What is the future of the Labour Party and the British left?

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What is the future of the Labour Party and the British left?

Post by LaFraise92 » Tue Jul 21, 2015 2:15 pm

I'll preface this by saying that I'm a long-time social democrat and leftist myself so my views are naturally going to be skewed towards the idea that we should be enacting leftist and socially progressive policies.

The Labour Party has massively embarrassed me over the last few weeks. While they have been ever-changing for the last 20 years they have been for the longest time the most electable, most visible face of British leftism - remember that until the early 90s they were calling for mass nationalisation of utilities and assets.

But now, whereas I previously would have backed a Labour government without qualms - I certainly did in May - the fact that they are prepared to roll over and passively support the Welfare Bill they had the power to stop, the fact that they are willing to back economically illiterate austerity, the fact that Liz Kendall won't criticise the government for anything while Cooper and Burnham buy into the government's "Labour spent too much" rhetoric, make me think that, far from the media's spin that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable, he might be the only way to ensure that Labour is ever electable again.

The increased mediatisation of our politics and our society mean that those who control the media wield immense power. And funnily enough, when rich, white men control these assets they will spin the news to ensure that the Tories are especially positively covered. We remember the frankly disgusting treatment of Miliband compared with that of Cameron before the election, the scaremongering of the SNP and now the latest spin in which Corbyn is portrayed as a "loony lefty" despite being a moderate social democrat or socialist - definitely less left-wing than figures such as Clement Attlee who is revered as the architect of the NHS.

The media are scared of Corbyn because what he will do to the Labour Party. He may cause a party split, after all, with the Blairites and semi-neo-liberals of Kendall's ilk splitting off from a party returning to its roots. The Tories like to point to 1983 and show that socialists aren't electable, but what of Harold Wilson, Ramsey MacDonald, Clem Attlee? Even Blair's government from 1997-2003 was heavily social-democratic, introducing the Human Rights Act, devolution and so on. Corbyn's anti-austerity, pro-Keynesian, progressive policies will please an electorate who is not allowed to be exposed to them due to this media spin. Being Labour leader will give him a platform to shout loudly enough from.

But is it not better that Labour distinguish themselves? 14 million people in the UK voted for left-wing parties in 2015, only slightly fewer than the Tories and UKIP together. Over 2 million votes went to the Greens. If Labour can claw these back in key Tory marginals (where they already seem to have lost the centre-right voters to the Tories) can they not hope to win these seats back? To me it would be disastrous for Labour to try and emulate the Tories too closely. No-one will vote for Diet Tories when they can have full-sugar Tories instead.

And what for the Lib Dems? Are they set to use their well-established roots to come back in 2020, perhaps under a new name? The LDs have always been my preferred party in British politics as a social democrat and as an internationalist as well. I think that if the EU picks up by 2020, buoyed by Britain staying in in 2017, they might start to claw back seats that they lost - but again, only if they can paint themselves as a valid alternative. It's telling that they are the only party campaigning for electoral reform, which surely has to become a major political issue after two shambolic unrepresentative elections.

I think the British left does have a future but it needs a Labour Party that is willing to embrace it and support it. The current Labourites don't cut the mustard for me.
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by Colback's Orange Tufts » Tue Jul 21, 2015 2:19 pm

If Labour can claw these back in key Tory marginals (where they already seem to have lost the centre-right voters to the Tories) can they not hope to win these seats back?
I'm not sure the people who voted Green were the swing voters in the marginals. Blair was successful in retaining the left and hitting middle English middle classes.

More broadly, I don't buy politics is moving right, I think it's just moving to the centre. Cameron has moved his party there in many ways, I'm not sure Labour doing the same is a bad thing. But they still retain fundamental differences; attitude to unions, full privatisation, taxation (inheritance tax), Europe etc.

