Labour: Not The Few

What does Labour's slogan For the many, not the few, mean?

I started to think about 'the few' and what would happen to them under a Corbyn Labour Government.

One meaning of the slogan would be that Labour would not favour the few but would do its best for everyone.

But I started to think that that wasn't what was intended. It doesn't say 'for everyone', it says 'for the many, not the few.

Well, it's open to different interpretations. Maybe. So I researched the origin of the slogan.

In May 2017, In Defence Of Marxism reported that in a speech given in Whitechapel on April 29th, Jeremy Corbyn launched For the many, not the few as the Labour Party's slogan for the general election.

In August 2017, Jacqueline Mulhallen reported that at the end of the election campaign on June 7, 2017, Corbyn gave a speech in Islington which ended with his quoting the following stanza:

Rise like lions after slumber In unfathomable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep have fallen on you –
Ye are many, they are few.

This is the last stanza from The Masque Of Anarchy written by Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1819 to commemorate the Peterloo massacre.

Peterloo happened at St Peter's Field, Manchester, on 16 August 1819, when cavalry charged into a crowd of thousands who were demanding parliamentary reform.

The hussars with their sabres killed fifteen people and injured hundreds.

The Masque Of Anarchy is a long poem, nearly 400 lines, but it is essentially simple. It is about tyrants, and the overthrow of tyrants.

Labour under Corbyn sees 'them and us'. He may be right. There are different ways to look at history.

In 1920s Russia the few were put up against the wall. They weren't part of the 'us'. They never could be. They would always be dangerous tyrants or tyrants in waiting.

So act against the few for the benefit of the many.

That is the meaning of the Labour Party's slogan under Corbyn.

I read that Mike Leigh has brought out a film to commemorate the Peterloo Massacre.

I thought it was a coincidence until I read about the origin of Labour's slogan.

Now I am pretty sure that when Corbyn says for the many not the few it doesn't mean the many includes the few because we're all under one roof.

What it means is definitely not for the few, definitely not for the few to the extent that if this were 1920s Russia (which of course it's not) then we would put the few up against the wall. We would do it because the few are on the other side of some great divide.

He means they would do it because the few are the opponents who oppress us and there's no room for them and there's no rehabilitation for them.

He means they would do it because there is no bringing them into the fold. There is no making them part of us because we are against them because they oppress us.

So when Corbyn says for the many not the few he means you better watch out you few because that's what we're going to do. When we are in power we are going to oppress you.

So what's wrong with that if the few have been oppressing the many?

Well, because it's not true. After five years of a coalition Government, who did we vote in? The Conservatives.

All those people oppressed by the bedroom tax; all those people with their benefits cut; all the food banks.

Didn't our hearts go out to them? Didn't we all want to pull together?

No.

It was I'm alright, Jack.

If there is no 'we' then Margaret Thatcher had it right. There is no society. There are only people desperate to be seen as better off than the poor buggers beneath them.

Maybe.

I think Corbyn doesn't care. He just wants to get into power so he can start dismantling banks and all the instruments of oppression as he sees them.

Ah, if we were all angels who would never take advantage of our situation if we had the chance.

And if that is wrong, and we can all pull together, then deciding that the few are the irredeemable few is deeply unpleasant.

How I Vote

Were it not for Corbyn and McDonnell - the hidden men - then I would vote Labour.

As it is, I cannot.

I see the advice given by A C Grayling as the only option.

That is, to vote tactically for the Lib Dems as the only party openly pro European - and send a message to the main parties that their path is not one I want to take.