Democracy requires Jeremy Corbyn to win.

Yesterday marked a turning point in the Labour leadership election.

Neither of the trade unions with a leaning towards the Blairite wing of the party backed Liz Kendall. Community announced that they were backing Yvette Cooper, and Usdaw announced that they were backing Andy Burnham. This follows Kendall’s relatively poor performance in gaining nominations from the parliamentary Labour Party, indicating that the reach of the party’s right wing is surprisingly weak.

It is of course wrong to describe Kendall as a “Tory”, and the jibes about “Blairite Taliban” were ill-advised. The party is a broad church, and the strand of liberalism which Kendall represents has a long tradition within the party. As I have written before, it is wrong to compare Blairism with Conservatism.

Blair did have a distinct social agenda, which was both ideologically and practically progressive, compared to the Thatcherite governments which preceded it. The value of David Halpern’s 2009 book “The Hidden Wealth of Nations”, is the way he details the inherently radical nature of Blair’s social policies, though they were not necessarily derived from traditional social democratic influences. In 1997, NHS spending was at around 5% of GDP, and the conditions had been created by the Tories for an expansion of insurance based private sector; instead NHS spending rose to be around 10% of GDP in 2010. Early years intervention, such as SureStart centres for the parents of potentially disadvantaged young children has been a great success; and working tax credit has enormously increased prosperity and independence of parents in work. Labour repealed Clause 28, and introduced civil partnerships. None of these policies could have come from the Tories. […]

Blairism was founded on the idea of creating a fairer, more harmonious society through an empowering partner state that provides conditions for individuals to help themselves. For all its weaknesses, it is a distinctly different agenda from Thatcher’s ideology of regarding the state as inherently problematic, and that individuals needed to be liberated from its influence.

Indeed, far from being Thatcherites, Tony Blair’s supporters in the party have invested considerable effort to establish ideological continuity between themselves and the more traditional Labour revisionists; for example, Patrick Diamond’s 2004 anthology “New Labour’s Old Roots” selects extracts of centre-right thinkers in the party from Evan Durbin to Giles Radice, and editorialises them into a specious narrative leading inexorably to Blair.

Superficially, Blair’s emphasis on community and mutuality, divorced from any commitment to social ownership is indeed resonant of traditional Labour revisionism. But in truth, Blairism was distinct from both Thatcherism and traditional right wing social democracy.

If we compare Blair’s record with the most authorative statement of revisionism, Crosland’s “The Future of Socialism”, we can see that addressing the inequality of power that follows the inequality of wealth is a concept completely central to even centre-right Labourism; whereas in contrast Blairism falls foursquare within the limits of political liberalism, whereby all individuals are regarded as citizens, and the horizons of government are only to remove obstacles to individual liberty and choice; and empowering citizens to benefit from good choices.

To understand the politics of Liz Kendall we need to recall that there were two characteristic attributes of Blairism; which was only partly a distinct social agenda of boosting social capital while embracing the private sector; because it was also an electoral strategy predicated upon triangulating around the concerns of swing voters in marginal constituencies. This resulted in an inherent conservatism that militated against the radical solutions necessary to address the concerns of working class voters.

It is important to understand that these two aspects of Blairism could work against each other; and therefore that the current seeming abandonment of the policy agenda of Blairism by the right wing in the party is itself an attribute of the electoral strategy of Blairism, which is calibrated to exploiting minor differences with the Tories, and cannot cope with the paradigm shift created by the financial crisis, and Tory austerity. Blairism is no longer fit for purpose, even in its own terms. Tony Blair set targets for the reduction of child poverty, Harman, Kendall, Cooper and Burnham capitulated to the Conservatives over measures that will push children in disadvantaged families into desperation and hardship.

Indeed, the utter failure of not only Kendall but also Cooper and Burnham to oppose the Tory welfare bill shows a fundamental misunderstanding not only of the political situation, but of the demands for opposition in a parliamentary democracy.

Democracy is not only about elections, it is also about the contested evaluation of ideas and strategies for the governance of complex industrial societies. Ideas that are generated not only, and not even especially, by politicians and political parties, but also by think tanks, universities, faith groups, employers associations, NGOs, trade unions, single issue campaigns, magazines and journals and by public intellectuals. Indeed, significant paradigm shifts of political and ideological consensus often occur between elections, and are therefore not necessarily presented as a choice to the electorate. This is of course a point made by the Eurosceptic right, not without some purchase on reality.

