Catastrophe Corbyn

A party that only shouts about inequality is guaranteed to fail


According to some observers Jeremy Corbyn has a more than outside chance of becoming the next Labour eader. Endorsed by UNITE and other, smaller, trade unions, Corbyn certainly enjoys more support than many predicted at the outset of the campaign.

Corbyn’s unexpected prominence provoked The World Tonight to run a piece on the Labour left, one to which I made a rather sceptical contribution). For, that which passes for the Labour left today is, despite appearances, at its lowest ever ebb. Long gone are the days when the Tribune Group enjoyed a membership of nearly 100 MPs and had decent representation in Labour Cabinets.

The left enjoyed its greatest influence in the late 1970s and early 1980s, a time that saw founding Tribune member Michael Foot become leader and in 1983 present to the country possibly Labour’s most radical manifesto. It was no accident that the left’s greatest influence came at the same time as one of Labour’s deepest electoral nadirs. For, if some see the left as the party’s ‘conscience’, electorally speaking you can have too many principles. 

Jeremy Corbyn was elected in 1983. He joined not Tribune but the Campaign Group of MPs. The left had split over Tony Benn’s decision to stand for the Deputy Leadership in 1981, one many Tribune members opposed. In fact we can trace the decline of the Parliamentary left to Benn’s ill-judged campaign, one that saw his supporters leave Tribune to form the Campaign Group.

The Bennite ‘hard’ left believed socialism would come by persuading voters of the merits of socialism: this would be achieved by ‘campaigning’, in effect supporting trade unionists in any disputes they had with their employers. They argued that Labour’s Front Bench had always been afraid to make the case for socialism. Once the right sorts of leaders were in place, and arguing for socialism clearly and consistently, then the voters would fall into line.

The advent of Thatcherism persuaded the Tribunite ‘soft’ left that the party needed to make some accommodation with what the electorate thought. Electoral math stipulated that if it was to win power Labour needed the votes of more than committed trade unionists, public sector workers, radical feminists, and ethnic or sexual minorities – the groups to whom Benn spoke. That at least was the logic of Foot’s successor, the Tribune MP Neil Kinnock.

His attempt to appeal to those who had abandoned the party was inevitably condemned by the hard left. For their analysis remained as ever it was: Labour’s job was to shape how such voters thought. Indeed, Benn famously saw the terrible 1983 defeat as a victory for socialism, something to build on.

There is now no Tribune Group: Kinnock’s strategy of accommodation meant it lost its distinctive identity to such an extent Tony Blair was comfortable being a member. The Campaign Group is however still with us, just about, with not many more than 10 MPs on its books. Corbyn’s pitch for the leadership reveals how closely he and his colleagues remain wedded to the hard left analysis of the 1980s. For according to Corbyn, Labour should, first, be rebuilt around the unions and, secondly, become a campaigning organization: finally, Labour should oppose austerity with greater vigour than under Ed Miliband.

This would, however, be a catastrophic course for Labour, just as it was in 1983.

If basing itself around the unions in the early 1980s did not prevent the party from electoral oblivion then the result today will be even more disastrous. In 1979 there were 13 million union members: today there are 6.5 million, just one-quarter of the employed, two-thirds of them in the public sector. Many of these people already vote Labour: the party’s basic problem is appealing to those who are not in trade unions.

Calling for the party to become an outward-facing ‘campaigning’ organization is Labour’s version of Motherhood and Apple Pie. Most recently Ed Miliband brought Arnie Graf over from the United States to help him achieve that very end. But while there were some modest signs of progress, they had no measurable impact on the 2015 result. In any case, the idea that the ‘grassroots’ can by themselves alter the perceptions of enough voters in the right kinds of places to win Labour power by 2020, or even beyond that, is fanciful: it flies in the face of a desultory experience that stretches back to the 1930s.

