- Stop calling Corbyn supporters stupid
- Send Tony Blair to Kazakhstan and don’t let him leave there until after the election
- Stop commissioning or writing editorials about how bad it would be if Corbyn wins the Labour leadership election
- Stop calling Corbyn supporters stupid
- Remember that the people who will decide the Labour leadership election are the Labour members and supporters, not the ‘general public’. You have to convince Labour members and supporters to choose a different candidate, not your conception of the general public, Daily Mail readers, ‘Middle England’, people who voted Tory or UKIP etc. Convincing them comes later, not in the Labour leadership election.
- Have a little think about why people support Corbyn, and if your answer is ‘they must be stupid’ think again.
- Stop calling Corbyn supporters stupid
- Convince one of the other candidates to have an idea that might be attractive to Corbyn supporters
- Try to come up with an idea that wasn’t in the Tory manifesto
- Stop calling Corbyn supporters stupid.
22 thoughts on “A ten point plan for the anti-Corbyn campaign.”
No, they really are stupid. And misleadingly noticeable.
Whether they are or not isn’t the point: the mistake is to call them stupid, even if you think they are. Calling them stupid isn’t going to convince them to change. Precisely the opposite.
Corbyn is speaking more clearly to people like myself with socialist principles than many of the ‘posh boys’ who seem to bob to the surface of political parties nowadays. (Some of us are well-educated professionals as well.)
12. “Stop calling Corbyn supporters ‘stupid’.”
One point plan for Corbyn supporters. I will stop saying you are out of touch with the average voter, with policies like free university tuition fees or renationalising what remains of the rail network in private hands, if you stop saying that I am a right winger, a Red Tory or lacking in principle. Deal?
And as for point 5, I am sorry, but were not some people saying that was what we did with Miliband? You know picking a leader with whom the average voter seemingly could not relate? However, following the thrust of your point, would all of those with no vote in Labour’s leadership campaign please butt out and leave us to elect our leader without giving us your views on who would be suitable?
Personally, I do not think any candidate in the Leadership Election is wholly addressing the issues identified in this analysis:
Click to access red-alert-why-labour-lost-and-what-needs-to-change.pdf
which includes the (depressing) fact that the average voter was concerned about migration.
I have now decided, because of the behaviour of both the Corbynites and Blairites (both now rivalling the cyber Nats, ukippers and Greens for deplorable, intolerant behaviour), not to use my third and fourth preference votes so neither Kendall nor Corbyn will be getting my support. Both are posing policy ideas to address the issues of past decades like generals fighting a war with the tactics of a previous generation.
However, Blair was right about taking the fight to the SNP, but not for the reasons set out by him. Labour should address the fact that the SNP is posing as a party of the left whilst tacking to the right to consolidate its hold on power:
The SNP has a right wing—and here she is http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/opinions/interview-tasmina-ahmed-sheikh-the-snp-has-a-right-wing-and-here-she-is
The SNP has failed Scotland http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/features/the-snp-has-failed-scotland
Actually, the SNP almost sounds Blairite in its approach …
I was very surprised to discover this week that I am certainly more left wing on tax than Corbyn. He, this week, referred to tax fraud as tax evasion! https://d3n8a8pro7vhmx.cloudfront.net/jeremyforlabour/pages/70/attachments/original/1437556345/TheEconomyIn2020_JeremyCorbyn-220715.pdf?1437556345 I never do that.
And some one ought to explain the Public Sector Borrowing Requirement to Corbyn (and Caroline Lucas) as, “As I said on the Sunday Politics, if the deficit has been closed by 2020 and the economy is growing, then Labour should not run a current budget deficit – but we should borrow to invest in our future prosperity.” One would wish to avoid running up such a debt in one financial year that it was not paid off with tax receipts from that year, but it is impossible to not run a current budget deficit within a year as even Governments have to resort to the City equivalent of (tax) pay day lenders. I seem to recall the Hard Left and Lucas giving Miliband a kicking when he said his aim was for the current account to be in balance by 2020 which I assume is what Corbyn means … With regard to matters like that, I think most of the UK electorate are woefully ignorant (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/mar/16/lack-of-financial-literacy-among-voters-is-a-threat-to-democracy).
Corbyn also disturbingly agreed with Blair this week. You know, blah, blah, shiny, shiny, high tech future, blah, blah, shiny jobs etc. I await in eager anticipation the app to clean up vomit in a care home as our ageing population continues to expand. We are sitting on a demographic time bomb. I attended a meeting in 2008 with a senior NHS nurse, specialising in recruitment, who explained that for the NHS workforce to remain the same size it would need to start recruiting 50% of all school leavers per year and, despite everything that has happened since then, the population has not got any younger. By the way, that time bomb would be defuse, if we accepted migration and/or encouraged an increase in the birth rate. Solid economic, not wishy washy liberal, arguments for challenging the stance of many on cutting Child Tax Credits and curbing migration.
