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What is Corbynism?

CorbynWe have a good idea what “physical” Corbynism is: it’s a movement. Since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, it has swollen in size to accommodate hundreds of thousands of new members. These huge numbers cannot be laid at the door of the “usual suspect” activist community, let alone the thinning ranks of British Trotskyism. As I’ve argued many times previously, the party has transformed because the most forward-looking chunk of, for want of a better phrase, new, networked workers have come on board. And so when last year’s leadership election came around, the stakes weren’t whether Labour was poised to win the next election or not: it was a matter of life or death, of whether there would be a Labour Party. Since then, these new numbers have not, in the main, flexed their muscles – apart from Jeremy’s resounding win. The left were returned in the constituency sections of the NEC elections, but not by overwhelming votes. Lots of constituency officers were issued marching orders at CLP AGMs, but overall the movement remains as it was during the summer: diffuse.

Yet, can we talk of Corbynism as a body of ideas? Contrary to the sneers, people are attracted to Corbyn’s person on this basis. He’s against cuts. He’s against war. He stands up for the poor and vulnerable, defends social security and the NHS, attacks the scapegoating of immigrants and refugees, opposes privatisation and blind faith in markets, and rejects a system loaded in favour of the rich. All things Labour had a patchy record on under the blessed Ed and, under Blair and Brown, well. What about positive proposals? During the first leadership campaign, Jeremy talked about “People’s QE” – the idea of printing money (as we were then in a deflationary period) and rather than handing it to the banks to drive up property prices, which this government and its predecessor has done for the last six years, it would instead be put to more productive uses, such as house building, infrastructure renewal, green investment and so on. The second was the idea of life-long learning, of scrapping tuition fees and expanding further and higher education to make it even more accessible. This has the virtue of making it easier for people to retrain as old skills become obsolete and new ones are demanded by the rapid pace of technological and social change.

Is that it? Well, there is more movement on this front. We’ve heard talk of Jezza’s left populist relaunch and there was that, ahem, kipper-lite video. More interestingly, Clive Lewis has put out a piece expanding on Corbynomics. The stuff about the need for an industrial strategy and investing in green industry is all very Miliband, but he makes a crucial break with the neoliberalism of the ancien regime.

The genius of the market is supposed to lie in its ability to allocate society’s resources to their most efficient uses without central direction. Labour has long recognised that efficiency doesn’t always correspond with what is socially optimal or, in other words, “fair”. We’re now facing up to the fact that the market is not always the best guarantor of efficiency either.

Quite correct. Clive is also right to locate this problem in the context of an ageing population, climate change, the small matter of Brexit uncertainty, and a wave of automation that threatens to destroy millions of service and desk-based jobs, and not a few professional occupations too. If Labour are going to be banging on about an industrial strategy, then now is politically smart to do so. In recent days, The Economist has broken ranks and is the first centre right publication to come out and attack the Prime Minister’s well-known cluelessness and dithering. The division in the conservative establishment about her government is starting to open, and it will only be a matter of time before one of the mass circulation Tory dailies start saying the same thing. If Labour is to stand a chance at the next election, we have to oppose this shambles with solutions, and half-inching the long-term economic plan rhetoric that did will for Dave and imbue it with substance that chimes with the experience of millions of people would be a good place to begin.

On the question of defining Corbynism as a current, Keynes-inspired industrial strategies plus two eye-catching policies aren’t what you could describe as an intellectually distinct left politics. The vision thing, of how Britain is versus how it could be isn’t a major component of the party’s message. Corbynism isn’t a worldview, yet. And for as long as it isn’t, its purchase will remain limited.

Unfortunately for the viability of Corbynism as a project, that semi-conspiranoid and hyper-partisan rantings exercising a disproportionate influence over the Corbynist activist base present a problem more serious than a few silly tweets. If Jeremy and his comrades were clearer earlier about strategy and destination, the stronger and more coherent his support in the party would be and the less traction the likes of The Canary would have. But because leadership and, for want of a better word, guidance is slow coming from the top, solidarity among the movement is having to be forged in the crudest terms elsewhere – with all the documented problems that entails, including the fetishisation of social media. The dominant character of Corbynism now is defensive, brittle, and not at all confident engaging with the world. This is why supporters are more comfortable trolling fools like John McTernan or quibbling if it was a brick or a piece of masonry that smashed a window in Wallasley. A movement capable of winning over millions more people this does not make.

What is Corbynism? That question cannot yet be answered. But something has to be arrived at soon, otherwise it runs the risk of never becoming anything.


  1. Barry Hearth says:

    There are those within the party who are so anti Corbyn that they will never be reconciled, many of them are within the PLP.
    For Corbynism to grow and become an enduring political force, all those mainly young people, have to realise that action really does speak louder than words. They need to come out from behind their keyboards and start engaging with like minded people and others who are not so kindly disposed.
    If that happens then Jeremy Corbyn himself will become an irrelevence ( as Stephen Kinnock insists he already is) and future growth and policy reform will come naturally from within the growing membership.
    Of course, there are lots who want them to become disillusioned and drift away, leaving behind a sterile and truly irrelevant political movement well past is sell by date.

  2. Rob Green says:

    The big danger for the labour movement is that Corbyn’s Labour gets sucked into a Soft Brexit Unpopular Front consisting of Tony Blair, the Labour Right, Clegg and the Lib Dems, John Major and pro-EU Tories, Bob Geldof, Richard Branson and Corporate Capitalism. Such an electoral front would be annihilated in 2020 by some far right formation however unpopular Theresa May has become and the most annihilated part would the Labour. It would be the end of the Party as any kind of electoral or social force.

    The truth is Corbyn needs to be pushing a Terribly Hard Socialist Brexit and nothing less if Labour are to be challenging for victory in 2020. His programme on this issue should be:

    1. Immediate triggering of Article 50;
    2. No negotiations with the wretched EU;
    3. For a radical programme for working class power and the transition to socialism in a post-Brexit Britain;
    4. For a New European Settlement that favours the working class not the bosses.

    Unfortunately it looks like Corbyn and his party are simply going to drift into oblivion with out any sort of fight for socialism with the right wing ever having taken place. Unity won out over principle at the cost extinction.

    1. Tim Pendry says:

      Well said! I understand the caution as we move towards the invocation of Article 50 but the caution would be unforgivable once that decision is made.

    2. Rod says:

      “a radical programme for working class power and the transition to socialism in a post-Brexit Britain”

      If this sort of stuff had any appeal the SWP would have won the last general election.

      1. Rob Green says:

        It has appeal. The SWP doesn’t. They are as slippery as any reformist and don’t do politics. They are a cult.

      2. Mervyn Hyde says:

        Rod, if we do not tell people what the alternatives are, how will they ever know what a socialist society is.

        That is if you believe in socialism.

        Perhaps you could offer your view of the world as you see it?

        1. Rod says:

          Most people do not know what socialism is. And those who do are continually at one another’s throats over

          1. Mervyn Hyde says:

            Rod, it one thing to offer an opinion and another to criticise, can you tell us what you think about the world we live in as that was the question I put to you, and do believe in socialism?

        2. Rod says:

          Most people do not know what socialism is. And those who do are continually at one another’s throats over their preferred variants.

          Almost everyone has an idea of how society could be improved – that’s a useful starting point. The next step is towards greater participation – getting the 100s of 1000s who’ve joined the LP to become actively involved.

          1. Mervyn Hyde says:

            The first attempt seemed to go awry:

            Rod, that is fine but what are they going to campaign for?

          2. Rod says:

            @ Mervyn
            There are enough people in politics telling others what to do, including in my own CLP – new boss same as the old boss etc. I’m not going to become one of them.

            One of the benefits that can arise from the Corbyn era is the proposal to democratise policy making within the LP. That is the way we should go.

            There’s much more to do than declare oneself to be a socialist and then assume all will be well with the world.

  3. Jim Denham says:

    “Corbyn needs to be pushing a Terribly Hard Socialist Brexit” … and demanding a return to the Gold Standard, preaching faith in the Single Tax and seeking proof of the existence of the Unicorn.

    1. Rob Bab says:

      “Zionist scum like you should not be calling themselves socialist.”
      Exactly! Have you been following the Al Jazeera exposé of the Israeli Lobby and it’s nefarious carry ons in the British Parliament? Well worth a watch, they’re all in it Akehurst, Newmark the lot. I really hope someone at Leftfutures does a piece on it.

  4. John Penney says:

    “What is Corbynism ? ” To me , sadly, as both a Momentum and Labour Party activist, “Corbynism” increasingly reminds me of one of those strange, gimmicky, automotive industry, current products , based on the marketing concept of “ Let’s try to grab a whole range of basically incompatible market segments with a bizarre “crossover model”. Hence the car industry has some strange products , part wannabee off roader (but never to leave the tarmac) , part style statement body styling swoopiness, part greenmobile statement (with a wee “hybrid” electric motor added on to pretend it’s saving fuel – and the planet). Unfortunately these bizarre mongrel vehicles actually do nothing well , and their overall purpose is unclear – other than to sell to the uncritical novelty seeker.

    And so with Jeremy himself , and in reflection of his contradictory personal “crossover styling” , the entire “Corbynist Left Surge “ and Momentum. Thus Jeremy (and his circle) has spent 40 years in a well-remunerated , undoubtedly very hard-working ,but utterly marginalised role as “ multi crossover, sometimes quasi revolutionary socialist , old soviet foreign policy international analysis adherent, quasi pacifist (on some issues) , supporter of “liberation struggles “, utter reformist, utter Labour party loyalist, moralistic liberal .”

    Yep, it’s an extraordinary mixture, and utterly incoherent. How can Corbyn seem to be a “pacifist “ yet have supported the IRA ‘s utterly non-socialist tactics, and liberation struggles ? How can Corbyn be in favour of Workers Rights and Gay Rights and Women’s Rights, yet for years have bought into all that pernicious “Axis of Resistance” nonsense, which led him , and the entire Stalinoid/Trot fusion “Stop the War ” grouping , which he chaired , to basically ignore the gross tyrannies of dictatorships like Iran, Libya, Syria and Iraq ? How can Jeremy be a “ radical socialist” , yet apparently have no intention of fighting to get Labour to adopt a radical Left Economic/political Programme ? The contradictions and questions raised are endless.

    The answer is that there is no internal coherence to “Corbynism”. He , and his tiny radical PLP Left colleagues simply navigated politically around the , often deeply contradictory, often “bee in the bonnet” political priorities and obsessions of a tiny, isolated, Far Left and radical liberal Left , largely middle class “bubble” for the 30 years of neoliberal hegemony. So far from any possible power, the contradictory nature of much of the policies proposed simply didn’t matter.

    But, fast forward to today, and Jeremy and “Corbynism “ has won an utterly unexpected (particularly by him) Leadership victory in 2015 – and repeated in 2016 , on a vague, radical Left reformist policy offer. A victory utterly unearned by anything Jeremy or the Labour Left have done in the last 30 years. A victory very much owed to the UK part of the European-wide post Austerity “Left Surge”, manifesting itself, due to the barrier to new Left Party formation of FPTP, and the extraordinary hubris of the Labour Right, in the by then profoundly corrupt , and politically bankrupt, Labour Party.

    This profound incoherence of “Corbynism” is both its short term strength, and its longer term terminal weakness. By being “all nice policy proposal ideas to all people” “Corbynism” , and Momentum, have mobilised extraordinary numbers of people around a wide set of vague “progressive “ policies. However, actually look at the policies that get approval on, for instance, the , now irrelevant, MXV site and it should be clear that few have any roots at all in the radically transformational socialist tradition. Most are saturated with a radical moralistic, middle class, liberalism, which criticises features of capitalism, but has no concept of a better society beyond the capitalist market. Many are saturated with self-absorbed “identity politics”, rather than any grounding in socialist class politics. And the entryist “Revolutionary Left” component of the “Corbyn Surge” and Momentum, have so degenerated over the last 30 years of isolation, into quasi religious cults, that, complacent in the constant repetition of their eternal Leninist verities and texts, they never actually participate at all in discussions and debate around the development of radical, Left (reformist) policies for Labour. Because as firm adherent/believers in the “Socialist Coming of Days” , when the working classes will, simultaneously overthrow capitalism globally , the only reason to be in Momentum and Labour, is to gain access its new recruits to divert to “The Revolutionary Party”.