We have a more left wing party in the Greens. People can go there (I will never join them but hey ho)
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by Colback's Orange Tufts » Tue Jul 21, 2015 2:25 pm

The media are scared of Corbyn because what he will do to the Labour Party. He may cause a party split, after all, with the Blairites and semi-neo-liberals of Kendall's ilk splitting off from a party returning to its roots. The Tories like to point to 1983 and show that socialists aren't electable, but what of Harold Wilson, Ramsey MacDonald, Clem Attlee? Even Blair's government from 1997-2003 was heavily social-democratic, introducing the Human Rights Act, devolution and so on. Corbyn's anti-austerity, pro-Keynesian, progressive policies will please an electorate who is not allowed to be exposed to them due to this media spin. Being Labour leader will give him a platform to shout loudly enough from.
Politics changes, people electable twenty years ago won't cut it now, so I'm not sure how historical figures fit it. When the Welfare state was brought in, the Tories were against it. Whereas now the Tory manifesto states it's support for the NHS for example.
People are scarred of Corbyn because they remember high taxation, far left leaders. People want welfare, but not at the price of high taxes.
I think the more 'right' of the Labour candidates are still "heavily social-democratic" in the way the Blair gov was.

I'm wary of the argument, "if only people hear X views and Y policies they'd be for it". This is often flouted by those who can't comprehend that much of the public might just disagree

More than anything though, they see the far left as big borrowers and have bad experiences of governments who borrow too much.
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by Ramone » Tue Jul 21, 2015 2:38 pm

I'm still confused about the Welfare Bill, didn't pairing mean that it would have passed even if Labour had all voted against it?
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by Speedo » Tue Jul 21, 2015 2:48 pm

I broadly agree LaFraise - I'm a Labour member and the only reason I haven't quit is because I want to vote for Tom Watson for Deputy Leader at the party elections. Being 'Labour' doesn't mean anything any more. Jeremy Corbyn isn't much better; he's pretty economically illiterate himself, and voted for homeopathy. I'm ashamed of 'left-wing' politics in Britain; the Lib Dems sold their principles for 5 years getting bummed by the Tories, and the Labour leadership are an incompetent shambles of liars, charlatans and principle-free douche bags. And like 5 old school Bennites who are about as electable as Nigel Farage. It's pathetic. We need a competent left-wing alternative, with a thorough understanding of Keynesian economics (save when you're doing well; spend when you're not), a genuinely forward thinking social policy (invest in education & NHS; cut back on snooping; making a welfare system that actually protects the poorest) and a plan to tackle our contribution to global warming. Nobody in Britain does the first, the SNP do the second, and the Greens do the third. Labour do none. No party gets even close to all three, and it's thoroughly depressing.
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by LaFraise92 » Tue Jul 21, 2015 2:51 pm

TrinLaden wrote:I'm still confused about the Welfare Bill, didn't pairing mean that it would have passed even if Labour had all voted against it?
It's complicated. There certainly seems to have been a certain amount of pairing, but the number of Labour MPs who abstained was 182, the exact amount the bill passed by. If those abstainers had voted No the Speaker would have used Denison's rule and cast a vote for the status quo meaning it didn't pass.
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by Colback's Orange Tufts » Tue Jul 21, 2015 2:52 pm

LaFraise92 wrote:
TrinLaden wrote:I'm still confused about the Welfare Bill, didn't pairing mean that it would have passed even if Labour had all voted against it?
It's complicated. There certainly seems to have been a certain amount of pairing, but the number of Labour MPs who abstained was 182, the exact amount the bill passed by. If those abstainers had voted No the Speaker would have used Denison's rule and cast a vote for the status quo meaning it didn't pass.
Except if it looked like it would have been close, pairs would have not abstained / the Tory whips would have went to work
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by LaFraise92 » Tue Jul 21, 2015 2:54 pm

