Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Labour’s Crisis: In Praise of Owen Jones.

with 23 comments

owenjones1306a.jpg

Owen: Labour and the left teeter on the brink of disaster.

In Praise of Owen Jones.

“The story recounted in this book suggests that the route to socialism does not lie through transforming the Labour Party”

The End of Parliamentary Socialism. Leo Panitch & Colin Leys. 1997.

“The period of New Labour may be seen in the future as a short deviation from the historical flow of Labour Party as a developing socialist party or it may be identified as the period in which Labour as an aspiring party of radical socialist advance was destroyed.”

John McDonnell. Introduction. 100 Years of Labour. Graham Bash and Andrew Fisher. 2006.

Until Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader last year most socialists in Britain would have concluded that the second of John McDonnell’s options had come true. Labour was not in any sense a vehicle of “radical socialist advance”. Others who believed that Labour was never a radical socialist party as such but contained currents that promoted democratic socialist policies that could see the light of day, saw their hopes of influence blocked. Labour, was, in short, not a party the left had any hope in.

Blair and Brown, the Third Way, or social liberalism, Blue Labour, a variety of distinctly non-socialist approaches dominated not just its Parliamentary representatives, but local government, intellectuals of any practical influence and the network of civil society associations that sustain the party. For a period modernisers, promoting ‘social partnership’, dominated even the trade unionism, although this began to unravel in the first years of the new century. Left groups and journals, such Labour Briefing and Chartist (both of which I am associated with), were marginalised. The Labour Representation Committee (LRC)  set up in 2004 and chaired by John McDonnell had little impact.  While union leaders like UNITE’s  Len McCluskey appeared to exert left influence, and the centre-left Grassroots Alliance maintained its presence on Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) nobody expected the election of Jeremy Corbyn in 2015.

Much of the socialist left, from the late 90s on,  in diminishing numbers and with decreasing success, put their energies into trying to create new left parties and electoral alliances that stood independently of Labour. Many of these attempts ended not just in failure at the ballot box but also in demonstrated the difficulties of ploughing new political ground. Above all the experience of the Socialist Alliance (essentially from 1999 to 2003) demonstrated fundamental incompatibilities between democratic socialists and small ‘Leninist’ parties like the Socialist Workers Party, the bureaucratic ‘Trotskyist’ Socialist Party, and whatever label currently fits the personal vehicle for George Galloway, Respect.

If Corbyn’s 2015 victory was unexpected the groundswell in his favour this year has also been unprecedented. Left-wing individuals, including many from the democratic group, Left Unity (which stood out from the above organisations) had joined Labour to vote for him. At present the campaigning and protesting of unions, left groups, and individuals that has, most recently, been channelled into the alliance known as the People’s Assembly, has been overshadowed by rallies in support for Corbyn’s re-election. The campaign for the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn has shifted attention away from the kind of political negotiating that marks the Labour left.  A body of opinion has emerged that believes Labour is, or can be, transformed into a “social movement” in its own right. That the vast majority of those now rallying to Corbyn are not part of any organised group has made it hard to funnel them into traditional directions, and the all-embracing nature of the terms “social” and “movement” can be interpreted in many ways.

Paul Mason expresses the view that Labour will come to office because neo-liberalism is “busted” and puts Labour as a social movement at the forefront of building an alternative.

In Labour: The Way Ahead he stated a couple of days ago,

Labour will become the first mainstream party in a western democracy to ditch neoliberalism and then take power.”

Above all, victory is possible under Corbyn because Labour can become a social movement. Corbyn himself called for this at his leadership launch rally. The problem is that the Labour tradition has very little experience of social movements — especially the networked, anti-hierarchical forms of organisation associated with them since the late 1990s.

To call for Labour to become a social movement when it had 130,000 members and a bunch of moribund local committees would have sounded futile. With 600,000+ members, the majority pro-Corbyn and amid a summer of street rallies and overflowing mass meetings, it sounds highly possible.

Mason’s proposals for economic stimulus, the moblisation of the social movement aorund issues such the defence of mirgant workers, offering hope against the despair of UKIP,  are attractive.

