Freiheit ist immer Freiheit der Andersdenkenden

Why is it, I wonder, that whenever I see a senior member of my own party saying things like this:

McCartney warns of party division

Labour MPs should vote for the education reforms or risk division, chairman Ian McCartney has warned.

He said the Labour by-election loss last week showed that party disunity would not be tolerated by voters.

Mr McCartney said Labour MPs had “a strong sense of purpose” and were elected on a joint manifesto.

“Our manifesto can’t be a pick and mix,” he warned, adding that MPs should not “collaborate with the opposition parties’ whips to defeat Labour”.

I instinctively think of this?

Freedom only for the members of the government, only for the members of the Party — though they are quite numerous — is no freedom at all. Freedom is always the freedom of dissenters. The essence of political freedom depends not on the fanatics of ‘justice’, but rather on all the invigorating, beneficial, and detergent effects of dissenters. If ‘freedom’ becomes ‘privilege’, the workings of political freedom are broken. – Rosa Luxembourg

On the whole, it’s because I think I much prefer Rosa’s point.

  • Luxemburg v McCartney is hardly a fair intellectual battle, comrade. Ian McCartney v Paul McCartney would be more equal.

  • Honestly, why are you still a member?

  • ‘My party, right or wrong’ – doncha just love it. Yet we know that virtually everything that this government has done, if it had been done by a Tory government, would have had party members incandescent with rage. Sigh.

    So yes, why are you still a member? I too find it puzzling that you continue to be part of the organisation that has over the last eight years erected the enabling framework of a totalitarian dictatorship – it just needs someone to trip the switch.

  • Katherine, I suspect that Unity is a member of Labour for similar reasons to me, i.e there is no party that is currently better that can also get into government under this pathetic electoral system.

    In which case, the more people like Unity who stay in the party and fight for better policies, the better for all of us.

  • I don’t see why Labour members should get stick for what happens in the rarified world of government, by politicians who are only loosely working on their behalf, and who themselves probably never imagined they’d be doing what they are now.

    As long as we do our best to promote good practice and sensible policies, and to not promote the stupid policies, that’s about all the useful impact we can have. Quitting the party suggests either that it’s unsalvageable – which is ridiculous – or is an act of petulance or apathy IMO.

    We like our party, and we like the kind of people who are associated with it.

  • Unity

    Bit busy at the moment but will answer the questions a bit later on.

  • Pete in Dunbar

    Neil said:
    “In which case, the more people like Unity who stay in the party and fight for better policies, the better for all of us.”

    …and the success of this strategy is there for all to see.

    Wait…no, hang on, it’s been a total bloody disaster…

    Bloggers4Labour said:
    “I don’t see why Labour members should get stick for what happens in the rarified world of government…”

    Perhaps because you all voted for them, and worked to get them elected, and continue to provide their support network. It rather makes you complicit in their actions.

    “…and who themselves probably never imagined they’d be doing what they are now.”

    You musn’t have been listening when they told you _before_ you voted for them, then. You really should pay more attention instead of reflex-voting.

    “We like our party,…”

    Do you like what they’ve done?

    “…and we like the kind of people who are associated with it.”

    I’m afraid that this speaks volumes. Politics is surely a _little_ bit more important than just turning out to support members of ‘our little club’. Here’s a new phrase to try out (while we’re on a German history theme) ‘the collective guilt of the Labour Party’.

  • Pete,

    That’s very unfair. Why should all those members who have opposed ID cards, and campaigned against them, feel guilt because a government – which doesn’t even necessarily include the MPs or officials it was in their power to elect or back – presses ahead against all opposition? Leave the party over that one issue? When they support so many others?

    Making all members of an organisation responsible for the actions of the organisation as a whole, ignorant of power inequalities, is redolent of a certain Prime Ministers’s agenda, though even TB wouldn’t, say, allow individual trade unionists to be sued for supporting/enforcing a strike that caused a businessman to miss a lucrative meeting. That organisation would be neutered as a result, and the part of the social fabric that it contributes would be torn.

    I can see a few differences between the Nazi party and Labour party, so I’ll skip that little analogy.

  • Pete Gray

    Well, maybe a little unfair, but it was aimed at the generality of Labour Party members, not at you personally.

    But yes, I do think you and others should have left the party over the civil liberty issues (and it’s not just ID cards, it’s the whole raft of measures which undermine democracy and accountability). What could be more important that the fundamental issue of the relationship between the citizen and the state? Because in the end if we don’t have our civil liberties we won’t get _any_ of the other stuff either, and we have no way to campaign for it. And it’s clear where the government’s priorities lie – I for one am not willing to swallow the shit just because it has a sprinkling of sugar on it.

    I don’t say everyone is equally guilty – but it _is_ a political party – you have the choice to stay or go, and by staying you help to keep the bastards in power, and I think you are deluding yourself if you think otherwise. But if you campaigned in support of the manifesto which included a commitment to ID cards, then yes, I would say you cannot avoid a share in the guilt. You may think it’s more important to have a Labour government, no matter what it does, than to risk not having one. I disagree.

    It is on precisely these grounds that I can tell you I will not vote Labour again. I feel betrayed, but I think now I had been blind to the authoritarian tendencies in New Labour, so it’s partly my own fault. I know better now, and I honestly fear for the kind of country my children will grow up in.

    I didn’t intend an explicit Nazi analogy, merely noting that the phrase ‘collective guilt’ continued the German history theme. What’s worrying though is the similarities that can be pointed out between legislation this so-called Labour Government has pushed through and the enabling legislation that formed the legal basis of the Nazi state. The question, I suppose, is at what point you decide to jump ship – to stop hoping that ‘Things can only get better’ and admit that, in many ways, actually, things have got a hell of a lot worse – with no prospect of improvement.