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British Labour and its woes August 2, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Thanks to the person who directed me to this thought provoking piece here by Owen Jones.

One point that is very good are his suggestions re immigration and moving it beyond the capture of the right.

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1. Ed - August 2, 2016

I have to say, I would be much more open to that kind of analysis coming from someone other than Owen Jones. There’s a real whiff of ego off his interventions lately; I get the impression that he wants all of the benefits of being part of Corbyn’s inner circle—access, influence etc—without any quid pro quo in terms of loyalty and willingness to go out and scrap on his behalf. During the manufactured anti-semitism row, Jones wouldn’t take a stand against it; when the leadership heave against Corbyn was at its peak, he pointedly refused to support him and then spent the next week hawking the idea of Corbyn standing down in favour of an imaginary compromise candidate (the Labour right-wing had no interest in any compromise, they weren’t going to depose Corbyn just to allow someone with similar politics to take over, so keeping alive the idea of Corbyn standing down was just playing into his hands and disorientating his supporters). I’ve noticed him popping up in various political Facebook threads over the last day or so and he never engages with the thoughtful comments from people criticising his article, he just seems to gravitate towards the people who say ‘sell-out wanker!’ or whatever it might be; I get the sense that he’s in his comfort zone if he can tell himself that all his critics are like that.

Paul Mason has been vastly superior to Jones, especially over the last couple of months. He had a good piece on the same site during the week:

View story at Medium.com

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Ed - August 2, 2016

‘playing into THEIR hands’ there of course

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CMK - August 2, 2016

This is a good response to Mason, fully in the spirit of comradely discussion. I particularly like Gilbert’s point that many Trotskyists and lifelong Bennites don’t really appreciate just how Right wing the Labour right wing are. I agree that Mason has been far superior to Lord Jones of Manchester MBE.

https://jeremygilbertwriting.wordpress.com/2016/08/01/a-response-to-paul-masons-labour-the-way-ahead/

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WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2016

That’s fair enough re Jones not necessarily being best placed to make a case – though I wonder how much is perception. Taking all out stands if one is attempting to keep lines of communications across the party together into different camps may be counter productive. I’ve been through one split and left a party myself over its direction and in neither instance did I sever links completely with any camp (granted I was a foot soldier, but I think the approach is understandable, particularly given how broad the LP actually is and has always been). Clearly Jones is conflicted, but I think the questions he raises are fair enough and are well worth, actually essential, for Corbyn et al to deal with both during this period and after once the leadership issue is settled.

Mason’s stuff is particularly good too. But again, is this news that the BLP is a very broad church indeed? I was a member in the early 1990s and it certainly was as such then and long before). I think Gilbert’s piece is well worth consideration, that those on the LP right aren’t as he puts it bad people, or not all or most, but they are mild social democrats of the late 20th century vintage. But that’s the LP. It’s never been a massive vehicle for radicalism. And I also think he’s right that a split LP would result in a larger PP that would be from the off gifted more substance than a left rival (and would probably drag significant numbers, sufficient to give it a certain life, with it).

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CMK - August 2, 2016

My view of Jones is that he clearly has zero political nous. There is a time and a place for critique, and he raises some reasonable points. However, in the context of the all out media offensive against Corbyn he should have, perhaps, cooled his jets. Corbyn will still win but it’s clear Jones is less and less enamoured of the Corbyn project. As such his alternative is Smith, who seems the antithesis of all Jones has polemicised against since he rose to promise. Jones doesn’t seem to realise that in politics you sometimes have to pick a side and fight for your side despite often serious misgivings about your side.

