Corbynism: not ‘turning Labour into a socialist movement’, but turning a ‘socialist movement’ into Labour?

“I was there in 1984 standing alongside the miners,” [Corbyn] recalled, “and judging by the appearance of some of you, you were there with me. Welcome back!”

[Corbyn in August 2015]

The current Labour leadership contest between Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith is being framed by Smith and his supporters as the ‘competent, pragmatic, socialist versus the ‘incompetent, ideological, socialist’ Corbyn.

What is fascinating here is that – for Smith’s supporters at least – they are both “socialists”.

(Interestingly, Corbyn’s supporters are more likely to view anyone they disagree with in Labour as a ‘Red Tory’ or ‘Blairite’ neoliberal).

In this article I set out to show that it is the chasm between the fantasy of Labour’s ‘socialism’ and the reality of its ‘social democracy’ that has opened the door to ‘Corbynism’.

I go on to argue that the ‘Corbyn’ project is not about turning Labour into a ‘movement’ but about turning a vague movement of ex-Trots, ‘socialists’, greens, ‘occupiers’ and others into a ‘new model Labour Party’. Continue reading

Boris Johnson and national security

[amended]

The appointment of Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary took almost everyone by surprise.

Why has he been appointed? It’s hard to fathom without recourse to ‘Kremlin watching’ explanations about internal machinations in the Conservative Party.

I’ll leave aside the questionable decision to appoint as our primary international representative someone who cast aspersions on the motives of the President of the USA – our biggest ally – on racial grounds. Or who regularly insults his way around the world as our chief diplomat? I’m sure others will have lots to say about that.

The issue concerning me here is national security. Continue reading

Labour: Margaret Hodge offers a slim glimmer of hope?

Margaret Hodge has put forward an idea that may offer a very small glimmer of hope for Labour moderates.

She has suggested, as I understand it, that the PLP should hold “Primaries” for the leadership and then back one candidate in the upcoming leadership election. The assumption is that will be either Angela Eagle or Owen Smith who would go forward against Jeremy Corbyn. Continue reading

Labour: The Worst of All Possible Worlds

So Labour’s NEC have decided to “interpret” the rules in Corbyn’s favour.

Those who wrote them made it abundantly clear they were meant to create a level -playing field for all nominees and, crucially, to ensure a ‘filter’ of minimum support in Parliament for any Labour leadership candidate (incumbent or not). But that didn’t seem to bother the majority of Labour’s NEC. Continue reading

Split now or Split later: Labour’s unenviable choice?

The die seems cast: Labour either gets rid of Jeremy Corbyn and causes the hard-left to split from the Party, or it allows him to stay and eventually the Labour moderates will have to leave.

The PLP seems to have made the cardinal error of launching a coup – by its mass resignations from Shadow jobs and then a vote of no confidence and now Angela Eagles leadership challenge – without a really clear idea about how to politically finish off Corbyn and who to replace him with? Even Eagle’s bid doesn’t seem to have unanimous support amongst the insurgents. Continue reading

Some practical experience as an ‘expert’ adviser

[Because of my public profile I’ve had a number of ‘queries’ about my ‘qualifications’. I’ll address some of my political experience in another post, but I thought it might be useful to just give a small idea of what I’ve been doing over the past quarter century in my advisory work.]

Since becoming an academic I’ve had the privilege to be asked to advise a wide variety of Governments and public agencies. I know ‘expertise’ has been questioned recently, but I think most sensible people recognise it as important. So here’s a few examples….. Continue reading