not isolated incidents.

It’s analogous to the way soldiers are “psyched up” before going into battle by dehumanising the enemy, and the mealy-mouthed attitude of the powers-that-be is telling.

The Haringey Development Vehicle is controversial but Corbynistas will talk about anything but the behaviour of its opponents.

The hard left don’t debate,  the gospel is holy writ on tablets of stone and it’s blasphemy to think otherwise.

Some of the uninitiated haven’t realised that, despite the denials, including by Momentum, Corbynism is proselytising and jumping achieves the same as being pushed.

Much is said about Labour now being a “mass movement”, although historically it’s small – the Conservatives had a million members under Thatcher. In the US Prohibition happened because relatively small numbers, voting on a single issue, could decide individual elections. Divide the membership increase by 650 constituencies and it averages a few hundred each – but not many have to turn up at previously poorly attended meetings to make a difference.

The story of Corbyn’s ascent again shows how few were involved, zealots are more likely to be motivated.

However they’re described, the moderates, social democrats, soft/centre left, Blairites, etc, have consistently made the same mistakes as the Americans. Corbynista Labour, like the North Vietnamese, knows where it’s going, and that’s non-negotiable – get with the programme or get out.

Looking in it’s difficult to see how the sects can easily coexist. Before Corbyn the hard left were prodigal children, and some probably regret Blair’s missed opportunity for excommunication. The unconverted are now heretics and few object to their persecution.

Had, as prophesied, Corbyn been crucified at the 2017 election the crusade might have died – but an inept Conservative campaign helped resurrect him.

With control of the NEC, Corbyn is secure. The only certainty about the next election is that it’s no later than June 2022 and, irrespective of that result, it’s unknown how long his legacy will last.

Much will depend upon whether new members were primarily attracted by Corbyn or are just undesirables. The latter will be difficult to remove but the former may not long outlast him.

It took Blair a third of the time to rewrite Clause IV as it’s taken Corbyn to control the NEC, how long will the next change take?

John Wall is a former member of the Conservatives

Tags: , , , ,

19 Responses to “Labour’s Vietnam”

  1. steve says:

    “an inept Conservative campaign helped resurrect him.”

    It wasn’t the inept Tory campaign wot dun it.

    Corbyn’s popularity went unnoticed by a (too Westminster-centric) mainstream media and an out of touch Blairiite elite who thought the best way to win an election was to mimic Tory policies while, at the same time, expressing concern for the victims of those policies.

    Corbyn was accorded his current status by those who voted for him in the 2017 general election. Of course, now you’ll be telling us the electorate ‘mis-voted’.

  2. Jay says:

    I’ll never vote for Corbyn, and the Skripal case exemplifies why: too many on his wing of the party are happy to toe the propaganda line of RT and the Russian Foreign Office, locked into the narrative of “Capitalist West bad” and “My enemy’s enemy is my friend”. It’s not the first time either, Corbyn also tried to excuse Putin for invading the Crimea.

    For all Momentum’s rabid fury, Labour won’t win a majority without winning over Conservative voters, and from what I see it can’t even convince many on the Left of the political spectrum. Whatever we think of their economic policies, their geo-political sensibilities rule them out from the outset.

    For all its faults, the capitalist West remains the freest, most lawful and wealthiest region of the world. Western countries, and New World countries embracing Western norms, dominate the UN’s World Happiness Report. But you wouldn’t know it from listening to the likes of Corbyn who’s spent decades criticising the West, the EU and Nato, while lending support to appalling regimes such as Russia and Iran. Labour has thrown in its lot with the ‘anti-imperialist’ crowd, it’s heading down a cul-de-sac.

  3. Rallan says:

    “Moderate” Labour ran out of ideas and struggled to find excuses for its track record, so you put identity politics and virtue signalling at the heart of “Labour Values”.

    It was “moderate” Labour that encouraged activists to intimidate people and throw around accusations of racism. Now you’ve been taken over by those activists.

