Home / Dave Brockington / Why I Voted Jeremy Corbyn for Leader of the Labour Party, With Reservations

Why I Voted Jeremy Corbyn for Leader of the Labour Party, With Reservations

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Executive summary: not due to any sense of ideological purity, but because I think he has the best chance to lead Labour to victory in 2020.

In 2009, I published an article in Party Politics that provides evidence supporting a relationship between choice-rich electoral environments and the probability of turnout. One argument that the article advances is that as the two main parties in any electoral context converge on the center ground, people are more likely to drop out of the electorate as the salient, viable choice is no longer a meaningful choice; i.e., when the parties appear the same to the voter, fewer people vote:

 . . . as the ideological coverage of the parties on offer becomes more constricted, turnout is reduced. These findings exist in the presence of numerous individual and contextual explanations of turnout, and are confirmed against estimated variance in respondent over-reporting and with robust standard errors. In short, analyses of turnout that ignore the benefits term in the equation present an incomplete understanding of why turnout varies across and within countries.

The article can’t explicitly make that causal argument, however, as it’s a cross section of 28 democracies, and not an analysis of one country over time. However, turnout and two-party vote data from the United Kingdom do provide some (admittedly limited) support for this argument. The following table includes the election, the percent of the vote that went to the two main parties (The Conservatives and Labour), and turnout in that election. While a first pass on the data do indicate a relationship between the two-party vote and turnout, this is further buttressed by the basic Pearson’s r of 66.8.

1945 85.9 72.8
1950 86.1 83.9
1951 93.1 82.6
1955 96.1 76.8
1959 93.2 78.7
1964 87.5 77
1966 89.8 75.8
1970 89.4 72
1974f 75 78.8
1974o 75 72.8
1979 80.8 76
1983 70 72.7
1987 73 75.3
1992 76.3 77.7
1997 73.9 71.3
2001 72.4 59.4
2005 67.6 61.4
2010 65.1 65.1
2015 67.3 66.1

 

What’s going on here? We know that people are more likely to vote if they perceive a difference between the choices on offer. We also see a relationship between the overall vote for the two main parties in the UK and turnout. I’m not suggesting that we immediately leap to a causal function between the two variables, but this will be a direction of future research. However, accepting the basic premise for the sake of discussion, one factor in the decline in recent turnout in the British polity is likely to be the absence of elections that matter. With both major parties converging on the center ground, the electoral narrative becomes who makes the best case as administrator of the economy, and not who has the best ideas for the organising of state and governance. Such elections don’t inspire, and voters turn away from the two major (samey) parties for various fringe third-parties, or for abstention.

Enter Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party leadership election. I posted twice about this leadership election last month, but chose to focus on the Party’s mishandling of voting eligibility. He only qualified for the ballot literally in the last hour, entered the contest simply to broaden the debate, and nobody gave him a chance to win. He now appears to have the best chance of the four candidates to be named the new leader of the Labour Party in just a few hours time, although this is by no means a certainty. That said, I do lament not rushing down to the bookies and placing a bet on him when his odds were 100-1 as a rank outsider.

While turnout should increase with a Corbyn-led Labour Party standing against the Government, it’s no certainty that the new (or re-) entrants to the electorate will significantly prefer Labour to the alternatives. But there is evidence to support the notion that they will. Any increase or decrease in the voting pool does not effect all parties equally; the relationship is asymmetric. A reduction in turnout is likely to hurt parties of the left more than the right; likewise an increase in turnout is likely to support parties of the left more so than the right.

When it comes to electoral politics, especially under the FPTP (aka single-member district plurality) electoral rules, I’m a quite pragmatic member of the left. I don’t mind making compromises in my core ideological values in order to enhance the chances of electoral probability. I suggest that Corbyn has the best chance of leading the Labour Party to victory in 2020 due to several factors. One, the now famous mobilization of support for Corbyn, especially among the young. However, this alone does not guarantee the swing in support Labour would require to win in 2020, but rather might simply reflect the highly motivated, ideologically inspired electorate that typifies primary electorates in the US.

What is probably a safer bet is that a Corbyn-led Labour Party would be best-positioned to reclaim a significant share of the vote lost to the Green Party in England & Wales, or the SNP up in Scotland. Here in Plymouth Sutton & Devonport constituency alone, the Conservative MP beat Labour by only 523 votes, yet there were 3401 votes for the Green Party.  Furthermore, there has been additional evidence from public opinion. An Ashcroft poll released this week indicates broad support across the electorate for a Labour Party that stood in clear opposition to the Conservatives. It would appear that the electorate is keen on having a real choice. There have been several similar polls released in the past few weeks, and likewise several indicating that a Corbyn-led Labour Party would have a rough time of it. Two issues need to be considered here in the interpretation of such polls. One, such polling questions are “extremely difficult if not impossible to make meaningful”, especially this far in advance of a general election. Two, Labour are faced with an extremely difficult electoral context in 2020, regardless who leads them into the 2020 election.

What I do flat reject, however, is the lazy argument that a non-Blairite left-wing Labour Party is doomed to the electoral wilderness. This argument always points back to Michael Foot and the 1983 electoral defeat against Thatcher. A credible argument exists pointing out this myth. The Falklands War had a measurable effect on Conservative chances in the 1983 election, such that it’s difficult to imagine a Tony Blair-led Labour Party winning against Thatcher in that context. Furthermore:

“For those who assert that Labour’s left programme cost it the 1983 election, it must follow that the party could have won had it moved right. We have test cases for this. Labour moved significantly rightwards for the 1987 election – and lost. It fought the 1992 election from a position still further to the right – and lost again. It took until 1997 for the ‘modernisers’ to be ‘proved’ correct, and only once the Tories had been stripped of all credibility by the ERM debacle, endless scandals, infighting and John Major.”

Every election is partially a function of its context — the fundamentals, if you will. John Major winning in 1997 was highly improbable, regardless who led the opposition. It was simply a matter of what the margin of defeat would be, and to his credit, Tony Blair did run up the score. It’s a good thing that he did, too, given between those gains in 1997 and the 2005 election, the Blair-led Labour Party lost 3,965,731 votes, haemorrhaging 8% of the vote share secured in 1997. Tony Blair was not the magician that he’s purported to be.

