Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Why I back Corbyn

Here are some not very worked out thoughts on the current state of the Labour party, and a sketch of why I back Corbyn.

My belief is that the UK economic train is heading back in the direction of Victorian Britain, with all the social inequality and injustice that went with it. It's in the nature of the economic train to run in that direction unless some pretty serious action is taken.

Under the Blairites, the economic train continued to move in that direction, but the Blairites fought hard to slow the train down, and with some success. I approved of that, of course. With the Tories back in the brakes are off and the train is now running full tilt.

So, I think that with either Tories or Blairites, we end up at the same destination: Victorian Britain. We just get there at different speeds. 

The working class can see the direction of travel is always the same, and so say, 'No point in voting, they're all the same'. I think that, as the injustice increases, and their frustration and desperation mount, so the risk of them sliding into populist fascism goes up and up,

What to do? We need to put the train into reverse. The Blairites won't do that. Only someone like Corbyn will do it. I am not wedded to Corbyn the man, but I am wedded to the ambition of reversing the train. If there were a younger, super-charismatic person cut from the same train-reversing cloth as Corbyn, I'd be happy to see them take the reins of the Party instead. But there's currently no one like that. And even if anyone like that was promoted to Leader, they'd probably be sabotaged by the right again.

I am not at all optimistic about reversing the direction of the train, but I see no alternative to trying.

So when Labour folk say we need to drop Corbyn in order to win the next General Election, I say: 1. I have my doubts that we'll win even with a Blairite or non-Corbynite, 2. Which of his policies do you reject? 3. Whom do you suggest instead? Until they come up with answers to these questions that I can approve - because they are train-reversing - I'll be sticking with Corbyn.

Winning the next General Election by switching to a Blairite (or at least someone who won't do more than tinker with the brakes, so at least winning Blairite approval) might sound attractive to some (those hoping to get Murdoch and Dacre back onside) given a shorter-term view. But take a step back and it looks to me like a long-term strategic mistake.

Notice I am playing the long game. As Britain becomes more and more Victorian, someone has to offer the working people of this country a genuine alternative. In the end, they may actually get off their bottoms and come out and vote for that alternative just like they did for Brexit. I think that's our best hope. If the price we pay is short-term electoral loss, so be it (though I'm not even convinced of that).

Corbyn has a record of being on the right side of history, on LGBT rights, on the Iraq War, on tuition fees, on talking to Sinn Fein, and so on. I think he's right now, too.

What do you think?


Toby said...

I understand your concern that Labour did not do enough to reverse social inequality during their 13 years in office. I am a member of the Labour Party and I too want to see a Labour Government do more on this.

But to do that you have to have a Labour Government.

I cannot support Jeremy Corbyn. He has the worst ratings of any Labour Leader in history. I won't go into details, but he simply cannot win a General Election. This is why Labour MPs are acting now: we could have a GE in just a few months time.

Not only that, but his action in clinging on when he does not have the confidence of the PLP will make the problem worse and, could, if he persists, split the Party. That, as the history with the SDP shows us, will lead to even more Tory rule.

We need a credible leader and JC should resign.

PS. Can we stop using the term "Blairite" for anyone opposed to Corbyn's hard-left part of the Labour Party? There are many shades of opinion in the Labour Party and probably only a handful of "Blairites" left. 172 voting against him includes Brownites, Progress, Compass, centre, soft left, etc, etc, and even some of Corbyn's supporters on the far left.

Galactor said...

With the current political turmoil, it's now more evident than ever that politicians - with some exceptions - do not act, primarily, in the wider interest of a national politic and that politics is steered by those who have set up various means of creating and managing information and channeling it to the public, largely via supposedly credible media sources whose impartiality is becoming increasingly questionable.

The members of the Labour party have overwhelmingly voted Corbyn in. They have seen how the Blair government mistreated their original political aims and they stand (and stood) for something else.

Clearly, the Blairites want to ride the vehicle of the established Labour Party movement to push their idea of a "socialist" agenda which is now utterly divorced from its original foundation and the wishes of the grass roots members. It's far too difficult for them to form a new party despite all of the PR and media expertise that support them. So they must parasite an existing body.

I think that the UK needs to heed the views of Corbyn more than ever. But he's got no chance of winning an election and he's got no chance of defeating the media machine behind the Blairites unless he sets up his own machine as Blair himself did. Corbyn is clearly unelectable - not because of his policies or where he stands but because of the skills of his adversaries in managing public opinion. They have made him unelectable but labeling him as such. Once you've told the public long enough that someone is unelectable, then that is what they become. You could do the same with Johnson.

So what if Corbyn said he would stand down when a general election is announced and move aside for a more "electorable" leader having established the manifesto and policies of the opposition party? Would this placate the Blairites and allow them to unite and move forward?

Not a bit. They don't want his policies. It would expose the lie though.

I don't back Corbyn as such, but he has a mandate and it is sickening to see political chancers being managed and coordinated by organisations to stab an elected leader in the back in spite of the desperate need the country has for them to stand up to the Brexit fallout.

Braingrass said...

I agree Stephen and you argue passionately and well. This a coup of the PLP against the Labour Party, but just like the Tories they have no plan B. Even if they win they have lost. What is the PLP without members (it had collapsed to the lowest numbers since 1908 before Corbyn) and the unions. Whose going to do all the donkey work for them and pay for their elections? I too will be voting for Corbyn as a matter of principle and I urge everyone else to.