    Two possible Left Futures for “Corbynism”.

    Unless Jeremy Corbyn and his “leadership circle” somehow break free of the impotent , incoherent, “posturing as politics” lifestyle leftiness of their entire previous political lives, and are prepared to fight the utterly intransigent Labour Right for the soul and machinery of the Party. Unless Jeremy and his circle are prepared to abandon the contradictory “moralistic liberalism” which leads them to, for instance support, unconditionally “Complete Freedom of Movement ,Globally” as a viable objective – in favour of support for Comprehensive state-led, Socialist Planning , of which UK Full Employment and forward labour supply planning would be a key component. Unless Jeremy is prepared to fight for Momentum to be won to solid socialist politics, rather than the middle class, radical liberalism, that currently dominates it. Unless Jeremy is prepared to firmly break with the disruptive “splitters and wreckers” of the quasi religious ultraleft sects: –

    Then , rather than the utterly unexpected, unpredicted, extraordinary 2015 “Corbyn Left Surge” being a manifestation of a genuine , long-term, radical Left political transformation of the previously utterly politically moribund neoliberal, Labour Party, it will be proven to have been nothing more significant than the temporary noises , and sometimes quite dramatic physical movements, often made by the decomposition gases within a dead body .

    1. David Pavett says:

      Like John I am an active member of both the Labour Party and Momentum and I am sorry to say that I broadly agree with his analysis.

      The idea of a political school of thought called “Corbynism” makes about as much sense as a school of thought called “Gaddafyism”. This is just stupid stuff. There was never a school of political thought that had its foundations in the ideas of Jeremy Corbyn and, on present performance, there is never likely to be one.

      Like so many others I voted (twice) for Corbyn. This was not because I thought he was the saviour of socialist politics (I do not think that) but because he was preferable to the dismal alternatives on offer.

      Now we have to ask why the right of the party has gone so quiet. Even its most vociferous and offensive elements have toned their comments right down. Why would that be? It is because they have gained confidence that Jeremy Corbyn will show that he is demonstrably not up to the job and that they just need to wait for the next set of election results before pouncing.

      Today’s Labour Party releases and Corbyn interviews seem to be clear proof that the right-wing strategy makes sense. The freedom of movement question seems to be one on which Corbyn is determined to prove that he prefers to cling to abstract humanistic “principles” rather than to base his socialism on the analysis on society as it is.

      There is no such thing as Corbynism and there never will be. Those of us on the left who have supported him need to recognise that he is a living embodiment of Labour’s underlying problem: Labour has no theory and no philosophy. Is moral self-justification is that it has good intentions. It relies on so-called “ethical socialism” as opposed to a socialism based on the specific nature of capitalism and what is required to solve the problems that it creates. Ethical socialism is the curse of the Labour Party. It has its roots in idealist/religious philosophy and is where pious wishes dress themselves up as political philosophy.

      But apart from theoretical questions the real point of failure of the Corbyn leadership was illustrated by the cave-in over Trident. It is not that I could not have agreed to a compromise on the eventual time to end the grotesque stupidity that it represents. Rather it was the underhand and opaque manner in which the leadership abandoned a policy previously emblematic of left-wing positions. My central reason for voting for Corbyn was in the hope that he would deliver on the promise to put members in charge of party policy. He has failed to deliver on that. I understand that he is surrounded by a PLP and by FT officials who would not lose a chance to undermine him. But neither he nor anyone in his team has laid out any sort of case to show what democratising the party would mean. Nothing has changed and members are in the dark about how decisions are made at the top level as much as ever. Not only that but there has been no leadership effort to explain to members how the policy processes of the party could be made genuinely democratic. Nothing has fundamentally changed.

      Now the right is just waiting for the Corbyn leadership to visibly run out of steam.

      1. Mervyn Hyde says:

        David once again you jump quickly to condemn Jeremy Corbyn, isn’t Mike Sivier more to the point in pointing out what Jeremy is actually saying and not what the media are?

        “He will explain that the UK’s membership of the Single Market is vital to our future as a trading nation. At the moment, the EU is demanding that the UK retain the ‘free movement’ rule if we want to stay in the Single Market and that is why Labour supports it. Critics are (deliberately) failing to mention this.

        So – as Mr Corbyn says – changes to migration rules are part of the negotiations. And, just because the EU insists on ‘free movement’, that doesn’t mean there is nothing Labour could do to stop multitudes of EU migrants flooding through our ‘Arrivals’ gates.

        Mr Corbyn’s speech states: “Labour supports fair rules and reasonably managed migration as part of the post- Brexit relationship with the EU.”
        The Labour leader has been telling us for many months that “managed migration” is possible – within the EU’s ‘free movement’ rules. He believes that strengthening rules on pay and conditions, so migrant workers are prevented from undercutting UK workers on wages and working conditions, will bring immigrant numbers down naturally.

        So there is no need to be restricted by a commitment to ‘free movement’ if the UK won’t gain anything in return, because we can use other measures to get what we want. See?”

        1. John Penney says:

          Mervyn, if the UK stays in the Single Market, then the UK hadn’t “left” the EU at all, in terms of the rules and structures of the neoliberal enforcement machine of the EU. Corbyn is deliberately confusing “membership” of the Single Market, with “ACCESS” to that huge market – which hundreds of non EU countries have currently.

          Membership of the Single Market , regardless of what you, and Corbyn, claim, impliciitly involves full adherence to complete , unfettered, freedom of movement. End of story , Corbyn is simply using weasil words to conceal this truth. If Labour collaborates in the UK staying inside the Single Market, with Freedom of Movement, Labour will quite simply be wiped out as a Party come the next General Election in whole swathes of our Labour heartlands.

          1. Mervyn Hyde says:

            John, I find it difficult to argue against coming out of the EU because I opposed it and campaigned against it back in 1975.

            The only reason I voted remain at the time was because I did not want this sterile debate to obscure what is actually happening around the world as a whole.

            I have to say that Janis Varfoukas was against the dismantling of a United Europe in favour of politicising the corporate agenda and uniting the whole of Europe against it. I must admit that it sounds naïve, and is a very long shot to achieve, but it would at least open up the true situation we all face since the collapse of the USSR.

            I just wonder what the talks were about between Jeremy and the other socialist parties, not that I have faith in the French or the SPD.

            For my part I would welcome a Left Futures open conference where we invite Jeremy and any member of the shadow cabinet to an open debate on Europe highlighting all the misgivings we have, we could also add invites to friendly academics like Bill Mitchell, Janis, Mark Blyth, and even Steve Keen to demonstrate the wealth of knowledge on Europe.

            I have always believed we can go it alone, we have all the resources we need, whether the neighbouring countries and the US would let us is also a factor to consider. When we talk about trade with the rest of the world, I regard that as a rather large joke, we buy from the rest of the world and the idea we need trade agreements to do that is laughable.

            In defence of Jeremy, it has to be understood what he is up against and the limitations on him. That is not an excuse but is a reality.

            Personally I am at present one of the suspended awaiting a verdict from the disputes panel fairly shortly, my crimes are a batch of tweets which have been lumped together and described as uncomradley, I have waited patiently to receive all the information surrounding their claims and still have not received the information.(since September) They only provided me with a copy of the tweets they use in their claims against me a day before I was interviewed by our regional organiser, after numerous email requests. In short I am being gradually processed without the means to either defend myself or substantiate the background to the tweets, having shown colleagues and friends the content of those tweets and the information from the party officials, their response has unanimously been, they don’t see the problem and what is all the fuss about.

            My point for mentioning this is that if they treat me like this just think of the problems Jeremy is having.

            Hope my idea of a conference gets some traction, and my request is that it would be held in Bristol. I could easily attend as I live in Gloucester.

        2. David Pavett says:

          All sorts of things, including negative ones, may have to be in a deal with the EU to keep as much of our present trade as we can. That is a matter of judgement in the light of what is possible. The trouble with Corbyn’s (and Diane Abbott’s) position is that for him it is a matter of “principle”. He made this clear before he was elected leader and he has expressed that view since being elected. Therefore when he uses the facts of negotiation to support his position that is just a cover for a position which is held irrespective of the facts. It is a case of vague humanistic “principles” masquerading as socialist politics.

          So no, I am not at all keen to criticise Corbyn but when he does and says things which run counter to my reasons for voting for him (twice) I believe that I have the right to express my concern. I defend him when there are grounds to do so and I criticise him when I can see none.

          Are you saying that you are happy with the way Trident was handled at the last Annual Conference? I believe that it was a case of anti-democratic back-room deals. I have said this several times in various places and no one has yet responded with a defence of what was done.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            But in Corbyn’s Peterborough speech, he expressly stated, on the record, that the EU movement regulations were not a matter of principle.

            Have a read of Corbyn’s actual speech David.

          2. David Pavett says:

            Karl, you criticise me with a specific point and give supporting evidence. That is a basis for mature debate. This contrasts with those who simply reject what they don’t agree with as “moaning” to which there is not much can say in reply.

            Having said that I don’t agree with your point and I don’t think your evidence will stand much investigation.

            Yes, I did read the Peterborough speech and thought it had some good points. The section on immigration, however, seemed to me to be an exercise in studied ambiguity. He said

            Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle, but I don’t want that to be misinterpreted, nor do we rule it out. …

            We cannot afford to lose full access to the European markets on which so many British businesses and jobs depend.

            (1) Note that he correctly states Labour’s position and not his own (more on this below).

            (2) It is a strange formulation because it suggests that Labour has a position in support of free movement but that it is not “wedded” to it. This is not the case. Labour went into the 2010 election saying “We will control immigration with our new Australian-style points-based system”. It went into the 2015 election saying “Immigration has made an important contribution to our economic and social life, but it needs to be properly controlled”.

            3. Corbyn has often stated his support for free movement as a matter of principle. Thus in just June 2016 he told Buzzfeed in June 2016.

            It’s intrinsic to the European Union that there has to be free movement of people,” the Labour leader said

            When Buzzfeed asked whether he would fight to maintain the principle of free movement for EU workers, he said: “Absolutely. That’s what we have to defend, because that’s intrinsic to the whole thing.”

            He has said this sort of thing on many occasions. In the above quote he is saying that free movement is not ruled out. In the interview with Kuensberg he said that he didn’t think immigration levels were too high.

            Put all that together and I think that you can say that there are real grounds for people saying that Corbyn’s position is less than clear. So I stand by my original point. I don’t want to criticise Corbyn but when he does things which can plausibly be judged to be unhelpful or worse then I think the democratic thing to do is to say so. Someone who is unwilling to criticise a friend whose course of action is harmful to him/herself and others is no friend.

          3. Karl Stewart says:

            Response to DavidP at 1.32pm:

            With respect, the quotes you cite are of Corbyn correctly stating, during the referendum campaign, that free movement within the EU is a principle of the EU.

            So his support for that, at that time, was the logical consequence of his support for the ‘remain’ position during the referendum debate.

            And the context in which he made those comments was in response to claims from David Cameron that he would limit this within the EU.

            Corbyn made the absolutely factually correct point that Cameron was promising the impossible.

            It’s worth noting that the Blairites slated him for his honesty on that point and accused him of making this point in prder to sabotage the ‘remain’ campaign.

            Since that time, we’ve had a vote and we’ve voted to leave the EU and we’re leaving.

            So things will change, as Corbyn rightly points out.

            What he did in his speech was to clarify that keeping in place the EU freedom of movement arrangements, post-Brexit, is not a principle that he amd the Labour Party are wedded to.

            He also, yes, did not set out exactly what the post-Brexit arrangements will be (although he did make a welcome pledge to unilaterally honour the rights of EU nationals who settled here, in good faith, before our EU vote.)

          4. David Pavett says:

            Karl Stewart (January 13, 2017 at 7:57 pm)

            I think all my points still stand so we had better leave it at that. We are looking at the same facts and reading different things in them.

          5. C MacMackin says:

            We are looking at the same facts and reading different things in them.