No one, it seems, wants to say that Tamsin or Tarquin or Iltyd or Irena or Gideon or Nigella are as likely to be working in the care sector as in some high tech Internet business in the not too distant future. And that an NVQ4 in Health and Social Care (the vocational equivalent of a degree) might well have more cachet than a Degree in Mediaeval Studies. The future will be as much about a middle aged (migrant?) person changing wet bedsheets in an old people’s home as it will be about being an app designer, assuming apps have not ceased to be fashionable by then. Working in care is as highly skilled as working in IT. One requires soft skills the other hard skills, but that does not mean the latter should be elevated over the former, even if care is poorly paid (and it should not be). As I say, neither camp is addressing the reality that faces our society and economy in the next 10 to 15 years.
Of course, Kylie and Darren already work in care, but then is that not work for which they are suited? Paying their taxes so a minority (http://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/blog/2013/jun/04/higher-education-participation-data-analysis) may, perhaps, not have to pay university tuition fees? I do not think the Corbynites are stupid, but I do think they seem to have forgotten that Labour is meant to be the party of the many not the few. Their preferred leadership candidate, by making his first policy statement about free university tuition fees, seems to be suffering from the same malaise.
Talking about a radical reform of post 18 education and training, creating opportunities for all, would have been in the spirit of Attlee and Bevan, although it would have made a lousy sound bite, would have turned off middle class lefties and today’s students. But then, silly me, I thought that was what Labour was meant to be about? Levelling up not down (as Bevan put it), challenging privilege and each giving according to their means and receiving according to the needs. Of course, the latter would mean sacrifices by middle class lefties and as Scotland shows they rather like having their cake and eating it. May be we do need a new party on the left, but many of those routinely advocating it might find they are insufficiently radical to qualify for membership.
Incidentally, I will be using all but one of my preference votes in the Deputy Leadership election. Sorry, Tom Watson …
I have no idea why you are under the impression that a ‘high tech future’ and Health care are in active opposition to each other, or why you think ‘apps’ (merely a popular slang term for ‘application’ aka ‘computer program’) are such a derisory concept. Without IT and technology developments of the last few decades, the NHS would have neither the treatments not sufficient staff to provide even the service it does today, let alone the future.
I’ve just had treatment for a serious persistent sinus problem that involved as its star turns (ignoring the ‘back end’ infrastructure) a fibre optic probe and a CT scanner. Apart from the dramatic reduction in required manpower compared to previous eras, try that without the various facets of the tech industry.
The vast majority of people do not, thankfully, go into hospital for the kind of treatment you describe so my point stands. You cannot replace GPs and health and care workers with ICT, particularly because robots with fuzzy logic are not in the offing.
Moreover, as an advocate of evidence as opposed to anecdote based policy making, I prescribe a focus on promoting health lifestyles. An approach which would do a lot more to reduce pressure on the NHS than more gimmicks dreamed up by an industry with a poor track record for delivering projects on budget, on time and to specification in both the public and private sectors. Whatever happened to the project to have one ICT system for records across the NHS?
Too often those advocating ICT solutions are those who stand to make money out of them whether or not they succeed or fail. I pray in aid the disastrous development and implementation of Universal Credit which IDS claims will reduce to a reduction in costs overall. In the meanwhile, JSAPS and ESAPS which have never properly functioned since their implementation become ever more degraded. JSAPS is around 20 years old and started out with work arounds.
Where is your evidence that ICT solutions in the delivery of health and care services, not the sort of procedure you describe, will be good for service users and the taxpayer? Whitehall (and the private sector) have wasted 100s of billions of pounds over the last 30 or so years, a good chunk on ICT projects that were either not required and/or fit for purpose.
I cite apps in the way I do, because of the app for that philosophy currently prevailing in society. Keynes remarked, ““Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back”. These days I think he might well have substituted high tech guru for economist.
I don’t think genuine Corbyn supporters are stupid but people who nominated him to ‘widen the debate’ and didn’t actually want him to win are very silly and even sillier for admitting that they nominated him for the wrong reasons. It is also extremely patronising and condescending to think that you need to take responsibility for giving a voice to people who you don’t agree with. It doesn’t say much for the standard of debate and politicking in the Labour Party when people on the centre and on the right think they have to nominate a lefty to make sure that there is some diversity.
If Corbyn had not been given a wild card into the leadership race then I am confident that some of his supporters would have been claiming that there had been a conspiracy to keep him off the ballot paper! As it is, the fact that Corbyn needed a wild card shows he lacks wide support within the Parliamentary Labour Party and, given his unique record of defying the Party Whip, then his ability to impose any discipline on that body is poor at best. How does the man who has made a career going against the leadership of his Party persuade people they should not carve out similar reputations defying him?
