After the by-elections 2: Chaos is overstated… February 28, 2017Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
John Harris makes a point that I think is well worth exploring in recent column in the Guardian. Not so much the complaints over Corbyn, though he has to admit that the problems facing the BLP are such that they long predated his arrival in the leadership. Whether his leadership has ‘immeasurably deepened’ the crisis in the BLP I do not know, but I’m somewhat dubious. It is more his misfortune to arrive at a time when Brexit et al, and the key loss of Scotland to the BLP has left that party uniquely ill-positioned to face the future. Again, I’ve been astounded by how complacent some of those arguing for a Lexit were given those realities. I think this is telling in terms of demonstrating just how bad things are for the BLP:
…the shadow cabinet minister Cat Smith reportedly reckoned that “to be 15-18 points behind the polls and to push the Tories within 2,000 votes is an incredible achievement.” I am not sure how you would describe that kind of thinking: it sounds distinctly like someone taking comfort from the fact that a complete disaster could conceivably have been even worse.
Harris mocks that line, but I don’t. The problem is that it sums up perfectly just how bad things are. And they are. Desperately bad for the BLP. They’re kind of worse too, as was mentioned elsewhere, there’s now a radical populist right party gaining 1 in 5 to 1 in 4 votes at these elections. Sometimes that will work to the advantage of the LP, but sometimes, perhaps often it won’t.
Little or none of these, it is essential to note, is Jeremy Corbyn’s fault. It is difficult to see how he could have done anything different in the last twelve months. Indeed far too little is made of the reality of his MPs, or rather a tranche of them, splitting away from him. And while the rebellion over Article 50 in the last month was problematic what more could he have done when even those closest to him took a differing view of matters?
That said I will agree with Harris on one thing.
Amid Trump, and Brexit, and the political hurly-burly that now regularly grips mainland Europe, it is easy to get the impression that politics no longer follows hard-and-fast rules, and amounts instead to a series of unforeseen events and complete accidents.
The reality is that politics is, if not quite predictable, still open to analysis. It is possible to determine broad dynamics, to see trends, to appreciate what is more rather than less likely to happen. Brexit itself, was simply more finely balanced as an issue than expected. But polls were consistent that that fine balance existed. It could have gone one way, it went another. Trump likewise. Other issues will rise and fall. But many many political dynamics – the continuing and long term problems facing the BLP are of a different order. In a way what is the puzzle? The retreat of self-avowed social democracy, and its replacement not with left but right and populist forces, is something we’ve seen time and again. Why would Britain be any different?
Phil at Workers Playtime has an important post here which further underlines this is not a problem due to the Corbyn leadership alone, or even in full.
And for a sense of what it was like on the by-election trail here’s his post on same from Stoke-on-Trent.