But is this part of a viable strategy?

If Corbyn wins on 24 September then, at the substantive and sovereign party conference that begins the next day, Labour MPs should be asked to register publicly their confidence in the new leader.

The party should also ask all MPs to sign a statement recognising that the leader elected on 24 September is the lawful leader of the legal entity known as “The Labour Party” and that he is legally entitled to run the two limited companies that own its assets (Labour Party Nominees Limited and Labour Party Properties Limited).

Those MPs who refuse to register their confidence in Corbyn, or to recognise his legal right to run The Labour Party, should be marked down for de-selection.

Mason clearly indicates that he considers a large section of the existing Parliamentary Labour Party a waste of space. No doubt he, and others, would wish to extend such a loyalty test to councillors and all officers of the Party. Or are local representatives allowed greater freedom to dissent?

One of Mason’s principal models, the Spanish party, Podemos, is a very different phenomenon. It grew from the Indignados, known as the 15-M Movement , protests at the staggering corruption of the country’s political life that involved several million people. Mason claims that the American Occupy movement was inspired by  Stephane Hessel’s Indignez Vous! (Time for Outrage) but in fact it had its deepest impact in these Iberian protests. Podemos, while sometimes claiming to be “beyond” left and right, involves at least one left Marxist-Green current, the Izquierda anticapitalista.

From 9,8% of the vote in the European Podemos reached 21% in the December 2015.  But, refusing any compromise with the Spanish Socialist Party PSOE)  triggered fresh elections. This time, allied with the so-called ‘old left’ of the Izquierda Unida, and hopes of becoming the leading left force in the country it only reached  21,10% to the PSOE 22,66% . New elections may well be held,  but  even if its score improves Podemos can never hope to score a majority of the vote and can only govern in coalition – a prospect that Labour, with an electoral system that makes even this kind of representation difficult – would not relish.

Mason’s hostility to anybody disloyal to Corbyn is not at all helpful. The antagonism between the Corbyn side and those against him has ratcheted up in the fall out after the Brexit referendum vote. There are plenty of MPs who are willing to take the most extreme measures to destroy the existing Labour leadership. From a constant drip-by-drip of stories undermining the leader of the Opposition and its allies in the Shadow Cabinet we are now faced with the prospect of an alternative parliamentary group, and even – in some people’s view – a split in the party.

How does Mason’s alternative (not to mention those of others equally virulent against the Party’s centre and right-wing)  offer a serious way forward? A social movement  that moves in “waves and swarms and ” “a street movement” seeking “new forms of representation” a serious way of grappling with the problem of a Parliamentary party split in two and the mounting Tory lead in opinion polls. It would be pleasant indeed to believe that this might win labour elections, but we have only faith, belief in things unseen, to back the claim up.

Frenzied attacks on Corbyn backers, charged with wishing the Gulag for their opponents, have been met by screams of Blairite, and worse. It is as if both sides wish to conduct their disputes after the template of the pro-Nazi 20th century political philosopher Carl Schmitt: dividing the world into “friend and enemy” with a “fighting collectivity of people” confronting a similar collectivity. (1)

In this vein John Landsman asserts “the current leadership contest is like the Miners’ Strike – there are two clear sides, and while one might disagree with the way a political battle is being conducted, you still rally behind your side, because defeat and capitulation to the other side is still much worse.” “This is the battle being played out in the party right now, those are the stakes, those are the ‘sides’ that we are forced to pick.” (Picking sides’ – A short reply to Owen Jones). A victory of the Corbyn opponents, he argues, would lead to disaster. That;’s as may be. But to regard those who do not “pick sides” as part of the enemy camp is but a step from the original assertion.l This is not a way to conduct democratic politics inside the same party. It is a recipe for a split.

Some of the strongest supporters of this approach appear to be recent members of the Labour Party, and those, from the far-left outside, trying to bathe in the glory of Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election. It grates to hear people long-standing Labour people, many of whom have decided their lives to it and public office, from the centre, a variety of groups or none, as well as the genuine Labour right group, Progress. It is equally deeply offensive for opponents of Corbyn to scream that his backers are totalitarians, anti-Semites, and abusive thugs.