Another common argument is that Labour must win Tory votes to win an election. This is predicated on several assumptions, most lacking empirical merit. First, that the electorate is static. Second, that non-voters will always remain non-voters. Third, protest voters (presumably anybody voting Green, SNP, or Lib Dem) will always vote for a party with little chance to gain power. The first two are not supported by the evidence; to wit, Obama’s 2008 campaign benefitted significantly from mobilising new voters. There is some degree of support for the third, at the margins, but a large percentage of the Liberal Democrat’s support between 2001 and 2010, and the Greens since, was because the Labour Party was perceived to move too close to the Conservatives. The only argument of those that does have any merit is that a vote “stolen” from the Conservatives counts twice. While true in a vacuum, this does ignore that in positioning the party just to the left of the Conservatives, aping their narrative and accepting their assumptions, would result in an overall constriction of the electorate.  In short, fewer voters. Plus, there would be more defections to parties of the left, which in the current electoral context are the Greens, SNP, and Plaid Cymru.

There are more concerning arguments, of course. Nationally, the media will not be supportive. I typically find media-orientated arguments in politics lazy (they’re very easy to state with authority, yet far more difficult to measure with any empirical rigour) but in this case it will be important for the Corbyn leadership to get out ahead in framing the narrative, which is rarely a Labour Party competence.  I mentioned my distaste for a subset of the Corbyn support in my previous post, but their shrill attitude has many moderate MP and MP candidates fearing a purge by the Corbynistas, which would do significant damage to the party’s electoral chances in 2020. Several foreign policy positions of Corbyn’s are frightfully naive (though I do not have the time to go into it right now, which is a cheap cop-out, but leaving NATO is one such policy).

Finally, locally, we will have some hurdles to overcome in campaigning in the city council elections this upcoming May under a Corbyn leadership. He is famous for wanting to scrap Trident, which would negatively impact jobs here in Plymouth. That said, it seems cooler heads in the Corbyn camp, sensing victory and the concomitant responsibility, are suggesting that these policies be quietly shelved. While I think scrapping the Trident deterrence and re-investing the tens of billions of pounds in the Royal Navy proper is a wise policy, neither Corbyn nor any other potential Prime Minister is likely to make such a like-for-like re-investment with the savings (and I can readily get away with this opinion as having no desire to stand for office locally).

Ultimately, 2020 will be a tough fight, nationally, for the Labour Party. That said, Jeremy Corbyn offers the best chance to mobilise new and disaffected former voters, thus increasing the electoral pool, as my own research has suggested. A larger turnout should translate into a greater share of the vote for the Labour Party. Likewise, he offers the best chance at “winning back” those who voted Green or Scottish National as they perceived even the Ed Miliband Labour Party as accepting the basic narrative of austerity.

Of course, the 2020 election is 4.5 years away. Any number of exogenous or endogenous factors that we can not now anticipate might come into play. One thing is certain: should Corbyn win the leadership contest, politics in the UK will get somewhat more interesting in the months and years ahead.

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  • ChrisTS

    I love this kind of analysis, but I *think* I am in the majority of [at least, U.S.] voters in that I don’t vote for someone based on this kind of analysis. Rather, I vote for the person I most ‘like.’

    This has to be taken with a grain of salt, of course. In our U.S., effectively 2 party system, I might vote (at some point) for A over B because I think A has the better chance of winning in the long run. But my sense is that many of my fellow voters pay no attention to the numbers game at all (which might be a problem for progressives).

    I think we academics tend to analyze voting in ways that (a) most voters don’t and (b) even we don’t when in the polling booth. I’m not an HRC supporter because I think she ‘will’ win; nor am I less of a Sanders supporter because I think he ‘can’t’ win.

    Sure, there is some horse-race element in there, but I wonder how widespread it is. Honestly, how many Walker/Cruz/Chafee fans think their candidate is a winner in all possible/likely scenarios?

    By the way, from the outside, I am totes a Corbyn supporter.

    • Gregor Sansa

      But of course this analysis tends to suggest that Sanders would have a better chance in the general than Clinton, because he would increase turnout.

      It also supports my habitual point about voting reform.

      So of course it must be true.

      • But of course this analysis tends to suggest that Sanders would have a better chance in the general than Clinton, because he would increase turnout.

        Not if it’s done right:

        One, the now famous mobilization of support for Corbyn, especially among the young. However, this alone does not guarantee the swing in support Labour would require to win in 2020, but rather might simply reflect the highly motivated, ideologically inspired electorate that typifies primary electorates in the US.

        And, I would add, you have to deal with countermobilization.

        Selective mobilisation (i.e., campaign oriented GOTV) is actually pretty hard at a national level.

        A stark contrast can work against you as well as for you. I kinda believe that was part of what happened last election. Lots of people voted for austerity and thus against Labor. Labor trying to be more austere wasn’t believed.

      • matt w

        You can’t say that Clinton would be convergent with whatever wingnut the Republicans nominate, though. She’s got nothing like the non-Corbyn candidates’ me-tooism on austerity–as I understand it that’d be something like Clinton running on Social Security privatization.

        • Davis X. Machina

          You can’t say that Clinton would be convergent with whatever wingnut the Republicans nominate, though.

          She’s going to bomb Iran, though.
          Plus, banksters.

          Everyone knows that.
          Well, everyone I know, anyways.

          • Ktotwf

            She isn’t helping by making a big deal of being a ”moderate”.

            • Where has she made a “big deal of being a moderate” lately? Her big economy speech in July could have been written by Bill de Blasio. It was pretty good!

              • Ktotwf

                She made some speech recently explicitly talking about being a moderate.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  Here.

                  I think she wouldnxt say this if she were taking Sanders seriously. That’s a mistake; given how bad the Republican candidates are, I think he’s her biggest obstacle.

                • djw

                  That’s delusional. We’re an economic downturn away from the Republican candidate being a modest favorite. Sanders’ chances are nowwhere near that.

                • Gregor Sansa

                  We’re an economic downturn away from the Republican candidate being a modest favorite.

                  What’s the basis for this statement? Is this just “economics are the only robust effect”, or are you considering factors like demography, candidate quality, and the electoral map? Because all three of the latter look better for the Dems than they have in at least 20 years. Sure, major economic changes could swamp that, but there’s less chance of a major economic downturn in the next year than there was this far out from any of the last 4 elections either.

              • Davis X. Machina

                She doesn’t mean it. You can tell.

            • EliHawk

              Oy. Of course you talk about being moderate and reasonable: You want to make the point the other side are nuts! Successful politicians, from Lincoln to FDR to LBJ to Obama, always frame their program, even when it’s radically upsetting the current order, as firmly in the established national tradition, moderate, reasonable, etc. It’s just what good politicians do.

              • Gregor Sansa

                This is indeed the right thing for her to do in the general election. In a primary where her principal opponent is to her left, it is only the right thing to do if:

                1. She doesn’t believe that opponent is any real threat.
                2. She intends to fight him on “electability”.
                3. She intends to fight him by mobilizing marginally more moderate voters to vote in the Democratic primary.

