Tagged: Corbyn

sod it

If I were an MP, I’d be in the ‘making it work’ faction, being silent but face-palming almost constantly at The Labour Party.

Though, as a Twitter friend pointed out yesterday mid-my rant about feeling silenced, I have never been ‘silent.’

I think if there were ever an adjective my friends would use to describe me in one word, it’d be ‘outspoken’. I’ve been pretty loathed in a lot of circles, I’d imagine. A lot of my Twitter has probably been met with eye rolls. Particularly regarding one aspect; I have never been lowkey about my background. I use it (ahem, weaponize it) in arguments a lot, because my go-to motif has always been that the political is personal.

If someone wants to debate an abstraction about ‘Red Tories’ or ‘real Labour’, I’d happily use the story that I got into politics because, shortly after the 2010 election, my family was plunged into financial chaos. That I first cried about money when I was 15, overhearing a conversation that we could be repossessed.

I remember shortly after the election, the utter dismay of my teachers upon hearing that Building Schools For the Future was being scrapped. The school’s walls literally shook, morale of students there no less weak.

I remember the student riots, and the heartbroken working class kids discovering the £9000 price tag of ambition. EMA being scrapped. Now maintenance grants being snatched away too.

I remember the London riots just a few hundred metres from my house. A perfect metaphor.

I remember the sudden arrival of payday lenders and casinos on Walthamstow high street, preying on my family and my community, having fundraising lunches with Iain Duncan Smith. As he wielded his axe to welfare, it was they that benefited. I remember ‘Progress’ Stella Creasy MP worked so hard to sweep them away. It was Movement for Change and their campaign on that that was my first access point into politics. Concrete. Palpable. The very opposite of abstract.

You see, by far and away, the people that chuck about abstractions, reducing MPs and dissenters to dehumanized symbols of opposition, threatening deselection, accusing criticism of treachery, polls of deceit, on Twitter and across the cyberspace, they don’t have to worry about the real life repercussions. About difference.

Difference.

Give me a Blairite government over a Tory one any day. Call it ‘Red’ Tory, it’s still not bloody Tory.

Do you get what that word means? Do you have any idea the gravity of it? It’s not a benign abstraction you can add a prefix to. You have at the helm of government right now ideologically-driven Thatcherites who are dismantling welfare structures built by the last Labour government. Because they truly believe they are wrong. Iain Duncan Smith truly believes the poor have had it too easy for too long. He is on a crusade to alter their behaviour. Leaving a trail of poverty, 600,000 children deep. Blaming them for bad behaviour. Fucking think about that.

And you know I’m not a Blairite, right? Just thought I’d mention it. Not even in the slightest. I’m on the left of this party.

I remember amid the absolute heartbreak of the election defeat Chuka and Mandy sitting in that BBC studio talking about ‘aspirations’ as though it was a sole possession of the rich. I hated it. I hate that they try to claim the mantle of electability, that the working class are just an add-on in a coalition that has broken down and partially berthed UKIP and the SNP. Their arguments are outdated and they are dogmatic at sticking to their guns. Their solutions to Corbyn’s unpopularity -to oust him Game of Thrones style and replace him with a Kendallite figure- is bullshit, produces only self-inflicted wounds for their cause, and is equally based on dogma about ideology rather than the practical criticisms that can be leveled at Corbyn’s leadership style.
But then, the thing with dogma is that you avoid self-criticism. That’s been true of a lot of Blairites for bloody years, but it’s true of Corbynites too. Critics are taken as dangerous outsiders rather than constructive allies, so critical friends are made into the enemy within; which in this case is a ‘Blairite’ as dissenters to Blair’s modernisation project were called ‘dinosaurs’. There is no in-between. (And certainly no soft-left). You are with us, or against us.

But that doesn’t even matter. My views and my positions on the Labour spectrum are secondary. Because of what I’ve written above: this isn’t about abstract ideology, this is about class, and the concrete experiences of that. I am the very type of person you and the Corbynites committed to defending, to listening to, to representing. You claimed you were the only ones who were truly the heroes and saviours of the working class. You claimed you would be the voice of me.

And yet now look. A poll comes out showing the Tories with a 15% lead, with a 5% lead in the North. Labour heartlands, for goodness sake. And what’s the response from the Twittersphere? MPs dunnit’, also the working class are too entrenched in false consciousness to understand their self-interests. This isn’t The Ragged Trousered Philanphropists. These are the people you claim to represent most, and the minute they reject your representation, you snarl. You sneer. You dismiss it as ignorance. It is the exact opposite of the hug-a-hoody mood of the Summer Corbyn Camp; it’s pulled a bloody Cameron.

