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I am basically a member of the UK Labour Party. I thank the late Baroness Thatcher, as I found her administration repulsive. I think though her greatest achievement was toxifying the Labour Party, and we are slowly making up for lost time. It is clear that some people are sick of being enslaved by financial markets, while some people seem to be doing extremely well, thank you. The way that the sick and disabled have been treated by the Liberal Democrats working for a ‘fair society and strong economy’, The annihilation of legal aid in their bid for a ‘fair society’ equally repels me. in conjunction with their Conservative masters disgusts me. In the Wartime coalition, Labour criticised the Conservatives’ policies and got credit for it. Instead, the Liberal Democrats have bent over backwards so much it hurts. They will reap what they so. We seem to have enough money to go to war, but not enough money to keep an adolescent with mental health problems out of a police cell for a night. The economy is clearly screwed, with falling tax receipts, in a race to the bottom with zero hour contracts favouring hedge funds and employers who don’t give a monkeys about workers’ rights. I have never seen David Cameron eat a bacon butty, but I don’t think I would like that either.
You see – people like me have waited a very long time to see a socialist case being presented nationally at the ballot box. If Jeremy Corbyn MP is not your cuppa as the twice democratically elected leader of the Labour Party, I hope that you’re able to use your vote wisely.
On the night of the results presented by David Dimbleby, I would much rather a Conservative seat fall to the LibDems or Greens, than not at all. I feel the loathing of Tim Farron MP tapping me on my shoulder, but I have nothing against Tim or his party. Indeed, I follow Tim (@timfarron) on Twitter, and he follows me. I think it’s true that many people will be going into this election feeling that the LibDem is fundamentally a good partner who’s had a period of ‘cheating on you’ – whether that was in welfare benefits cuts (introduced the outsourcing of benefits assessment in the first place), turboboosting privatisation through the Health and Social Care Act (2012) (rampant in the latter years of Tony Blair’s government, when Blair coincidentally was aiming to be President of the EU and competition law was a central plank of the free movement policy), or tuition fees (Labour are not innocent here either).
If you strongly believe in membership of the European Union, and you feel ‘left of centre’, then it’s not a bad thing if the Liberal Democrats can act as a brake for a Conservative administration anyway. I feel that this would be an ideal outcome for Tim Farron MP. Do it if you have no problems with Tim Farron MP becoming the new Nick Clegg, or the new Deputy Prime Minister. For all the bravura of the LibDems in parliament, causing the ‘strong opposition’ which Theresa May claimed caused her to trigger this snap election in the first place, unbelievably all 9 MPs have voted three ways on the EU.
And parliament has not in any way (nor the House of Lords) “obstructed” the progress of triggering of Art. 50, as claimed by Brexit dinosaurs such as Lord Michael Howard. In fact, many pro European Union voters, whether in the Labour Party or otherwise, feel that the opposition to triggering Article 50, knowing that Brexit is likely to be a cataclysmic disaster, could and should have been much stronger.
As a purely technocratic exercise —— I can understand why, with his constituency seats evenly divided between ‘remain’ and ‘Brexit’, why Jeremy Corbyn MP has led his party not to oppose Brexit. I can see why Jeremy Corbyn can see ‘positives’ to Brexit: i.e. it gives license to protection of important rights in law, such as in environment or employment, which otherwise get ‘grandfathered’ in a corrupted, Tory, way; it allows state aid to ailing and flailing industries not as easily possible as under EU membership (such as the steel industry). But that’s not to say that Brexit comes with it colossal problems – such as severely hampering skills mixes for certain sectors (not just Starbucks Baristas, as the stereotype goes, but for people in the NHS and social care), import inflation, lack of influence in EU policy, problems in not being in the single market (and under Theresa May voluntarily not being in the customs union). But it’s been Theresa May’s call on this – so the buck should stop there.
The timing of this election took everyone by surprise, not least the Cabinet who mostly heard of the idea for the first time after the Easter break. The news has gone down so well that Theresa May’s junior experts in comms have resigned. The prospect that the prices will outstrip wages, a phenomenon already known about by ‘hardworking’ nurses in the public sector, this year is already going down like a bucket of cold sick. So the election campaign already has the grubby fingerprints of Sir Lynton Crosby on it. And ironically, the ‘secret weapon’ in this war against Corbyn, proclaimed so emphatically by Lord Peter Mandelson who boasted how he was working daily to oust Corbyn, has gone kaphhhhhttt. That is, the sneering of the 172 Labour MPs. Crosby has clearly directed that attacks on Corbyn should not be too strong, as otherwise the perception is of victimisation, bullying and a hate crime. As it happens, when I ask certain people why they dislike Corbyn so much, the answers are split down the middle in ‘He’s incompetent’ and ‘Others think he’s crap’ – the universal, consistent lack of reasoning why they dislike Corbyn, with the odd reference to his shirt or tie, unfortunately leads me to think this is at best snobbery at worst blatant age discrimination.
So when Theresa May trotted out the back story of 3 Labour MPs who had made disparaging remarks about Jeremy Corbyn, the impression of those in the Lobby was not ‘wahey!’, but a feeling that this particular attack from May and Corbyn was nasty and vindictive. In other words, May and Crosby had overplayed their hand. And when Jeremy Corbyn gave a strongly anti-Establishment speech in Church House shortly afterwards, Corbyn singled out ‘cartel’ (he meant ‘collusive’ strictly speaking) behaviour between powerful individuals, multinationals and the media, not giving him a fair hearing. And there is indeed ample evidence for this. So, it was very early on in the campaign that the mainstream media knew full well that they had blood on their hands. No sooner than Newnight had run a party political broadcast on behalf of the Mr Theresa May party was Twitter awash with the alleged financial activities of the firm which extravagantly wealthy Mr Theresa May has worked in and their tax affairs.
The line that if you do not support Theresa May’s version of Brexit, which is the most hard core version of Brexit you could have dreamt up, you’re somehow unpatriotic is a very unpleasant line for May and Crosby to sustain. This of course plugs a sentiment into the personal vilification of Corbyn, at best unable to nod correctly for the National Anthem or kneel and kiss properly for his induction for the Privy Council, at worst runs the meme that Corbyn’s ‘best friends are terrorists’, of being deeply unpatriotic. Of someone who HATES Britain. Of course we have been down this route with the horrific attacks on Ed Miliband’s late father, Ralph Miliband. And talking of which – Rafael Behr has consistently attacked everything which Corbyn stands for, not laying a finger on the Conservatives, sneering that if Ed Miliband had been unable to make inroads it would be unlikely that Jeremy Corbyn could. This is of course to ignore completely that England is on its knees and is in crisis over NHS, schools and social care. And to remind Mr Behr – was it the case that an ‘effective opposition’, so beloved of him and his colleagues, were ABSTAINING on disability benefit welfare cuts which are the lifeline of disabled citizens? Even if Rachel Reeves didn’t get it or sympathetics in the Guardian, Debbie Abrahams MP certainly ‘gets it’, and is taking this fight at last full on much to the delight of people in the ‘WOW petition’. And John McDonnell MP, who is never reported as having successfully run London’s budget for years, has been instrumental in upholding the rights of people who are disabled – like me, and I know.