                2 is sensible. But I’d argue that she’s doing it mostly because of 1 (arrogant), with a little bit of 3 (delusional).

      • djw

        After the kind of polarization, ideological sorting, and RINO/DINO massacres the US has gone through in recent decades, it’s almost inconceivable that anyone could make it through the primary process without offering a clear difference. The only people who’d look at the US in 2016 and not see that are people with an a priori ideological commitment to their ‘not a dime’s worth of difference’ delusions.

        • Gregor Sansa

          Of course this is true. I did not mean to imply that Clinton is in any sense “Republican lite”, merely that Sanders offers even more of a contrast. Higher contrast, higher turnout on both sides; but since Dem turnout is normally lower, that’s a net good.

        • Richard Gadsden

          And people who are so far out on the fringe that everyone looks the same from their perspective.

          If you’re obsessed with a single issue and no politician in either party agrees with you (e.g., you want to dismantle capitalism, or you want zero carbon now, or you think that the problem with Trump is that he wants to expel illegal immigrants rather than shooting them, or something) then everyone looks the same because the only political divide that matters to you is your one issue, and they’re all on the other side of it.

        • witlesschum

          Or people who don’t know much about politics except what they hear on TV news, which is not much. Maybe a disinterest in politics or disbelief in it making much of a difference counts a prior ideological commitment.

    • Ronan

      I think Im more sympathetic to voting for someone I ‘like’, or even for emotional or contempt based reasons rather than strategic, than most here.
      I absolutely wouldnt have voted, for example, for John Edwards, based on his affair when his wife was dying, regardless of how good a candidate he might have been (theoretically, Im not saying he was) because awful behaviour shouldnt be rewarded.
      Having said that, irish politicians are less colourful and ideological and charismatic than in the US, so it rarely presents itself as a dilemma. (except in the semi interesting case of Gerry Adams)

      • I absolutely wouldnt have voted, for example, for John Edwards, based on his affair when his wife was dying, regardless of how good a candidate he might have been (theoretically, Im not saying he was) because awful behaviour shouldnt be rewarded.

        But…how is public office a reward for good behaviour or lack there of a punishment for bad? These are just unrelated.

        • Murc

          Some of us are of the opinion that if someone can’t jump over the extraordinarily low bar of not being a total shithead managing their personal lives, they are unlikely to manage to jump over the much higher bar of not being a total shithead in jobs that require managing the lives of millions of people.

          It’s not necessarily a guarantee. But it’s a big red flag.

          • On the subject of John Edwards, for whom I entertained some hopes at the beginning of 2008 (he seemed more seasoned tan he had been as Kerry’s running mate), I wrote this at about this time seven years ago:

            I do not fault him for lack of priapic self-restraint, but he offered himself up as the standard-bearer for a cause far greater than himself, with the potential to put it at mortal peril. If this was done cold-bloodedly, then I cannot disparage his cynicism enough. If, as I am (perhaps charitably) slightly inclined to believe, he had contrived to persuade himself that the secret would not emerge, or that his candidacy could somehow survive it, then he is merely deluded rather than sociopathically selfish. Still, this remains a deal-breaker. I do not require that a president possess better-than average personal morals, but I do look for a better-than average resistance to self-deception. We have, after all, experimented with fantasy-based policymaking these ninety months past, and I trust that most of recognize how that has turned out.

            For example, anent the oblique reference above, I’ve seen nothing in his subsequent career to suggest that Gary Hart wouldn’t have been a far better president than Reagan Redux, not that this sets a terribly high bar.

          • First, that’s not Ronan’s argument. They claim that the position isn’t merited becaus of the bad behavior not because the bad behavior is an indicator of probably politicla behavior.

            Second, meh. It’s not at clear to me that managing personal life and professional life are related in the way you indicate at all. Personal life isn’t necessarily easier to manage than professional life. (Indeed, work life balance issue can make good professional life a negative indicator of good personal life.)

            I mean, this feels like extrapolating from household budgets to national budgets. A national budget isn’t just a larger household budget and “managing the lives of millions of people” isn’t at all scaling up your management of your personal life.

            I find Ronan’s “I want to my reward bad behavior” line more coherent. If you don’t want to vote for anyone who is a shit, that’s a coherent principle. A bad one, but coherent.

            But inferring strongly from personal life to professional life feels like a mistake. It’s worth looking at, of course, but only mildly. If it’s a giant red flag, then I feel like it’s more like personal disapproval rather than rational calculation or rather personal disapproval disguised as rational calculation.

            Being worried that personal scandal will be used against the person thus undermining their effectiveness seems like a sensible consideration though who survives and who doesn’t and for what seems fairly random. I much prefer Obama’s personal life in every dimension over Bill Clinton’s, so, all other things being equal, I’d prefer Obama. But Bill’s messy life didn’t make him a worse policy maker or even politician (it did leave to a opposition move that sucked).

            • Ronan

              I would correct my position slightly(though it doesnt change your objection), not that I ‘wouldnt want him rewarded’ but closer to ‘I would like to see him punished.’ Or at least dancing somewhere in between those two poles.

              Im also talking at the nominating stage, not at a presidential election. My initial point was that I sympathise with a politics driven explictly by emotion and your own moral values. At that stage what exactly are the strategic difference between a Kerry or Edwards candidacy? I dont see the political stakes being that high at that stage, so why not vote on personal preferences (such as likability, and values?)

              “But…how is public office a reward for good behaviour or lack there of a punishment for bad? These are just unrelated.”

              Im not saying public office is a reward, but that taking away my vote is a punishment. Not neccesarily a meaningful one in the grand scheme of things, just on a personal level.

              • Ronan

                Let me put it this way. Afaik a lot of the lit on voting (at a singular, personal level) says it is primarily expressive. It serves no strategic or rational (for limited definitions of rational) reason to vote (individually) in an election, where your vote wont matter.
                If i accept my vote is primarily expressive, then why not have it express my preferences?(edit whether they are political, moral,social etc) Why must they always being explictly strategic, and never moral?

                • In reverse order, the strategic *is* moral, that’s a key point.

                  Of course, you are free to vote however you please. The paradox of voting of course means that your individual, independent vote is very unlikely to have any effect. However, we’re here discussing general voter strategy that we share and can hope that many people will adopt. (Obviously, in the context of a blog post like this, there’s little effect. But, if we keep going that way there’s nothing to discuss.)

                  And why use your *vote* to express such disapproval? If you just want to do random expression, ok, but that seems unlikely. Disapproval for personal acts via voting involves a theory, e.g., that it is a reasonable punishment for bad personal behaviour that the bad actor loses an election. That seems a coherent theory, but wrong. Which is my point.