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WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2016

And yet, one could ask how would not airing questions, and he’s careful not to say he doesn’t want Corbyn there, assist? There are significant gaps in the areas he points too and not addressing them just makes it easier for those who oppose Corbyn to oppose him. Rallying found the flag is good, enthusiasm is good but I think this is a time when minds as well as hearts have to be engaged with. What is striking for me as someone who likes Corbyn etc and wishes his project well is that there’s been a softening of support amongst a range of peoplewho I’d have expected better from. They’re not all Blairite opportunists or careerists or whatever, but they are making calculations based on a range of factors and it seems to me that shoring up those areas the piece discusses is one good way to minimise losses there.

I’ve been thinking further about the situation of a split party and it seems to me that the very nature of the electoral system predicates against a smaller left and larger soft SD formation. I’d put money on the latter winning through. I think averting a split is absolutely essential.

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WorldbyStorm - August 2, 2016

And just add, is it entirely correct to say Jones is less enamoured of the Corbyn project as much as the prosecution of that project…and particularly media and presentational approaches. Again as someone supportive of Corbyn some unwise hostages to fortune were made from the off. Now neither you or I think that justifies what has happened and the abysmal lack of space and time given to him (not to mention the unfairness of the media) but it has been grist to the mill and parties have to engage with this in the context of vying for state power. It cannot be ignored.

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CMK - August 3, 2016

I think the media critique of Corbyn is actually the most disingenuous part of Jones’ questions. OK, Corbyn is not a great media performer; Smith looked even worse. But the scale of the attacks on Corbyn, which are clearly closely co-ordinated and organised, means he hasn’t had a genuine chance to get his message out there. There are clear conflicts of interest in how senior BBC journalists and editors have close links to the Tories, and the Guardian gang’s equally close links with the Blairites.

Jones demand that Corbyn make convincing arguments while he, Corbyn, can hardly get a word in edge ways, is evidence, for me, that Jones has cut Corbyn loose and is waiting for things to play themselves out.

I’ve no axe to grind for Corbyn but right now, in 2016, in the UK if you want to see any advance for the Left you are under an obligation to back Corbyn (with all caveats etc). Equivocating at this point in the process is to back Smith and all he represents.

Anyway, perhaps Jones is drafting a ‘Questions’ piece aimed at all those anti-Corbyn forces to see how they plan to improve matters for a UK working class that has seen real incomes decline 10.4% between 2007-2015.

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2. ejh - August 2, 2016

It’s late here and Owen’s Twitter timeline is too full for me to pick through it, but it should be said that he’s gone out of his way to observe that most responses to his piece have been positive. This

he just seems to gravitate towards the people who say ‘sell-out wanker!’ or whatever it might be; I get the sense that he’s in his comfort zone if he can tell himself that all his critics are like that.

hasn’t really been the case.

I’ve not read the Gilbert piece: if he’s being comradely that would be a welcome development.

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Ed - August 2, 2016

I was going by what seemed to be his approach when sticking his oar in on Facebook threads there, I can’t say what his approach has been on Twitter (I don’t have an account, in a forlorn attempt to keep away from whatever the latest online shitstorm has been). I did see someone point out that there were vastly more tweets from Corbyn-bashers saying ‘OMG I can’t believe that Owen Jones is being called a Blairite traitor!!!’ than there were actual tweets calling him a Blairite traitor (or whatever it might be). Which didn’t stop the Standard from dedicating an entire article to the subject of Owen Jones being called a Blairite traitor, which has now been seen by God knows how many people … and on and on it goes.

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3. Ed - August 2, 2016

WBS, if I was going to write a detailed response to Jones’s blog for a general audience, I would try and stick to answering his questions as clearly and convincingly as possible and avoid questioning his motives, I think that’s the wisest approach (and there have already been several posts doing just that). But I’d do it with gritted teeth to be honest; I don’t go around looking for reasons to find fault with people who are broadly speaking on our side, I try to err on the side of generosity, but I’ve watched the positions that he’s taken since Corbyn became leader and I really haven’t been impressed. To put it bluntly, I just don’t trust him.

