I’m going to have more on the December election and the future of the party in the coming days, but this post does a decent job of summarising the past four years of the Labour Party. Some bits I reject, like its implied pro-Brexit position, as well as how it wasn’t only the £3 registered supporters who won it for Corbyn in 2015, but Corbyn did win among full members, registered supporters, and affiliated supporters, and I’m somewhat more optimistic about the future of the Party contrasted with the views of the author, but in general this piece splendidly captures the zeitgeist of the Corbyn era. Sadly, it’s not quite a post-mortem, as Corbyn is still the party leader, doing PMQs every Wednesday, and there are a lot of cranks in the party who would like him to soldier on. His key advisers, and architects of winning the argument on 12 December, are all still employed by the party on permanent contracts.
Corbynism, that is to say, was essentially a bourgeois phenomenon: borne of academia, the soap box, hashtags, protests and leftwing bookshops. It was metropolitan, socially liberal, pro-Europe and pro-immigration. It was angry. It was ‘woke’. It was more concerned with Palestine than it was with Grimsby. It thought society irredeemably racist, sexist, and homophobic. It was ashamed of Britain’s history and of our current role in the world. Being ‘antiwar’ it had no love for our armed forces. It was cold if not hostile to British institutions and traditions. It claimed a monopoly on virtue. It was probably vegan.
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The political religion of Corbynism, in its reaction to December’s defeat, has shown every sign of falling prey to the latter brand of cognitive dissonance. You might reckon the worst Labour result in eight decades would slap some sense into them. Not a bloody bit of it. Once more, it is political language that reveals the heightened levels of self-serving fantasy. Labour supporting celebrities used social media to quickly blamethe result on the BBC, racism and misogyny rather than their own mistakes and weaknesses.
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Corbyn clings on, grumbling excuses and blaming the media, his transparent reluctance to apologise for eviscerating the party he leads further evidence of a rigidly inflexible mind cognitively incapable of self criticism. That Corbyn is a man who has never changed his mind about anything, ever, was treated by the faithful as a sure sign of his moral purity – all that “right side of history” nonsense.
[. . .]
The word went out: blame Brexit, as if having a dog’s dinner of a Brexit policy was any kind of excuse for such a catastrophic failure. Denial, however, soon kicked in: “We won the argument,” said Corbyn, after the biggest shellacking for Labour since the Great Depression. This rationalisation – quickly picked up and repeated by the faithful – is based on the ropey assumption that while the Labour manifesto was extremely popular, their mistakes over Brexit rendered all that null. While it is true certain Labour policies, such as the re-privatisation of rail and energy utilities, poll well in isolation, I failed to meet a single soul not already convinced who believed Labour was remotely capable of pulling off the smorgasbord of wild spending promises Corbyn was tossing out during the campaign, seemingly on a daily basis. A fatal difference.
The architects of this catastrophe remain on contract. Karie Murphy, Seamus Milne and Andrew Murray, Corbyn’s closest advisers, continue to draw a salary. Milne, the privately educated Soviet sympathiser, and Murray, a man who considers himself on the same side as North Korea, still preside over the bunker that is Labour HQ. This is an outrage, when balanced against the destruction they have wrought to the very principles they claim to be fighting for.