esias - Chris Hedges - Asa Winstanley - Kinnock: The Inside Story TV - Anthony Howard on Harold Wilson TV - Secret History TV - Cutting Edge TV - Tony Benn: Labour's Lost Leader TV - Labour's Old Romantic TV - David Reynolds: The Improbable Mr Attlee TV - Mick Lynch -
My name is Sir Keir Starmer
I’ve the brain of a Chilean llama
My enemy’s the left
Of principles I’m bereft
And I’ve the charm of a Jeffrey Dahmer. esias ryder, 2023
When the socialist Jeremy Corbyn became the leader of the Labour Party in Britain in 2015 and mounted a grass roots campaign in 2017 the ruling corporate elite along with the war industry panicked. They conspired with the Israel lobby to mount a vicious campaign of character assassination and his supporters accusing them even if they were Jewish of antisemitism. Corbyn has long been a supporter of Palestinian rights. The media did its part to crucify Corbyn as a bigot while the Labour Party officials ruthlessly purged the party of Corbyn supporters. Corbyn was eventually driven out of the party in 2020. Chris Hedges, The Persecution of Jeremy Corbyn, Youtube 30.34, 2023
Corbyn had barely arrived as Labour leader in 2015 before a senior serving general in the British Armed Forces warned the Sunday Times that there would be a mutiny if Corbyn were elected prime minister. Asa Winstanley, Weaponising Anti-Semitism
I considered myself then and I consider myself now to be a personal political failure. How can it be otherwise? Kinnock: The Inside Story I: The Path to Leadership, LWT 1993
The story of Neil Kinnock and of how he devoted his life to transforming the Labour Party has its roots in Tredegar. ibid.
Kinnock joined the Labour Party aged 15 and pursued his political career at Cardiff University where he was president of the Union. ibid.
He came from the Left. His views were clear and uncompromising … ‘Can you have socialism in a capitalist, in a market economy? And the answer is no. There are far too many paradoxes.’ ibid.
This preaching took Kinnock across the country. He covered thousands of miles to address hundreds of meetings of local parties and trade unions. ibid.
He was now tiring for the Left’s zeal for internal party reform. ibid.
Foot and Kinnock had neighbouring constituencies in South Wales. ibid.
Labour’s divisions were laid bare for all to see. ibid.
As Benn’s support grew he looked set to oust Healey. Kinnock increasingly concerned about the harm the contest was doing to the party resolved to act. He now chose to make his final and decisive break with the Left. ibid.
Where the Conservatives led by Margaret Thatcher were slick and professional, Labour was simply bedraggled. ibid.
‘Neil caught the mood of the Labour Party in 1983.’ ibid. Hattersley
‘You can’t play politics with people’s jobs and with people’s services.’ Kinnock: The Inside Story II: Enemies Within
‘Show us the same loyalty to our class that she shows to her class.’ ibid. Scargill
The party he had inherited was demoralised and divided. There seemed no way out. ibid.
But Kinnock’s attempts to put the case for coal were undermined by his failure to insist on a ballot. ibid.
That moment was to come at the 1985 party conference … Opponents and supporters of Scargill clashed on the conference floor. ibid.
Neil Kinnock had been slow to tackle Arthur Scargill but he was determined to tackle the Militant Tendency head-on. ibid.
When it really mattered and with the country watching he couldn’t deliver … ‘I haven’t forgiven myself for that failing.’ ibid.
1987: For a while it looked like they were back in the fray … Thatcher stacked up another three-figure majority. ibid.
Despite the years of hard grind the party he led had won barely 31% of the vote and gained only 20 more seats. The Tories of Westminster were as strong as ever. Kinnock: The Inside Story III: Pursuit of Power
Kinnock began the police review in 1987 … The Mandelson/Hewitt presentation didn’t pull any punches. ibid.
Kinnock by 1988 had grown weary of the job of Labour leader. ibid.
That autumn Neil Kinnock and Roy Hattersley fought off their challengers. ibid.