Corbyn, the eternal rebel, as Leader of the Labour Party in the House of Commons … Will he, by accident and conforming to his old habits, sometimes vote against the line he has asked the Parliamentary Party to toe? One suspects that if he wins he will not last, partly because he knows himself that he is not leadership material.
Moreover, Mr Corbyn is not always the caricature lefty that some of his supporters and detractors paint him as being. He sometimes takes action like this https://davidhencke.wordpress.com/2015/06/15/its-true-tridents-greatest-enemy-jeremy-corbyn-backs-tridents-greatest-friend-julian-lewis/
Does that nomination make Corbyn a traitor to the cause or a pragmatist? You see, he nominated a right wing Tory to get diversity in the debate about Trident, in fact, he nominated him to get such a debate. Was it “extremely patronising and condescending” of Corbyn “to think that” he needed “to take responsibility for giving a voice to people” whom he “does not agree with”?
While politics is of course about winning elections, those who pursue that as an aim to the exclusion of all else ignore that it also has to be about principle and conviction, or victory is worth very little. Labour have held absolutely no interest for me since Blair became leader because absolutely nothing the party did or stood for at ‘the sharp end’ coincided with my own rather left wing views, and many policies were simply too objectionable to be reconcilable with the party’s stated aims.
However Jeremy Corbyns apparent impact on the leadership election gives me a least a little hope that something good might just emerge, and has me at least thinking of becoming a member again after twenty years. Since his views seem very much in accord with my own, I really would be ‘stupid’ not to sit up and pay attention.
A victory for Jeremy may very well damage Labours short term prospects, but it at least provides a proper opportunity for the open and frank debate on the party’s direction and future that is necessary and long overdue. I honestly couldn’t give a toss for the ‘good of the party at any cost’ or the idea of seeing its perpetuation as an end in itself. I do however care deeply about the people of this country and the wider world, and just cannot see an unbroken continuation of the ‘business as usual’ policy dictation of Labours last twenty years provides hope to anyone except the tories, and it certainly would not persuade me to vote Labour again.
So the National Minimum Wage for example was not to your taste? Line one of a Labour Government’s plans from the party’s founding. Enacted, embarrassingly, by the first Blair Government.
Let us, however, forget the various policies for the common good enacted by Labour Governments since the 1920s. What has the non aligned Left ever achieved to improve the condition of the working class in the same period, except play the we are more principled and virtuous than you card?
If Corbyn does win then I look forward to you re-joining the party and taking over the campaigning role that people like me play, week in and week out (and not just in internal party elections or on polling day) throughout the year. We will then be able to sit on the side lines and tell you where you are going wrong, save ourselves the money we contribute on an ad hoc basis to the party and, of course shoe leather and time.
As much of a landmark as the introduction of the National Minimum Wage was, the gains were more than wiped out by the continuation of ‘right to buy’ without the replenishment of social housing stock and the legitimisation of ‘buy to let’, also under Blair. The pressure on housing as a whole remains a time bomb that won’t go away that has consumed much of the gain from wage rises for all but the most wealthy, with London now rapidly being cleansed of pretty much anyone who doesn’t earn a well above an average – not minimum – wage.
Yes there were positive policies, but there’s little point cherry picking either good or bad without viewing the period as a whole. Most of the good was little more than tinkering at the edges, while the bulk of policy was aimed at entrenching what in my opinion is a rather unacceptable status quo rather than lasting, sustainable improvement to the lives of ordinary people. The effective policy veto handed to the Murdoch press was simply offensive and a big part of why I finally had enough – it became quite clear ‘radical’ was never going to be anything more than a keyword in the latest press release.
The fact that the tories have found it so ludicrously easy to unpick many of the gains doesn’t speak well of Labour’s time in office, and the effects of the Iraq debacle and the unchecked rise of mass surveillance that began with RIPA (another of Blairs landmarks you’ll recall) speak for themselves. Perhaps you see it differently, but democracy being what it is, I don’t see it your way at all, and I do think its time to rethink the approach.
As for campaigning, since you know nothing of my history, I’d suggest you keep your patronising opinions on it to yourself and stick to what you do know.
You have, by your own admission, not been a member of the Labour Party for over 20 years so I think it reasonable to infer that you have not been active in campaigning for the party in that period so my “patronising opinions” stand.
