Labour's PPB: Fisking the fiskers
A variety of right-wing blogs link to a 'fisking' of Labour's most recent party political broadcast, in which a Liberal Democrat activist attempts to reveal that all the claims made about Labour's achievements are false. A friend who is a historian was kind enough to send me an analysis of their claims:
Broadcast: "“They said that working people were not fit to govern - so we formed the Labour Party”
Criticism: A party where the intellect, stimulus and money was supplied by the decidedly middle-class Fabians and their friends.
Answer: To suggest that early Labour politicians, thinkers and organisers like Kier Hardie, Ramsay MacDonald, George Lansbury, and many others were "decidedly middle-class" or that a party bankrolled by the trade union movement relied for funding on 'middle class Fabians' is a rather weak claim.
Broadcast: “They said that women didn’t deserve the vote”
Criticism: "This glosses carefully over the fact that Emmeline Pankhurst, founder of the main suffragette movement, WSPU, was refused membership of the Independent Labour Party after she was encouraged to do so by her friend Keir Hardie. The refusal was on account of her gender. Several years before her death, Emmaline became concerned by socialism and joined the Conservative Party. We are of course still waiting for a woman to be elected leader of the Labour party, let alone become a Labour Prime Minister. The legislation to extend an equal franchise to women was brought in by Baldwin’s Conservative government in 1928."
Answer: Just before the First World War a male MP resigned his seat to fight it on the issue of Women's Suffrage. He was not a Tory, nor a Liberal, but Labour MP George Lansbury. And given that until 1929 Labour had only had one minority term in office, for a few months, the legislation is hardly an impressive point.
Also worth noting that Emmeline Pankhurst was actually a member of the ILP. To be fair, you have to read halfway down the Wikipedia page to find this out, rather than just the first three paragraphs - I guess to expect this level of research in a fisking is rather unreasonable.
Broadcast: “It seemed impossible to stop the tide of fascism, until Cable Street and a few good men and women got in the way”
Criticism: The ‘good men and women’ were not organised by the Labour Party. Sadly the riots led to the Public Order Act that outlawed political marches without permission. We can see its authoritarian legacy in New Labour’s recent ban on protests near Parliament.
Answer: Er, not in the party political broadcast. If you watch it, you'll see so.
Broadcast: “The shining vision of the NHS was for many an impossible dream, until we created it”
Criticism: The legislation may have been enacted during a Labour government, but the NHS was down to Liberal economist and reformer, William Beveridge, after a report was commissioned by the wartime coalition government. Only three years after the introduction of the NHS as a free at the point of use service, the Labour Chancellor Hugh Gaitskell pushed through prescription charges of one shilling per item and charges for half the cost of dentures and spectacles.
Answer: So if a Tory government passes a voting act it's only thanks to them, but if Labour actually sets up the NHS (against the votes of Tory MPs) it's nothing to do with the Labour Party. The NHS was also set up completely differently to Beveridge's model.
Broadcast: “They said we were wasting our time making a stand against apartheid and that things could never change, but they did”
Criticism: At the 1964 general election, most candidates expressed support for sanctions against South Africa, But once elected, Harold Wilson told the press that the Labour Party was ‘not in favour of trade sanctions’. And whilst the best known anti-apartheid campaigner is now a Labour MP, he was then very much a Young Liberal. The release of Nelson Mandela and the dismantling of apartheid owed nothing to the UK Labour Party.
Answer: The ANC's archive seems to disagree: "Nevertheless, Labour Party support was still vital to the campaign." See here for more information - http://www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/aam/aamhist.html
Broadcast: “And Northern Ireland too”
Criticism: Tony Blair may have got the credit for the grinning photos, but the Prime Minister who made the Good Friday agreement come about was John Major, bravely and often under verbal fire from his own side.
Answer: But funnily enouigh it wasn't until years more of negotiating by Blair and Labour Minister that the Stormont Assembly worked and the IRA renounced violence in 2005.
 I don't think a 'variety' is quite the correct collective noun for right-wing blogs - 'a tedium' ? 'a knee-jerk' ? Suggestions gratefully received