Critical people who want and need the Labour Party to do well are dismissed as agenda-driven and malicious if they do so much as sigh at this poll. I want the Labour Party under Corbyn to do well. I have no agenda. If I thought a Bennite Labour Party could succeed, I’d be out on the doorstep at its beck and call. I still will be, because I’m passionate for Labour and I, most importantly, need it to win. It’s supposed to represent my ilk. Which is why I find it odd that leftwing but anxious voices like mine are treated with contempt and suspicion the minute they raise a hand to question whether a 92-seat Tory majority is really a great offer from the Left to the working class.

And this criticism has been leveled because of the emergence of empirical evidence that the numerous gaffes and blunders and the completely unnecessary gesture politics of this leadership have translated into unpopularity. Easily avoided things. Foreign policy. Trident. Stop The War, MI5. Does anyone actually think these things matter to the people affected by cuts? How can you claim to represent the hardest-hit by going off on one about middle-class fringe issues? And they really are middle-class fringe issues. The poor do not spend their time discussing the evils of the West. How are you helping the likes of my mum by treating the British public like attendees to a Parliament Square rally? Most working class people are worried about wages and insecurity, not whether a terrorist is put on trial. Give it a god damn rest.

I was actually pretty hopeful about Corbyn’s leadership. Truly. While I didn’t agree that ‘strong, principled opposition’ was better than actually vying for power to practice principles, I expected it when he won. I’ve actually met Corbyn, he’s caring and decent, and passionate about working class issues. Economic issues. And I’d hoped that that would transpire in his leadership. A firmly anti-austerity leadership that chose that battle, that really important cause, as its call to arms. I really wanted it. One that would have hammered home about tax credits, no distractions, no Milnes. Something I think could win under the right conditions and the right discipline. What do we get? This. Distraction upon distraction upon distraction. Gesture upon gesture upon gesture.

Aren’t you bloody tired of saying ‘Look, the Tories are cutting X, so why are the media focusing on [insert Corbyn gaffe/gesture of the day]?’ Aren’t you exhausted? Aren’t you now angry that these distractions and easy ammo handouts are happening? You should be, because they don’t help the recipients of cuts.

Labour are at 27% in the polls. Because of shoot-to-kill. Shoot to bloody kill. A distraction. UKIP nipping at our heels, soaring on a high of disaffected working class communities in the likes of Oldham who care about flag and country, to the grimace of a lot of Leftist activists whose ideal image of the homogeneous working class has been smashed. So now, you turn on them instead of looking in and at yourselves.

Instead of self-critique, of questioning why the leadership has scored so many own goals and thus not provided the ultimate goal of ‘principled opposition’ that surely you are disappointed has yet to happen, of why you are not ashamed that the Tories have not been affected in the polls by tax credit cuts, you blame working class voters for either being brainwashed by Simon Danczuk’s latest article in a mid-market paper they likely don’t buy, or not changing to be more like you.

This is the most middle class the Labour Party has ever felt. It feels like the Green Party. And it’ll probably only represent university towns soon as well, unless you get a grip and listen to the bloody working class people that were the admiration of Corbyn’s leadership bid.

But, I don’t think you will. Because this isn’t really about palpable change for working class people, not really. This is about abstractions. The reality about working class people threatens your abstract concept of what is right for them, so you dehumanize the dissenting working classes like all your other opponents and reduce them to the abstraction of Red Tories.


 

 

‘Prime ministerialism’: What does it take?

There’s an interesting interview from VICE of two unassuming Labour backbenchers from April (x) where they say something pretty telling when asked about rating Ed Miliband:

“let’s be clear, we don’t believe in leaders.”

They spoke about a movement that was much bigger than the PLP, that would and should determine an anti-austerity message.

These two unassuming backbenchers, as it turned out, would go on to lead the Labour Party 6 months later. John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn, or more-so the latter, were actually seemingly warm toward Ed. I recall a Newstatesman interview with the former about Ed keeping his door open to the Left. But this stance on leadership wasn’t about that. Corbyn and his ally simply scorn the very concept of a leader. They were reluctantly absorbed, then sidelined, into a New Labour machine that fell in love with marketing.

