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Left Out. Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire. A Review from the Left.

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Left Out by Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire


Left Out: The Inside Story of Labour Under Corbyn by Gabriel Pogrund and Patrick Maguire  Bodley Head. 2020.

Yesterday three Labour MPs, Beth Winter, Nadia Whittome and Olivia Blake quit  junior roles on Keir Starmer’s front bench after they broke the whip to vote against the Overseas Operation Bill condemned by Jeremy Corbyn. A total of 18 Labour MPs voted against the legislation. Over the weekend at a fringe meeting on Labour Connected by Stop the War the former Labour leader warned against a new cold war between an aggressive Trump and China. There was no mention of the attack on Hong Kong Democrats or the oppression of the Uyghurs. It would seem that the Labour left has returned to political terrain it knows well: opposition to real and potential abuses of human rights by the UK military on mission overseas, and ambiguous posturing about global politics that ignores human rights abuses by countries that are targeted by the US.

Readers of Inside Left expect the “inside story” of Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour Party. They get it, although that has not stopped some complaining about the “sniggering gossip-column vibe.” (Mike Phipps) Politics is about people, and others will relish information about life inside Team Corbyn, from LOTO (the Leader’s Office) “on the warpath” against Margaret Hodge after she called the Labour leader an “anti-Semite and a racist”, to McDonnell (rightly, as often the case, in this reviewer’s opinion) “gripped by an almost biblical anger at the decision to proceed with action against Hodge”. (Page 117)

The rise, and “crumbling” of Executive Director of the Leader’s Office,  Murphy’s “empire” and the end of the ‘cult of Karie’, might also seize readers’ attention, if only they could keep a hold on the shifting cast of players. Seumas Milne, the ‘Great Milne’, wafting in and out, is caught with an expression adopted at length by his comrade Andrew Murray, dismissing the issue of Brexit as “culture wars”, ignoring, as a pro-Brexit euro-sceptic, that Labour’s 2017 surge had been fuelled by anti-Brexit supporters. (Page 70)

Deputy Leader, Tom Watson, who fell from grace in the eyes of most people for his role in whipping up moral panic about the fantasist accusations of Carl Beech a secret ring of paedophiles,  does not shine, He emerges as  a singularly ineffective, but damaging, leader of factionalist opposition, powered by self-righteous  hysteria,  to Corbyn and the left.

Corbyn, Anti-Semitism and Love.

The book revolves around Jeremy Corbyn. “Power was not something he pursued” (Page 359). “Corbyn had never wanted to be leader of the Labour Party But, in the wake of 2017, he had come to like the idea of being prime minister His was a mission waged on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of people who have invests their hopes in him in the vain belief that politics might change” Yet “Corbyn had failed himself” (Page 357)

On anti-Semitism “the failure was his.” “In the face of accusations of racism he too often emphasised with himself.” (Page 358). Those who thought of the conflict between the Palestinians and Israel in terms of 1970s struggles for national liberation were given leeway, letting in their wake people with distinctly prejudiced views on ‘Zionism’ expresses, at length, their opinions. Left Out does not, as in its wider picture, cover the factional forces at work, from Jewish Voice for Labour to Labour Against the Witch-hunt.

It seemed to some of us that they were perusing the objective of making Labour an explicit supporter of the struggle against Israeli statehood in any form. It quickly looked as if they were prepared to indulge a degree of rhetoric against ‘Zionism’ that could often  blindside many Jewish people and the wider public.  Pogrund and Maguire state that accusations of anti-Semitism “struck at the very core of his sense of self.” (Page 321). Those of us who know some of the people involved in these bitter disputes are more than a little surprised that this came as a revelation to the campaigner for Palestinian rights, as if he had studiously ignored some of the more extreme voices, shouting loudly  in his close neighbourhood for many years.

