Abbott was also consistently high on the list of Labour dissidents. By , they had been MPs for 78 years between them, and had held no ministerial positions. Rarely in Britain has such a marginal, ideological group become so dominant in a party, so influential in how other parties and the country discuss fundamental issues, and so electorally powerful. The last time such a takeover happened was with the Thatcherites in the 70s. But Thatcher and her band of Tory rebels were, relatively, establishment figures: It is also an argument about the long-term direction of British politics, ever since Thatcherism became dominant in the mids.
What important things about Corbyn, Abbott and McDonnell did most people miss between the 80s and ? And beyond the hostile caricatures and heroic myths, what did the three comrades actually do during these years? The period was not as monochrome and unvarying for them as their detractors often insist: Contrary to the caricaturists, the three comrades did not just teleport from to The period changed them. But at the start of it the Labour left felt it was close to taking power. The Thatcher government was new and deeply unpopular. In then-scruffy boroughs such as Hackney and Islington, immigrants and middle-class incomers with leftwing views were replacing traditional Labour voters, just as they are now.
Corbyn and McDonnell both moved to the capital as young activists in the 70s: Corbyn from a family of middle-class socialists in Shropshire, McDonnell from a working-class trade union background in Liverpool and Great Yarmouth. Before committing to politics, McDonnell had tried training as a Catholic priest. Abbott, born in London to Labour-voting parents from Jamaica, was also drawn during the 70s into this leftwing ferment.
In , a fierce newsletter called London Labour Briefing began appearing. Chris Knight helped found it. A veteran of far-left politics, he had decided that Labour, rather than small sects, offered the best opportunity to change Britain. Briefing, as it became known, had a circulation of a few thousand. Corbyn fitted easily into the Briefing world. When Corbyn was elected to parliament in , Knight and the Briefing collective saw a breakthrough: Jeremy was the first. You have status in the outside world. But Briefing had already achieved a seemingly bigger advance.
We were all thinking: Livingstone made McDonnell his deputy. In reality, the GLC had limited revenues, and the Thatcher government worked hard to limit them further. But McDonnell became adept at finding unforeseen sources of funds, and then distributing them in radical new ways.
To the fury of the government and its press allies, tax income raised by the GLC from businesses became grants for feminist groups and nuclear disarmament.
The GLC revelled in its underdog victories. She had pursued it as a pioneering black working-class student at Cambridge, and through brief jobs at the Home Office, in television, and at the National Council for Civil Liberties now Liberty. And she wanted to become an MP. But he was white, the constituency was increasingly multiracial, and there were no black MPs at all in the Commons.
But she was a black woman, and she was sufficiently on the left to warrant support. Even as the candidate, Abbott remained a slightly isolated, underestimated figure. Almost three-quarters of local voters were white, she was regarded inaccurately by the Labour right as a dogmatic black separatist, and the Conservative candidate was a charming young man called Oliver Letwin. Yet Abbott won easily.
Abbott and three other Labour candidates had become the first non-white MPs since the s.
On her first day in the Commons chamber, Abbott took the seat previously occupied by Enoch Powell. B ut radicals often kid themselves that their moment has come. During the mids, away from inner London, the power of the left was evaporating. The Conservatives won election landslides in and In , Thatcher abolished the GLC. At Briefing, the atmosphere changed. The Labour left did not rethink its ideas, but it lost confidence. The Welsh ex-leftist Neil Kinnock became Labour leader in , and quickly turned against the metropolitan socialists his predecessor, Michael Foot, had tolerated.
Not that Corbyn tried very hard. In parliament, while civil to his superiors, he continued to dress like a 70s activist: In , Corbyn helped Tony Benn stand against Kinnock for the leadership. Abbott also seemed out of step with the times. In fact, despite her smooth public persona, she initially found the expectations and rituals of Commons life quite paralysing: A former Labour activist who has known her for decades told me Abbott felt lonely as a young MP: She was quite needy. For McDonnell, the shift from prodigy to outcast was even starker. In , he lost his GLC positions after a row with Livingstone.
But when the strike collapsed, and councils outside London began to back down, Livingstone wanted to abandon the no-budget strategy. With a fury that was only partly calculated, he took this internal dispute to the media. But the more senior, more realistic Livingstone got his way. From until , McDonnell almost completely disappeared from the national press. After the GLC, he took less controversial, more technical roles for London boroughs.
Candidates needed nominations from 45 MPs to fight the contest to the end. For McDonnell, the shift from prodigy to outcast was even starker. Westminster came to regard them with disdain. Paperback , pages. William Monaghan rated it it was amazing Jul 21,
He stood as an MP for Hayes and Harlington in , but lost by 53 votes, and was forced to pay damages for libelling his equally abrasive Tory opponent, Terry Dicks. By the mids, McDonnell, Abbott and Corbyn were all in their mids. Their years of youthful promise were gone.