Presidentialism in British politics undoubtedly predates New Labour and Blair, but New Labour was its first true product. Mandelson was the first of his kind, the Dark Lord behind the throne. Mandelsonian PR and spin was genius apparatus that transformed Tony Blair into a 90’s demigod, and transformed now New Labour into a market brand. The architects of this, the trio of Mandelson, Blair and Brown constructed a top-down approach to Labour -sofa politics- that today is derided as control freakery. In fact, it’s still highly effective; the SNP use it! The SNP has a gagging rule on MSPs and MPs, and all delegates and staffers, and yet still created a ‘movement’ in Scotland that wiped out their rivals, just as Labour turned the map red in 1997. Sturgeon became the saleswoman, rather than Blair. Marketing is all it is, and it works.

Contrast this with Ed Miliband, who tried to ignore the demands of image-based politics and then failed at the hands of the Crosby machine. Was it because we will never be able to get past image-based politics, or was it because Ed couldn’t build an inspired movement to counter it?

Can we rediscover a post-Mandelsonian politics that isn’t top-down? That doesn’t evangelise its leader? That is powered into office by a movement instead?

It’s strange that the man that derided leadership in the VICE interview was a self-made icon -almost immune to criticism- in the Labour leadership election, but its hard to doubt Jeremy’s sincerity in wanting to not be the centre of attention now. From his re-styling of a People’s Question Time to briskly walking past cameras, he is genuinely trying to make a membership-based movement. The question is whether that mass membership movement most comfortable in rallies can become a party of government.

So far, not so good. A recent ORB poll finds that 3/4s of voters do not see Jeremy as ‘Prime ministerial’. As noted, this tag or brand, is the product of a politics Jeremy derides. And it is by default biased in favour of image-based politics. ‘Prime ministerial’ simply means, now, a middle aged man with a nice accent and good suit. We see that these things have been exploited to discredit Corbyn. Despite all the meaty stories from his past CCHQ and the press could use, it’s telling that his suit, style, and not singing the national anthem is what has defined Corbyn’s first week.

And this just underlines a paradox in national psyche: we hate identikit politicians but won’t vote for anything else.

Could this ever actually change? It relies, imo, on five things:

Firstly, swallowing pride and wearing a bloody suit. Even Tsipras didn’t wear beige, man. Just do it. This isn’t selling out to Mandelsonian politics, it’s just looking swaggy as it were.

Second, Corbyn has to be a ‘people’s man’, like, yeah, Nigel Farage. But instead of the pub, he has to be on the street, greeting people, without black cars and bodyguards, being mobbed like Sturgeon was. And god knows that’s within his power, if the leadership contest is anything to go by. He doesn’t have to be a traditional leader, but rather an icon of a movement, someone that attracts a movement around him. Oh, and selfies.

Another thing that isn’t selling out to Mandelsonian politics is messaging. You don’t need to put spin onto a straightforward slogan. On the contrary, straight-talking and conviction is a strength. I argue here that ‘Labour coming home’ or something to that effect would be eye-catching and legitimately ingenuous.
It would also be apt to refer to Labour as a movement, instead of a party. Like I’ll say in numero cinco, it builds a sense of momentum. Like the party is bursting at the seams.

Fouth, a united team effort from the frontbench and PLP to purport this message, and a strong team. Blair didn’t win 1997 alone, his team did. Brown did. From what I’ve seen of McDonnell, he has a strong media presence. Put him on TV as much as possible. Literature should portray Corbyn as part of a team, or a duo.

Lastly, a million-strong mass membership. You want to be a mass party rather than an elite one, a million is the threshold. That’s people to doorknock, fill out rallies, to make a presence known. In Scotland, 1 in 50 people are members of the SNP. They can fill George Square, quite annoyingly often. There is a sense of momentum there. In the run up to the election, SNP signs were everywhere. Even if it’s slightly false momentum, Labour has to do the same.

Will any of this change the fact our leader appears to be, in these early stages, a liability? I’m not sure, but it’s necessary to try. We need to fight on our terms, on the terms of the ‘New Politics’ that dismisses the ‘prime ministerialism’ and presidentialisation of British politics. Because we won’t win if we fight on those grounds.

Destroying the Tory ‘security’ narrative

4 million families will be affected by the new welfare cuts being passed through the Commons as we speak. 400,000 children will be plunged into poverty. And yet the Tories successfully claim the mantle of economic security.

Unprecedented cuts to the army and police. And yet the Tories succesfully claim the mantle of national security.

How is it, that against all evidence, as the deficit remains stubborn, the debt doubles, and Cameron is laughed off stage as a statesman, the Tories are so deft at selling a false message? CCHQ is a genius instrument. It’s incredibly well homed with messaging from, surely, the new Dark Lord Crosby. It has allies left, right and centre (Ok, mostly right); 70% of the press is Conservative supporting, the BBC is…well, scared shitless about its future. The Conservatives retain spectacular hegemony over national discussion.