In the middle of this pandemonium Owen Jones has stood out as a rational voice. Owen first made his name with the book Chavs (2012), followed by the Establishment (2014). His columns, originally in the Independent and now in the Guardian, have great influence. Having worked in John McDonnell’s office he is more than familiar with the way the Left works and the people involved in the present Corbyn team. Owen had trudged around the country speaking to hundreds of left meetings. Above all he is a dedicated democratic socialist who has earned great respect on the left and amongst the wider public.

Owen’s approach in recent weeks gives expression to the deep concerns many of us have not just with those constantly undermining Corbyn but more deeply with the real problems that Labour faces – summed up in  disastrous opinion polls – and what he feels are policy failures and difficulties with addressing the wider electorate. He also challenges an over-optimistic ‘social movement’ stand that many appear to be taking.

This is his latest contribution:

Questions all Jeremy Corbyn supporters need to answer

Labour and the left teeter on the brink of disaster. There, I said it. I’ll explain why. But first, it has become increasingly common in politics to reduce disagreements to bad faith. Rather than accepting somebody has a different perspective because, well, that’s what they think, you look for an ulterior motive instead. Everything from self-aggrandisement to careerism to financial corruption to the circles in which the other person moves: any explanation but an honest disagreement. It becomes a convenient means of avoiding talking about substance, of course. Because of this poisonous political atmosphere, the first chunk of this blog will be what many will consider rather self-indulgent (lots of ‘I’ and ‘me’, feel free to mock), but hopefully an explanation nonetheless of where I’m coming from. However long it is, it will be insufficient: I can guarantee the same charges will be levelled

The core of the article revolves around these point:

  • How can the disastrous polling be turned around? “Labour’s current polling is calamitous. No party has ever won an election with such disastrous polling, or even come close. Historically any party with such terrible polling goes on to suffer a bad defeat.”
  • Where is the clear vision? “What’s Labour’s current vision succinctly summed up? Is it “anti-austerity”? That’s an abstraction for most people. During the leaders’ debates at the last general election, the most googled phrase in Britain was ‘what is austerity?’ — after five years of it. ‘Anti-austerity’ just defines you by what you are against. What’s the positive vision, that can be understood clearly on a doorstep, that will resonate with people who aren’t particularly political?
  • How are the policies significantly different from the last general election? “It’s less than a year in to Corbyn’s already embattled leadership: there hasn’t been the time to develop clear new policies. Fine: but surely there needs to be a clear idea of what sort of policies will be offered, not least given what is at stake?”
  • What’s the media strategy? “..there doesn’t seem to be any clear media strategy. John McDonnell has actually made regular appearances at critical moments, and proved a solid performer. But Corbyn often seems entirely missing in action, particularly at critical moments: Theresa May becoming the new Prime Minister, the appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary, the collapse of the Government’s economic strategy, the abolition of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, soaring hate crimes after Brexit, and so on. Where have been the key media interventions here?”
  • What’s the strategy to win over the over-44s?
  • What’s the strategy to win over Scotland?
  • How would we deal with people’s concerns about immigration?
  • How can Labour’s mass membership be mobilised? “a movement will only win over people by being inclusive, optimistic, cheerful even, love-bombing the rest of the population. A belief that even differences of opinion on the left can’t be tolerated — well, that cannot bode well. So how can the enthusiasm of the mass membership be mobilised, to reach the tens of millions of people who don’t turn up to political rallies? What kind of optimistic, inclusive message can it have to win over the majority?”

Comrade Owen ends by stating this,

Labour faces an existential crisis. There will be those who prefer me to just to say: all the problems that exist are the fault of the mainstream media and the Parliamentary Labour Party, and to be whipped up with the passions generated by mass rallies across the country. But these are the facts as I see them, and the questions that have to be answered. There are some who seem to believe seeking power is somehow ‘Blairite’. It is Blairite to seek power to introduce Blairite policies. It is socialist to seek power to introduce socialist policies. As things stand, all the evidence suggests that Labour — and the left as a whole — is on the cusp of a total disaster.