Speedo wrote:I broadly agree LaFraise - I'm a Labour member and the only reason I haven't quit is because I want to vote for Tom Watson for Deputy Leader at the party elections. Being 'Labour' doesn't mean anything any more. Jeremy Corbyn isn't much better; he's pretty economically illiterate himself, and voted for homeopathy. I'm ashamed of 'left-wing' politics in Britain; the Lib Dems sold their principles for 5 years getting bummed by the Tories, and the Labour leadership are an incompetent shambles of liars, charlatans and principle-free douche bags. And like 5 old school Bennites who are about as electable as Nigel Farage. It's pathetic. We need a competent left-wing alternative, with a thorough understanding of Keynesian economics (save when you're doing well; spend when you're not), a genuinely forward thinking social policy (invest in education & NHS; cut back on snooping; making a welfare system that actually protects the poorest) and a plan to tackle our contribution to global warming. Nobody in Britain does the first, the SNP do the second, and the Greens do the third. Labour do none. No party gets even close to all three, and it's thoroughly depressing.
The problem is that, as I said, Labour is more or less the well-known face of British leftism. That's why I think Corbyn needs to be elected to give them at least a clear identity even if he isn't the leader that will get them elected, because at this rate they're just going to merge with the Tories.

I'd suggest that if the SNP stood candidates (or backed candidates) in England and tried to distance the latter from Scottish nationalism then maybe we'd have a feasible leftist party in the UK. As it stands, Scotland and England are going down fundamentally different paths and I don't think the end of the Union is far off. I must say that if Scotland did separate I would probably go and live up there.
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by LaFraise92 » Tue Jul 21, 2015 2:56 pm

Cisse's Overheating Torso wrote:
LaFraise92 wrote:
It's complicated. There certainly seems to have been a certain amount of pairing, but the number of Labour MPs who abstained was 182, the exact amount the bill passed by. If those abstainers had voted No the Speaker would have used Denison's rule and cast a vote for the status quo meaning it didn't pass.
Except if it looked like it would have been close, pairs would have not abstained / the Tory whips would have went to work
If Labour wanted to vote against it without telling the Tories, they would have. Underhandedness is not beyond the Commons - do you not remember the atrocious effort to oust Bercow on the last day of the last Parliament?
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Post by Colback's Orange Tufts » Tue Jul 21, 2015 3:00 pm

LaFraise92 wrote:
Cisse's Overheating Torso wrote:
Except if it looked like it would have been close, pairs would have not abstained / the Tory whips would have went to work
If Labour wanted to vote against it without telling the Tories, they would have. Underhandedness is not beyond the Commons - do you not remember the atrocious effort to oust Bercow on the last day of the last Parliament?
True, could repay them for the West Wing plot. Not sure they'd do that to the pairing system though, it's a respected system of mutual respect.
And to pull it off, they'd need a strong leader, they don't have one.
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by LaFraise92 » Tue Jul 21, 2015 3:01 pm

Cisse's Overheating Torso wrote:
LaFraise92 wrote:
If Labour wanted to vote against it without telling the Tories, they would have. Underhandedness is not beyond the Commons - do you not remember the atrocious effort to oust Bercow on the last day of the last Parliament?
True, could repay them for the West Wing plot. Not sure they'd do that to the pairing system though, it's a respected system of mutual respect.
And to pull it off, they'd need a strong leader, they don't have one.
The last part is the problem. Anyone with any sense would see that defeating part of the Tories' own budget would be hugely embarrassing and a kick in the face for the neoliberal consensus. As Labour didn't want to capitalise on that it's clear that they did actually support the bill - they may as well have voted yes.
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by skalpel » Thu Jul 23, 2015 3:34 am

I wouldn't vote for Corbyn (nor any of the other Labour candidates) but I believe that he means what he says. And since this makes him a f***ing museum piece in modern politics, I imagine he'll probably gather quite a following. But I'm not sure about how Labour would fare in an election led by someone like him. On the one hand his candidness, obvious humanity, and utopian ideals may appeal to many, and his low expenses won't hurt either. But then I'm not entirely convinced that a Corbyn-Cooper type split is the only major split in the left. There's plenty of people who would largely agree with Speedo's post, I count myself as one. And then there's those who swung to UKIP even in the safe seats. Is Corbyn going to impress them? And those who likely considered the swing, but stuck with Labour out of loyalty. In their case he's a wildcard at best.