The mantra from the right is that Labour needs to be in power to effect change, and therefore has to follow the electorate.

Of course any electoral party needs to address the need to build a potentially election wining coalition, but the Tories only gained the support of a minority of voters, and Labour also lost support to parties presenting themselves as to the left of Labour: SNP, Plaid and the Greens.

Of course, real and lasting change does require winning a general election and forming a government, but that cannot be done by wearing the political and ideological clothes of our opponents. British parliamentary democracy is built upon the foundation that the opposition parties will scrutinise, and force debate upon the government.

By so doing, opposition parties feed the broader democratic debate in civil society, and contribute to a culture of accountability and engagement.

Opposition parties are morally obliged, and by constitutional convention expected, to present a choice to the electorate, and indeed the danger for democracy is that if the mainstream parliamentary parties don’t reflect the actual political divides and debates in our society, then this promotes disengagement with our civic and social institutions.

Liz Kendall’s approach would be to isolate the Labour Party on the same narrow ground as the electorally rejected Liberal Democrats. Andy Burnham is presenting himself as the Greencross man “look right, look left, look right again”, and both he and Yvette Cooper are the continuity candidates with a political strategy that has now lost two elections. None of these three will win back the votes we have lost in Scotland to the SNP, or to UKIP in England.

As Harold Wilson once said “This Party is a moral crusade or it is nothing.” Only Jeremy Corbyn will relight labour’s fire.

69 comments on “Democracy requires Jeremy Corbyn to win.

  1. Zaid on said:

    As a major priority, one thing we must not do is let the idea that Jeremy is “unelectable” remain uncontested.

    I would argue that Jeremy is the only candidate out of the four who has a realistic chance of winning the 2020 general election.

    In fact I have done so here.

  2. “I would argue that Jeremy is the only candidate out of the four who has a realistic chance of winning the 2020 general election.”

    Nope. He’d get smashed.

    Not that the others would do much better, but Corbyn would get utterly thumped.

  3. Zaid: As a major priority, one thing we must not do is let the idea that Jeremy is “unelectable” remain uncontested.

    Well, I certainly think that the other three are not going to win a general election in 2020.

    Given that in may you wetre arguing for people to vote for the SPGB, then I think that your dog really isn’t in this fight.

  4. Dan,

    I think a lot would depend on the dynamics within the party. If the current Shadow Cabinet was as disloyal to Corbyn as they were to Ed Miliband, and if Corbyn let them get away with it as much as Miliband did, he’d be screwed. I’m not convinced the second of these would necessarily be the case, though. (Yes, I’m saying I’d welcome a strong leader – just as long as he was strong towards the right people, rather than picking fights with his own base and calling that strength.)

  5. Karl Stewart on said:

    Just on the subject of electability, Jeremy Corbyn is a long, long way ahead of his three leadership rivals if one actually looks at solid facts.

    Corbyn has been elected to Parliament more times than any of his rivals. Corbyn has been elected eight times, Yvette Cooper five times, Andy Burnham four times, and Liz Kendall twice.

    In the most recent election, Corbyn won a larger majority than any of his rivals.
    Corbyn’s majority is 21,194, Cooper’s is 15,428, Burnham’s is 14,096, and Kendall’s is 7,203.

    Corbyn is the only one of the leadership contenders to hold a larger majority now than the Labour majority ‘inherited’ from the previous incumbent.
    Corbyn ‘inherited’ a 4,456 majority from his predecessor – he’s increased it by 16,738.
    Cooper ‘inherited’ a 23,495 majority – it’s fallen by 8,067.
    Burnham ‘inherited’ a 24,496 majority – it’s fallen by 10,400.
    Kendall ‘inherited’ a 9,070 majority – it’s fallen by 1,867.

    Corbyn can poll well in difficult years for Labour. He even increased Labour’s majority between 1979 and 1983.
    And Corbyn is the only one of the leadership contenders to have won an increased majority in 2010 compared to 2005.
    Corbyn’s majority rose by 5,685 between 2005 and 2010. Both Cooper’s and Burnham’s fell over the same period.

    So, to anyone who argues that Corbyn is ‘unelectable’ do you have any facts to back this up?

  6. So, to anyone who argues that Corbyn is ‘unelectable’ do you have any facts to back this up?

    Corbyn is the MP for Islington North which would vote for a balloon on a stick with a face felt-tipped onto it, if it were wearing a red rosette.

    Don’t think it will be Corbyn though. Still think Andy ‘He’ll do, I suppose’ Burnham will get it.