                  WRT reward or failure, I know you didn’t say it was a reward, but my point was that *either* a vote as reward or punishment for actions makes no sense.

                • Ronan

                  You make a lot of good points tbh. I would say my”moral” issue could also be turned into a strategic one (the affair will make him unelectable) and I think people do this all the time, sell normative preferences as strategy. I’m really just calling for more honesty in the whole process ; ) the idea that people don’t make these value judgements all the time, even if unconsciously, would seem unlikely. Why not just make it explicit ?
                  But tell me this, is there really no personal behaviour that would prevent you voting for a politician (at the nomination stage) I want to take an extreme example just to set out the question, but apologees if it comes scross as crude or offensive . What about a candidate with a prior conviction for sexual assault, and a documents history of misogyny? Would you have to make the strategic argument (he’ll be unelectable ) or would you object to him based on his behaviour?

                • Ronan

                  Even by my usual standard of incoherency that’s prob a little incoherent. I blame thd phone I’m on. I’ll come back to it tomorrow when on a laptop because I want to flesh it out a bit

                • You make a lot of good points tbh. I would say my”moral” issue could also be turned into a strategic one (the affair will make him unelectable) and I think people do this all the time, sell normative preferences as strategy. I’m really just calling for more honesty in the whole process ; )

                  Well, just because you can cover up a normative preference as a strategic judgment doesn’t mean that all strategic judgment are concealed normative preferences. I think Murc’s rationale above is pretty risky in effectively substituting normative preferences for strategic considerations.

                  My intent is to have as an overriding moral consideration in politics to be effective and good policy and administration of the state. The difference in policy alone dwarfs any possible personal life consideration when picking between Republicans and Democrats. Republicans are just that destructive. I think Edwards is a pig, but I’d vote for Edwards.

                  This is actually something the Republican’s get right: The only sin that is not immediately ignored is failing to be Republican/conservative enough. Their hypocritical moralising is, of course, annoying and ridiculous. But the principle is pretty sound. In a saner environment, I could think of other workable voting strategies, but not this one.

                  the idea that people don’t make these value judgements all the time, even if unconsciously, would seem unlikely. Why not just make it explicit ?

                  I feel certain that typical voters vote on all sorts of things unconnected to a reasonable evaluation of the effect of their vote in terms of future government. I’m not one of those voters and neither are you :)

                  But tell me this, is there really no personal behaviour that would prevent you voting for a politician (at the nomination stage) I want to take an extreme example just to set out the question, but apologees if it comes scross as crude or offensive . What about a candidate with a prior conviction for sexual assault, and a documents history of misogyny? Would you have to make the strategic argument (he’ll be unelectable ) or would you object to him based on his behaviour?

                  Well, let’s take out the electability, i.e., I knew of this but there was no risk of it getting out or, better, it was already out there and voters didn’t care. Up to some level, yes, i would so vote. If the alternatives were roughly equivalent in terms of policy and electability (e.g., Obama vs. Clinton) then I’d happily make the pick based on these other factors. But Clinton vs. Saunders, meh. In a sense, I don’t care there since there’s no chance of his winning. But if there were, I might vote against him on the basis that I don’t think he could win or because I’d rather not have another white guy as press for like 200 years. But lets say Biden vs. Clinton. Roughly equivalent policy effect, let’s stipulate roughly equivalent electability, if you wanted to vote for him because you prefer his character and I want to vote Clinton because i prefer having a woman preference, that’s all fine.\

                  By the way, the converse of real scandal indifference is fake scandal sensitivity. If a fake scandal was working sufficiently then to bad for that candidate. Avoiding a Katrina is more important.

                  Now, rarely is the situation quite so stark. But I’m pretty utilitarian about politics.

                  ETA: This being said, I find it tricky in the extreme. See djw’s great post on democracy as a technology. There’s some of my grieving there.

                • Ronan

                  Id read the post before but not the thread. Some interesting conversations in there. Thanks for your engagement on this, youve….changed my mind ? PERHAPS! (dont worry, itll change back tomorrow)

          • ajay

            Some of us are of the opinion that if someone can’t jump over the extraordinarily low bar of not being a total shithead managing their personal lives, they are unlikely to manage to jump over the much higher bar of not being a total shithead in jobs that require managing the lives of millions of people.

            And that opinion is wrong.

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucy_Mercer_Rutherfurd

            • Murc

              Yes, because I clearly said “impossible” rather than “unlikely” and didn’t hedge at the end, which your quote omits.

              You sure showed me.

              • I still question the “unlikely”. I mean, we can construct a version where your claim is clearly true (e.g., we up the level of failure in personal life), but if we consider the “normal” range of personal life failure, we see people who function professional rather well (even excel; indeed, as I pointed above, sometimes professional success is a cause of personal failure). Conversely, people with impeccable personal lives can suck professionally/politically/policy wise.

                I don’t see how the correlation is so clear at all. I get esp. nervous by such things because judgements about personal behaviour is often rather…problematic. Is someone who was divorced several times someone who can’t manage their personal life? Someone who is in the closet? Is someone who made bad stock picks likely to be a bad manager of the economy?

                It’s unclear to me.

  • And the stupid coverage begins:

    Crucially, he took advantage of a rule change that allowed candidates to recruit sympathizers who, for a small fee, could sign up as registered supporters of the Labour Party and gain a vote in the contest.

    Except this wasn’t crucial: He crushed CRUSHED in all categories.

    • Ronan

      I’ve been interested to know what your take on Corbyn is, considering your experience of both British and US politics, and in the context of debates here about ‘ideological purity’ (Nader voters etc)and strategic voting etc….do you see his candidacy as a good thing for Labour?

      • My superficial first take is that I don’t feel that Corbyn is quite in the space of a Nader or ideological purity campaigns. He’s definitely a bit marvricky wrt to the party elite (witness is comparative lack of support there), and a key question is whether he can refashion that elite into something effective. He has a solid base in the party, so it’s all down to whether he can build up a good structure.

        We’ll see.

        • Ok, the shadow cabinet stuff is rather a mess. I take that as a combination of inexperience on his part, the surprise at winning, and the existing elite bailing. But I think this means he has a bit of a pot luck team, which might not be good in the long run. How often can the shadow cabinet reasonably shuffle?

          I’m less sanguine now :(

      • Richard Gadsden

        If Nader had won the Democratic primary, then it would have been a very different calculation.