So we already know that the policy suggestions, e.g. on housing or the living wage, are popular with many people on the Left, not just a select group of Tony Benn supporters or CND hippies who are caught in a 1983 time warp. The 2017 Labour manifesto has not even been published yet, and yet Nick Robinson has already gone on record in making a highly biased prejudicial remark against Corbyn. We know that the policies themselves are popular, if not badged up with the descriptor ‘They’re Corbyn’s’ – but this is the effect that the media and the 172 Labour MPs have had in successfully rubbishing the Labour brand. Alastair Campbell, who is licking his lips at any demise of Corbyn, such that he felt the urge to pretend to be a psychiatrist measuring the affect and cognition of Owen Jones for GQ magazine, and Tony Blair have never been able to state with any clarity what they feel the legacy of New Labour could’ve been or should’ve been – and have openly said that they feel hostile to Ed Miliband and successors for being negative about aspects of Tony Blair’s government such as the highly controversial manner in which we went to war with Iraq, or creeping NHS privatisation through putting PFI on steroids, etc.
Whereas in 2015, Crosby was going round telling everyone ‘don’t vote for Ed Miliband as he secretly wants to get into bed with Nicola Sturgeon (politically)’, Crosby can’t quite pull off the same trick in 2017 – as his campaign relies on Corbyn being universally toxic. Even Sturgeon has said that Corbyn has no chance of becoming Prime Minister, which has just made her appear like an arrogant tinpot dictator worthy of Dr Strangelove. Scottish voters of course have the option of voting for SNP in the hope of another Scottish referendum, when quite frankly the economic case is unsustainable and Scotland has more pressing domestic issues of policy – and getting loads of SNP MPs in Westminster acting as barracking but ubiquitously ineffective MPs, or they can overcome their dislike of Kezia Dugdale and vote Labour despite the toxicity of the New Labour brand. The stranglehold of the SNP over Scottish politics is unlikely to last forever, and you can throw any accusation at Jeremy Corbyn – but the notion that ‘Jeremy Corbyn is more of the same’ is quite frankly ridiculous.
So – for a number of reasons, the Crosby May plan has already gone badly wrong. A major factor in that has clearly been that the months spent rubbishing Jeremy Corbyn has had the unintended effect of lowering expectations concerning Corbyn that anything he does is frankly quite amazing. And the cumulative effect of those MPs automatically getting reselected to defend Labour’s policy offering, i.e. no ‘trigger votes’, means that bitter people like John Woodcock MP cannot say with heavy heart he is being forced to be a MP under a Corbyn manifesto. My advice to him is – if he doesn’t like it, don’t do it. Nobody will allow Woodcock to behave to all intents and purposes like a spoilt brat ‘independent’. Woodcock is currently standing on the cliff edge, like several of his colleagues, of warranting disciplinary proceedings if they cannot be loyal to the Labour Party?
My viewpoint is that, even if you hate Corbyn, the next few weeks will be fun. He is coming at this as the ‘underdog’ – but an underdog with loads of experience, who would ‘wipe the floor’ with Theresa May in any TV hustings. May’s team might be able to force people to say ‘no comment’ to the media at her public events, but May is giving every appearance now of cutting and running. She looks and sounds wooden, and her record in being able to keep immigration levels down and not being able to resist a ‘snap election’ speak for themselves. This is May’s election to lose. The only direction for this colossal poll lead, as everyone knows, is down.
“Strong leadership”? My arse.
Theresa May would like you to think her lying to you multiple times is ‘strong leadership’. Don’t be so gullible. pic.twitter.com/qCBZhGYG5Y
— Dr Shibley Rahman ❄️ (@dr_shibley) April 22, 2017
And while everyone has tried to make the Corbyn brand so toxic they have blatantly reared a generation of ‘shy Corbynistas’ who do not want to reach at the sight of May’s repackaged Thatcherite offering on May 8th 2017.
And then there’s the bus.
Got ‘election fatigue’ like Brenda?
Brenda of course does have a point. (Up to a point, Lord Copper.)
Brenda, like you or me, doesn’t particularly want ‘to go around again’, but there are reasons to be distinctly uncheerful this time – like the import inflation, fall in skills mix and lack of membership of the customs union/single market, and NHS, social care and schools in crisis.
You’re being directed to think Jeremy Corbyn is a monster. Look at the poll lead of Theresa May,
The media perseverated on why Jeremy Corbyn did not mention the ‘B’ word (this is of course ironic given that the BBC and Sky don’t like reporting on the #toryelectionfraud, and never let their lips become soiled by the failed NHS reforms of 2012 or national debt going through the roof in the Tory years 2010-7 compared to thirteen years of the previous Labour administration).
That word is ‘Brexit’. Emily Thornberry caused consternation is not having a ‘position’ on Brexit the other night, but it turns out from a response to Jack Blanchard, Political Editor of the Mirror, this morning, that a fuller account might be forthcoming.
I asked Jeremy Corbyn’s spokesman if Labour can categorically rule out a second Brexit referendum. Just had this response: pic.twitter.com/yMmzG0IIy9
— Jack Blanchard (@Jack_Blanchard_) April 20, 2017
Labour’s exact stance on Brexit continues to cause amazement, as the seats which had the highest % of ‘Brexiteers’ and ‘Remoaners’ were Labour seats. So technically it seems as if the Labour leadership wishes to face both directions at once, without offending outright either side of the debate. However, this has left many people who are strongly supportive of inclusion in the European Union feeling rudderless within Corbyn’s Labour Party. They feel that exiting the Single Market, or at the very least the Customs Union, could send the UK into a cesspit of economic despair. But likewise, the Brexiteers, stereotypically in Sunderland but who might actually live closer to Folkestone, feel that bearded 67-year old Jeremy Corbyn is not their friend. I have heard every insult about Corbyn under the sun in the copious media coverage of him, but Corbyn is never given any ‘credit’ for his speaking in favour of migrant workers, particularly in the NHS. Corbyn has never wished to ‘clamp down on immigrant numbers’ – it is, after all, Theresa May who has failed as Home Secretary to get immigration numbers down to the level which had been promised by the Conservatives in their former promises. This dividing line between Brexit vs Non Brexit means that the ‘rules of the game’ have indeed been ripped up. For example, Bath is a profoundly Remain seat Brexit-wise, but where the pro-EU LibDems have more than a good chance of taking the seat instead of the Conservatives. Tom Baldwin, former guru for Ed Miliband, and by far one of the brightest people in Labour at the moment in my opinion, is right in that I think Labour must be clearer on where it stands on Brexit. It’s clear that Theresa May wants to run the competence v chaos line which worked well for Sir Lynton Crosby in 2015, viz
But you could be forgiven for a mild degree of chaos in the Corbyn camp not being immediately being able to ‘rule out s second referendum’. Of course, this glimmer of hope for a second referendum will be music to the ears of pro-EU members of Labour, except that Labour later confirmed there would be no “second referendum”. It’s not that Jeremy Corbyn is avoiding talking about Brexit, it’s just that he doesn’t want to discuss it at the expense of everything else, such as the crisis in the NHS, social care or schools. And that’s not to say the economy is doing well – the economy having taken the first steps of ‘taking back control’ is likely to see a situation later this year when prices outstrip wages. This burden on the ‘cost of living’ is of course already known to nurses, particularly newly qualified nurses living in metropolitan areas, where the pay freeze for yet another year in a row, while every single other bill including council tax is rising, means that the triggering of Art. 50 is not the immediate problem.
But the advantage thus far is that the Tim Farron MP is very different from the Jeremy Corbyn MP offering. Labour’s pitch is so firmly to its pre-Blair core voters, who most strongly resemble Tony Benn rather than Dennis Healey supporters, that an ideological marriage between the current Liberal Democrat party and Corbyn’s Labour Party seems unlikely. Corbynistas are the first to remind people about the Liberal Democrats’ legacy from 2010-5, citing as examples the Health and Social Care Act (2012) – and creeping privatisation of the NHS, the hike in tuition fees, the welfare benefits cuts, and so on. But the advantage now for the Liberal Democrats to form a new Coalition with the Conservatives from June 9th 2017 onwards would be that the Liberal Democrats in coalition could act as a brake on a ‘hard Brexit’, i.e. killing off totally free movement of goods, services and people, and this would save the face of those Conservatives who don’t wish their political party to be overrun by the Bill Cash, Ian Duncan Smith, Michael Gove and Priti Patel types of this world.