Having, as I assume, you have not been campaigning in that period and holding “rather left wing views” I would look forward to you going door to door to sell them to the average voter. Average voters who, unbidden, brought up issues on the doorstep like migration and Europe:
If anyone is being patronising then it is smug armchair lefties, who think preserving their ‘principles’ at all costs (and avoiding getting their hands dirty thereby) is more important than doing something positive for the condition of the working class. You are not even in sympathy with the Corbynites who are members of the party and active in the boring, but essential, campaign work required between and for Council, Parliamentary and Euro Elections.
The Tories have found it hard to unpick the Children’s Centres that have, thankfully, become entrenched in their local communities. Sure Start, based on the US Head Start programme (https://jodatu.wordpress.com/2014/10/03/ukip-would-scrap-childrenscentres-surestart-clacton-clactonbyelection-heywood-middleton/), is a measure designed to create “lasting, sustainable improvement to the lives of ordinary people”. And you do not do the latter without building a consensus, with people across the political spectrum. Sure Start is as important as the NHS. It may even reduce pressure on the NHS in the medium to long term.
Given you have no vote in Labour’s Leadership election (?) may I ask why anyone should take your views seriously? There is a concern growing amongst the Party membership, that Corbyn shares, that entryists from the Hard Right and Hard Left are seeking to use this election as way of destroying the party. Anyone who left the party around 20 or so years ago did so before the Blair era, around the time of the death of John Smith and well before Iraq so your disenchantment back then was founded on what policies exactly?
You may keep your principles shining bright, not get your hands on the levers of power and do nothing to improve the condition of the people or get them a little tarnished, get your hands on the levers of power and do something (David Lloyd George). DLG and Keir Hardie saw eye to eye on many issues to the point where DLG mused as to why Hardie was not a member of the Liberal Party. Hardie never crossed the floor, but he did know you had to make compromises and deals to achieve “lasting, sustainable improvement to the lives of ordinary people”. As, of course, did Bevan, “Righteous people terrify me … Virtue is its own punishment.” And Bevan was not a member of the Hard Left, but a democratic socialist.
Bevan, wrongly in my opinion, approved of our Unwritten Constitution which, amongst other things prevents one Parliament binding the hands of the next. That curb on elective democracy or elective dictatorship is why “the tories have found it so ludicrously easy to unpick many of the gains” “of Labour’s time in office”. Nice to see, though, you admitting there were gains that deserved to survive the General Election of May 2010!
One final point, it was noticeable how many old school lefties jumped on the Green Party bandwagon, but only after it started rolling in the run up to this year’s General Election. I think, had I been an active member of the Green Party for many years, that I would have been spitting blood at these Tamsin and Tarquin come latelys. New members, who after having joined the Party online, did nothing more than flash their party cards and bore everyone rigid about how virtuous etc they were. They did not even bother, a few of the much mentioned 40,000, to turn out at the Parliamentary count I was present at on Thursday 7th May, despite them having an admirable candidate. I personally stopped one of his votes going into the Tory piles. There was no Green Party member there to do it for him.
The Green Party had a good story to tell, particularly with regards to the Green Industrial Revolution, but few people with which to tell it in a way that had mass appeal. I guess therein lies the rub, to tell the story they would had to have got their hands dirty. That Natalie Bennett is still leader of the Green Party underlines where putting principle before everything else gets you. A leader speaking only to people like herself, Guardianistas in her case, and someone used to knowing and articulating what she is against more than what she is for. Sound familiar?
My opposition to Corbyn is not so much about policy, but his character, a serial rebel against the Party Whip will be unable to command the loyalty and disciplined support of the Parliamentary Labour Party (and the wider party), unless he plans to adopt the Blairite approach to party unity that he himself rejected. He will be hoist by his own petard.
If that (again) patronising diatribe is in any way representative of what you or you ilk deliver to any doubters you encounter while campaigning, it’s unsurprising so many couldn’t be arsed to vote at the last election. If there was actually a point in there you were trying to make, I’m afraid it missed entirely.
My main point is that you are a bandwagon jumper. One seemingly incapable of responding to any point of view that is not wholly in agreement with your own, following a reasoned line of argument or answering any questions put to you:
You have, by your own admission, not been a member of the Labour Party for over 20 years so I think it reasonable to infer that you have not been active in campaigning for the party in that period so my “patronising opinions” stand. Am I correct in saying that?
Given you have no vote in Labour’s Leadership election (?) may I ask why anyone should take your views seriously? Do you, in fact, have a vote in this election?
Anyone who left the party around 20 or so years ago did so before the Blair era, around the time of the death of John Smith and well before Iraq so your disenchantment back then was founded on what policies exactly?
Please define what you mean by patronising?
Have you read the items to which I have linked? I did not do so just for the sake of it.
Do you require any more information about Sure Start?
Do you think any candidate in the Labour Leadership Election is wholly addressing the issues identified in the Smith Institute analysis?
