Saturday, September 12, 2015

So what now?

Atul Hatwal was wrong. As was I. In my case this is not an unusual occurence. Wishful thinking and a failure to account for how much the membership had changed since 2005 gave credence to doubts about the accuracy of the polls. Mind you, it was becoming clearer that this was going to be the case as the election got nearer. Labour insiders knew that it was all over.

It wasn't even close. Corbyn won convincingly in the first round. The only section in which he didn't have an overall majority and thus would have brought second preferences into play was the members's section, but then his lead was so big there it would have been hard to overturn. His victory amongst the £3 registered voters and Trade Union affiliates was overwhelming. The party has also seen all women candidates defeated. That may be significant to its appeal.

I was never New Labour. I thought the contributions of the Blairites to the campaign were grisly and counter productive. My god we needed an alternative to their anodyne politics and economic orthodoxy. What I was hoping for was a new, intelligent left; egalitarian, modern, inclusive. One that would build a credible alternative model of political economy, enhance economic security, embrace principled internationalism and cherish individual liberty. Instead we have the Guardian comments pages. Yes, a new leadership in the spirit of Seumas Milne.

Well, it won't be boring. There is a lot that can happen before 2020, but I don't think that it will end well. I am sixty-three in a few days time. I'm worried that I may not see another Labour government in my lifetime.

Janan Ganesh is right:
The enemy of sound political judgment is the desire for distinctiveness. Commentators sometimes parse straightforward events for surprising nuances or daring new angles because it makes for good copy. But it is better to be right than original. No, a Corbynite Labour party will not cause trouble for the Tories. Mr Cameron will not find him a confounding adversary across the parliamentary dispatch box. Demonstrations will not shake the government. They will not even shake the streets they are held on. Politics will not be reinvented. Mr Corbyn is not “on to something” with his critique of capitalism and western foreign policy. This is a passing commotion whose principal victims are the millions of low-paid Britons who need a serious party of the centre-left.
And it is the last sentence that matters.


Anton Deque said...

I am older than you Peter. I am certain I will not see another Labour goverment.

Marge said...

Corbyn is vile, but the other leadership candidates were hopeless. I heard Andy Burnham speak at a local meeting -- as well as being brainless, he's a wet blob. In fact, that's my description of the Labour Party since the last election -- brainless blobs. I would never vote for Corbyn -- not so much anti-Britain as anti-Western democracy altogether -- but he is better speaker than the three stooges who opposed him.

Josh said...

Peter, have you seen this Labour party development? Its interesting, if odd.

The Plump said...


I think "odd" is putting it mildly! It looks like it comes from a Trotskyist group called Workers' Power, the product of innumerable splits in the far left. Their membership is tiny. Basically, it is bonkers.

roybaintonwrites said...

Speaking as one of the 'purged' who received a sinister 'we have reason to believe' response to my request for a £3 Labour supporter's vote, all I can say is yes, it could well be that at my age, 73, I too will not see another Labour Government in what's left of my fragile life. But if the Labour Party is the new Titanic, at least it'll sink with much of its original old heart still beating in the cadaver. How refreshing it was seeing their conference this year; no Mandelson, no Blair, No Kinnock, no Miliband, just ordinary, naively hopeful enthusiasts for change. Someone on this blog called Corbyn 'vile'. I think that's a bit rich considering the rest of the political landscape. He's asked a question, he answers it. The media prod him as if poking a sharp stick at an aged lion in a zoo. He stays calm. And even Portillo has come out to say that Trident is no deterrent, and will be a massive waste of money. Talk about 'vile'? Read Liam Fox's inhuman speech about Pensioner's benefits, then tell me how 'vile' Corbyn is. The tragedy is we have 4 years before anyone can make a difference, and Iain Duncan Smith still lives. That's vile.

The Plump said...

Roy my old mate,

It's time to explain why we differ on Corbyn. I am a full member and I didn't vote for him. The reason why goes back decades.

Part 1.

It started in the eighties when I came back from teaching English to Palestinians on the West Bank. Having experienced the occupation, I was sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, though had travelled round Israel too and seen the other side. Along with mainstream Palestinian opinion at the time, I supported a two state solution with good relations between the two. So I went to a solidarity meeting. Bloody hell. It consisted of the platform lecturing Iranian Marxists in the audience who had escaped the Khomeni suppression of the left. They were told that they must support the revolution, even though their colleagues were being tortured and murdered in Iranian jails, because it was anti-American and so objectively progressive. The Iranians stormed out in disgust and the Palestinians were scarcely mentioned. I had stumbled upon the far left in full anti-imperialist flow. Bonkers and dangerous. They had also adopted the previously unfashionable Palestinian cause.

It wasn't too bad at first but then it got seriously nasty, especially in the years since 9/11. Pro-Palestinian became a euphemism for virulently anti-Israel, with some nasty anti-Semitic undertones. And gradually it took over. Try and find a leftist who doesn't think that way these days. In the end I gave up arguing about it all, as the abuse got too bad. By then these leftists were forming alliances with the Islamic far right. I saw this as a betrayal of principles and of the Palestinians. And Corbyn was a big part of this. He was also one of the least discriminatory about who he would ally with – Hamas and Hezbollah, certainly, but also check out Raed Salah and Ibrahim Hewitt. These people are genuine fascists. They hate democracy and want to kill people – adulterous women and gays, but most prominently, Jews. Note, not just killing Israelis, but Jews – anywhere. You can see why Jewish Labour supporters are alarmed.

Now I don't think that this is much more than an intellectual fashion. And I know he has tried to spin it as looking for peace, but he hasn't shown the slightest interest in genuine peace movements that I have supported – like One Voice or IPCRI, who are trying to build a cross community links and argue for a two state solution. Nor is he interested in the links and collaboration between Palestinian and Israeli trade unionists (Hamas have persecuted trade unionists). He is a partisan of these movements.

So my antipathy is based on a simple principle. I do not think that anyone who supports, works with and praises fascists should lead the Labour Party.

The Plump said...

Part 2

I have other, more pragmatic concerns. These links of his make him extremely vulnerable to Tory attack. His only defence is to obfuscate and complain about smears, but they are not smears, they are true. He needs to deal with them honestly.

His domestic policy is developing. The economics are weak, but there is a possibility of beginning the task of building an alternative political economy there. But his political strategy of winning power through reducing abstention and bringing in new voters, won't work. What the evidence is pointing to is that the best he can hope for is bigger majorities in constituencies that Labour already hold, but is more likely to turn off voters in the marginal constituencies that Labour must win.

And ultimately, though I can see the personal appeal, I don't think he has the ability to do the job.

It's weird. I couldn't stand New Labour. I was a leftie dissident. I haven't changed my views, but now, according to what I have been told, I am "red Tory scum." Not sure I like that epithet. It is not that the left has won, it is that the WRONG left has won. We have moved from one middle-class fad to another.

I come from the old social democratic tradition, the one that was popular and successful, one that could be developed to suit the very different times we live in today. It was a left/right coalition in the tradition of Tawney, Attlee and Bevin. It was was internationalist, democratic, liberal and tolerant. It has lost.

I agree with you about, "The tragedy is we have 4 years before anyone can make a difference …" My disagreement is that under Corbyn it will be at least ten years before anyone can, and probably longer. We need to win and unless he and his supporters learn and change, he won't.

Yours in fellow stoutness.