It is alleged that John McDonnell MP, in reviewing the fortunes of the Labour Party in the recent elections, joked that at least Labour had not been annihilated. Who says the Left doesn’t have a sense of humour?
Of course, the likes of Alastair Campbell aren’t laughing.
Was the reaction to the recent local elections expected? Should we have guessed that Laura Kuenssberg would be behaving as if she had just bagged an amazing Louis Vuitton bargain at the first day of the sales?
I feel that this difficulty in the local elections was entirely predictable – and indeed is all factored into by people who want to get rid of Corbyn, as well as those who massively support him.
This comment was made in May last year on a US website:
“Mid-term elections, in particular, are revealing as to how triangulation strengthens the right wing. Once incumbency relieves national Democratic leaders of the any need to lean toward their “base,” triangulation comes in full swing. In 2014 for example, triangulation led to electoral disaster for Democrats and the lowest voter turnout in 70 years despite the record $4 billion spent on the election.
With few exceptions, 2014 offered the choice between pseudo-Republicans on the Democratic ticket and real Republicans. Voters choose the real deal and/or the demoralized voters stay home.
Triangulation sharply curtailed Obama possibilities. This is not a new pattern. Triangulation did its share to contribute to the rightwing resurgence and entrenchment in 1994, 1996, 2010 and 2014.”
Note – this is nothing to do with Jonathan Freedland, Stephen Kinnock or Richard Anstell. This comment is about how mid-term elections tend to reveal a low turnout, with a phenomenon that right wing parties tend to entrench their positions.
I’m not a professional political commentator. I think very few people are – apart from the magnificent Steve Richards. But I do have an interest in human psychology, and what I perceive to be fairness and justice. And the aftermath of the local elections and Mayoralty decisions have been very traumatic for ‘people like me’. But in a way which I think is entirely predictable.
Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell claim they want to reach out to various members of the ‘broad church’ – but like all playgrounds, this approach will run into difficulty if certain infants simply don’t want to play. Corbyn and McDonnell give the impression of only being interested in their own, and this ironically is a departure from the criticism of the Blair years where Labour is considered to have ignored ‘its core vote’.
Corbyn and McDonnell are not running a 35% strategy. It is claimed by Lord Steve Wood that despite the popularisation of this selective marketing of the Ed Miliband pitch offer this was actually a figment of the imagination of certain personnel in the media. One cannot possibly imagine who Wood means, but if the names John Rentoul or Dan Hodges actually come up, so be it.
Corbyn is perfectly happy with this ‘comfort base’. The element of ‘Corbyn’s way or the high way’ is prone to over-interpretation, such as the issue of whether Andy Burnham’s success party on winning of the Manchester mayoralty avoided turning into yet another Corbyn mass movement rally.
In terms of human psychology, people who support Jeremy Corbyn are incredibly passionate about him. They claim to be equally interested in his politics and ‘pledges’, and to be fair people who criticise Corbyn tend to do so on personal terms rather than detailing objections on policy terms. But arguably their style of behaviour on Twitter tends to wind others up – a ‘force field’ around 20 second gifs of showing Corbyn invincible as he ‘meets the voters’, or some meme blaming some fiasco in Corbyn’s outreach on ‘fake news’ or misrepresentation in the ‘mainstream media’.
But here the Guardian have not played fair either. Jonathan Freedland was the first to pen a nasty article about Corbyn’s failure to reach the numbers required to win a majority in an election – and I dare say there’ll be others. But the fact remains that authors in the Guardian have thrown everything but the kitchen sink at rubbishing Jeremy Corbyn, his colleagues and his supporters, trying to produce a mood of demoralisation which is hard for anyone to battle against.
Instead of focusing on the issues, or producing constructive criticism (for example how technology might be utilised in bringing together the NHS and social care in a Blairite way, or thinking about how the gig economy might work for both you and the State in a Blairite way), the agenda of the Guardian is to assassinate Corbyn politically.
And this has been the mission of Lord Neil Kinnock and Richard Angell (chief honcho of Progress). But I have to say that they were both personally very nice to me on the single occasions they have met me, in a club in Manchester and in a pub near St James’ Park (for a Christmas quiz) respectively.
I ‘get’ their frustration. They see the failure of Corbyn to ‘break through’ with the same frustration as me, but my unfortunate perception of them has been, rightly or wrongly, is that they – like Freedland – want Corbyn to fail. I cannot sign up to this philosophy. It goes much deeper than a misplaced sense of solidarity in the guise of socialism. I think this has been to play politics with people’s hopes, tread on these hopes, and want to see them dead and buried.
When I see John Woodcock MP throw his toys out of the pram, I cannot countenance him wanting to be a Labour MP. To be a MP under the leadership of whoever in Labour is a privilege – that crumpet Wo0dcock is nibbling on his cake and eating it – wanting to act independent but be labelled Labour.
The years of relentless Corbyn attacks have been, in my view, been to drown out any legitimate criticism of him over the years. There is of course an issue about whether the Corbyn inner circle would’ve listened to and acted on feedback – the persons involved are adamant that they act on feedback.
The perception has been of people on the sidelines supposedly well meaning, but flinging mud and contributing to the sour atmosphere – like Owen Jones. These are people who are adamant they are life-long supporters of Labour. A greater difficulty comes with people who have no intention of voting Labour ever who are held up to be great bastions of protecting socialist philosophy.
It is clearly now impossible with 33 days to go for Labour to embark on a third leadership election for leader. The only thing that Labour can do is to try to make sure its policies can break through despite the embargo in the mainstream media who are obsessed with the robotic ‘strong and stable’ meme of Theresa May.
My gut feeling is that Labour is living in cloud cuckoo land if it aspires to the ‘man on the street’ who would like Labour’s policy if only he knew about them from alternative news channels. I think it runs much deeper than that – like a group of people aged 50s from the shires who ultimately have an axe to grind against the Blair years and who were waiting for UKIP come along, but now UKIP have ‘done their job’, their natural inclination is now to vote Tory. This vote for Tory is a vote, they perceive, for competence rather than idealism – but of course the left ‘protest’, even not in an organised rally, is entirely principled to prevent the funding of public services getting further worsened.
I think Lord Stewart Wood is right. I think Tom Baldwin is right.
I think Lord Spencer Livermore is right.
— Dr Shibley Rahman ❄️ (@dr_shibley) May 6, 2017
The damage was done a long time ago, for example with 172 Labour MPs refusing to support their leader in public in any meaningful form (with the exceptions of a few, such as Grahame Morris, Debbie Abrahams, Barry Gardiner, Angela Rayner, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Richard Burgon). Voters rarely vote for divided parties – and the Labour Party thanks to the political hand grenade offered from David Cameron in the form of a EU referendum is now deeply divided.
Surprisingly, I therefore think it is too early to write off Jeremy Corbyn. I am not the ‘eternal optimist’ of Voltaire’s Candide. I am not completely deluded about this. Theresa May is clearly petrified of the Conservatives sending out the message the election is already ‘signed, sealed and delivered’ – but the dynamics are hard to predict, and the election result will come down to the exact arithmetic of where people place their votes in the privacy of the ballot boxes.