Amongst many incidents in other areas, the clash involving Corbyn’s new private secretary Iram Chamberlin, whose Westminster Security clearance had been challenged in dubious conditions is striking.  Corbyn’s response to demands for an explanation about her presence at a MI5 Briefing, where she asked about their work on far-right extremism and Islamophobia, was “one of boyish innocence, likened by one witness to the young Jesus at the Temple” . (Page 154) Chamberlin was summarily pushed out, but Murphy’s long-term position had been undermined.

The Redeemer is, it is said, a popular figure in many circles. Keith Kahn-Harris (The problem of love in Corbyn’s Labour Party: Reflections on Left Out) in a widely read review, suggests, that “love was always the problem”. People poured out their emotions on Corbyn, and those with the greatest affection and awareness of his best qualities were not likely to be persuaded by those who devoted their time to hatred of the Labour Leader.


But  political problems, above all the Brexit problem, was not going to be solved by love. “The Project’s weakness, and its internal divisions, be they the distrust of Murphy’s combative stile, the deep resentment that festered among junior staff in LOTO, or John McDonnell’s freelance excursions on Brexit, all flowed directly from Corbyn’s own” Page 359). Or as Steve Bush’s review (Why Corbynism Failed)  puts it, the Leader “manages to combine indecision, stubbornness, and an unwillingness to deliver bad news in one fantastic package”

The “centrifugal forces” of Brexit, the daily dramas in the House of Commons,  were piled onto those concerned about their own potential loses to anti-Brexit parties, like the Liberal Democrats or Greens  and those who were chiefly concerned about the popularity for withdrawal from what they perceived to be their core constituency, the Red Wall. But underneath were divisions within the Project over what was right to further any transformative socialist governing agenda.  One one side were left-wing internationalists opposed to the Hard Right Brexit Project, who saw in the European political space a place to build alliances with other lefts for a root and branch change to the mechanisms of the EU,  On the other side were those who welcomed the opportunity to break free from the EU the better to take the British Road to Socialism.

Left Out offers a detailed account of what happened in the 2018 Labour Conference at which Keir Starmer emerged as a leading figure in the anti-Brexit, pro-Referendum camp. The backdrop the People’s Vote campaign  as well as the presence of the ‘Corbynite’ pro-European left, Another Europe is Possible (AEIP) is covered, and the bitterness Corbynista ultras from Momentum and Team Corbyn showed towards them. It indicates the strong support for Second Referendum motions from Labour constituencies, resolutions which were drawn up by the radical left Another Europe is Possible as well as the People’s Vote campaign (this writer was a participant).

What the book does not illustrate is the way in which hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets from 2018 to October 2019 on the issue. What it does not suggest is the obvious point that for people in Team Corbyn, used to having the streets filled with protests from their side, on issues such as the War against Iraq, and anti-Austerity were shaken by a movement that only the (numerically small) left of AEIP took part in. The supporters of Lexit, a ‘left’ Brexit, did not respond with their own demonstrations for a ‘People’s Brexit’.

This division, with a part of the radical left, whose positon on Europe can be traced back to the 1980s Socialist Society, Internationalist Marxist  groups and a wider section of  democratic socialists, on a different side to others behind the Project, has not gone away. McDonnell knew that he had to pick a side. He chose well. And if there is one message that rings throughout Left Out it is that the Shadow Chancellor, as well as other figures such as Andrew Fisher, tried to build the Project on serious ground – I would cite, for example, the hard work on issues that matter such a tax reform and an end to fiscal crookery – trying not to get bogged down in the chaos of the Team by reaching outwards.

Corbynist Futures.

Corbynism, the Project, and its electoral failure needs an account with a  wider framework than offered by Left Out, an “outside Corbyn’s Labour“. Yet the book offers important signposts about  the reasons for defeat in the misfunctioning Team Corbyn.

Those who had encouraged the illusion that Brexit was a progressive step, or just a merited kicking for the ‘neo-liberal’ EU can now see somebody who had promised to “Get Brexit Done’ in charge. Others will be happy to rediscover Corbyn the campaigner on international issues back. As the introductory paragraph to this review indicates, indeed it is, weighed down with ambiguity.