  7. Karl Stewart on said:

    Dan: Corbyn is the MP for Islington North which would vote for a balloon on a stick with a face felt-tipped onto it, if it were wearing a red rosette.

    No, the facts don’t point to that conclusion at all Dan.

    In 1979, Michael O’Halloran won the seat for Labour with a 4,456 majority in a bog-standard Lab-Con-Lib contest.

    In 1983, Jeremy Corbyn retained the seat for Labour with an increased majority of 5,607, despite the fact that he had to contend with Michael O’Halloran standing against him as “Independent Labour” and the fact that he also had to contend with an SDP candidate, and also a general very right-wing political climate that year.

    Over the years, by being an excellent constituency MP and also a principled socialist, Corbyn has gradually built up his constituency majority to today’s 21,194.
    It’s because of Corbyn that Islington North is currently rock-solid safe.

    My point is that in any debate over the relative electability of the Labour leadership candidates, the only real evidence we have is to compare their actual track record on the ground, in terms of real votes won over their Parliamentary careers. And on that criterion, the actual evidence is that Corbyn is streets ahead.

    So if you’re looking purely for the most electable candidate – Corbyn is by far the most electable of the four candidates.

  8. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    It is interesting, using Luke Akehurst’s analysis of CLP nominations, that Kendalls support is in safe seats.

    Among marginal CLP’s Corbyn, Cooper and Burnham are all about 30%, kendall is at 8%.

    My experience is that CLP nominations are typically based on serious consideration by experienced activists, which suggests it is Kendall seen as unelectable in marginal seats.

  9. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Yes that is interesting. None of the arguments the Red Tories are using really stand up to any kind of logical scrutiny do they.

  10. Zaid on said:

    #5 and #7

    Very well said Karl. In particular, the comparison between the majorities of the candidates now with the ones they inherited is very telling and not one I had thought to make. (Would it be okay to quote some or all of what you’ve said on another blog?)

    It is very important to keep making this point. Too often I have heard Labour people express sentiments which go roughly like this “no way – if we elect Corbyn we’ll have the Tories in power for a generation” or “I’d love to vote for Corbyn, but I can’t because, for the sake of the poor and the marginalized, it’s more important to win”. Sentiments like these simply take for granted that Corbyn would damage Labour’s chances.

    This is a catastrophic misconception and must be challenged at every opportunity. You don’t need to sacrifice what you really want for the sake of winning. Because Jeremy Corbyn really does represent Labour’s best hope of winning.

  11. Karl Stewart on said:

    Zaid,
    Corbyn certainly is Labour’s best hope for victory in 2020.

    (Those stats are from wiki)

  12. stephen marks on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Andy I don’t think this is the same Zaid. The one you are thinking of belongs to a small Oxford-based group calling itself the Communist Corresponding Society. Zaid, is that you or are you someone else?

  13. Calvin on said:

    I wish to propose a toast to my old boss at the T&G, Lord Ray Collins, without whom none of this would have been possible

  14. Omar on said:

    As to the unelectability of Corbyn, I believe as life under the Tories gets worse, and austerity still reigns, more of the electorate will be won over to Corbyn’s positions. He will have to exercise iron discipline over the Party, though.

  15. Karl Stewart on said:

    We should also challenge the MSM description of Labour’s Red Tories as ‘modernisers’.

    What’s ‘modern’ about supporting the Tories?

    The Tory Party is the oldest party in the UK – it was created by King Charles II in the late 17th century from among his ‘cavalier’ supporters.

  16. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    To be fair, the modern Conservative Party has little social or ideological continuity with the old Tories. Thatcher and Cameron are whigs.

  17. Pardeep on said:

    Reading the article just made me look forward to the day the Labour party is consigned to the dustbin of history, which can’t be far away. No mention of Liblair failing to vote against the Tories destruction of he welfare state.

  18. Karl Stewart on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Thatcher certainly, although there’s something of the ‘patrician’ about Cameron.

    (But “Red Whig” doesn’t really work as a political insult)

  19. Pardeep: No mention of Liblair failing to vote against the Tories destruction of he welfare state.

    From the article:

    Tony Blair set targets for the reduction of child poverty: Harman, Kendall, Cooper and Burnham capitulated to the Conservatives over measures that will push children in disadvantaged families into desperation and hardship.

    Indeed, the utter failure of not only Kendall but also Cooper and Burnham to oppose the Tory welfare bill shows a fundamental misunderstanding not only of the political situation, but of the demands for opposition in a parliamentary democracy.