Guess what at least some of the responses to these carefully thought out questions has been?

Well guess not: Corbyn supporter Owen Jones labelled ‘Blairite traitor’ for criticising current leadership.

Those attacking Owen are attacking the democratic socialists who back Corbyn, but with exactly the kind of independence of thought he represents.

We back Corbyn, we back McDonnell – a view strengthened in the last few days by the strong stand in favour of restoring Trade Union rights.

But these are indeed the questions which need to be looked at.

(1) The Concept of the Political. Carl Schmidt. University of Chicago. 2007.

23 Responses

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  1. Sorry, Andrew, but I am in two minds about Owen Jones. Two things: we are in the middle of a leadership contest that will determine whether left social democrats and socialists in the Labour party can have any real influence over its future direction. To make the kind of contribution that Owen Jones has just made is at this moment at best irresponsible. Secondly I do wonder why he could not bring himself to be ‘critical but unconditional’ about Corbyn. Even if for some reason you cannot hold back your frustrations about Corbyn I would have thought leaving the question of whether you continue to support him hanging in the air is pretty objectionable.

    Colin (@colin_odr)

    August 2, 2016 at 12:25 pm

  2. Schmitt not Schmidt…

    Re Comrade Mason’s Great Red Hope Podemos:

    a) lost a million votes in June compared to prev Podemos + IQ performance

    b) also lost 1/5 of its MPs due to splitterism in little over a month:

    PODEMOS REDUCED TO 57 MPS: The Podemos parliamentary group will kick off this parliament with just 57 MPs after two regional branches—En Marea in Galicia (5 seats) and Podemos-Compromís in Valencia (9 seats)—decided to form their own small groups. At the general election in June, the Podemos national brand, the regional branches and United Left maintained their 71 seats in Congress despite collectively losing over a million votes.
    https://www.thespainreport.com/articles/796-160726150022-daily-spain-briefing-26-07-2016

  3. Andrew
    The media have already picked up on Owen criticism, he makes some interesting points, but now is not the time to express them in an open forum. Until the leadership contest is over we must support Corbyn unconditionally. Some of the points he raises are not issues which have passed most of us by, nor I’m sure is the leadership unaware of them. To be truthful the young man is getting a tad pompous to even suggest we need to ponder these issues.

    I notice many of Corbyn’s so ‘called left’ critics are use similar language to Owen, especially the LP is facing an existential crisis. When I hear such tosh I find myself having some sympathy with the fat nazis statement about intellectuals and firearms. (just so the door is not kicked in I am not advocating there use;)

    Mick HallMick Hall

    August 2, 2016 at 12:32 pm

  4. Colin, as the headline indicates, I was writing about Owen said.

    But thanks I have added a sentence to make my position clear – a truthful one incidentally.

    It is never the ‘right-time’ to criticise Mick. But I hardly think Corbyn is threatened in the leadership vote.

    Andrew Coates

    August 2, 2016 at 12:35 pm

  5. “It is never the ‘right-time’ to criticise Mick.”

    Andrew my mate McIntyre is always telling me that and you both have a point, but Owen has a big following and I feel he needs to tread carefully as the mainstream media will store this up and may well distort it at a later date. The ruling class will do anything to stop Jeremy and I am a little surprised/worried at his lack of security, I remember when Ken first ran as an indie Mayor a security detail was the first topic on the agenda. Still that is for another thread

    All the best comrade.

    Mick HallMick Hall

    August 2, 2016 at 1:12 pm

  6. It is unfortunately funny to watch Corbyn supporters – like Owen Jones – dance around the fact, yes fact, that their hero is incompetent, that he wears no clothes.

    I have yet to see anyone bar Madam Miouw admit this. She seems to be the only one grappling with this. Everyone else seems to be in utter denial. As I said, it’s funny.

  7. The issue is not Corbyn’s competence. Ken Coates used to say he one of the “political soldiers” of the left, and I have little doubt he works extremely hard and surrounds himself with those he trusts.

    The issue is political, the opinion polls, and the subjects Owen singles out.