And the next shift in the political weather, from the Conservatives to Labour, would only push them further to the margins. F rustrated exiles need coping strategies. I just want to get on with things, Bob. There would be no interest from the [Labour] front bench. He and I would get as many MPs as possible to sign a letter of protest to the Colombian embassy. Very often, it did the trick.
Corbyn also did practical politics in his constituency.
Corbyn quickly made himself ubiquitous. In the constituency party bought a building on the busy Seven Sisters Road as a base for this street politics. Corbyn had developed a politics that worked, up to a point, without Westminster. Abbott found it harder. In Hackney, the tensions and expectations surrounding her selection as a candidate and subsequent election lingered. She was threatened by racists, and by black separatists who believed she should not work with white MPs.
She did not move through the unevenly gentrified streets of her constituency as constantly and confidently as Corbyn did, but lived at first in a gated road. In parliament, unlike him, she could be dazzling. Less helpfully for her prospects, Abbott also showed no deference towards Labour leaders. In , backbenchers were summoned in groups to see Blair, then the lauded premier-in-waiting. These would turn out to be acute criticisms. New Labour would increasingly take leftwing and working-class voters for granted, assuming they had no other party to vote for, and would shed millions of votes as a consequence.
But in the 90s, this process had barely begun. In , the party returned to power with its biggest-ever majority. T he first half dozen years of the Blair government were a tough new environment for Labour dissidents. By the late 90s, it was still meeting weekly, assessing government policy, and organizing Commons revolts. But it only had about 30 members, including Abbott, Corbyn and McDonnell, and most of them were middle-aged or older. Since Labour had a majority of more than between and , the more patient Blairites realised there was no need to silence the group, or expel its most disloyal members from the party.
Instead, new MPs were discouraged from joining the group — or even contacting its members. Careers can be ruined that way. They were kept off Commons select committees by the party hierarchy. He became politically active with the NPD not long afterward because of his interest in the cause of German reunification. From the start of his political life onward, Welf experienced persecution by left-wing fanatics, even having eggs thrown at him during the very first political rally he ever attended. While traveling in South America during the early s, Herfurth became aware of the pernicious effect of U.
He was dismissed from three different jobs in West Germany because of his political activities. Eventually settling in Australia and becoming a successful businessman, Welf has been involved in dissident politics in that country for a quarter century, even achieving high level positions in party politics and working in parliament.
A Life in the Political Wilderness [Welf Herfurth, Tomislav Sunic, Troy Southgate, Tim Johnstone] on linawycatuzy.gq *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Editorial Reviews. About the Author. Welf Herfurth was born in in Goslar, Germany, and A Life in the Political Wilderness by [Herfurth, Welf].
Along the way, he has also continued to travel extensively, having visited nearly seventy different countries. These issues include the mass media, economics, international relations, political repression, culture, women, questions of political strategy, immigration and race. Unlike many nationalists, he refrains from denigrating or attacking other races and cultures, and indeed expresses a profound respect for the many variations of human culture that he has experienced during the course of his travels. He asks the question of why, for instance, the Left should have a monopoly on environmentalism?
On many economic questions, he follows the lead of many of the nationalist parties of Europe in taking essentially left-wing positions. Aside from their immigration restrictionist views, the BNP, National Front, and NPD are arguably the most left-wing parties in their respective nations on economic matters. Herfurth likewise points to the struggle of the Tibetans and the Palestinians to preserve their traditional ethno-cultures and national sovereignties in the face of political and demographic aggression by the Chinese Communist Party or the Zionist state.
Welf and his fellow New Right and National-Anarchist activists in Australia have participated in left-wing demonstrations and activities, much to the frustration of the more conventional Left. Welf examines the heretical question of why this is so. While reading this book, I was amazed by the fact that Welf and I have come to nearly identical conclusions on so many questions but from opposite ends of the political spectrum. Libertarian Party, and other not exactly rightist organizations. Then as now, my primary areas of interest were the growth of plutocracy in the United States and the declining economic condition of the working to middle classes, aggressive war carried out by the American empire, the ongoing expansion of the police state in the name of fighting crime, drugs, or guns and, subsequently, terrorism , and the all-pervasive statism endemic to modern societies which seemingly has no end.
The values of the present day hard left are a kind of caricature of the norms of the liberal establishment that approaches the level of parody. A particularly obvious example is the antifa phenomena. Additionally, I came to realize that my own ideals were essentially an outgrowth of the wider cultural and intellectual heritage of the West and that the unrestrained importation of immigrants with no similar cultural heritage was not compatible with those ideals.
Finally, I came to understand the role of mass immigration as a weapon being utilized for the sake of strengthening the state and the plutocracy at the cost of the dispossession of the working to middle classes and the lower proletariat and lumpenproletarian orders alike. The state by itself does not comprise the full body of the elite or the ruling class as a whole. Rather, the state is the core institution through which layered networks of systems of institutional power interact.