1. “The nurse, the teacher, the small trader, the carer, the builder, the office worker, the student, the carer win. We all win.”
Well, the nurses are exasperated
— The RCN (@theRCN) April 13, 2017
And the evidence that selective schooling has a negative impact on children’s wellbeing is well known. At the end of last year, a very interesting article emerged from a Professor of Law in the Scientific American as to why Donald Trump overcame all the odds, ‘explaining Donald Trump’s shock win‘. There are some interesting lines from Jeremy Corbyn’s speech this morning. “It is these rules that have allowed a cosy cartel to rig the system in favour of a few powerful and wealthy individuals and corporations.” This is, of course, abuse of the word ‘cartels’ which should really apply to group monopolistic behaviour at sovereign level. But the point which is clearly being made here is that when a ‘critical mass’, say of Tory MPs, LibDem MPs and 170 Labour MPs, can easily find mouthpieces in the media run by a handful of every powerful and wealthy people, there is a big problem potentially with democracy.
She showed today how much ammo the #plp have provided and how much damage they’ve done. Regardless of strengths/weaknesses of #Corbyn https://t.co/qw6uGfhyBK — Myar Seitis (@Nowtsabother) April 19, 2017
That Jeremy Corbyn has had an offensively bad hearing is borne out even by the laziest quick glance at the English media. But if you need evidence – there’s plenty of it about, say for example from the LSE.
The LSE writes:
“Our analysis shows that Corbyn was thoroughly delegitimised as a political actor from the moment he became a prominent candidate and even more so after he was elected as party leader, with a strong mandate. This process of delegitimisation occurred in several ways: 1) through lack of or distortion of voice; 2) through ridicule, scorn and personal attacks; and 3) through association, mainly with terrorism.
All this raises, in our view, a number of pressing ethical questions regarding the role of the media in a democracy. Certainly, democracies need their media to challenge power and offer robust debate, but when this transgresses into an antagonism that undermines legitimate political voices that dare to contest the current status quo, then it is not democracy that is served.”
2. “Compare their lives with the multinational corporations and the gilded elite who hide their money in the Cayman Islands because the Conservatives are too morally bankrupt to take them on.”
It’s well known that certain people very close to the current Goverment have been involved in tax avoidance schemes of a truly industrial scale. This is a political choice on their point, but causes a real problem when it comes to funding the country’s infrastructure including public services – including schools and hospitals – and of course investing in people including nurses and teachers.
And this message was reinforced a number of times in Jeremy Corbyn’s speech.
“Instead of the country’s wealth being hidden in tax havens we will put it in the hands of the people of Britain as they are the ones who earned it.”
3. “A Labour government that isn’t scared to take on the cosy cartels that are hoarding this country’s wealth for themselves. It needs a government that will use that wealth to invest in people’s lives in every community to build a better future for every person who lives here.”
Here Jeremy Corbyn is articulating a genuine ‘enemy’, big Elites who are not ‘paying their own way’.
The enemy has of course become immigration.
And of course immigration has gone through the roof under Theresa May anyway.
4. “Don’t be angry at the privatisers profiting from our public services, they whisper, be angry instead at the migrant worker just trying to make a better life.”
The position of the Labour Party was from 2010 to launch a ‘Migration Impact Fund’ to support areas of the country with a high influx of migrants. The right wing media and politicians have of course gone to great lengths to belittle the contribution from migrant workers to the economy – the evidence is that migrants contribute more to the economy than they ‘take out’.
So therefore the attack from the Conservatives and their supporters, including some Labour MPs, is to criticise Jeremy Corbyn personally.
5. “Seven years of broken promises show us that on pay, the deficit, the NHS, our schools, our environment.”
In 2010, the Conservatives promised they’d pay off the deficit by 2015.
In 2015, the Conservatives promised they’d pay off the deficit by 2020.
Disabled people didn’t cause the global financial crash – City bankers did.
6. “Britain is the sixth richest economy in the world. The people of Britain must share in that wealth.”
It is likely there are more people who believe this than say so.
Take Donald Trump’s “shock win”.
But the polls were as wrong as the pundits. Problems with the polls’ methodologies will undoubtedly be identified in the days and weeks ahead. It seems equally reasonable to conclude that many Trump voters kept their intentions to themselves and refused to cooperate with the pollsters.
The 2015 EU referendum showed a deeply divided Britain, split down the middle over the issue on EU membership.
A reason why the polls could be wrong is the existence of ‘Shy Corbynistas’. After all, ‘Corbynistas’ have been so vilified everywhere including in the mainstream and social media that they are probably not revealing themselves in large quantities ahead of the general election on June 8th, 2017. That Jeremy Corbyn MP is trying to mobilise against inequality is convincing, compared to Theresa May giving a speech about equality from a helicopter. For all the talk of Corbyn about being ‘spineless’. 2-faced Theresa May can’t even be bothered to turn up to a TV debate.
7. “If I were Southern Rail or Philip Green, I’d be worried about a Labour Government.”
A lot of people who voted #Brexit voted against a 1% tyranny which they perceived from the EU ‘insiders’. The notion that Jeremy Corbyn is tapping into is an economy which isn’t working for people – look at the customer value of travelling by Southern Rail, or whether Philip Green really had pension fund beneficiaries at heart.
Take again Donald Trump’s “shock win”.
Trump’s victory would seem to herald a new era of celebrity politicians. He showed that a charismatic media-savvy outsider has significant advantages over traditional politicians and conventional political organizations in the internet age. In the future, we may see many more unconventional politicians in the Trump mold.
Even Corbyn’s critics agree that he has spent 34 years as a MP within the system – but as a complete outsider, only voting for things he believed in like the Equality Act (2o10) or the Human Rights Act (1999).
And Corbyn’s relative lack of experience in the top jobs?
Tony Blair was relatively under-prepared before he became PM in 1999; and Jim Callaghan MP had held every major office of state only to be booted out in the worst of all crises in 1979.
Back to Trump:
Trump will be the first president without elective office experience since Dwight Eisenhower in the 1950s. Eisenhower, however, served as supreme allied commander in Europe during World War II and had unrivaled expertise in foreign affairs.
8. “If I were Mike Ashley or the CEO of a tax avoiding multinational corporation, I’d want to see a Tory victory.”
This is probably true.
Popularity ratings of the perception of business ethics of “First Direct” are not high. They resonate with the idea of a ‘sweatshop economy’, which is the fear of what the UK economy will become when it becomes a tinpot banana republic on exiting the EU.
9. “In this election Labour will lead the movement to make that change.”
“We will build a new economy, worthy of the 21st century and we will build a country for the many not the few.”
This has a lot to do with fighting the hostile ‘status quo’, who now include John Pienaar and Laura Kuenssberg.
Back to Trump’s win:
The answer lay in the intense and widespread public hostility to the political, media and business establishments that lead the country. Trust in institutions is at an all-time low and a majority of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.. The angry and volatile public mood made 2016 the ultimate change election.
