Monday 21 June 2021

Previewing Batley and Spen

Will George Galloway's intervention in the Batley and Spen by-election spell doom for Labour? One would hope not, but with Labour support crumbling even in seats Keir Starmer is supposed to appeal to it's not looking good. The scale of the problem can be glimpsed via this excellent video from Owen Jones. Well worth watching.


Karl Greenall said...

Following on from his latest book, in which One shows that he completely failed to really comprehend the Corbyn phenomenon, it's good to see Owen turn back to decent reporting.
It's also very interesting to observe how Labour suffers under the concept of "Nowhere else to go" of the Mandelson Principle.

Dialectician1 said...

Hmmmm.....Owen Jones is probably the last person to be interviewing Muslims in Batley &Spen about why they have fallen out with the Labour Party. Their replies to his hyperbolic questioning were eminently rational and completely understandable. Jones' own opinions on the demise of Labour, in the backlash following the 2019 GE, focused a lot on Corbyn's stubbornness towards the Board of Deputies of British Jews & on Corbyn's refusal to countenance Zionism. Jones, however, like the Labour Party has a dogs dinner approach towards Israel. Kim Leadbetter couldn't (wouldn't) answer Jones' simple question about boycotting the sale of weapons to Israel. What this video did do, was to show to anyone with an interest in the future of the Labour Party, that it is rapidly losing its core vote - the very people who, as Mandelson said, had nowhere else to go. Labour has nothing to say on anything, even on fixing the potholes in the road.

Blissex said...

«how Labour suffers under the concept of "Nowhere else to go" of the Mandelson Principle»

That “labour suffers” seems to me twice misguided, because it is (New) New Labour and it does not suffer, but succeeds, and that I suspect is a misunderstanding based on an incorrect literal take of the Mandelson Principle: I shall help a proper understanding by writing it as "nowhere else [that matters] to go". That is the key is that there is no left-wing alternative to (New) New Labour, and one is very unlikely to come about.

As long as "trot" (not-thatcherite) voters have only the options of a protest abstention or a protest vote for the LibDems, that is "nowhere else [that matters] to go". The main goals of the Mandelson Tendency seem to be to deny representation to "trot" (not-thatcherite) voters and to further the cause of "whig" politics ("in the urgent need to remove rigidities and incorporate flexibility in capital, product and labour markets, we are all Thatcherites now'”).

The electoral success of (New) New Labour is something that they think will follow, as "legitimate" (thatcherite) voters will switch from one thatcherite parts to another, when they realize that (New) New Labour is as solidly thatcherite as the Conservatives and the LibDems but more respectable and managerial:
Labour’s chance will come when Johnson’s bogus promises start to crumble

From that point of view the Starmer leadership has been very successful, and for example it has been abundantly proved to thatcherite voters that Starmer is committed to Blair's promise that he would rather lose elections than endorse "trot" (not-thatcherite) policies.

His latest taking the opportunity of the Chesham and Amersham byelection result to move (New) New Labour to the right of the Conservatives on property rentierism and NIMBYsm is a masterstroke in that respect.

Blissex said...

«Labour has nothing to say on anything, even on fixing the potholes in the road.»

But Keir Starmer has already demonstrated decisive leadership with full support for two critical policies: hard brexit ERG-style and property rentierism and NIMBYsm. As well as the lesser policy of letting our police and armed risk no consequences from crimes committed under government orders.

Karl Greenall said...

I lounge corrected......

Anonymous said...

Oh, what's gonna happen in Batley & Spen? If I was a gambling man, I'd bet that Labour are about to get fucked. Because that's entirely predictable for a party that doesn't clearly stand for anything in particular.

I mean, why would anyone vote Labour in 2021, with the party under its current leadership? They offer pretty much nothing to anyone. And as for previously established loyalty, that's been crumbling for years (I've said it many times before, but: see Scotland).

Obviously though, the Labour-right are concerned primarily with controlling the party, or the rump of it that remains once they've driven out all the socialists and trade unionists. The Labour Party will be dead, but at least the bitter old Blairites will have complete control of the corpse.

Jim Denham said...

Owen Jones sucking up to that antisemitic Red-Brown Tory-supporting scum Galloway is simply sickening.

Anonymous said...


But you see, this is the bit I don't get?

WHY would even someone as ghastly as Mandelson want to end up with a rump party that will never be in government again??

What's in it for them?

(surely not even just "stopping the left from being in charge" because if Labour really *was* in terminal decline, some new left wing grouping would surely emerge)

Anonymous said...

Short-term intra-party power, the right to kick people around, and a wad of cash, perhaps?

Blissex said...

«this is the bit I don't get? WHY would even someone as ghastly as Mandelson want to end up with a rump party that will never be in government again?? What's in it for them?»

Some people like Mandelson seem to be loyal to an idea more than to a specific Party, for them parties are just tools to promote and fight for an idea. If your idea is Liberalism, as embodied in thatcherism, the real priority is to make thatcherism win. For those committed to Liberalism and thatcherism whether Cameron, Clegg or Blair would win mattered a lot less than ensuring that *only* thatcherites can win. Sure it is better for a Liberal if *their* version of thatcherism wins, if *their* thatcherites get the ministerial positions, but it is far more important to prevent non-thatcherites ("populists" of either the right or left) from winning. "Liberal Democracy" needs "guardrails" against a switch away from thatcherism.

Then even people more loyal to an idea than to a particular Party can hope that even a much reduced New Labour can win power: in 1997-2005 the electoral toxicity of Tony Blair lost New Labour millions of votes, but since most were wasted as abstentions or LibDem voters, and did not go to the Conservatives, New Labour still won, because what matters to winning seats is vote share, not absolute number of votes.

