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Devon Malcolm

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There's definitely an element of that which is disappointing and he's made some real poor decisions, but at the same time you have to remember how much resistance he was facing within his own party who seemingly didn't give a shit about what their membership wanted, or refused to acknowledge it and thought they knew better. So to an extent he did have to do those things, even if he didn't do them in the best way possible.

Edited by Chest Rockwell

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I don't think it's so much about being "proper socialist" as it is the kind of ideological purity that tends to be apparent the further into a political bubble you get - it's bound to get all People's Front of Judea. I'm sure the same is true of far right movements, which tend to cannibalise each other and form splinter groups and have fallings out all the time, but - outside of the absolute extremes - have learned to play lip service to respectability in order to sneak their message into more mainstream discourse.

There's a "pint and politics" monthly discussion group I used to go, run by a local centre-left group, and you'd get all the usual suspects. For the girl in a "Free Palestine" shirt, any discussion of any other political issue was a distraction from what she thought was the most pressing concern. The guys from the refugee charity thought the same, the discrimination campaigners thought racism in the workplace was the number one priority, the union leaders thought joining a union was the only way to have a say in any of these issues, and everyone had their own opinions on the finance industry and foreign relations.

But when what gets you through the door is your pet Single Issue, then everything else is going to feel like it's getting in the way, and politics on the Left is a matter of managing those interest groups. And then getting out to the public and finding all they really care about is when their bins are getting collected, and complaining about too much dog shit on the streets.

 

This kind of ideological battle for Labour has always gone on, though. Reading through Tony Benn's diaries and writings, or any history of the Party, the left and right of the party have always been pushing and shoving each other, fighting over what they deem important. The Tories do it too, they're just a little better at doing their back-stabbing behind closed doors, and at putting integrity to one side in the name of success.

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24 minutes ago, BomberPat said:

I don't think it's so much about being "proper socialist" as it is the kind of ideological purity that tends to be apparent the further into a political bubble you get - it's bound to get all People's Front of Judea.

Yeah, the "proper socialist" thing was a kind of veiled insult that would be hurled about if someone wasn't entirely on-board with a certain facet of a campaign or whatever. I've been part of political campaigns that were actually running for local elections and while the opposition were out leafleting and talking to people we had two factions arguing over the fucking name we'd be using. The debate lasted weeks.

As far as Labour goes, one thing that annoys me is when people say that they have to make changes to "become more electable." I fucking hate that line of thinking.

If you're a left-wing party then you stick to your principles and you put together a good argument to bring people to your way of thinking. For me, Corbyn is probably the most Labour-like leader the party has had in years, and if given the choice I'd have him running the country over any other candidate out there from any party (including the Scottish parties.)

On the subject of leaving the EU, he shouldn't have to change his views and pretend that he's against leaving when he clearly isn't. What he should be doing is arguing the case for a left exit, and making the point that leaving the EU doesn't mean an end to immigration or human rights. If that argument isn't well-received then he has a decision to make, but I'm sick of seeing politicians changing their views to please the electorate. Stick to your fucking principles and let the cards fall where they may.

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I think there's a real lack of depth or nuance to the language we use in politics, too. Labour changing policy on Brexit is seen as a "flip flop" or a reversal of their position, rather than a considered move based on changing circumstances. It's like arguing online - you're wrong about something, but if you then change your mind you're a hypocrite. And if we can't see the Party changing their stance on something we dislike as a good thing, then why are we bothering expending any energy toward them at all?

There's also an issue with personality being too tied up into politics - we know that Corbyn is a Euro-sceptic, but the confusion comes from what the official party line is, not what he thinks. He's a representative leader, not a dictator, so his own views should inform the party position, but not define it. Corbyn shouldn't have to change his views on the EU, but he also shouldn't let his views on the EU over-rule the views of party members or constituents. 

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What I don't get about the "more electable" thing, given that it's tended to mean "be more centrist", is why people still think that to be true. Have we not seen nearly a decade of people blaming Blair's "more electable" New Labour for the global economic crash and the economic profligacy that exacerbated its effects? Whilst they weren't solely responsible, the worldwide application of the neoliberalist economics which underpin so-called "centrism" is what got us into this situation in the first place. The arrogant declaration that "we have finally eliminated boom and bust" was a cretinous admission of economic illiteracy that New Labour's spin managed to disguise to people not properly scrutinising them; the very nature of capitalism is that boom and bust is inevitable, the degree of their effects is dependent on how lightly or heavily the free market system is managed by government and/or other institutions, and anyone claiming otherwise is a snake-oil salesman.

