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All I want for Christmas is a democratic socialist agenda, Jeremy

Santa JeremySo much for the clandestine mutterings that Corbyn would be gone by Christmas, then. By now it must be obvious to even the dimmest 4.5%er that they won’t be finding a new Labour leader in their stocking come 24 December.

Do you really think it’s an accident that Corbyn has been photographed in a Santa hat?  Actually, he’s making a list, he’s checking it twice, he’s gonna find out who’s naughty and nice. And clearly a significantly chunk of the Parliamentary Labour Party have not been good boys and girls this year, repeatedly crossing the border demarcating legitimate dissent and deliberate destabilisation.

Despite a hate campaign of unprecedented venom from some of the people who are supposed to constitute his own side, Corbyn has somehow survived the controversies that culminated in the Syria vote crisis. By-election victory in the Oldham West by-election has even strengthened his position, at least temporarily.

Yet it is noticeable that Jeremy has thus far allowed the agenda to be determined for him, either by happenstance or by his opponents, with little attempt to make the political weather. There might be much to be said in favour of eschewing spin, but doing so comes with costs.

All politicians are rightly faced with questions when major events such as last month’s Paris terror attacks occur. But those kind of things are outwith their control. Where leaders of the opposition do have the opportunity to influence political discussion is via their policy announcements and by the speeches they make, and so far Team Corbyn has been slow to take advantage of the openings available.

Effectively this has given the rightwing media a free pass. Instead of having to discuss (and thereby publicise) potentially popular democratic socialist proposals for Britain’s future, they are able instead to concentrate on ludicrously detailed scrutiny of everything anyone on the Labour left has ever said, written or done.

Woe betide if the Daily Mail can ever establish that Jeremy Corbyn has once asked his wife ‘fancy a cup of tea, love?’, and that Pol Pot had once uttered those very words to his missus.

One serious newspaper has been reduced to running stories interpreting the dancing at the Labour Party office Xmas bash as a ‘risking the wrath’ of the new leadership. One hates to think what The Independent would have said if anyone had indulged in photocopying their buttocks, which foreign readers should understand is something of a British tradition on these occasions.

What we have had from Corbyn has largely come in the shape of principles, specifically his ‘three pillars’ of a new politics, a new economy and a different kind of foreign policy. All well and good. The extension of democracy and opposition to austerity and war command widespread support on the left. But a priority for 2016 must be for Team Corbyn to flesh out how we are going to get these desirable places.

Many of the ideas floated during the campaign, from women-only railway carriages to a right to buy from private landlords and the nationalisation of major utilities, have either been explicitly shelved or no longer merit a mention. The few concrete measures that have been advanced – most notably John McDonnell’s ‘socialism with an iPad’ call – remain vague.

Of course it’s early days yet, and no-one is suggesting that that the 2020 manifesto needs to be in place any time soon.

But what is currently lacking are the sort of eye-catching positive initiatives that Labour Party members can use to sell Corbynism on the doorstep. In 2016, Jeremy needs to shift off the defensive and start telling the electorate what a leftwing Labour government would do in office.

After all, if there are going to be perpetual anti-Labour press and broadcast shitstorms anyway, they might as well be about the message the Labour left wants to get over, rather than Corbyn quoting Enver Hoxha at office Xmas social.

Any chance of an early pressie, Jezza?

4 Comments

  1. Chris Lovett says:

    How about today’s announcement about re-nationalisation of the Royal Mail?

  2. David Ellis says:

    One thing that could blow all the tittle tattle and personal venom out of the water was if Corby was to announce a labour movement campaign to support a LEAVE vote in Cameron’s EU referendum and to outline in the process his vision for a post-Brexist Britain and a post-Brexit Europe. One thing is for sure if Cameron loses despite Labour support the Labour Party will be excluded by the electorate from having any say in what a post-Brexit Britain should look like and if Cameron wins thanks to Labour support especially if narrowly then the party will be as wiped out in England and Wales as it was after collaborating with Cameron and the Tories in Scotland. Time to put some socialist meat on the anti-austerity bones and at the same time impose a major political defeat on Cameron’s government maybe even turning it into a lame duck.

  3. Richard says:

    Not here to claim that Corbyn has been perfect since he took over as leader but ask yourself if you think the ‘right wing media’ will ever support a left wing Labout Party leader? The only serious answer would be that under ‘normal’ circumstances there isn’t a cat in hells chance.
    This leaves me to argue that this article is thus simply another attempt to hang some blame on Corbyn and any sort of blame will do. It is a subtle one, but it still casts him and his politics as incompetent without the honesty a Blairite will give.
    Odds I am giving is a pound to a pile of brown smelly stuff that the author is a newly discovered ‘soft left’, you know, the folk who vanished off of the planet in recent years, until the rise of Corbyn when the right knew that they have to divide the left in order to rule. Don’t fall for it people.

    1. David Ellis says:

      If we only do what the right wing media allow us to do then it ain’t worth the candle. Blair used to used the Murdoch press against the aspirations of the movement. Labour movement should have its own press.

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