            And this is the fundamental problem with Corbyn’s statements on these issues. They commit to very little and seem to allow people to read whatever they want into them. Presumably this is deliberate.

          6. Karl Stewart says:

            Response to DavidP and CMack at 11.40pm and 2.12am:

            But Corbyn does make some firm commitments.

            He makes a firm pledge to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who settled here before the vote.

            A specific commitment that the hourly rate set by the Living Wage Foundation will become the statutory minimum.

            That all workers will be entitled to full employment rights from Day One.

            That there will be no second EU referendum.

            And policy proposals on many other areas.

            And come on Cmack, on the one hand you’re saying these proposals have not been formally debated and approved and on the other, that the proposals are not specific enough – you can’t have it both ways.

          7. C MacMackin says:

            My reply to this thread was specifically about the question of free movement (which was not addressed in any of the points you mentioned).

            Yes, I was somewhat aware of that tension when I was writing replies. What I mean is, we can not mistake what Corbyn is saying (with some exceptions) as ready-to-implement policy. While I would like there to be much more democratic debate about what this policy should be, if it isn’t going to happen then I at least expect the leadership to come up with some policy which could actually be acted upon. In faireness, for a speech that probably is a reasonable ammount of detail in most areas. The problem is that not only has there been a failure to get the membership involved in fleshing out practical details, but as far as I can tell it hasn’t been happening in the leadership offices either.

    2. David Jameson says:

      I too voted Corbyn twice but would not do so again, given a viable left leaning pragmatist alternative.I suppose he’s too principled with not one iota of pragmatism himself.Leaders need to negotiate and sometimes compromise.When it comes down to it he’s incapable of either. He has been useful in terms of slapping down what George Galloway calls the other cheek of the same arse and what he has given us is a solid base at the grass roots. So where is our next leader and where is the democratization ?

  5. James Martin says:

    I admire Phil B-C’s attempt to at least try and pin some ideology and policy on Jeremy, it’s more than I’d be able to do. What is his/Labour’s policy on Brexit? I haven’t a clue. What’s his/Labour’s current position on the Syria, Palestine, Iran and the ME in general? I haven’t a clue. What is his/Labour’s position on public ownership nationalisation, from the banks to the railways? I don’t know.

    And here’s the problem. If I, as a Party member of 30+ years who voted for Corbyn twice doesn’t know then how can voters be expected to know what he, and we, actually stand for? I get that he wants to restore Party democracy so that the membership will make policy again. I want that too. But until we get those constitutional changes and move away from the mess of policy forums to a sovereign conference then what are we left with? Muddle and confusion it seems. But regardless of the backstabbers in the PLP we can’t afford for this to continue. Where we have gaps (and we do, great big gaping ones) then Corbyn must lead on policy in the same way previous leaders did until membership democracy is fully restored (and I’m sure it could be framed as such).

    Yes, I get that he is not comfortable with that approach, but this is where we need a strong leaders office that when it comes to strategy and policy development, and I can’t help but think that those who currently inhabit that place have shown themselves in practice to be completely unfit for the job of work that’s needed.

  6. Tim Pendry says:

    A good and thoughtful piece that helps stabilise the hysteria surrounding ‘Corbynism’. There are perhaps two additional comments to make.

    The first is that we should be wary of enlisting The Economist as an ally. It is the Pravda of the City and the City is very unhappy about the shift to the populist right of Trump and even (to a lesser extent) May. Like the FT, it did not predict 2008. It was fanatically pro-Brexit for reasons that related to the interests of its readership not ours. It is not reliable either intellectually or politically. It is turning on May only in order to find someone who will enable them to turn on Corbyn – whether a soft Tory or New Labour neo-liberal.

    Second, one aspect of the analysis (good to see automation’s or rather AI’s effects on the professional classes mentioned) that is forgotten is the probability that Trump will re-introduce Keynesian economics alongside his quasi-protectionism and immigration controls. This may make the rich richer but it might also result in major infrastructural projects and nativist jobs as well as a redistribution of wealth between generations that could have unexpected political effects.

    It would be highly paradoxical if a Corbynista economics eventually had more in common (though still not being the same by any means) with right-populist Neo-Keynesianism than either had with the ‘socially aware’ but actually brutal neo-liberalism of the Labour Right and the Tory Party.

    These are, of course, early days but the lack of a clear and shared post-Brexit economic vision shows Labour (notwithstanding Starmer’s attack dog approach) to be as cautious and unclear as May about what sort of economy a Corbyn-led Britain would have. Whatever that economy is, Labour has to get out there and present it early so that it can be critiqued, adjusted, made workable and be persuasive to the wider population by 2020. It needs to be debated publicly which is not the same as being judged by the usual suspects in the media.

    At the moment policy tends to be just a shopping list of spending pledges which often come down to ‘we’ll do what May just said but spend lots of money because her promises are worthless without such spending’. This was the approach to mental health issues today which begged the question why Labour had not made this its own policy imperative between 1997 and 2010. On this one, would it not have been better to have offered a bipartisan approach, spiked May’s guns and then called for more more spending.

    It is probably wise to have powder dry until after Article 50 is invoked and the Liberal Democrats can mop up the Remainer fanatics then but Labour really does need to go in hitting with an alternative economic strategy that appeals to the small towns of England very soon afterwards, one that takes into account the shift of spending from warfare to welfare, the coming techno-revolution, the effects of US Keynesianism, the ethics of trade deals and social care. Brexit will be done and dusted by 2020 and eco-economics as presented by the highly anti-growth conservative Greens may be a mere sideshow.

  7. Mervyn Hyde says:

    If there is such a thing as Corbynism, having listened once or twice to what he has actually said, is that he wants to lead a party that thinks for itself, that policies are developed by the membership and that he wants younger blood to be in a position to move the party forward as soon as is practicable.

    He unlike all his predecessors is more interested in establishing democratic accountability where there is none today, and he doesn’t want to be the head of the party that only thinks about itself, power is nothing if it doesn’t serve the interests of people and the last thing he wants is to cling on to power for power’s sake, which is why he will stand down when someone with the same commitment and younger age is able to take over.

    Finally the Labour Party has been deliberately undermined from within, those that joined the Labour Party when I did believed in protecting our public services, not because of prejudice but because socialism actually works. Those that have undermined our party are working for the corporate sector and their own careers.

    I have often used the Mondragon Cooperative as an example of the success of socialism, not because it is perfect, or that cooperatives are the answer, but that 6 ordinary people have been instrumental in creating a world wide network of companies that are dedicated to creating jobs for people, When I visited Mondragon they told me their sole aim was not profit for profit sake, but to make profit to create jobs.

    They are still controlled by the workers of the cooperative who decide on everything.

    A Labour Government could achieve the same ends by using money creation to create jobs, real investment, and public services.

    That is what we should all be concerned about and leaders should represent people and their needs above the aspirational dream factory of those richer than themselves.

  8. Bazza says:

    Perhaps Corbynism could be whatever the left wants it to be? Build on the 10 JC policy statements (from below), get rule changes to give more power on policy making to Conference (and more CLP NEC places), get more left wing democratic socialists as delegates to Conference, as councillors, as potential MPs.
    Get more progressive policies through Conference, get our nominations in for the NEC (and find a more democratic nomination system to chose our slate) plus for CAC and NPF nominations.
    We are where we are and need to build on it.
    We need to build a simple, clear but positive narrative to offer to people and then get out there and engage with communities in discussions on our ideas and promote them.

  9. John Penney says:

    I see in The Guardian today that Jeremy Corbyn has suddenly “woken up and smelled the real world coffee” on the liberal Left shibboleth of Unlimited Freedom of Movement/Unlimited Labour Supply , with his announcement that:

    “….Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle. “But nor can we afford to lose full access to the European single market on which so many British businesses and jobs depend. Changes to the way migration rules operate from the EU will be part of the negotiations,” he will say.

    “Labour supports fair rules and reasonably managed migration as part of the post-Brexit relationship with the EU.”

    Jeremy still seems confused about the “Single Market (“access doesn’t necessarily require “membership”) , but on freedom of movement, actually having to face up to the reality of potentially running an economy and relating to the very real negative impact of unlimited labour supply on wages, collective bargaining , and communities, has caused Jeremy to think again !

    The trouble is, as currently expressed , this appears much more an accommodation to the cynical posturing of the Labour Right , than a realisation that the real key to “properly managed immigration/labour supply” can only be by placing it within the broader context of Comprehensive Economic Planning, and the implicit radical restructuring of the current UK economic model.

    Without this radical restructuring , our current , “no need to train – we can buy skilled workers in cheap from abroad” , model, and the huge low skill, low wage, huge workload, sectors (like labour intensive agriculture) built up on unlimited cheap supply, will simply not allow for any reduction in current labour imports without huge economic damage. So , without a radical , transformational, Left Economic Programme, all that “we need to control immigration” verbiage, whether from UKIP, the Tories , OR the Labour Right, is just that – pure cynical , unachievable, verbiage – with a deep thread of racist accommodation included.

    How will the “Corbynite radical liberal Left” and the Far Left , with their liberal obsession with “Complete Freedom of Movement” react to this Corbyn U turn ? Or Diane Abbott for that matter ?

    So the inconsistencies within “Corbynism” are starting to cause real problems – and revealing abn urgent need for major policy revisions. But where will this lead Jeremy ? To a tighter, more consistent, Socialist policy offer – or to an equally contradictory, actually undeliverable policy offer – but oriented to the cynical electoral offer manoeuvrings of the Labour Right ?

    1. C MacMackin says:

      The trouble is, as currently expressed , this appears much more an accommodation to the cynical posturing of the Labour Right , than a realisation that the real key to “properly managed immigration/labour supply” can only be by placing it within the broader context of Comprehensive Economic Planning, and the implicit radical restructuring of the current UK economic model.

      Exactly. I strongly suspect that this is just an attempt to pacify the Labour Right, rather than based on any coherant politics. That’s the worst of both worlds, really, since it makes Corbyn look weak, won’t advance the need for an integrated economic plan, and will alienate people in his base.

      Immigration is a tough policy to discuss with people. While I think some sort of managemeant immigration are necessary (I’d be happy to be convinced otherwise, but have yet to see a good arguement), I think Labour should approach them in the following way:

      1. Stop talking about measures that will “bring down immigration without imposing restrictions.” This is misunderstanding the problem, which is not the number of migrants, per se, but ensuring that immigration does not undercut wages or put a strain on housing and social services.

      2. Adopt a plan for controlled immigration, but don’t make it a draconian one. Try to develop an economic plan which can still support immigration. Allow favoured access for family members of already settled immigrants. And for god’s sake, stop the crackdown on overseas students–they provide lots of money to universities!

      3. Clearly differentiate between refugees and other migrants. We should be very generous when it comes to people fleeing from war, natural disaster, etc. This is simply a case of humanitarianism.

      4. Try to shift the focus away from immigration as a central topic! No matter what policy it takes, Labour is never going to come out well on this issue, I don’t think. Focus on other aspects of economic planning, etc. When the topic of immigration comes up, be sure to shoot down any racist narratives about it, and emphasise that it is simply a matter of making sure that the country is able to provide for those immigrants that do come.

      Mind you, whatever he does now, I think Corbyn is going to appear weak on this issue. In fact, given his utter lack of concrete policy, he looks very weak on most issues now and I honestly don’t see a way for him to come back from it in terms of public perception.

      1. John Penney says:

        Anyway, in interviews today Jeremy Corbyn seems to have now done a “double U turn” – right back to essentially supporting unlimited freedom of movement ( with a ” the Single Market rules will force us to have it anyway” excuse).

        Makes him look not jut indecisive, but positively idiotic – after the press release , containing “…..Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle “ from his office that the press ran with this morning !