Click to access red-alert-why-labour-lost-and-what-needs-to-change.pdf
Do you think it is more important to give free university tuition fees to the offspring of mostly well off parents rather than providing good quality post 18 education, training and learning for all?
Do you think Labour should be about challenging vested interests, wherever they lurk, be about the many and not the few and set at the heart of its principles that each should give according to their means and receive according to their needs?
Damaging Labour’s short term electoral prospects in Birmingham would hand our unitary authority over to the local Tory Party, perhaps for four years. We are already under an unprecedented assault from this Government that began under the Coalition. I pray in aid the massive cuts in central government funding, the Kerslake Report and the ‘Trojan Plot’. We cannot afford, for the sake of the people of Birmingham, working class or otherwise, to engage in the experiment you suggest. They are suffering enough as it is. They cannot afford to pay the price of your principles.
Couldn’t agree more. As well as the accusations of ‘stupidity’ though, there’s also the patronising, ‘aw bless, you’re all emotional’ line.
It seems to me the anti-Corbyn rhetoric seeks to divide supporters into two camps:
There are those who are voting for Corbyn and think he’s ‘electable’— they’re politically naive or stupid.
And there are also those who are voting for Corbyn, despite not thinking he’s electable— they’re ‘petulant children’/‘in need of a heart transplant’/‘have a death wish for Labour’.
I used to belong to the first camp. My thinking was that the ‘Corbyn’s unelectable’ line is based on some dodgy premisses.
First, there’s the assumption that the election result showed that voters are basically on board with the Tory economic narrative. That’s dubious: since Labour failed to offer any meaningful critiques or credible alternatives, this wasn’t an instance of informed consent.
Next, even if the public were staunchly in favour of the Tory economic narrative, it’s a further assumption to think opinion will stay where it is until 2020. That seems to me both naive (because of the static conception of public opinion it implies) and fatalistic (because it neglects the role of an opposition government in actively shaping public opinion).
Finally, there seems to be some cherry-picking of evidence behind the ‘Corbyn’s unelectable’ thinking, e.g. focusing on the (alleged) current state of public economic opinion while ignoring Corbyn’s obvious skill at harnessing momentum, speaking with clarity and conviction— these are surely traits that at least contribute to a politician’s being ‘electable’, if such traits there are.
Now, though, I’m leaning towards the second camp. I still think the ‘Corbyn’s unelectable’ arguments are poor, for the above reasons. But it’s now been made abundantly clear to me that Corbyn’s own party would sabotage his leadership every step of the way, and divided, warring parties are unelectable.
I’m still voting for Corbyn though. Petulant? Maybe. But I like to think it’s principled petulance. That’s not just because I think Corbyn’s right. Nor is it because I think the Labour party should put ethos before office; I do think that, all else equal, it would be better to have a Labour government than a Tory one, even if that means placating the centre-right more than I’d personally like.
It’s because I’m tired of the assumption that, if you take an intelligent interest in politics, you should base your democratic decisions on the second-guessed preferences of everyone else; that, for instance, no matter how much I disagree with austerity and ‘welfare reform’, I shouldn’t allow my opinion to colour my voting decision in the leadership contest, because, come the next general election, voters in key marginals will think differently to me. If I always allow political expedience to rule my decisions, my democratic voice vanishes; all I’m doing is making someone else’s voice louder.
We now have objective data as to which groups Labour lost, where and why. We no longer need to second guess the voters. We do need to approach the subject of how to get a Labour Government in 2020 with cool heads and open minds, whichever leadership candidate we support. That does not mean that the policies finally decided upon should be Blairite or Thatcherite or Bennite, but that they should have some connection with the voters Labour needs to win in 2020. Although, in the case of health, one should perhaps risk a few votes by telling voters if they led healthier lives then there would be a lot less pressure on the NHS:
Click to access red-alert-why-labour-lost-and-what-needs-to-change.pdf
Labour may have lost Scotland for good. Labour voters who voted for independence in September 2014 switched to the party promoting that policy in May 2015, the SNP. Will Labour be happy to grasp the thistle of independence? Moreover, Scottish voters seem, in part, to have trusted the SNP more with the economy than Labour. The SNP campaigns in poetry on the left and governs in prose on the right:
I am not surprised middle class voters have welcomed free university tuition fees in Scotland and are flocking to Corbyn for promising the same in England. Very much a case of the something for nothing culture and a further expansion of the middle class welfare state that has mostly survived intact since May 2010.
I have been surprised to find myself to the left of Corbyn on a number of issues, in particular I do not refer to tax fraud as tax evasion as Corbyn. For me, Corbyn lacks ambition. He is too quick to duck fights with vested interests like business, seemingly preferring to use taxpayer’s money to address the symptoms of the British disease, poor management across wide sectors of the economy, public, private and voluntary and community sectors rather than look for a cure.