Amid such a potent anti-establishment spirit, Trump’s vulgar, intemperate and unorthodox style struck voters as far more genuine than the highly cautious and controlled Hillary Clinton. As the brash and unpredictable Trump positioned himself as an agent of change, Clinton seemed like the establishment’s candidate, an impression that proved fatal to her campaign. Indeed, Trump used Clinton’s deep experience in the White House, Senate and State Department against her by citing it as evidence that she represented the status quo
And for all the talk of Theresa May’s ‘strong leadership’ (and we all remember how Angela Eagle’s pitch on that ended up), she has finally called for a general election, seeing the £ sterling plummet, after about seven public stern refusals of an early election. The 28 EU countries look set to give the UK a real blasting, and, whoever wins this election, the Cameron and May governments have now taken us all to a very bad place.
Labour it seems is now really only interested in a very small section of the general public who endorse Corbyn’s policies for social justice and public services, but the hope is that ‘rock solid’ Labour seats will remain rock solid while Tory-LibDem marginals turn LibDem. And the SNP vote is not as strong as it appears. For a start, there were people in Scotland who voted in 2015 SNP thinking their SNP MPs would be in coalition with Labour MPs led by Ed Miliband. Secondly, there are some people in Scotland who are sick to the back teeth of the performance of the SNP in governing Scotland or demanding yet another referendum.
Don’t be surprised if the general election is much closer than you’ve been led to believe. As Prof John Curtice said, it’s not likely that Jeremy Corbyn will win, but rather it will be one massive achievement if he does win.
The mother of all shocks?
Nigel Farage is not credible.
Theresa May and Boris Johnson are not credible.
The British on the whole tend to loath arrogant people – May might finally end in June, after all.
I have to state a fact.
That is, most of my best friends are ‘left leaning’ and can’t bring themselves to support Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party.
This finding is not surprising, nor is it shocking. In the polls, however reliable they are, Labour is consistently massively behind the Conservatives. But we know that the polls cannot be telling absolutely the truth, in that they were deceptive about the 2015 general election and 2016 EU referendum. Ed Miliband MP in the last parliamentary term had a healthy poll lead, and then went on to lose the 2015 general election. And we all know about Donald Trump.
The problem is that, with the Labour Party brand (of the Labour Party led by Corbyn and McDonnell) having been so comprehensively rubbished, it is very hard for any of the Labour Party in parliament to go out and act as advocates for it. It turns out that many of the proposed policies in private polling have turned to be very popular. And yet the Labour Party in parliament have shot themselves in the foot. And, having declared war so publicly on the membership in the last leadership election, the Labour Party find themselves with ground troops who do not feel supported. The same footsoldiers get a sick taste in their mouth when they receive an email from Ian McNicol asking for money for the party, when they themselves have been denied a vote in the leadership election. Yes, the second one where Jeremy Corbyn won again.
It’s worth deconstructing the term ‘sneering liberal Élite’ for the moment. Just look at how a closet cabal of box office journalists from the Guardian reacted to an article from one of their own, Decca Aitkenhead, about Steve Hilton, psychedelic pant wearing guru of David Cameron in a former life. I agree that it was a well written article containing an abrupt ‘killer question’, in the same elegant way the kill was delivered by Sam Coates and Rachel Sylvester – the kill in question which put to bed Andrea Leadsom’s leadership chances. But one is left wondering what the point of the article was, apart from to belittle Steve Hilton in some way. I don’t suppose Steve Hilton with his lavish lifestyle particularly cares, though my advice to anyone “dishing out” group sneering is to never underestimate the problems people never talk about. Did it produce any valuable insights on how globalisation had brought about inequality, and that both were being rejected in a populist way despite purported advantages? Hell no.
The word ‘sneering’ is, in my opinion, very well deserved. Under the general uber defence of the declining print circulation figures, there has been easy attack that all political bloggers are illiterate and have no formal journalistic qualifications – and so they can be easily dismissed. They haven’t ‘done their trade’ working for Paul Dacre at the Mail or for Jason Cowley at the New Statesmen. I have to say, however, the tone is very much of “sneering”. Rather than engage with any of the ideas you write about, the general approach of the ‘mainstream media’ is generally to ignore political opinion from elsewhere. The definition of ‘sneer’ in the Oxford English Dictionary is “a contemptuous or mocking smile, remark, or tone argument, contemptuous in tone”; the sneer is that most people supporting Jeremy Corbyn don’t want a Labour government or are completely incompetent Momentum T-shirt wearing types. The term ‘liberal Élite’ is, of course, a contradiction in terms. The ethos of ‘live and let live’ is of course not alive and well amongst the majority of journalists who, quite frankly, want to crush Jeremy Corbyn and the current Labour Party. The Élite word though represents faithfully the authoritarianism twang of this type of liberalism – which saw Tony Blair convert NHS hospitals into debt laden PFI poodles of the private sector for years to come, or Gordon Brown to detain suspects without trial.
Unsurprisingly, I have now been blocked by many liberal left-leaning journalists, or Labour supporters. I have always voted Labour for all of my adult life, and this includes at every general election since 1992 after the nadir of disgust at years of Margaret Thatcher. I was, as it happens, living in London at the time. Since about 2010, I had been a paying member of the Fabian Society, but I relinquished my subscription last month. The stunt where one leaflet written by Andrew Harrop, meant to be a free-thinking, independent and not necessarily representative pamphlet, was plastered all over the media designed to be the Fabian Society criticising Jeremy Corbyn was the final straw. I can handle all the conspiracy theories about Bretton Woods, and ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’, on the other hand.
I could have written a public letter to Andrew Harrop, like you see from failed Labour MPs to Jeremy Corbyn in the blogosphere, but quite frankly I couldn’t be bothered to write it, and he certainly could not have been bothered to read it. The Fabian Society for me was not the hotbed of egalitarian, democratic, intelligent debate it could have been, but a group of people where inadvertently the tone had been one of aggrandisement and self-entitlement. I didn’t want to be a member of a finishing school for entrants to the Labour Party, though good for people who have successfully followed that route.
Jeremy Corbyn is not the first person to have ideological problems with the European Union. Lord David Owen himself set out articulately the traditional arguments against the European Union ahead of the Brexit vote. Tony Benn’s views, often running in parallel with Enoch Powell’s, were well intended and clearly set out (for example, wanting to have the power to get rid of officials). There are, inevitably, problems if there are operational difficulties in activating state aid monies in an economy for a steel industry failing partly due to Chinese ‘dumping’ of steel in international markets. Hugh Gaitskell famously warned that to join the “Common Market” would mean the end of 1,000 years of history. The lack of ‘opposition’ to Theresa May is a collective failure of the majority of Labour MPs, and the ‘sneering Liberal Elite’ who are unable to articulate the arguments for building a better future for the UK. I think this vacuum in direction can be seen prior the formation of the Coalition government in 2010 where David Cameron became heir to Blair. It can be seen in the lack of substantial policy contributions from either the Fabian Society or Progress following the decline of Blair. And for all the talk of the toothless Corbyn opposition, I don’t need to remind you of the mass abstention on the welfare cuts, do I? Or the ‘jump? how high?’ response to the savagery and cruelty of the NHS ‘efficiency savings’?
The lack of intellectual drive within Labour means it’s become easy ‘copy’ to sneer at suboptimal local election results with a ‘told you so’, never mentioning the months of relentless rubbishing of the Labour Party brand. It means that well meaning tweeters can remind you of the meme why you should not vote Liberal Democrat, as they gave you Conservative policies in coalition. This completely ignores the fact that some Labour and non-UKIP oriented Conservative voters will want actively to vote Liberal Democrat to prop up a Lib Dem-Conservative coalition. It’s an open secret Tim Farron MP loathes the Corbyn arm of the Labour Party, and would like bosom up to followers of Tony Blair while being scathing of the Iraq War simultaneously.