    It is possible to support, and John McDonnell, (who I feel is closer to the kind of left-wing European socialism this Blog backs) without falling into uncritical admiration. Were he at risk of losing we might consider things differently, but he is not.

    The issue is also the “Schmidt” war to death I cite and John Landsman seems to believe in. Many of us feel it is not only highly inappropriate but frankly, bizarre. How could I stand on the same side as people who only a month ago were promoting the most reactionary anti-EU politics – and by extension anti-internationalist policies? As Jim put it in another thread, they are also the “enemy”.

    On wider political issues the AWL have themselves for a long time made explicit criticisms of Corbyn’s stand on foreign policy – although to do Corbyn justice while he has been a key part of the Stop the War Coaltion (StWC0 he has also been involved with the progressive Liberation (ex-Movement for Colonial Freedom), which has a good record of work on universal human rights, from Palestine, to Islamist tyrannies like Sudan and Iran.

    Jeremy Corbyn and the Middle East (AWL): http://www.workersliberty.org/node/26891

    As for Seamus Milne, a key figure in the Corbyn team, this is what this Blog had had to say:

    Seumas Milne: Enemy of the North African Left and Secularists.

    https://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/seumas-milne-enemy-of-the-north-african-left-and-secularists/

    Seumas Milne: Charlie Had it Coming to them.

    https://tendancecoatesy.wordpress.com/2015/01/15/seumas-milne-charlie-had-it-coming-to-them/

    I will never forgive him for his vile comments about Charlie Hebdo.

    Andrew Coates

    August 2, 2016 at 4:40 pm

  8. Owen Jones:

    Just to follow-up on my blog. Most have been really constructive. But I want to add a bit more to the responses.

    The main objection is timing. Why now? Firstly, Jeremy Corbyn is not only on course to win the leadership, but on course to win it by a wide margin. Nothing I write will change that. There would never be a “good time”. Before the election people would have attacked me (and did, actually!) on the basis that Corbyn was under huge attack by the media. After the leadership election it’d be on the basis that a general election looms (which I’ll come on to).

    It is my genuine, heartfelt view that we face a crisis for all the reasons I’ve described: the polling, the failure to win over older people who are most likely to vote, the implosion in Scotland, the lack of a media strategy, the lack of a coherent vision that people outside left-wing activist circles clearly understand, the fact most of Labour’s impressively big membership will often turn up to rallies but that there isn’t any evidence they’re going into the community, etc.

    A snap general election isn’t inevitable, but it is likely. Instantly you’ll dismiss this. There’s a Fixed Term Parliament Act, you’ll say, so there isn’t an election until 2020. But the Act is easily got around. 1) Two-thirds of MPs vote for a general election. Labour’s official position is to support a snap general election. It’s politically almost impossible for an opposition to turn down a general election anyway. The SNP and the Lib Dems would also vote for it. It would almost certainly pass. 2) The Tories would just vote no confidence in themselves and dissolve Parliament. 3) The Fixed Term Parliament Act is repealed by a straight majority of MPs anyway. Basically the Act isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

    Why would Theresa May want to call a snap election? Because she became PM one year into a five year term. Because she’s only got a majority of 12, and has sacked so many ministers she now has a large disgruntled chunk of her parliamentary party. Because she believes she needs a mandate to deal with Brexit negotiations. Because she wants to go now before the possible economic shocks of Brexit sink in. Because the polling is so disastrous for Labour she could win a majority of over a hundred.

    As I say, a snap election isn’t inevitable, but it is very likely. If you were Theresa May, wouldn’t you call an election? And that’s why – given an election could happen this year or next May – the problems I’ve addressed desperately need to be addressed or (as I say) we face potential oblivion.

    If Labour loses an election badly – as it is currently on course to do – then a) Jeremy Corbyn will resign (as John McDonnell has already said) b) the left will be blamed and associated with calamitous defeat all over again and c) the party will shift dramatically to the right.

    You might not agree this is going to happen. But surely you can see it is a distinct risk. And if you were me, and you felt there was a very big risk this was going to happen, would you really stay silent if you felt all of these were problems that were not being addressed at all, simply because you knew political opponents – who will pounce on anything – will appropriate those concerns?