The ‘long term economic plan’ and ‘Coalition of Chaos’ narratives, laughed and mocked on social media, destroyed Ed Miliband and delivered a majority for the Conservatives. And now it’s happening again; ‘security’ is once again the buzzword that will destroy Corbyn unless something is swiftly done. The attack ad and tweets that have attracted ridicule in the social media bubble will have hit home with ruthless efficiency for most people who only pay fleeting attention to politics in fast paced everyday schedules.

Corbyn has an air of superiority, having won an internal battle by rising above it all. He’s now trying to do the same, walking past cameras faster than that thing Dave does when finishing an interview. But it’s a bad idea, and it will destroy him like Miliband. Something Corbyn does have in his favour, though, is his ability to communicate, orate, improvise, and cut past crap. Miliband was decent and honorable, hoping that decency would shine through. He also wanted to rise above it. But he failed to connect on an emotional level, looked and sounded like a distant geek, and refused to confront myths and caricatures. Corbyn is straight-talking and utterly unique. But in order to avoid the same fate as Ed, he has to do what he’s been saying he’d do at hustings: myth-busting. Far beyond policy, this will have to be about himself and his credibility.

First, as many pointed out, his New Politics -so far from New Labour, will need a Spin Doctor or adviser. May I recommend the spectacularly self-aware Owen Jones?

Secondly, he’s going to need a coherent message that can cut through and past media and Tory messaging. The Miliband era was incredibly incoherent. Going from One Nation to a Better Plan (Why?!). Corbyn is better than focus groups, so he should show it and follow his instincts. He needs to do two things:

  1. On policy terms, and for conference, as I said before actually rather mockingly, was to have ‘Labour’s Coming Home’ as the motto for the whole 5 years. People will know what Labour is about and it will appeal to the audience he wants to attract. It will also be by de facto anti-establishment, and insurgent, so will paint any enemies as attack dogs.
  2. Specific to the security thread: counter it with go-to phrases about ‘Tory insecurity’. Again and again and again. Push it home. ‘Insecurity: Insecure jobs, insecure pay, insecure statesmanship, insecure cuts, insecure abroad, insecure at home’. This can’t be about altruism, it has to appeal to egoism. We won the ‘pioneers’ of the Cruddas report, the sumaritans, we now need those that put their own financial situation first.
    Make them aware that they are the 99%. ‘You are the 99%, you are insecure, they don’t work for your security’. Because, as we know, they don’t. But we instead try to speak only to and of the ‘poor’ as a distant figure on the horizon, we need to tell people, not that they are selfish, but that they have insecurity in common. ‘This is an insecure economy.’ Even if they feel secure now, it is built on insecure growth in an insecure economy.

Messaging matters, consistency matters. Corbyn showed this spectacularly in taking down his rivals -especially Andy- in the contest. He now needs to apply it against the Tories.

So, *Blair voice* Consistency, consistency, consistency.

Corbynism + crisis = profit???

I was having a quite insightful conversation with this guy (so, credit to Tim) last night at 3am about Corbyn’s ascendency (as you do when you’re in your early 20s), and the logic he and -as he notes- a few cautious and intelligent Tories (Zac Goldsmith is as ever, the Better Tristram Hunt) consider, is the very possible scenario that could unleash a tide of leftwing populism: a new crisis. So is it possible that a financial crisis a la 2008 but “GOD, AGAIN????” could propel Corbyn or his Corbynomics to Number 10?

Well, it’s a bloody big gamble.

I’ve been a pretty huge ass cynic (though stayed true to my MILIBANDISM 4EVA instincts -“Jade, wtf?” I hear you say. And I reply, “chill bro, I’ll get to that”) these past few weeks, writing such articles as ‘GET OFF MY LAWN’ and ‘JEZMANIA? MORE LIKE ANXIETY AMIRITE?’, and anyone that follows my Twitter will know it has slowly descended into despair and even calls for FISCAL BLOODY DISCIPLINE amid my love for Liz Kendall Staring at Product Placements memes. I was even on Channel 4 News talking about affording things. So gross. I swear I’m not a Blairite. But I have reasons for my caution.

Firstly, as I’ve been boringly repeating, the debate has been dominated by middle class intellectuals. The George Monbiots of the world. And while they are intelligent and well-meaning, the arguments put forward are based on very little evidence or insight, they haven’t asked the people they speak about, like non-voters. I also, truth be told, have a knee jerk reaction to Green types. Soz.

