To the likes of Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell, this is what Jeremy Corbyn’s electoral success looks like: an inexorable, mindless force that’s destroying their cosy living quarters. To others this may look exciting and fun and interesting, but Blair and Campbell and the rest live in those houses: it’s their comfy homes that left-wing pressure would be knocking down.
It wouldn’t be reasonable to expect them to welcome this. (And they don’t.)
If Corbyn is announced the winner on 12th September, and worse yet for Blair if Corbyn’s Prime Minister in May 2020, then everything Tony Blair did to create a new Labour party may be destroyed: the verdict of history that Blair looked forward to, might amount to:
“Tony Blair, who tried to drag the Labour Party rightwards, succeeded in doing so from 1994 to 2007, but in the process lost many voters and MPs, especially after he took the UK into war with Iraq in 2003: but the old Labour Party was restored in 2015, eight years after Blair stood down, by Jeremy Corbyn, who then led the Labour Party to a large majority in the Commons in May 2020.”
That’s a paragraph Blair would never want to read in any history book, from start to finish. If Corbyn wins, Blair will want Labour to lose in May 2020. Blair may not have anything else in common with Donald Trump, but the two men have the same size ego.
The Labour leadership voting opens on Friday 14th August and will close midnight Thursday 10th September: we’ll know the results on Saturday 12 September. Registration closes at noon today.
So, right now, no one can even cast a vote: all the polls predicting a Corbyn victory are based on people saying how they think they’ll vote when they can.
And in that race, Jeremy Corbyn seems to be a long way ahead in the polls, to the absolute despair of people who have tied their boats firmly to the belief that left-wing leaders don’t get elected.
But huge amounts of wordage from Labour party top brass and Labour-supporting pundits have been expended in telling people not to vote for Jeremy Corbyn.
In this contest, for the first time in Labour’s history, while the candidates for leadership were selected from the Labour MPs by the Labour MPs, the winner will be chosen by democratic vote from members, affiliates, and supporters. Each Labour MP will have a vote, but their votes won’t be allowed to outweigh everyone else’s.
Jeremy Corbyn is the kind of MP who’s not afraid to stand up against cruelty to pigeons or to say openly that he opposes renewing Trident.
Being pro-pigeon and anti-Trident may be popular stances, but it’s a truism in professional political punditry that serious candidates don’t stand up for that kind of thing. Yvette Cooper, Andy Burnham, and Liz Kendall are too professional as politicians to have that kind of thing in their political record.
I’m no longer a Labour Party supporter. I decided, a couple of days before Corbyn joined the leadership contest, that the Labour Party had become too right-wing for me to tolerate any longer. The May 2015 election was the first election in quite a few years where I didn’t vote Labour.
I became a socialist in a business studies class at Napier many years ago. The lecturer didn’t know he was making me a socialist: he was explaining company structure. A company is run by its CEO, who is appointed by the company shareholders. The CEO’s first responsibility is to the shareholders: this is in general expressed as a legal obligation to keep the value of the shares rising. Because the value of the shares is usually dependent on the company profits rising quarterly, a CEO’s goal is to have each financial quarter show more profits than the last.
In small-scale companies, with few shareholders all of whom take a personal interest in the doings of the company, the CEO can be instructed to make the profits of the company secondary to other things which are more important to the shareholders than seeing the value of their shares go up and up: their good name in producing quality goods for sale, their desire not to exploit or discriminate against their employees, their belief in climate change, their desire to own both an ecologically sound as well as a profitable company.
But in large-scale companies, where the shareholders are themselves corporations, there is no such human check. The CEO representing the corporate owner of the shares has the overriding legal obligation to see profits go up. And because this is the overriding focus of the business, they frequently expect their employees – whose wages may have been frozen or cut in pursuit of that goal – to share their focus in making profits go up.
A majority of Labour MPs didn’t oppose George Osborne’s welfare reform bill in the Commons last night. While they claim to have plans to fight the bill’s provisions in committee, Harriet Harman has already declared that the Conservative plans to limit tax credits to only two children aren’t something the Labour Party should oppose, nor should Labour oppose the welfare cap. Young voters and working-class voters stayed home rather than vote Labour on 5th May, and Harriet Harman says
“We cannot simply say to the public you were wrong at the election. We’ve got to wake up and recognise that this was not a blip; we’ve had a serious defeat and we must listen to why.”
Out of 232 Labour MPs, over three-quarters of them – those who nominated Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall, or Mary Creagh for leadership – who think that the Labour Party should be led by a more right-wing MP. Jeremy Corbyn got the smallest number of MP nominations of any of the candidates but Mary Creagh.
I’d like to think the Labour Party’s leadership will be important to me because whoever is chosen as leader will be the Prime Minister of the next UK government.
I don’t really think that, though, which horrifies me because I don’t want the Tories to win a majority again in May 2020 – and yet: none of the Labour analysis about why they lost so catastrophically in Scotland or why they failed to win in England and Wales, looks to be on the mark: and all of the candidates for leadership seem to think that Labour lost because it was not sufficiently right-wing: which means I shall be still less inclined to vote Labour after five more years of the new leader than I was with the last.
If you are a Labour Party member and all set to snort with indignation and demand to know how I plan to get a Labour government if I won’t vote Labour, well: if you are a Labour Party member, why aren’t you snorting with indignation that your party is heading off down a path away from left-wing voters?
According to unverifiable rumour (via a friend heard from a friend who’s a Labour MP), Labour MPs don’t expect to win a majority in 2020: they want an interim leader who will get the Labour Party back on the right track after Ed Miliband’s failed experiment in steering it leftward, and then the new Tony Blair will step up after 2020 to become Labour’s next Prime Minister. If they are thinking like this I think they are hopelessly wrong: and I also think they are hopelessly insulated from the real-world problems that fifteen years of Tory governance will create in this country.
Last night on Question Time, Owen Jones got Iain Duncan Smith to lose his temper.
Professional politicians don’t usually lose their temper in public except as a calculated electoral shtick. I think IDS just got genuinely angry.
Avedon Carol writes about co-optation to try to fight for the “more liberal” of two not-really-opposing bad policy proposals, which usually come in the same package:
Like, say, maybe some sort of choice between a big “tweak” and a very slightly smaller “tweak” that only kills 9/10 as many people as the larger “tweak” will. Or maybe creating a fight over raising the age of retirement even further, so that you’re fighting over 69 or 70. Are any of those proposals acceptable? No, of course not. But if they are suddenly on the table, we will see people allowing such a fight to become the fight, as if lowering the retirement age back down to where it used to be (or even lower) wasn’t even conceivable. It is conceivable, dammit, and for every nasty proposal, there should be a counter-proposal that goes farther in the other direction than politicians have been willing to talk about. They want to raise the retirement age? We want it lowered to 55. They want to change the calculation for the costs of living? We want to change it so that the amount is higher rather than lower. They want cuts? We want the cap eliminated. Don’t even argue about this crap – just go in the other direction. Continue reading