Go Yersel’ Jeremy!

A triumph for Jeremy. A disaster for Labour. We’ve had time to realise first, that he was likely to win again and second, to gauge the scale of victory. He lifted his levels of support across all groups, not just the £25 entryists. For the one-time Corduroy Communist who exulted in remaining dogmatically pure when all around Labour MPs were lathering themselves in pragmatism, this is the ultimate vindication. Jez, at least in the minds of his Corbynistas, now takes his place alongside those other bearded Heroes of the People – Che and Fidel. He has proved that there is another way, a people’s highway, and it can be attained without massaging the ego of the bankers and corporatists, without schmoozing with the careerists and compromisers. Jeremy is walking the shining path. And like other insurgents he has done it by dividing the party base while talking the language of unity.

He has crushed the opposition through democratic process and scattered them as comprehensively as the electorate has squashed the Labour Party in Scotland. Any lingering sense of entitlement from the zombie New Labour detritus that they are inheritors of some Labour ‘tradition’, has been scoffed at by the membership and looks likely to be confirmed by the electorate.

Labour, as the force we have known it – in my case from the Wilsonian sixties, Callaghan’s seventies through Foot to Smith, Blair and Brown – is an empty Hallowe’en costume devoid of its capacity to scare. It is over. The generational political voice of the people has been choked off, the collective force of the working man curbed, the modernising driver of social progress stalled. Under Jeremy, the name will remain but it will be the political wing of a radical social movement rather than a disciplined, hierarchical organisation built for power. Scoring points will trump parliamentary votes.

The real toe-to-toe area of combat in the Corbyn v Smith contest wasn’t left v right but activist v payroll. MPs have come to represent not the voice of the party but the symbol of its conformity. They are the accommodators too ready to concede a Daily Mail agenda, too comfortable with all but the outer edges of Tory policy and the epitome of middle management men-in-suits who defer to the boss class however it hurts the shop-floor.

There can be no doubt now that those behind Jeremy’s campaign as are astute and honed as any activists. Indeed they sound similar to many of the Yes side’s own battalions who not only know what they are doing but why they’re doing it. They have the ingredient missing for so long from the paralysed Labour movement – belief. It is the great motivator and it is making a success of Jeremy’s alternative party, challenging the weary old school charade of Parliament and exposing, as happened in Scotland, the hopeless inability of the partisan, right wing British media.

So in his own terms, Corbyn has found redemption. But has Labour?

The answer is a resounding No. There is a sizeable opposition some of which will never be reconciled. To them the party has been taken over and turned into a student protest group. It isn’t just Jeremy. For them it’s also McDonnell who always rubbed them up the wrong way. It’s Diane Abbot who is flaky. It is an assortment of younger radicals that remind them of Militant and Socialist Worker. The background irony here is that those same traditionalists whose generation wrecked Labour accuse the Corbynistas of being wreckers. And probably both are right.

The Blairites, for want a better term, lost touch with and stopped talking to and for their constituents. It wasn’t really about delivery – Blair did deliver minimum wage, working tax credits, big rises in health and school spending (whatever legitimate qualifications can be laid against him) – but more about communication. Labour looked and sounded more and more like vaguely more competent Lib Dems. The party became the embodiment of the aspirational and avaricious Blair himself, loosened from its electoral moorings by belief in being untouchable. Like him, those who left became rich and opportunistic looking for ‘business’. They missed the growing public disillusion. The Labour generation of Blair, Brown, Mandelson and Darling left a residue of weed killer that has now reached down to the roots.

But that’s the past. Jeremy and his friends are wreckers too of the party previously known as Labour. They have limited appeal to an angry and disillusioned public. Britain will never see a lunge to the left as an answer for its complaints. The latest polling puts the Tories (who gave us a decade of austerity and Brexit) along with UKIP on a combined support of 55 per cent. His appeal just isn’t wide enough and the British voting public isn’t adaptable enough to reach out to a radical alternative. The conservative nature of the majority and their priority of ‘stability’ makes them suspicious of change, especially if it can be twisted to look like left-wing dogma. UKIP appeals to many in England because its radicalism is in reality a return to a Dad’s Army Britain – Church of England, white and Spam-eating.