        • EliHawk

          Though it’s worth pointing out: In the 2008 Democratic primaries/caucuses, there were 36.1 million voters, and 69.5 million Democratic voters in November. So more than half of the overall Democratic ‘electorate’ voted for either Obama or Clinton (and more than a quarter for each). I use that # because it’s the most recent primary that actually lasted through all 50 states, and so reasonably approximates a ‘national ballot’ similar to the Labour one. In the most recent General Election, Labour recieved 9.35 million votes. In this election, there were 422,264 votes. So about 4.5% of the people who supported the party a few months ago actually voted for the new leader, and, of those, 2.6% backed Corbyn. This isn’t so much winning a Democratic primary as winning one of those state conventions Republican activists use to get people too nutty even for their primary electorate nominated in Virginia and elsewhere.

  • Gregor Sansa

    The ad I’m getting here is “Stratus Prep, your first step on the journey towards your JD.” But with more capital letters.

    • Davis X. Machina

      That’s only because there’s no direct way to cosh you and take your wallet over the internet. Yet.

  • LeeEsq

    Where did you make reservations with Mr. Corbyn? One of the older, stuffier establishments that nobody goes to or a hip, modern restaurant?

    • matt w

      Ye Olde Cat and Beans.

    • Lee Rudolph

      You’ve misread. Corbyn will establish reservations for the remaining Picts.

      • keta

        Not attending will be the Pict still grooving in a cave together with several species of small furry animals.

        • petesh

          I hope Corbyn would get the reference. Seems likely.

    • Hogan

      I’m thinking they should change their official name to “The Labour Party, With Reservations.”

  • Ronan

    I think the most convincing argument against Corbyn is that he wont be able to, institutionally, lead the Labour Party. His candidacy will lead to internal division and destroy Labours electoral potential by creating a dysfunctional and aesthetically unpleasant, petty party.
    That mightnt be (at least primarily) Corbyn’s fault, of course, but if the majority of the party elites are against you, the pragmatic course might be to cede to their prefered candidate.

    • Murc

      The problem with this argument, though, is that a potentially non-trivial number of people will hear it and go “You’ve just told me the Blairites and their heirs will never permit the Labour Party to be governed from the left and would rather destroy it and cede power to the Tories instead. Why the hell should I bother engaging with it on any level at all?”

      • Ronan

        Ah yeah, I agree. There are a lot of good arguments against the position I outlined above. Sometimes you just have to burn the motherf***er down.

      • EliHawk

        I would say the bigger problem is if you’ve never displayed any fealty to the whip or to the leadership, why would you expect anyone to display fealty to you? It’s like Republicans making Ron Paul Speaker of the House or Ted Cruz Senate Leader.

        • Murc

          I would say the bigger problem is if you’ve never displayed any fealty to the whip or to the leadership, why would you expect anyone to display fealty to you?

          The party leaders work for the members, not for themselves. It is they who owe fealty to the rank and file, not the other way around.

          • EliHawk

            The rank and file elected leaders from Kinnock to Miliband that Corbyn stiffed over the years. Why should other members of the party not stiff him?

        • I would say the bigger problem is if you’ve never displayed any fealty to the whip or to the leadership, why would you expect anyone to display fealty to you?

          The overwhelming support of the membership? The hope to shape policy or be in government? Likemindedness on policy?

          Did he defy any three line whips?

          • EliHawk

            He was the most rebellious Labour MP of their entire spell in government from 1997-2010, and did vote against three-line-whips during that time, also more than any other member. It’s like making Paul Broun or Louie Gohmert Speaker.

            • Sigh. Yeah that doesn’t seem good. I would hope that the party elite won’t hold grudges and I would hope that Corbyn will try to mend fences.

              If everyone involved were smart, they’d acknowledge that there are both problems and promises. It’s clear Corbyn did energise a bunch of people. That’s a good thing. Trying to turn that support into a wider victory is challenging, but worth attempting.

    • Davis X. Machina

      His candidacy will lead to internal division and destroy Labours electoral potential by creating a dysfunctional and aesthetically unpleasant, petty party.

      This would presumably be in place of the current dysfunctional and aesthetically unpleasant, petty party?

  • Gregor Sansa
  • Murc

    Third, protest voters (presumably anybody voting Green, SNP, or Lib Dem) will always vote for a party with little chance to gain power.

    The SNP has gained power. They run Scotland! That’s non-trivial! They might be a rump with no power in Westminster but in Edinburgh they actually, you know, govern. There are actually, now, real and substantive ways in which Scotland is run compared to how points south are. (The administration and funding of university education is one of the more salient features of that, something that you, Dave, should be highly aware of.)

    It’s not just the UK equivalent of the Parti Quebecois periodically gaining control of the National Assembly.

    But my larger point is that if the SNP continues to enjoy support as the party of governance in Scotland, that support is likely to translate strongly over to the UK proper elections and be very hard to erode. That’s a big if, but…

    • EliHawk

      Indeed, there was a pretty substantial test case a few months ago of the propensity of Scottish SNP voters to only vote for the party with a potential to gain power in Westminster. They decisively did the opposite–on what planet will they now decide to instead vote for a Labour party widely perceived as far less likely to gain power in Westminster?

      • Indeed, there was a pretty substantial test case a few months ago of the propensity of Scottish SNP voters to only vote for the party with a potential to gain power in Westminster. They decisively did the opposite–

        That’s not true. I would guess that most thought that the SNP had a good chance of being in coalition or otherwise strongly influencing the next govt. Everyone expected a hung parliament after all.

        • EliHawk

          That’s precisely the point! Scottish voters faced the choice of a Labour majority, or vote SNP and get an SNP/Labour coalition govt. Whether Scottish voters vote SNP or Labour, they think they can still have some say in governance. By voting SNP they get to have their cake (protest vote against Westminster establishment) and eat it too (potentially have some say in governance). The idea that they’ll come rushing back to Labour if Corbyn’s leftist enough is just silly.

          • Murc

            It’s also hypothetically possible that the Scottish electorate voted SNP because they like the SNP and their policies and disliked the policies on offer from the other options. People do, actually, occasionally make political decisions based on actual beliefs rather than a naked calculation on what is going to gain them power.

            • Ktotwf

              Caring about actual beliefs and the need to win power can hardly be separated, neatly or not.

  • junker

    Oooof, don’t report your correlations that way! It’s not a percentage!

    • Craigo

      I was wondering if I was the only nerd thinking that.

      • Gregor Sansa

        Agreed.

        But even more importantly: make a scatterplot.

        • Dave Brockington

          Agreed with all. I know (a lot) better than this. I wrote the post quite quickly in a stolen hour in my office yesterday and then an hour this morning before my daughter woke for an all day Minecraft marathon. I wouldn’t be shocked if that wasn’t the only egregious error.