  20. Frank on said:

    It’s the first time I have visited this site in a long time and did so today to see what the response would be to Labour abstaining on the welfare reform bill. The term ‘spineless’ springs to my mind. And what do I find; more than half the page given to a highly decorative and overly theorised argument, which argues that Blair was a progressive, whatever that means, both ‘practically’ and ‘ideologically’, and then more pseudo intellectual waffle which amounts to no more than Blair was a little bit better than Thatcher. It’s funny the difference between text and talk. If you read this it can sound coherent, but if you were to read it out loud in front of an audience, I’m convinced the result would be laughter.

    And my thoughts having read such contentious (and pretentious?) nonsense I thought this: if this is the mindset of ‘left Labour’ then Labour do not grasp the problems they are in; simply put, a UK party is unable to win in England, whether is dances to a left or a right tune, whilst here in Scotland, Labour will be unelectable for a generation.

  21. Karl Stewart on said:

    Frank:…if this is the mindset of ‘left Labour’ then Labour do not grasp the problems they are in…

    It’s political correctness gone mad that’s what it is…all this namby-pamby nonsense…so-called ‘socialist unity’…Socialist DISunity that’s what it is…

  22. It’s the first time I have visited this site in a long time

    It’s odd, Frank – every time you post here, you say the same thing. When you posted 2 weeks ago you said it, and when you posted 2 weeks before you said it again. So, basically, you want us to believe that you’re nonchalontly looking down on us sell-outs, passing by every now and then, but your own posting history shows you’re not just a regular visitor, you’re also a regular poster, albeit one who is clearly much much better than the rest of us. I wonder why people need to lie about things like this.

  23. Vanya on said:

    #24 Maybe Frank doesn’t hold to the view that a week is a long time in politics, or even two weeks for that matter.

    Time is a relative concept after all.

    Five minutes in the dentist chair, a million years of human life on earth, 153 minutes watching “Death in Venice”…

  24. Frank on said:

    Tony Collins,
    Is that the best you can come up with?

    I can’t remember the last time I posted on here, but it feels like a long time. I’m convinced it was more than two weeks ago, but obviously you find it easier to scramble for IP addresses than you do political ideas. Paranoia or what. And time is relative, or out of mind…

    As for ‘sell out’s’, I don’t know you, so I won’t make comment. But the Labour Party? Well it’s blown it in Scotland, where it will be cast into the wilderness for a generation. And good riddance. Sure Start means sweet FA compared to mass murder in Iraq and PFI…you guys know the list by now. But what do I know, perhaps I missed the progressive pragmatism of it all…The only good thing Labour did for Scotland was devolution, which dialectically speaking may have been responsible for Labour digging it’s own grave.

    Ee by gum. I can’t believe I’m back debating on socialist unity.

  25. Karl Stewart on said:

    Frank: I can’t believe I’m back debating on socialist unity.

    I’m just as bad Frank.

    I get a bit huffy with SU now and then and go off and sulk, but I always come back to annoy Tony, Andy, John, Vanya and the gang!

  26. John on said:

    Frank: Well it’s blown it in Scotland, where it will be cast into the wilderness for a generation

    Even with Corbyn as leader?

  27. Dan,

    Out of the 4 candidates for the Labour leadership and the current interim leader, Corbyn is the only one I’d even consider voting for, personally. What use is an ‘opposition’ that doesn’t oppose? What use are Harman, Burnham, and Cooper? Worthless careerist hacks. And Kendall is worse.

    Labour are highly unlikely to win the next election by being an imitation of the Tories; and even if they do what would be the point in supporting that? If people want a Tory party to vote for, they already have one. Labour should have the guts/sense to offer an alternative.

  28. John: Even with Corbyn as leader?

    Even if Corbyn wins will the Blairites/ the right-wing of the party/ the majority of Labour MPs allow him to be leader? I mean, Blair himself is undermining Corbyn right now (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jul/22/tony-blair-labour-will-not-win-if-it-steps-away-from-centre-ground) and some Labour MPs are apparently threatening to bring him down “before Christmas”. The Blairites are basically co-operating perfectly with the Tories, the Telegraph, etc.

    If they do, what then for the Labour left? Do they just accept it?

  29. Karl Stewart on said:

    JN,
    The scaremongering, non-evidence-based rumour about an illegal Red Tory “coup” in the event of a Corbyn victory was first made by Jane Merrick and Mark Leftly writing in Sunday’s Independent newspaper.