Andrew Coates.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 24, 2020 at 12:51 pm

26 Responses

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  1. A good review, as is the Stephen Bush one in the Staggers. But who is the reviewer here? I would like to congratulate him or her.

    david walsh

    September 24, 2020 at 1:33 pm

    • Me…..

      The Bush review is indispensable though, I am the first to admit.

      He covers Owen Jones’ book, which I have yet to read.

      Andrew Coates

      September 24, 2020 at 1:38 pm

      • My congratulations are duly given ! On balance I will not be buying the Pogrund / Maguire book because – and here I might be a bit shamefaced – I agree with the sentiment of Corbyn’s remarks, although only in terms of the failings of such books as an historical account of a period in the history of the British left rather than – as with Corbyn – because the work is in some way “ideologically unsound” because it does not respect the tenets of Corbynism. The Jones book I will order.

        david walsh

        September 24, 2020 at 4:24 pm

        • I would not normally have bought a book like it, an instant history, or would have waited for the paperback, but I have got pretty involved in the politics of all this, and there are some people I have met in the book, and many others I know about, and the issues have defined a lot for those committed to issues (like opposing Brexit).

          My own judgement of Corbyn (and there is at least one person who comments on this Blog who knew him back in his Haringey days), is shaped by having seen him for a few decades at left Labour meetings, having met him, and, above all, by hearing from those who’ve had close contact with him. It would suggest that avoiding shying away from difficult decisions or subjects, sticking with his ain folk’s views and not listening to other ones even to disagree, and being stuck in a 1970s anti-imperialist mindset could be weighed up against good qualities, such as basic decency towards others, and some pretty consistent long term real hard work.

          Andrew Coates

          September 24, 2020 at 4:47 pm

  2. Have comrades read the Morning Star’s account (Sept 21) of Corbyn’s comments at their Labour Connect fringe meeting on the media? I think it’s quite significant and tends to confirm what a lot of us found unattractive about Corbyn: his self-righteousness, inability to deal with people who are not uncritical fans and passive-aggressive peevishness in the face of even mild criticism:

    ‘Corbyn also took a swipe at “those people now being paid a great deal of money to write books analysing the past five years,” saying the books focused on “tittle tattle – gossip” like “who said what to who, who got the coffee for who where, who paid for the hotel” rather than the politics of Labour’s left turn.

    “The people who have written these books – and they know who they are – have completely failed to address the real issue which is the power structures in our society and the way in which the very powerful and very wealthy teamed up with the most powerful and well resourced media to attack the Labour Party and the individuals within it.”

    I presume by “The people who have written these books” he means not only Pogrund and Maguire, but also Owen Jones. And I presume by “individuals within it” he means, primarily, himself.

    Jim Denham

    September 24, 2020 at 3:11 pm

  3. “There was no mention of the attack on Hong Kong Democrats or the oppression of the Uyghurs. It would seem that the Labour left has returned to political terrain it knows well: opposition to real and potential abuses of human rights by the UK military on mission overseas, and ambiguous posturing about global politics that ignores human rights abuses by countries that are targeted the US.”

    That sounds a lot like “whataboutery” to me. Using the fact that China is a vicious Stalinist regime that pursues nasty policies against Uyghurs and people in Hong Kong cannot in any way be used to justify the fact that British and US imperialism also engages in barbaric acts, or the fact that the Tories are now trying to prevent those engaged in them from being held account! That you use this kind of whataboutery to justify Starmer and his New Labour leadership’s factionalism against elements of the Left like Whittome, as he dives headlong into the swamp of reactionary nationalism and social-patriotism, suggests that you are already knee-deep in that same swamp in trying to justify your support for him.


    September 24, 2020 at 4:28 pm

    • You are using that argument, not me.

      I said the protest at that Bill was justified, and then pointed to the “internal contradiction” , or rather the “real opposiotn” inherent in a campist position, like Corbyn’s which claims to be consistently internationalist but is not.