Secondly, related to the first, it’s a terrifying gamble. I hate to be boring, but the Labour Party just isn’t a pet project I can dip my toes into. It’s not something I want to see go very near a cliff in the hope that OH IT’S GOOD THERE’S A SURPRISE BOUNCY CASTLE AT THE BOTTOM. I’ve become more risk-averse. That isn’t to say I don’t view myself as bold and radical, and that I don’t have my own visions (We all want the D E S T R U C T I O N  O F  N E O L I B E R A L I S M, and we all want housebuilding, and we all want a Care Service) but reality smacked me in the face with an exit poll, and I suddenly got war flashbacks to people abusing me on the doorstep -and now I feel like I should listen to those people. I don’t want to go through that again, which is why I’ve pinned my flag to a soft left stance.

BUT, is there a gamble in being a managerialist in itself? If this is the precipice of Labour’s future, and we are about to elect a veteran socialist anyway at a time of turmoil not just for the party but the world, is there a gamble in not taking a gamble? China’s stock markets have sent shockwaves throughout the globe, and we have not learnt the lessons of the past. Amid the political games played by pinning the blame on Labour, the Tories have done sod all to regulate the City; the housing bubble in London is even more grotesque than the dreaded Westminster Bubble; poverty and inequality have reached incredible heights, where 1 million people are going hungry in Britain. All signs point to another crisis, though we should never just speculate. We thought the Coalition would cannablise itself, and it didn’t. There’s also the fact, you know, crises hurt people.

But there’s a point here; what if Corbyn’s insurgent, anti-establishment, populism (x) could capitalise on the fallout of another crisis? Of the obvious illiteracy of austerity bared out in front of our eyes, rather than argued by Krugman (soz, Nobel award winning LAD) on obscure BBC shows at 10pm? He could appeal to UKIP protest voters and SNP voters who wanted to stick it to Westminster. He could unleash a zeitgeist. We could all be singing the Red Flag in a few years time. Though I prefer 🎵THERE IS POWER IN A UNIOOOOON🎵. He could fundamentally change British politics, and give us an argument we haven’t had in a bloody long time at a time of potential crisis, whereupon we are stirred into anti-establishment fervor, from the radical East End to Sussex.

But there’s a problem here; as in 2008, and in history, recessions and crises have lead to anxiety fuelling the complete opposite of leftwing politics. Here, it is to UKIP, not the Greens (I’ll get on to the SNP in a minute), who have captured a toxic mood, and in Europe their far more dangerous cousins. It’s then the spectacularly clever use of fear by the Tories in the 2015 campaign. It’s the hatred of spending and welfare and immigrants, capitalised on so well by awful people that we should never seek to echo, but have outgunned us nonetheless. Not because we were ‘Tory lite’ and without vision, but because ‘tax and spend’ and the traditional social democratic model was made obscolete when there was ‘no money left’. It wasn’t just Labour, it was all over Europe.

It’s also worth pointing out, as I always do, that the gap between Labour and the Tories this election was vast, and Labour’s spending plans were actually committed to more public spending and investment than the SNP. Ed Balls was also the ‘Keynesian bulldog’, initially arguing much the same for a ‘Keynesian moment’ that never happened in 2010, when the people opted instead for Tory austerity. People still turned out against us in 2015, afraid we would spend too much -not too little- and seeing us as too soft on welfare and immigration -despite the online uproar against mugs and Reeves. These were the same reasons non-voters gave against us too.

Another worthy point, and this brings me onto the SNP, is that Milibandism (And I can feel my friends eyes rolling as they read this, because I still identify with Miliband’s politics) was actually, in many ways, anti-establishment. I am reminded of Peter Oborne’s wonderful article. It was made to exploit the mood of anti-New Labour, anti-banks, anti-big business, anti-Murdoch, anti-war that we had assumed would come after the crisis. I recall the Predators v Producers speech (which Blairites hate but I think captured the mood), the fight for the break up of the banks, the fight against Murdoch, voting against Syrian intervention, for intervention in the energy markets, against tax avoidance, against non doms. These were the high points of his premiership that rode the tide of public sentiment. Miliband was on the left and people saw him as such (x); and he saw the centre had shifted left on many issues, and it did. (again, x) He explicitly wanted to break the neoliberal consensus (though coincidentally that phrase is not accessable enough that I used it on the doorstep). And I’ve defended Milibandism in this way before. It was powerful against the powerful, and Ed Miliband was vilified for it. Sometimes ruthlessly, other times by that ridiculous silly season of ‘hur dur anti-business’ open letters in the Telegraph.