Personally, I am finding the lack of support amongst some in the Labour Party totally demoralising. Whilst I support Jeremy Corbyn as leader, as indeed I have supported all leaders since 1992, I find it completely dispiriting how so many find themselves unable to offer constructive solutions on burning issues such as disability quality of life, social housing, the NHS, social care, the ‘gig economy’, tax avoidance, school and university education, cost of living, and so on. There are still millions of people who need a Labour government, and the sneering simply cannot go on. To attack people like me who support Jeremy Corbyn without being Corbynite will achieve nothing.
There are some ‘rules’ of politics which generally go unchallenged – to some extent. “Everyone likes choice” – and the “yeah but…”, you have to be given the correct resources to exercise this choice. Some people have more choice than others.
That Jeremy Corbyn has produced such powerful resentment in certain groups of people is of interest, in that people who dislike Corbyn might be expected to let choice to run its course. But even before he had won his second leadership election, voices in the mainstream media and the parliamentary Labour Party had already drafted his obituary. I can’t pretend to agree with all of what Jeremy Corbyn says, but I feel there is a disgust by some Labour voters at Corbyn which would be better directed at themselves.
Not everyone agrees on Israel. Not everyone agrees on Northern Ireland. Not everyone thankfully agrees on Ken Livingstone. But it is rather that some of the strongest advocates of a liberal voice have made it their wish to shut down debate on important issues. I am loath to say that Jeremy Corbyn is an analogue politician living in a digital age, as I feel that gives power to the elbow of ageism which definitely runs as an undercurrent to some of the personal attacks on Jeremy Corbyn. But as Margaret Thatcher herself said, when you resort to personal attacks you have lost the argument.
Once you peel away the misreporting of the domestic policies, which is substantial, the policies are themselves pretty sound and reasonable for anyone ‘left leaning’. It is a genuine phenomenon that the media by and large do not give the Labour Party leadership or membership a fair hearing, preferring to give a dispropotionate voice to critics within the parliamentary Labour Party.
It has long been conceded that the Labour Party represents a diversity of views. As Tony Benn famously said, “People attending Church include some Christians. Labour is not a socialist party, although there are some socialists in it.” Much of the current media talk is inevitably about Brexit, but, for most MPs, what brings the legislation, policies and regulations to life is the caseload of the weekly constituency surgery. I expect that the number of complaints about lack of social housing, delays in A&E, or working in a ‘gig economy’ far outweigh whether UK citizens travelling abroad will be given free health insurance following Article 50.
It has become sexy to talk of an existential crisis within Labour about its identity, but it is my contention that – if you believe in choice – it is unfair for Jeremy Corbyn to be criticised for wanting to implement his view of socialism. The first thing that has to be acknowledged is that Jeremy Corbyn won overwhelmingly the leadership elections of his party nationally twice. The second thing to be emphasised is that Jeremy Corbyn has held robustly the same principles since 1983 when he was elected under the famous ‘longest suicide note in history’ from Oxford first-class honours holder Michael Foot. As the famous Marx brother said, “if you don’t like my principles, that’s OK – I have others.”
If it is inappropriate to say Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t “do digital”, I think it’s fine to say he doesn’t do binary. On the face of it, both Tim Farron MP (who I hear you ask? He is the current leader of the Liberal Democrats) and Jeremy Corbyn MP hold the same views on Brexit, in agreement on free goods and services and free movement of people. But the analogue argument is important, I feel. If you assume that Jeremy Corbyn holds roughly the same views as Tony Benn, Jeremy Corbyn would’ve voted to remain in the European Union but only just. Tony Benn believed that it was only possible to believe in free movement of capital if you believed in free movement of persons – as Benn put it, “if money can have passports, why can’t people?” Benn objected to a multinational corporatocracy, which is consistent with Corbyn’s support of the EU Posted Workers Directive, preventing undercutting of wages by multinationals. Gordon Brown in 2010 had proposed the migration transformation fund to provide financial support to areas of the UK which had experienced high levels of migration, but this was rejected by the electorate in favour of the coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. That the EU referendum was held to keep together the Conservative Party, with the consequence of splitting the country down the middle, is pure and simple. For example, Jeremy Corbyn has himself reported that in his constituency non-EU families often remain split due to the current legislation which is often perceived as being discriminatory in favour of EU migration?
Where Corbyn, Tony Benn and Farage (and UKIP) are in agreement possibly is the idea that you should not give power to those you ultimately can’t take the power away from. Benn in his diaries talks about all the pain he had in the 1970s being unable to amend EU legislation even as a Minister of the Crown. Where Corbyn and Farage (and UKIP) are possibly not in agreement is that Corbyn believes that the State should be able to intervene in ‘failing industries’. To take as an example, because national policy had led NHS Foundation Trusts to become increasingly within the ambit of EU competition law, like the steel industries, the scope for ‘state aid’ became more controversial. The irony for the NHS is that the biggest threat to its existence has come internally from decades of underfunding – i.e. a deliberate ‘choice’ from a domestic government “taking back control”. Anyway – my point is that Jeremy Corbyn does not benefit from the need to portray these arguments as binary. The media wants to do binary for everything, like “Do you hate Jeremy Corbyn? Does Jeremy Corbyn bow properly? Does Jeremy Corbyn support Ken Livingstone? Does Jeremy Corbyn want to shut down your nuclear power plant?” But where we all have different views, i.e. we live in a democratic society, such an approach is in sheer defiance of democratic socialism.
Jeremy Corbyn has held views of democratic socialism, as indeed many within the Labour Party have, for years before Jeremy Corbyn became leader or before Owen Jones was interviewed for GQ magazine. I would find it impossible to believe that Jeremy Corbyn believes in any other system for the National Health Service other than where we pool risk equally, and where money cannot buy you undue influence. This is going to be of critical importance when we get into an age of personal genomics where the inheritance of certain medical diseases can be accurately predicted at birth. Tony Benn believed that the democratic vote bought you influence not money. I am quite sure that if Jeremy Corbyn is defeated at the ballot box, as so many people within the Labour Party appear to be actively looking forward to, Jeremy Corbyn will too live with that.
Jeremy Corbyn is for me the only constant in this particular scenario, which means that Jeremy Corbyn is not the one experiencing the ‘existential’ crisis. Quite the reverse. The crisis is being experienced by many of those MPs who expected to be serving in a Ed Miliband government (and who abstained on the welfare benefits cuts) and of course the all powerful Westminster lobby of journos.
Jeremy Corbyn was my first choice for leader of the Labour Party twice. I’ve always voted Labour, and I’m currently 42. I don’t consider myself a Euro-fanatic, but I voted ‘remain’ in Brexit. But I must admit when Corbyn said ‘Now the real fight begins’, I got genuinely scared – it had for me, as Emma Burnell opined, all the overtones of someone who doesn’t really believe in parliamentary democracy.
There are some people who believe that Jeremy Corbyn can do ‘no good’. I am not one of them. I have previously supported Corbyn to the hilt, and I think most of his principles in domestic policy are reasonably sound. We are both socialists. For example, I agree with Corbyn on cracking down on aggressive corporate tax a aoidance, and wishing to tackle head-on the crisis in social care and social housing. I agree that fundamentally the situation Labour finds itself is not as such Labour’s fault. I am not a ‘Blairite’ – there were some successes in the Tony Blair governments, and some failures. The history for me personally is that, in the last leadership election shortly after the referendum of June 23rd 2016, I found myself disagreeing with the views of Owen Smith MP and his supporters. I felt that that particular time was not the best time to having yet another leadership election when Corbyn had only just been democratically elected leader – and I felt that the behaviour of much of the Labour Party was pretty unconscionable. In fact, I blocked several Labour MPs on Twitter.