    Some say I should say it all privately. Let me put it like this: what I’ve been saying publicly here and elsewhere in some form of other is the same as what I’ve been saying privately. If I felt a quiet word behind closed doors would solve everything, that’s what I’d do. I would only write this publicly if I felt there was no other alternative. And nor in a democratic movement do I think that private discussions are the right thing to do, either.

    These questions were posed because I genuinely want them answered because I feel we face an existential crisis, and no amount of cheering rallies shifts that: there are 65 million people in Britain and nearly none of them are joining any party, let alone turning up to political meetings and rallies.

    Some say it’s a counsel of despair. I’d prefer wake-up call. Unless it is posed in this stark way, nobody is going to address these questions.

    Finally, there are still some – despite the long self-indulgent opening of my post – who claim ulterior motives. I’m a careerist, an Establishment shill, I’ve been told what to say by the Guardian, I live in an ivory tower in London (despite people *knowing* I spend half my life travelling the country going to rallies, meetings and protests!), that I’ve shifted to the right or that I was never left-wing in the first place. I could spend my life tearing my hair out at this – but suffice it to say, the people who know me best know the only interests I have is the left succeeding.

    The easiest thing to do would have been to shut up and say nothing, because the people who read my work most are the ones most enthused by the Corbyn phenomenon. I’d happily sacrifice any vestige of popularity if it meant helping to ensure the left succeeds. You might not like what I say, or agree with it, but that is the sole motive.

    https://www.facebook.com/owenjones84/?fref=nf

    Andrew Coates

    August 2, 2016 at 4:43 pm

  9. “If I felt a quiet word behind closed doors would solve everything, that’s what I’d do.”

    That is precisely what countless MPs have said about Corbyn’s *competence*, or lack thereof. Painting this as solely political is to ignore the elephant in the room. I have seen a whole slew of former supporters peel away because of what MPs detailed, or because of his ‘invoke article 50’ off the cuff comment, or his off the cuff comment on Hinckley, or what they saw in the Vice doco. None of that is driven by politics it is driven by what they see before their own two eyes and what everyone else knows full well is the truth but still chooses to ignore cos ‘politics’.

    Nothing is going to change because the central character and his entourage are not going to change. This world really is divided between those pointing out his nudity and those admiring his outfit.

  10. Not the Morning Star’s approach,

    “IN THE latest drama to unfold around Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign, TSSA leader Manuel Cortes accused Guardian columnist Owen Jones of “back-stabbing” the Labour leader.

    The transport union general secretary accused Mr Jones of waging “a campaign of petulant resentment by a celeb no longer quite as centre-stage as he was accustomed to being.”

    Writing in the Huffington Post yesterday, Mr Cortes said the journalist makes “Simon Cowell look like a paragon of understated modesty.”

    Mr Cortes said: “I would not like to be in a trench alongside Owen under heavy shelling.”

    He also claims Mr Jones turned down an offer to work for Mr Corbyn last year.

    The Guardian columnist penned a blog on Sunday warning Labour was on the “brink of disaster” before backtracking in a follow-up piece.”

    https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-18fa-Owen-Jones-anti-Corbyn-stance-slated-by-TSSA-leader

    And,

    The Guardian commentator’s recent blog post might have raised some valid points about Corbyn’s leadership, but CHELLEY RYAN believes the timing of his interjection is deeply unhelpful to the cause he claims to care about – socialism

    This is a lot more considered response but contains this:

    “Yet despite the best efforts of Corbyn’s detractors, I’ve noticed him growing in confidence and stature over his short tenure as leader, and I am a bit surprised that Jones hasn’t noticed, or if he has, he hasn’t remarked upon it.

    Another question I’d like to ask is why Jones, as a professed Corbyn sympathiser with the ear of the masses, doesn’t point out the incongruence of Neil Kinnock being given nine years and two election defeats to turn the party around when Corbyn gets less than one year, despite some promising early election results?

    And why is Jones so keen to see Corbyn replaced before 2020?

