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July 21, 2016

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Metatone

I feel like Corbyn (and to an extent Miliband before him) really haven't taken their own understanding to the logical conclusions.

The press is never going to praise him, not for anything. So rather than half-measures, that gives him a chance to be radical.

Here's a minor example. We all know PMQs is a theatrical nonsense. Instead of trying to reform it by asking Qs from the public and getting endless abuse from the press, he should boycott it with the demand that it is reformed for actual accountability. Right now it's meaningless, when is the last time it changed government policy.

(Of course to do this he'd have to come up with a proposal for what to replace it with, which is where my concerns about his abilities surface.)

James

Quite true that we often get different results (for good or ill) from what we are aiming for. But alienating swing voters, associating with illiberal "friends" and generally not being particularly competent at his job is not the oblique route to power but the orthogonal one.

We've just had an election where the government wasn't particularly well liked but people were not able to trust Labour as an alternative. Has that story changed under Corbyn? Politics is fluid and unpredictable, but I worry that all Corbyn does is make it more predictable.

Blissex

«We all know PMQs is a theatrical nonsense. Instead of trying to reform it by asking Qs from the public and getting endless abuse from the press,»

That is immensely radical. That means bringing some hints of seriousness, some substance to what was a puppet show.

In part it is "gesture politics" like J Corbyn likes, but *real questions* gets asked. Can't be much more radical than that.

Dave Hansell

A point which needs to be made on the issue of competency in this context. It needs to be appreciated and understood that the statement in this article.......

"People tend not to fully appreciate this point because of the outcome bias. We tend to look at success and infer that those who achieved it had a conscious strategy for doing so when in fact they might just have gotten lucky."

.....has its opposite. That is to say that the same factors exist and are at work in regard to failure, which is being claimed here (see the 2nd post on this thread) to be the result of personal incompetance.

The point made about success, above, is therefore equally valid in regard to failure and reading some of the statements of some MP's in the PLP in regard to their negative experiences it would be easy to reach premature conclusions without consideration of not just all the facts but also the context.

Some of those MP's will certainly be "clean" when it comes to scrutinising the year long poisoneous briefings against Corbyn by a proportion of their PLP colleagues. Some of them genuinely feel aggrieved on the issue of competency and certainly do not deserve the blame for the fact that material, such as questions for PM Questions, amongst other things, was reportedly being regularly leaked to the Tories and the media from Corbyns office.

However, by the same standards neither can Corbyn be blamed for that or the resulting and very obvious effect and outcome that such everyday behaviour would have on the effectiveness and competancy of his operation. It would be difficult to find anything more effective than months of negative briefings, leaks etc in producing a bunker mentality which effected trust and working relationships. Those MP's complaining about competency need to look beyond their own personal experiences and consider the actions of a good proportion of their colleagues before rushing to a partial and highly subjective judgement.

It would no doubt be easy for armchair intellectuals to dismiss arguments, facts and points which do not fit their own preconceptions. Particularly in cases where individual and group experience of such contexts in producing failure are scarce or even non existent.

It also needs pointing out that when it comes to competency those in glass houses have little grounds to complain. It takes incompetency to new levels when the bulk of the PLP along with self styled Labour Party Grandees and sections of the NEC spend weeks getting us to where we are now (a rolling and pre publicised coup; prevarication over a challenger; disenfranchisement of the bulk of a growing membership; fantastical claims of over a third of million 'Trots'; gerrymahdering; suspension of democracy; provable lies etc etc) from a position where the PM had resigned, there was no Tory Brexit Plans, and the country was in limbo if not chaos.

Turning an open goal into multi own goal debacle,which is what the 172 members of the PLP and their allies have done, is not competancy and relegates any lack of competency on the part of Corbyn and his team into total irrelevance.

As previously pointed out, these clowns who have played fast and loose with democracy, having already been touted in Scotland, have absolutely no chance of convincing a minority, never mind a majority, of the electorate that they can be trusted with the democracy of the country in Government.

It is they, rather than Corbyn and the team around him, who have made Labour unelectable whilst ever they remain in the Party.

From Arse To Elbow

Obliquity in the realm of politics means implementing policies with uncertain or collateral effects, but whose results are (hopefully) benign. For example, a basic income might reduce demand on the NHS, while we know that rationing in WW2 and after improved levels of health.

Politicians should do more of this, but "Let's try policy X and see what happens" isn't what the ideological frame encourages, and not just because this is seen as risky (in this regard, evidence-based policy-making often inhibits useful experimentation). Politicians are valued for certainty and decisiveness, even when they serially cock-up (see Churchill). Like credibility, these are aspects of performative authoritarianism.

One could go further and suggest that "electability" is merely performative authoritarianism in democratic guise. What was depressing about Smith's criticism of Corbyn's PMQ performance yesterday was the suggestion that May's authoritarianism can only be met with similar nonsense from the Labour benches. The intellectual vacuity of the centre continues.