I think CMK’s point about his lack of political nous is on the ball – ironically, since he does seem to position himself very self-consciously as a smart political strategist who’s well able to dispense advice – and I also think he’s not keen to get into a scrap when the going gets rough. His instinct seems to be to look for a compromise and avoid a head-on confrontation, but when the other side have no interest in compromise, where does that leave you? I can see parallels between the line he’s been talking and the old Labour soft left in the 80s; once they’d done their job of helping to isolate, contain and defeat the Bennites, they quickly melted away as an independent current and merged with the Labour right. I hope that’s not where Jones ends up, but we’ll see how things work out.

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Ed - August 2, 2016

BTW one of the problems here is that questions like this are being debated on social media, especially Twitter, which by their nature don’t lend themselves to making a nuanced argument; with 140 characters to play with, crude sloganeering and name-calling is always going to be easier to get across than a reasonably sophisticated point or two. Add in the fact that everyone is shooting from the hip, posting their thoughts almost as soon as they’ve thought them … I know this isn’t a very original observation but it’s worth making anyway I think. If I was trying to get across what I’ve said here about Jones on Twitter or Facebook, it would have to be much shorter and cruder; and it would probably get a response from someone saying ‘oh, so you think Owen Jones is the enemy now? #corbyncult’ or something similar, and before you know it you’ve got a race to the bottom in facile one-liners.

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WorldbyStorm - August 3, 2016

I’ve never felt reading Jones that he does see himself as a smart political strategist. Anything but. He seems to me to be a world away from that, much more interested in offering a case than a path through (whereas ironically Mason seems to me to be much more someone who thinks he has a plan). All that said I do appreciate this is a matter of perception, and that your sense of a lack of trust is grounded in your engagement with this where you are.

Completely agree. The social media aspect of this is pure poison, and in all aspects. It doesn’t leave much room for those of us like here, you, me, CMK, etc, who’re willing to tease it out – or feel the necessity to do so.

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Ed - August 3, 2016

I’ll put it this way – I don’t just divide the political field into friends and enemies; you can have various shades in between. But I think I’d see Jones as a flaky, unreliable ally, and in certain situations, that can be almost as damaging as an outright opponent; at least with the latter, you know where you stand, whereas an unreliable ally can desert your side at a crucial moment and do real harm.

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WorldbyStorm - August 3, 2016

I guess I’m a bit leery about criticising people who haven’t come out against Corbyn. The latter is one thing, if he does come out as such fair enough, but raising questions is a different matter.

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4. Clem Attlee the 3rd - August 3, 2016

Of course we will see where Owen Jones ends up, but it probably won’t be the House of Lords, though I see he has already joined the ‘establishment’ according to one internet meme. We will also see where Jeremy Corbyn ends up and unfortunately it won’t be 10 Downing Street. If Labour loses the next election he is gone; and perhaps the internet obsessives will reflect on whether getting big crowds of the converted to rallies is more important than winning hearts and minds among a working class that shares very few of their preoccupations. But calling people names online is better fun so I’m sure lots of them will stick to that. And we will have Tory rule (with perhaps UKIP winning former Labour seats) for the foreseeable.

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Ed - August 3, 2016

‘Internet obsessives’, ‘calling people names online’—self-awareness much? I don’t need Owen Jones to tell me that Labour has a mountain to climb if it’s going to win the next election—one of the reasons people were irritated by his blog was the implication that nobody was thinking about those questions before he weighed in—and I don’t need you to tell me what I’m allowed to think about Jones, either; I’ve given my reasons for distrust already on this thread, based on his record over the last year, and if you’re inclined to dismiss that as ‘calling people names online’, that’s up to you.

I can’t think of anything that’s more likely to result in UKIP winning Labour seats than handing the leadership over to Smith or someone of that ilk. They were the ones who hollowed out the Labour base in Scotland, Wales and northern England in the first place, making it possible for the SNP and UKIP to make gains at Labour’s expense (vastly more successfully in the SNP’s case, of course). Their only idea for how to address the profound alienation of millions of working-class people from the political process in general and the Labour Party in particular is to carry on with the same economic policies that have wrecked those communities while railing against immigrants and waving flags at every opportunity. It wouldn’t be a desirable strategy even if it could work, which it definitely won’t.