Corbyn’s belief that Labour should campaign more vigorously against austerity is similarly whimsical. The main reason Labour lost in 2015 was that many voters considered Miliband’s programme lacked economic credibility. This belief was the result of numerous misconceptions about the causes of the fiscal crisis, confusions created and sustained by a right-wing press that exploited most people’s basic economic ignorance. Miliband obviously struggled to address this problem.

However, the notion that the party can win back office by simply telling voters they are wrong – even if they actually are – misunderstands the complexity of the dilemma currently faced by Labour.

A Corbyn win will therefore turn Labour’s predicament into a crisis. We do not need to imagine how the media will respond: look at what they did to ‘Red Ed’, someone who Corbyn believes was insufficiently radical.

This has proved to be a very dull leadership election – three of the four candidates basically agree what went wrong in 2015 and there is a broad consensus about what needs to be done. Corbyn offers a contrast, and is a useful reminder that a more ‘pro-business’ Labour party needs also to attend to inequality.

Yet, Labour will only win office if it convinces enough in the electorate it can competently manage the economy, and that means engaging with popular views about the need for austerity. This involves difficult choices and a nuanced strategy – and even then there is no promise of success. But a party that only shouts about inequality – Corbyn’s main issue, despite only 15 per cent of voters thinking it important – is guaranteed to fail.

Steven Fielding is Professor of Political History and director of the Centre for British Politics at the University of Nottingham.

Image credit: Garry Knight (CC)/Flickr. This blog is also published on Ballots & Bullets – a University of Nottingham blog

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60 Responses to “Catastrophe Corbyn”

  1. Matty

    “a party that only shouts about inequality – Corbyn’s main issue, despite
    only 15 per cent of voters thinking it important – is guaranteed to
    Well obviously Corbyn is not only going to shout about inequality. His campaign has actually been a lot more nuanced than you give him credit for. If he is such a “catastrophe” why is he gaining such support?
    Your article also seems to fall for many of the myths about the 1983 election – no mention of the Falklands, Benn had actually been defeated by Healey for deputy leadership, the SDP etc

  2. guidofawkes


  3. XerxesVargas

    I find all this a bot depressing. Corbyn has support because he is voicing, in the general as opposed to the specific, the thoughts of a good proportion of Labour members – hence his current position. Yet we are told that to hold those beliefs is a “catastrophe”. I don’t agree with him on many issues but I do want a candidate who is not some neo-Thatcherite, managerial centrist. I want to see someone who will oppose austerity, as its largely a shame for a right-wing reshaping of the country. I want to hear about renationalising the railways and even the utilities. I want the NHS protected and free from the cures of the markets. Its not an extreme view but it was looking like it wasn’t even going to get an airing in this debate for a while. But at every turn we are told by articles like this that those are outmoded beliefs and therefore pointless to hold.

    Of course the same author, or ones like him, will then write articles bemoaning the lack of engagement with politics and the political process in general. Well thats because parties are all sitting around the managerial centre triangulating themselves right up their own arses. But I suppose as I hold modestly left wing views my opinion on these things is irrelevant to the current debate?

  4. swat

    Knight is right. As if we haven’t yet learnt from the disastrous GE strategy of only talking about ‘freezing energy’ and the ‘bedroom tax’. You know there are other important things going on in the world, about increasing productivity and wealth creation and the state of the Middle East and Israeli expansionism, and Secular Schooling and Bank Holidays Lots of things. Like Calais. Which affect a whole host of different people, wanting to know what Labour will do about what concerns them. If Labour talk only about ‘inequality’ they will have lost already.

  5. John D Traynor

    This article exists to pretend to prove the deliberate false statements made in the final paragraph. The writer is fearful of the public being aware of who the enemy is and, thus, he repeats the same misdirection, obfuscation and downright lies that fans of capitalist exploitation enjoy.

    The best way to “manage the economy” is to rid ourselves of the financial gangsters. “Austerity” as practiced now is merely a more extreme way of diverting money to the elite.