But that powerfulness was badly communicated, and had a bad communicator. Which is where Corbyn could shine, because people love a straight talking, non-geeky type of casual politician (Take that, David Miliband). He could become a leftist Farage. I am assured he would be a bolder and better communicator, in fact I have no doubt. I think he could win back UKIP voters with this (or the ones that were protesting, rather than actually being anti-immigration).

But most important was not just Milibandism’s communication errors, but that its positives were outweighed by its supposed risks.
The point remains that Milibandism was anti-establishment, but was hard to sell against the Osborne and Crosby message of ‘don’t risk it’, a message that will be replicated ruthlessly in 2020 come what may, even with a new crisis (I’ll get to that too). The centre had shifted left on some things but right on others, too, and the taint of profligacy had helped push welfare and spending to the right instead of the left.

Milibandism was also more powerful than the pettiness of the SNP, who had a track record of cosying up to big business and Murdoch (See The Scottish Sun’s endorsement), but Ed Miliband was still vilified in Scotland.
The SNP were as much a nationalist reaction as one against New Labour, austerity and Westminster -which is why the Blairite argument is entirely wrong for Labour’s contemporary multi-party struggle- but it’s more complex than that. Because they quite literally stood on the Milifesto (x). Every policy bar Trident was copied and pasted. After years of centrism and Salmond, they were dragged conveniently leftward by Miliband. The difference was, they could capitalise on it with radical rhetoric that worked far better in SNP/Labour/Lib Dem centre left battlegrounds than would work in the swing seats Labour had to win like bloody Nuneaton. So do I think Corbyn could help us in Scotland? Hell yeah!
But that’s only a part of the puzzle -and the nationalists who are long term about independence, and know an unelected Labour is in their best interests, know and anticipate this-, because England was and is an entirely different kettle of fish (why is another article entirely, sod that), which stuck by the more conventional formula of what was happening on the continent, as following:

What happened in 2008 in England and Wales was that the thesis that people actually get less generous and more fiscally conservative after crises (x), as opposed to demanding a stronger welfare state as you’d suspect, was proved correct. Why this is or if it always has to be this way (ie versus the New Deal), I’ll have to let you know once I’ve completed my dissertation. But, lol, in the meantime, a good book to read is The Strange Non Death of Neoliberalism by Colin Crouch, whereupon he examines the re-entrenchment of neoliberalism just when people thought it’d collapse. Those people being, among others, the Brownites. Myths and scares saw bankers get let off unscathed while welfare claimants become enemy number one. Profits privatized and costs socialised. Helped along, of course, by Murdoch and Channel 5. And, despite Corbyn people thinking they were ‘Tory Lite’, Labour was seen as soft.
This isn’t an endorsement for Labour to go hard on welfare or embark on a race to the bottom, absolutely not, but it’s a hard circle to square. We cannot argue for redistribution and high spending in the way New Labour did (though we should have made the case for investment borrowing, but the latter was entrenched as a bogeyman, so even if we tried to ‘change the conversation’ on this or QE, we’d be up against an entrenched Undead Neoliberalism that’s survived against all logic).
And now we’re getting the strange scenario where Corbyn and those on the Left are rightly defending New Labour’s achievements versus the likes of Kendall who not only abstained on the (popular!) welfare bill, but actually agreed on principle to doing so. I cannot speak as an expert on ‘welfare reform’, and often the phrase is a harbinger of doom for me, or how to build millions of homes to ease the welfare bill, but the Osborne-inflicted image of ‘tax and spend’ (And Corbyn isn’t actually offering this but, then, neither was Miliband -and he still got tainted as such), I don’t think, will win the anxious hearts of people afflicted by another crisis. And this includes squeezed UKIP voters who may otherwise find appeal in anti-establishmentarianism, but have been made to drift right on welfare spending and immigration post-crash.

The anti-establishment appeal will be swept away with fear of profligacy versus security in crisis, once again. Anything that requires spending in deficits instead of surplus also requires us to prove our ‘competence’, as crappy as that word has now become. There is little point arguing for free education on the doorstep if it’s borne out of a supposed profligacy, when voters demand to know who’s paying for it -especially when said voters are struggling. It haunted Ed and, even as a good communicator and combative and bold performer unafraid to fight for borrowing and against austerity, I have little doubt it would once more be used effectively by the Crosby machine against Corbyn, to make people fear the Corbyn risk.

Anxious hearts indeed.