    If you read their article you’ll see there’s absolutely zero evidence for their claim. Not one MP is named as advocating an illegal “coup”. All there is, is an anonymous “quote” which has zero credibility, and a lot of ignorant speculation.

    And today, three days on, despite their article having been widely repeated by other right-wing media, still not one single MP has come forward to sustantiate Merrick and Leftly’s ridiculous claims.

    If Corbyn were to win, and if the Red Tories were stupid enough to try to launch an illegal coup, they’d be utterly smashed.

  30. Karl Stewart,

    Firstly, to be absolutely clear, I want Corbyn to win.

    Regarding the story in the Independent: let’s assume that you’re absolutely correct and that it’s a false quote invented by the writers, since, yes, they provide no source. Even so, you have the likes of Tony Blair and Chuka Umunna publicly undermining Corbyn, saying he’d be a disaster and Labour won’t be elected for 20 years. They’re the ones who are scare-mongering.

    So, I think the question stands: would Blairites, the right-wing, and the majority of Labour MPs (IE: the ones who followed Harman in abstaining) allow Corbyn to lead the party, and to shift it significantly to the left?

  31. Frank on said:

    John,

    I think Corbyn would be good for Labour in Scotland, although the Scottish leadership candidates, regardless of who wins are two corporate robots unlikely to lay a glove on the SNP.

    But I can’t see Corbyn winning if I’m being honest. And I don’t think he is a future Prime Minister – it’s a pity the Labour left didn’t have someone with the electoral appeal of Sturgeon. That really would be a game changer for them.

  32. Frank on said:

    Andy Newman,

    You are right Andy, and I have never bought into the narrative that the Scots are more left wing than England. They are not. They just have a credible alternative to vote for, which appears ‘authentic’. I put ‘authentic’ in quotation marks because the SNP are yet to be tested. Gerry Hassan’s Strange Death of Labour Scotland provides a good analysis of Labours decline in Scotland in my opinion.

  33. Frank: I think Corbyn would be good for Labour in Scotland

    He’d be good for Labour in England and Wales as well, assuming we want a Labour Party that opposes Tory policies. Maybe he’d even have the sense to co-operate with the SNP in so far as the two parties agree.

    Frank:the SNP are yet to be tested

    Well, to be fair to the SNP they didn’t abstain the other day. So they passed that test, along with a minority of Labour MPs like Corbyn, John McDonnel, Dianne Abbot, etc.

  34. Frank on said:

    JN,

    Yes, he would be good for England and Wales, but I was asked about Scotland. At the moment the SNP are acting as the opposition to the Tories and I agree that it would be good to see greater joint working between Labour and the SNP, although there is a part of me which thinks that certain sections of Labour are happy to abandon Scotland. Blair’s remarks today about the ‘caveman council’ won’t do Labour any favours in Scotland.

  35. Vanya on said:

    #27 I think you’ve been posting on here for a lot longer than me Karl, including when I used to use a different moniker.

    News to me that I’m part of the “Gang”. John, Andy and Tony might have something to say about that 🙂 .

  36. Zaid on said:

    stephen marks:
    Andy Newman,

    Andy I don’t think this is the same Zaid…

    …Zaid, is that you or are you someone else?

    Hi Stephen. For the avoidance of doubt, yes, I am the same Zaid.

    Andy, that’s a preposterous comment!

  37. Karl Stewart on said:

    JN,
    What we’re hearing from Blair, Ummuna, Hunt, Campbell, Reid, etc are some robust arguments against Corbyn. None of them have threatened an illegal “coup”.

    While I disagree with Blair’s position (today’s “going back to the old days, like Star Trek” made absolutely no sense at all, given that Star Trek is set in the future!) He’s absolutely entitled to argue robustly against Corbyn, as are all of Corbyn’s opponents.

    That’s all part and parcel of the cut and thrust of robust debate, and the left needs to take that kind of stuff on the chin and hit back.

    What’s not happened, is that none of Corbyn’s opponents have come out and argued, on the record, for an illegal “coup”.

    Merrick and Leftly have zero evidence to back up their preposterous scaremongering.

  38. Lewis Tunbridge on said:

    It is of course wrong to describe Kendall as a “Tory”, and the jibes about “Blairite Taliban” were ill-advised. The party is a broad church, and the strand of liberalism which Kendall represents has a long tradition within the party. As I have written before, it is wrong to compare Blairism with Conservatism.