    Fielding writes as if capitalism is unbeatable and an absolute necessity. Such a view is a con and needs to be attacked, viciously and repeatedly.

  6. lorikeet

    What a strange viewpoint! It seems perverse, to find that the first candidate for the Labour leadership to inspire any kind of enthusiasm and support must be contrary to the majority of voters’ wishes and judgement! Corbyn is outstanding as a leader with a credible viewpoint drawn from leftist thinking, as opposed to from system-working-tactics, and he brings what we so direly need: a set of ideas that backs away from neoliberal authoritarianism instead of treating it as the only game in town. What on earth is anyone writing for Left Foot Forward doing, asking why inequality matters, anyway? If inequality is not your top priority, then you are simply here to undermine the left, rather than contribute to a proper debate!

  7. James Craigie

    When did this site become Right Foot Forward?

  8. Andy Walton

    Sorry, you lost me at “math.”

  9. Tom_Webster

    Interesting that being in favour of addressing issues of poverty and inequality is characterised as ‘shouting’, a characterisation which invites the reader to dismiss it as ranting. On the one hand, is it not justifiable to be passionate about the social injustice promoted by austerity and on the other, surely any party claiming to have a left of centre set of values should have addressing inequalities at its heart. To suggest that there is a consensus on what went wrong in the General Election among the other candidates encourages a more ‘pro-business’ party is depressing. It echoes the ludicrous suggestion by Liz Kendall that the reason for the failure in Scotland was because Labour was insufficiently pro-business. Which think tank that perception comes from needs to actually speak to more people. Many people turned from Labour because they felt abandoned by the Tory-lite policies on the welfare state and the pursuit of the ‘middle England’ chimera. In Scotland there was the option of SNP which, partly because of the heightened sense of betrayal by Labour’s part in the scare tactics and the lies in the Better Together campaign, partly because of the greater politicisation of people by organisations like RIC and partly as the consequential shift of SNP to a more progressive stance on TTIP, fracking and social policies, was seen as having a greater interest in acting for the interests of actual constituents than Labour. Finally, the treatment of ‘Red Ed’ can be read in completely the opposite direction. If a monetarist willing to throw bones to readers of the Express and the Mail regarding immigration, willing to contribute to the ‘strivers versus skivers’ and one willing to back the benefits cap gets labelled as too left wing, then can’t that be taken as further proof that for Labour to betray its roots and its principles in order to get on board with the right wing press has been a disaster for the party and the country and that to maintain any purpose as an alternative it needs to focus on broadening the political discourse and both revealing and opposing the lies on One Nation Conservatism?

  10. Jacko

    For once I completely agree.

    The median salary in this country is £26,963. That excludes very high income earners who skew the stats. The vast majority of people are neither rich nor poor.

    If you focus on the ‘rich vs poor’ thing, you are therefore fighting an election on a minority issue. This is certain to fail against a party that focuses on majority issues: those that affect people who earn £27K.

    It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter how righteous you feel or how deserving poor people are, it’s a mathematically losing proposition at election time.

  11. GhostofJimMorisson

    I will tear up my party card if this cantankerous old trot becomes leader. I may just do it anyway…

  12. Gordon Jones

    I find this post to be grossly ignorant of the facts. Telling the world the tories are right is not going to win elections especially not when they are blatantly wrong.

  13. Spamfish

    I wonder if this is going to be the article the author will be taking with him when he applies to be a journalist at the Daily Mail?

  14. Peter Powell

    “The main reason Labour lost in 2015 was that many voters considered Miliband’s programme lacked economic credibility.” No, they didn’t. Having had thousands of doorstep conversations on the campaign for GE2015, I can say with some authority that no one brought up ‘Economic Credibility’. They brought up
    concerns about hospital waiting times, local authority cuts e.g. increased classroom sizes, worries about the cost of caring for elderly parents and children – everyday stuff. Unfortunately, many of Labour’s core vote thought the solution to this was to end Immigration, which they viewed as a drain on resources. So please get your facts right.