  • Craigo

    In other news, Sadiq Khan is Labour’s candidate for the London mayoralty. (The polling of that selection was absolutely atrocious – almost EVERY survey had Jowell with a usually substantial first-preference lead.)

  • EliHawk

    It’s not really just that getting a swing Tory voter is one that counts twice, it’s getting someone who actually votes. Parties across the ideological spectrum sell themselves the foolsgold that there’s a great swamping mass of nonvoters out there that secretly agree with them, but never bother to vote. The idea that by heightening the contradictions, and providing, in one of those candidates words, “a choice, not an echo” is tempting, but the result is usually 1964, 1972, 1983, etc. If there’s a moment when that actually worked in a national election in the US/UK, I can’t think of it.

    It’s worth noting, of course, that in Plymouth Sutton & Devonport UKIP had nearly twice as many votes as the Greens–a world where ideological polarization sends these roaming disenchanted voters back into the Tory and Labour camps is not one where Labour actually, you know, wins that seat. It’s kind of the idea that because some voters defected to Nader, if we nominate Nader next time, we’re gonna totally win! Real elections don’t work that way.

  • junker

    I have to say, I read the Vox piece on Corbyn and this quote by Yvette Cooper made me fume a little:

    Voting for Corbyn means “returning to the dismal days of the 1980s, with internal party warfare and almost two decades of [being in the] opposition.”

    So, the only people responsible for internal conflict are the leftists of the party? Stop being divisive and vote for me?

    • NeonTrotsky

      Yeah this really bothers me, and this is coming from somebody with a few reservations with Corbyn. There seems to be this attitude that it’s unacceptable for members to vote third-party or to not vote because they perceive a party to be too centrist, while at the same time if moderates defect it’s the fault of the party for being too left wing. In every case it always ends up getting blamed on the left.

      • Ktotwf

        That is the deal with the Center-Left. They want to present the image that they ”have no enemies to the Left” and are simply being pragmatic, when in point of fact a large chunk of them are ideologically and not tactically opposed to solidly left-wing ideas. Explaining that or having that revealed is deeply annoying to them, not least because then they have to do work other than pointing and laughing at Rightists.

    • petesh

      She also apparently is leading the crowd of front-benchers who will not accept a position in Corbyn’s shadow cabinet. I am particularly disappointed because from my little observation of the campaigning, Cooper stuck me as a future PM — not ready yet, but more promising than Burnham or Kendall.

  • j_kay

    I’d preach Keynesianism and socialism, loudly, because they work, unlike “Toryomics”, and Keynesianism’s even British. Keynesianism’s about government kindness to the little and debt being best, in bad economies. Read Krugman to get more.

    And tbat lets you go little-party hunting.

    And liberalism/progressiveness is slowly on its way back, how conaervative Am
    erica could a elect a truly liberal Obama.

    Keynesianism is how we came out so much better than your depession. And Germany lied and went into debt at the height, how they’re ahead of so much of Europe.

  • Well, Jeremy Corbyn wins Labour leadership contest, and pretty handily too.

  • Ken

    This would be the “Divisive Far-Leftist Corbyn”, according to Slate’s front page?

  • Gwen

    Parties are often defined by their past traumas. For years, the memory of George McGovern’s loss in 1972 hung over the Democratic Party; I would say it was the defining pathology of the Democratic Party through 2008. Even though there were several reasons other than ideology why McGovern lost so badly to Richard Nixon (the Eagleton fiasco; the atrophy of the Democratic Party establishment; the perfidy of the Teamsters and some other unions; the fact that America in 1972 was generally less-terrifying than America in 1968; and, oh yeah, Nixon cheated), a huge chunk of the party “establishment” came to believe that Humphrey or Muskie might have won.

    Similarly, the 1980s seems to be the defining nightmare for Labour. Michael Foot is the great bogeyman of the Left; never mind that the far-more-moderate Neil Kinnock also got clobbered in 1987 and 1992.

    Both the McGovern malady and Foot-phobia were exacerbated by lucky wins for moderates. Clinton won in 1992 in part because of Ross Perot’s candidacy, in part because of the 1991 recession, and in part because he had the fortune of facing the first inept President Bush. Tony Blair’s 1997 victory had a lot to do with the complete ineptitude of the post-Thatcher Tories.

    In short, decades of self-loathing on the Left and laurel-resting by centrists, has caused the Dems and Labour both to learn the wrong lessons. The Democrats, at least, can look to 2008 and 2012 and recognize the potential offered by base-mobilization and drawing clear contrasts with the GOP. Hopefully, Labour will catch on (especially if Brockington’s theory is correct).

    • Murc

      Clinton won in 1992 in part because of Ross Perot’s candidacy

      That’s not true at all and I wish people would stop saying it.

      • +10000

        I share this pet peeve!

        It’s been known otherwise for over a decade now.

      • joe from Lowell

        Indeed.

        Nationally, Perot voters split down the middle.

        State-by-state, Perot voters favored Clinton in states that wold have favored Clinton anyway, and favored Bush in states that Bush would have won anyway.

    • EliHawk

      Plenty of people in the party establishment believed Humphrey or Muskie could have won because Humphrey or Muskie would not have been half the disaster of McGovern. There was a reason Nixon’s people sabotaged everyone BUT McGovern, who they tried to help. The Eagleton fiasco was entirely self inflicted by McGovern and his camp, who were such a walking disaster that they had to go around begging people to be Vice President.

      As to the UK, Kinnock started from the mess that Foot made. He had to see off the threat of the SDP to overtake them as the main opposition party and overturn a majority of 144. That takes time: It took 13 years for the Tories to overturn a similar Labour majority, in part because Labour presented itself as the natural party of government and delivered a decade of economic growth: If the Supreme Court hadn’t delivered the 2000 election to George Bush, they’d probably still be in power today.

      More to the point: The idea that the Democratic wins of 2008 and 2012 are about ‘base mobilization’ doesn’t pass the smell test. Obama turned out Democrats and Democratic-leaners hard, but he cut the cloth of a moderate center-left politician, not all that different from Bill Clinton or Tony Blair, and expanded the map into previously red states. All three of them were also about clear contrasts with the GOP: Taking the reasonable ground in order contrast it with the fuckin’ loons on the other side. To say that Obama’s electoral success points to a Corbyn triumph beggars belief.

    • MacK

      Tony Blair’s 1997 victory had a lot to do with the complete ineptitude of the post-Thatcher Tories.

      And how do you explain 2001 and 2005 then? Seriously.

      This is up there with explaining that the Conservatives won in 1979, 83, 87 and 92 because of the Falklands War which lasted 2 months, 1 week and 5 days in Spring 1982! It is about as absurd.