And then, all of this aside, there’s the very real chance nothing will happen. That, despite the ongoing suffering of the most vulnerable under austerity, the Tories will ‘get the job done’ of producing a surplus. People with jobs and homes and bills to pay will choose security in 2020, as the Tories’ achieve growth.

Again, it’s gambling.

The Labour Party is very dear to me. Not because I am a tribalist born into Labourism, but because its survival is necessary for so many people. Its survival is my priority, and seeing it into power to affect change. And not theoretical, academic change. Palpable change, like the removal of the bedroom tax. It should do good by the vulnerable, and always look to break the consensus, but overton windows change in government and not by Oppositions, and the path to that government requires observing the current mood of voters. True, overton windows also change in the instance of an external event, but we don’t know that will happen or the effect will be what we suspect it will. So my use of evidence as it presents itself is entirely rational, in my view.

But everything that is happening is unprecedented -so who knows? I may be proved wrong. The mood may change, and this time enough to brush aside the ‘risk factor’ that defeated Ed. Perhaps the Corbyn gamble could pay off.

I hope I am proved wrong, cos Jez has basically won.

Are working class non-voters waiting for socialist revolution on a ballot?

Something I’ve spoken about before is the prominence of middle class voices behind the anti-austerity movement and the Labour Leadership debate. Such, of course, also extends to journalism -which of course dictates the terms of debate.

All of these have tried to speak of what ‘the poor people want’. Blairites like to think they speak for such people that ‘need a Labour government’. Of course, as working class voters splinter to the SNP and UKIP (but no, not the Greens), they tend to have a different opinion on the necessity of Labour in their lives.
The Left, having much more in common with paternalistic Blairites than they’d like to think, think they speak for working class dissafected or non-voters. They think that to ‘inspire’ people to vote, and to vote Labour, we must offer an ‘alternative’ instead of ‘Tory lite’. True, turns out ‘Lazy Labour voters’ distorted the polls by not turning out, but such a phenomenon was multi-faceted and can’t simply be explained as ‘Ed was Tory Lite’ or a lack of the ‘politics of hope’.

Both such opinions come from the mouths of middle class people. They are not ill-intended opinions. A lot of good movements have middle class origins. But the lack of a platform for working class commentators distorts debate.
So, in the absence of working class voices being given access to the debate, I thought I’d endulge in what I know of actual working class non-voters or non-loyal voters, or just the working class people in my life. I come from a working class background, but as a Politics student at bloody Durham and an apparent newfound member of le Metropolitan Elite, I don’t think I’m particularly representative. So here goes:

My dad, a cockney Turkish immigrant industrial worker, never voted. What I knew of his opinion was that he hated our Russian neighbours (yes, immigrants who have been settled here for a while sometimes dislike immigrants), hated taxes and hated when his union (RMT) staged strikes.

My mum, a public sector worker and low-income single mother, first voted in 1979 -for Thatcher! She has since, nevertheless, regretted the vote and voted Labour ever since, albeit not tribally. She has bemoaned ‘scroungers’ and council tax, and I don’t think she’s ever uttered the word ‘socialist’.

My mum’s partner, a public sector worker and single father…well, I don’t know much about him. He reads the Express and says worrying things.

My mum’s mate, a public sector, low income single mother, votes Tory. She thinks Labour ruined the economy. She yells at me a lot about it.

My mum’s other mate, a low income mother, also votes Tory. Her daughter is about to go uni, and will -I think- be affected by the grant cut. She has traditional views on marriage and other social issues.

And to counter the idealistic ‘young people’ that flock to Jeremy, some insight into how inner city kids actually think, from what I know and remember of my peers: They have no affection for politics, no matter who’s saying it. Some actually liked Ed, but hold no strong socialist views. Inner city comp students are not the same as the graduates being quoted by Buzzfeed articles, joining Labour to vote for the revolution after having voted Green in May.

True, this small sample of people from my community is not representative. I don’t intend to say that I speak for working class people. I don’t. But these are the voices that are not given inches in The Guardian.

Now a possible reaction to this is that tabloids influence the minds of my peers and family. I have argued that, to the contrary of some, the Murdoch and Dacre media does still have power. I don’t think ‘the electorate is always right’. My mum’s friends’ belief that Labour caused the crash is of course untrue, as is the scrounger rhetoric from some people I know. But that’s still largely redundant. It’s equally that actual working class people I know simply have very little time or money to spend. We need money in our pockets and it is very quickly spent. Taxes are a big burden. So when studies show that working class people are much less likely to support redistribution, it comes as little surprise. No one I know spends enormous amounts of time pondering the neoliberal consensus (though I do), whether it affects us or not. My community doesn’t attend marches to Parliament Square en masse, go to CLP meetings, or attend rallies. To borrow a quote about Foot, the people I know are the ones outside the hall, thinking they’re all crackers.