  15. UnrepentantBennite93

    While I agree that the Labour left has been pummelled into the ground since Kinnock’s proto-New Labourism, I think to call this moment the lowest ebb of the left is a little misleading. I think it’s more realistic to call it potentially the start of a new revived Labour left. After years of demoralisation, humiliation and defeat, the Labour left managed to get a left-wing, anti-austerity candidate onto the ballot paper, against all expectations and now he’s topping leaked polls. I don’t call that a lowest ebb and it’s even better than a last hurrah.

    On Jeremy simply making pitches about the poor and needy, he’s made broad, practical appeals. ‘His Jobs, homes and hopes’ article from 19 June went “We all pay for low pay. When wages don’t makes ends meet, it’s tax credits that step in. When wages don’t cover the rent, housing benefit steps kicks in, which tells those of us who care about social justice that the way to get welfare down is to get the labour market and the housing market right in the first place – not to bully, punish or demonise those in need.” That’s hardly simply “Oh, but think of the poor!”

    This all comes back down to a question: What is the role of opposition. As Maya Goodfellow put it on LabourList a couple of days ago: “What’s the point of an opposition party: to win votes at whatever cost, even when it’s not guaranteed the policies you’re backing will gain you support… or propose a credible alternative that will affect the terms of the debate and convince people that your plans, and not the incumbent’s, are worth voting for? The latter may be harder to achieve but it’s certainly worth fighting for when the quality of life of tens of thousands of children and the foundations of the welfare state are at stake.” How much of what we believe do we sacrifice? We lost nationalisation and Clause VI with Tony Blair and now 3/4 candidates aided by most sections of the so-called “left” commentariat are calling for us to abandon the most moderate (not even social democratic) legislation. They asking us to give up trying to fight Tory economics which leads to Andy Burnham’s bizarre approach of disagreeing that Labour caused the crisis but arguing that we should have done more to bring the deficit down. So, we should have done more to prevent a problem that wasn’t really a problem? Yeah, that’ll convince ’em, Andy.

  16. Robert

    Several people here disagree with this analysis. OK then – let’s have Jeremy Corbyn as leader and see what happens in 2020. I predict one of two things will happen: one, the party will plough on alone and fail disastrously, as it did under Michael Foot; or two, it will seek to gain traction by forming alliances with other anti-austerity parties such as the Greens and yes, even the SNP. Will this alliance also fail? My guess would be yes. Either way, it won’t be the Labour Party any more.

    This is a classic case of hearts over heads. Who knows, everything Jeremy Corbyn says may be right. But as he’ll never win an election we’ll never find out.

  17. Cole

    Wasn’t Arnie Graf pushed out, probably by bureaucrats in Labour head office? To say he had ‘no measurable impact’ on 2015 is silly. He wasn’t around for long enough to do anything much.

  18. AlanGiles

    Well all those years of Blair and Blair-lite acolytes have done you a world of good haven’t they?. And don’t be fooled, if you elect 1997 throwback Liz Kendall with her navy blue trouser suit (the trousers in the trade being described as “bum-numbers”) big hair and spewing her righ-wing rhetoric you will be right back in 2010 and 2015.

    Remember you can get full 100% Tory policy for the same price as Kendall & Co’s cheap copy

  19. Paul S

    I grow very tired listening to people like this who think that winning an election should be the end rather than the means.

  20. Paul Callaghan

    perhaps you should rename the blog Right Foot forward. A Labour party that does`nt at its core fight inequality is not worth fighting for

  21. Paul Ingram

    Well said. If the Labour Party triangulates no-one will trust it. What is required are broad and appealing radical visions that addresses the core issues of our time, expressed by confident politicians who also engage openly and with respect with those that disagree with them. Then we’ll have representatives and parties the electorate can believe in, even when they don’t fully agree.

