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July 21, 2019

Comments

Jonathan da Silva

Huzzah.

Their reinventions of themselves also Watson from brutal political thug or Cooper from the stone faced demander that May do something more about Immigrants to crying over unaccompanied minors. To whining at Hospital car park charging or some other financialised nonsense that was their policy.

In US someone printed an article on the awful ICE camps and of course all the centrists liked and said how appalled they were and the writer pointed out it was from 2016.

Get out graphs of worker share of cake or minority wealth without years and try and select the 'progressive' Govts terms.

TickyW

Yes, Corbyn has weaknesses as a leader but he is, as Alex Nunns's book "The Candidate" records, a reluctant leader. He did not seek to be leader - he stepped up to the plate so as to provide a Left candidate when all other potential Left candidates ruled themselves out.

Now he is leader, the shadow chancellor is formulating a programme to deal with climate change via a Green New Deal. Climate change is the most pressing issue facing the world and the UK and none of the other UK parties (save the Greens) have a clue or the desire to do anything about it. Labour under Corbyn has.

To describe Corbyn as anti-Semitic is, IMHO, just plain inaccurate. What is worrying in this context, however, is the mishandling and dishonesty surrounding the investigations and disciplinary sanctions relating to allegations of anti-Semitism against Corbyn's allies. Such mendacity may be a portent of things to come in the event of a Corbyn government. A dishonest government that covers up things is a bad government.

In summary, Labour's policies are (mainly) good but the management of the party is poor.

e

Great post. Corbyn won leadership by a landslide prior to referendum. So obviously consequence of piss-poor domestic policy offers. Messengers often get a raw deal, but who knew just how nasty, and careless of their greater responsibilities centrist and right leaning Labour politicians could be? More now than ever before I suspect.

Jim

"The great virtue of economic growth, as Ben Friedman showed, is that it creates a climate in which toleration and openness can thrive."

Something tells me that the people blowing themselves up at pop concerts aren't really motivated by the Gini index, the minimum wage or austerity. Not every problem is solvable by more money.

Simon Cohen

'Leftists often accuse centrists of being Blairite. This is a slur upon Blair. His genius was to recognise in the 1990s that the world had changed and that new policies were needed for new times. '

You mean the 'genius' that allowed the mother of all housing bubbles to expand, thought boom and busts were over and thought that private debt ballooning to 200% of GDP was a good thing? These weren't ;new' policies but elephantine version of existing ones/

Blissex

«These weren't ;new' policies but elephantine version of existing ones»

Sure, but Blair in the 1990s discovered something very important politically, something that was discovered by another Labour politician who switched to the Conservatives when cars started appearing outside council houses, this is the famous "Sierra man" moment in a speech by Blair:

http://www.britishpoliticalspeech.org/speech-archive.htm?speech=202
“I was canvassing in the Midlands on an ordinary suburban estate. I met a man polishing his Ford Sierra, self-employed electrician, Dad always voted Labour. He used to vote Labour, he said, but he bought his own home, he had set up his own business, he was doing quite nicely, so he said I’ve become a Tory.”

What he discovered is that the socialdemocratic policies of Labour and the Trade Unions had so improved the life of many working class people to turn them into petty rentiers. At that point Labour had two choices:

* Follow their "legacy" voters into tory rentierism.

* Continue to represent non-rentier voters and win back many petty rentiers showing them that good jobs, pensions, social insurance are more valuable to them than grasping rentierism, and owning a 2 bed semi does not put them in the same class as the Duke of Westminster.

Tony Blair continues his story with these lines about "Sierra man", which I wish to think are sincerely wrong, not hypocritically wrong:

“He was not rich but he was doing better than he did, and as far as he was concerned, being better off meant being Tory too.”

That voter has not become tory because he was better off, but because he saw himself as an employer and a landowner, that is a small business and property rentier, with lower wages and higher property rents/prices increasing his earnings.

Karl Greenall

The problem, as pointed out by another interlocutor above, is that JC was a reluctant leader, chosen in a free election in which the other candidates were emblematic of failure and disappointment.
Never forget that Thatcher called New Labour her "greatest achievement".
The anti-Semitism issue is basically a huge smearing campaign, principally promoted within the party by former lieutenants of Owen Smith's campaign for the leadership in 2016. To call Jeremy Corbyn anything near anti-Semitic is to call one's own honour into major question. It is simply dishonest, pure and simple.
But it is a smearing campaign that needs to be named and nailed.
However, at least we know how rattled the Establishment are.

Blissex

«Leftists often accuse centrists of being Blairite»

Perhaps viceversa... But the key point here is that "centrist" has been twisted to mean "thatcherite for gay marriage": economically right-wing (or even out and out "libertarian"), socially (barely) left-wing.
So Cameron, Osborne, Umunna, Leslie, Blair, Mandelson, Clegg, are all "centrists".

In a more recent version, now that gay marriage is no longer an issue, "centrist" means currently "thatcherite for Remain".