      Andrew Coates

      September 24, 2020 at 4:32 pm

      • Where in the above post did you make that argument?

        You talked about “real and potential abuses of human rights by the UK military on mission overseas”, but having read it now several times, I can see no argument, here, about the actions of Whittome et al being “justified”. Still less can I see any argument that she should not have been sacked for having undertaken such action.

        On the contrary, your argument, here is the usual one used by people that use “whataboutery” to counter criticism of actions by someone they seek to defend. In other words, what you say here is there have been real – the use of potential is also a weasel word here – abuses, but “whatabout” the abuses that China has also committed. Where, exactly is the condemnation above of Starmer’s nationalistic and social patriotic position that has led him not to oppose this Bill, and instead to sack Whittome for having done so?


        September 25, 2020 at 12:53 pm

        • Yes indeed whataboutKeirStarmer.

          Andrew Coates

          September 25, 2020 at 3:40 pm

          • I take it from your non-answer answer that you too could not find any reference in your post to the actions of Whittome et al being “justified”, or condemnation of Starmer for having sacked her. So, yes, indeed what about Starmer’s collapse into nationalism and social patriotism alongside his adoption of a hard Brexit position, and the economic nationalism of building Social-Democracy in One Country? Indeed, whatabout your continued failure to criticise him for collapsing into that position, and willingness to sack leftish internationalists like Whittome, who can’t be tarred with the same brush as Corbyn given her position over Brexit?

            Never mind, there is no doubt another Liz kendall or Wes Streeting waiting in the wings that Starmer can promote, in his usual non-factional manner, and the spineless sections of the Left will act as willing cheerleaders as he does so.


            September 25, 2020 at 5:52 pm

            • I did refer to the way the protest was justified. and in the comments below said,” the role of the left in Parliament was to stand up on issues like this, and vote if need be, against the wishes of the Party leader.”

              But whataboutStarmer?

              Andrew Coates

              September 25, 2020 at 7:57 pm

              • “I did refer to the way the protest was justified.”

                Where? Give us the quote, as against your comment only that Whittam et al had protested “real and potential abuses of human rights by the UK military on mission overseas” only then to neutralise that by your whataboutery where you say that they are guilty of “ambiguous posturing about global politics that ignores human rights abuses by countries that are targeted by the US.”

                There is no comment in your piece that states that their protest at the government Bill was justified. If there is just copy and paste it, to prove me wrong. Far from you saying anything to indicate that their protest was justified, as I say, you negate the first part of your statement by including the whataboutery to introduce the irrelevant point in this regard of China. The government Bill has nothing to do with China, but is about the actions of the British state and its armed forces. By conflating their actions in voting against that Bill with Whittome’s attendance at a separate event is to be honest dishonest, and seems only to have been included so as to enable it to be linked to China so that their criticism of Labour’s failure to oppose the Tory Bill could be negated by the whataboutery.

                Indeed, that impression is strengthened by the fact that you talk about Whittome “resigning”, whereas it was clear from what she said on Peston that she had not “resigned”, and at that point did not even know that she had been sacked! So, yes, whatabout Starmer and his supporters who claim to be acting in a “non-factional” manner when it is quite clear that they are acting in the same factional manner that the Right of the Party have always done, in sacking leftish members of the party, closing down leftish opposition, whilst stuffing the party to the gills with open representatives of capital, as they rush headlong to the Right.

                But Starmer isn’t even acting as a useful or rational representative of the dominant section of capital either. The dominant section of capital, the owners of fictitious capital, which depends upon the success of large-scale multinational capital needs the EU, and needs Britain to be inside it. That is why they were so keen to ensure that Labour was in the control of its conservative wing, having lost the Tory Party to the reactionary, Brexiteering representatives of the petty bourgeoisie. Now, they have to conclude they have lost Labour under Starmer to that same reactionary nationalist trend as he becomes a bigger Brexiter than Corbyn, and hardline nationalist and patriot, prepared even to abandon voting against a Tory Bill to protect the army against charges of torture!