Note: many "whigs" who are in essence elitists still resent the extension of political rights to the "proles", which is what turned the Liberal Party into small minority; the Conservatives, while also resenting that, have been more pragmatic, and indeed the pragmatic "whigs", see W Churchill, joined them:
«John Ramsden has described, in an essay published by the Conservative Political Centre in 1997, the climate of opinion which developed at this time: “It was indeed at the diffusion of property that inter-war Tories aimed, as the pragmatic answer to the arrival of democracy and the challenge from Labour.”»

Also and therefore for someone committed to Liberal/thatcherite ideas every time a non-Liberal (aka as "trot" is on the left, "deplorable" if on the right) voter abstains (or votes for the Greens) the better, and every voter that switches to the LibDems it is twice better.

Then there are the opportunists, who mostly or only care about their careers, and for them a falling vote for New Labour is not a problem because:

* They think that they can always do a Lib-Lab coalition, which is also what the Liberal believers would like, and on this they share a goal.

* They can sincerely think that since they can position New Labour as a substitute for the Conservatives, every "trot" vote they lose will in due time be replaced by more than one vote taken from the Conservatives, and on this they also share a goal with the Liberal believers.

* Even if they don't get in ministerial careers, they hope that if they are loyal to their thatcherite sponsors they will be taken care of, as Tristram Hunt and Chuka Umunna (and even Owen Smith and David Miliband) have been.

* Finally, the New Labour patronage system still owns a number of sinecures and benefices at the local level and they are not that bad, even if they are not as well paid as those that can be gifted by "sponsors". The Conservatives though being in government can gift very well paid quango positions to their have-beens. The New Labour careerists can only dream. :-)

Anonymous said...

Meh, still doesn't sound like that much of a reward to me.

Whatever else you say about the original incarnation of New Labour, they basically cared about just one thing - winning elections. Indeed, many almost despaired of how utterly obsessed they were by it to the seeming exclusion of all else.

So......what has changed?

Blissex said...

«“It was indeed at the diffusion of property that inter-war Tories aimed, as the pragmatic answer to the arrival of democracy and the challenge from Labour.”»

But the Conservatives remain at the core an elitist party, in both their "tory" and "whig" wings; however the burkean bullshit about "small platoons", "property based democracy", "one nation conservativism" does take in some gullibles, for example here is Nick Timothy:
«this new direction is known as the Erdington Modernisation. Led by the prime minister’s adviser Nick Timothy, it sets out to target working class voters. It is designed to appeal to people in areas like Erdington, where Mr Timothy grew up [...] He has some harsh words for what he calls the snobs and libertarians in his own party: “We all know the kind. They reveal themselves through minor acts of snobbery, strange comments that betray a lack of understanding about the lives of ordinary people, or when they are councillors or Members of Parliament by the policy positions they take. I remember one MP who, as a member of the Shadow Cabinet, once said: “school reform is all very well but we must protect the great public schools, because we need to look after our own people.” Quite how many of the millions of core Tory voters he thought had attended public schools was never explained.»

Really! Nick Timothy spends a lifetime in the Conservative Party, climbing up to become the strategy adviser of its leader and PM, and still does not get that he and those “millions of core Tory voters” are just "useful idiots" (even if very well rewarded with property based redistribution from the lower classes).

Blissex said...

«Whatever else you say about the original incarnation of New Labour, they basically cared about just one thing - winning elections.»

That is a common myth, because to me it looks like that the purpose of the Militant Mandelsoncy was to entrench thatcherism as actuall-existing Liberalism, there are two obvious hints, one is Tony Blair's own words:

Tony Blair says he wouldn’t want a left-wing Labour party to win an election. The former PM says he wouldn't take the 'route to victory' if it was left-wing

The other is that they adopted one after another a long series of unpopular thatcherite policies that lost millions of votes for New Labour, and they kept doing it regardless:

1992: 11.56m Lab. 14.09m Con. 6.00m LD
1997: 13.52m NLab. 09.60m Con. 5.24m LD
2001: 10.72m NLab. 08.34m Con. 4.81m LD
2005: 09.55m NLab. 08.78m Con. 5.99m LD
2010: 08.61m NLab. 10.70m Con. 6.84m LD
2015: 09.35m NLab. 11.33m Con. 6.30m LD+UKIP
2017: 12.88m Lab. 13.64m Con. 2.37m LD
2019: 10.30m Lab. 13.97m Con. 3.70m LD

Their electoral strategists did surely notice that 4 million votes were lost between 1997 and 2005, but the leadership kept delivering very unpopular neoliberal and neocon policies. They did not lose the 2001 and 2005 elections because the tory voters still resented the Conservatives for the 1990s property crash, and the one popular policy of New Labour was pushing up property prices, and that worked.

My interpretation is that the leading figures of New Labour were not electoral opportunists, but committed thatcherite "whig" ideologues, and they kept and keep making the "centrism wins votes" claim only because:

* They realize it is wrong in reality as the "centrist" LibDems have lost every election for 100 years, and it lost 4-5 millions votes for the "centrist" New Labour.

* They realize that english swing voters, who often determine the outcome of elections, don't care about "centrism" etc., but care a lot about property.

* They have noticed that when there is a property crash the swing voters punish the government party pretty much regardless of what the opposition is.

* Therefore circumstances, not manifestos, determine electoral victory, and then what matters most is who leads the opposition when circumstances make swing voters fire the government party.

* Therefore who leads the opposition when voters turn against the government party determines the policies that the new government implements, rather than determining the success of the opposition.

* The claim that "centrism wins votes" despite the strong against it seems to be motivated by the goal of making sure that when the opposition to a thatcherite government gets its turn, the opposition is thatcherite too.

This said, I don't doubt that the dimmer "centrists" in the lower rungs of New Labour really think that thatcherism wins more votes, because they really want to believe their own leaders' bullshit.