Tuesday, 25 June 2013

New Labour: still not getting it.

I got this unsolicited text message the other day.

As you can probably imagine, it got my hackles up. 

Firstly, because it's spam. No doubt joining the Labour Party is taken as implicit acceptance of spam texts, but I don't remember opting into it. 

Secondly, because Neena is endorsed by David Miliband. I don't like him for two reasons: I've met him, and he was a minor cog in the Rendition machine. He is a war criminal, or would be in a world in which international law meant something. 

Thirdly, I object to someone claiming I should vote for them because someone else supports her. This is the worst of celebrity politics. I want to vote for a candidate based on what their policies are. What are Neena's policies? I have no idea. Her website is broken, and her Twitter/text publicity is (deliberately?) a policy free zone. Literally, not a single policy is visible. Although she doesn't like the BNP: laudable, but hardly distinctive. This isn't politics. It's sales.

Fourthly, I find the discourse oppressive. 'Thank you for your support' presumes my support: it's a Neuro-Linguistic Programming-style device to make dissent harder. The second text I got ends with 'Your Number 1 Choice for MEP'. Neena: I rather think that's for me to decide, and tired, bossy marketing techniques really don't endear you to me.

The whole problem is summed up – and Marshall McLuhan would agree with me here – by the medium as much as the message. Watch what happens when I hit reply:

Now it doesn't really matter whether or not you agree with my dislike for David Miliband or not. The point is that in a supposedly democratic organisation like the Labour Party, things should be decided through discussion, and exchange of ideas. But the New Labour structure is authoritarian and hierarchical. Members aren't important. Our opinions don't matter: we're voting fodder and piggy banks. So sending texts from a number which doesn't allow any reply perfectly encapsulates the way they treat us. This, I would argue, is where Labour went wrong. If Tony Blair and his circle had seen the members as the party's repository of experience, ideas and political nous, we wouldn't have ended up in a disastrous war, in an overheated economy, run by corrupt MPs, police officers and bankers.

I don't think this is entirely representative of the party: my local Labour MP candidates are responsive even when I'm slightly rude to them, and Ed Miliband's lot are a distinct improvement – but it's a definite characteristic of the clique which captured the party for so many years, ruined it, and won't shut up and go away.

Which is why I'm posting this: I can't simply reply to Neena Gill and her friends because she's not interested in my views, just my vote. I hope she reads this.

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