                The dominant section of the ruling class it seems will now have to try to ditch Starmer too, and the lines for doing so are already clear.


                September 26, 2020 at 11:33 am

                • This lengthy exercise has proved nothing except an ability to argue from irrelevant premises, that an absence of a detailed statement on the issue proves an entire political stand on a government bill.

                  Andrew Coates

                  September 26, 2020 at 11:59 am

                  • So, a simple statement from you that Starmer should have opposed the Bill, and should not have sacked Whittome, would have then, and would now suffice. A simple statement that Starmer has shown by his actions that he has acted in a factional manner, and that his desire to chase after the reactionary nationalists, as he adopts a hard Brexit position and a position of hardline nationalism and social patriotism would equally suffice, but so far, you have avoided by every means possible giving such a statement, which says a lot about where your own factional attempts at supporting the Starmer despite his rapid movement to the Right has taken you.


                    September 26, 2020 at 2:12 pm

                  • Old mucker that I am, this Blog is in no positon to demand this of Starmer, and I have said that those who protested were right.

                    As for the rest, opposing his ” hard Brexit position and a position of hardline nationalism and social patriotism “, I suggest you wage your war inside the Labour Party, or are you not a member? Are you?

                    Andrew Coates

                    September 26, 2020 at 4:24 pm

                • I tremble at lengthening this debate, but as you assume the dominant faction is UK capitalism have “lost” the Tories to Brexit irrelevance and you go on to say “The dominant section of the ruling class it seems will now have to try to ditch Starmer too, and the lines for doing so are already clear”, can I simply ask who their new pro-EU, pro-capital,soft left (as Starmer has the out and out support of Labour’s right) cheerleader will be, as I can’t think of anyone ?

                  david walsh

                  September 26, 2020 at 7:03 pm

                  • “Old mucker that I am, this Blog is in no positon to demand this of Starmer, and I have said that those who protested were right.”

                    No one is suggesting that you are in a position to “demand” anything of Starmer. But, where is your criticism of Starmer for sacking Whittome? That is not the same thing as saying that those who protested were right, especially as your comment that they were right, was then negated by your irrelevant “whataboutery” in relation to China, which last time I looked was not mentioned in the government Bill they voted against!

                    You complain about the length of this discussion, but you continue to prolong it by your refusal to actually criticise Starmer for his actions, and for his collapse into support for Brexit, and opposition to free movement, as he rushes headlong to the Right into nationalism and social patriotism, as he seeks to suck up to the reactionary nationalist elements, in a vain attempt to simply gain electoral advantage.


                    September 27, 2020 at 11:07 am

                  • I have no doubt that they have a number of potential candidates to fill that vacancy, including, at some point, their Prince across the water, currently employed in the US. At the moment, Starmer is helping them out no end, by stuffing his Shadow Cabinet with such pro-capitalist elements at an even faster rate than he is sacking leftish elements like Whittome.

                    They will let Starmer first demobilise, and then destroy the Left and its rank and file base in the party, much as Stalin did with his alliance with Bukharin and the Right to destroy the left, then having destroyed the Left, they will turn their fire on the nationalist Right – though many of them like Mann, Flint et al have gone. I suspect that they will also apply pressure on the Liberals, and any remaining social-democrats in the Tory Party to come across to their new party, to provide the numbers.

                    Its ironic that both parties have the wrong leaders. Boris is not a natural Brexiteer, but is perhaps the best hope the owners of fictitious capital have of fighting a rearguard action in their defence, whilst giving the appearance of pushing for a No Deal Brexit. But, precisely for that reason, he’s the wrong leader for the small business class that now dominates the Tories, and is why they will look at least to contain him, or else get rid of him, for a Steve Baker, or Mogg etc. Starmer is not representing the interests of the owners of fictitious capital either, having collapsed into reactionary nationalism in order to try to win votes from reactionaries in “Red-Wall” seats. They will want someone like a David Miliband who will be an ardent EU supporter. And just as the Tories will be driven away from Johnson to someone who is a real proponent of the small business class (petty-bourgeoisie), Starmer does not represent, in his current collapse into nationalism and Brexitism, the majority of Labour members and supporters.