  10. Rob Green says:

    Corbyn’s proposed EU speech demonstrates confusion and timidity. Labour is not wedded to free movement, he says. But it is it seems wedded to the European Single Market which means free movement so-called by default. He says we must negotiate continued membership of the ESM but he should be saying we need to negotiate a New European Settlement based not on neo-liberal free markets where capitalists sell the stolen labour and used up bodies of workers for money and profit but democratically planned industrial and economic integration in which markets play a subordinate part. A New European Settlement that does not treat workers like migrating cattle chasing each other’s tails across the continent in search of ever crappier wages and ever more meagre welfare or locks them up in sink estates and abandoned communities with no chance of ever competing for work. A New European Settlement that gives workers a decent education, top-notch training, a living wage and a local job guaranteed. The UK can be better off outside the EU, he says. But that is only half the matter. The only way the UK can be better off outside the EU is through socialism. The reason Britain voted to leave the EU is because UK capitalism can no longer compete in Britain let alone in the ESM. Isolated UK capitalism isn’t ever going to revive despite the fantasies of the hyper-neo-liberals like Gove and Boris Johnson who somehow think that by a series of unilateral deals with countries and institutions much bigger than Britain we will see the UK dominate the world once again as it did when it ruled the waves all those years ago. No, no, no, Brexit can only mean socialism or we are as screwed as if we had stayed in. Corbyn says he wants to bring high skill, high value jobs to the UK. Good. But aren’t Doctors and Nurses high skill, high value jobs? He should be saying there will be a massive training programme aimed at training UK born Doctors and Nurses instead of continuously black mailing the UK public into accepting mass economic migration or the NHS will be destroyed. Look stealing Doctors and Nurses from poorer countries is imperialism. Must do better.

  11. Karl Stewart says:

    I thought Corbyn’s speech this afternoon (after a rather confusing morning, it has to ne said!) was excellent.

    He started to spell out Labour’s Brexit vision in a serious and substantive way.

    There was strong policy on industrial strategy, education and training, health, yes migration as well, but linked into pay, Ts&Cs.

    What do others thonk of his speech?

  12. Karl Stewart says:

    Sorry for the spelling mishtayks – ‘must do better’

  13. Chris says:

    There’s no such thing as “Corbynism” – he’s just a bloke, not some sort of ideology. Thing is though, he’s a true socialist and no other sort of politician should be allowed to lead the Labour Party.

    1. John Penney says:

      Too simplistic and uncritical, after one year of “Corbynism”, Chris. Yes, Jeremy is “just a bloke”, not the socialist messiah. And undoubtedly , by an utter accident of wider , Europe-wide historical developments, and the hubris of the Labour Right, the figurehead chosen by almost random fate, to successfully represent the anti Austerity Left in the two , astonishing, Leadership Contest wins of 2015 and 2016.

      However, as some of us have argued and illustrated here, Jeremy’s politics are actually a complete rag bag of inconsistent beliefs and policy proposals – drawn from ,variously, traditional reformist radical socialism, Stalinism, moralistic liberalism, Quakerish pacifism , identity politics, top-down old Labour Leftism, a rebel but also a profound believer in ” Labour Unity above all”.

      And all bundled up in a man who spent a very comfortable 40 years as a “Left maverick” in the PLP/Labour party, constantly flirting with the Far Left , and sundry campaigns, but NEVER expecting to be in the “Leadership” of the Labour party today, and utterly hemmed in by the PLP Right and Centre .

      And this shambolic political mish mash with which Jeremy navigated for 40 years in the risk-free, responsibilityless role of a powerless “PLP Leftie, for so many years, is now proving increasingly useless to lead the newly resurgent 500, 000 strong Labour Party Left-oriented members into decisive battle to win the Party Machine from the dead hand of the Right, Or construct a credible radical Left Reformist Political Programme to win mass support back to Labour.

      Time for us on the Labour Left to put pressure on Jeremy and his over-tiny team of trusted colleagues to drive decisively , coherently ,Leftwards, democratise the Party , using Momentum and his mass support base to take on the Party Right to do so.

  14. Eleanor Firman says:

    I don’t think of Corbynism as a set of ideas any more complicated than a few basic principles e.g. people matter more than profit; corporate corruption must be challenged; the rich must pay tax they owe etc etc. Similarly most of his personal support originally came from a very basic perception that he is straight-talking, honest, fair and, most of all, he stands up for ordinary people. He represents an antidote to the middle class technocrats and careerist politicians.

    Of course all the above can only mark a first step for any left advance towards a truly progressive and socialist UK. But the extent to which it captured the public imagination was a genuinely remarkable development. I don’t expect a lot more from Corbyn than to carry on in the same vein.

    But this high moral ground is also unfortunately easy to capture and indeed the Labour right have done so primarily by using smear campaigns based on spurious charges of anti-Semitism and sexism to puncture not only the credibility of Corbyn as a leader, but also to sabotage the confidence of his supporters, ahead of any policy development.

    The lack of solidarity on the left, and particularly from Lansman and Momentum in the face of these attacks has been the biggest problem so far, not the absence of policy. We know there are many worthwhile left policies already in the public domain. Corbyn is a symbol for the hope this body of work represents and if he is defeated then it is a serious defeat for the left.

    Obviously there is a lot more sabotage and intimidation to come. I hope we will see a much more united stand against this, for the UK Labour left to have any future at all.

  15. Giles Wynne says:

    Jeremy Corbyn is looking a forlorn figure these days. It seems the whole picture is too much for him and is getting him down. He has no running mate,no media outlet of his own, no intention of giving the membership a greater say and he hasn’t addressed the issue of the PLP rebels, or the Bliarite officers at Regional and CLP level and finally he has not bought himself a tin hat to protect him from the media vultures. He must call a special General meeting of his Party supporters and invite all the friends from outside the Party he can muster to produce a powerful Lexit alternative message.

  16. Karl Stewart says:

    I’m surprised that in a discussion thread about “Corbynism” that Corbyn’s major policy speech yesterday has hardly been mentioned.

    Of course Chris is right that there is no such thing as “Corbynism” as such, but if we’re making a general judgement about Corbyn and his policy agenda, hey, let’s look at what he set out in Peterborough yesterday afternoon?

    1. No to any second referendum
    2. Unilateral guarantee of the rights of EU nationals who settled here before the vote.
    3. Recognition that Brexit enables us to intervene in our economy in support of key strategic industries such as steel and also enables a return to public ownership.
    4. A Corbyn government will oblige companies to provide proper apprenticeships.
    5. The real Living Wage will become the statutory minimum.
    6. Action will be taken to ensure top pay is kept to within a set ratio of that minimum in the public sector and in companies with government contracts.
    7. Full funding for the NHS, making full use of all the financial savings made by Brexit.
    8. Recognition that priveliged entry criteria for EU nationals is not a principle going forward.

    Surely the above are the basic points starting to set out a robust Labour Brexit plan, which is exactly what people on this site have been calling for.

    (And another huge positive is that his Peterborough speech has upset the LibDems as well as upsetting the idiot Owen Jones!)

    So, instead of regurgitating MSM narratives about Corbyn, how about we focus on tge policy agenda he has actually outlined? And discuss/critique etc his actual positions?

    1. Rob Green says:

      There is no such thing as EU nationals and if people want to settle here they can apply for citizenship. Sick of opportunists and pseudo radicals like you and Corbyn trying to square the circle. Yesterday’s speech was an absolute pile of shite. Corbynism is as dead as Syriza. He’s heading for an Unpopular Front with the labour right, the lib dems and corporate capitalism for a Soft Brexit whilst you are just flapping your gums and as for your eight points they could not be more timid and pathetic.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        It was a great speech. It started to set out a comprehensive policy agenda on all the major issues of the day.

        And it’s upset the LibDems, Owen Jones and our old friend DavidE…all good!

  17. Karl Stewart says:

    Here’s the speech Corbyn made in Peterborough:


    Thank you for that introduction.

    Whether you voted to Leave or to Remain, you voted for a better future for Britain.

    One thing is clear, the Tories cannot deliver that. So today I want to set how Labour will deliver that vision of a better Britain.

    This government is in disarray over Brexit.

    As the Prime Minister made clear herself they didn’t plan for it before the referendum and they still don’t have a plan now.

    I voted and campaigned to remain and reform as many of you may know I was not uncritical of the European Union. It has many failings.

    Some people argued that we should have a second referendum. That case was put to our party’s membership last summer and defeated.

    Britain is now leaving the European Union. And Britain can be better off after Brexit. But that’s far from inevitable and it certainly won’t happen with a government that stands by whilst wages and salaries are driven down, industry is hollowed out and public services are cut to the point of breakdown.

    Because while the European Union has many problems so does Britain in the hands of Theresa May after six years of Conservative misrule.

    Our social care system is failing to provide essential care for people with disabilities and over a million of our elderly people.

    The NHS is in record deficit; nearly four million people are on waiting lists, the Red Cross is describing the state of our emergency health and social care as a “humanitarian crisis”.

    Our jobs market is being turned into a sea of insecurity, six million workers in Britain earning less than the living wage, nearly a million people on zero hours contracts, record numbers of people in work living in poverty while in fat cat Britain, the chief executives had already received more than most people will earn all year by the third day of January.

    My point is this, I don’t trust this government with social care, or with the NHS or with the labour market.

    So do I trust them to make a success of Brexit? Not remotely.

    Only a Labour government, determined to reshape the economy so that it works for all, in every part of the country, can make Brexit work for Britain.

    And there can be no question of giving Theresa May’s Tories a free pass in the Brexit negotiations to entrench and take still further their failed free market policies in a post-Brexit Britain.

    The Tory Brexiteers, whose leaders are now in the government and their Ukip allies had no more of a plan for a Brexit vote than the Tory remainers, like Theresa May.

    They did however promise that Brexit would guarantee funding for the NHS, to the tune of £350m a week. It was on the side of Boris Johnson’s bus.

    What’s happened to that promise now the NHS and social care are in serious crisis? It’s already been ditched.

    And it’s not just on the NHS. We have had no answers from the government about any of their plans or objectives for these complex Brexit negotiations.

    At no point since the Second World War has Britain’s ruling elite so recklessly put the country in such an exposed position without a plan.

    As a result they are now reduced to repeating “Brexit means Brexit”. They are unfit to negotiate Brexit.

    That is why Labour has demanded the government come to Parliament and set out their plan before they present it to Brussels and explain what they want to achieve for our country.

    But in the glaring absence of a government plan Labour also believes it’s time to spell out more clearly what we believe the country’s Brexit objectives should be.

    People voted for Brexit on the promise that Britain outside the European Union could be a better place for all its citizens. Whatever their colour or creed. A chance to regain control over our economy, our democracy and people’s lives.

    But beyond vague plans to control borders the only concrete commitment the government has so far made is to protect the financial interests in the City of London. Though maybe that’s hardly surprising from a government that has already slashed the bank levy and corporation tax.

    In the last budget there was not a penny extra for the NHS or social care but under the Tories there’s always billions available for giveaways to the richest.

    As far as Labour is concerned, the referendum result delivered a clear message.

    First, that Britain must leave the EU and bring control of our democracy and our economy closer to home.

    Second, that people would get the resources they were promised to rebuild the NHS.

    Third, that people have had their fill of an economic system and an establishment that works only for the few, not for the many.

    And finally, that their concerns about immigration policy would be addressed.

    Labour accepts those challenges that you, the voters, gave us.

    Unlike the Tories, Labour will insist on a Brexit that works not just for City interests but in the interests of us all.

    That puts health and social care, decent jobs and living standards first and a better deal for young people and the areas of this country that have been left behind for too long.

    First, we will open the way to rebuilding our NHS by ending the under-funding and privatisation of health care.

    Leaving the EU won’t free up the £350m a week that Boris Johnson claimed but savings in EU contributions could help close the gap.

    And we will reject pressure to privatise public services as part of any Brexit settlement. Just as we oppose the attempt to give special legal privileges to corporate interests as part of the EU’s CETA or TTIP trade deals.

    This government could have given the NHS the funding it needs but it has chosen not to. Their tax giveaways to the very richest and to big business hand back £70bn between now and 2022.

    That is more of a priority for the Tories than elderly people neglected in their homes, patients dying on trolleys or millions waiting in pain to get the treatment they need.

    Labour created the NHS, and it is only safe under a Labour government. We will give the NHS the funding it needs. The British people voted to re-finance the NHS – and we will deliver it.

    Second, we will push to maintain full access to the European single market to protect living standards and jobs.

    But we will also press to repatriate powers from Brussels for the British government to develop a genuine industrial strategy essential for the economy of the future, and so that no community is left behind.