    I find no evidence of this assertion.

    https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/a-cebd-Whats-going-on-with-Owen-Jones

    Andrew Coates

    August 3, 2016 at 11:53 am

  11. Old struggles between members of tiny groups, leave it behind, Corbyn supporters will have differences politically that is how it should be, but don’t get caught up in them when we now have the nation to play for.

    At this stage the Corbyn campaign is not about fine detail nor should it be, so we should not get bogged down in it. We should not give much credence to what Labour MP’s say or claim, we have decades of knowing where these turncoats stand. The whole point is surely to change the mood in the country and it is clearly working, we are at the start of a long process. After the McDonald betrayals it took almost 15 years to rebuild the party into a winning coalition.

    Gaining folk en mass to left politics has never been easy, but when did we give a flying fuck about that, it never stopped us trying even we could all get into a smallish meeting hall.

    When I hear a young woman talk, who works in the momentum office,19 yrs old I think, this old heart sores with optimism and hope.

    Tell me, when did we older comrades last experience that about domestic politics?

    Mick HallMick Hall

    August 3, 2016 at 12:07 pm

  12. Paul,
    Knowing where bread is buttered springs to mind

    This whole issue is not and never has been just about Jeremy, it is about issues which the ruling class will not tolerate. Hence from Owen Smith to all the rest they never argue over policy differences it’s always about the man and his supporters. One minute we are brainwashed toadies the next sexist bigots and homophobes the next, who knows pedos perhaps I would not put anything beyond these people as they are blood stained reptiles..

    If Jeremy and the rest of us are such hopeless clots why do you feel they have banned so many members and supporters from voting? Surely they would just let us make fools of ourselves and then reclaim the party for neoliberalism?

    I’m off.

    Mick HallMick Hall

    August 3, 2016 at 3:03 pm

  13. But there are no policies. The Mirror went through them and found Most of those articulated by Smith Corbyn had never talked about. The Policy Forum is moribund. We have Corbyn shooting policies from the hip, including the one on drug research that was utterly mad and purely to attack Owen with and the other utterly mad one which drove many to resign that the Tories should trigger article 50 the day after the Brexit result.

    Most of the ‘blood stained reptiles’ who have reported on the Sisyphean task of trying to work with Jeremy have detailed his disinterest in actual policy making. Y’know, work, doing his job …

    So, yeah, it is about policy.

    (Putting a time limit on members voting is not new or original to Corbyn supporters – and it excludes me. ‘They’ are the same NEC who let Jez on the ballot. 40,000 supporters were excluded for purely technical reasons.)

  14. To call Jones a “Blairite” is absurd. In terms of criticism in an open forum, this is the first I’ve heard that Labour has adopted democratic centralism.

    Ross Wolfe

    August 3, 2016 at 4:53 pm

  15. I can only say that in my – direct if limited – experience something which I consider important: John McDonnell is a political player in the sense that you can see his practice in terms of an ethic of ultimate ends – democratic socialism – with the ethics of responsibility, concern with the agreements, the management, the means to get to these ends.

    Or to put it more simply, he negotiates, makes ‘deals’, and above all, has surrounded himself with people with different views, specialists, experts, and grass roots campaigners when making policy.

    I am sure people can make criticisms of him, and that this is a rather idealised image, but whatever picture people have has to be balanced with this.

    I have no direct knowledge of how Corbyn works, and simply ask that Owen’s concerns get listened to. Though I find it hard to believe that he does engage with other people and simply shoots from the hips.

    Regarding Ross’s point, there is a lot worse going around.

    I think my reference to Carl Schmitt merits consideration,

    “Schmitt, in perhaps his best-known formulation, bases his conceptual realm of state sovereignty and autonomy upon the distinction between friend and enemy.

    This distinction is to be determined “existentially,” which is to say that the enemy is whoever is “in a specially intense way, existentially something different and alien, so that in the extreme case conflicts with him are possible.” (Schmitt, 1996, p. 27)

    Such an enemy need not even be based on nationality: so long as the conflict is potentially intense enough to become a violent one between political entities, the actual substance of enmity may be anything.”

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

    It is really a problem when left-wing politics goes down this road, particularly when it’s in Britain where there is no “war” no “civil war” and it frankly looks ridiculous.