    When push comes to shove they’re exactly the same. This great song by Phil Ochs describes the politics of Kendall and her followers rather nicely.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u52Oz-54VYw

  39. Manzil on said:

    Omar:
    As to the unelectability of Corbyn, I believe as life under the Tories gets worse, and austerity still reigns, more of the electorate will be won over to Corbyn’s positions. He will have to exercise iron discipline over the Party, though.

    But will it be enough?

    We had five years of a right-wing coalition government, and the result in May was the jettisoning, not of the Tories gleefully imposing austerity, but the Liberals who’d been shamefacedly mouthing ‘aw shucks, we’ve got no choice’ for a full parliament.

    Now of course, if you’ve seen Stewart Lee’s ‘Top Gear’ stand-up bit, there’s a strong parallel: Richard Hammond (Nick Clegg) is worse than Jeremy Clarkson (David Cameron), because he was the sidekick, cowering behind the head bully, sneering at the victim from safety. The Lib Dems were, inarguably, beneath contempt. You can see why they were near enough annihilated.

    Nevertheless, to extend the pained analogy, our political ‘Clarkson’ just got brought back for another season, despite spending five god damned years punching innocent BBC producers in the face.

    Life is going to get worse for a lot of people. Clarkson’s fists and racist jokes are now unrestrained by the parliamentary Hammond. But people chose this. Enough of them were receptive to the divisive, nasty politics of the Tory party that no one noticed the tell-tale waft of brimstone emerging from behind the government front bench.

    It is conceivable that a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn could maintain discipline and unity, despite his own history of rebelliousness and the already-emergent spectre of an SDP Mk II. It is conceivable that Corbyn could be as popular in Nuneaton as Islington North.

    But the road to a Corbyn-led party, that is both popular and stable enough to win office, is going to make the vicissitudes experienced by Miliband seem more akin to the initial Blair love-in.

    It would be a fight. And the public, or at least the miserable bunch of bastards who voted for the Tories, and who seem to have met Osborne’s latest crazed attacks on the vulnerable with an equally Hammond-esque ‘go on, Clarkson’, are – for the moment, anyway – decidedly not ‘on side’.

  40. Noah on said:

    Manzil: the road to a Corbyn-led party, that is both popular and stable enough to win office, is going to make the vicissitudes experienced by Miliband seem more akin to the initial Blair love-in.

    The answer to the challenges both from with and outside the Party will be the same: make the Labour Party into a mass campaigning movement that directly mobilises, engages with people and fights alongside them.

    That is not only how to aim to win the next general election, but to turn the Party into something that will not easily be put back into the box of ‘centrist’ parliamentary politics.

  41. Andy Newman on said:

    Noah,

    My support for Corbyn grows stronger as each day passes. I think that a Corbyn led Labour would genuinely have to fight, but he would strngthen support from unions and activists, and we really could be a movement that ordinary voters see as game changing

  42. John on said:

    Noah: That is not only how to aim to win the next general election, but to turn the Party into something that will not easily be put back into the box of ‘centrist’ parliamentary politics.

    I truly believe that something significant is happening here. The way the right and centre within Labour is going cock-a-hoop, the desperation implicit in the rolling out of Blair at Progress, and how rather than stem or impede Corbyn’s momentum it has only succeeded in increasing it.

    It very much feels like Jeremy is Labour leader now, given the attention that he and his alternative political vision for the country is being highlighted, debated, and featured across the media continuously.

  43. JOCK MCTROUSERS on said:

    Feodor,

    Thanks for that Feodor. That letter from John Mann does seem like quite a serious charge. But maybe it’ll turn out more damning of John Mann than Jeremy Corbyn? Is Mann a Tory? Is he demeaning the cause he advocates by turning it to party political purposes? I really don’t know. If YOU do, tell us more.

  44. JOCK MCTROUSERS,

    I don’t know any more than is in the article, Jock; just reporting developments.

    I agree that this is a serious charge and that, if completely unfounded, it will say more about the person making it than Corbyn–no idea whether there is any truth to the claims, however.

    (Mann is a Labour MP, btw.)

  45. Karl Stewart on said:

    CWU backing Jeremy Corbyn:

    Statement today from CWU general secretary Dave Ward:

    “I am delighted to announce that the CWU will be backing Jeremy Corbyn MP to be the next leader of the Labour Party.

    “There are no quick fixes for the Labour party, but there are some easy decisions and choosing Jeremy as its leader should be one of them.