Which is exactly why Scotland is so interesting. From views on monarchy to helping refugees, Scot speak a different language and that language is social democracy, the very thing Labour assumed was their trade mark. In pondering Scottish Labour members’ apparent preference for Owen Smith, it seems that many of the potential Corbyn backers here had already deserted, probably to the SNP, which offers an alternative home unavailable in England.

But the truly odd thing about Scotland is they way the leadership has miscalled the result. On the face of it, Kezia Dugdale understands her own support. She spoke against Corbyn and it seems most of her membership agree. Yet, without this opposition to the newly-endorsed leader being vocalised by either leading figures or the wider movement, she now finds herself isolated. Worse, instead of finding herself a principled stance and taking any consequences that follow (it’s called leadership) she instead tried to maintain that her criticism of Corbyn was simultaneously correct and, eh, wrong. In one paragraph she said he was both unelectable and unable to unite and electable and able to unite.

She is making a comedy routine out of her party at the very time it requires authority and direction.

Ineptitude gives way to haplessness; gives way to hopelessness. The result is embarrassment which can be lived with and derision which can’t. Derision means no credibility and in turn no capacity to lead. The lack of faith and credibility is crippling. I argued that, no matter how new in the job, no Labour leader could remain if they lost out to the Tories in Scotland. The more popular view was it wasn’t her fault and she should remain to rebuild the support. But Labour is today stuck in the mid teens a full five points behind the bloody Tories! Many are to blame for Labour’s never-ending travails but it is beyond contradiction that Calamity Kez is making things worse with no prospect of improvement. It would be an act of mercy to find an escape route for her – and no doubt would aid her own sanity.

To look at Labour today, it’s as if four decades of my adult life never happened. Did I really swap bar room tales with John Reid and Helen Liddle…spend countless hours in tiny studios speaking to Donald Dewar…get barked at by John Smith…have party media types stop interviews mid-flow because ‘the minister had to go’…share a street stall with a young unpretentious Alistair Darling…get pushed aside by Alistair Campbell to let Blair go past??? Labour was the dominant force in the political landscape, built-in, unassailable and part of national life, it’s spokesmen known and respected. Nothing moved without Labour’s knowledge. It had aye been and it aye would.

Well, this isn’t coming back. Not under Jeremy. Not under Kezia. Labour as we have known it is being laid to rest. Its future is behind it.

Something will soldier on – a popular movement with energy but with limited public appeal, a tattered flag on an empty battlement.

I wish Jeremy luck. Politics needs to change and the Westminster clique broken up. In Scotland, it makes the nationalist ascendancy more secure and yet at the same time the plaintive voice of Labour defeat should send a shudder through all those who believe they are untouchable. Politics is a people’s game and people are fickle. It seems so far from possible now but voters know they can make and break both political parties and even, via Brexit, the system itself.

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18 thoughts on “Go Yersel’ Jeremy!

  1. Jeremiah might be OK for Engerland, where he is considered a raving revolutionary. He in fact he is a moderate, a Sloan Ranger, who shares the usual view of the very British left nats about Scotland.

  2. I wish the old labourites who vote labour cause their ancestors did could read your blog.MSM needs your output. Brilliant Derek.

  3. So you spent time with ms liddle.. Jeezus wept.. & you didn’t mention throwing up.. how strange… but again.. as much as I admire your way with words.. I can not admire your complicity in sharing time with these despots…
    Did you never question how Scotland was a pale shadow of what an oil rich country should have been… did you never travel??.. never take in the difference in living standards & benefits that many in the EU were enjoying.. without the curse of oil money pouring southwards… Nah.. I do not suppose you did..
    But spending time with the liddle woman… may gawd forgive you.. I won’t..

    • Baroness Liddle of Coatdyke. Please. Give her her socialist title.

      George Galloway, Team GB, bragged in his Daily Redcoat column he they both played the sectarian card in the Coatbridge and Airdie and Garscadden by elections.

  4. I have read that some rule change is being proposed that would put Kezia on the NEC. Is that a paid promotion from whence she can be removed as Scottish branch manager “due to other commitments? I genuinely do not know, just an angle.

  5. Succinct last paragraph. Note Scot2 Go2’s comments but, possibly the time was not auspicious to do as suggested and one have had to ‘bite one’s tongue’, until now

  6. Scottish Labour: a corrupt club. Akin to the boys at the lodge.

    And nothing moved without their knowledge: true.