There was an unsaid deal that the parliamentary Labour Party would try to be more professional in experience, such as not briefing the media about offices which they should have vacated after publicly resigning, if the leadership machine communicated better with the PLP. There was an unsaid agreement that there would be at some stage much more useful detail about policies. Whilst not violently anti-Blairite, the spectacle of Anna Soubry MP and Alastair Campbell ganging up on John McDonnell (like Clive Lewis, a follower of mine on Twitter) beyond the pale.
Let’s be clear. Reversing corporation tax to fund the NHS and social care is not a policy in itself – nor is renegotiating the private finance initiative, important though that is. There is, however, an honest conversation to be had about how GPs feel themselves totally overwhelmed by the demand (and so do Accident and Emergency Departments), and, on the whole, people are living for longer with complex co-morbidities such as dementia. GPs will be the first to tell you that ‘ten minute appointments’ do not do their patients justice, and certainly insufficient for a frank discussion about psychological therapies for dementia compared to reaching for the prescription pad. The whole debate about integration has become engulfed in criticism about the sustainability and transformation plans; that there is insufficient money in both the NHS and social care is not in any dispute. On the other hand, for many long term conditions, the decision between ‘health’ and ‘social care’ is totally arbitrary and yet this has a profound impact for individuals in terms of their funding arrangements. The reality of ‘care at home’ is far from the rhetoric and yet the Department of Health is fighting its own battles such as with the junior doctors over their contract – whilst Jeremy Hunt is touring the world boasting about patient safety (neglecting to mention 20 hour trolley waits in England), and seeing if he can aggressively pimp NHS services to a New Trump US. We are all left exasperated wondering what it is that the UK is so desperate to sell to any country, dictatorship or otherwise, far flung or not.
Jeremy Corbyn’s stance is indeed ‘principled’ in that one half of the party faces one way (constituencies wishing to remain in European Union, such as Islington), and one half facing the polar opposite (constituencies wishing to leave the European Union, which as Hayes). But back to Nye Bevan’s old adage, ‘if you stand in the middle of the road, you are bound to get run over’. Corbyn’s political stance means inevitably he will end up annoying many on both sides, especially some in the 48% who oppose a ‘hard Brexit’. Whilst Keir Starmer and pals do not want to soil their lips with the words “hard” and “Brexit”, there is no other term for not being included in the single market, or giving up on the free movement of people. The ‘taking back control’ meme has become rampant, and it seems that every MP is entitled to justify voting like a robot even more on grounds of the fact that ‘this referendum result was delivered by the people’. The case against leaving the EU won’t go away, however, including the 40-60 Euro divorce fee, or the hit the economy will take when the City is not allowed to do EU passporting. But it is said that many Brexiters are prepared to take this hit. Indeed, many Corbyn voters who voted Brexit seem intensely relaxed about Jeremy Corbyn’s performance.
You’d be forgiven for thinking Britain has a bright future, despite the import inflation and problems in finding workers for certain sectors of the economy. For now, Scotland, which voted to remain in the EU largely, has been muzzled, but it will not be long before they ‘take back control’ again and ‘roar again’ as Alex Salmond put it. The Brexit vote has given fuel to Nigel Farage’s rantings on his radio show, having extra rocket fuel from the election of a bigot, sexist, and racist elsewhere. The LBC phone lines are choc-a-bloc with racist and xenophobic rantings about how the ills of the world can be placed at the feet of immigrants. But such criticisms would be to shoot the messenger of this xenophobic racist rubbish rather than the message itself. A major ‘miss’ was there not being implemented a Migration Impact Fund, or Posted Workers Directive, to give areas of high migrant population additional financial support, or legislation to stop the undercutting of workers. But the solution to all this is not Amber Rudd MP, in the same way the immigration levels sky rocketed under Theresa May MP. Without any attempt to limit proportionately migrant numbers, and without funding public services, leaving the European Union is simply a smoke-and-mirrors exercise, and you can bet Nigel Farage will have long gone by then.
I do agree very much that it’s not all Jeremy Corbyn’s fault. There are many head winds in the opposite direction to Jeremy Corbyn. For example, Corbyn daily has to deal with a vicious media and there are rarely any positive noises coming out of the Guardian or Laura Kuenssberg about him. And also, there has been a relentless focus on the ‘Labour rebels’, and the three-line-whip from Corbyn (presumably because Corbyn does not want to be blamed for obstructing Brexit), but one really has to wonder what on earth has happened to those Tory MPs who reperesnt ‘remain’ consittuencies. It is entirely possible, of course, that the Liberal Democrats will take these seats, and then the critical question for 2020 will be who is the largest party. I have a hunch this will be the Conservatives, wishing to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, rather than Labour and the SNP forming a coalition (assuming that there is no sign of a turnaround in Scotland’s fortunes from Jeremy Corbyn and Kezia Dugdale).
Quite frankly, these are desperately stressful times for some people who want to vote Labour. There are some people who think that Jeremy Corbyn is utterly brilliant – and all power to their elbow. But there are also different people who believe Corbyn is overseeing the suicide of the UK Labour Party. Irrespective of your views on EURATOM or the ERASMUS scheme, what are we tell close friends of ours who are EU nationals and remain as ‘bargaining chips’ in the negotiation about to happen? The reality is that we do not know what the attitude of the European Union will be – but guaranteed the hyperbolic importance of England by Nigel Farage over Brexit is not matched by the column inches devoted to Brexit in the continental newspapers. I have a declining faith in Jeremy Corbyn, but my ‘faith’ is being put to the test. I don’t see any other saviour on the horizon, and a third leadership election might make him bullet-proof as far as the membership is concerned. I would feel a lot more reassured if we had more detail on domestic policy, but I understand the problems in predicting the state of the macroeconomy particularly with Brexit and Donald Trump looming on the horizon.
And of course the 2020 general election might be a very good one to lose, if you take away the possibility of Jeremy Hunt negotiating a UK-US trade deal which would kill off the NHS entirely.
There are key differences between Theresa May and Bridget Jones.
For a start, Jones was single for a long time. And Bridget Jones always tended to look desperate.
The Labour Party is divided on Brexit – but they’re not the only ones, and it’s not Jeremy Corbyn’s fault. My late father used to tell me that there are some people who will love you whatever you do, some people who will hate you whatever you do, and some people who will always remain indifferent. Many parliamentary Labour MPs have criticised Jeremy Corbyn so much, that further criticisms of Corbyn now over Brexit would be completely hollow. To use an analogy, they have already ‘used up their lives’.
Let me pin my nails to the mast. I am in my early 40s, and was opposed to Brexit for the purposes of the June 23rd 2016 referendum. I don’t think this makes me a ‘remoaner’. I was always a bit concerned about the domestic abuse of the UK governments in state aid rules, and this is clearly of concern with the pre-meditated drastic, severe and chronic under-funding of the National Health Service and social care. I was similarly concerned about whether the EU en bloc with the US would become embroiled in TTIP, a transatlantic trade agreement, which would make it much easier for ‘free movement of capital’ ownership of ‘our NHS’. But I am told by various loud voices that what concerned many, stereotypically outside Scotland and London, was a free movement of workers, many unskilled, undercutting ‘home grown produce’. Unfortunately, some of this genuine concern got transformed into outright racism and abuse, as can be clearly seen in some of the vitriol aimed at Gina Miller.