    “We think that it is time for a change for Labour. The grip of the Blairites and individuals like Peter Mandelson must now be loosened once and for all. There is a virus within the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn is the antidote.

    “We reject the notion that Labour needs to move to the centre ground of British politics. The centre ground has moved significantly to the right in recent years. We do not see arguing for fairer wealth distribution, decent jobs with good pay, terms and conditions and a substantial increase in affordable housing for the next generation as a left-wing agenda.

    “Jeremy agrees with the vast amount of CWU policy, ranging from opposing the selling off of Royal Mail, to offering a real alternative to austerity, and repealing anti-trade union laws.”

  46. #50

    Brilliant news Karl, plus TSSA as well – everything is going so well, it really does feel like a dream…

    On the article which started this thread:

    Yesterday marked a turning point in the Labour leadership election.

    Neither of the trade unions with a leaning towards the Blairite wing of the party backed Liz Kendall. Community announced that they were backing Yvette Cooper, and Usdaw announced that they were backing Andy Burnham.

    Andy, you consider Community backing Cooper and USDAW backing Burnham to be the turning point. Have I understood that correctly?

  47. Karl Stewart on said:

    To be fair, those nominations were a turning point in terms of Liz ‘Sarah Palin’ Kendall’s chances.

  48. Zaid,

    I consider that the welfare vote was a turning point, but the failure of any union to back Kendall on the same day was highly significant, as an eclipse of Blairism as a force in the unions

  49. Karl Stewart,

    Any idea how the CWU arrived at this decision? In particular, was it the preserve of the leadership or were members consulted as well? Just curious as to how the process works and how significant such a recommendation is with the 200,000 or so CWU members.

  50. Karl Stewart on said:

    I see the Red Tories and their friends in MSM are still whining at Dave Ward’s absolutely spot-on description of the Mandelson political philosophy as a ‘virus’.

    Don’t recall any howls of outrage from them when Tony Blair used exactly the same ‘virus’ analogy in his critique of euroscepticism a couple of years ago.

    Shows how pathetic these Red Tory hypocrites are. They like to dish it out – calling us ‘morons’ ‘idiots’ tell us to get ‘heart transplants’ and attack another political viewpoint as a ‘virus’ – but boy oh boy, they just can’t take it when it comes back at them can they?

  51. Karl Stewart,

    I do wish you would desist from using the term ‘Red Tories’. There is nothing red about the Blairites or other advocates for austerity & privatisation.

  52. Karl Stewart on said:

    Noah,
    Totally agree there’s nothing red about them. But there was nothing ‘new’ about ‘new Labour either, and also I doubt if the ‘whigs’ actually really wore wigs.

    But the terms ‘New Labour’ and ‘Blairite’ are both over 20 years old and surely it’s about time we had a more up-to-date term for these scumbags.

    (Plus the fact that ‘Red Tory’ really does wind these fuckers up!)

  53. Karl Stewart,

    Ok. Most likely it winds them up as much to be called ‘red’ as to be called Tories.

    It winds me up too, for different reasons. As somebody who has been a ‘red’ for over four decades, it actually makes me feel slightly physically sick when I hear or read that phrase.

    And I think it can result in confusion.

    Red is & has always been the colour of socialism and communism, and represents the sacrifices of many, many brave people who built up the working class movement and fought for its achievements. ‘Their lifeblood dyed its every fold’, etc.

    Unless we are happy to let that tradition go or to besmirch it, we should not use that colour to describe people who are pro-austerity and privatisation. The ‘Red’ has no sarcastic or ironic meaning in that phrase, as none of them claim to be ‘reds’.

    BTW the recent use of the phrase ‘Red Tories’ originates with the SNP, who were no doubt keen to deliberately conflate & merge the perception of the Britain-wide political arm of the Labour movement with that of support for austerity- to the extent that the most left wing Labour or pro-Labour activists were derided as ‘Red Tories’. If JC wins the Labour leadership, comrades in Scotland will have a chance to begin redressing some of that.

  54. Karl Stewart on said:

    Noah,
    Fair enough, but we do need a more up-to-date term of abuse for these scumbags – ‘Neo-Tories’ maybe? Or how about just ”The Virus’?

  55. Vanya1 on said:

    #61 Is a separate term of abuse actually necessary?

    I think “Blairite” is sufficient to be honest.

    I can think of few things that would offend me more to be called.

  56. Andy Newman on said:

    Karl Stewart,

    It is also somewhat unfair to real Tories, as Blairite liberalism is closer to heartless Whiggery of political economy that sees people as commodities than the traditional moral economy of one nation Toryism where the nobility had social obligations to the rural poor.