    The SNP may very well be in government but Labour remains in power in Scotland. It’s still there, weakening, and presumably will fizzle out given enough time.

    Heaven help us if Labour ever make a come-back.

    Scottish Labour: Unpleasant, which is spelt with a capital U.

  7. Iain MacWhirter reporting on the amazing energy at the Momentum meeting in Liverpool, in parallel with the Labour party conference, and how similar to the Yes movement.

    Reporting that Momentum’s activists and organisation much superior to their opponents.

    If that continues to 2020 I wouldn’t write Labour off. But I agree that the constituency Momentum appeals to – the ‘left behind people’ – is a different one than that cultivated by New Labour which the parliamentary party, the 172 elected MPs who opposed Corbyn – appeals to. Hard to see that Labour could win an election standing on the same ticket when it is in effect two parties.

    Corbyn apparently wanting to strengthen the grass roots input into policy. PLP can stay, and not face deselection, but they must adopt policy positions as determined by the grass roots. New Labour right wing figures like Ummunna presenting a socialist manifesto in 2020? Who is going to buy that?

    Momentum has a huge task to bring in the 35% of the electorate that doesn’t bother voting because there was no perceived difference between Tory and Labour.

    Corbyn is also 68 and can’t really expect to keep going in politics for the next decade before his age begins to curtail his energy.

    Interesting times. On balance, I think your analysis is probably right, Labour are finished as an electoral force, but that rather depends on what Momentum can manage to do over the next three and a half years to reshape and reorientate the Labour party – and cultivate the votes of the 35%.

    And also on what Brexit brings…

  8. I was waiting for the ‘but’, Derek.
    I don’t share your views on Tony Blair’s ‘legacy’, NHS, minimum wage and so on.
    WFTC was introduced to give the Sainsburys and Tescos hundreds of millions in back door bungs, and PPP/PFI schools, prisons and hospitals?
    However (not but) I agree that the Labour Movement in the UK is on life support now.
    Derek Hatton and Tommy Sheridan must indulge in the odd private smirk.
    Will Jeremy pay for taxis to go around Liverpool this week issuing redundancy notices to New Labour stalwarts?
    I wait for the other shoe to drop.
    Cooper, Kendall, Balls, and Ed’s much smarter brother , David, and 170 odd New Lab Midwich Cuckoos have not gone away.

    “Dad’s Army Britain – Church of England, white and Spam-eating.”
    Loved it, you shameless name dropper.

  9. Great dissection Derek and right on the nail for my money.

    The UKs foreseeable future is Conservative and ever rightward. No empathy, isolationist, short-termist, small state and brakes off. An intolerant, narrative led population, where the narrative has gotten out of control fuelling societal division on a scale I’ve not seen in my lifetime till this point.

    Not quite the UK folk were promised a couple of years ago, but then change is scary. Or so they were told. So they stuck with what they believed would be a safe, unchanging and familiar status quo, only to find that the vision was never going to be safe or unchanging.

    What had been set in motion by successive Conservative and Labour governments, the narrative they had unleashed on the peoples of the UK, would be the very narrative which broke society across the UK. I don’t think history will, or should be kind to the party leaders and strategists of the last forty years. The UK we see to day? That’s on them and how they chose to conduct their politics.

    We can and have to do better as an independent Scotland. We couldn’t do much worse.

  10. The Labour Party has never lived up to the reasons it was founded on their first manifesto was a bloodless revolution in other words change the establishment instead of doing that they became part of the establishment taking titles lordships etc., and being bought of they have never at anytime represented the the poor only the rich and the middle class I was a shop steward in the ship yards and I have never voted labour in my life I voted communist and then S.N.P. Corbyn will not be allowed to rule the way he wants he will be kept in tow by the establishment they were meant to change.

    • Blair, I was shop steward in the 60’s too and spent all my time fighting the Tame Union bossed who policed the workforces for Lords, Wilson and Callaghan’s pay freezes.

  11. So polling seems to indicate (and the Owen Smith vote in Scotland) that Labour in Scotland are over. Its either move to Tory (unpalatable for some) or move to LibLiar (laughable for anyone).

    The SNP stole that ‘socialist’ Labour vote leaving a dying core behind.