I get the fact that there are some Labour MPs who represent constituencies representing populations who wanted to remain in the European Union. I also get the argument that you wouldn’t want, ideally, to sell your house, and make yourself homeless, and have nowhere to go to. But the idea that we will know much of the detail of the negotiations this early on is pie in the sky on the whole. Clearly, if it were the case that the European Union demanded forced repatriation of British citizens living in Europe, there would be a strong case not to start the chain of events culminating in us leaving the European Union; but this is quite unlikely, if only we don’t have a clear idea of which EU citizens are living in the UK for a start. It is pretty likely that, in the absence of strong free trade agreements elsewhere, our domestic economy would take a big hit if the UK was not included in the EU single market, but at this point this is a prophecy, and coud be right or wrong like every single other economic prediction.
I understand the need for Labour MPs to make it public that they cannot comply with a 3-line whip set by Corbyn, when their ‘conscience’ will not allow it (and nor will their local membership). We are where we are, however. The referendum, we all know by now, was only legally advisory according to the relevant Act of parliament, but unfortunately it is also the case that the non-binding yet forceful words dropped into every letterbox in the land: “that the Government will implement whatever you decide.” The case for re-running the referendum in some form of other on account of the outright lies is weakened by the fact that every single UK election has had a big degree of lying (remember ‘no top reorganisation of the NHS’ by Cameron prior to the 2010 general election?) Whilst a referendum is not the same as an election, it was David Cameron’s decision to put the issue to a referendum in his famous Bloomberg speech to defuse grumblings in his own party. What this inevitably has done has exposed a split opinion in the country at large, and it would be nonsense to believe that the splitting of opinion is simply confined to the Labour Party.
Whatever you dislike about Jeremy Corbyn MP, for example his famous terrorist ‘friends’ remark, his arguably somewhat patronising tone in giving interviews, his dress sense, his purported lack of patriotism when singing the national anthem, Jeremy Corbyn is in no way responsible for the split within the Labour Party on Brexit. Many of his MPs represent constituencies who do not see the ‘benefits’ of immigration. Many of his MPs represent the polar opposite viewpoint. In as much as the only certainties are ‘death’ and ‘taxes’, one thing is pretty certain in that Jeremy Corbyn MP as leader of the Labour Party would be unlikely to make everyone happy on Brexit. This is not the same as the Labour Party appearing ‘confused’ on Brexit, as constantly levelled at Emily Thornberry MP in media interviews. Quite the reverse, the ‘three line whip’, if anything, is Jeremy Corbyn showing the ‘strong leadership’ or ‘real leadership’ demanded of him by Angela Eagle MP and Owen Smith MP in their failed leadership bids.
Now that the Supreme Court had decided that there is insufficient mileage in the argument that the Royal Prerogative is sufficient to trigger Article 50, a Bill predictably has been laid before parliament, longer than the Bill giving women the vote. Labour and the Conservatives, unlike the SNP and Liberal Democrats, have taken national party lines of triggering exiting from the European Union. I feel that the need for MPs to comply with national policy comes less from the convoluted arguments of Edmund Burke on delegates versus representatives, often misquoted inaccurately, but the issue that otherwise MPs would be acting as independents. There are clearly massive problems down the line, if the US Congress decide to do a trade deal with the UK massively to the detriment of the UK for the political convenience of the governing parties of the UK and US. Or, there are issues if, to gain competitive advantage, the UK feels it must lower corporation tax rates even further to stop capital migrating, say, to Ireland, turning the UK effectively into a ‘bargain basement tax haven’ was warned in unison by Keir Starmer QC MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP. It is not immediately obvious what the UK has to sell in a trade deal to the US apart from its genius – but the rich pickings that would made of the NHS is not “scaremongering” but a genuine issue which lies in the national interest.
Exiting the European Union per se is the starting gun. The current Government has previously talked about repealing the Human Rights Act (ideologically consistent with leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice). There’s no guarantee that xenophobia in some parts of the UK ‘heavily hit by immigration’ will be alleviated short of mass deportation of citizens awaiting guarantees of permanent residence, or by a ‘migration transformation fund’ promised by Labour back in 2010. There’s no guarantee that total immigration levels will fall drastically. We do, however, already know that Indian and Australian Doctors do not feel it is their duty to plug the ‘skills gap’ in the NHS, given the torrential negative perception of the NHS given by its longest serving Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt. But it would be political suicide if Labour unilaterally came out on the side of the 52% or the 48%. We know that countries of the European Union do not see the four freedoms, in people, capital, goods, and services, as anything other than an unitary package. It’s pretty unlikely that London, even if achieved outright devolution imminently, would be allowed to gain EU passporting rights maintaining a sectoral lifeline for the City.
It’s also pretty unlikely that a small number of revolting Labour MPs, SNP MPs and Liberal Democrat MPs (#seewhatIdidthere) will be sufficient to stop the triggering of Art. 50. Jeremy Corbyn MP, meanwhile, will have to do the best with the deck of cards he’s been handed. Keir Starmer QC MP is right not to get worked up about the semantics of the hard versus soft Brexit. The approach taken by Theresa May MP is substantially one of pragmatism, even if the rhetoric and mood music are more akin sometimes to euphoric Nigel Farage. Many of us reasonably minded like-minded people (or liberal snowflakes) want to reach for the sick bag as soon as we hear about the personal relationship or special chemistry between Theresa May and Donald Trump. Likewise, Jeremy Corbyn can only try to make the best of a bad deal, but, if he is held as being downright obstructive to Brexit, all hell will break loose. I think with import inflation, the skills gap in the UK, and societal discord, Brexit will pan out to be an unmitigated disaster. But it would be wrong to blame Jeremy Corbyn for that too.
And by the way… we know what happened to Bridget Jones in the end.
Some of my best friends quite like Paul Nuttall. They think of him as a bit of a “cheeky chappy” who is pretty affable.
There’s a rule in HR (Human Resources) – that past performance predicts future performance. On that basis, that Paul Nuttall MEP failed to win Bootle and numerous other seats previously, the current leader of UKIP may continue the losing streak in getting into the UK parliament.
But these are different times – where there are no facts or truth, and anything goes. For example, nobody really cares whether Paul Nuttall holds a Doctorate or not. It’s very rare for somebody to be elected into parliament on their academic prowess. Enoch Powell and Tristram Hunt both went to Trinity College, Cambridge, and both hold doctorates from the said University, but that did not make them into election-winning infallible machines.
Looking at the idea of targeting people for particular seats, one can see the logic of trumping up a LibDem candidate in a parliamentary seat such as Richmond in London which is predominantly anti-Brexit. Similarly, the constituency in Stoke is largely pro Brexit, so if there is someone in with a chance it’s Paul Nuttall MEP. When you add to this that Tristram Hunt only just won his seat, having been parachuted in with the help of senior Labour grandees, only just beating UKIP, the high risk strategy of Nuttall might indeed pay off.
Why is it high risk of Nuttall to go for this seat? It’s a very public fight. If he wins the seat, this could be a landmark victory for UKIP in a post Brexit vote or post Trump inaugural era. It may be now ‘acceptable’ to vote for Nuttall. There could be a plethora of shy Nuttalls, who aren’t ‘racist’ but who feel that immigration is out of control. They aren’t opposed to immigration per se, but can’t stand people from Eastern Europe stealing their jobs or living together in houses of ten.
To this extent, Paul Nuttall MEP is behaving exactly like a ‘disruptive innovation’. Typically a product, a disruptive innovation comes along, which, if adopted, offers some feature or value the other products don’t have. It’s easy to obtain this product, and completely scoops up the market. We’ve seen in roads in disruption from, say, the Apple iPod or Uber taxis.