    (Cameron is if course also a Whig

  57. Karl Stewart on said:

    Ken MacLeod,

    My point to Noah was not face-value serious Ken, I was arguing that a political ‘moniker’ isn’t always strictly literal that’s all.

    To contextualise, I was agreeing with him that the people who have traditionally been described as ‘Blairites’ or ‘New Labour’ and are now being dubbed ‘Red Tories’ are clearly not at all politically ‘Red’, but that the ‘Red’ prefix just indicates that they’re Tories operating within the Labour Party rather than within the Tory Party.

    Anyway, while I quite like offending hard-line Blairites with the tag, I’ve got no wish to offend Noah, who seems to be a top guy so I’ve stopped using it.

  58. jack ford on said:

    Andy Newman,

    Back in the mid nineteenth century the Tories were progressive. A trade union leader said the Tories had done more for the working class in five years of Disraeli’s government than the Liberals had in fifty. If I’d been around in Victorian times I would have been a Tory.

  59. Karl Stewart,

    If there was any justice, Tony Blair would be making his political views known from inside a prison cell. Personally, I’ll give him and his “robust arguments” all the respect they deserve: fuck him and everything he represents.

    ‘Corbynism’ is the last hope of the Labour Party as something that has any purpose or reason to exist. If the Blairites/right-wing can’t tolerate that and want to split, then good riddance; they can go join the Tories or the LibDems, which they ideally should have done in the first place. They’ll be quickly replaced by people who actually should be in the Labour Party.

    As for Corbyn being “unelectable”, what they really mean is that he’s unelectable to them. They wouldn’t vote for him, or (more importantly) the policies and views he represents. But Corbyn is the Labour leadership candidate who demonstrably has a significant and enthusiastic popular base, and who has the guts to actually oppose the Tories. Labour can only defeat the Tories (and reverse the decline in it’s support that’s been happening since 1997) by actually opposing the Tory government, it’s policies, and it’s ideology. Not by abstaining, not by meeting them half-way; by opposing.

    The attempt to sabotage Corbyn and his supporters, by Blairites and Tories alike, is part of the ongoing effort to effectively disenfranchise the left (in it’s broadest sense, including the most moderate of social democratic reformists) and to offer the British electorate Thatcher’s famous “no alternative”.

  60. Karl Stewart on said:

    Hard to believe that Scottish Labour MSP Keiza Dugdale, whose party in Scotland that was led into the last election by a right-wing Blairite leader and lost every seat bar one to a party that outflanked it to its left has attacked Jeremy Corbyn, claiming that a Corbyn win could leave the Labour Party “carping from the sidelines”.

    http://www.thenational.scot/news/kezia-dugdale-says-a-win-for-jeremy-corbyn-would-leave-labour-carping-from-the-sidelines.5904

    Has this person got no sense of political reality whatsoever? Thanks to their ultra-Blairite leadership, her party currently IS “carping from the sidelines”.

    Ms Dugdale is currently standing for election as Scottish Labour leader – how on earth does she think an attack on Corbyn will help Scottish Labour to rebuild?

    Thankfully, she has an opponent in the race, Ken MacIntosh, who has called for an end to the attacks on Corbyn, saying: “Jeremy Corbyn has as much right to stand for the leadership as any other candidate and he should be given the same respect.

    “I know what it is like to have the party machine operate against you and there are too many people trying to exercise undue influence on this contest. I think some senior party figures should back off and let the members decide who they want to lead us and in which direction.”

    Meanwhile, the SNP has wasted no time in pointing out the utter hypocrisy of the old-fashioned Labour establishment by comparing its attitude to the Tories with its attitude to its own membership.

    http://www.thenational.scot/politics/kezia-dugdale-under-fire-from-snp-after-jibes-about-jeremy-corbyn.5956

    SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said: “People in Scotland will be puzzled as to why Labour front-benchers who were happy to work hand-in-glove with the Tories during the referendum campaign are now saying they would refuse to work with one of their own MPs – even if he had been democratically chosen as leader by the Labour rank-and-file.

    “The fact that they seem more comfortable with the politics of the Tories than those of Mr Corbyn totally sums up the gulf between those at the top of the Labour hierarchy and ordinary working people.”

  61. Karl Stewart on said:

    Solidarity to the tubeworkers on strike today!

    (And I see the Aussies are ‘all out’ in sympathy)