      Labour under Blair won elections, winning elections put the Tories and their policies out of office. Foot, Brown and Miliband lost. The public did not want to vote labour for them, and nothing outside wishful thinking leads anyone to think that the public will be more inclined to vote for a Corbyn led Labour Party.

      The British left has come to inhabit an echo chamber where they only hear what they want to hear, from people they agree with. in that respect they are remarkably similar to the Republican Party in the US.

  • wengler

    Corbyn’s leadership election wasn’t close. He beat his closest opponent by over 40 points. The idea that MPs like Cooper are refusing to serve as a shadow secretary under him is pathetic. Being New Labour/Tory Lite is not popular. This isn’t the late ’90s anymore.

  • MacK

    I have been listening to various resigned Labour supporters trying to convince themselves that Corbyn can win, that he won’t hound centrists out of the party – as his supporters call Anyone who disagrees a Thatcherite and tells them they are in the wrong party.

    Corbyn is going to be an unmitigated ****ing disaster, and when it’s time to face that fact and dump him, the party will be torn apart by his partisans trying to keep him.”

    Not only will Corbyn make Labour unelectable in 2020, by 2025 the Scottish Labour Party, out of office for two decades will be just a rumor.

    Think of this as like Trump winning the Republican nomination, on a plurality of the 16% turnout in Republican primaries – and concluding that the fact that some 5% of those registered Republicans that could be bothered to vote in a primary means he can win the General Election. A tiny subset of people in the UK are actively involved enough in politics to take part in the process that got Corbyn elected – almost all are the sort of people that can endure the mindf***ing tedium of a branch meeting, or an MLA seminar, with Political [Scientists] wittering nonsense expressions and “boring for England” – like a scene from a Tom Sharpe novel. (The vanity of calling Political dilettantism a science by the way, is breathtaking.)

    So the received opinion now is that “Corbyn is a good thing” … Remember, the same pillocks were saying this about Ed Milliband less than a year ago – and we don’t hear them explaining now why they were wrong then, the same people who brought you Ed Milliband have decided that he was “not left enough,” demonstrating the same purblind arrogance that they did when they foisted Ed on the party, and the same geniuses are now saying “don’t worry it will be alright – we know what we’re doing” when demonstrably, they don’t. But we should all agree….

    • Becker

      Of course, if a differently-composed “tiny subset” of Labourites voted for Burnham or Kendall you wouldn’t be ranting like this.

      Your anger delights me. You’re my favorite thing about LGM’s UK threads.

      • MilitantlyAardvark

        Poor MacK, eternally puzzled that people are not impressed by his loud screams of incoherent, self-deluding rage on any given topic.

        • MacK

          It could of course simply be that voting for Corbyn was an incoherent scream of self delusional rage. There certainly is a lot of self delusion involved.

      • Amanda in the South Bay

        I like his posts-it seems like (with the partial exception of Brockington) LGM skews American, and its nice to see what the views of people who live in the actual UK are. Besides, MacK I’ve always taken for an Irishman who disdains England and the UK. Surely that makes his views on British politics all the more interesting.

        • Bill Murray

          well his will no one think of Irish on Irish crime rather than focusing on English army crimes rant of a couple of weeks ago was somewhat entertaining and sort of Irish focused, but made about as much sense as when the Republicans do this about police in the Us shooting black people

          • MacK

            And since you know nothing about the facts of who killed who in Northern Ireland – you make little sense too. But thanks for calling me a racist, what am I a self hater in your book?

          • MacK

            And of course the actual statistics meant nothing to you – or the realities – even now as a murder by the IRA (yes it was) is n the verge of collapsing the government in Stormint again. And it was not Irish open Irish crime (your use of that expression defines you as a tool), it was a bunch of thugs running around killing people they were claiming to protect. Dragging mothers away from their families, secretly killing them, forgetting where they left the body, and then when it threatened to be a political embarrassment, threatening their families to shut them up. You sound to me like you’d like to bear Adam’s Pinochet and Galtierie’s love child, because in your standards they were all Boy Scout freedom fighters.

          • Ronan

            MacKs position is (I would guess) much closer to the norm in Ireland (at least in the south, but also prob the north) on this. People might not have loved the security services, but they certainly didn’t love the paramilitaries.
            Afaict this also see to be true among African Americans and “black on black crime.” They are more concerned about that phenomenon than a lot of white liberals or activists. Don’t underestimate the shame , (the questions of “what has become of us”) in all of this.

            • MacK

              Lot of typos – using an iPad on a slow internet connection is hard – and you have it catch the spelling changes it does when you are not looking (and check it is in English and not Italian due to hitting the wrong key.)

              There are two groups on the Irish left – a group, many formerly stickies, who pretty well recognised the Provos and Sinn Fein for what it is, a violent organisation, whose mottos subtext “tiocfaidh ár lá” was that when the lá arrived, those who disagreed would find their backs against the law. I was personally threatened by shinners in college (he also liked beating up his girlfriend – which meant that … well he learned better.)

              To assume (as morons like some here do) that I think the British military in Northern Ireland behaved well – well that just shows the intellectual dishonesty of “Bill Murray” and that ‘right on’ cretin Militantly Aardvark.

              My objection to Corbyn’s games with Sinn Fein – the panting admiration he (and I can guess the Aardvark and Murray) have for the likes of Adams is that it is completely based on wilful ignorance of what was (and in some respects still is) happening in Northern Ireland – a wilful ignorance that has in fact cost innocent lives. Murray is into “both sides do it” moral equivalence – but you know, both sides don’t and did not – the paramilitaries in Northern Ireland did things that the British Army (the regular army, not the UDR) did not even approach doing – and anyone who thinks that they were equally bad has to lobotomised themselves with a rusty spoon.

              So let’s take Adams’ whose love child Bill Murray seems to want to bear. Children are an interesting point – Jean McConville – innocent – dragged from her flat in Divis front of her children in 1972. She was held for several days while being tortured – her family approached Sinn Fein whose leader (and really the local IRA chief) at the time was Adams – he then know nothing. She was then murdered and buried on a beach – but they forgot where. When her later adult children raised a fuss they were threatened by Sinn Fein – headed by Gerry Adams – this was by the way, when he was being lauded by Corbyn.