Corbyn’s supporters are well aware that it’s vital to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of the wider working class, but they also understand very well that if Corbyn is deposed as leader by the Labour right wing, that question will be moot: the leadership election rules will be changed to make sure nothing like this can ever happen again, everything will be done to make the new members unwelcome and impotent so they leave in disgust, Labour will be restored to its former status as a pro-war, pro-austerity party in hock to big business, and it will proceed to lose the next election anyway. If you want indefinite Tory rule, vote for Smith, it’s the surest way to achieve that goal. Right now, the only way to keep open the window of opportunity is to see off the leadership challenge. It’s extremely frustrating that the Labour leadership have been denied the opportunity to turn outwards and put their message across by this attempted heave, especially at a time when the Tories should be on the back foot after plunging the country into years of uncertainty and a likely recession. But that situation was forced on them; the only way they could have avoided it would have been to roll over and die when Benn, Eagle and co moved into action. Right now, keeping Corbyn in place as leader is the necessary condition for winning over the wider working class to a left-wing programme once the leadership election is over; it’s certainly not a sufficient condition, but it is a necessary one. I would trust Jones a bit more if he was prepared to state that loudly and clearly while raising other questions that need to be tackled.

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WorldbyStorm - August 3, 2016

One thing that strikes me is a bizarre optimism on the part of the anti-corbyn people (and some pro-corbyn people) that the next election is winnable. I don’t think that has ever been a realistic option, at least not the way things are going even before there was the outright attacks on him. What Corbyn should be doing, and is to an extent, is keeping the ship afloat, positioning it for the future, and that’s a necessary and important task and one that has to and does encompass winning subsequent elections.

It’s not absolutely inevitable, but I think the Tories have the next election locked in, probably since Brexit but most likely long before. This is what frustrates me so much about the anti-Corbyn camp, that this is a most likely a given yet they pretend that it isn’t.

As to a left wing programme, well, I’ve long criticised Corbyn from the left and I don’t think that that is – given the actual nature of the LP, massively likely. Corbyn and Milibands programmes are actually pretty similar, and that’s probably as good as it gets with the BLP even with newish members, even with Corbyn, for quite some time to come. This is, after all, the BLP, it’snot some party with a massive base of left-wingers just champing at the bit. It’s people who have stuck with it through twenty odd years of Blairism. There’s a tendency to see the PLP as anomalous, but I’m a lot less optimistic on that score. I think they probably reflect a good chunk of the base. And that base is the base that has got people elected across years. Again, this is why I think a split is a disastrous outcome. Shifting leftwards is going to be much much slower than some seem to think. And it will be a project that will outlast Corbyn and by quite some time.

I may well be wrong but I think at this point it is more useful to focus on that than being overly concerned by Jones et al. Jones hasn’t renounced Corbyn as of yet and let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Even if he did I don’t think it would materially affect things, not least because Corbyn is overwhelmingly likely, and correctly so and with full justification, to win the contest.

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Michael Carley - August 3, 2016

What Corbyn gets, and the mainstream Labour party hasn’t for a long time, is that you need to be able to act when you’re not in government. Labour has not held power for very much of its history, but when there was a strong labour movement, it could defend the advances made by the party when it did have power: Thatcher was right about the socialist ratchet.

The present mainstream is a PLP which thinks you can’t do anything without being in government, and refuses to do anything when it is in government because then it might not get back into government.

Corbynism, if there is such a thing, is the idea that social movements can act whether or not there is a Labour government so that we go forwards when Labour is in, and don’t go backwards when the Tories are.

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5. Torheit - August 3, 2016

So what about answering some of Jones’ questions?

