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September 07, 2016

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Paul Trembath

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By that measure - depending of course on what you mean by "people" - every Labour leader in living memory has been a bad leader, including the sainted Blair, and any likely successor. Perhaps you stand by that implication, but it's not a reason to disprefer Corbyn.

Phil

I've been making many of these points for weeks now, on my own blog and on Simon WL's - particularly the idea of a collegiate leadership, i.e. fixing the problem of Corbyn's lack of management skills by helping him. The point about Smith and triangulation - and the danger of a reversion to managerialism and mediamacro - is really hard to argue against.

The conclusion I draw is that Corbyn's leadership has had many good outcomes despite its glaring defects (defects which are in principle fixable). Smith's might have fewer (or at least different) defects, but I fear it would reverse the positive outcomes of the Corbyn period. Also, I don't like being told I can't vote for my preferred candidate, and I really don't like being told that I personally am an idiot, a fanatic or a thug. So I've voted for Corbyn.

Paul Trembath

Let's try that again:

"It’s not good enough to reply that such stories are exaggerated by Corbyn’s enemies: leadership is performative; if people say you’re a bad leader, you are."

By that measure - depending of course on what you mean by "people" - every Labour leader in living memory has been a bad leader, including the sainted Blair, and any likely successor. Perhaps you stand by that implication, but it's not a reason to disprefer Corbyn.

AndrewD

I hear whay you say Chris but I voted Corbyn for one simple reason,-Either the Labour Party is a democratic institution or a vangard party lead by the PLP and the followers do as they are told.If you believe the party is a democratic party, as I do, in which case as Corbyn was elected emocratically he should be supported against he plotters or you leave the party.
It is also worth pointing out that for an effective leadership, the plotters made a rank bad job of the coup-why should we believe in their "Ability"

Igor Belanov

"One rational solution to this would be to split the Labour leadership into a more collegiate form. I fear, however, that such a sensible move is precluded by our backward political and intellectual climate."

What on earth is 'sensible' about this suggestion? Corbyn's opponents have made it clear that they consider him and his supporters to be beyond the pale, and they would be unlikely to tolerate him even in a figurehead or 'honorary' position.

The idea of a 'collegiate leadership' seems in this kind of situation to be an attempt to conceal where power really lies by fabricating an institutional fix. This is highly unlikely to pull the wool over anyone's eyes in the present climate. Some people are ultimately going to have to capitulate or split.

The Philosopher

To be fair, the problem is the system itself which keeps spewing out cretins like blair, PR person cameron, and dolts like theresa may.

The logjam can only be broken with a blunt instrument like corbyn and farage. It is the plutocratic strangehold on information which dictates the rules of this particular game.
Any "sensible" politican will drift to brazen cuckoldry or mediamacro as you call it.

As pluto policies continually backfire - mass migration, lower living standards, terrorism, crime, breakdown of the family unit...extremists will rise to clear out the pig sty. And we can start afresh with "sensible" statesman again - He who is only useful in unextreme wealth distributions. Alas!

We must tolerate lenin to claim our beloved john major. Haha.

Peter K.

Paul Krugman made a distinction between the center-left and the left.

The center-left policies don't work and are implicated in an era of globalization, stagnation and rising inequality. They create more and more Trump and Brexit voters.

The leftist policies of Corbyn and Bernie Sanders work. They also inspire more people to participate in politics. The center-left is more about pleasing donors when campaign cash is see as the way to victory.

Duncan

While I do agree with the majority of this post, I'm not so sure about this paragraph - "One under-rated danger here is the generational divide. A Smith victory – if followed by a rightward retreat – would say to those younger people who have been energized by Corbyn: “politics is not for the likes of you; it’s just a Westminster bubble”. I don’t like the potential longer-term cultural effects of that."

I can't help but think that it would not have mattered who was up against Corbyn in this leadership election. A sizeable majority of new members want Corbyn as leader regardless of how it affects the electability as a whole, and will jettison the party should there ever come a time he isn't leader, rather proving his critics right inasmuch as that he's turned it into a personality cult.