So no, the assumptions that there’s a hidden socialism just waiting to explode in working class communities is not true and hasn’t ever really been true, as historians of 1945 would know. It’s paternalistic.
Perhaps Corbyn’s straight talking, Farage-esque style would be encouraging, perhaps other factors would turn people out. Perhaps Corbyn might be better than the otherwise technocratic Cooper or Burnham (though polls suggest Andy is well ahead.) Who knows? That’s not for anyone to assume.
But for so long that the debate about Labour’s path to Number 10 going through non-voting communities is dominated by middle class voices, so long as said voices make asumptions without evidence, I will remain unconvinced.

Jezmania? More like ANXIETY AM I RIGHT

I am not a Blairite.
I find it abhorrent, and found it abhorrent after the election, to see them mobilise around ‘electability’ and ‘winning because THEY need us’. I found it abhorrent not just because it was utterly patronizing -and indeed, this is a major factor in the Left’s ascent-, but because it was wrong.
There was very little evidence to suggest Labour’s defeat in May was to do with being too left wing, nor about left versus right at all. There is no longer a ‘centre ground’, but multiple, and the Tories certainly did not win by being any form of ‘centrist’. I loathe disingenuous analyses, and I embrace ones based on evidence and data.

That’s why I find unnerving parallels between the Blairites and the Corbynites. As much as ‘being too left’ was not why we lost, neither was ‘being too right’. The literal myth that we ‘did not inspire people to turn out’ has no credible basis, no credible evidence. There’s no data to suggest we could increase turnout with Corbyn at the helm. Indeed, the people that don’t turn out are the young and the poor, and they more than others believe ‘they’re all the same’. But this is not the same as assuming this is because of ‘austerity’ or being ‘Tory Lite’. In fact, assuming stuff about the electorate (and middle class assumptions about the working class electorate especially) is a very risky game, it takes experimentation, and this here is my point.

Going into constructing a leadership based on guessing, assumption, experimentation, and ‘hope’, is a game for the privileged. And I feel like that’s what’s happened here. This is a guessing game amongst middle class people. And I do now have data to suggest this rings true; Labour members are 2/3rds from social classes ABC1, compared to a largely C2/DE voting base. And it shows.
I feel increasingly alienated from this race and this Party because, partly, the middle class Greens, Green types and Green smpathising Labourites that expressed such hostility for Labour pre-election are now dictating its future. That’s it! The Labour Party is beginning to feel increasingly like The Green Party, and it has an ostracizing effect for me. It feels like the people that I marched -belligerently- alongside with on that march a month back, are now morphing it into their ideals and deciding only their ideals are true, come what may.
Showing hostility toward existing members, accusing pragmatists of being unprincipled. Those asserting a black and white dichotomy between True Labour and Tory Lite are ignoring evidence of public perception, and are doing so from a place of privilege. Those using the line ‘I’d rather be principled than win’ are falling into the same trap as the Blairites, albeit on the opposite end. It’s as thought the soft left, or the New Left, or the Old Right, don’t exist in their prisms. And indeed, for newer members, they don’t. Because they don’t know about them. For too many, even Ed Miliband was a ‘Red Tory’.
The Labour Party right now feels like that anti-austerity march that made me so angry on June 24th. I look to my sides and feel no comradeship, because the minute I utter doubt or anxiety over electability and evidence, the moment I am pushed from the crowd as lacking in principle, as being a pessimist.

I am pragmatic and so cautious as to not ignore evidence because my fate, as is my family’s, my friends’, my community’s, is intertwined with the fate of The Labour Party.
The Labour Party is not a pet project to me. It’s not something I can dip in and out of, to experiment with like a lab rat. But that is the impression I am getting from newcomers voting Corbyn, some of whom have came from other parties like the Greens. It’s their pet project, not their fate.
So I shout back when I think some are taking too big a risk with it, when peers are not paying attention to the evidence.

If this is the politics of fear then so be it. Because I’m not the establishment, nor a Blairite, nor do I have any ideological intent, but neither am I free of principle. I am merely fearful based on evidence presented to me. I have every right to be fearful. And people dismissing that fear have a lot to answer for.


*For all this talk of the evidence presented to me, please check out EVERY SINGLE POLL AVAILABLE, including the recent IPSOS MORI poll that places Corbyn last in the public eye.