  22. Mick

    Well, the author’s still suggesting that the public are wrong, ignorant and misguided.

    The old ‘bigoted woman’ syndrome is still alive in Labour, the party full of racists attacking Liz Kendall for saying she’ll improve the educational standards of white kids to match the ethnic minorities!

    How left wing can you lot be overall?!

  23. Steve Larson

    If he is just another perma-angry trade unionist then the public will reject him even if he is what is badly needed, and we do need someone like that.

  24. stevep

    Much has been said about Michael Foot being leader of a more left-wing Labour party when they lost the 1983 election. Much has been written about the manifesto being left-wing.
    Michael Foot was probably the most intelligent politician and the greatest orator in the House of Commons, post WW2. That`s why he was chosen to be leader.
    The Labour party democratically chose left-wing policies after the 1979 defeat, it caused a split, but it was seen as the progressive way forward.
    In early 1982 Labour had a large lead in the opinion polls. Margaret Thatcher was about to be stabbed in the back by her own party, which were in disarray after three years of failed economics. They were the most unpopular government for decades, despite the best efforts of the Tory press.
    The 1983 election was there for the taking for Labour.
    Then came the Falklands War.

    After Britain won the short war, the nation went into Nationalism overdrive. Margaret Thatcher milked every moment of it. She was compared to Britannia by The Sun.
    The Tory party, as the party of government, gained 15 points in the polls by the end of the year and kept the momentum through to the election, where they won a landslide victory.
    Had the Falkland` s war not happened, it is likely Labour would have won the 1983 election.
    Those of us who were there at the time remember it well and should counter the historical revisionism that has been prevalent since.
    A left of centre agenda isn`t the bogeyman for the Labour party that everyone thinks. Muddled thinking and trying to please everyone, is.
    If Jeremy Corbyn is the best candidate for the leadership, choose him. If Yvette Cooper is, choose her. It`s the policies that matter and the best possible figurehead to put them across.

  25. Faerieson

    I wholeheartedly agree with these sentiments. Surely, if The Labour Party are to attract voters and fight for alternative solutions to the world’s and the country’s woes, they will need to speak of genuine alternatives, rather than simply to water down the policies of this God awful government.

    If Labour continue to pretend to be some sort of alternative Tory Party, why wouldn’t the electorate vote for the real Conservatives? Sorry, LFF but this is perhaps the most disheartening article that you have yet penned.

  26. blarg1987

    Labour need someone like Jeremy Corbyn, not necessarily leader, but in a position to bring more traditional Labour values back, rather then trying to chase the tails of the Conservatives.

  27. madasafish

    I just love reading some of the comments in the posts following.

    Those against this article seem to be saying:-
    Telling the truth is wrong. It’s not the truth but Tory lies.
    If we keep on with the old ways, we are pure. Winning an election is less important than being pure.
    The electorate need to be educated: they are wrong..

    After the last GE, Labour held an election for a new leader. It took months and during that time the Conservatives claimed “The economic crash was all Labour’s fault”. It stuck because no-one argued coherently against it and the Leader chosen could not or would not..

    Now five years later, there is another Election for Party Leader.. It is lasting months and the Conservatives claim “Labour are the Party of benefit claimants”..It is sticking because no-one is arguing against it – indeed the opposite is true.

    Fools make the same mistake twice.. If you do select Corbyn as Leader, you are not fools. You are deranged. This is not 1983.. nearly a third of a century has passed. The Conservative Party has changed. Labour appear to want to learn nothing from the past..

  28. Tom

    Exactly. I was really surprised to see a Professor of Political History completely ignore the Falkland’s war in an analysis of the 1983 result.