    You brought it on yourselves.

  4. Tafia says:

    but an inept Conservative campaign helped resurrect him.

    As inept as the Tory campaign was, they actualy got one of the highest numbers of votes they have ever had, and one of the highest percentages hey have ever had. There was actually a swing to the tories and Labour made no inroads int the Tory vote at all – quite the opposite. Labour’s increase came from a collapse in other parties such as the Lib Dems – so perhaps it wasn.t that inept eh?

    We are now mid-term, with what is continually pushed as a weal incompetent government – yet depending on pollser it is neck-and -neck wirh Labour or anything up to 4% in front – that does not bode well for Corbyn.

    Next up are the council elections – which the Tories will do badly in because thats the way it works. And Labour will hail what will be a false dawn.

  5. Eamonn says:

    The moderate wing of the party spent far too many years naively assuming that the hard left would never have a chance of running the show and failed miserably to appreciate that they had walked into trap when they agreed to not only change the rules regarding voting for a new leader but then even more incredibly lent their votes to Corbyn to get him on the ballot paper. Even in the face of the rampant entryism that followed they still couldn’t get their act together and back a single moderate candidate and when they finally stirred into action for the second leadership contest, stood up an unknown Corbyn lite candidate rather than a more mainstream MP. At that point I and I’m sure many other longstanding party members left in despair. I’m not sure whether the moderates will ever reach the point where they see sense and breakaway to form a new centrist party or just join the Lib Dems, though I really can’t see how they’ll ever regain control as long as one member one vote persists. The hard left entryists are highly unlikely to walk away now that they’ve taken over the party and will keep paying their subs in order to continue with their socialist experiment. Sad times for those who remember what a moderate Labour government achieved way back in the late 90s, particularly compared to the utter nonsense that Corbyn and co. come out with.

  6. John Wall says:

    @steve – a lot has been written about the 2017 election and I doubt that a single factor decided it. It is, however, sometimes said that oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them. May was 20 points ahead but CCHQ wasn’t ready and Corbyn was given space – which he moved iinto.

  7. John Wall says:

    @Eamonn – I think you agree with me.

  8. Vern says:

    Corbyn had peaked late last year. Most of us were able to see through the lies and see the hate and intolerance to other viewpoints. The strapline of “For the many and not the few” is old hat too and his stance on the poisoning shows he has the wrong loyalties. People are turning away from Corbyn by the millions. The t-shirts are next week’s window cleaning rags.
    I feel sorry for those that learnt the rest of the words to “Oh, Jeremy Corbyn”

    And Starmer’s performance on Question Time was of someone prepared to watch their leader fall and jump in their shoes!

  9. anosrep says:

    I can only repeat the comment I made on Jonathan Todd’s recent article:
    “I think it’s time for the Colonel from Monty Python to come in and stop this blog because it’s too silly.”

  10. John Cunningham says:

    Another load of dross from Labour Uncut. If John Wall actually thinks there are parallels between a war situation some forty odd years ago on the other side of the world and the situation inside the LP today he has lost it completely. I won’t be bothering with this website anymore – I like to read intelligent comment even when I don’t agree with it. The idiotic froth that appears here is simply not worth bothering with.

  11. Dave Roberts says:


    As always you are the voice of the sensible anti fascist left. Eamonn, don’t be so pessimistic. The loony left come and go depending on the amount of dope and Special Brew there is about!

  12. Mike Homfray says:

    A former member of the Conservatives, but clearly not sympathetic to the left at all, so really, why worry?

    There is no chance of winning Tory voters unless its for a programme not worth voting for, so its about mobilising those who haven’t voted in recent years, and new young voters.