Braingrass said...

I agree Stephen and you argue passionately and well. This a coup of the PLP against the Labour Party, but just like the Tories they have no plan B. Even if they win they have lost. What is the PLP without members (it had collapsed to the lowest numbers since 1908 before Corbyn) and the unions. Whose going to do all the donkey work for them and pay for their elections? I too will be voting for Corbyn as a matter of principle and I urge everyone else to.

Anonymous said...

Toby is right. Corbyn cannot win a general election. For that reason, if no other, he has to go.

Danowar said...

Your use of Blairite in your tweets and articles makes you sound like a cult member. Swap "infidel" or "suppressive person" for "Blairite" in your polemics and you sound like a scientologist.

Daniel Sandelson said...

Hi from a fellow Heyhthropian. Brexit could fundamentally realign British politics and the old labels such as "Tory", "Blairite" etc may well cease to have much meaning. We are seeing politicians scramble to reinvent themselves without this baggage and it is far too early to tell what old-style politics (and so their campaign labels) will really work in the new settlement.

Caveats aside, it seems pretty certain Corbyn has little time for one pretty well-settled feature of our Constitution, which is that we have representative democracy. Party rules are a big hole in applying this all the way down but deselection in the end cannot produce a functioning democratic system with Parliament as sovereign, and the battle between the PLP and the members is this being worked out in one forum. If this becomes a more widespread occurrence we would have to rethink our entire system of Government. Which is exactly what UKIP want.

ELTAuthor said...

I think 'putting the train into reverse' is a meaningless analogy. We need an electable Labour party to gradually improve the lives of people who are least able to fend for themselves. We don't need a cabal of armchair revolutionaries. This is the real world, not Citizen Smith.

W. Huw Davies said...

An interesting analogy and I tend to agree that something major needs to be done to combat the persistence of the Tories.

However - my problem is slightly (but imprortantly) different. If the needs of Britain as a whole are used then the needs of a small nation making up Britain will always more than likely be neglected.
Here's my analogy:
Consider government advice team deciding on how to protect the people of Brirain from the weather.
During their deliberations there's a high pressure (hence hot sunny weather) over most of England. The decision would be to give all UK citizens a free pot of sun lotion and advice to not stay out in the sun for too long (a fig of 30mins say). Population of England = several million and by far the majority of UK citizens. Therefore this decision would (democtatically) benefit the UK as a whole.
My country however is under a low pressure and we are experiencing stormy windy wet conditions. Sunblock and parasols wouod not be needed in Wales - we'd obviously need to alert our people to prepare for high winds and rain.

It's a basic analogy I know but hooefully it shows why Wales needs a different strong voice in Westminster than *any UK party be they Tories Labou LibDems ..... There is only ONE party that can acheive this and that it Plaid. I shall therefore be giving my vote to this party.

It's time to change trains - UK has caught the wrong one (whichever way it's going).


Anonymous said...

Probably greater social inequality existed in Georgian Britain than Victorian. The advent of technology in the industrial revolution introduced greater wealth and expansion of the middle class. The work of Dickens and the Luddites brought a new found recognition of the poor, ignored in the work of Austen, and the formation of Union bodies illustrated more power in the working class than ever before.

Nick Lowles said...

How can any intelligent person, let alone a professional philosopher, talk blithely about someone being 'on the right side of history'? This usually simply means, 'I agree with him.' Like 'The result of the 2015 general election proves that there is a serious democratic deficit in this country' means 'We lost the election again.' Was Marx on 'the right side of history'? Was Mr Blair on 'the right side of history' because he won three elections in a row, or the 'wrong' side of it because he supported the US in the Iraq War? If Labour never come to power again, or not for some decades, will this 'prove' that Mr Corbyn was on the right or the wrong 'side' of history?

Toby said...

I agree with Nick that "the right side of history" can simply be taken to mean "I agree with this". But there's surely a sense that it can mean that someone took a position that was initially not popular or mainstream but later came to be seen as the correct, just one. For example, early campaigners against the slave trade could be seen as being on the right side of history. Similar points could be made about votes for women, the civil rights movement in America, anti-apartheid, etc, etc.

A more critical point about Corbyn is he is not always on the right side of history in this sense.

On this Stephen originally wrote Corbyn has a record of being on the right side of history, on LGBT rights, on the Iraq War, on tuition fees, on talking to Sinn Fein, and so on. I think he's right now, too.

For example, Corbyn voted against the Good Friday Agreement - widely seen as ushering in a period of peace in Northern Island. His vote against is a matter of record, his reasons for doing so more complex but appear to be that he wanted the Republicans to "win" and the GFA was partly a capitulation on their part. There's a discussion of this here.

Similarly, Corbyn has a record of supporting or apologising for the Iranian religious right - hardly a progressive "right side of history" force.

He may have been on the "right side" over Iraq and LGBT rights (although his support for the later could be called into question by his support for Iran) but he's hardly a lone voice on these issues. Indeed, large chunks of the Labour Party, the Lib Dems and even the Tories share his position.

I'm not sure the tuition fees issue (whilst I don't agree with them) fits into "right side of history" in the sense I mentioned above.

I'm always surprised that Corbyn supporters excuse his failing on things like the above so easily.