  29. Riversideboy

    Well lets accept austerity, embrace neoliberalism, dismantle the welfare state, privatise the NHS, end all working rights, jail the unemployed, end taxation, abolish the minimum wage, make seven day working compulsory, re-introduce workhouses and capital punishment and of course ban trade unions. Will that do, do you think, you know to satisfy the right wing mob called the British voting public and lead Labour back to government? We could also promise to hold a review into the scandal that was the ending of overseas slavery that robbed this country of so much income. That Ok Labour…please

  30. Mick

    These Twilight Zone rejects should learn some respect for the public, then stop trotting out tropes about Tories being nothing but Scrooge McDucks, voted in by a snowblinded public.

    Get real, Left.

  31. Lamia

    What’s missing from this article, from Corbyn’s own thinking and from most of the comments below is any mention of what is needed to power the economy. Without this, the merits or demerits of austerity are by the by.

    The problem is that Labour does not seem at all keen on or interested in business. It ignores that over half of the electorate work in small or medium sized businesses, and its economic vision ignores such people and businesses, preferring to concentrate on public sector workers, the low paid and the unemployed on the one hand, and bankers and big business on the other.

    That means you are working from a picture of the British economy (and society) from which about half the population are absent. Even under Blair, Labour’s business infatuation was with big business and bankers, not the smaller kind.

    Things have to be paid for, and a prosperous society is necessary in order to have the resources for public spending. So long as Labour and its supporters view ‘business’ as fundamentally a dirty word or a scam, and caricature it as merely the preserve of multinationals and millionaire bankers, you are not engaging about half the electorate or giving them an incentive to vote for you.

    Now it’s arguable that the Tories haven’t done much for small or medium sized businesses either, but they are not foolish or short-sighted enough to spit or make the sign of the cross whenever the subject of enterprise comes up.

    Does anyone here believe Corbyn has given a moment’s thought to what he would do for small businesses? Or indeed whether he gives a damn about it? Even if, bizarrely, you do believe he’s given it such thought, do you believe that many people owning or working for SMEs think he is on their side? Where is the evidence for it?

  32. Mark Blackburn

    @andy_walton:disqus I hung in there after ‘math’ but ‘motherhood and apple pie’ pushed me over the edge. Depressingly, any attempt to express any set of values or strength of principle is yet again smothered by the pragmatic, bland reactionary prose of the neoliberal era.

  33. RoyB

    There is no point in being in politics at all if , faced with such a fundamental error as austerity as the way out of recession, we simply accept the error out of political expediency. We need to argue the alternative case forcefully. 5 million voters can be wrong. We don’t need to call them stupid – they are after all getting the bulk of their information from those who do well out of the present orthodoxy, but we do need to try our best to put up plausible alternatives to immiseration and despair. Many voters say “they’re all the same.” We need to be different. The line of argument pursued here would, in the past, have left us with child labour, the workhouse, capital punishment, etc, all of which were once the common sense of popular opinion. Bad ideas need opposing no matter how much apparent support they may seem to have. Why vote Labour if we simply accept things as they are? And while three of the four candidates might agree over what went wrong, there is precious little evidence that they are correct in their analysis – Labour lost against the worst Government of my lifetime for a wide range of reasons, the most persuasive of which was the sheer political incompetence of letting the Tory myth of “Labour’s mess” become received wisdom. Oh and Scotland. The Labour vote in England actually went up, but mainly in the cities where it wasn’t needed.

  34. Ian

    I wish the rightist interlopers like this author would bugger off. They aren’t of Labour and don’t have Labour at heart.

    Like it or not, Jersey Corbyn is an actual real Labour man and has Labour values, far more so than 80% of the MPs he sits with.

    The neoliberals should respect the party and its values. If they can’t, they should stop pretending to be something they’re not and join the Tories, their spiritual home.

  35. RoyB

    Even you accept the main myth about the 1983 result. Thatchers share of the vote was about the same as in 1979. The SDP split the Labour vote and the rest is history. The only landslide was one created by Britain’s dysfunctional fptp voting system, again.