    Andrew Coates

    August 3, 2016 at 5:30 pm

  16. Labour should welcome George Galloway back into the Labour party, that would turn their fortunes around.

    Dean

    August 3, 2016 at 6:36 pm

  17. Bloody hell!
    John Wight, former Galloway fan, regular contributor to the Morning Star and the Socialist Unity blog: “Why I now oppose Corbyn’s leadership”:

    View story at Medium.com

    Jim Denham

    August 3, 2016 at 10:39 pm

  18. That’s hilarious, Jim. Especially Wight’s hand-wringing over Brexit when he seemed to think it was reasonable for Russia to invade Ukraine and start a proxy war on the basis that its people wanted an EU Association Agreement. Daddy Vova and his off and on employers at RT won’t be pleased.

    On the subject of his lucidity, he also described the Syrian Army as “the most courageous, resilient, and heroic of any army of any nation that has ever existed”.

    And he clearly has an idiotic hat.

    Makhno

    August 4, 2016 at 9:12 am

  19. Blimey, Wight has travelled quite a journey.

    I am more concerned nevertheless with this:

    Andrew Coates

    August 4, 2016 at 10:26 am

  20. Re Comrade Mason’s Great Red Hope Podemos:

    a) lost a million votes in June compared to prev Podemos + IQ performance

    b) also lost 1/5 of its MPs due to splitterism in little over a month:

    PODEMOS REDUCED TO 57 MPS: The Podemos parliamentary group will kick off this parliament with just 57 MPs after two regional branches—En Marea in Galicia (5 seats) and Podemos-Compromís in Valencia (9 seats)—decided to form their own small groups. At the general election in June, the Podemos national brand, the regional branches and United Left maintained their 71 seats in Congress despite collectively losing over a million votes.
    https://www.thespainreport.com/articles/796-160726150022-daily-spain-briefing-26-07-2016
    ————————————————————————————————————————
    They did very well getting such a broad alliance in the 1st place. There are strong localist/nationalist currents in En Marea and Compromis so it is no suprise and was been debated before the election but it is not simple to form new parliamentary groups. To boot maintaining 21% of the vote though dissapointing was realistically a good performance considering the anti politics politics that PODEMOS came out of , and many people were not going to bother voting unfortunately, etc

    Greg Timony

    August 4, 2016 at 5:08 pm

  21. By the way the claim that both Compromis and En marea had ‘split’ was based on an inaccurate report from this pay site. https://www.thespainreport.com/articles/802-160728180007-daily-spain-briefing-28-07-2016
    En Marea and Compromis tried to form their own groups but the parliamentary comittee which has to approve such has a disliking for regional nationalists and they were rejected. Compromis (or some of) joined a ‘mixed’ group by looks, while En Marea stuck with the main left group reduced to 67 mps, so only 4 defected ) now called G.P. CONFEDERAL DE UNIDOS PODEMOS – EN COMÚ PODEM-EN MAREA (yes you have to be a politics nerd to keep up with Spanish left politics😉 ) http://www.congreso.es/portal/page/portal/Congreso/Congreso/GruPar

    Greg Timony

    August 5, 2016 at 5:50 pm

  22. I am told this is about getting extra support – read money – for their Parliamentary representation and not a split when it really comes down to it – that is in voting etc.

    Mason is more vulnerable in his belief that Podemos is a model that can be exported. A couple of years ago I discussed this with a comrade from Syriza and he was keen to point out the great differences between the conditions for their rise, their structure, goals, and political environment.

    Mason also admires the Occupy Movement and its British imitators – which led absolutely nowhere,

    A more recent attempt, with some much more serious intellectual support, though about as much connection to the wider society as Occupy Wall Street and its British copy-cats, Nuit Debout, has now just about petered out in France.

    Those who talk about ‘social movements’ at the present moment have, as far as I know, failed to look at concrete examples of them, and particularly the history of Podemos, which, for all its faults, has become a serious political forces, if far from one that looks like winning power in the immediate future.

    Andrew Coates

    August 6, 2016 at 12:13 pm


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