Groundhog Day – Labour Leadership

As I pack my bags to head up to the Labour Party conference I do so with a heavy heart. Usually I am looking forward to joining friends and colleagues but this time I am looking forward to playing in the annual MPs v Press football game more than the conference itself.


Today the Party unsurprisingly re-elected Jeremy Corbyn as its leader despite the dire year he has endured and his inability to lead the Party and form a credible opposition party – never mind a party that looks like to could win a general election anytime soon.

I have written enough about why I think this result is a disaster for the long-term future of the Labour Party and the removal of the Tories anytime soon. As I wrote earlier in the Summer it came to the point that arguing with Corbyn supporters was a waste of time. In a cult lie fantasy world – despite all the available evidence – they believe Jeremy is their man to lead the party. I am not sure where they actually think he is leading us but they won’t hear a word against him. Indeed even daring to suggest Jeremy isn’t up to the job was always enough to draw out the online abusers.

But we had an election and he won. I  graciously congratulate him and will work for a Labour win in 2020. But this is not unconditional Unity!

So the only thing worth writing about is where we go from here. The reasons for my decision to support anybody else other than Corbyn remains. I will be staying in the Party as it is my Labour Party as much as those who have recently joined. I will be showing Jeremy the same respect and loyalty he has for other Labour leaders. It means I stay to argue for making Labour electable again. It seems Corbynistas want total obedience to the leadership – an attribute they failed to show anybody else. In his own words today Jeremy said  the Party is a place”To debate and disagree”. I agree. We never called for Corbyn to be de-selected or told to join another party when he was a serial rebel and undermined the Labour Party in Government.

So I will continue to make the case inside and outside the Party to make us electable and to work with those who want to think about what future policies need to look like for the country we face in 2017-2020. This means not harking back to the 1980s as Jeremy does or even 1997 as some of my friends do. The world is different and we need policies fit for the future. We need to get the JC team out of the Momentum bubble and rallies and to listen to floating voters in marginal seats. That’s my focus. What does Labour need to do to win over voters in the marginal seats we need to win? Big issues like BREXIT, Immigration, our economic competence and Austerity, that need new answers. I think it will be difficult if not impossible to achieve this but I will try.

In my day job of business and sport we do analysis and plan proper strategies. We look at evidence and make plans based on this. We look at defeats and learn from them. I fear politics and particularly the Momentum movement work on vague words and vague hope. They speak inside their own bubble. I don’t get the feeling they are wanting evidence and want to hear what it takes to build the coalition to win marginal seats! But I will try.

But the analysis isn’t good for Labour.

The fundamental problem remains that Jeremy is not a god leader and for the electorate he does not and will never look like a potential prime Minister. but it seems the Party has settled that question and he will be our leader as we go into the next general election. I cannot honestly say I see anything that will change that makes me change my mind.

So as I head up to Liverpool I do with a sinking feeling. It feels like those days when I first joined the Party in the 1980s when the Party was out of touch with the electorate and 18 years from power.  That makes me sad. But I fought to make Labour electable for 20 years. I am not giving up again and if takes that long I will stay to fight again as Britain needs a progressive, left of centre political alternative to the Tories.



What is the Point of Arguing?

When the Labour leadership election started I thought I would try to write some pieces to throw some light on the issues and answer some of the questions about why I believe Corbyn has been leading us to electoral disaster despite the surge in members. within 24 hours of a few tweets and posts last month I became so disillusioned by the lack of willingness to engage in debate that I haven’t bothered.

Below is the first draft of what I was going to write at the start of August (it’s unfinished) but saved to draft before going on holiday for a couple of weeks. I came back refreshed and ready to do battle for the soul of the Party but after catching up on emails and social media I realised it was still as pointless trying to engage in rational debate.

So instead I am capturing as many of the Corbynite ‘arguments’ as possible and will respond to the most ridiculous ones over the next couple of weeks. I suspect most people have already voted and if Yougov are right JC will be re-elected. It is then that the trouble really begins.

————-> the draft blog from August…

Just over 24 hours ago I decided it would be worthwhile continuing a series of blogs during the labour leadership election campaign and asked for some ‘reaction’. I have to admit that I was pleased some people felt this was a welcome contribution whilst at the same time I was not surprised by the predictable reaction to those Corbyn supporters who immediately took offence at even the suggested blog titles!

So yesterday I started to wonder what the point would be? The Corbyn phenomenon is more like a cult than a traditional political movement. Perhaps that’s the magic sought by supporters and why those of us outside the bubble just don’t understand. So instead of heading into the list of specific subjects I thought I may look at the phenomena and why it leads perfectly normal and friendly people to turn into zealots who decry anybody who doesn’t see the world from their point of view. The level of fanatical fervour has effectively killed rational debate and so I wondered why more wasn’t being written about the phychology of this movements dynamics.

But you start to understand how this works when you understand Populist movements. Although only a short article this is summed up by Julain Baggini in this Guardian piece.  (hang onto your hats – I have the audacity to quote from the Guardian – now the enemy of the people).

The irony of course is that Corbyn has been a serious rebel and never given his support to any previous deomcraticlaly elected leader of the Labour Prty in my time serving with him. Indeed in this Vice article he highlights the opposition he and McDonnell were going to lead against a Labour government if we had won in 2015… And confirmed that of course they don’t believe in leaders. It is worth a read just to see what their thinking was like as recently as 2014 when they had no idea they would be handed the keys to leadership. (again look away if you are just going to knock the MSM as all part of the conspiracy theory)

For me some of the arguments are nicely summarised in this article from Andréw Rawnsley.

Manchester Evening news coverage of launch

Group polarisation theory – Facebookisation of politics

We self reinforce. Even the Facebook and Twitter algorithms are finding you new friends like you. How many people have you unfriended or blocked because you don’t like their racist or Brexit views

Iranian £20k links – it’s Saint Jeremy so move on nothing to see here.
The last Month in 30 seconds

So here is my dilemma. Nobody is going to stop supporting Corbyn because of my blog posts – so what is the point? I guess it’s therapeutic not just to sit back and watch a party I have served for 32 years be destroyed. At least I will be able to say I told you so.  I also think it’s important to at least set out an alternative narrative is the most coherent way I can without the trend of social media to be very shouty and often offensive. I have posed a series of challenges about Corbyn and his plans. People can try to shout me don for being a non-believer but I will keep coming back for specific answers to my specific questions. I have nothing to gain or lose at this stage in my politics. I am now an observer of these things but with 32 years of experience of fighting, winning and losing battles in a marginal constituency that Labour needs to win to form a government. I hope for some people that may be Hough to at least reflect on these simple thoughts.