              All Adams had ever needed to say when McConville was being held prisoner and tortured was one word – and she would not have been killed. Anyone remotely familiar with how West Belfast operated in 1972 knows that…. but he did not. All Adams had to say was “no” and her children would not have been threatened – that “no” was uttered publicly – with private continued threats only recently (and anyone who knows how ‘Norn Iron’ works knows Sinn Fein’s – “of course you can speak [but you’re better not” style- one they have tried to enforce in the south too.) Indeed people familiar with working class politics in the south know that concerned parents against drugs (a Sinn Fein front) was for the most part a protection racket that targeted un-sanctiond drug smuggling and business, to keep it for various republican gangs (that and alcohol, cigarette smuggling and diesel washing, IRA rackets to this day.)

              Corbyn was happy to associated himself with Adams and others because in his ‘right-on’ world a freedom fighter is he a ‘freedom fighter’ even when he’s a thug. It seems that Militantly Aardvark and Murray are cut from the same cloth – they know what they are supposed to think, and think it.

              • Ronan

                Im personally more indifferent to Corbyn’s IRA positions. Also (perhaps because Im more removed from it) I dont really buy the ‘the IRA were criminals/psycopaths’ thesis, and would put more blame on the British than seems to be the norm nowadays(the reason the Army, specifically, were not as involved in the violence is in part because their role was outsourced to the intelligence agencies and loyalists)
                Having said that, I agree the paramilitaries (particularly the provos for the final 2 plus decades) were the primary drivers of the conflict and so mostly to blame.

        • Ronan

          I like MacK as well. He adds a bit of flavour to a thread

          • Lee Rudolph

            Peat smoke.

            Or possibly brimstone?

    • Linnaeus

      Which of the other candidates did you prefer and why?

      • MacK

        All of the candidates were pretty awful but few were as bad as Corbyn.

        Part of the problem the Labour Party has is that since 1997 pretty well very one in the party was defined by whether they were a Blairite or a Brownite. Ideologically that meant nothing much – but in terms of ambition, getting to be a SPAD, getting foisted on a constituency party for a safe seat, getting to be a PPS, a junior minister, a minister – it was everything. And though you may not believe it, the Blairites and the Brownites would offer cunniligus to every interst group, if it helped them in their ascendency in the feud – and by the way, that included some of the public sector unions, as well as the City. The result is that the Labour Party has a front bench of pygmies, people who looked for the right coattail to hop onto. And the Brownites were the ultimate c, seeking to use the Blairites to get elected, but expecting Brown, their real Prime Minister to be in charge.

        Now you have this ludicrous situation where Dave B can try to explain that it wa “the Falklands” that rendered the Labour Party unelectable for almost two decades; the Falklands war was over and done with in months – to say that it explains how Labour lost multilple subsequent elections is to be actively delusional. Labour lost election after election be uss they made a mess of running the country in the winter of discontent – and because the wing of the Labour Party that brought that debacle about was subsequently in the ascendant until John Smith. The same wing of the party has not put Jeremy Corbyn into the leadership – having placed Ed Miliband before him. They actually think Milliband was not left enough, pure enough ….

        I have said it repeatedly, I do not like Blair, I find him smarmy, his overt piety oily and unconvincing, his policy on Iraq a disaster. But – he won 3 elections for the Labour Party ‘on the trot,’ the Tories would also have had the UK in Iraq, and anyone who thinks he was a Thatcherite in disguise has clearly forgotten what the Thatcher and Majkr years were like (and probably thinks Al Gore would have bee the same as Georeg W Bush.)

        The current ‘mandatory’ Labourite position on Corbyn reminds me of the joke about the guy who falls off a building. Except this guy, after being pushed off the third floor (Miliband) decides “hey the broken leg, contusions and the rest were not so bad, maybe I’ll jump of the 20th” and now he’s passing the 3rd floor, he saying – “so far so good… I bet I just bounce into government…”

        • EliHawk

          As every left wing Labourite continues to denounce the party for not fighting ‘austerity’ hard enough, they never ponder who exactly spent the money and set the baselines the Tories are smashing: Blair and Brown, the dreaded Thatcherite sell outs.

          • MacK

            The core problem with he Blair and Brown governments was the feud – the battle over control of the government.

            In fact, I think it has a lot to do with the entire Iraq debacle. The dispute between Blair and Brown was fundamentally about who really ran the government and who handed out the jobs in Government (which means getting more than a MPs pay, perks and expenses.) There were somewhere between 119 and 125 ministers alone (counting junior ministers) in the Blair/Brown administration – pretty well every job, plus some MP roles below minister, were handed out based on who was a Brownite or a Blairite. What the person really though politically was more or less a non-use, it was “who did you back.”

            The Brown-Blair thing was vicious – any decision that could be criticised would be. Imagine for a minute Blair had not been enthusiastically on board with the White House and the “special relationship” – the Brownites would immediately have denounced Blair for jeopardising Britain’s most important bilateral relationship. Every decision made in the Treasury or No. 10 was done. looking over their shoulder at the other side. Each ‘buttered up’ the City while at the same time taking a soft line of public service reform with the public service unions.

            Indeed a lot of people forget a key aspect of “New Labour” – it was the idea of new public investment and more money for public services (and less privatisation and PPP) but with public sector reform. Once in office though, the reform went out the window – because the Unions did not like it, while PPP and privatisation continued because that was what the City wanted…. and no one dared upset either because – well the other side would use it to attack them.

        • witlesschum

          Now you have this ludicrous situation where Dave B can try to explain that it wa “the Falklands” that rendered the Labour Party unelectable for almost two decades; the Falklands war was over and done with in months – to say that it explains how Labour lost multilple subsequent elections is to be actively delusional. Labour lost election after election be uss they made a mess of running the country in the winter of discontent – and because the wing of the Labour Party that brought that debacle about was subsequently in the ascendant until John Smith. The same wing of the party has not put Jeremy Corbyn into the leadership – having placed Ed Miliband before him. They actually think Milliband was not left enough, pure enough ….

          I mean, as someone who doesn’t know British politics as well as you do, you start off by misquoting Brockington and then go on at great length, but basically the argument is that the left wing of the Labour party was rejected because they fucked up in government pre-Thatcher and were discredited by that in upcoming elections. Okay, but are a large slice of Labour’s possible voters really still motivated in 2020 by stuff that happened in the late 1970s? That seems very unlikely to me.

          My, possibly wrong, understanding is that Corbyn stands for Labour coming out with a leftwing alternative against the Tories current austerity program, which seems like potentially a winning message. It has been in other Europeon countries, anyway. Maybe there’s reasons that won’t work in Britain, but I don’t see how ‘the lefties fucked up in 1977’ is one of them.

    • Dave Brockington

      So the received opinion now is that “Corbyn is a good thing”

      Not from where I’m standing.

  • joe from Lowell

    Congrats, David! Cheers!

    Here’s hoping this is the start of a global trend.

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