It is a positive that many people have been energised into joining a political party, but to what end?

Blissex

«the plotters made a rank bad job of the coup»

The coup was pretty good at distracting attention from the much worse split and incompetence of the Conservatives during the leadership election, and then at distracting attention from the Chilcot report, which may well have been the #1 aim.

Blissex

«there’s something worrying about his well-attended rallies: I fear they demonstrate a desire to stick within his comfort zone and preach to the choir, rather than undertake the necessary but harder job of winning over sceptics»

it seems to me that "winning over sceptics" could well be a complete waste of time, as most voters' opinion come preformed.

J Corbyn seems to be working under the very reasonable, traditional, strategy of boosting the turnout of the disaffected, because currently non-voters are more numerous than any party's voters, and in particular T Blair managed to lose several million votes to Labour.

C Flint instead argued that New Labour must become a quasi-Conservative party to attract millions of right-wing voters:

«Labour will not win the next election by relying on disaffected leftwing Liberal Democrat voters, but will also have to frame policies that are attractive to former Conservative voters in the south, the shadow cabinet member Caroline Flint has said.»

Now those like her (and S Wren-Lewis) seem to think that New Labour, by positioning themselves as the heirs to D Cameron, "New Conservatives for Europe and benefit cuts" they can attract a chunk of the 42% of tories who voted "Remain", and rid New Labour of the 37% of labour voters who voted "Leave".

I think that the different strategy of trying to keep with Labour that 37% and motivating some of the many millions of voters who have stopped voting during T Blair's government is a much more realistic strategy.

«longstanding apologism for terrorists and tyrants. What worries me about this isn’t so much that it presages a lousy foreign policy but that it betokens bad judgment – thinking that doesn’t extend beyond “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”.»

I don't see why you are talking about GW Bush and T Blair in a discussion about J Corbyn.

Blissex

«rather proving his critics right inasmuch as that he's turned it into a personality cult.»

So T Blair has retired from politics so why keep obsessing about him? And even if he was "charismatic" between 1997 and 2010 the Labour party lost several million voters, around 2 million just in 2001, to abstention. Perhaps that was because the Blair "personality cult", or perhaps it was because they fel not represented by neoliberal New Labour.

«It is a positive that many people have been energised into joining»

If J Corbyn managed to attract back a chunk of the several millions of socialdemocratic voters who would not vote for "charismatic" "personality cult" neoliberal Blair, Labour would be in a very good electoral position, as the conservative voters are split 50% to 42% on the EU issue, and T May has been in word veering sharply to the eurosceptic side.

BCFG

Appalling from beginning to end. But what can we expect from a Liz Kendall supporting Blairite?

I mean you speak of a potential lousy foreign policy with Corbyn while backing a candidate from a tendency that invaded and occupied Iraq, killing thousands and displacing millions. Turning the region into a hell hole, giving rise to ISIS, turning Syria into a basket case, turning Libya into the real Mad Max and you talk of a lousy foreign policy!

This is the problem with people like you, you interpret opposition to war and imperialist supremacy as support for 'terrorists' and tyrants.

You are the worst kind and remind us all that it is the centre left, the Liz Kendall supporting types who are the real enemy and the real beast.

Support Corbyn!

Steve H


You have to go for the least worst option and that is conclusively Smith.

I accept he comes with some risk and that his campaign - despite some very good moments - hasn't been entirely glitch free. Would he make a good leader? He may do. He would certainly be a far sharper performer in the media and is a good parliamentarian. I think he could get the PLP mostly behind him, and therefore be able to present a proper opposition, which is the first step to being considered as a potential government.

Corbyn we now know beyond all reasonable doubt is just hopeless. The case against him is overwhelming. Now, there are some shits in the PLP, some of whom might consider where they should be sitting, but the great majority have been loyal and given him a chance. The fact that so many speak of his glaring inadequacy is not something that can be ignored. I think its gone beyond concerns over his competence, I actually think that most of the PLP dont trust him. Also, we can see and hear for ourselves that he just doesn't cut it. Does it make him unelectable? I think it does, particularly when you factor in his past and some of his current associations, which would be ruthlessly exploited by the Tories. Can anyone seriously see him being entrusted to lead a government and be our PM?