For instance

“Where is the clear vision?”

Being “anti-austerity” without a clear plan on how to defeat the neoliberal elites doesn’t provide people with much of a platform in which to emotionally and intellectually invest in.

But points taken on poor political timing.

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Ed - August 3, 2016

This is one direct answer to Jones:

http://anotherangryvoice.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/some-answers-to-owen-jones-questions.html

And along with the Mason piece linked to above, here are a couple of articles about Labour’s current situation that address similar questions:

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/08/labour-party-jeremy-corbyn-leadership-clp/

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2016/08/labour-jeremy-corbyn-owen-smith-momentum-blairite/

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WorldbyStorm - August 3, 2016

That’s good, and to me that’s a strength, not a weakness, in terms of people asking questions, engaging, etc. I think the absolute worst thing would be questions not being asked, sidelined or whatever. The only way forward is through discussion, testing, and so on. If I was Corbyn et al I’d make that part and parcel of the approach.

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CMK - August 3, 2016

This is entertaining:

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/03/new-labour-brought-hope-jeremy-corbyn-has-brought-despair

The delusions of Blairism brazenly trumpeted as virtues. No mention that the Tories are only carrying on the work of New Labour who started the whole process of privatising the NHS, for instance.

It is a useful summary of what the Blairites think there are and were at.

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Ed - August 3, 2016

Another source of hope for Akehurst: Netanyahu and chums.

http://www.webelieveinisrael.org.uk/people/luke-akehurst/

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6. sonofstan - August 5, 2016

The Labour Party have finally conceded I exist and have found me on the electoral register. I’m not out of the woods yet though:

Dear S***,

Thank you for registering for a vote in the Labour leadership election. We can confirm that we have matched you on the electoral register, your application has been processed and £25 has been successfully taken.

Your right to vote

To vote in the leadership election, all applicants must support the aims and objectives of the Labour Party, and not be a supporter of any organisation opposed to it.

If at any point we discover that you do not support the aims and values of the Party or are in breach of the terms and conditions this could lead to you losing your right to vote in the upcoming leadership election. In these instances, we will contact you with an explanation”

Does the bit in bold cover members of the PLP also?

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Ed - August 5, 2016

I hope you haven’t rolled your eyes at anyone. Or called anyone a ‘Blairite’.

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7. Pasionario - August 10, 2016

To boil Jones’s case down to a single sentence:

What Corbyn represents is laudable, but the man himself is a total dud.

I can’t disagree there, I’m afraid.

And while I still hope Corbyn beats Oily Smith, I also hope he has enough sense to hand over to someone younger with better political chops (Jones suggests Clive Lewis) within a year or two.

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ivorthorne - August 10, 2016

I think that’s half the point. He’s a dud who hasn’t changed in 30 years. He doesn’t bother with Blair style PR.

To those who have grown up with New Labour and politics by polling and PR, this is practically revolutionary.

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Pasionario - August 10, 2016

No, it’s not Blair-style PR he’s missing.

He’s useless at basic organisational tasks and man management. And his performances at PMQs are a joke. He’s also failed to develop any detailed policies and his own leading advisors have thrown up their hands and quit.

Indeed, Corbyn is in his own way more style than substance. That style may be a kind of anti-style (rambling speeches, bad suits, organisational chaos), but if that’s what people like about him, then that makes for a rather superficial political outlook.

I’m still voting for him but I have no illusions. It’s a bloody mess.

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Ed - August 10, 2016

“His own leading advisors have thrown up their hands and quit.”

That’s another myth, I’m afraid. Thomas Piketty said that he didn’t have time (had never had time, in fact) to work on a Labour policy committee; it was misreported by the Guardian as a political breach with Corbyn. David Blanchflower seemed to have bought the ‘Corbyn sabotaged the Remain campaign’ nonsense hook, line and sinker and gave that as his reason for storming out immediately after the Brexit vote; if Blanchflower is credulous enough to believe such half-baked rubbish, he has to take responsibility for that himself. Other members of Labour’s economic policy team (put together by McDonnell, not Corbyn, incidentally) confirmed that they were staying on.