    Tory governments have hidden behind EU state aid rules because they don’t want to intervene. They did so again last year when the steel industry was in trouble. Other governments in Europe acted and saved their industry, the Tory government here sat back.

    But EU rules can also be a block on the action that’s needed to support our economy, decent jobs and living standards.

    Labour will use state aid powers in a drive to build a new economy, based on new technology and the green industries of the future.

    That’s why Labour has set out proposals for a National Investment Bank with regional investment banks that will decide the priorities for their areas. A massive programme of investment that will be needed to rebuild regional economies.

    This country is far too centralized. So we will take back powers over regional policy. And instead of such decisions being made in Brussels or in London, we will make sure they taken locally wherever possible. Taking back real control and putting power and resources right into the heart of local communities to target investment where it’s needed.

    Third, we will use the huge spending leverage of taxpayer-funded services to massively expand the number of proper apprenticeships.

    All firms with a government or council contract over £250,000 will be required to pay tax in the UK and train young people.

    No company will receive taxpayer-funded contracts if it, or its parent company, is headquartered in a tax haven.

    And we will not buy outsourced public services, such as care for the elderly, from companies whose owners and executives are creaming off profits to stuff their pockets at the expense of the workforce and the public purse.

    Finally, a Labour Brexit would take back control over our jobs market which has been seriously damaged by years of reckless deregulation.

    During the referendum campaign, many people expressed deep concerns about unregulated migration from the EU.

    In many sectors of the economy, from IT to health and social care, migrant workers make an important contribution to our common prosperity, and in many parts of the country public services depend on migrant labour.

    This government has been saying it will reduce migration to the tens of thousands. Theresa May as Home Secretary set an arbitrary political target knowing full well it would not be met.

    They inflamed the issue of immigration. They put immense strain on public services with six years of extreme cuts and then blamed migrants for the pressure caused by Tory austerity.

    And last week a government minister who voted “Leave” told an employers’ conference, “don’t worry, we’ll still let you bring in cheap EU labour”.

    Unlike the Tories, Labour will not offer false promises on immigration targets or sow division by scapegoating migrants because we know where that leads. The worrying rise in race hate crime and division we have seen in recent months and how the issue of immigration can be used as a proxy to abuse or intimidate minority communities.

    Labour is not wedded to freedom of movement for EU citizens as a point of principle, but I don’t want that to be misinterpreted, nor do we rule it out.

    When it comes to border controls, we are proud to say we will meet our international obligations to refugees fleeing wars and persecution.

    To those EU citizens who are already here, we will guarantee your rights.

    And we continue to welcome international students who come to study in this country.

    We cannot afford to lose full access to the European markets on which so many British businesses and jobs depend.

    Changes to the way migration rules operate from the EU will be part of the negotiations.

    Labour supports fair rules and the reasonable management of migration as part of the post-Brexit relationship with the EU, while putting jobs and living standards first in the negotiations.

    At the same time, taking action against undercutting of pay and conditions, closing down cheap labour loopholes, banning exclusive advertising of jobs abroad and strengthening workplace protections would have the effect of reducing numbers of EU migrant workers in the most deregulated sectors, regardless of the final Brexit deal.

    Of course migration has put a strain on public services in some areas that’s why Labour would restore the migrant impact fund that the Tories scrapped.

    Sarah Champion is leading for Labour on our policies to ensure better integration and more community cohesion and part of that again will be about restoring funding for English language lessons.

    Let’s not forget it was this Tory government that slashed funding for learning English as a second language. As we’ve seen with the Prime Minister talking about the need to strengthen mental health care, while cutting funding by eight per cent it seems the government’s second language is hypocrisy.

    It is the ripping up of workplace protections and trade union rights that has allowed unscrupulous employers to exploit both migrant and British labour, and help to keep pay low, and drive down conditions for everyone.

    But let’s be clear, public services are not under pressure primarily because of immigration – especially since many migrant workers keep those public services going.

    They are under pressure because this Tory government has cut them to fund tax break after tax break to the super rich and big business.

    That is the Tory game – low taxes for the rich, low pay for the rest, underfund public services, and find someone to blame , It’s brutal and it’s not working.
    Labour will break with this failed model and offer solutions to problems, not someone to blame.

    Labour will demand that the Brexit negotiations give us the power to intervene decisively to prevent workers, from here or abroad, being used and exploited to undermine pay and conditions at work.

    We need a drive to provide British people with the skills necessary to take up the new jobs which a Labour government and the new economy will generate. I’ve already set out at the CBI and TUC conferences that this means asking companies to pay a bit more in tax to fund more and better access to education and skills training, and government contractors always providing decent skilled apprenticeships.

    We will end the race to the bottom in pay, working conditions and job insecurity, setting up a new Ministry of Labour to get a grip on the anything goes jobs market free-for-all.

    Labour will ensure all workers have equal rights at work from day one – and require collective bargaining agreements in key sectors in a properly regulated labour market, so that workers cannot be undercut.

    That will bring an end to the unscrupulous use of agency labour and bogus self-employment, to stop undercutting and to ensure every worker has a secure job with secure pay, that’s why we’ll set the minimum wage at the level of the living wage, expected to be £10 per hour by 2020.

    Those changes should be made to benefit the whole country.

    But while we tackle low pay at the bottom, we also have to address the excess that drives that poverty pay that leaves millions of people in poverty even though they work.

    In the 1920s, J.P. Morgan, the Wall Street banker limited salaries to 20 times that of junior employees.

    Another advocate of pay ratios was David Cameron. His government proposed a 20:1 pay ratio to limit sky-high pay in the public sector and now all salaries higher than £150,000 must be signed off by the Cabinet Office.

    Labour will go further and extend that to any company that is awarded a government contract.

    A 20:1 ratio means someone earning the living wage, just over £16,000 a year, would permit an executive to be earning nearly £350,000. It cannot be right that if companies are getting public money that that can be creamed off by a few at the top.

    But there is a wider point too. 20 years ago the top bosses of the FTSE 100 companies earned just under 50 times their average worker, today that figure is now 130 times. Last year alone, the top bosses got a 10 per cent pay rise, far higher than those doing the work in the shops, in the call centres, in the warehouses.

    So what can we do?

    … We could allow consumers to judge for themselves, with a government-backed kitemark for those companies that have agreed pay ratios between the pay of the highest and lowest earners with a recognised trade union.

    … We could ask for executive pay to be signed off by remuneration committees on which workers have a majority.

    … We could ensure higher earners pay their fair share by introducing a higher rate of income tax on the highest 5 percent or 1 percent of incomes.

    … We could offer lower rates of corporation tax for companies that don’t pay anyone more than a certain multiple of the pay of the lowest earner.

    There are many options. But what we cannot accept is a society in which a few earn the in two and a bit days, what a nurse, a shop worker, a teacher do in a year. That cannot be right.

    This is not about limiting aspiration or penalising success, it’s about recognising that success is a collective effort and rewards must be shared.

    We cannot have the CEO paying less tax than the cleaner and pretending they are worth thousands times more than the lowest paid staff.

    So this is Labour’s vision for Britain after Brexit.

    Labour will not block the referendum vote when the time comes in Parliament, we will vote for Article 50.

    But as the Opposition we will ensure the government is held to account for its negotiating demands.

    At the moment they are in total disarray, on Brexit, on the NHS and social care, on the pay in your pocket.

    Labour will build a better Britain out of Brexit.

    That will start with the refinancing of the NHS and the creation of a more equal country, in which power and wealth is more fairly shared amongst our communities. A genuinely inclusive society with strong and peaceful relations with the rest of the world.

    This is Labour’s New Year pledge to the British people.


    What do people think?

    1. C MacMackin says:

      It’s not bad. It adds a bit more clarity to Labour’s approach to Brexit. But it is still primarily nice rhetoric, vague aspirations, and disjointed spending pledges. We need considerably better. It is also worth noting that this stance towards the EU has come out of nowhere; whatever happened to putting members in charge of policy like this?

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        The EU policy comes from the EU referendum result and the result of the 2016 leadership election.

        ‘Remain’ lost the EU referendum and ‘ignore the referendum like the LibDems’ lost the Labour leadership election.

        1. C MacMackin says:

          I’m not denying that. But there has been no formal discussion of whether the membership wants a soft or a hard Brexit, what are the red lines, what priorities should be in negotiations, etc.

          1. Karl Stewart says:

            With respect CMack, he can’t be ecpected to convene a special national delegate conference every time he needs to make a policy speech.

            The policy programme he’s set out represents all the very best Labour principles and it’s incumbent on the organised left now to rally round and win support for this programme.

            If there are disagreements with aapects of this agenda, let’s debate them?

            But it’s vital that the elected party leader is able to lead on general policy development. Otherwise’ he’s hamstrung as a leader.

          2. C MacMackin says:

            There is little in the speech that I disagree with, although a lot on which more details will be necessary. The only part I have a major problem with is

            At the same time, taking action against undercutting of pay and conditions, closing down cheap labour loopholes, banning exclusive advertising of jobs abroad and strengthening workplace protections would have the effect of reducing numbers of EU migrant workers in the most deregulated sectors, regardless of the final Brexit deal.

            All of the measures proposed seem to be good, but saying that they have the effect of “reducing numbers of EU migrant workers” is to confuse what the problem with immigration is (i.e. not the number per se but the effect on the labour market and on social services).

            It is true that a leader can’t convene a policy convention before every speech. But the thing is, we’ve had more than 6 months since the Brexit vote to figure out what Labour’s position should be, and 3 months since Corbyn won the second leadership election. There has been plenty of time to have these discussions. Instead of having them, Corbyn is just pulling vague policy out of thin air.

    2. Peter Willsman says:

      Well done Karl:Charles Henry would have said you are living up to your name.As a mate of JC’s for some 40 years,the wingeing and moaning winds me up.JC has an almost impossible task and no one in his situation could do better.Yesterday he said he would be prepared to attend the railworkers’picket line.What other Labour Leader would have shown that commitment to the workers in struggle?Hopefully Lansbury, but that’s about it.

      1. Rob Bab says:

        “…the wingeing and moaning winds me up. JC has an almost impossible task and no one in his situation could do better.”
        Yep, spot on. Especially with the news that JC’s long standing humanitarian spirit towards the Palestinians has put him in the cross-hairs of the Israeli Lobby. The Labour Party is under threat from within and decisive action needs to be taken.

        1. Rob Green says:

          I’m afraid that it is JC that is making the task impossible. The task was to take on the hopelessly discredited Labour right, re-radicalise the Party and make it electable again. He was elected leader for his left wing principles apparently authentically held over many years even when capitalism appeared to be doing well. Unfortunately since getting elected he has abandoned that task, he has abandoned his principles, in favour of a new task: maintaining unity with the neo-liberal dross at all costs. To this end he has capitulated on major principles just ironically when they were about to pay off: leading a labour movement Leave campaign would have put Labour in poll position to win the 2020 General Election and of course with Trump elected not being part of America’s nuclear capability via Trident suddenly seems very sensible indeed even to the non-pacifist amongst us. Yes I’m afraid it is Jeremy and his band of brain dead neo-Stalinist advisers who have made his task impossible. This is what you get when you put left opportunists in charge of the struggle against the right opportunists.

          1. Tim Pendry says:

            Rob – You suggest that ” … [JC] leading a labour movement Leave campaign would have put Labour in poll position to win the 2020 General Election”.

            I think this is what most frustrated many Left Leavers – an inability by his team to think strategically and prepare for the alternative scenario which I put down to the distractions of trying to hold on to his position and the highly problematic analytical skills of those in his office.

            First, JC appeared to abandon principles held for two or three decades which weakened his credibility. Second, by adopting a Remain position, if without enthusiasm, he created a vacuum which failed to give an alternative vision to lots of eager young newcomers to politics. They fell for Remain ideological claims and the cynical theatre that surrounded the terrible murder of Jo Cox.

            The young are now locked emotionally into a Remain narrative (essentially a neo-liberal narrative but with snowflake characteristics) and associate Leave with the Right and with Trump. Ground was ceded too readily. This youthful naive bloc now acts as a permanent barrier to any serious long term strategy for breaking the back of the liberal Right in the Party.