I suppose for me it comes down to this: who would be able to bring Labour closer to power?
Anyone leading the party would face an uphill task so there are no givens but, on balance and acknowledging whatever way we go the party is in for a rocky road, I've gone for Smith.

Blissex

«I suppose for me it comes down to this: who would be able to bring Labour closer to power?»

If you think that only the 60% of potential voters who actually currently vote matter, and they look at how much leaders and manifestos promise as gifts to the "conservatory-building classes" to choose their vote, go for "New Conservatives for Europe and benefits cuts" O Smith.

If you think that there is a good chance of winning back some of the 40% of voters who now abstain, in particular some of the millions who used to vote Labour, and that the other voters just "throw out the bums" when governments screw up like the tories are doing, then go for "social-democrat Labour" J Corbyn.

Blissex

A reasonable, interesting "detail" on what seems to be J Corbyn's electoral strategy, PMQ today:

www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/sep/07/brexit-means-never-having-to-say-youre-sorry-or-anything-at-all

«With Brexit uppermost in everyone’s minds and the government front benches struggling even to maintain the “Brexit means Brexit” line, Jeremy Corbyn asked the prime minister about the housing crisis.»

Brexit is uppermost in the "minds" of the Westminster bubble.

Labour voters have every day to cope with housing costs, how to pay bigger rents if they work in the south or want to look for a job there.

If housing had been less expensive in the south perhaps Remain would have won; fewer people in the north would have felt that immigrants were beating them in the race to the bottom.

Dipper

Jeremy Corbyn is not incompetent. He is highly competent. He is just doing a completely different job to the one you think he should be doing.

Take his Digital Democracy Manifesto https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/corbynstays/pages/329/attachments/original/1472552058/Digital_Democracy.pdf?1472552058

Its quite jaw dropping. It clearly isn't a policy proposal - it contains lots of "we shall do this" but not much on how, why, what benefits we will get, how it will be policed. I particularly liked "We will ensure that British citizens are able both to express their own views ... " apparently making on-line trolling legal.

Jeremy is an entirely good person. He wants peace, justice, happiness, and an end to poverty. Jeremy is building a movement. He does this by producing Positioning Statements such as the Digital Manifesto. This enables the movement to identify goodies and baddies by whether individuals or organisations behaviour meets the positioning statement.

People who don't agree with Jeremy are bad people. The Movement will punish them.

Shuggy

I don't suppose there's any chance you could stop talking about 'electibility' as if those who point out the obvious fact that Corbyn is unlikely to win an election is suffering from false consciousness, or something? Or, as you have it this time, from a 'sense of entitlement'. What? How likely do you think it is that someone so visibly disorganised and who has a history of supporting those who sought to murder members of the British government will end up being in control of it?

Nick

The piece by James Bloodworth that you link to claiming that Corbyn is an apologist for terrorists is a bit , well... 'wild-eyed' (to borrow one of his adjectives). Bloodworth says:
"he is remarkably good at proffering apologetics for dictatorship and tyranny. As well as Gaddafi, Corbyn has in recent years championed/made excuses for Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chavez, Russian gay-basher Vladimir Putin, the butcher of Bosnian Muslims Slobodan Milosevic and the Cuban dictator Fidel Castro."

Somehow, though he couldn't find any quotations to back up these (defamatory) claims. How surprising!

The reason is presumably that Corbyn is in fact a longstanding proponent of human rights and opponent of dictators, whether they happen to be on our list of official enemies at the time or not.
To take just one example, he asked a minister (Alan Clark) in the House of Commons the following question in 1990 when the UK and US governments were still very good friends with Saddam Hussein, and had turned a blind eye to the recent use of poison gas on Kurds in Halabja:

"Does he accept that the main motive of his Ministry at present is to maintain trade and sales with Iraq in order to finance the re-equipment of that country's armed forces, despite Iraq's use of chemical weapons against Kurdish people in Iraq and its appalling human rights record? Does the Minister not believe that a proper relationship with the Government of Iraq would be no trade, no aid and no deals while the present repression continues against people in Iraq?"
https://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=1990-06-19a.791.0&s=iraq+speaker%3A10133+speaker%3A10133#g791.4

Of course, this sort of thing only earns you the contempt of 'realists' and other right-thinking people like Clark and Bloodworth.