As for man management – well, if you can propose any man-management strategy that could keep Labour’s right wing on board, I’d like to hear it. There are irreconcilable political differences between them and Corbyn and it would be exactly the same for any leader promoting an anti-austerity, anti-war platform. If Smith was actually serious about the phony-left platform that he’s hawking at the moment, he would face exactly the same war of attrition from the PLP and members of the shadow cabinet, and convey exactly the same impression of not being able to lead his party to the outside world. Steve Richards, who is no Corbynite, hit the nail on the head here:

“The Labour rebels plotted separately and without a big candidate to take on Corbyn. In doing so they have inevitably become part of the current problem. They are in the painfully contorted position of being both passionately sincere and disingenuous in pointing out that the Corbyn leadership “isn’t working”. For sure they mean it, but one of the many reasons it is not working is that they constantly attack him. Labour MPs point to their party’s dire poll rating as proof that Corbyn must go. But it is a minor miracle that Labour’s poll rating is not even lower, given the number of MPs who have been arguing in public that their leader is useless . . . The people in Corbyn’s office behave like paranoid neurotics partly because they have lots to be paranoid about. After decades as a backbench rebel Corbyn cannot and does not know about the arts of leadership, including how to manage a team. But part of the explanation for his behaviour is a justifiable fear that the team is out to get him.”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/22/labour-rebels-problem-jeremy-corbyn-owen-smith

I half-agree with you about PMQs; Corbyn’s not a very polished orator, his style is calm, measured, dogged, a bit dour, which works reasonably well when posing serious questions but doesn’t work when Cameron (or whichever Tory) responds with fatuous ad hominem attacks. But it really wouldn’t matter how polished he was; with much of the PLP and former shadow cabinet members in open revolt, any half-way competent Tory could fend off attacks by pointing to Labour’s own troubles and dodging the question. Ultimately it’s not a question of personal qualities. Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon come across as relaxed and confident when they speak in public because they know they have a united party behind them. Bernie Sanders delivered much better speeches than Corbyn during his primary campaign, but all he had to run was that campaign, he didn’t have to worry about managing the Democratic Party in Congress at the same time. That’s the problem that needs to be solved; replacing Corbyn with another figure without addressing that wouldn’t achieve very much. I don’t think many of Corbyn’s supporters, or even the man himself, are too concerned about who the individual figurehead is, but it’s silly to think a change of personnel is the solution here.

Owen Jones often seems to gravitate towards simplistic stuff like that; a better media strategy here, a different candidate there (a while ago he was talking sotto voce about McDonnell replacing Corbyn, now it’s Clive Lewis—apparently without consulting Lewis), and hey presto, we’re on the road to victory. One of my friends who follows Spanish politics closely noted that when Jones had dealings with Podemos—he travelled to Spain, spoke at their rallies, and held them up as a model to emulate—he seemed to be fixated on the most superficial side of the whole phenomenon, the communications strategy worked out by Iglesias and his team; he had much less interest in the roots of Podemos in a real social movement, the indignados, which sets it apart from anything that’s happened in Britain so far. Podemos is a useful test for people who put their faith in a better media strategy or a more polished front-man: by all accounts Podemos had a first-rate approach, carefully thought through in all respects (their choice of imagery is excellent), and Iglesias is an outstanding performer, sharp, articulate, always ready with a soundbite or a slogan, and with statistics at his command (he won all the TV leaders’ debates hands-down). But for the most part, Podemos still have a toxic image in the Spanish media, because their programme is too radical; and they still managed to lose one million votes between the two recent elections. There’s no magic bullet here.