  36. Bev

    I agree with you we are told Corbyn is about 15 percent ahead of other candidates. So he must be doing something right. Maybe it’s what the British people have been crying out for a different agenda with a character that can come across positively in media interviews. Good luck to him I will be voting for him too

  37. Faerieson

    It is really a fallacy to pretend that ‘The Left’- a convenient, abused and oft-misused label- are concerned entirely with ‘The Poor’- another vague label- to the detriment of all else. But what large groups of more egalitarian thinkers do recognise is that widening inequality is harmful to the concept of a far more coherent whole nation.

    Even those who pretend to think otherwise recognise this, although they may deny it, or they have become otherwise hopelessly short-sighted. One only has to look at the stance that the UK made during and immediately post WW II. Rationing, universal health care, the recognition that we really were ‘all in it together.’ Those that lived through these awful times seemed to have a far clearer grasp of the benefits of genuinely pulling together. The vast majority of people didn’t hide their self-interest behind easy labels either.

  38. Nick

    Corbyn is right to bring about inequalities and social justice into the main debate. over the next 5 years many people will lose their lives brought about by conservative measures and the only person who WILL bring that to the forefront is Corbyn no one else in the labour party leadership will and we need to remember that fact

    My own beliefs are having spoken to many labour mp’s is that corbyn will be elected leader and that they do not approve but the labour party leader must be the spokesperson for the disadvantaged even if that means labour never returning to power

    The country i believe is at a critical turning point and that by a slim overall majority of very selfish people will keep the conservatives in power for decades to come and the only person who could turn that situation around would be the likes of corbyn

    The other labour leader candidates although very nice people are not up to the task of taking labour forward much less the people

  39. Paul

    The paragraph equating ‘campaigning’ with Arnie’s Graf’s community organising as an argument for the former not being a route to electoral victory is twaddle.

    Arnie Graf’s stuff had no discernible impact on the election because it was rubbish, but where marginal seat candidates engaged in more context-aware and better thought through community campaigning & producer politics, they tended to win e..g Anna Turley, Wes Streeting. Conversely, where they stuck to the Labour HQ playbook e.g. Rowenna Mason, they tended to lose.

    To use Graf’s expensive abject failure to inject any proper campaigning nouse into the party as a reason to discount the whole idea of Labour as a (local) campaigning party, and to tie Grafism to the left of the party, is a very weak analysis.

  40. Peter Powell

    Here’s the evidence you ask for:

    (1) from Corbyn himself
    (2) I know – from campaigning for 2015 GE – that SMEs agree with Corbyn’s take on how about the low wage economy is badly damaging them. They also lack investment from the government and long for a localism that allows this. As Corbyn says, ““In Germany, regional parliaments invest in local industry. There’s no reason why we couldn’t have a devolution package in Britain that gives that power not just to the Welsh Government, but to English regional government as well.”

  41. Robert Jones

    I’m not going to vote for Jeremy for several reasons, which I shall waste no one’s time by sharing here. But this article will only do him good, much as Harman’s extremely foolish decision not to oppose the Tory budget, and Kendall’s endorsement of it, will drive people in Corbyn’s direction. For one thing, this is a highly biased analysis, playing fast and loose with the historical narrative, and for another it is repellently cynical: even if the electorate was wrong, we shouldn’t tell them so, eh? So, if we think they were wrong – and that’s a whole new argument in itself – we should artfully pretend we think they were right in order to seduce them into voting for us? This is witless – from a professor of politics, it’s worse than witless, it’s disgraceful.

  42. Lamia

    Thanks for the steer, but I don’t think it’s very strong evidence. Corbyn only talks in terms of certain kinds of industry on the one hand, and (tax-evading) big business on the other.

    “I would want to see an incoming Labour government with public participation in developing industries, recognising that the needs of the world are efficiency and sustainable energy sources

    That is well and good but it ignores most business.