This because of following the "There Is No Alternative" plan of M Thatcher, where only various flavours of thatcherism are considered politically acceptable, and any political position to the left of Thatcher is described as advocacy for tyrannical communism.

georgesdelatour

@Blissex

Agreed. It’s “left wing capitalism”, of the kind The Economist magazine has been advocating since the 1980s. Be as strategically liberal as possible on every “culture war” issue, while being as pro-globalist-free-market as possible on the economy.

From Arse To Elbow

Re "Centrists are oblivious to all this. [They] have no awareness of the reality of capitalist stagnation, let alone have an answer to it".

I think this lets them off the hook through a plea of stupidity. I'd suggest that they are only too well aware of the reality, but consider it to be either irrelevant or even a necessary development.

Of course they cannot publicly state that, just as the inner party under Blair couldn't admit they had no intention of reversing NHS marketisation or the Tory anti-union laws in 1997. Their politics has always been marked by bad faith (ditto the Lib Dems).

Expecting humility from centrists assumes honourable intentions and the capacity to acknowledge failure. Its absence, except at the margins, suggests they remain obdurately convinced of their rightness: they'd do it all again if they could, and I'm not even sure Iraq would be an exception.

Their weaponisation of antisemitism is as much about drowning-out the discourse and distracting attention from their own culpability in austerity and Brexit as it is about ejecting Corbyn.

Zem

This is a bit shit... it reads like a centrist dad saying both sides are just as bad as each other.

Corbyn is a highly principled socialist with a social democratic agenda of moderate redistribution and rebuilding of the state and social safety net.

Miles better than anything on offer from the tory lib dem or blarite rump. Which is why he is leader. His scepticism about aggressive war and foreign adventures recaptures the best traditions of the left, think Bevan 1951, and the Liberal radicals of cobden and bright. The corporate war mongers are smearing and lying away to protect their profits and perks, but no man of integrity should join their crusade. A serious man intent on social reform and promoting peace he is a giant compared to BOJO the sinister clown of the far right. Political commentators need to get a grip and stop talking shit.

Hugh Ferguson

Why are you pushing this Labour antisemitism thing? Surely Labour's and/or Corbyn's enemies can do that for themselves?

Adrian Schmidt

I have a lot of sympathy for a lot of Labour's policies, but I don't trust them as people. The anti-semitism row is important not just because of the issue, but because it has shown up the unpleasantness and intolerance of the Labour leadership and its outriders. The response of aggression, denial and whataboutery just doesn't make me want to put people like that in charge.

Also, you know perfectly well that the LibDems weren't "in power" in the same way as the Blair/Brown Labour government was. They were a junior coalition party who swallowed a whole load of Tory policies in a spirit of compromise in a crisis. How much of it they really supported is debatable, but I would argue not much. They temporarily killed themselves as a party by doing so, but many thought they were putting country before party. More naive than responsible.

I would add that it is a whole lot easier to look back in hindsight and say don't worry about a 10% budget deficit than it is to ignore it at the time (and a whole lot easier to advocate it in opposition than enact it in government).

Simon Carne

If the other choice is to vote green or Lib Dem in a constituencymargonal between Tory and Lib Dem the voice seems obvious to me. I voting for an MP not a government and tactically voting Labour I that constituency is a wasted vote.

Staberinde

Labelling Centrism a failure because 18 years of it was followed by a destructive Tory government is pretty lazy. Shall we level the same charge against the Attlee government for letting Churchill back in?

I do find the bitterness the Left holds towards the LibDems amusing.

First, for the assumption that Liberals and Social Democrats are just clueless socialists who should all just come back to the mothership when called. Nope!

Second, for the fetishisation of executive power exercised on a minority mandate. Coalition and compromise, things which help many countries govern with greater legitimacy and inclusivity than those afforded by the UK electoral system, are viewed (perversely) as weaknesses by the Left. Chris, your claims to a decentralised Marxism don't sit very easily with this, I think.

In 2010, for the first time ever, LibDem voters got some of what they voted for. They may have hoped for more, or indeed for a different prioritisation, but Clegg and co delivered. Their mistake was to allow the Tories to let them carry the can for austerity. Naivity was their crime. However, it has exposed a very unpleasant viciousness on the part of the Left, which, alongside the antisemitism, paranoia and fratricide, rather undermines its claim to any kind of moral project.

Which is why the shine has rather rubbed off Corbyn and his chums, leaving a bunch of otherwise-palatable and not-unreasonable policies to wither.

Labour have brought all this on themselves, and we centrists have as much sympathy for them as they've for us.

rogerh

Seems hard to believe the Leftists or the Rightists are going to make life better for Average Jack or Jill. Neither has the power to change global influences, there seems an inevitability to our J&J's drift downward.

Perhaps we should resurrect the Lump of Work fallacy and take another look, maybe it is not such a fallacy as was thought in Econ101 days. The expansion of new whizzy ideas has not kept pace with the expansion of new whizzy places to make things or new places to design stuff we already know about. Any fool or nation can lay down a concrete slab and do anything anywhere. The effect is surely to thin down the gruel available to Average Jack and Jill.