  13. John P Reid says:

    Mike homfray,your view that labour shouldn’t get Tory voters excludes the fact for the last 2 general elections many life long labour voters held their nose and voted Tory as they didntlike Ed Miliband s student politics, or the in decision from labour over Brexit, even though,Corbynout in the manifesto, Brexit means Brexit

    Labour got the protest vote, there’s no more of that to come,it was a peak,and the protest vote can eventually go back to Ukip or Libdem, yes believe it or not people have vitedlibdem,then voted Ukip

    Youbrwvely dient vote lsbour in 2005 when you quit the party over Iraq,but you’re driving votes from labour now, some of the things the Tories stand for now, are more left wing that the lsbour liberal Islington view of the Corbynistas, May is cintantlynidking Ed Miliband policies

    The idea of yours that if labour tries to get back Ex Tory voters ,it’s not real labour and labour shouldn’t care about winning election, if it needs Tory votes, is honorable, but don’t expect us not to criticize you, if you lose on that policy,and say we disagree with your view losing is a moral victory,

  14. John Wall says:

    @Mike – I’m not any sort of leftie but I enjoy writing.

    You say “its about mobilising those who haven’t voted in recent years, and new young voters.” That’s been tried – and Corbyn is still 60+ seats away from an overall majority.

    If you look at the 2017 election the share of the two main parties rose from about 67% to about 82%. Two thirds of that went to Labour, one third to the Conservatives. Those who claim “rejection” of May’s platform have to remember that she increased both the Conservative vote and percentage share.

    One switcher is worth twice a “new” voter and what is there to gain by piling up more votes in somewhere like Canterbury?

    There are predictions that Labour will do well in London in this year’s local elections – but London has been a Labour city for a while, it took a high profile “name” in Boris to win the mayoralty from Ken Livingstone and without him Sadiq Khan took it.

    At the moment, although they go up and down a bit, the opinion polgls – with a massive health warning – show the two main parties very close. Just to get an overall majority a lead of something like 5/6/7% is required.

    I’ve said it before, as have others, but it looks like Corbyn’ s plan (cunning) to get into No. 10 is one more heave.

  15. Anne says:

    I don’t recognise the comparison of Labour with Vietnam – this has now become a popular holiday destination.
    I do agree that at the moment Tories and Labour are probably poling in similar positions, but, as we have seen from the Russian issue which gave Mrs May a boost, events can however change this. My current prediction is that Mrs May will be in charge until the next general election, and going the full term, but this could change – Brexit is not yet complete. Problem for the Tories there is no credible replacement.
    Mr Corbyn may have peeked, but who knows.
    Andy Burnham is doing very well as Greater Manchester Mayor. Also Kier Starmer doing well. Emily Thornberry and Rebecca Long Bailey doing well.

  16. paul barker says:

    I would question whether we have reached “Peak Corbyn”, a recent survey of Labour Members suggested that he had 80% support. Currently Labour Membership is falling (by about 70,000 a Year) & since most of those leaving are likely to be less sympathetic to the current Leadership, those remaining must be growing ever more Corbynite.

  17. John P Reid says:

    Paul barker wait till pro corbyn Councillors lose their seats,and their pro Jez friends are sad about it too, then Corbyn will be less popular, unless they do a Chris Williamson/Len Mcklusky, convince themselves they won their council seats when they lost, the way those two thought Jeremy win the election

    Of course mid term unpopularity, Demograpgics, and the fact the last London council election was on the same day as the EU election, mean labour won’t lose that many seats in London next month, but the greens are in the rise in inner London

  18. Landless Peasant says:

    Vietnam my arse. And no one sees Putin’s Russia as an ally. And I don’t see America as “Satan” either, Trump and Bush maybe, it’s the Rightwing Neocons who are “Satan” not America per se. As for Blair taking it upon himself to re-write Clause IV, that’s the first thing Corbyn needs to undo as soon as he can.

  19. Landless Peasant says:

    Markets create wealth that can be taxed? What, like Amazon, Facebook, and filthy rich non-doms like Lord Ashcroft? Good luck with clawing any wealth back off those Capitalist parasites. Better that the State owns the wealth in the first place so it can be equally redistributed among unemployed nobodies like me. Eat the Rich.

Leave a Reply