All his life Neil Kinnock had been committed to scrapping Britain’s nuclear weapons. But now Kinnock believed it was a policy his party could no longer afford. ibid.
Neil Kinnock’s Labour Party was changing: it was now pro the bomb, committed to Europe, lukewarm on nationalisation, and perhaps most important of all, it was willing to acknowledge explicitly the strength of the free market. ibid.
‘He pounded your face in the dirt. It was bludgeon, bludgeon, bludgeon.’ ibid. Ken Livingstone
With Margaret Thatcher went Labour’s huge opinion poll leads … The problem was how to land a punch on the new prime minister. Kinnock: The Inside Story IV: Victory Denied
Shadow cabinet members were uneasy with the whole style Kinnock had set. ibid.
According to these polls, Neil Kinnock was clearly heading for Downing Street. ibid.
On the evening of Wednesday April 1st the Labour Party staged the biggest political rally ever staged in Britain. Kinnock himself now plays down the significance of Sheffield. ibid.
Despite his eight years as Labour leader, Kinnock had never won the trust or respect of the electorate as a whole. ibid.
The Kinnock factor it seemed was now one of the biggest obstacles to voting Labour. ibid.
In the final days of the campaign Neil Kinnock began to sense he would never make it to power. ibid.
It was a disastrous night for Neil Kinnock and for his party. The swing to Labour was a mere 2%. ibid.
Only three men have led the Labour Party to victory in its entire history: Ramsay McDonald, Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson. Of this trio Wilson was the most successful. Anthony Howard on Harold Wilson, BBC 1995
The other fixed point in his life was the local Baptist chapel.
At the age of 31 he was catapulted into the cabinet as president of the Board of Trade. ibid.
Bevan and Wilson wanted to see cuts in Defence rather than impose NHS charges. ibid.
‘Harold was hated by Gaitskellites.’ ibid. Tony Benn
‘There were malcontents in MI5 who were right wing, malicious.’ Secret History: Harold History: The Final Days, Channel 4 1996
On March 16th 1976 Harold Wilson resigned as prime minister. He was just two years into his second term of office and still only sixty. His resignation stunned the nation. Extraordinary rumours began to circulate that some dark secret had forced him from office. ibid.
From the beginning of his political career he’d been monitored by his own security service, MI5. ibid.
The obsession that he was being targeted began to dominate life at Number 10. ibid.
He was a broken man: physically, mentally and politicly. ibid.
Labour supporters were cautiously optimistic about winning the next election. But then in a few short months all their hopes were dashed. A devastating series of strikes brought the country to a halt and changed the face of British politics for ever. Secret History: Winter of Discontent, Channel 4 1998
Labour was cast into the wilderness for 19 years and union power was smashed. ibid.
The trade unions were fed up after 3 years of incomes policy. ibid.
The first big test came with the pay negotiations at Ford … The unions finally accepted an odder of around 17% … The Ford settlement burst the way policy dam. ibid.
The 5% pay limit was being ignored by almost everyone except the government. ibid.
‘Crisis. What Crisis?’ ibid. The Sun headline
He was tired … He was drinking … He was obsessed by the fear that everything was bugged … On March 16th 1976 Harold Wilson resigned as prime minister; he was just two years into his second term of office and still only sixty. His resignation stunned the nation. Extraordinary rumours began to circulate that some dark secret had forced him from office. Secret History s4e5: Harold Wilson: The Final Days, Channel 4 1996
Heath called an election; Wilson entered the contest as underdog. In a dramatic finish Wilson won by a whisker. ibid.
Gossip about Harold Wilson and Marsha Williams’ relationship had long provided temptation for Wilson’s opponents. ibid.
He’d been monitored by his own security service MI5. ibid.
Wilson maintained his links with Russia. ibid.
In 1963 the Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell died of an unusual liver disease. ibid.
There had been a spate of burglaries at the homes and offices of his staff and himself. ibid.
Wilson was becoming paranoid. ibid.
He was a broken man. ibid.