    Labour cannot recover in Scotland because only the intelligent potentials (being liberal with that term) for positions know that they must support Indy or BritNat. If you have any kind of conscience then the SNP/ Green option is it. Otherwise you are a detestable Tory.

    The weak-minded will maybe go Labour/Libliar – but look at what has happened. Staggering, really colossal falls from grace.

    The real fly in Labour in England’s ointment is FPTP. Its ruinous to a ‘specialized’ party, and anyone who cares nothing of politics and only of money becomes a Tory – a broad church of greed that tolerates its internal conflicts for the sake of money. Scotland was lucky effectively, getting PR (its crappy version) lets the specialized get its place make its mark and grow.

    I can see friction in Labour for a long time now. 38% of them still worship Blair. 38% is a ball and chain. 38% could split and be ‘Better Labour’ and Scotland’s Labour would disintegrate into even worse ignominy. ‘Better Labour’ would split the FPTP vote and damnation would follow.

    The UK is truly over, I actually worry for England now.

  12. Show me Blair, Brown, Darling, Wilson, Liddle, Reid, Robertson, Mandelson, et al, and the positions of wealth and privilege they now all hold, and I will will show you (Not) Labour’s failure in the flesh – bought out and sold out – lock, stock and smoking “weapon of mass destruction” barrel.

    There solution to the brutality of unhindered capitalism was to offer pretty much more of the same. Yes, they tinkered with the edges a wee bit to produce a slightly less brash version than that of the 1980s but scratch beneath that New Labour veneer and it was still capitalism – blue “in tooth and claw”. They had an unprecedented mandate to make a radical difference and they bottled it.

    Ultimately I think Blair was only after power for power’s sake and for getting his name into the history books. But I doubt history will remember him kindly.

    Kezia’s interview with Brewer yesterday was the proverbial total car crash and I think she is toast. She might hang on till the local council elections in May but if, as expected, (Not) Labour start losing paces like Glasgow or Edinburgh she’ll be forced to resign. But the trouble for (Not) Labour in Scotland is that they have no one of any significant calibre to take her place.

    As for Corbyn – I simply don’t trust a man who says he has been a lifelong supporter of an independent Ireland yet in the same breath says there is no way Scotland should have he same status. he maybe radical in some ways I guess but to me he comes across in many other respects as VERY conservative.

    • Corbyn is a centrist, Westminster -centrist who sees socialism in England as an opportunity to control everything from Westminster. He says nothing about Scotland because his gaze dies nor really reach beyond Potters Bar.
      As a closet – Brexiteer, he will do nothing to enhance Scotland’s rights. How he will fare with Keziah Dugdale, who is agin him, well …….
      Labour, north of the Tweed is not autonomous, it is “incorporated” into what? Must be English Labour which calls itself UK Labour, but does not have a separate section for English Labour!!!
      Strange, how the msm never really lick up on that. But it is anglicised, so it would not really notice the inconsistency.
      How long will Corbyn last? Expect another coup soon. Or a split, secession of members and MPs or civil warring factions.

  13. Sorry Derek, but I find you a bit ungenerous to the Jeremy Corbyn team and a bit pessimistic on Labour’s chances in England. JC has brought hope to those in England that don’t have the SNP to vote for. It won’t make any difference here but good luck to them down there.

  14. This democracy we apparently are living in , where news is covered 24 hours a day, try searching for any reference to Kezia Dugdals baffeling performance on the Sunday politics program a totally incredible disjointed incoherent career ending rant,
    As it was on the BBC you might be expected to see some reference to it ,silly you it’s the BBC who only show news that they want you to know Guilty by Omission.

  15. Instinct tells me that though it looks like there should be a split in Labour, it won’t happen. Corbyn’s Labour is appealing more to the group of English voters who went to UKIP, but won’t go to the Tories – that famous C2 social group which Thatcher courted in the 1980s. If he is successful – which might well mean ditching support for the EU and accepting that some well-known former faces will publicly leave – then the potential is there for at least a Labour-led coalition.

    There hasn’t been a drift of right-wing Labour supporters (or even MPs) to the Lib Dems yet in England. I’m not sure this will happen soon, mainly because of the memories of many of the SDP, but if it looks like Corbyn can’t win enough general support many might well decide to follow their political views rather than careerist instinct.

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