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December 17, 2019


Ralph Musgrave

I think Chris has missed the point that the plebs need to have one single easily identifiable leader to look up to. Any sort of committee is too complicated for them. It's from that "plebian deficiency" that kings, emperors, dictators etc etc derive their power.

Same sort of phenomenon explains why moronic sound-bites like "Get Brexit done" win elections.


Perhaps a third way ;) would be to have a technical leader of the party (Beckett or someone) to coordinate necessary parliamentary business (it's not like Labour are driving the legislative agenda), but for an extended period of time, perhaps 6-9 months, have rival factions assemble their teams and simply show how they would respond to events and produce policy ideas as the LOTO is expected to, followed by an election. The members would get a pretty comprehensive view of each faction (doing the job they are actually applying for) and we would get valuable information in how the electorate responds to them before any selection. See how they perform in our (broken, as Chris would say) marketplace of ideas and hostile media environment.

At the moment we have a membership selecting people based on a mixture of their own ideological tastes (without much evidence for if they'd be any good at what is an unusual job) and guessing (somewhat blindly) what the electorate will like; remember that Corbyn was supposed to revitalize Scottish Labour.

Five week campaigns, rehearsed answers at hustings and relying on a few media interviews for scrutiny doesn't provide the space necessary to move a party forward in a meaningful way and once the decision is made, it's almost impossible to go back on.

dilbert dogbert

From across the pond.
Maybe the poison is its own antidote.
Hoping that is the case with tRump.

Nick Drew

"... requires that the joint leaders subordinate their egos to the collective good. But anybody unwilling or unable to do this is, by definition, unfit to hold a senior position in a socialist party"

Can you point to a single, relevant, functioning exemplar? (past or present)

From my own experience, the nearest equivalents have actually been a one- (or two-)person leadership which is very confident, & comfortable with a wide span of control, so that the next level down is broad and collectively powerful

Because of the confidence & comfort at the very top, there doesn't need to be constant ego-tripping & point-scoring & outward displays of muscle. So from lower levels it can look like the whole top two strata are a single collective.

But they ain't. It's just one of the highly desirable outworkings of a very mature leader at the apex.


Maybe it's not the leader that needs changing, but the party membership...

Andrew Curry

@KG https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_L%C3%B6sung

Dave Timoney

The presumption behind this post is that Labour has hitherto not had a collective leadership, but the history suggests otherwise. The routine demands for it to be a "broad church" are a recognition that the party leader has rarely enjoyed unfettered power among the PLP, let alone the membership or the wider labour movement.

Management by committee has always been Labour's institutional approach and, because of the role of the unions and independent groups like the Fabians, that committee has usually included non-MPs. The relevant questions to ask are: how big is that informal committee, is it contiguous with the formal committee of the NEC, and who does it pointedly exclude?

Famous examples were Wilson's kitchen cabinet and Blair's sofa government, though it's also worth noting that Blair effectively ceded much of his own power to placate Brown in what was widely recognised as dual leadership. Corbyn's "inner circle" is very much in that tradition.

The problem under Corbyn was not excessive centralisation of power, or even the supposed machinations of Stalinists, but the clear differences of opinion on Brexit that were articulated by a de facto leadership team that included both Starmer and McCluskey.


This starts at the wrong place. It starts at the top when it should start at the bottom.

As a Leaver ... the amazing thing this year has been the way the Leave vote Took Back Control. Firstly in the Euro elections we moved to TBP leaving the tories facing electoral disaster. This forced them to ditch May and adopt a full-on Leave manifesto. Secondly we all switched back to the Tories and got a massive majority for Leave. So, on this reading, the thing we need is a Leader who listens, who understands who is calling the shots here. In those circumstances the ideal leader is one whose desire for sitting in the top seat exceeds their idealogical views, one who is prepared to do whatever it takes to be Leader. Step forward Boris Johnson.

