I’m going to say this now and nip it in the bud, I’m no fan of the Blairite think-tank Progress. But ultimately, this post is not on the ideological flaws and merits of Progress and any personal problems I have with the think-tank. This post is about the continuation of plurality within the Labour party.
In the last week, the Trade Union, GMB, called for the expulsion of Progress as an affiliate organisation to the Labour party. Now whatever you may think of Progress this is indeed a nasty authoritarian streak by the GMB leadership. The Labour party has always prided itself on being a broad church and it’s only through open and fair debate within the party that we can come to a united progressive/social democratic/socialist agreement and movement. Yes, I’ll admit in the last twenty years or so this open debate and communication between different segments of the party has often subdued or ignored. But as a party pluralist and a man of consensus this is the ideal way forward.
If GMB is really not a fan of Progress, how about an open and honest dialogue to attempt to come to a common agreement or even to persuade members of any ideological flaws they may have.
We are stronger united as a Labour party and yet we are still entirely capable of having our own internal disagreements and discussion. Childishly excluding segments of the party will only take steps to further alienate ‘factions’ and even lessen our electability.
Last night I thought I’d be incredibly sad and watch as much as I could of the final Guild Council of the academic year being streamed from GuildTV. I missed most of the first half of the meeting (most of the motions and preamble) due to work. What I did catch was primarily the Guild Officers leaving speeches and I’ll say this now. After listening to the speeches I respect all the Guild Officers so much more (but no change on actual agree and disagreement with them). Probably the most thought provoking and even moving speech was the outgoing Guild President’s, Mark Harrop. I do believe he will have a fair fewer ‘haters’ after last night. Though there was one area of the speech that I did find a problem with, the not so ever present “silent majority”.
I’d like to nip this in the bud now. To say this is a personal attack on Mark (as some short-sighted individuals claimed my tweet from last night regarding this claimed to be) would be hugely misleading and would be over-flattering of our outgoing Guild President. There’s a very small select group of individuals I feel comfortable attacking personally and Mark certainly doesn’t feature as one. As someone who genuinely cares in determining what is true I find it entirely comfortable criticising absolutely any idea. I find it entirely reasonable to point out to individuals when they believe the wrong ideas (given the right circumstances) they are then able to recognise their mistakes, because we are all stupid on issues at some point in our lives. I’m incredibly stupid when it comes to understanding cricket, art, pop culture references and popular music. As I’ve already said, I have a great deal more respect for the outgoing President and all the other outgoing Sabbs after last night. Mentioning Mark in my tweet and this post is not a personal attack as some individuals may claim, it is an attempt to make him and many others realise the flaws in the idea of the “silent majority”.
Moving on, the “silent majority” idea invokes my own personal love/hate fallacy of argumentum ad populum. In a nutshell, the level of popular support has absolutely no bearing on what is right or wrong, true or false. If we’d always bend to the will of the “silent majority” homosexuality would not have been decriminalised in the UK in the 1960s and desegregation in Southern US Schools in the 1950s would have also never have happened. Or at least without it, introduced both far too sooner.
You may ask how this is relevant to the wider Labour party, NOLS and BULS. Sadly far too much. Too often do I hear 60% believe x, 80% support y. So what?! This has no absolutely no bearing on the truth! This personal distaste for argumentum ad populum has been particularly tested over the Diamond Jubilee and to be honest, I’m becoming incredibly tired of hearing it. More often than not, the “silent majority” fallacy is too often produced to legitimise truly false or morally wrong policies and ideas. As someone who cares about the truth and its ultimate pursuit, I hope we would all speak out against such basic yet widespread fallacies.
FYI: I anyone wishes to submit a counter-response to this post please feel free to email it into firstname.lastname@example.org thank you.
I seemed to have developed a particular reputation of disdain for two prominent branches of British society in my final year of University, religion and the institution of the Monarchy. Religion bashing is something I spare for my own personal blog as after all BULS is an entirely secular society. So today my focus will be on the institution of the Monarchy and the case against it.
Unlike some fellow Republicans, I’m not too fussed about the costs it brings. My own personal gripe of the Monarchy is how it undermines our own basic sense of ethics and morality. We can all say as an ideal that we strive to not treat anyone differently or give special privileges or persecute others merely because of their background or the family any individual just happened to be born into. In a nutshell we try not to value an individual’s self-worth on the family they just happened to be born into. This is the very basis of meritocracy and equality (well at least equality of opportunity). Yet, when it comes to the Monarchy we seem to conveniently forget this ideal.
Now personally, I like to have a consistent a world view as possible. If a base ethics works in one area I’m sure as hell it’ll probably apply and work in nearly any other area. And this is what we get from many Royalists, a suspension of such basic ideals and ethics all in the name of making them feel special. This is also an argument I often hear/see “But the majority of people are in favour of the Monarchy.”. So what? Popular support/belief has absolutely no bearing on what is right or wrong, or true or false.
I’d also like to address the famous fallacy from tradition. Last year at my work (Lifeguarding) at around the time of the Royal Wedding where one of the cleaners (a lovely old dear) asked what I’d be doing on the day of the Royal Wedding. I honestly replied, “Oh, I’ll be avoiding the celebrations as much as possible as I don’t think we should have a Monarchy.”. I was met with a disgruntled reply with mutterings of ‘It’s good for tradition.”. I didn’t have the heart to say this at the time as she was an old dear but what I really wanted to say in response was, “So was the bubonic plague for 300 years, and so was persecuting gays and women for hundreds of years and not giving them the vote!”. Like popular support, tradition has no bearing on whether something is right or wrong, or true or false. Tradition is not a reason to keep or get rid of anything.
I realise I’m in a minority here and I realise that my dream of a Republic is far flung dream probably beyond my lifetime. But all changes for the better have to start from some where.