Given all this, why would anyone in their right mind think that going back to Blairite politics is "more electable"? The only thing I can think of is that they've bought the media narrative that it occupies the "centre" ground, which implies a pseudo-reasonable image of "balance" and "even-handedness". 

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With the resignation of Darroch, Britain slips ever more slowly into the hands of the right-wing fuckheads who's plan this has always been. We're buggered as a country at the moment and we're about to have a PM who utterly refused to back someone doing their fucking job against a man child US President. Those leaks were not a good bit of journalism, it was an absolute plan to make this happen and I wish someone smarter than me would look into this. Brexit has utterly tanked this country.

Edited by Factotum

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1 minute ago, BomberPat said:

I think there's a real lack of depth or nuance to the language we use in politics, too. Labour changing policy on Brexit is seen as a "flip flop" or a reversal of their position, rather than a considered move based on changing circumstances. It's like arguing online - you're wrong about something, but if you then change your mind you're a hypocrite. And if we can't see the Party changing their stance on something we dislike as a good thing, then why are we bothering expending any energy toward them at all?

Party-wide policy change in today's climate would be a death blow in many ways. Rather than it being seen as progressive, in that they actually took into consideration a set of changing circumstances, it would be used to beat them over the head. Such and such a party "don't even know what they actually want!" and all that kind of shite.

4 minutes ago, BomberPat said:

There's also an issue with personality being too tied up into politics - we know that Corbyn is a Euro-sceptic, but the confusion comes from what the official party line is, not what he thinks. He's a representative leader, not a dictator, so his own views should inform the party position, but not define it. Corbyn shouldn't have to change his views on the EU, but he also shouldn't let his views on the EU over-rule the views of party members or constituents. 

As I mentioned above, if he feels really strongly on it he should have spent more time putting forward a better argument for his position. But like I also said, if the majority of his party aren't behind that line of thinking on what is a crucial matter, then he has some serious thinking to do. I'd actually have more respect for him if he said "Look, my views on the EU are well known, I've voted a certain way and campaigned on European matters since the 1970's. If the party support overturning Brexit then maybe it needs someone who shares that belief at the helm" and took the step of standing aside. If he feels so strongly on the matter that he's not willing to take his own personal views out of the equation then rather than hanging about and muddying the waters he should walk away and let the rest of them get on with it.

But yeah, the whole thing is fucked. I've said it before, I have zero interest in voting any more, which is something that I'd have been amazed at maybe ten years ago or so. Now I couldn't really give a fuck. I don't bother with the shitty TV popularity debates either, those just feed into the way modern politics is conducted.

Why not just replace the months of campaigning before a General Election by taking the leaders of all parties and chucking them into the Big Brother house for 6 weeks? The public can vote them out based on how much they moan about doing the dishes, or because they complain that they can't sleep with the noise of the others partying. The winner becomes prime minister until next year, when we do the same thing all over again.

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19 minutes ago, Carbomb said:

What I don't get about the "more electable" thing, given that it's tended to mean "be more centrist", is why people still think that to be true. Have we not seen nearly a decade of people blaming Blair's "more electable" New Labour for the global economic crash and the economic profligacy that exacerbated its effects? Whilst they weren't solely responsible, the worldwide application of the neoliberalist economics which underpin so-called "centrism" is what got us into this situation in the first place. The arrogant declaration that "we have finally eliminated boom and bust" was a cretinous admission of economic illiteracy that New Labour's spin managed to disguise to people not properly scrutinising them; the very nature of capitalism is that boom and bust is inevitable, the degree of their effects is dependent on how lightly or heavily the free market system is managed by government and/or other institutions, and anyone claiming otherwise is a snake-oil salesman.

Given all this, why would anyone in their right mind think that going back to Blairite politics is "more electable"? The only thing I can think of is that they've bought the media narrative that it occupies the "centre" ground, which implies a pseudo-reasonable image of "balance" and "even-handedness". 

Not really, it just means make changes that might see you actually being electable. That doesn't mean 'be more centrist', it could be personnel change or a change in presenting your ideas. If we're talking about Labour right now then the fact that they're not thrashing the Tories in the polls & Corbyn still has worse approval ratings than May suggests to me that some big fucking changes need to happen. However, that's just my preference. There's plenty of Labour supporters who'd rather live under the Tories for 5 more years & have an 'ideologically pure' Labour party than make some small concessions & be in power and have the ability to actually make change.