                    Appearance and reality are at sharp odds, and that will be resolved as events unfold.

                    Things have an eerie resemblance to the past. I joined the Labour Party in 1974, when it was pretty moribund, and the Left was small and isolated, indeed those of us who have always argued that its necessary for socialist to be inside the LP and waging a political struggle had to contend with the much larger sections of the Left such as the SWP that were outside it. Ironically, I remember in the early 1980’s so successful were we in building the left in the local party that even some members of the SWP were led to join, so as to avoid being left out of the action. But, it was shortlived. In 1983, as a City Councillor in a different ward, I remember going to a meeting to argue for Eric Heffer in the leadership contest, Benn having made himself ineligible by losing his seat. All of those soft-lefts – who in the subsequent period moved further and further to the Right – of course, argued that now was not the time to rock the boat, that we had to build a broad alliance behind Kinnock, who after all had “left” credentials didn’t he.

                    The rest is history. Stabbing the miners in the back to avoid upsetting some Labour voters, opposing direct and illegal action over the Poll Tax, and so on, none of which actually even achieved the limited aim of winning elections, and followed by an even further move to the Right, the closing down of branches and CLP’s and so on. In 1989, when I was selected to stand for the County Council, the regional Office overturned the decision and told the Branch that if they selected me again, they would close down the Branch. And, so it went on to the installation of Blair. De ja vu or what?


                    September 27, 2020 at 11:38 am

  4. The comment about “boyish innocence” about MI5 is even more gawptastic when you know he refused to meet them, despite being invited.

    Paul Canning (@pauloCanning)

    September 24, 2020 at 4:30 pm

  5. Given that the Whittome (plus other PPS ) sackings has been mentioned tangently, can I give my own – peevish – comment on this matter ? Firstly, I guess that the sacking order came from the very top. I known, and have known well – Nick Brown for many years as a NE MP. We share the same sense of surreal LP humour and the same grounding. When we had a bit of a crisis in our constituency on, he was the first to offer help and he didn’t have to. Given that, you can see why his role as a whip has spanned such a long time; he abhors the RSM style of the old right and also the arrant favouritism shown more recently by some of the left in their period of ascendancy. Left to himself, he would have sat people down and knocked heads together in a comradely fashion.

    The sheer lunacy of last night can be seen by going to the Hansard debate account from yesterday. In that debate, John Healy leading for the PLP savaged the bill; “This is the Government of Great Britain bringing in a legal presumption against prosecution for torture, for war crimes and for crimes against humanity. This is ​the Government of Great Britain saying sexual crimes are so serious they will be excluded from this presumption, but placing crimes outlawed by the Geneva convention on a less serious level and downgrading our unequivocal commitment to upholding international law that we in Britain ourselves, after the second world war, helped to establish.” He was forcefully backed in the debate, in the main, by impeccably centrist Labour members – Stephen Doughty, Dan Jarvis, Stephen Timms and Kevan Jones. Yet we ended up abstaining like – to use a military analogy – as if we were the Prussian army arriving at Waterloo to turn the battle, but then sitting down to admire the Belgian scenery. The reason won’t be hard to fathom. I guess some grey suits in Southside had already set up a “focus group” through some well remunerated consultancy, the findings of which were that a lot of Middle England quite warms to the idea of us torturing dusky Arabs and the like. So we abstain. That doesn’t stop the Tories though; they had their attack lines already circulated to their troops about Labour’s “unpatriotism”, attack lines which would have been deployed in any case, as they were by the shameless Ms Patel today. All in all, not a good day or night for strategic leadership…….

    david walsh

    September 24, 2020 at 6:05 pm

    • Thank you immensely for that well-informed account.