The interesting thing is that with this added value, say the ‘beautiful’ design of the iPad or iPod, people are prepared to overlook the lack of certain other features (e.g. no record deck or minidisc). Paul Nuttall’s unique selling point is that he can plug into this sentiment that nobody cares about getting immigration levels down. And to that extent no amount of memes about his wish for certain types of capital punishment or privatisation of the NHS are relevant.
And the other thing is that, once Nuttall gets his foot in the door, nobody will ever look back – people will be hard pushed to imagine a market without iPods, iPads or Uber taxis. Similarly, we’ll all wonder how on earth we ever managed without UKIP in mainstream politics.
There are also externalities which might act in Nuttall’s in favour. One of them is the sheer effort and tenacity with which the parliamentary Labour Party has put into rubbishing the brand of the Labour Party, whether this involves criticising Jeremy Corbyn personally, or criticising his personal stance over a wide variety of issues (e.g. the pay differential, Trident etc.)
The Labour Party is like the country divided. The membership is said to be soaring, and yet certain MPs are thought to be seeking alternative employment ahead of the next general election (like Jamie Reed for example). The MPs are genuinely divided on a lot of policy, such as Brexit and Trident, but are generally well disposed to criticising with an united voice the crisis, humanitarian or not, in the NHS and social care.
Past performance is meant to be a predictor of future performance. Whilst it is roughly true that the one day of Trump as a president has been largely the same as Trump as the candidate, we know the Republican Party were loath to support Trump and Trump’s poll ratings are terrible.
So, the difficult transpires how we will know whether Labour will have a chance in Stoke or Copeland. If you take heed that nobody has ever come back from such terrible poll ratings, Jeremy Corbyn politically is already dead and buried. But he did also defy convention to be elected leader of the Labour Party twice, the second election being a ‘back me or sack me’ scenario.
The truth is that the Labour Party in parliament have limited options in rubbishing their brand, and some of it depends whether voters think they’d rather try a new political party rather than one of the incumbents. There may also be, unlikely though it is, shy Corbynites who will never admit to voting for Corbyn, a bit like fans of the pop group Bros, but who will go out and vote for him as it’s better than voting Tory.
It may be that despite all the faults people will vote for Labour or Nuttall whatever, in the same way that the sexual peccadillo or showering habits of Trump are not game changers. But these are strange times. If Nuttall wins, it could be, as Blair put it once, ‘a new dawn has broken’. But if he loses, as UKIP leader, the accusations will come thick and fast that UKIP have peaked, and that with the Brexit negotiations, this is ‘no time for a novice’.
Nuttall’s approach to be that, apart from a sense of libertarianism thinking the NHS could benefit from more privatisation making it more efficient, the ideology is sufficiently broad brush to appeal to anyone who hates immigration. But if he wishes to slay the sacred cow that is the NHS, especially at a time when the NHS is in crisis, it’s debatable about whether voters like him enough to make Nuttall an official member of the House of Commons? Is it beyond contempt to criticise the NHS as a member of the ‘working class’ (a broad category of people), or is Nuttall ‘seizing the moment’?
It could be that Paul Nuttall is not ‘the man of the moment’, but, as the Thick of It hold out, the “man for the moment”.
The ultimatum that Jeremy Corbyn should step down if Labour’s fortunes do not improve appears to have been handed down by somebody considered to be a loyal supporter of Corbyn – Len McCluskey, possibly one of the most well known ‘Union barons’.
Part of the problem is that we will not known for certain if Labour’s fortunes have improved. The Corbyn camp normally draw attention to the huge mass membership of Labour, attributed to a personal popularity of Corbyn himself, citing that Labour is at least one of the largest socialist parties in Europe. But we know that metrics can be unreliable. Donald Trump came to win ‘from behind’. He was even lagging in polling terms at the beginning of the night of the US election itself. Pollsters in the UK have likewise had a run of bad luck, in not being able to predict reliably the outcome of the 2015 general election (on the whole) and the EU referendum. But there were, arguably, runes to be read. For example, the wipeout in Scotland, which predates Jeremy Corbyn and which appears untouched by Kezia Dugdale, was expected. Likewise, a revival of Labour’s fortunes in Scotland in the next general election is not widely anticipated by many.
The traditional explanation of Corbyn’s bad poll ratings has been a protracted effect of the ‘coup’ that never was, or the ‘honeymoon’ experienced by Theresa May as a new Conservative Prime Minister in office. Or it could be the lack of support of what has boringly become the ‘mainstream media’ as a term of abuse, invariably sponsored by Rupert Murdoch in some form. And there is possibly some truth in this, in that the Labour Party visibly imploded, and appeared proud at doing so, in broad daylight in the aftermath of the referendum. Whatever the reasons are, apart from local rallies, or on Twitter, Jeremy Corbyn does not appear to be getting his message across with the longstanding Labour voters who have switched to UKIP.
Such new voters tend to say their decision is not out of any love for Nigel Farage, but some of them appear to loathe Corbyn, feeling that Corbyn has nothing to say on social housing (completely untrue). But the thorn in the side of some people who voted for Brexit, part of the ‘taking back control’ meme, is that there appears to be no immediate resolution to the thunderous immigration levels. But these levels have remained high even with Theresa May as SoS for the Home Department. The narrative still remains of people from Eastern Europe undercutting local workers, and claims and counterclaims remain. But the perception is that Jeremy Corbyn is friendly to the idea of free movement of people, and there is a sense from some that even if the UK economy implodes due to withdrawal from inclusion in the single market this is a ‘price well worth paying’ to misquote Norman Lamont, if immigration levels come down. For many, there is no discussion to be had about the value of migrant populations to the fabric of society or economy of the country, in the same way there is no longer a discussion about Labour is incompetent with the economy.
If Jeremy Corbyn were not to step down, it is unlikely that the current parliamentary party has the energy or inclination to host a third leadership election much as that might seem desirable. If Corbyn refuses to move, the best the parliamentary party is to try to work with a grassroots membership to sell Labour on the doorstep. But it is hard to get away from the genuine unease of some Labour grassroots in wanting to sell, for example, a Trident policy with which they may not necessarily agree. Not all will believe in the arguments of a minimum income, for example, either. But the tragedy is that Labour call ill afford such internal troubles mean that the UK withdraws seamlessly from the European Court of Justice which would bode well for the repeal of the Human Rights Act, or let the NHS and social care further implode. There is much agreement on the need to tackle industrial scale tax avoidance or the abuse of the gig economy, but there are serious doubts whether Jeremy Corbyn is necessarily the man who can appeal to the broad range of potential Labour membership. And this is not even to touch the concerns of some on Corbyn’s foreign policy, though this could well be small fry with what President-Elect Donald Trump has to offer imminently.
The only definitive way of knowing whether Corbyn will do a Trump, snatch victory from the jaws of victory, is to put it to the test. But of course it could all end badly yet again for Labour. If Labour fails, there will be plenty of people who will claim ‘I told you so’, but there will also be plenty of people who will think the daggers were out for Corbyn from the very start. The side-effect of the second Labour leadership election is that it effectively made Jeremy Corbyn bullet-proof. Admittedly, there is a substantial number of uncertainties, such as what the current Government wish to propose as ‘red lines’ in its exit from the European Union. However, whatever the feeling of what is ‘right’ for the economy or society, there’ll be some Labour longstanding voters flirting with UKIP who might be very angry that Labour didn’t wish to support Brexit really. Corbyn is essentially in a ‘no win’ situation, virtually impossible to triangulate out of, unless he makes the 2020 election a referendum on the running of the Conservatives’ Brexit, and who knows what would happen there. The danger of course is that Labour bins Corbyn just before the election, then has to bin the new leader after losing a 2020 general election.