Neil

Surely there's a case to be made that it's Corbyn's team who have the obliquity problem.

They want socialism, and their preferred method for achieving this is to stand up and say "I want socialism" as often and as loudly as possible. And so they get a lot of praise from their supporters for "integrity" and "straight talking", but they also drive away anyone who doesn't want socialism.

The more moderate Labour MPs *also* want socialism. But they realise that striking directly towards the target is not necessarily the best way to get there.

There's a *reason* the emblem of the Fabian Society is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Deviation From The Mean

"The more moderate Labour MPs *also* want socialism"

No they don't

Corbyn has not really thrown Socialism down anyone's throat since becoming the Labour leader. Actually when it comes to economics he decided not to fall back on ideological assumptions and instead enlisted the help of many world class economists in the hope that a progressive and substantial economic policy could be derived.

Of course the media and people like Neil take no notice of this and continue to peddle lies, distortions and untruths.

And this gets us to the point of this article, if we believe the political culture of this country is basically sound and the economic system is just we take the Blair clone route, or simply why not join the Tories??? But if we look at liars like Neil and conclude there is something fundamentally rotten with the political discourse in this country then the only road is the patient step by step approach taken by Corbyn.

Neil's dishonest and intellectually corrupt comment should remind us all that there really is only one road for any progressive to take.

e

Chris your point re thousands of politically engaged, young and energetic, is interesting. The potential long term effects you don't like are? As an institution the Labour party, when it gets its act back together,is the channel for that energy. This really isn't just about JC.

it-was-deliberate

"Turning an open goal into multi own goal debacle, ... is not competancy ...
It is they, rather than Corbyn and the team around him, who have made Labour unelectable"

I would think that outdoing the Conservatives in comical shenaningans as the Conservatives were shooting themselves in the foot repeatedly was done mostly deliberately. It can't have been done by distraction or mistake; the long drawn out series of resignations from the shadow cabinet was obviously planned, as someone else noticed. They are not that stupid.

Their goal seemed transparently to *make* Labour unelectable, at least as a long as J Corbyn is leading it.

They seemed to be terrified that electorally Labour has been doing fairly well while J Corbyn has been leader.

Some of them obviously think that their career advancement depends on playing inoffensive "opposition" to the Conservatives; some of them instead probably genuinely think that if J Corbyn remains as leader the vast bulk of the media will continue to attack Labour, and hope that with him gone (and after displaying due obedience to Likud) the press will stop attacking Labour.

Whatever the latter think of the merits of J Corbyn's policies, their guess is that there is only space in the "Overton window" for neoliberal+neocon parties in the UK, and that it would be dangerous to challenge that. I don't think so, but not strongly: they may well be right. In other "atlantic" countries there is a long tradition of "limited democracy", where the populace can vote for any party, as long as they are "aligned".

Blissex

«They want socialism, and their preferred method for achieving this is to stand up and say "I want socialism" as often and as loudly as possible»

That happens; I call that group the "el pueblo unido jamas sera vencido", and A Blair called the more extreme form of them "resolutionary socialists".

My impression is that is "gesture politics", because their actual programme is far from socialist. Their actual positions are sligthly/somewhat to the right of N Kinnock, and he was a centrist social democrat "modernizer".

The problem with "gesture socialists" is that they use their gestures as tribal tokens of beloging (the managerialist neoliberals have others), without fully realizing that other people take it seriously.

BTW I am not hinting that they are hypocrites, just that their tribal mechanisms make a difference between talking the talk and walking the walk.

Blissex

BTW the person who comes off best in this sorry story so far is J McDonnell, who is a centrist, and still seems sincerely loyal to the party and the elected leader. The second best is J Corbyn, who is keeping steady and trying to spread calm despite everything; he must have seen even worse fights when Militant Tendency was trying to take over Labour. But perhaps this makes him seem weak.

The only good think to come out of this story is that the party has raised £4 million of fresh funds from the £25 donations.

Demonstrating the validity of my general suggestion: if you want something to keep happening, donate to it.

Blissex

To translate into a briefer form the idea that stealing the attention from the faults in the Conservatives was not an accident:

Probably many of the New Labourists are more terrified of J Corbyn or a similar successor winning an election and becoming PM, and thus setting a dangerous precedent, than of his remaining leader of the party. That would explain why they attacked him when the Conservatives were weakest and he seemed most successful (unlike with Cameron, 2/3 of J Corbyn's and N Sturgeon's voters followed their lead on Brexit).

The New Labourists may well be terrified that as the Conservatives seem to be trying hard to lose the next election Labour might win them with J Corbyn as leader.

chris

@ Neil - that's a good point. You dont' get socialism by demanding it, or even merely by electing a socialist leader.
It's why I've called for a "building blocks" approach to socialism:
http://stumblingandmumbling.typepad.com/stumbling_and_mumbling/2015/02/dead-ends-or-stepping-stones.html

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