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Pasionario - August 10, 2016

I’ll try and respond to all of this later. But just on the subject of advisers, Richard Murphy has been absolutely scathing about Corbyn while Neale Coleman is also gone. Simon Wren-Lewis is another impressive figure who gave up.

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WorldbyStorm - August 10, 2016

Whatever about this, and I think you’re actually both correct in many respects – and despite problems I’d vote for Corbyn, almost needless to say, it strikes me that Peter Taafe’s contribution was actually more problematic than anything Jones has said. Not saying Taafe doesn’t have a right to say what he likes, but he’s not actually a member of the LP and it feeds certain myths that really don’t need to be fed.

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WorldbyStorm - August 10, 2016
Ed - August 10, 2016

What was Taafe saying, WBS?

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WorldbyStorm - August 10, 2016
sonofstan - August 10, 2016

“Taaffe has remained politically active throughout the decades since being expelled.”

I love the ‘how is this even possible?’ tone here.

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WorldbyStorm - August 10, 2016

There’s no life outside the party!🙂

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Pasionario - August 11, 2016

When Corbyn was elected, it was obvious he was going to be undermined continuously by the rest of the PLP. That meant he had to be on the ball all the time and not let small things trip him up. If you’re going to defeat a larger adversary, you can’t afford to make mistakes and you have to take your chances.

Instead, Corbyn keeps scoring own goals and just doesn’t seem to have the energy or quick wittedness required to be leader of the opposition under truly trying circumstances. A run-of-the-mill Blairite could get away with a lot of this, but a radical leftist will be punished for every error and he makes too many of them.

PMQs is just the start of it. Describing the usual conduct of PMQs as “debating-society bullshit” is fine if you have no interest in how parliamentary politics works. But PMQs is the only real occasion a leader of the opposition has to get his message across and Corbyn fails everytime. The name is misleading. It’s not actually about questions! The point is to embarrass the government. Corbyn shows up with his “Jen from Bradford” emails, which can be pertinent, but he’s got nothing in reserve. So when Cameron and now May shift the debate, he gets lost. The leader of the opposition ends up getting embarrassed. That’s unprecedented.

And if his approach had some chance of working against an insufferable Etonian like Cameron, it will fail utterly against May who is pure middle-England and basically down-to-earth and likable.

Meanwhile, he’s managed to alienate a load of people who supported him originally — such as various high-profile advisers — along with MPs like Neil Coyle and Rushanara Ali. And he hasn’t won anyone over at all within the PLP.

As for man management, the whole Thangam Debbonaire affiar seems pretty instructive — appointed to the shadow cabinet without her knowledge, then sacked a day later due to an oversight.

All in all, to succeed as a radical left-wing leader, Corbyn would have had to perform way above his potential and the opposite has happened. He’s to blame and so are the MPs who’ve opposed him. It’s a ghastly mess on all sides.

By the way, the comparison with Podemos is misleading. Why? Because Spain has PR and it was a new party — the combined score of Spanish left/centre-left is consequently way above Labour right now. If there were similarly a left and centre-left party in the UK, these problems wouldn’t be happening. Both could do their own thing.

Iglesias wasn’t facing the overwhelming hostility of his own camp. To succeed Corbyn would have to be even more effective at media and party management than Iglesias, whereas he’s actually ten times worse.

Leaders matter and Corbyn is not a good one.

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Ed - August 11, 2016

My previous comment was already responding to most of those points, and I think you’re demanding unreasonable levels of perfection in a remarkably difficult set of circumstances: it’s dodging the point to say that Podemos could afford to make mistakes or be half-assed; the fact is they didn’t and they weren’t, as far as media strategy was concerned, but still they got as bad a press as Corbyn; and it’s obtuse to say he can’t afford to make any mistakes because he faces such strong opposition from within the PLP; the fact that he does guarantees that he will, and so would anyone in the same position.