            The liberal Right can simply play the snowflake card and repeat the mythology of a liberal and humane Europe to roll in the young activists to a front man or woman from the soft left. Their last candidate was just such a trial run.

            JC threw away exactly what you suggest – the chance to re-make the party as a left-populist movement and call the bluff of the PLP. His team are apparently trying to do that now but it all looks so tentative and half-hearted that it misses the essential lesson of populist rhetoric: it is never half-hearted and it is never tentative.

            Yes, there were good tactical reasons for his position – most commentators believed that the weight of elite opinion would swing it for Remain. He can’t be blamed entirely for not understanding that 2016 would see a decisive shift of power from the traditional to the new media.

            And yet he, through Momentum, was a pioneer in precisely that shift. His team were actually ahead of Donald Trump in technique – or rather Lansmann was. Yet another lead lost in introspection and caution.

            The one heavy argument for his strategic choice was that a public commitment to Leave may well have split the Party on the basis that the Remain PLP would have referred back to the last Conference vote, claimed a greater authority than the Leader and used their control of the party apparat more aggressively against him.

            That has to be a serious argument for the decision he took but he then failed to show his commitment to the sorts of arguments that he had made for decades before in order to keep some hold on Left Leavers as an investment for the future. He could have made Brexit a ‘free vote’ rather than be hobbled by the Conference decision because of its existential nature. The price might have been to do so on Trident.

            In short, he failed to keep his core youth support ready for a shift of policy and he wasted inordinate political capital on that busted flush Varoufakis whose Manifesto gave a thousand reasons for the failure of the European Project and yet still demanded that the British Left sacrifice itself to the obscure god of European socialist revival in an age of right-wing populism.

            Still, that was then and this is now and he has the chance to be strong and decisive and yet has let time pass, failed to educate his own support base and now is hobbled by them – which is why some of the best arguments about the problems of free movement and arguments for accepting Brexit are now coming from the more right-wing Northern and small town MPs aware of the UKIP threat.

  18. Eleanor Firman says:

    It was good to see the full speech quoted here. Perhaps Left Futures should publish every Corbyn speech going forward?

  19. Rob Green says:

    I see Corbyn is now considered an out and out racist by the ultra-liberal sects, anarchists and cults that support global open borders and free movement merely for suggesting that Labour was not wedded to free movement.

    1. Bazza says:

      Yes I want all countries to control their labour supply and capital supply which will give them more sovereignty in the UK, European countries.
      For example if we are internationalists shouldn’t we care too that a country like Bulgaria (according to New Left Review) will have lost half of its population by 2020 or should the poorer countries of Europe always serve the needs of capital (and the rich) in the richer countries of Europe.
      I want working people in the UK, Europe (including UK citizens living abroad) to have good lives (in every country of the world too) so controlling labour supply is internationalist – we do it because it is right, careerist MPs perhaps suggest it to cower to ‘public opinion.’
      A UK socialist society would perhaps benefit from tariff free access to European markets but instead of individual companies paying tariffs the government could pay a lump sum (£10b?) which could also be linked to maintaining EC HE partnerships, joint R&D, and cooperation on European security, environmental protections and policing etc.
      But we control labour and capital supply so what about it EC -Deal or No Deal?
      An experienced Canadian trade deal negotiator recently said (in The Observer) leaving the single market could cost the UK 4% of its GDP and the EC 1% of its, so it is in no-ones interest.

  20. Peter Rowlands says:

    A good article, and very well elaborated on by contributions from John Penney and David Pavett.
    Can I however comment on what has been said on Brexit, by Tim Pendryand others, which is completely ludicrous and flies in the face of basic facts. These are that it is not only the PLP in which there is a substantial majority for remain, this is also true of the membership and of Labour voters.Itwould not only have been wrong to take a Leave line, it would not have been possible without a fundamental and probably irretrievable split in the party.

    1. James Martin says:

      Peter, as a Labour member and leave voter I accepted the Party line although campaigned publicly against it and in fact in my part of Lancashire the main leave coordinator who linked both Leave EU and Grassroots Out was a lifelong Labour Party activist and former councillor who has always been on the left of the Party, an indication I suspect that like most voters most Labour members voted leave around here.

      However, once the vote happened then it created a completely different situation. And despite eejits like David Lammy it was never going to be possible or principled to vote down the referendum result in parliament. Therefore if the UK is leaving the EU then ‘remain’ arguments become a stupid irrelevancy in terms of Labour Party strategy – but these are the arguments that we are amazingly still having in the Party and PLP rather than what type of Brexit we want for working class people.

      And I’m sorry, but I blame Corbyn for much of that. Had he picked up the ball of Brexit and ran with it on June 24th then I am quite sure that by now we would not be the least bit worried by the ukips and what might happen in the Copeland and Stoke Central byelections. But we are worried aren’t we, and for good reason because amazingly we have allowed the ukips space to regroup and allowed them to lead the debate on Brexit not us. I suspect that Corbyn’s failure to stand by his lifelong principles of opposing the EU bosses club will be seen historically as the beginning of the end for him if things don’t now change very quickly indeed.

      1. Karl Stewart says:

        Corby did try to “pick up the ball of Brexit and run with it on June 24th”.

        And on June 25th, the Blairite red Tory traitors and their ‘soft-left’ useful idiots ganged up to knife him in the back.

        He smashed them and now he’s once again running forward with the Brexit football…

        (Sorry to labour this analogy…)

        …now, if we’re on his team, let;s get with him and support him.

    2. Tim Pendry says:

      Actually I was not suggesting that Corbyn take a formal Leave line – clearly you do not read carefully what is written. I was suggesting that he could and should have done three things.

      First, reasserted as personal belief his own position of three decades. Second, proposed and forced through a ‘free vote’ in which the Labour Remain and Labour Leave campaigns would have been treated equally and party assets preserved for an election. Third, made it crystal clear that bullying of Leavers by party officials (which I saw first hand) would not be permitted.

      Those three commitments would have a) preserved his integrity and enhanced his long term credibility and implied strength of character (which he badly needs), b) given the Party the flexibility to accept either result and move on without all this nonsense about a second referendum or the suspicions that exist amongst Left Leavers that he cannot be trusted and c) set the tone for fraternal and comradely relations then and afterwards.

      So, far from ludicrous, I am suggesting that there was a way to remain a united party and hedge the position of the Party for whatever followed the vote. There would have been no split because there would have been nio cause for a split – the Remainers could simply have flooded temporarily into theieght their corner and won or lost campaign. He was bullied and we Leavers were bullied and this is having its effect even today on polling figures.

      1. Tim Pendry says:

        CORRECTION : PAR 4: “… no cause for a split – the Remainers could simply have flooded temporarily into their campaign, fought their corner and won or lost the campaign”

      2. Karl Stewart says:

        Excellent point about the outrageous bullying of the left by a vocal minority of former remain voters that’s been taking place ever since the vote.

        Quite frankly, I’ve had enough of it and more and more people on the left – from both sides of the EU debate – are now saying, finally, that it’s time to stop the insults and the bullying.

        1. Tim Pendry says:

          This is precisely why I am suggesting elsewhere in this thread that Starmer’s trimming line is not managing to do what it is intended to do – keep Remainers and Leavers happily sitting together in the same place.

          The bullying of Leavers was direct and very real but compounded by the way Labour Leave campaigned – especially the scandalous way it associated Leavers with fascism and UKIP (which it also traduced as fascist rather than populist in techniques worthy of Goebbels himself)

          The Leaver distrust is this – Corbyn is weak and the apparat remains an antidemocratic Remainer machine just waiting to reverse what a third of Labour voters voted for. Until Article 50 is invoked and it is clear that Brexit will happen, strong Labour Leavers will stand back from full support for the Party and this is why the opinion polls are so dire.

          Bear in mind that Remain-Leave was a class difference more than it was a left-right difference. The liberal middle classes and Tory business wanted Remain.

          Logically, since these liberal elements are never going to vote for a socialist programme because of their pocket book (that is, they are not going to vote for Remain at the expense of their wealth or for higher taxes), either Corbyn has to be disposed of for a Blairite who can appeal to them (in which case socialist Leavers really should walk away) or the Leave voters need to be invited back – no more insults, no more claims that we are fascists, a fundamental acceptance of democracy and a switch of emphasis to making Brexit work for the general population.

          The serious Left (not the soft trimming Left who seem to have more in common with the Liberal Democrats) needs us. Until then, many Leavers are going to be very wary of the leadership … and of the party machine. They cannot be assumed to put their tick in the right box … under certain conditions … because the socialist Leave position is existential.

      3. Peter Rowlands says:

        What you say is just not a credible scenario.I doubt whether what you suggest would have held the party together before the referendum, it certainly wouldn’t after it, the net result could have been that Corbyn was in a much weaker position and failed to survive the coup.

        1. Tim Pendry says:

          We’ll agree to disagree but I have had to reply elsewhere on this thread because you persist (wrongly) in suggesting that I am suggesting that Corbyn should have backed Leave before the vote. I said nothing of the kind. I have elaborated on what I was suggesting in that second reply.

  21. James Martin says:

    And here is something that is required viewing, the undercover exposure of the Israeli lobby, part 3 concentrates on the Labour Party and Labour Friends of Israel (who follow the direction given to them by Israeli spooks like Shia Masot). The most galling thing in this are the deliberate and shameless lies told by LFI PLP head Joan Ryan MP about another Labour Party member in an attempt to get her expelled for antisemitism. These are also of course the very same methods used by these people against comrades like Jackie Walker –

  22. Danny Nicol says:

    Jeremy isn’t a socialist in the sense of someone who wishes to dismantle capitalism in favour of a different economic system based on planning and public ownership. He’s a left-liberal. That much has actually been clear about him since the 1980s. Back in those days, the fact that the Left was embattled papered over the cracks between those Left figures who seemed more committed to replacing capitalism and those who lacked that commitment but instead took a “leftist” position on a ragbag array of issues. Jeremy’s quiet toleration of capitalism is reflected in his very modest wishes to extend public ownership: only to railways and failed care homes. Indeed the recent inclusion of failed care homes – not, note, successful ones – is classic 1970s social democracy whereby only “lame ducks” were taken over. Jeremy is in good company in not wishing to shed capitalism: it is, alas, a stance shared with most of Labour’s “hard” left, whether consciously or unconsciously.

    Secondly Jeremy has not proved himself to be particularly bold or reliable. The foremost example is his change of stance on the utterly neoliberal European Union, on which many strong points have been made in other people’s contributions here. Jeremy had of course voted against every major EU Treaty since he came into Parliament. And if memory serves me right, during hustings in his first leadership bid he said he would need a lot of persuading to support the EU, citing the treatment of the poorer Eurozone countries and the EU’s retention of tax havens. In the event, however, within just three days of becoming leader he endorsed Labour campaigning for a Remain vote. This volte face has crippled him politically, since a lack of integrity is precisely what characterises the political establishment of which many people have tired. There were ways in which he could have opposed EU membership without violating Conference sovereignty.

    Neither of these observations denies that Jeremy is not (at present) an improvement on the previous Labour leaders of our times. Yet the fact remains that these two features – Jeremy’s lack of socialism in the sense of not aiming to replace capitalism and his lack of solidity – have contributed to the leadership’s present headlong retreat into positions occupied by the Party’s neoliberal right wing.

    To give two examples: Sir Keir Starmer has today published an article asserting that Labour is against a hard Brexit and that the Party wishes Britain to stay in the European single market.

    This “soft Brexit” amounts in substance to a reversal of the referendum outcome, with the contempt for democracy which that implies. It also makes it impossible for us to have a socialist economic programme. I have been looking at the European Economic Area (EEA) Treaty whereby Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are in the European single market, and it makes shocking reading. It includes, as one would naturally expect, a commitment to the free movement of goods, persons, services and capital – so there would be no respite from those neoliberal freedoms, including from the free flow of cheap labour. However, it also includes:

    * the prohibition on State aids which distort the single market – thereby ruling out a radical Keynesian strategy which extends beyond public works into manufacturing;

    * the rules on public procurement – so that government cannot commission works on the basis that firms will employ UK workers who can vote in UK general elections but must be entirely non-discriminatory as regards all EEA firms and their staff;

    * all the liberalisation directives which enforce and constitutionalise privatisation in electricity, gas, telecommunications, postal services and in future railways. These sectors are among the most obvious candidates for public ownership, so their elimination as candidates for nationalisation would actually scupper any general move towards the extension of public ownership;

    * the neglected fifth freedom: freedom of establishment, which applies not only to self employed individuals but more importantly to companies established in one Member State to create branches and subsidiaries in any other Member State – a general right against nationalisation for firms hailing from other EEA countries.

