The Orwellian Ironies of the So-Called Labour Party

Drawing by Nathaniel St. Clair

Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is one of the most ghoulish figures in the annals of ambition and mass-murder. In Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the Scottish thane was slowly and mentally unravelled by the fact that he had directly and physically participated in the crime which would lead to his damnation, but Blair’s civilised, manicured fingers have known only privilege and never violence, so I imagine the hundreds of thousands of dead Iraqis probably don’t trouble him that much. I imagine they are not really real to him at all, in fact.  Rather, they are non-entities – props in the theatre of his ugly, hideous, grinning ambition and his preening sense of himself as a really important player on the stage of history.

For his services to the powerful, Blair has toured internationally, making speeches to a global elite which rewards him to the tune of millions.  His property portfolio and business interests make of him one of the richest men in the world.  He is invited on programme after programme in the guise of a venerable elder statesman, he was appointed ‘Peace Envoy’ to the Middle East – but all such attempts to sanitise his image, to unbloody him, are doomed to failure.

For the true monument to his politics will always be the thousands upon thousands of lonely, unmarked graves he has left in his wake.  As Halloween approaches – the festival of the macabre and sinister – one can’t help but wonder if humanity will ever escape his sickening, peg-toothed grin.

Jeremy Bernard Corbyn opposed the wars that Blair helped instigate.  For years he lingered on the backbenches, happy to remain in the shadows, devoid of personal ambition, muddling about with local people, taking part in community initiatives.  One of these happened in 1987, when Islington Council gave planning permission to destroy and build over a historic Jewish cemetery.  Jeremy Corbyn campaigned against this move, and eventually it was defeated.   The leader of the council who had initiated such a plan was someone named Margaret Hodge. 

When Corbyn found himself somewhat unexpectedly thrust into the limelight, he continued campaigning for many of the same grassroots issues.   He highlighted the plight of ordinary people, whether they be immigrants from other countries or British people who were struggling while a government of three-toed, Bullingdon-bred, aristocratic millionaires gleefully harrumphed and hurrahed as they took a match to each and every form of legislation designed to give some slim measure of protection to the poor and the vulnerable. And Corbyn spoke out against the desperate persecution of the Palestinians by the Israeli state, he highlighted the atrocities of the Saudi war machine, and the hypocrisy of those in government who oiled it with their greasy funds.

One of these men has now been suspended from the Labour Party.   It reflects the Orwellian nature of this institution that the suspension of a war criminal of unlimited wealth and ambition is considered unthinkable, yet the suspension of someone of who tried to help safeguard and uplift the poorest in our society is considered to be an astute and necessary move. The hallmark of justice being done.  But perhaps the most Orwellian thing about the Labour Party as it now stands, is that the word ‘Labour’ even appears in the title.

Tony McKenna’s journalism has been featured by Al Jazeera, Salon, The Huffington Post, ABC Australia, New Internationalist, The Progressive, New Statesman and New Humanist. His books include Art, Literature and Culture from a Marxist Perspective (Macmillan), The Dictator, the Revolution, the Machine: A Political Account of Joseph Stalin (Sussex Academic Press), Toward Forever: Radical Reflections on History and Art  (Zero Books), The War Against Marxism: Reification and Revolution (Bloomsbury) and The Face of the Waters (Vulpine). He can be reached on twitter at @MckennaTony