      I have not followed it in anything like the same depth, I just thought that the role of the left in Parliament was to stand up on issues like this, and vote if need be, against the wishes of the Party leader.

      By contrast Corbyn’s return to campaigning with the Stop the War Coalition is to give succour to a strategy, of ‘anti-imperalism’ that is at present embroiled in the Chinese state strategy of deflecting attention away from its repression, and everyday surveillance and suppression of democratic and workers’ rights. The StWC has recently hosted Chinese state officials, people from the disinformation side of their propaganda wing, the ‘Qiao Collective’. This is not its only anti-internationalist, anti-human rights position. Its position on Syria is morally bankrupt,

      Andrew Coates

      September 24, 2020 at 6:56 pm

  6. It’s not just the “sniggering gossip-column vibe” I complain about in Left Out, but the inaccuracies, which are plentiful. Incidentally, you sneer at the MPs and others who opposed a bill that would make it easier for the UK government to get away with torture. This stand cannot really be contrasted with whatever position they may or may not have taken in relation to the human rights abuses of China, which was hardly the subject of the bill in question. For a better understanding of this issue, see https://labourhub.org.uk/2020/09/24/a-lack-of-principle/

    Labour Hub Editors

    September 24, 2020 at 8:38 pm

    • If you are going to be accurate Mike I wrote,

      “It would seem that the Labour left has returned to political terrain it knows well: opposition to real and potential abuses of human rights by the UK military on mission overseas”

      and then contrasted this with, “ambiguous posturing about global politics that ignores human rights abuses by countries that are targeted by the US”

      This, as any reader can see, refers to the sentence not far behind which goes, “Over the weekend at a fringe meeting on Labour Connected by Stop the War the former Labour leader warned against a new cold war between an aggressive Trump and China.”

      It is hardly irrelevant to cite the issues of human rights in China, in the context of China..

      As for the book review, well, amongst a very large number of adjectives and phrases,, ” sniggering gossip-column vibe”, “hatchet job” .”credulous” ” breathless tone of some of the worst hagiographies ” “laughable claim” ” shoddy effort” about the only claim you challenge is the assertion that ” for example, Sue Lukes is introduced as a Jewish Voice for Labour activist – not true.”

      Sue Lukes, often asserted to be a friend of Corbyn, does however appear pn the JVL site,

      “VL Introduction

      Cllr Sue Lukes explains why she has stayed in the Labour Party for over thirty years, even though her Jewish values were often in conflict with a leadership that favoured the rich over the poor, or the racist over the stranger.

      But in Islington she found fellow members and an MP, Jeremy Corbyn, who embodied her values of social justice…”


      Andrew Coates

      September 24, 2020 at 9:31 pm

  7. THis appeared today, after the review above was written (though it does not change my own line..)

    Labour lost because of a fudge in which we all participated.

    Michael Chessum.

    “In the run up to the conference, Another Europe is Possible and a coalition of other groups had organised an unprecedented campaign to get Brexit onto the agenda of the conference. After 2017, when the Leader’s office and Momentum organised to block discussion of motions on free movement and single market membership, we were taking no chances. In the end, more than a hundred constituency parties submitted pro-second referendum text, the largest number of motions on any subject in the party’s history. Run primarily by left wing activists, this was a campaign that comprehensively debunked the idea that the demand for a second referendum was the preserve of sour Blairites. Polling showed that 78% of members by this point supported one, as did a majority of Labour voters in every constituency, and we arrived at conference confident that we could decisively shift the party’s position forwards from the existing fudge.