Johnson grasps the essence of Leadership, that the job of the leader is to tell the organisation the story of itself; who we are, what makes us special and distinct, what our values are, what our future holds. Having done that, the next thing a Leader needs is a strong team who can translate that high-level view into a clear strategy and organise to deliver it. Step forward Michael Gove, Dominic Cummings, Munira Mirza.

The Labour Party fails because it lacks all these things. It doesn't have Leaders, it has factionalists fighting each other to impose their views on others by procedural means against their will. No-one listens at all. There were only two MPs who showed they had listened and understood, Caroline Flint and Lisa Nandy. Only one of those is left in Parliament, and she is unlikely to win because the spoilt petulant children who form the current Labour movement would rather be captain of a sinking ship than crew on a successful one.


Lisa Nandy you say? She gave back over 10,000 votes off her majority in Wigan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wigan_(UK_Parliament_constituency)

On the original point I think the party did try to emphasise the team, but depressingly that seemed to upset the selectorate...


All 202 Labour MPs should form a Borg-style “hive mind” collective leadership. The Parliamentary duties of Leader of Her Majesty’s Most Loyal Opposition, including membership of the Privy Council, should be shuffled for each day that Parliament sits, strictly by alphabetical order. Amalgamate 202 Parliamentary salaries into one fund, distributed by collective agreement, strictly according to need. Turn the entire PLP into a 1950s-style kibbutz, with collective parenting. Win 150 seat majority in 2024.


@ Alex

Lisa Nandy you say? She gave back over 10,000 votes off her majority in Wigan:

It's just a bit of free advice from a Tory .But I'm sure your scepticism is right. After all Labour won all the arguments, you just need a Jeremy clone in a skirt. RLB ideal. Just one more push and a majority will be yours! Nearly there!


The biggest tragedy of this election was not the Labour loss or the size of it. it was losing the last chance to reverse Brexit. Personally I think Corbyn's leadership would have been a fiasco and could have back the social democratic cause for a decade. It was not necessarily an entirely bad thing in fact that they lost. An unprofessional looking shambles, it was basically an old fashioned Keynesian austerity-reversal pump priming exercise with lots of electoral 'goodies'. Nothing was offered to really deal with the problems that lie deeply embedded in capitalism manifested as deindustrialisation in the north that requires a carefully thought out long term investment strategy to create the kind of economy and society we want. There was no real leadership in fact saying what that might look like.

We can throw out the Tories in five years. EU membership is different. It is a once-in-a generation chance.

The economic costs of Brexit are often discussed, and these are not insignificant. The social costs - environmental, health and worker protections underwritten by the EU are also not insignificant.

But most serious of all are the security implications. We are now even more at the whim of the US, and in some ways being out of the Union, actually less useful to them. We have no say over decisions made on the continent. France as Macron points out, is the sole nuclear power now in the EU. For now things are relatively benign. But we don't know how things can unfold on the continent, and things can change very quickly. We will not be part of the decision making process when it does.

As major geopolitical decisions are made, we can just stand and watch.

I can really understand how foreign office officials feel about all this.

derrida derider

"Labour cannot win a top-down campaign and needs a strong mass membership to combat media lies."

Tony Blair proved you dead wrong three times. This is an inconvenient fact but remains a fact.

The trouble with having policy and leaders determined by a mass membership rather than by elected representatives is that elected MPs have to appeal to non-party members if they want to be re-elected while party members don't.

Wherever party members have been able to push a parliamentary leader against the better judgement of those parliamentarians they are supposed to lead, it has ended in tears. The UK Labour Party is repeating the experience of both the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Greens in that respect.



They lost because of BREXIT more specifically immigration. Tony Blair opened the floodgatesthat have never been closed. And Tony Blair helped to get Remain adopted as Labour party policy at the last election.

Germany destroyed the rest of the EU economy!

Only the Neo-mechantalists are doing well.
Germany/Japan/South Korea and of course the biggest of all China.

The UK joined the race to the bottom with Finance, Free Trade and Immigration.


Centrist Dads 2, Collectivists 0.

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