Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Have We Reached Peak Corbynism?

John Rentoul (yes, him again) reckons the left's clean sweep of the NEC elections are bad news for Jeremy Corbyn. By the same token, had Momentum's slate crumpled before the galvanising effort run by Progress and Labour First I suppose this would have been a triumph for Team J Corbz. Anyway, the thesis - if it can be dignified with that title - is these NEC results mean we've passed peak Corbyn because the turnout was down and the Momentum slate won by a narrower margin. He goes on to argue that once mandatory reselection goes through at conference, there are no further wins to fire up the Corbynist base and from here on in the party will get consumed by reselection battles. Our John concedes he might be clutching straws, and for once I agree with him. He is.

There are three good reasons why it's not likel we've hit peak Corbynism yet. Working with John's assumption that Corbyn supporters are motivated by Labour Party internal struggles, there's still plenty to be done. Being totally Westminster-centric, I can see why he might think mandatory reselection is job done, but it ain't. There's the small matter of reforming the deputy leader position. It is more than obvious Tom Watson has lost the confidence of the membership, and his would-be support shrinks by the day as the Labour right freely diminish their own base. There is certainly a mood to see his sinecure replaced by an alternative, gender-balanced arrangement. Of course, Tom would be perfectly entitled to stand for election again if he wished.

But John's assumption is wrong. Corbynism is motivated by a desire to change the world. Changing the party is a necessary accompaniment, and one large numbers of people have become interested in because of the obstructive and high-handed behaviour of sundry MPs and their cheerleaders. There wouldn't have been anywhere near as much of an appetite had the "opposition" accepted the left's leadership and not tried to derail it at every possible turn. It's also worth noting the thirst to change things isn't a fanciful whimsy, a plea for things to be nice. It's rooted in the experience of precarious living, of being denied the chance to own a home, a secure job, an adequate salary, regular hours, a pension pot, or in many cases a job at all. And that's without touching on the threats represented by climate change, the experiences of sexism and racism vis a vis the estabishment's double standards, and the perceived injustice of the super wealthy accelerating away from the rest of us. To put it another way, the structural violence and inequalities that mobilised Corbynism are still there and will continue to power the movement for as long as it responds to it, gives it expression, articulates its interests.

This argument isn't something I've pulled out of my hat. Gaze with wonder upon this thing of beauty. As previously mentioned more times than I care to remember, British politics has polarised with the changing class structure presenting as an age cohort effect that coheres around the two main parties. Labour is responding to the experience of a rising class, to millions of people the old establishment politics never bothered addressing, never mind championing. The Tories can find consolation in the huge numbers of over 65s that support them and as long as they have a greater chance of turning out, the generational class effect is dampened. But the problem is older people have the tendency to die off, the trend of younger people voting is on an upward trajectory, and most worryingly for our Tory friends their class war policies have broken the conservatising effects of growing older. By preventing millions of younger people from getting on the housing ladder and enjoying the living standards their parents enjoyed, so their support for Labour is unlikely to diminish over time. The Tory party is literally dying, and they are the authors of their own demise.

No one is suggesting this is going to be plain sailing. But happily for Labour, as this inexorably works its way through the body politic and provided the party remains wedded to Corbynism, we are far from reaching the peak the likes of John Rentoul are wishing for.

14 comments:

Tom Mapfumo said...

We triumphed over #chickencoup, ditched the general secretary, transformed the NEC, toppled the Tory majority, increased our polling and party membership over #synagoguecoup, while the MSM and BBC continue to decline in terms of readers, listeners and watchers. We now have a BAME enriched NEC and dodgy right-wingers have faced no-confidence votes by their CLP's - Danczuk, Woodcock, Hoey and Field, following shortly by Ryan, Ellman and some of the Antisemitism mouthpieces. What's npt to like!

Speedy said...

Sociology me this...

Tpry voting old people die off and are replaced by...

More Tory voting old people? Perhaps even more as their demographic swells.

You appear to be making an assumption that the youthful Labour voters are today are the wisened Labour voters of tomorrow, forgetting the popular aphorism "I voted Labour when I was young because I voted with my heart, now I'm old I vote with my head" (Tory).

People change, and they tend to become more conservative with age. It's a lot like the Telegraph, they've been predicting its demise for years but it keeps rocking on, meanwhile, the Indi is online...

Is there a flaw in your cunning plan?

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with a deputy leader (of anything) being chosen by the leader?

Dipper said...

Yo may be right that "Corbynism" has not yet peaked.

Two things: Firstly, Corbyn himself is a weak and despicable character. A terrorist groupie, his first response after any terrorist incident is to blame the victims as it is clearly their behaviour that has brought the terrorism upon them, and secondly to rush to stand by the side of the terrorists, parading them in public, and saying he is there for peace.

Secondly, Venezuela. Corbyn and fellow travellers were proudly trumpeting Chavez and Venezuela as the example that shows Corbynism can work. As it plunges into famine and poverty, as millions of ordinary people flee, we are told that it has "lost its way" and that this "isn't real socialism". Corbyn's policies of magical economics where extra nurses, police, teachers, homes, hospitals just magically appear out of nowhere in an economy that already has full employment will obviously fail just as Venezuela and other socialist-run countries have before it. And what happens then to all those young people who voted for this? Do they meekly join a centrist conservative/social democratic party? Or do they start blaming people for their state and move to more extreme punishment-based politics?