    It will be readily apparent that these laws rule out not only a socialist programme but even a radical Keynesian one. Yet Jeremy and John appear to have gone along with it. To do so, it has to be said that they have peddled a dishonest distinction between “access” to the single market and “membership” of the single market, a distinction which Sir Keir readily ignores. As John Penney has observed, a huge number of countries have access to the European market, the real distinction is whether they have to pay tariffs. Yet tariffs should not be such a spectre, not least because Britain imports more from the EU than it exports so could impose its own. By contrast, to be disabled from carrying out a socialist economic programme would deprive Labour of its purpose and do great harm to our re-election chances.

    A second example is the presence of an absence: the failure to extend democracy in the Party. The idea of a grand NEC summit in November to boost party democracy disappeared silently into the long grass. The shift in the leadership’s general attitude to party members is reflected in the coup perpetrated within Momentum earlier this week. Its annual conference has been cancelled even after many of its branches (my own included) have chosen their delegates and resolutions, and all the organisation’s institutions have been abolished by command of six bigwigs acting beyond their powers. The motive is that the 22,000 members of Momentum should only be foot soldiers: they should not meddle in policy-making. It seems difficult to resist the conclusion that this is a reflection of what the leadership now thinks of party members as a whole.

    1. James Martin says:

      Absolutely right Danny. The actions of Lansman and his supporters in Momentum have been a sight to behold for some time, from handing Jackie Walker to the odious Jeremy Newmark and his racist Jewish (aka Zionist) Labour Movement, to the coup now. I’ve never met Lansman, I believe at one time he was a mate of Tiny Benn although it would be very hard to imagine Tony being a mate of his now were he still alive given his unwavering commitment to labour movement democracy at all levels.

      But the most destructive thing about what is happening here is that at some point Corbyn will go (age if nothing else), and then what? What will be the political legacy if we cannot even lay the foundations at a point when we have power at the top and mass grassroots support for a return to accountable membership democracy within the Party itself? The leadership of Momentum have sold themselves to both the Israeli spooks running the manufactured Labour antisemitism show and they have also sold themselves to the coup-plotters in failing to fight for democratic change inside Labour. What hope is there of a ‘world transformed’ when the current leaders of the Labour left cannot even begin to transform Labour itself?

    2. John Penney says:

      All too tragically true, Danny. I can only assume that neither the Labour Right nor the “Corbyn Left” can hear that roaring , gurgling, thundering, noise up ahead politically. That’s the sound of the political Niagara Falls that Labour , along with all of Europe’s now entirely politically bankrupt Social Democracy, is now fast approaching.

      It looked, briefly, that the extraordinary “Corbyn Insurgency”, and the resultant huge Labour membership gain, was indicative that a revitalised, radicalised, Labour might avoid its own “Pasok Moment”. For all the reasons you state, this now looks unlikely. The Labour Right and Centre Left is simply too strongly embedded in the PLP and Party Macine, and the Corbynite Left (actually Left Liberals, as you say), simply wont take on this entrenched pro neoliberal bloc in any meaningful way. As has always been the way with the Labour Left, they are prisoners of the Right – and it looks more and more likely, will remain so past the point where Labour goes over the political oblivion waterfall.

    3. James Martin says:

      I believe that under the imposed new Momentum constitution and following the summary abolition of the existing national and local bodies of it by Lansman plc, that Left Futures has some sort of delegate on whatever now controls the group – given most of the contributors on LF seem to be fairly hostile to Lansman can I ask how that delegate is selected given I have never seen any mention of it let alone a democratic vote?

    4. Peter Rowlands says:

      To repeat the point I made in reply to Tim Pendry, it is not possible, and would at no stage since Corbyn’s accession in 2015 have been possible for a Leave position to have been taken without splitting the party.The Starmer linehas been pursued for a few months now, althoughit has been refined. It is the only possible line that Labour can take if it is to retain its Remain majority but not alienate its Leave minority. ( This applies to members and supporters).
      I do not believe that an independent socialist UK outside the EU is possible anyway, and as I have pointed out before advance here can only be effected via a completely recast EU brought about by left wing governments in a majority of the states concerned. ( See my article on Europe). But what you are advocating is not politically possible, without splitting the party and throwing away its left leadership and many of those who have joined it on that basis.

      1. Rob Green says:

        Like all opportunists you put unity above principle as if a lasting and meaningful unity could ever be built on opportunism.

      2. Tim Pendry says:

        You can repeat the point until you are blue in the face, Peter, but I have to repeat (since you clearly cannot comprehend or did not read what I said) that I never suggested that Corbyn should or could have adopted a Leave position before the vote. That would have been daft and unfair to Remainers.

        I repeat (again!) what I did say above – that he could have a) asserted his own long-standing beliefs and withdrawn from campaigning because of the conflict of interest between those beliefs and the last party conference decision agreed before his election, b) proposed that the Party machine stand back and conserve resources and let the advocates of Labour Remain and Labour Leave argue their cases alongside their allies from other parties and c) demand an end to the bullying of Leavers by members of the party apparat which certainly took place.

        He screwed himself several times over – he looked weak and unstable and so untrustworthy and he was on the losing side and so lost the ability to exploit whichever side won by committing to it as the democratic will. He could have abandoned his beliefs in favour of democracy (a win) if it had been Remain or asserted democracy as confirmation of his beliefs (a win for a dynamic response to his critics) if it was Leave.

        The Starmer line has to be seen for what it is and as you clearly understand it to be so – a trimming line designed to try and keep Remainers backing the new Party Administration without upsetting too many Leavers. It is not credible outside the limited horizons of the activists – the rest of the country sees through it and Leavers are not fooled for a moment. The opinion polls tell us they see through it.

        The truth is that the Leave minority are being alienated willy-nilly whether the Party likes it or not because the Party appears to be untrustworthy, undemocratic (no surprise there!) and opportunistic.

        What you ‘believe’ is really the core of the matter … you want things to go back to the way they were. They aren’t going to … and the Varoufakis-inspired nonsense of believing that somehow we are going to get a socialist EU flies in the face of reality.

        Do you not read the newspapers? The rise of Le Pen. The collapsed state of the French socialist Party under Hollande. The migration crisis. The central belief in neo-liberalism of people like Fillon. The arrogance of types like Junker and Schultz. The rise of neo-fascism (not populism) in the small Easter states. This thing is falling apart – and, on that, Trump is probably right.

        And did you not read Varoufakis’ own devastating critique of the European Project in his DIEM Manifesto. It was a staggering indictment that held no basis, unless you live in dreamland, for your aspiration.

        Worse, the trimming and hedging of Starmer and of Corbyn is handing over the people to the populist Right much as those fools in the DNC did in the United States. I despair of this nonsense. As always, find a problem on the Left and the ‘soft’ Left is at the heart of it … give me Gaitskell or Bevan but not this woolly-minded dreamy idealistic trimming to hold things together in the hope that ‘something wil turn up’. We need decisive leadership for new times not busking it in the hope that May will get done over by her Remainers. It ain’t gonna happen!

        There is a line that can be taken. Absolute and positive acceptance of the democratic vote and the adoption of a class-based populist critique of the right-wing vision of Brexit. We should be out-hardening the Tories on Brexit. Otherwise, you may as well join the Liberal Democrats.

        1. Peter Rowlands says:

          OK, apologies for not having responded to your specific suggestions, but these would not have been credible and would have probably caused a split shortly after JC became leader.This was the position with Trident for a time, but could not have held the line with a looming referendum.
          Yes, I am aware of the situation in the EU, and have written something about it on this blog.I have not suggested that the left is in a strong position in the EU, but any advance for the left can only be on a united EU basis. It is you who is living in dreamland if you think that your mooted independent socialist UK is anything but a fantasy.

      3. David Pavett says:

        I think Peter is right. There can be no doubt surely that the majority of Labour members and the majority of Labour voters supported Remain. Anyone calling for more democracy in the Labour Party needs to take that as their starting point. To demand that the leadership changes the line when there are good reasons to believe that the majority of members would be opposed would not be a smart move. I also agree that the idea that Brexit opens up the way to starting the transition to a socialist economy is illusory. It is even open to doubt that it would make it easier to implement Keynesian measures given the threat to the pre-eminence of the City and the frantic efforts being made to ensure its continued access to the EU. We are enmeshed in the tentacles of global capitalism and a case has yet to be made that nations can break free from this singly and without an immense international effort.

        1. Karl Stewart says:

          I think more Labour voters were for ‘leave’ than ‘remain. With respect David, I think you’re confusing Labour voters with party activists.

          It was the majority of voters who voted to leave and, even if you were in the ‘remain’ minority, the decision needs to be respected.

          Whatever position people took last June, the voters did vote to leave and so we all now need to unite behind a coherent Labour leave plan – not a devious plan to keep us in behind peoples’ backs.

          You won’t lose the ‘remain’ minority by taking this position, most of them also accept the democracy of the vote (there is no monolithic bloc of 48 per cent) and you’ll also keep the support of the leave-voting majority.

          The majority of Labour voters voted to leave – so don’t confuse party activists with ordinary voters.

          1. Peter Rowlands says:

            No Karl, not true, and my arguments are based on this, that a majority of 2015 Labour voters (65%) voted to remain, and a majority of Labour members (63%).

        2. Tim Pendry says:

          Again, you are missing the point. I was not suggesting that the Leadership should have shifted to Leave but that it should have recognised that this was an existential issue in which one third of Labour voters could and did vote against the position of the Party and done what I suggested above.

          What would have resulted would be more resources and more commitment for Remain from activists but the withdrawal from the business by the apparat and a Wilsonian position of allowing everyone who wanted to endorse Remain (or Leave) to do so. Ironically, it might have strengthened the Left Remain position further by not being imposed on people who don’t like being told what to think or believe and who started to associate the Party with half-truths and bullying.

          In practice, the ‘solidarity card’ did push people towards Remain but not enough to stop the emergence of a huge bloc of voters who defied the party line and who are now fully distrustful of the Party and its leadership.

          There was no necessity to force all activists and members into a straight jacket of support for the EU where to be opposed to it was to be regarded as tantamount to a fascist fellow traveller. Call someone something and they are in danger of becoming that thing.

          The practical politics of this are that latest figures show a national majority for a moderately hard Brexit, hoping for the EU to be sensible but what is more interesting is that only a quarter of the population are now fully committed to Remain.

          Look at the numbers more closely and you see that Leavers are massively more committed to their hard line position (around 74%) than Remainers to their hard position which is merely remaining in the Union (around 24%). This tells you something about the strength of feeling.

          Given (as I say) how many urban middle classpeople of the Richmond type are hard line Remainers and the disproportionate effect on the Remain numbers of the professional middle classes, the Scots (where Labour is making no headway at all) and London, then the logic of it is clear – the general vote wants a moderate sensible Brexit but, if there is back sliding from this, Leavers (Left and Right) will be harder, tougher and more brutal in fighting their corner than their opponents.

          The Labour Party is in danger of being positioned as a weak version of the Liberal Democrats – secretly pining to become a European Socialist Party in the failed model of Hollande while ‘pretending’ to go with the flow of a democratic vote. It panders to its own soft Left activists and so cannot win over a distrustful existentially committed very large minority which it needs for office and which is simply not going into the ballot box for Labour until Brexit is done and dusted. It fears that by voting in Labour, it will be setting in train events that lead to a second referendum or re-entry to the EU by stealth.

          Labour is, in short, stuffed until there is a consensus that says Brexit has utterly failed or it has become irreversible. That really does not look likely except in the perfervid fantasies of Remainer fanatics. The failure of Corbyn to be flexible on this issue has granted the Tories two years of grace until Brexit is effected … these are two years Labour badly needed to recover ground as a popular party.