Shuggy

Corbyn's name on an early day motion putting Serbian ethnic cleansing into inverted commas. To be fair, he doesn't support it so much as pretends it didn't happen. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2004-05/392

Another early day motion praising Castro here. http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2007-08/982

His groupie-like fandom for Sinn Fein/IRA doesn't need referenced surely?

gastro george

@Shuggy - If you hadn't noticed, Sinn Fein are in government now. Does that make a succession of UK PMs fanboys?

Nyx

"What on earth is 'sensible' about this suggestion? Corbyn's opponents have made it clear that they consider him and his supporters to be beyond the pale, and they would be unlikely to tolerate him even in a figurehead or 'honorary' position."

Actually, Owen Smith made such an offer in July:

http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/staggers/2016/07/jeremy-corbyn-smacks-down-owen-smiths-offer-labour-president

Corbyn refused, naturally. It's not really his temperament; he probably sees such a position as somewhere between empty figurehead and party sheepdog. For a man who has been perfectly happy to exist on the political periphery for his entire political career, there's no real appeal. I think it's significant that he couldn't even really imagine what a party president might do.

Of course, it's worth wondering just how sincere Owen Smith's offer was. It's easy to make such promises when you're not going to be in a position to keep them.

"If you believe the party is a democratic party, as I do, in which case as Corbyn was elected emocratically he should be supported against he plotters or you leave the party."

Well, it is and it isn't. "Pure" democracy does not really exist; you can't vote for 2+2=5. The Labour Party is democratic in the sense that it is accountable to it's members, but it is made up of MPs, who being elected, are accountable to their constituents. Should MPs side with the constituents who put them into Parliament, or the party that put them on the shortlist?

Igor Belanov

"Should MPs side with the constituents who put them into Parliament, or the party that put them on the shortlist?"

The idea of 'siding' is ridiculous. MPs deliberately shun any idea that they are delegates of their constituencies and bound by the opinions of those that elected them.

What voters actually do in the present system is vote for a party, whose policies emerge from internal decision-making whereby the electorate is only involved if they choose to be a member (and not necessarily even then!). Any MP who thinks they hold their seat due to personal popularity is of course perfectly free to prove this by standing as an independent. It's funny that this doesn't seem to happen very often....

Phil

Shuggy - by backing that EDM, Corbyn challenged claims that 100-200,000 Albanians had been killed by Serbian forces, and argued that the true death toll was probably in the low four figures.

We know now that 100-200,000 Albanians *weren't* killed by Serbian forces; the true death toll was higher than Corbyn (or his sources) thought, but it was almost certainly under 10,000.

I've seen apologetics for Serbia - there are people claiming to be on the Left who maintain that the Srebrenica massacre never happened. That EDM isn't in the same league.

Conal Tuohy

"If people say you're a bad leader, you are".

Here, the word "people" refers I suppose to the Labour MPs who reject Corbyn's leadership. But what about the hundreds of thousands of people who have joined the Party in response to his leadership? Do their opinions of his leadership qualities not massively outweigh the few dozen MPs?

The anti-Corbyn MPs have every reason to want to frame their antipathy in technocratic terms, as a matter of 'competence', and avoid openly political disputation, where there stale and unpopular opinions are a serious weakness. To take the MPs at their word is rather disingenuous.

Blissex

«What voters actually do in the present system is vote for a party, whose policies emerge from internal decision-making whereby the electorate is only involved if they choose to be a member (and not necessarily even then!).»

That is much truer in the present circumstances, in which Labour has suffered a relative election defeat.

The seats currently occupied by Labour MPs are in essence "bedrock" Labour seats, where people vote Labour regardless.

