Thursday 27 April 2017

Aiding and abetting

At every election the idea of a ‘progressive alliance’ raises its ugly head once more - this time, given the Tories’ headlong rush towards ever more extreme positions and the Labour Party’s total incoherence, with a little more urgency than usual.  Whilst it appears likely that this time round there may be a small number of informal local ‘understandings’ rather than pacts, as a general approach it is doomed to failure.
One of the reasons for that is that there isn’t a single simple agreed definition of ‘progressive’, nor is there agreement about to whom the adjective can legitimately be applied.  Merely being anti-Tory isn’t enough – and rightly so; if progressive means anything it’s surely more about what people are for, not what they’re against.
As we saw last week, that isn’t a problem for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party.  They have a single simple definition and they know how to apply it in order to reject co-operation with anyone else.  For them, Labour Party = Progressive, Everyone else = Not Progressive.  From that starting point, the only thing you need to know about anyone is whether they’re a member of the Labour Party; once you know that, you know whether they’re ‘progressive’ or not.  So, to choose just one example, pro-Trident, pro-Brexit members of the Labour Party are officially progressive; anti-Trident anti-Brexit members of the SNP are not.
It simply doesn’t matter what policies people support, what they think, or what they do, and it doesn’t matter about the detail of any programme for government – membership of Labour is all it takes to determine the whole question.  For those of us who prefer a more nuanced approach, it’s a pretty good reason in itself (although I can certainly add plenty of others looking at their policies) for concluding that the Labour Party should never be dignified with the label ‘progressive’.  So why do so many independentistas cling to the notion that Labour should be assisted (or ‘aided and abetted’ as I’d prefer to call it)?

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