The Last Word: Solidarity with Barcelona

The Barcelona attack, Republican shame, smearing centrists, and the Campaign Against Living Miserably – Progress director Richard Angell has this week’s Last Word

Today we woke up to yet more carnage from Daesh-inspired terrorism in the Catalan area of Spain. Our thoughts and solidarity goes out to the Catalan people, those from many nationalities who are the victims of this cowardly attack and the friends and family whose loved ones will never come home. 

The vile purpose of these immoral people is to seek division in Europe. To make us turn in. Turn away from the plight of our fellow human beings in war-worn countries and to turn a blind eye to the so-called caliphate Daesh believe they are creating in Iraq and the Lavent. Islam is a peaceful and loving religion, so it seems an anathema that a state inspired by such holy work would ever take the form of the barbarism that is synonymous with the land grab in the Middle East. 

True to form, Donald Trump has gifted these cowards a victory they do not deserve by sowing his own division in our communities. People will remember after the London Bridge and Borough Market attacks he took to Twitter to dress down London mayor Sadiq Khan. This time he has told the world of a totally fictional story that can only – in my opinion – embolden Islamophes to come to all the wrong conclusions about how to respond to this atrocity. Jake Tapper of CNN demolishes the president’s position and calls out this outright lie. Closer to home this attack further disproved the warped theory that this Daesh-inspired hate is a response to Western foreign policy; I hope this nonsense will not rear its ugly head in the post-Barcelona analysis. 

On a personal level these attacks have many parallels to the what happened on 3 June 2017 in this great city. As life goes on in the United Kingdom we must ensure the British government has done all it can to help the victims of Manchester, London Bridge/Borough Market and Finsbury Park get their lines back on track. I know there are still businesses out of pocket with insurance companies unwilling to pay up, individuals are unable to get the mental health support these still need – the waiting lists for talking therapies is a disgrace – and our emergency service personnel – who put themselves in harms way – continue to go unappreciated, unrecognised and without a long overdue pay rise. 

Republican shame

Trump continues to leave the world open-mouthed as he refused to condemn the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and alt-right after one of their ilk drove a car at a group of protesters in Charlottesville this week.

The president shames the great country he leads, but currently not the party of which he is leader. The Democrats have allowed House and Senate Republicans to be seen as different to Trump and the president himself as somehow above the Republican brand. This is a folly and if they do not rectify this mistake, the US left will live to regret it. He is in the White House because the Republicans chose him as their nominee. It is to their eternal shame that he is their standard barer. The Democrats should not let his party off the hook! 

Smearing centrists

The ongoing smear campaign against ‘centrists’ – anyone the hard-left see as not one of them – continues unabated. Laurie Penny jumped the shark earlier in the week – see my reply in the Huffington Post – and Owen Jones joined in yesterday. 

Attacking those who create ‘straw men’, he then goes on make a few of his own to knock down. He decries so-called centrists for creating the ‘alt-left’ as the mirror image of the ‘alt-right’ while conveniently forgetting it was the Alliance of Workers Liberty (hardly centrists) who started it with their use of ‘alt-Stalinist’ to attack the likes of Laura Murray within Momentum. 

When you take away his nonsense that the fad of using ‘centrist’ is actually just a supposed inoffensive way of calling centre-left people in Labour ‘red Tories’, his main contention is that Labour moderates have not yet eaten enough humble pie. But the reality is this is only about Jones’ own helping of humble pie as he desperately tries to beg forgiveness for believing that Jeremy Corbyn would be the same disaster with the voters as the rest of us did. Nicola Murray of Labour Tomorrow put it best on Twitter: ‘Oh god Jeremy, let Owen back in to the cool gang. He’s trying so so hard to make you love him again.’

Calm 

‘Football fans have lots of power – together we can use it for good’ were the words of Lee Adams on BBC 606 as my dad and I listened to the post match programme on Saturday afternoon. Adams and 10 friends had done something remarkable that day. They had walked – 40 miles over night – from Craven Cottage to Reading’s Madejski Stadium for Fulham’s first game of the new season. 

The walk raised over £7,000 for the Campaign Against Living Miserably – known as Calm – to resource their helpline for men wishing to discuss their mental health and those at risk suicide. But Adams’ aspirations are for football to take a lead in this conversation. Stadiums and their facilities can host ‘time to talk’ session where men can come together to discuss their problems and clubs can advertise Calm and similar services so men know where to turn. He is currently planning his next move to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September 207. More power to his elbow – this is potentially Britain’s most necessary conservation. 

Progress writer Dan Crawford knows Adams and his colleagues personally. He is inspired by their message, if you are too – please donate now

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Richard Angell is director of Progress. He tweets at @RichardAngell

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Comments: 1...

  1. On August 19, 2017 at 1:44 pm Scrutiniser responded with... #

    I cannot find anything in the Owen Jones Guardian article, quoted and linked by Richard Angell, with which I can really disagree.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/aug/17/centrists-attack-left-extremists-labour-moderates

    The real problem is that Progress (or at least its leadership and associated MPs) define themselves as centrist and/or moderate but have always represented the centre-Right or Right of the Labour Party, even during the Blair/Brown era!

    The continued refusal to recognise and acknowledge that Progress/Labour First caters to a particular narrow clique within the Party, rather than the majority of members and the wider electorate, is a particular problem. It is fine to claim that Blairism is dead and buried, that Progress have moved on and evolved but the condescension, abuse and attempts at sabotage perpetrated by your respective organisations, against those who disagree with them, is unlikely to help your cause.

    If, or when, Progress can make any meaningful contribution to the debate and choose to engage in a constructive manner, with the majority and true centre of the Labour Party then that could be the day when you are no longer obsolescent. Whether this is possible, under the current management and structure, is an entirely different question.

    Unfortunately, Progress/Labour First are now widely regarded as toxic and obstructive, making no real attempts being made to reach out rebuild bridges – usually quite the contrary! It is probably worthwhile analysing where you actually fall, within the broad church of the Labour Party, as follows:

    1. Divide the Party into quartiles (Left to Right) – which quartile do you (as an organisation) occupy? The honest answer (without too much controversy) is the one on the Right.

    2. OK now let’s go for a finer resolution and pick deciles instead. There is going to be variation between individual Progress/Labour First members but again, after critical and Honest self-analysis, where do you actually personally fall: 1oth 9th or upper 7th? A quick sanity check – in the wider Party, do you estimate that 10% share the majority of your views, or is it slightly higher perhaps 15%-20%.

    If Progress/Labour First (collective organisations and the majority of individual members) do indeed fall in the Rightmost quartile then you cannot be centrist of centre-Left (within the Party). by any rational statistical definition.

    Can Progress credibly redefine itself as centrist, using different criteria? Does it represent close to the median of the entire UK electorate, across a wide range of policy issues? No! However, It does appear to partially reflect the views of the metropolitan political elite.

    Time for a bit of honesty: Progress mainly represents the Right-wing of the Labour Party and also appear to be right-of-centre, regarding the entire UK electorate. The fact that Jamie Reed has admitted that he was approached. on more than one occasion, to cross the floor and join the Tories, came as no great surprise. Can Progress adapt an evolve to enable a move towards the centre? The jury is currently out.

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