For it seems our Parliament and our educational establishment and our industrial strategy has perpetuated a setup John Masefield would recognise. With a cargo of Tyne coal, Road-rails, pig-lead, Firewood, iron-ware, and cheap tin trays. The snag is how to get into the Quinquireme of Nineveh and Stately Spanish Galleon business along with everyone else.
Further, does the Right or Left really have any incentive to improve matters? probably not because it simply is not possible. It will likely take 20 years to turn the education and parliamentary ship around.

In that same time automation, robotics etc will alter entirely the job market. Parliament and reality will still be mismatched. Average Jack and Average Jill will end up worse off than now. All that really happens is we make them hope for Upper West Side and deliver back street Mumbai.

reason

Simon Carne,
ironic isn't that given that referendum for single transferable vote was lost.

Blissex

«Why are you pushing this Labour antisemitism thing?»

From the previous post, some random quotes out of context of course :-)

“Mild as they are compared to Johnson’s racism, however, these are genuine failures.”
“And this is what Labour has failed to do. In failing to ruthlessly expel anyone even whiffing of the possibility of antisemitism”
“Could we have a radical Labour party without Corbyn and his public school Stalinist entourage?”

As I understand it he is "hinting" that Corbyn should be expelled from Labour for "enabling" antisemitism, and a new radical Labour party leader might be nominated by the PLP and elected by the Labour members. Same thesis advanced by P Toynbee on "The Guardian".
I reckon that the chances of the PLP nominating anybody other than a true-blue Mandelsonian Tendency entryst are zero (A Burnham ruled himself out by not joining the PLP attacks on Corbyn and being loyal to the institution), but some gullible simpletons could believe that "ḧint".

If my understanding is correct, that's carrying water for the blue, yellow and purple (New Labour) thatcherites; with maybe the hope that if LibDems or New Labour thatcherites-for-Remain got to power that would be better than the Conservatives staying in power. But then the main claimed goal of some "Remainers" was to get in power *anybody* pro-Remain (that is, LibDems or New Labour), by hook or by crook.

But since Corbyn and Labour have come out for "Remain" many of those are still attacking Corbyn, so it is pretty obvious to me that the real goal of those attacks is to prevent the "horror" of a social democratic Labour government instead of a thatcherite (New Labour, LibDem or Conservative) one.

Blissex

«But since Corbyn and Labour have come out for "Remain"»

Put another way, the old story was "To get rid of the referendum outcome we need a thatcherite-for-Remain leading Labour, so get rid of Corbyn using whatever pretext, so Labour switches to Remain", and the new story as Labour has switched to Remain already is "to ensure that we get a thatcherite government we need to get rid of Corbyn, so we'll pretend that once he is expelled with whatever pretext, another socialdemocrat will be nominated by the PLP".

Jon Davies

It feels to me that the current polarisation into leave / remain has removed any concept of being a centralist; it's hard to sit in the middle of a binary decision. Debate on policies outside of Brexit get little airtime on main stream media. Would love to hear a proper debate on things like long term social care. Won't hold my breath.

Scratch

"It feels to me that the current polarisation into leave / remain has removed any concept of being a centralist;"

I think "centrist" is purely a political class designation rather than anything rooted in the positions of the punters.

Its signature policies, ruthless hyperliberalism, post/anti-democratic globalism plus rigorously divisive kulturkampf lack a natural constituency outside of plutocrats, that element of the bourgeois state that might expect favours from the plutocrats plus opportunists from favoured regions/classes/identity groups, the easily browbeaten and any other loathers of the enfranchised hoi polloi that do not fit into the above categories.

nicholas ford

Not sure I agree with much of this.
The centrist's failure was in fact a technical one. Brown, and most economists, thought he had indeed abolished boom and bust when he set up an independent Bank of England. It turned out they had not appreciated the full importance of bank capital in financial stability. This is what caused the bust, and the subsequent austerity.
It was little to do with the centrists political philosophy.

Blissex

«The centrist's failure was in fact a technical one. [...] had not appreciated the full importance of bank capital in financial stability.»

HHAHAHAHAHAHHHHHAAAAAHHHHHHAAAA! This is one of the best jokes I have heard recently! It is is so funny!!! Such sarcasm!!!!!! The very idea that nobody realized that a massive expansion of leverage ratios was going one, and that was a technical mistake, rather than a cynical political choice...

Nanikore

You mention the effects of austerity policy.

Austerity is not the primary cause of our problems. The problems are deeply entrenched in capitalism and relate to such phenomenon as deindustrialisation and financialisation.

Most centrists opposed austerity. But the debate is largely a distraction from deeper problems and the failures of the economic elite to properly understand capitalism and emerging problems that date at least as far back as the Great Moderation.

Austerity and the zero-lower bound are two distracting red herrings brought up by the mainstream economic elite.

Avoid them.

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