We have a cure. “Politicians do not know much about management, and nor should they. Since the Thatcher era, politicians have placed themselves at the helm of public sector reform. Regardless of party, their ideas have been much the same — ideas which, when we get down to the nitty gritty, are themselves the principal cause of rising cost and expenditure.
It is unrealistic to expect MPs to be experts in management. But that being so, they need to recognise this and do the logical thing: get out of management altogether. This is the key change required in the way Whitehall runs public services, if we are to realise the enormous opportunity that exists to improve those services.”
“Politicians should limit their focus to the purpose of public services, something that is properly their responsibility to mandate. Purpose must be thought of in customer (citizen) terms. Conceiving it this way puts politicians where they need to be: connected to the people they represent, able to appreciate the value of public services in their terms, to see sub-optimisation in terms of failure to work (meet the purposes) from the citizen’s point of view, but also to understand how better services build stronger communities, resolve social problems and lower costs.”
I do not see any of the four leadership candidates reaching for this cure, in part because they not only want to set the direction of travel for policy, but, in excruciating detail say how it should be implemented. Corbyn has oven ready ways of delivering policy just like the other three. In one sense, they are all heirs of Thatcher and Blair.
Incidentally, except helping to win the Labour Leadership Election for Corbyn, what does he think his policy of free university tuition fees would do for the good of the country? And Richard Murphy is wrong to say his quantitative easing policy might not result in inflation. There is an old quip, attributed to George Bernard Shaw, that if all the economists in the world were laid end to end, they would never reach a conclusion. That, dear reader, is the only certainty in economics!
Hi John, thanks for the detailed reply!
We now have objective data as to which groups Labour lost, where and why. We no longer need to second guess the voters.
Let me clarify: I’m aware of the ‘objective data’, like the stats in the Smith Institute. This obviously gives a good indication of the reasons for Labour’s failure in the last election. But it doesn’t tell us what public opinion will be like in 2020. Nor does it tell us about how well each of the leadership candidates might do at honing a message, responding to contingencies, and moulding to the shifting contours of public opinion. And when people call Corbyn ‘unelectable’, they are talking about how well they think he will perform in 2020. So their predictions, while based on currently sound data, are second guesses of where public opinion will be in the future, where it’s not at all obvious that our data is valid.
I’d also add that some of the conclusions people have drawn from the data, even those concerning current public opinion, are somewhat dubious. For instance, some take the data to show that voters are in favour of Osbornomics and the austerity narrative. But that doesn’t follow. Suppose you and I go on holiday to an area I know well, but you don’t. You ask what we might do today. I know that we could either go to the mountains or the beach. But what I say to you is: “Well, we could either drive to the mountains… or we could take the bus”. “Let’s drive”, you say, and off we go.
Would it be reasonable to infer that you prefer the mountains to the beach? That going to the mountains is your favoured option? You might think so; my intuition tells me it isn’t. I think your decision to go to the mountains only reveals a genuine preference to the extent that you’re informed and aware of the alternatives. And thanks to Labour under Miliband, voters were not informed of the economic case against the austerity narrative and Osbornomics, and the alternatives to it. That’s why I don’t accept that winning in 2020 means leaving intact the hollow premisses of the Tory’s economic fable. Yes, we’d have to offer a counter-narrative with broad appeal, stressing growth, investment and prosperity, so as not to frighten the middle class swing voters. But, as far as I can see, that’s what Corbyn’s gearing up towards.
That’s just one policy area, of course. But I thinks it’s an important example of an area where our current data gives us a poor idea of where public opinion might be in future, and where a strong opposition government might help to take it. I guess what I’m saying is, I agree with you when you say:
We do need to approach the subject of how to get a Labour Government in 2020 with cool heads and open minds, whichever leadership candidate we support. That does not mean that the policies finally decided upon should be Blairite or Thatcherite or Bennite, but that they should have some connection with the voters Labour needs to win in 2020.
But I’d add that ‘the voters Labour needs to win in 2020’ are not static entities, whose minds won’t be changed by unfolding contingencies, and who are insensitive to good political communication. Because of such variables, I think it’s myopic to assume our current ‘objective data’ will hold steadfast for the next half a decade; it needs to be treated as a jumping-off point, not the end goal.
Anyway, just some notes there in response to your thoughts. I like your blog, by the way!
Spoken like a true Humanities Graduate! And I am afraid that we already have too many of them. Thank you for your kind comments about my blog!