          As for the fashionable and increasingly anti-democratic pessimism of the Left about challenging international capitalism through the fire-breaks of inter-nationalism, then it suggests to me that Left activists have entrapped themselves too much in a failed post-Soviet petty-intellectual revisionist Marxism: the very way of thinking that got us trapped in Blairismo in the first place.

          That pessimism is a dead end. It ends up with a soul-less top down liberal internationalism, frustrated rights activists nurturing wars and buttressing emerging world middle class elites with a spurious post-Marxist development theory.

          So let’s get this clear. Corbyn blundered both in not being sophisticated in his positioning when the Referendum was announced and the weak response when it concluded. The Party is now a stealth Remainer Party without the courage of its convictions because of that blunder.

          A third of voters and perhaps 10-15% of activists are alienated from it and distrustful. It probably cannot change course and is in danger of a death of a thousand cuts because it has trapped itself into Starmer-like trimming.

          When you get the polls up to 35-40% before Brexit is concluded, then I will be impressed with your argument but not until then … a lot of ‘our’ people don’t trust ‘us’ (though I wonder if it is ‘us’ any more given the personal attacks on my part of ‘us’ before the vote and the emotional hysteria since).

  23. Bazza says:

    A good question after attending a dire Momentum meeting in Leeds on the proposed Momentum constitution (not sure how many had actually read it!)
    The bourgeois socialists outside of Labour were there in force & combined with some Labour members for a Pyrrhic victory (25-24) to oppose the constitution as proposed.
    (It would have been interesting to have seen the voting by Labour members only) and to have heard the views of the full Momentum membership in Leeds.
    Hopefully the national conference will support the constitution and we become Labour Momentum.
    So can non-Labour members stop us having a Labour Party Momentum?
    Perhaps there could also be a Momentum Community Branch for the rest where they can bore each other to their hearts content.
    Left wing democratic socialists need to learn, ‘the opponent of my opponent is not my friend.”
    You feel like walking away but shouldn’t.

    1. James Martin says:

      So in a period where we have seen thousands of socialists who have been purged or blocked from being members of the Labour Party through the unaccountable (except to McNicol) compliance unit you Bazza wish to endorse that by also preventing them from also being in Momentum. What next, should these dastardly trouble makers (aka people who say that they like the Foo Fighters) be kicked out of any Labour affiliated unions too for good measure? Will that satisfy your witch-hunting tendencies perhaps? Perhaps you will also want the LRC kicked out for allowing non-Labour members to join that, although of course you would lose a Shadow Chancellor that way among many others.

      In a way it is all a bit academic for me as someone who has lived through a number witch hunts in many decades of Labour membership I saw through Lansman & Co when they shamelessly joined in the political lynching of Jackie Walker that was being led by the racist JLM and their media friends and so have not given any of my hard earned cash to Lansman plc since (and never will) as so far as I’m concerned Momentum are very much a part of the problem rather than solution now when it comes to democratising the Labour Party (well if they can’t even democratise themselves…), and as a unrepentant Bennite of the old school I will carry on pointing out that whatever his past Mr Lansman certainly ain’t one himself given he would fall at the first Benn hurdle: “What power do you have; where did you get it; in whose interests do you exercise it; to whom are you accountable; and, how can we get rid of you? Anyone who cannot answer the last of those questions does not live in a democratic system”. Or lead a democratic organisation for that matter.

  24. Bazza says:

    Preventing them? They have until July to join and if they don’t they can still join in local campaigns.
    Am a member of LRC.
    Momentum should have been set up as Labour Party Momentum in the first place.
    There was a good example at the meeting – non-labour members handed out a flyer on their model constitution telling us how we should be organised locally and nationally!
    We shouldn’t have non-labour members telling us what to do and as Labour members we should set up Labour Momentum to counter Labour Progress but by debate, ideas and democracy.
    The non-labour members have their own agendas and as a left wing democratic socialist I argue that this includes the bourgeois socialists like the SWP, Socialist Party, AWL (revolutionary communist league) with their top down control, ready made programmes – they also believe in the banking concept of political education – all they need do is deposit their programme into the heads of the working class and their vanguard will then lead us to socialism – socialism FOR (quite rightly failed in the first half of the 20th C.)
    I am a left wing democratic socialist – I belive in a grassroots, bottom up approach where we tell leaders what to do and we make policy.
    We also engage with working class people, involving them and drawing ideas from them – socialism WITH – perhaps what socialism was always meant to be.
    Perhaps as Rosa Luxemburg argued the best thing we all bring to the table is our independent critical thinking.
    Oh and Tony Benn was wrong in one of his last arguments when he said we needed a teacher – we perhaps need a Leader who is also a Facilitator (and hopefully JC is this) and perhaps from this perspective we all need to be facilitators too.
    What was depressing at this meeting was that it was clear a significant number hadn’t even read the constitution and you had some (as George Orwell argued) left wing group think – opposing the consttution was the ‘left’ thing to do.
    Labour members set up Labour Momentum.

  25. Pablo says:

    Well Phil, maybe it wasn’t a brick or a piece of masonry that broke a stairwell window in Sherlock House, Wallasey – maybe it was an inside job? Why don’t you do a real investigatory piece on what has happened and is still happening in Wallasey?
    It’s a disgrace that we are still suspended with no evidence to back up the dreadful allegations made last year! Please read the link below –

  26. Paul Cardin says:

    Hear, hear Pablo. The comprehensive Skwawkbox article(s) have been tenacious and fair-minded and it’s out of order to summarise them as “quibbling” over a brick.

    Phil is not the only person to be missing a trick here.

    I’ll focus on just one strand of this business. Last summer, a very obvious and threatening lie was told by Linda Keogh, a Wallasey resident and Angela Eagle supporter, inside a letter sent to Politics Home, who were only too keen to publish and be damned (or not…) without checking its veracity.

    The lie being that Paul Davies, vice-Chair of Wallasey CLP was seen by Linda and two friends in their road, in Wallasey, posting party leaflets at a time when the CLP had been suspended and banned from doing so (the end of July 2016).

    The truth was that Paul Davies was actually in London on that Saturday and, luckily for him, kept hold of train tickets, Oyster Card transactions, credit card details, mobile phone texts, etc. which firmly and unquestionably placed him *not in Wallasey* at the time of the ‘offence’.

    I’ve since been tweeting these incontrovertible facts to Politics Home and to the writer of the article Josh May but their silence is deafening. The persons behind the website – including The Sun’s former Chief Political Correspondent Kevin Schofield – don’t appear to have it in them to acknowledge, retract climb down or apologise – and are content to leave the inaccuracies up there, wreaking whatever residual damage is to their advantage.

    Paul Davies furnished all his alibi evidence to Iain McNicol and later, mysteriously, the issue suddenly disappeared from the charge sheet with no fanfare whatsoever. It had all been quietly shunted into a safe place and no charges relating to the bogus posting of leaflets appeared in the NEC Disputes Panel’s shockingly weak and biased assessment on the Wallasey CLP’s suspension.

    So nobody’s been wasting their time “quibbling over bricks”, although that incident IS a key contributor to the #FakeNews built to justify the ongoing suspension.

    I and others have suggested that if Linda Keogh is one of Angela Eagle’s alleged 17 ‘whistleblowers’ – and hasn’t been quietly withdrawn – then as a proven liar, how can we trust the veracity of her contributions and take them seriously?

    It’s also been questionable seeing Angela Eagle’s supporters’ allegations being played out in the media to full effect rather than being put through internal party channels. This would have been the responsible course of action and in accordance with policy and procedure. True whistleblowers are encouraged by their employer to exhaust all internal channels of complaint after all. They do NOT instantly fill the media with allegations (which incidentally helps to boost their sales figures) unless they have an axe to grind.

    Also, why did Angela Eagle not personally put her name to the serious allegations and instead leave it to nodding dog, morbidly loyal, right wing party acolytes? People who would gleefully throw themselves off a cliff and dash themselves on the rocks for the ‘moderate’ Labour cause?

    Did she secretly and guiltily hold back, knowing this stuff was potentially career threatening if and when they were eventually rumbled as false?

    Wallasey CLP remain suspended due to a toxic mixture of abuse of power and position, cowardice, an ongoing failure to report alleged homophobia to the police, coupled with a victory by reckless, sordid, personal machinations over caution and due process.

    Come July 2017 it will be a year suspended. If disciplinary action against Paul Davies arrives, his expulsion may soon come to pass on the strength of a pack of lies.

    We now need to look a little closer – as Pablo suggests – and get busy on where the deceit and scoundrelism is breeding; and where the lies actually reside (not just those of Linda Keogh) and get it all exposed before any expulsions are made and that anniversary comes around.

  27. Paul Cardin says:

    Hear, hear Pablo. The comprehensive Skwawkbox article(s) have been tenacious and fair-minded and it’s out of order to summarise them as “quibbling” over a brick.

    Phil is not the only person to be missing a trick here.

    I’ll focus on just one strand of this business. Last summer, a very obvious and threatening lie was told by Linda Keogh, a Wallasey resident and Angela Eagle supporter, inside a letter sent to Politics Home, who were only too keen to publish and be damned (or not…) without checking its veracity.

    The lie being that Paul Davies, vice-Chair of Wallasey CLP was seen by Linda and two friends in their road, in Wallasey, posting party leaflets at a time when the CLP had been suspended and banned from doing so (the end of July 2016).

    The truth was that Paul Davies was actually in London on that Saturday and, luckily for him, kept hold of train tickets, Oyster Card transactions, credit card details, mobile phone texts, etc. which firmly and unquestionably placed him *not in Wallasey* at the time of the ‘offence’.

    I’ve since been tweeting these incontrovertible facts to Politics Home and to the writer of the article Josh May but their silence is deafening. The persons behind the website – including The Sun’s former Chief Political Correspondent Kevin Schofield – don’t appear to have it in them to acknowledge, retract climb down or apologise – and are content to leave the inaccuracies up there, wreaking whatever residual damage is to their advantage.

    Paul Davies furnished all his alibi evidence to Iain McNicol and later, mysteriously, the issue suddenly disappeared from the charge sheet with no fanfare whatsoever. It had all been quietly shunted into a safe place and no charges relating to the bogus posting of leaflets appeared in the NEC Disputes Panel’s shockingly weak and biased assessment on the Wallasey CLP’s suspension.

    So nobody’s been wasting their time “quibbling over bricks”, although that incident IS a key contributor to the #FakeNews built to justify the ongoing suspension.

    I and others have suggested that if Linda Keogh is one of Angela Eagle’s alleged 17 ‘whistleblowers’ – and hasn’t been quietly withdrawn – then as a proven liar, how can we trust the veracity of her contributions and take them seriously?

    It’s also been questionable seeing Angela Eagle’s supporters’ allegations being played out in the media to full effect rather than being put through internal party channels. This would have been the responsible course of action and in accordance with policy and procedure. True whistleblowers are encouraged by their employer to exhaust all internal channels of complaint after all. They do NOT instantly fill the media with allegations (which incidentally helps to boost their sales figures) unless they have an axe to grind.

    Also, why did Angela Eagle not personally put her name to the serious allegations and instead leave it to nodding dog, morbidly loyal, right wing party acolytes? People who would gleefully throw themselves off a cliff and dash themselves on the rocks for the ‘moderate’ Labour cause?

    Did she secretly and guiltily hold back, knowing this stuff was potentially career threatening if and when they were eventually rumbled as false?

    Wallasey CLP remain suspended due to a toxic mixture of abuse of power and position, cowardice, an ongoing failure to report alleged homophobia to the police, coupled with a victory by reckless, sordid, personal machinations over caution and due process.

    Come July 2017 it will be a year suspended. If disciplinary action against Paul Davies arrives, his expulsion may soon come to pass on the strength of a pack of lies.

    We now need to look a little closer – as Pablo suggests – and get busy on where the deceit and scoundrelism is breeding; where the lies actually reside (not just those of Linda Keogh) and get it all exposed before any expulsions are made and that anniversary comes around.

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