Some famous politician once said that in "bedrock" Labour seats hostility to Conservatives is so deep that if you put a red rosette on a farm pig it would be elected.

Indeed this has sort of happened from 1997 to 2010: during Blair/Mandelson's reign of spin a large number of thinly disguised thatcherite entryists were rammed down the throat of constituency parties. Even Blair himself represented an ex-mining area seat.

The result has been that currently the vast majority of constituency parties have declared for Corbyn as leader, while the majority of MPs they have so far selected has voted no confidence, and because of boundary changes most will *have* to be reselected.

The long term problem with Labour is that Blair had no power base in the party; he was chosen by the MPs as their "conservatory-building classes" friendly PR frontman.

He then tried to build after-the-fact his own power base in the party, but he only managed to do that among MPs, by giving safe seats to reliable photogenic apparatchiks without much of a root in the party, just like himself.

butcheringOfNews

«"the butcher of Bosnian Muslims Slobodan Milosevic"»
«Corbyn's name on an early day motion putting Serbian ethnic cleansing into inverted commas. To be fair, he doesn't support it so much as pretends it didn't happen.»

The International Court of Justice has posthumously cleared S Milosevic quite recently and any and all involvement in Bosnian crimes.

After intensive deliberation, and having IIRC looked at mountains of secret evidence provided by security services of USA and UK, they have cleared him (and Serbia by implication) of any war crimes and crimes against humanity, and actually proven that he was opposed to them and fought against them.

The invasion of Serbia, the long period of "terror" bombing of Belgrade, the dismembering of Serbia by the USA and UK and some allies is something that somehow has been "forgotten".

www.counterpunch.org/2016/08/01/the-exoneration-of-milosevic-the-ictys-surprise-ruling/

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/1530781.stm

www.newstatesman.com/node/151946

www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/3663424/Kafkaesque-in-the-true-sense-of-the-term.html

nrnmind.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/icty-takes14-years-to-declare-milosevic.html

ottawacitizen.com/opinion/columnists/sibley-shedding-new-light-on-slobodan-milosevic

www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/croatia/11386973/International-Court-of-Justice-clears-Croatia-and-Serbia-of-genocide.html

And the same for the Serbian president (Milosevic was the Yugoslavian president). Several minor figures have been convicted of crimes that happen regularly in every war.

Note the lack of news in two "prominent" neocon papers:

http://www.nytimes.com/topic/destination/serbia
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/serbia/

Nick

I agree with Phil. The Early Day Motion on Kosovo was (correctly) challenging the excuses that NATO used for attacking Serbia in 1999. See this 2001 article by Chomsky:
https://chomsky.info/200005__/

Phil is also, sadly, right that there have been a few on the left who were badly mistaken about Milosevic's Serbia. But I haven't seen any evidence that Corbyn was ever among them. His line seems much closer to Chomsky's.

All this attention to the nuances of various statements that Corbyn has signed is a bit ironic, given that he's probably the first leader of any major national UK political party in ages not to have supported any illegal military intervention in his time as an MP. He's also consistently opposed our arms sales to dictators and our role in kidnapping people and sending them to be tortured - again, unlike very many other MPs.

Blissex

«there are people claiming to be on the Left who maintain that the Srebrenica massacre never happened. [Phil]»
«Phil is also, sadly, right that there have been a few on the left who were badly mistaken about Milosevic's Serbia»

Milosevic's Serbia has been judged by the UN Security Council court to have been opposed to any massacre, genocide or ethnic cleansing, in Bosnia, Croatia or Kosovo.

I would find ridiculous any accusation that the International Court Of Justice is among those «few on the left who were badly mistaken about Milosevic's Serbia».

Even if there is quite a bit of evidence that Milosevic was a brutal political operator, even if mostly in the defense of the integrity and borders of his country; but he never invaded, bombed or dismembered a foreign country, and he never funded or organized torture, kidnap and murder squad operating around the world, as two USA presidents have openly boasted to their voters.

Even if there is quite a bit of evidence that some "christian" bosnians massacred several thousand other "muslim" bosnians (most of both probably of serbian descent).

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