You only have to look around to see the state in which we find our society and economy after 200 years of rule by mostly middle and upper class Arts Graduates to see why we have ended up where we are. We have a Chancellor of the Exchequer who got a Degree in History and a leader of the Green Party who is a Guardianista, one who was less successful than Miliband into turning her poll party’s ratings into votes in ballot boxes. If you want to see what needs changing in the body politic then Osborne and Bennett are prime examples of the sort of people we need to keep well away from the levers of power. I bracket Corbyn in that group, although to be fair he dropped out of (what was then, for non academic reasons) the very popular North London Polytechnic before he might have graduated. Corbyn is a good example of why not going to university is not a barrier to getting a good, well paid (by the taxpayer) job in the public sector!
We now have a range of data sets that form a baseline against which to assess the development of an over arching narrative to put Labour back in power. A baseline that may be updated as the result of each opinion poll that only really counts, an election, come in. A baseline that is the start of a conversation with voters and you may only start that conversation by accepting where people are now and that includes not shying away from talking about migrationb You are quite right to say we do not know how matters will stand in 2020, but then neither do those who would rather not study that data as a starting point for rebuilding the Labour Party.
If we do not know about public opinion in 2020 then we know not much more about the nature of the policies required to address the issues facing the UK in 2020. Would be good to adopt a TQM approach to help us reach that point. Time to let those of us with practical experience as well as theoretical knowledge of policy making to help with that process. The theoreticians have too long held sway in the development of party policy. One of the best examples of where there was a fusion of the two were Labour’s various New Deals for jobseekers, in particular, the flagship New Deal for Young People. NDYP is now damned out of hand for being workfare. I cannot remain in the Labour Party, if that attitude begins to have a serious degree of influence.
The Party started with the vision of one with fewer young people out of work then started to look at how that goal might be achieved; a framework developed; stakeholders were consulted, what ever their politics or lack of them; a draft outline was drawn up, it was widely publicised; more views, thoughts etc came in and, over a year before the 1997 General Election, Labour had a fairly complete plan with which to seek support. On May 2nd 1997, my then Employment Service Regional Director was summoned to Sheffield to help firm up the plan and develop it to the point where it might be tested through Pathfinders. The Pathfinders went live in January 1998 and full roll out began in April 1998. Of course, NDYP was funded out of the Windfall Tax. Glorious it was to have a principled goal, underpinned by serious thinking and work, and being able to do something for the most disadvantaged in our society. Heavens above, we were even taking serious steps to level the playing field between the traditional route to a degree and all other forms of post 18 education and learning.
I will not, therefore, campaign for the offspring of David Cameron or Jeremy Corbyn to have a free, traditional university education that will further skew the perception that not going to university only fits people to undertake the work of machine minders. And, if as Corbyn says our investment in learning is about, not personal advancement, but whether or not it is in the interests of wider society then I look forward to him capping the number of places for popular degree subjects that are not a reasonable return on our investment. Time, in fact, to remember that part of the spirit of 1945 was about ending the division between gentlemen and players, officers and other ranks. Time to set a goal of levelling up not levelling down as Bevan put it. Corbyn has unveiled no goal to increase the proportion and total number of people from lower income backgrounds entering university education.
I joined the Labour Party because I thought it was committed to social justice. I will not stay in a party, many of whose members seem happy to vote for a candidate running away from fights with vested interests, including the middle class and management across wide swathes of the three sectors of our economy. Corbyn strikes me as the most middle class of the four candidates, hardly surprising really, given he is the son of middle school parents, went to a grammar school, dropped out of ‘higher’ education when it was fashionable so to do and then began a career in politics. I think it hilarious that people who, on any other day would be ridiculing career politicians, are praising to the skies someone who has not had, in the eyes of many of the voters Labour needs to win in 2020, a proper job. Many rallying to the Corbyn banner are saying the Labour Party left them. I know how they feel. A party built up by an alliance between, quite often conservative, trades unionists, the middle class and Christians is now once again being dominated by the middle class. At least with programmes like NDYP and Sure Start, one thought the Blairites knew where most of its support, at election time, lived and lives.
As an aside, would someone remind Corbyn that Tony Benn (if only he were on the ballot paper!) said that Labour owed as much to Methodism as Marxism. You might also remind him that as a member of the bourgeoisie is his carrying put his pre-determined function to lay the ground for a Marxist Revolution that will sweep him and his class out of power for good. May be the proletariat will have the last laugh, after all? Be thank for small mercies that those of us on the left are, like Bevan, committed to democratic socialism.
You might have noticed that seemingly few people in the Labour Party want to admit that they did not put in a 100% effort to get the party elected out on the doorstep. I am afraid that I detect, particularly amongst Corbyn supporters, the sort of people happy to turn out for leadership elections or hear Owen Jones deliver a talk during a visit to their constituency by Owen Jones, but who are unavailable to deliver leaflets in a damp, grey February half way between General Elections. Seemingly most of the Green Party’s 40,000 paid up supporters are in the click membership group. Labour needs to become a mass membership party, much more reflective of the general population. I do not see free university tuition fees helping striking much of a chord with those the party needs to recruit to its ranks.