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4 minutes ago, Dead Mike said:

If we're talking about Labour right now then the fact that they're not thrashing the Tories in the polls & Corbyn still has worse approval ratings than May suggests to me that some big fucking changes need to happen.

Or maybe it's more of a sign that the British voting public, by and large, are centre-right?

Edited by David

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10 minutes ago, Dead Mike said:

Not really, it just means make changes that might see you actually being electable. That doesn't mean 'be more centrist', it could be personnel change or a change in presenting your ideas. If we're talking about Labour right now then the fact that they're not thrashing the Tories in the polls & Corbyn still has worse approval ratings than May suggests to me that some big fucking changes need to happen. However, that's just my preference. There's plenty of Labour supporters who'd rather live under the Tories for 5 more years & have an 'ideologically pure' Labour party than make some small concessions & be in power and have the ability to actually make change.

In which case, I'm flummoxed as to what they could mean. Nearly every other candidate who's been suggested as "more electable" has usually been from the Blairite wing, or at least the less left of the party, and very often, though not every time, such suggestions have been accompanied with a narrative of "taking the party back from the hard left". 

As to the polls, whilst I'm not a Corbyn fan, I think people really need to take into account just how much adversity he's had to battle from the media, and the general political culture of this country, which, I still maintain, is right-leaning, and is much more likely to forgive the failings of any right-wing leader than it is a left-wing one, as is evidenced by the sheer support Johnson had and continues to have despite everything that's come to light about him in addition to all the shit we already know. Conversely, it's become a joke, but it's often remarked that "we know Labour's ahead in the polls, because there's another antisemitism furore" (I don't doubt there is a problem with antisemitism in the Labour party, but I am sceptical as to the timing, and how much the same people are prepared to forgive racism in other parties). And look at the sheer amount of shit Milliband had to put up with just for being even slightly left of centre - it was practically bullying. The only reason they couldn't chuck antisemitism at him is because he's Jewish.

EDIT: I do also think Corbyn needs to stand down, though. Said it before, but he's already accomplished the biggest thing he can, which is to get left-wing politics back into contention out of the Westminster Vauxhall Conference. He's not really leadership material, and he continues to make the same bad mistakes the old left became infamous for.

Edited by Carbomb

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5 minutes ago, David said:

Or maybe it's more of a sign that the British voting public, by and large, are centre-right?

I'd say further to the right than that.

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Just now, Dead Mike said:

I'd say further to the right than that.

Quite possibly, but I think the majority sit centre right, with a still disturbing percentage even further to the right. 

2 minutes ago, Carbomb said:

In which case, I'm flummoxed as to what they could mean. Nearly every other candidate who's been suggested as "more electable" has usually been from the Blairite wing, or at least the less left of the party, and very often, though not every time, such suggestions have been accompanied with a narrative of "taking the party back from the hard left".ÔĽŅ¬†

It means exactly what I've said above. Those who want the Labour Party "electable" realise that the only way to do that is by shifting them closer to the centre and hoping some of the centre-right types are swayed to shift a little.

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Just now, Carbomb said:

In which case, I'm flummoxed as to what they could mean. Nearly every other candidate who's been suggested as "more electable" has usually been from the Blairite wing, or at least the less left of the party, and very often, though not every time, such suggestions have been accompanied with a narrative of "taking the party back from the hard left". 

As to the polls, whilst I'm not a Corbyn fan, I think people really need to take into account just how much adversity he's had to battle from the media, and the general political culture of this country, which, I still maintain, is right-leaning, and is much more likely to forgive the failings of any right-wing leader than it is a left-wing one, as is evidenced by the sheer support Johnson had and continues to have despite everything that's come to light about him in addition to all the shit we already know. Conversely, it's become a joke, but it's often remarked that "we know Labour's ahead in the polls, because there's another antisemitism furore" (I don't doubt there is a problem with antisemitism in the Labour party, but I am sceptical as to the timing, and how much the same people are prepared to forgive racism in other parties). And look at the sheer amount of shit Milliband had to put up with just for being even slightly left of centre - it was practically bullying. The only reason they couldn't chuck antisemitism at him is because he's Jewish.

