Overall, I couldn't find much to quibble with. I was particularly happy to see Margaret pour cold water over the 'aspiration' theory of defeat early leadership candidates clung to like a whiffy old comfort blanket. And I think her conclusions about coherent narratives, consistent messaging, long-campaigning, social problem-focused policy, should be pretty uncontroversial. She notes that the "road to re-election is a marathon, not a sprint". Yes. Still, one might observe that Jeremy has not so much taken up position on the starting blocks, but is standing around arguing with his support staff.
A large number of comrades, including me, have expressed frustration with Jeremy's leadership because of his focus on matters that do not chime with the public. Whatever one thinks of Britain's nuclear arsenal, it's not an issue oft-encountered on the doorstep. Though it might be now the debate has reopened. The determination of the Falklands' future, a matter hardly at the forefront of people's minds, could well be thanks to comments made over the weekend. Picking fights with the BBC doesn't have much in the way of issue salience either. In fact, in a rare moment of concordance, yesterday's Daily Politics saw Dan Hodges and Owen Jones agree that Labour has to focus where it is a) strong, and b) unified, and that's on the front of domestic politics. As the Tories are doing appalling things, there are plenty of attack lines Labour has that could resonate if we stuck with them instead of returning to issues not helpful for our electoral prospects.
Is this incompetence on Jeremy's part, as a number of attendees at the Labour First conference thought, or is there something else going on? I think there might be something else. I'm not saying Jeremy has a secret master plan or anything like that, but he has been around the Parliamentary block a few times. He knows the problems faced by working people. He took them up enough as a backbencher and now, to a mixed reception, at PMQs. What Jeremy, and to a similar extent Ken Livingstone, are doing is using their new found prominence to cast light on what were previously self-evident truths under the "old politics". As all wings of the party have shifted away from market fundamentalism, the unquestioned axioms remaining are all around military spending and foreign affairs. By questioning the unquestioning acceptance of nuclear weapons, of America's leadership of Western foreign policy, of the status of the Falklands, etc. Jeremy and co. are gambling on shifting this ground to the left just as politics in general has so shifted - perhaps best exemplified by the Tories' pinching of Labour's election manifesto. With the Tory commitment to austerity sitting uneasily with a semi-Keynesian infrastructure plan, one can identify an opportunity to turn their rhetoric against them and raise questions about expensive military/overseas commitments.
I doubt the viability of this path for all kinds of reasons, but it does make strategic sense if your project is about changing the terms of permitted politics. Jeremy, by accident or by design, is not following the Beckett road to electoral success. Instead, he's got out the bulldozers and diggers and is attempting to build his own.