Corbyn et al need to set the direction of travel for Labour policy making. Let them all give us a vision of what the United Kingdom will be like after a full term of a Corbyn, Cooper, Burnham or Kendall Government rather than compiling policy lists designed to attract voters, amongst a group of people who are not a representative sample of the UK electorate today let alone the electorate of 2020.
I have to commend Corbyn for picking the right spin doctor to win him the leadership of the Labour Party. Every erogenuous zone has been identified and stroked. Free university tuition fees for mostly middle and higher income rearners ‘surprisingly’ find favour with existing students, middle and higher income earners and their offspring as well as those employed in the university sector. Those who think all work experience is workfare and that any of the back to work measures of the last 30 years are, again, some form of workfare will be pleased to see their poorly informed opinions backed by Corbyn. Those who think that the backbone of Corbyn’s poorly thought out National Education Service should be provided by the further education colleges will, I am sure be purring, not least those who work in them and so on.
Corbyn is assembling a coalition of support with policies, in a number of areas, that do not address today’s problems let alone those of 2020. He thinks non voters are disillusioned. I suspect that is one reason why people do not vote, but by no means the only one. My family comes from one of the most deprived Wards in England. Many of them still live there. Many of them do not vote. The Ward is made up of predominantly white, working class people, although that is beginning to change. They do hard, even dangerous jobs, such are removing asbestos, they suspect migrants and they flirt with voting ukip. Until recently, the Ward returned three Labour Councillors with sizeable majorities. It now has two Tories, who run as ukip lite, and we have just held on to the third seat this May. Arguably, Labour has not done enough for those people, but they have taken the Children’s Centres to their hearts.
Let us forget the opinion polls, canvassing returns, anecdotal evidence et all and focus on one question, will Corbyn’s flagship policy of free university tuition fees, on a par with the Green Part’s Basic Income, help Labour retake those two council seats? Should we lose the third in a year or so, due to an election as a result of reducing the total number of Councillors, then we may be out of power in Birmingham for many years. And if a Labour Party, particularly led by Corbyn, is unable to connect and have a conversation with my relatives, arguably natural Labour voters, then it will not win in 2020.
Unless Corbyn stops preaching to the converted and coming up with policy ideas that do not challenge the views of that group and vested interests then I will leave the party. I want an inclusive approach to policy making that recognises and respects my insights developed over 27 years of working, mostly in inner city areas, with the sort of people whose votes Labour needs to win, win back and hold on to. I am not just asking for that for myself, but for many rank and file party members, supporters and people, who although they may never vote for us, share our aims.
In 1998, I was approached by a chap after an NDYP meeting in Washwood Heath Jobcentre and he said to me, I vote Tory and expect never to do otherwise, but Gordon Brown is putting a serious effort and resources into helping to reduce youth unemployment. We may not need his vote to win, but we do at least need his help to achieve lasting change. NDYP was a public sector led, in the vast majority of Great Britain, partnership of public, private and voluntary community sector organisations with only one goal, to reduce youth unemployment. We worked towards that goal within a national framework that was designed to allow our Birmingham New Deal Partnership a great deal of leeway to develop solutions that met the needs of young people, the many not the few.
I will not remain in the Labour Party, if Corbyn insists on elevating the interests of his class above the interests of my class for whom Labour was founded. Each giving, according to their means and receiving, according to their means requires the middle class, in particular, to make some sacrifices. In Scotland, the SNP have secured their votes by campaigning, in poetry on the left and governing, in prose on the right. The SNP have chosen, although, they have to power to do so, to enact a property tax that would reduce the burden of local authority tax on those of lower incomes by increasing the taxes paid by middle and higher income earners. Indeed, Labour has a lot to learn from the SNP, although the only group that stayed with Labour, pesky data, in England and Wales were middle class voters!
I cannot, I will not, seek the votes of my neighbours and relatives to provide free university tuition fees for young people, drawn from mostly middle and high income backgrounds, on the off chance that some time around 2022 Corbyn’s NES will start delivering something that will improve their lot. The last time I looked, Engels wrote a book called, The Condition of the Working Class in England not that of the Middle Class. I am sure Corbyn is very nice, well intentioned even, but he reminds me of those West End ladies, who in the Hungry Thirties went up East to show the cockneys how to make best use of left overs, in fact, how to make fish head and tail soup. As they got into their stride, a voice shouted from the back, and when do we get the fish???
SNP have chosen not to enact … And should be a lot to learn in inverted commas!