    A commitment to social justice is not incompatible with a commitment to
    business. But we expect all businesses to pay their taxes. At the moment
    we have over £50bn a year not collected because of tax evasion and tax
    avoidance, either through offshore accounts, tax havens or simple fraud
    of the HMRC.

    i.e. his view of business is limited to encouraging green industry (which I absolutely agree with) and stopping tax-evasion by big business (which I also absolutely agree with). But is a lot more to enterprise in this country than those.

    I don’t see any great knowledge or interest about the breadth of business in the UK and what can be done to help it in the article cited.

  43. Labouring Life

    He is doing something right with labour activists, he is speaking to the core beliefs of many and I personally like a lot of what he is saying, but the leader is not the party nor the electorate.
    If he wins as has been said elsewhere there would be a coup of immense proportions to rid the party of paid workers not with his agenda. Out of the 200 or so MPs we have 10 are on the same page as him. Much of the present party activists relied on at elections ( I do not mean the activists that regularly attend meetings) are more left of centre that left wing, we may find ourselves in 2020 in the same place the lib dems found themselves at the 2015 elections with no one willing to come out and help. Then there is the electorate, a straw poll recently amongst non political people I know tell me Harriet Harman gets their vote and they had no idea who the rest were. The with the electorate there is the question of persuading people who voted one way last time to vote Labour this. Recents stats and polling analysis tells us that the reason polls were so far out is that people who promise to vote labour are least likely to actually go and vote. They say they will but they don’t. Why they don’t is something we need to discover. Corbyn might say it is because we are not left wing enough, but I believe people are generally disenchanted and apathetic about what politics can do for them, Greece will not have helped: ask the people, ignore the people, crush the people.

  44. JoeDM

    Common sense on LFF. How strange !!!

  45. JonB

    This article is further evidence of the “weather vane” mentality in British politics, particular within the Labour Party. No ideology whatsoever, no sense of what might be the right course of action, just driven by a desire for popularity. Tragic. Note the author’s use of the phrase “electoral math”. The word is mathematics, and in this country we shorten it to “maths”. The Labour Party has for too long looked to the USA as a source of inspiration, and here we even see the effect on an apparently well educated man’s use of his own language. Depressing!

  46. chris gibson

    The likes of you shout about equality but have got us here. Corbyn will do something about it. I thought your article was very unprofessional. Don’t forget to send you invoice to BICOM.

  47. Levinas

    ‘The main reason Labour lost in 2015 was that many voters considered Miliband’s programme lacked economic credibility. ‘, because for 5 fucking years Labour allowed the Conservatives to lie about the causes of the financial downturn, blame Labour for EVERYTHING and Labour just sat there, saying nowt. Labour didn’t want to win. Sick to death of this politico game playing of dumping shite for each other to deal with, with no regard for man or country.


    When Milliband unveiled the tablet of stone my wife put her head in her hands and said here we go again another five years of the Tories. She being much younger than me was a Thatcher Yopper. And if Corbyn wins it will be another five years at least. Corbyn has far too much baggage. He seems more interested in Hamas and Hizbollah fascists.

  49. David Jones

    You guys are talking to yourselves, of course it would be a catastrophe. No-one’s listening. Corbyn and co define themselves by opposing and reacting rather than defining what could be in the real world – the pot is not bottomless. If you say that it is no-one will believe you – or more to the point vote for you.

  50. stevep

    Yes, the voting system created the result, but you can`t ignore the Falklands War. Labour`s polling pre-war and post-war were markedly different and the SDP split and subsequent alliance with the Liberals didn`t help. Whether or not the war exaggerated the split is anybody`s guess.
    Before the war, Labour was seen as fighting for the future of Britain against the Conservatives, who were ruining it (industry closures, high unemployment, riots etc.). After the war the Tories were the heroes and Labour reduced to a busted flush.
    Nationalistic fervour is underestimated. If it could be summoned at will and bottled, it would be the most expensive substance on earth. Margaret Thatcher tapped into it and it not only won her the election, but sustained her, in decreasing quantities, for the rest of the decade.

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