    The decisive shift was not to be. With the outline of a motion broadly agreed with sympathetic unions and over a hundred delegates intensively briefed ahead of the compositing meeting that would produce the final text, the coalition fell apart literally as the meeting opened. UNISON, whose bloc vote would have been essential to seeing the motion passed, pulled the plug – presumably as the result of some horse trade – and the GMB, not wanting to find themselves isolated among the big unions, followed suit. The result was that, despite having the overwhelming majority of delegates in the room and having spent days briefing them en masse, our operation fell apart and had to be reassembled over the course of six hours. ”

    “The mistakes that Left Remainers made were not the positions we campaigned for. We were the only people who prioritised the fight for free movement and migrants’ rights in the context of Brexit, and of that we can be proud. We began the post-referendum period campaigning for a Norway-style deal. When this became a dead end as the Labour leadership rejected it and the electorate moved on, we switched to campaigning for a second referendum and an explicitly pro-Remain stance. Either of these positions could have been the basis for a Labour victory in a general election.”
    he 2018 conference policy on Brexit is the document that encapsulates Labour’s doomed strategy of fudge and muddle, and we all played our part in it. The leadership prized room for manoeuvre over allowing the policy to be clarified in a democratic way. Its cheerleaders seemed to regard “constructive ambiguity” on Brexit as an act of tactical genius after the 2017 general election. Much of the Labour left demanded strict loyalty to the Leader’s office rather than advocating a clear position of its own. The unions engaged in backroom deals at the eleventh hour which scuppered the plan to shift the policy. The Labour right wanted to chalk up a spinnable win. For our part, we decided not to push the policy to a vote at the crucial moment, confident that we could shift things later. And sitting at the centre of it all was the man who led the compositing meeting on the night, the architect of “all options on the table”: Keir Starmer. ”

    “Throughout Labour’s Brexit debate, everyone argued that only by adopting their preferred policy could Labour save itself electorally. The truth is that there were probably multiple positions which could have won, if the party had picked them early and fought for them in the country. What we needed was a proper democratic process and a decisive outcome – and what we got was a mealy mouthed fudge. It is sobering to reflect that, in the end, it was a fudge in which we all participated.”


    Andrew Coates

    September 24, 2020 at 8:39 pm

  8. Incidentally, if you want to know how I think socialists should be fighting inside the LP at the moment, then read the first part of my blog post A Socialist campaign for the US Elections, which begins to set out how socialists should be fighting inside the US Democrats, on a similar basis to what we did in 1979, in the LP, and the parallels between the situation in the US and in Britain and Europe now, not on the basis of a moral socialist, subjectivist basis, but on the basis of Marxist materialism.

    Of course, whilst I would love to be able to be actively engaging in political struggle in the LP at the present time the difficulty for socialists doing that both here and in the US is the existence of lockdowns, which prevent such gatherings, and social organisation. In my own case its compound by the need to self isolate. But, again, of course, the existence of the lockdown that prevents such social gatherings, social organisation and so on, at a time when it is also causing widespread economic and social damage, mostly to the poorest and most vulnerable in society, is not something that can be placed mostly at the door of Trump or Johnson. Social-democrats and much of the Left have goaded them on in to taking such draconian and damaging actions, something which down the road they will also pay the price for.


    September 27, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    • I’m afraid that apart from the UK and Ireland I have little knowledge of the politics of the ‘anglosphere’, and above all, of the small US left or the Democratic Party.

      This is largely, though far from exclusively, a Blog about European politics. As a French speaker with some knowledge of Spanish, this Blog follows the politics of these countries, often in some detail. One lesson which it has drawn is the failure of left-populism, La France insoumise and Podemos, to break the political mould, or to emerge as serious challengers of national populism.

      Other European lands, covered in less detail, seem to indicate the same. What has happened over the last couple of years is the re-emergence of Green parties, like France’s EELV as political contenders, and obviously the German Die Grünen. ‘La vague verte” happened during France’s municipal elections, this year, during lockdown, which also saw the Nouveau Parti anticapitaliste (which has a rather more Marxist approach than anything to be found in electoral US politics, or so I believe) gain a foothold in the city of Bordeaux with the list Bordeaux en Luttes, https://bordeauxenluttes.fr/.
      The Parti socialiste also won Paris, as part of the list Paris en commun (a bloc, including, the French Communist Party – Place Publique – Génération.s – Allons Enfants).

      Andrew Coates

      September 27, 2020 at 8:54 pm

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