I agree, Corbyn has had the worst treatment in the media than pretty much any politician I can think of. We've got a right wing media though, it's to be expected & he's not done himself any favours either. He could get on any political TV programme whenever he wants but it means him having to answer questions on anti-Semitism & to justify (or even explain) his Brexit stance so he'd rather stay silent & just not appear. Not ideal for the leader of the opposition. Just last week we've got Boris Johnson & Jeremy Hunt both talking up 'no deal', Trump sticking his oar in while Jeremy is planting tomatoes with children in Macclesfield. Priorities innit?

 

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I don't think you can sum up whether the British public, by and large, veer left or right on any given spectrum. 

We have the most right-wing media in Europe, with even the nominally unbiased or neutral news sources giving disproportionate coverage to the Nigel Farages and Tommy Robinsons of the world. Should we use that as a measure of what the public think? That the most purchased newspapers should, by rights, reflect the most commonly held views? Or do you work it out by party allegiance?

If you ask the majority of members of the public standalone political questions, a lot of studies show that they'll tend to be more "left" than you'd expect - an LSE used statements like "government should redistribute income from the better-off to those who are less well off", and "big business benefits owners at the expense of workers", and found that when "left wing" statements are presented in isolation, people tend to agree with them regardless of stated party affiliation, it's only when presented as part of a political context, with a narrative, that they default to party positions. And the right have always been better at creating a narrative around their position - "Take Back Control" is a more alluring message, and certainly a more populist one, than "Remain and Reform" or "Well, you should consider the positive effects the EU have had had on improving water quality through tighter regulation...". People vote for a story, not a policy.

The danger of the notion that to win elections you have to reach for the Centre is that the Centre is slippery. The Centre of 1997 is not the Centre of 2019, and even that won't be the Centre of 2020. And while Centrism may allow for such surprising socially liberal developments as the Conservative Party allowing gay marriage, I'd argue that - by and large - the Centre tends to move to the right, and it's not the right wing that are left sacrificing principles to court it.

 

I agree about Corbyn getting unfair treatment in the press, but the only sane response to that is, "...and?". That isn't changing any time soon. Corbyn needs to be able to win elections in spite of all that, not just have a good excuse for losing them.

Edited by BomberPat

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18 minutes ago, BomberPat said:

I don't think you can sum up whether the British public, by and large, veer left or right on any given spectrum. 

We have the most right-wing media in Europe, with even the nominally unbiased or neutral news sources giving disproportionate coverage to the Nigel Farages and Tommy Robinsons of the world. Should we use that as a measure of what the public think? That the most purchased newspapers should, by rights, reflect the most commonly held views? Or do you work it out by party allegiance?

Maybe I'm being too reductionist, but the fact that, since the Labour Party became a party of government in the 1920s, there have been nearly twice as many Tory governments as Labour ones, and the total length of time they've been in office over this period has dwarfed Labour's total, is probably the biggest indicator.

18 minutes ago, BomberPat said:

If you ask the majority of members of the public standalone political questions, a lot of studies show that they'll tend to be more "left" than you'd expect - an LSE used statements like "government should redistribute income from the better-off to those who are less well off", and "big business benefits owners at the expense of workers", and found that when "left wing" statements are presented in isolation, people tend to agree with them regardless of stated party affiliation, it's only when presented as part of a political context, with a narrative, that they default to party positions. And the right have always been better at creating a narrative around their position - "Take Back Control" is a more alluring message, and certainly a more populist one, than "Remain and Reform" or "Well, you should consider the positive effects the EU have had had on improving water quality through tighter regulation...". People vote for a story, not a policy.

The danger of the notion that to win elections you have to reach for the Centre is that the Centre is slippery. The Centre of 1997 is not the Centre of 2019, and even that won't be the Centre of 2020. And while Centrism may allow for such surprising socially liberal developments as the Conservative Party allowing gay marriage, I'd argue that - by and large - the Centre tends to move to the right, and it's not the right wing that are left sacrificing principles to court it.

This is one of the reasons why I say "the so-called centre". It's virtually a lie designed to cow people into not questioning the nature of the current political landscape. The Noam Chomsky quote about setting arbitrary boundaries of acceptability is massively over-used, but that's largely because it's very true.

18 minutes ago, BomberPat said:

 

I agree about Corbyn getting unfair treatment in the press, but the only sane response to that is, "...and?". That isn't changing any time soon. Corbyn needs to be able to win elections in spite of all that, not just have a good excuse for losing them.

True, but what comes after "...and?" is the problem. The way something is done colours the result, and when it's based on "he's too extreme to be electable", the solutions suggested will be very different to those that would be suggested if people based it on "he's taking a shit-kicking from a right-wing media establishment".

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