This week starts with the end of a twenty year entryist takeover of the Labour Party. The Blairite missionaries efforts have crumbled like a PFI school building. It is a failed ideology that has been rejected by its host. It’s time now for its advocates to leave and find another body to inhabit. It’s the end not just of a political project but also brings into question leadership styles, personality politics, media management and spin doctors and the meaning and role of participation in political movements. It’s virtually impossible for a media obsessed by personality to realise this, but in all of this Corbyn is just a bit player.
The delicious irony of what Gary Younge calls ‘the Labour establishment’ being defeated (again) by The Unelectable is worth noting. The Man Who Can’t Win keeps winning. And in his wake lie a stream of establishment failures. The much feted John McTernan is a serial failure across several time zones. The unreconstructed Blairite Jim Murphy was a catastrophe. Ed Miliband – only semi-detached from the Blair years was a spectacular failure, as was Gordon Brown, Blair’s deputy, who still appears fleetingly in times of crisis.
Circling the (Band) wagons
The vaudeville act that is the Ruth Davidson Party has reached out saying: “Labour may be increasingly divorced from its traditional support, but under my leadership the Scottish Conservatives will be there to speak up for those decent, moderate voters.”
You’ve got to love the idea of ‘decent voters’. I’m not sure if these are related to ‘filthy liberals’ or ‘hard working families’ but I’m sure we’ll be told.
But of all the opportunists rushing to make political capital out of Labour’s supposed crisis, the funniest / sickest has got to be the Liberals, who sent out plaintive messages yesterday: “Labour seem to think that winning elections is a bourgeois distraction. But you have to be in power to redistribute wealth’ – only to be reminded ‘Foodbank usage went up 41,000 to 1.0 million while you were in government. Sit down.’
If Corbyn’s victory was in the face of an overwhelmingly hostile media, with a rigged election – it was a useful practice for what he will face in the General Election. The reality is that he won by a huge majority and would have won by much much more if it wasn’t for purge and electoral shenanigans and smears.
If the ‘phenomena’ of Corbynism with its mass rallies runs the risk of shielding participants to the ‘real world’ beyond in a way that may be familiar to fellow Yesers, the reality is that Labour is now the largest left party in western Europe, with all of the campaigning foot-soldiers and filled-coffers that that brings. And, if poor David Torrance whining in the Herald today has ‘no idea about what Corbyn would actually do in the unlikely event of winning the next general election’ – this must be because he either isn’t paying attention, isn’t getting the press releases or is so obsessed with the SNP as to bother. It’s pretty explicit and has some real detail.
It also has the potential to cause some real problems for the SNP, if Scottish Labour weren’t led in Scotland by the feckless and the hapless. It remains to be seen if Dugdale’s perfomance can allow her to survive until her inevitable removal next year when she will lose Glasgow.
Of course there are also other massive obstacles to success for Labour north and south of the border.
Their position on the constitution is incomprehensible and affects potential for collaboration against the Tories in Westminster. There position on Trident is simply incomprehensible.
They have been decimated in Scotland and appear not to have noticed.
In a new twist to the weirdness the Scottish Labour Party are now urgently seeking autonomy in order to oppose further autonomy for Scotland.
Whatever the outcome in Scotland, Paul Mason suggest the following facts need to be faced:
- A hard-core of Labour coup plotters intend to destroy Labour as an effective opposition between now and 2020.
- Corbyn to become prime minister means Labour will have to win as an insurrection or not at all (For the sake of clarity, this is a metaphor not an actual call for armed insurrection).
- Labour has suddenly become a mass party. It can become, as Corbyn says, a social movement. But this would be something new in Labour politics and therefore difficult to achieve and hold together.
- The route to power also involves Labour itself becoming a more formal alliance and, in turn, being prepared to make political alliances across party lines.
This is not about Jeremy Corbyn because the energy and membership that has infused at least English Labour with radicalism and energy has its source in waves of social movements of the past ten years, from Uncut to Occupy and beyond.
As Tony Blair sides with the Conservative Govt to try and shut down the Iraq Historic Allegations Team (Ihat), we are standing on a crossroads of UK politics, and sitting MPs need to decide whether they leave or work with their members. If they do as some have claimed to ‘carry on the war’, they will and should be deselected.
Either way, Jeremy Corbyn is not the issue.