But specifically on the question of advisors: having been familiar with Richard Murphy and his work for a long time (I used to work for an NGO that campaigned around tax justice, his big thing), I would take his opinions of Corbyn with a massive helping of salt. James Meadway wrote a response to some of his recent criticisms last week:

View story at Medium.com

Most of this seems to come directly from the EU referendum (I distinctly remember Murphy responding with tremendous outrage and scorn when Ireland voted down the Lisbon Treaty in 2008). Simon Wren-Lewis is now supporting Smith because he wants the Brexit vote to be overturned and Corbyn is not willing to call for that. He’s entitled to take that view if he likes (I think it would be politically disastrous for Labour), but he’s also trying to firm it up by giving credence to the cock-and-bull narrative about Corbyn ‘deliberately sabotaging’ the Remain campaign by, er, getting the same proportion of Labour voters to support Remain as the SNP managed:

https://mainlymacro.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/can-we-trust-jeremy-corbyn-over-europe.html

I have to agree with this line from the first comment there:

“You seem to be saying that Labour members should decide how to vote on the basis of vague feelings of unease fuelled by speculative and inaccurate stories about what Corbyn may or may not believe. It’s a point of view, but I would have expected more of a commitment to finding out reliable facts.”

(I also left a comment of my own directly below that.)

Wren-Lewis had previously signed a joint statement from McDonnell’s economic policy advisers distancing themselves from Blanchflower; even then, they were wrongly giving credence to the innuendo about Corbyn’s EU stance:

“We all share the view that the EU referendum result is a major disaster for the UK, and we have felt unhappy that the Labour leadership has not campaigned more strongly to avoid this outcome.”

https://mainlymacro.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/statement-from-members-of-labours.html

I think much of this stems from a general feeling of panic, confusion and disorientation among left-leaning Europhile intellectuals after the Brexit vote (possibly mixed in with a feeling that Corbyn was sure to be ousted by the PLP and it was best to take some distance from him and McDonnell anyway). It tells us more about their lack of political nous and sang-froid than it does about the current Labour leadership.

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Ed - August 11, 2016

Is there something up with the spam filter, WBS? I’ve tried to post a comment responding to Pasionario there a couple of times but it seems to vanish into thin air.

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irishelectionliterature - August 11, 2016

Ed, just had a look and that comment had got caught in the spam filter (possibly to do with too many links in it). It’s cleared now.

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6to5against - August 10, 2016

I don’t know about his organisational skills, nor his man-management, but I have quite liked his performance at PMQs. It has been so refreshing to see somebody ask simple questions and ignore the whole debating-society bullshit so beloved of most MPs. I really think that sort of ostentatiously clever point scoring turns off many voters, and convinces nobody. Corbyn by contrast has seemed genuinely interested in the everyday effects of Tory policy, and does what little he can to highlight those effects.

Kinnock was good at the despatch box, as was Thatcher, Blair, Cameron, MIchael Howard and many others. Did it really matter?

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WorldbyStorm - August 10, 2016

Very fair points. I know I’m always saying this, but Michael White said in the Guardian ages back that this low key style might begin to resonate – now that was agin Cameron, but we’ll have to see whether May is a more fearsome opponent or whether events drag her down.

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8. sonofstan - August 10, 2016

Got an email from the Smith camp yesterday, pretty much as Pasionario says above. I can however choose not to receive any further communication from them by ticking one of the following: ‘I’m voting for Owen’, I’m not sure yet’ or ‘I’m voting for Jeremy’ – like I’ll be upset if I get mail from whichever one I’m not voting for – a sort of ‘trigger warning’? and the use of first names is a bit icky…

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9. Gewerkschaftler - August 11, 2016

Seems to me that the priorities are

a) to beat off the challenge from PLP to unseat Corbyn
b) introduce mandatory reselection of MPs
c) build and active movement / party out of the Corbynites

and only then

d) find someone younger without JC’s alleged shortcomings to carry the torch.

Only a) seems reasonably likely. But I’m luckily not a member of the British Labour Party.

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