His foreign policy - the thing in which I usually take most interest - would be a mess (a mess in the particular style of modern leftism that has Nick Cohen ripping at his meagre hair reserves and writing a new full pager in the Observer every time he remembers its existence). When Corbyn (a supposed anti-fascist) busies himself saying things like: "ISIS is not Islamic. Tunisia is an Islamic country because it is filled with good people, oh and Saudi Arabia is a disgrace" he makes himself sound like an idiot. When he says Hezbollah are "dedicated to bringing about long term peace in the middle east" he makes himself sound like an idiot. And sounding like an idiot is especially bad news in this case, considering he's a man to be believed rather than one we can suppose is toeing the party line in spite of common sense.

On the Lib Dems; they're gone now, for sure. This was their chance to turn themselves into the sort of Liberal party that the country needs, and instead they've shot Clegg and turned the gun on themselves. It's a shame, because I agree with you and your OP: they ought to be my party too. But they aren't, and now they've gone and elected a guy who thinks we're all innately sinners. So yeah, no chance and good riddance.

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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by Colback's Orange Tufts » Thu Jul 23, 2015 7:47 am

The independent have a great front page today:
"the longest suicide vote in history "
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by Don Sholeone » Wed Aug 12, 2015 12:45 pm

Is Corbyn the answer to a Labour victory in the next election probably not, but he is the answer to having a true labour party to vote for in the next election rather than a diluted Tory clone. IMO.
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by el héroe » Wed Aug 12, 2015 10:40 pm

Don Sholeone wrote:Is Corbyn the answer to a Labour victory in the next election probably not, but he is the answer to having a true labour party to vote for in the next election rather than a diluted Tory clone. IMO.
I agree. The Labour party have deserted the working people since Blair got in and need to get back to grass roots. I reckon a combo of Corbyn and Farage would be awesome to give this country back to its people and make it great once again. It has to happen for the sake of all our youngsters.
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by Colback's Orange Tufts » Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:15 am

Benjamin Button wrote:
Don Sholeone wrote:Is Corbyn the answer to a Labour victory in the next election probably not, but he is the answer to having a true labour party to vote for in the next election rather than a diluted Tory clone. IMO.
I agree. The Labour party have deserted the working people since Blair got in and need to get back to grass roots. I reckon a combo of Corbyn and Farage would be awesome to give this country back to its people and make it great once again. It has to happen for the sake of all our youngsters.
This term annoys me so much. People mean 'blue collar' or something like that. Or non-exec, non-city types. But CEOs, Politicians, bankers etc all have jobs. They are working people, because they work.

The worst is Owen Jones, he did a video for the election about taking the country back for working people from the 1%, cutting to footage of people working in the city.
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Post by Colback's Orange Tufts » Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:18 am

Also Corbyn and Farage could never work together, they are opposite politically on most things.
The former is for massive amounts of public spending, using quantative easing to buy back the trains and energy companies and increasing taxes on the rich. I think he's pro-immigration too
Farage is for very low public spending, low taxes (including top rate) and private business.
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by Ramone » Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:36 am

Quantitative easing <neg>

Has it ever been proved to work in practice?
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by Colback's Orange Tufts » Thu Aug 13, 2015 7:57 am

Ramone wrote:Quantitative easing <neg>

Has it ever been proved to work in practice?
According to some on the left (inc most of the Green Party), it's fine if you use it for infrastructure because that investment comes back through the economy.
Peston from the bbc made a good point on this, the value of Sterling is based on confidence in it and the independence of the Bank of England. If they start QE for Political spending projects, it would undermine Sterling and then our money is worth nowt. A huge risk. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-33884836" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: What is the future of the Labour Party and the British l

Post by Ol' Dirty Bas Dost » Mon Aug 17, 2015 11:52 am

A Corbyn victory might make Labour an option again for the leftist Scottish voters who switched en masse to the SNP in the election just gone. So in a perverse way he might be the only thing that puts Labour in with a shout of winning the next general election.

One other thing. Radio 4 had a Corbynite MP on this morning, and anyone who says Corbyn is above spin needs to have a listen to that programme. She'd clearly been carefully coached to repeat soundbites and stay on message. Spin is the lifeblood of politics, you're never going to eliminate that.

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