The rise of Corbynism tells us a lot about the scale of problems in our society, but it doesn't give any answers at all, only dangerous divisive attitudes.

Phil said...

Speedy, I have talked about this many times before. The tendency to become more conservative as you age isn't an inevitable consequence of ageing, it's about property. As you acquire property and savings there is a tendency to become more conservative. This is in the process of breaking down, as the huge majority for Labour in the 25s to 49s age groups demonstrates.

HM Queen Elizabeth II said...

@ Speedy @Phil. i think there's more going on than just that. the generation which is now approaching 60 yrs of age is composed of people who were either unemployed in the 80s and 90s themselves or who had someone on their social network who was. They know how much more plentiful and secure work was in the 60s and 70s. They have seen their terms, conditions and career prospects at work salami-sliced away over the years too.

a lot of my local comrades in this age group gave up on Labour as it became increasingly clear that the party was being taken over by the salami-slicers. the good news is they're back! and their lived experience is shared by plenty of people beyond the party activist base.

the daily mail's demonisation of young unemployed men (scroungers, layabouts, handouts etc - and the blairite "NEETS" dogwhistle) finds resonance amongst those over 60. but the same messaging doesn't cut it with people who may have had to work for their dole money for several years in their youth while those slightly older than them had stepped into good jobs with ease and had managable mortgages.

Speedy said...

Thanks Phil, I hadn't considered that (and I can't read every article!).

Impressionist said...

Dipper - why compare Corbyn's manifesto for Labour with Venezuela rather than with any of the Scandinavian countries with which it has far more in common? Just seems like a rant to me.

Dipper said...

Phil - Liz Truss agrees with you about property ownership and the support for Corbyn

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6957496/liz-truss-warns-tories-to-build-new-homes-on-green-belt-land-or-let-jeremy-corbyn-into-power/

Johny Conspiranoid. said...

What reliable information do we have about what's happening in Venezuela?

Dipper said...

Impressionist. It is not true that Corbyn's manifesto promises to bring in a Scandinavian style social democracy. Scandinavian health care for instance has mixed mode providers with private enterprise making a contribution. There is a large body of quotes etc of Corbyn and Corbyn himself praising Venezuela, meeting Venezuelan socialist politicians. Please show me a picture of Corbyn with a Scandinavian Social democrat, or a quote of Corbyn praising Scandinavian social democracy.

Anonymous said...

Dipper. A misunderstanding - my fault. My point was that the UK is more like the Scandinavian countries than it is to pre- and post-Chavez Venezuela, so there's no useful comparison to be made with Venezuela.

Anonymous said...

Dipper you are a dipstick.first of all there is NOT full employment. Second, you are right, extra nurses, police, teachers, homes and hospitals dont just magically appear out of nowhere.They will be paid for by the super rich, greedy tax avoiders being made to pay their share, the rest of the top 5% of earners being asked to pay a bit of extra tax and all the necessary accountants etc who are necessary to run the NHS as business plus the greedy shareholders will be cut out and we will ALL, once again, pay a small percentage of our income on a monthly basis to run the health service, so we will be sharing the burden of the cost of each others illness hence no crippling bills necessary because NOBODY WILL BE TAKING A PROFIT. Other RENATIONALISED services will also be cheaper when they are run on a non profit basis. It will be cost plus maintenance, NOT cost plus shareholders exorbitant profits plus our taxes beimg taken for maintenance on top.If you cant see that that is CHEAPER for us,dipper, then you are BIGGER dipstick than I thought.

Dipper said...

Anonymous - a typically dim leftist response.

1. Super rich, greedy tax avoiders being made to pay their share. Good luck with this, the UK has one of the best records for collecting tax in the world. Also, many of the super rich can move their money. The casual way you leftists talk about the vast amounts of money you are going to obtain through tax and how this is going to pay for all your plans simply demonstrates you have no idea about how much public sector stuff costs. It is hugely expensive. Once you've discovered that there is no way taxing the 'super-rich' can pay for these plans then here will be a clear choice - wind back your lavish plans or start going after just the moderately well off, and if the letter then you really will be destroying the fabric of society.

2. UK employment is at an all time high, and immigration is still on full blast because domestic workforce is very hard to find. Even if you can get the money, where are these people who are magically going to become police, teachers, nurses? What are they currently doing? And once you've taken them out of those jobs, who will fill those jobs? Just basic questions, and never any answers.

3. The usual dumb stuff about how nationalised state run companies are just like privately run ones but without the profit bit, and you can just take that profit without any adverse consequences. The profit motive has been very successful at encouraging progress and innovation. Just contrast the Trebant and the VW Polo. There is a reason why when the Berlin wall was knocked down people fled communism to move to capitalism and not the other way round.

If this is the best the left can do and you lot ever get near power we are doomed.