luka

Well-known member
Staff member
Sadly I think what he does now is a better indicator of what he would be like in power than what he did in the 1990s.

Putting compromise above principle is how you win elections and how you end up with Blair. But someone has to push things to the left and hold people to account.

we were talking about this on a few music threads eg

so much of our opinions are "reactionary" in the sense of being situated within some context of what we perceive as the larger opinion

so much of thinking someone is "bad" or "good" is, under the hood, about whether we think they're over- or underrated

Bourdieu talks about this with political positions a bit too, the way that a text "pushes" against current opinion, tries to "twist the stick in the other direction." the opinion doesn't exist in a vacuum but against the dominant ideology it's responding to
 

DannyL

Wild Horses
That is interesting. Beyond the wider context of electability, I guess a lot of my opinions are shaped in reaction to the old leadership's dreadful hypocrisy on FP.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
I think there is a sliding scale between clinical technocrat and populist lunatic and I think we can all agree that whilst the latter is undesirable it is definitely what the punters are lapping up right now. It has always been a mistake to be too rational and @DannyL has read his Wilhelm Reich so he knows all about that. For all his faults there was an energy about Corbyn that we have yet to see with Starmer.
I suppose it would be too much to expect that one person could both know their shit, legalistically and politically, and be an effective rabble-rouser.

Something I found a bit disappointing about Corbyn was how often he failed to land killer rhetorical blows on the government. I think this was sometimes because it would have meant deviating from his palaeo-left-euroskeptic stance - I remember when he was campaigning in some stereotypically "left behind" northern town, and gave a speech where he sympathised very much with local people's woes and their desperation for Brexit, without at any point saying that those woes actually had sod all to do with either immigration or the EU and were the result of 40 years of Thatcherism and a decade of gratuitous, punitive austerity.

And then many of those people thanked him for his sympathy by voting Tory anyway.
 

john eden

male pale and stale
I don't Corbyn standing up in a northern town saying that Remain was the best option would have done any good though.

He was good at rallies. He was too polite, I think. A lot of the stuff that was his downfall was down to politeness - not wanting to alienate weird "anti-imperialists" he had been in tedious meetings with in the 1980s. Not understanding the viciousness of the forces in the Labour Party that were against him.

But if the red wall could be persuaded to vote Tory to get Brexit done, it just shows how split the Labour vote was at that point.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Staff member
I don't Corbyn standing up in a northern town saying that Remain was the best option would have done any good though.
Well perhaps the die was already cast by that time - but I'm talking more about saying "It's the Tories that have done this to you" than "Vote Labour so we can have another referendum and then decide to remain in the EU after all".

As I think I've said before, Brexit was a poison chalice for any Labour leader, whether they were personally pro-EU or anti-. (That said, an unequivocally Europhile Labour leader might have made enough difference for Remain to win the referendum, who knows.)

He was good at rallies. He was too polite, I think. A lot of the stuff that was his downfall was down to politeness - not wanting to alienate weird "anti-imperialists" he had been in tedious meetings with in the 1980s. Not understanding the viciousness of the forces in the Labour Party that were against him.

But if the red wall could be persuaded to vote Tory to get Brexit done, it just shows how split the Labour vote was at that point.
Yeah, I read a persuasive piece about how support for Labour had begun to ebb long before anyone had ever heard of Brexit, perhaps even before Blair, going back to the modest modernization that happened under Kinnock in the early 90s, and that the transformation of Labour under Bair into a party of middle-class aspiration led to a surge in popularity that masked this simultaneous decline among other demographics. So even if Corbyn was unable to reverse this decline, it's unfair to blame it all on him, because it was a trend that began >20 years before he became leader.
 

craner

Beast of Burden
Yeah, I read a persuasive piece about how support for Labour had begun to ebb long before anyone had ever heard of Brexit, perhaps even before Blair, going back to the modest modernization that happened under Kinnock in the early 90s, and that the transformation of Labour under Bair into a party of middle-class aspiration led to a surge in popularity that masked this simultaneous decline among other demographics. So even if Corbyn was unable to reverse this decline, it's unfair to blame it all on him, because it was a trend that began >20 years before he became leader.
Labour is a party that lost its purpose and identity a long time ago. New Labour and (what eventually ended up as) Corbynism were both attempts to reset this identity and purpose, and both had roots in Labour politics of the early 1980s. New Labour tried to do this by creating a modern, disciplined European centre-left party organised to win elections. Corbynism was a coalition of interest groups and tendencies that formed a movement and, due to a quirk in internal voting procedure, captured a party machine (a bit like the way the Tea Party evolved from a disparate movement to a force that was able to influence the selection of GOP candidates and, ultimately, Trump).

The point is, both were doomed to failure. This is where you end up.
 

HMGovt

Bamber Clatscoigne
I wonder how it would have turned out if John Smith hadn't died. Has anyone done a counterfactual history of that?
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Yeah, I read a persuasive piece about how support for Labour had begun to ebb long before anyone had ever heard of Brexit, perhaps even before Blair, going back to the modest modernization that happened under Kinnock in the early 90s, and that the transformation of Labour under Bair into a party of middle-class aspiration led to a surge in popularity that masked this simultaneous decline among other demographics. So even if Corbyn was unable to reverse this decline, it's unfair to blame it all on him, because it was a trend that began >20 years before he became leader.
You saw this in the 1990s/2000s with the rise of the BNP, especially in the north. The triangulation to middle class, middle aged, middle England swing seats was in some senses a stroke of genius and clearly paid off in 1997. But you reap what you sow...
 

john eden

male pale and stale
Labour is a party that lost its purpose and identity a long time ago. New Labour and (what eventually ended up as) Corbynism were both attempts to reset this identity and purpose, and both had roots in Labour politics of the early 1980s. New Labour tried to do this by creating a modern, disciplined European centre-left party organised to win elections. Corbynism was a coalition of interest groups and tendencies that formed a movement and, due to a quirk in internal voting procedure, captured a party machine (a bit like the way the Tea Party evolved from a disparate movement to a force that was able to influence the selection of GOP candidates and, ultimately, Trump).

The point is, both were doomed to failure. This is where you end up.
I think that's spot on but I'm not sure what else could have happened? Very tricky for a left of centre party in a conservative country with first past the post...
 

subvert47

I don't fight, I run away
If the real aim is to purge the front bench, it's working a treat.

As for the rest: the endless parliamentary wrangling over Brexit means that there's very little sympathy left anywhere for "clever" parliamentary manoeuvring. Probably most people see Starmer abstaining on everything and just think: "wanker".
 
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