Winner of the New Statesman SPERI Prize in Political Economy 2016

Saturday, 7 May 2016

The anti-Corbyn militants have failed
















It was a day of contrasts. Labour MP Sadiq Khan was elected mayor of London, overcoming an openly Islamophobic campaign against him. The person who played a major part in putting together that Islamophobic campaign, Lynton Crosby, was knighted on the same day for services to the Conservative Party politics.

It was also the day after many council elections across the UK. As anyone familiar with mid-term elections will know, expectations are critical in how a result is received. In this case the agenda was set (because of their media access) by those within Labour who openly attack the new leadership. In this post I called them Labour’s new militant tendency, but anti-Corbynistas is simpler. The constant anti-Corbynista refrain is that this leadership is an electoral disaster. So when the council elections were not a disaster, they looked stupid and Labour ended up feeling better about the results than they should have done. (Despite open Conservative divisions over Europe and a clearly regressive budget, Labour only had a slight national lead over the Conservatives.)

You can of course be neither a Corbynista nor an anti-Corbynista, which is where I am, where Sadiq Khan is and I suspect the majority of Labour party members are. Khan nominated Corbyn for the leadership because he thought the left should have a voice, but he did not vote for him in the actual contest. Giving people a choice, and being prepared to accept when that choice goes against you, are part of democratic politics.

Returning to the council elections, this own goal by the anti-Corbyn militants is an illustration of how their strategy is flawed. As I explained here, constant high profile attacks on the Labour leadership from within just make it difficult for Labour party members to read the polls: are bad results because the leadership is poor or because it is under constant attack from within? That in turn just delays the very thing the anti-Corbynistas want, because it is only the party membership that can vote for a new leader.

At one point when I was writing that earlier post, I suddenly thought I was being stupid. The goal of many anti-Corbynistas is not to unseat the leadership as soon as possible, but to provide the momentum for a new centre-left party. You can see that very clearly in this article by Tim Bale. Those making that call know that time is not on their side, so there is a constant refrain of urgency. To quote Bale, MPs “are fast running out of options”, they are about to be deselected, the new leadership is tightening its grip on the party, and so on. I think in reality time has run out for those that want (one way or another) to override the views of Labour party members.

Naivety among anti-Corbynistas is only matched by the traditional left. Those who dismissed the antisemitism issue as just a ruse by anti-Corbynistas showed no awareness of the structural problem that Labour has, as both the party that is most critical of the current government of Israel and the party that many Muslims have taken a leading part in. Contrast Naz Shah’s genuine apology to Ken Livingstone’s incendiary remarks. Getting Shami Chakrabarti to lead an inquiry is an excellent start in dealing with that issue.

I think Nick Cohen is right that this is an example of a general tendency on the traditional left to divide the world into heroes and villains, and choose which side particular people or leaders are on by a dubious process of association. Within that framework any leader that opposes US imperialism gets most of the way into the good guys camp, whatever the nature of their regime. It is an approach to international relations worthy of a neocon.

This Labour leadership is generally as hopeless as the last in combating a generally hostile media. I have not heard a single Labour shadow minister or MP, in response to yet another question on antisemitism, counter attack with the nature of the Conservative campaign for London mayor. (As in ‘at least we are dealing with this issue. The Conservatives are continuing to run an Islamophobic campaign’.) It has to be prepared to learn the dark arts of political spin.

There is a great deal of progress that needs to be made before the Labour party is able to unseat what is one of the most incompetent, divisive and ideological UK governments. Good leadership is part of how that will be done, but it is not everything. The 2015 election was lost for Labour partly because Ed Miliband was not popular, but also because the party decided not to oppose the myth about the previous Labour government’s economic record. To help win in 2020 or 2025 the party needs to completely rethink how it appeals to the electorate while facing a hostile environment. How it deals with widespread antagonism towards immigration. How it takes on the SNP. How it handles the financial sector. How it shifts the economic debate away from deficits to the issues that really matter. With so much to do, fixating about a leadership when there is currently little you can do about it and there is no proven alternative is just a waste of time that only benefits the current government.




43 comments:

  1. I see the hand of Crosby all over the Khan and the Livingston affair. What worries me is that an organisation like the BBC has never heard of nor can be bothered to find out about the Haavara Agreement and even more distressing that Labour party has suspended Ken for telling the truth and reminding people about the past. It's a pity he did not remind people how in 1948 the Jewish terrorist's were doing their best to kill my late boss in Palestine, while he was in military intelligence (his favourite oxymoron).
    The SNP are now free to concentrate on the Scottish economy as independence is a dead duck for a while. They have a chance to finally do something about land reform with the green's on board and the formation of an industrial bank would be useful stating points. The labour party should be doing the same, as the neo-lib disaster finally crashes and burns. The left really need to stop fixating only with the poor , disabled and those left behind by the world and start including those doing OK and prospering as well and include their problems in their agenda.

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  2. Perhaps I'm being unfair, but I suspect that if a Tory was caught saying that we needed to deport all the Muslims from Palestine a "genuine apology" wouldn't cut it with the left-leaning commentators who have been so willing to exonerate Nas Shah.

    This is not to say that Zac's campaign wasn't wrong, it was. But it looks like both of the UK's main parties have a lot to work on with regard to race relations and tolerance at the moment - the problems in the Labour party don't stop with Ken.

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    1. In the 1948 Nakba over 700,000 Palestinians were driven violently from their homes and land. UNRWA estimates that today there are around 5 million original or patrilineal descendant Palestinian refugees. Do you support their right to return?

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    2. Did you see the Naz Shah post that generated all that controversy? She shared an image which is a gag about the closeness of the relationship between the US and Israel. Really not at all the same as saying "We should deport all Jews from Israel", and certainly not the same as running an entire political campaign based on exploiting fear and hatred of Muslims

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  3. From your link to the independent:

    "There is no suggestion that Mr Crosby played any personal role in the Mr Goldsmith's campaign."

    He may be the founder of the firm, but it's playing fast and loose with the facts to say that he's "The person who played a major part in putting together that Islamophobic campaign".

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    1. I will be happy to apologise when he disassociates himself from it.

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  4. Do you think that the poor showing from Labour in Scotland (worse than the Tories!) is indicative of the electoral viability of a tax raising, anti-austerity fiscal offer in the UK as a whole?

    Corbyn said in his victory speech in September (?) last year that he'd win back Scotland: this reflected the view of many on his wing of the Labour party that Scotland was crying out for some "proper" left wing policies. The results of Thursday don't seem to support that, and instead, as George Eaton has argued, suggest that the surge in SNP support from 2014 reflected a surge in nationalism rather than socialism in Scotland.

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    1. But logically, if you wanted the best chance at some set of left-wing policies, and were Scottish you may well vote SNP anyway. On the one hand you know that most of the rest of Scotland will vote that way - and besides you can't trust the rest of the UK to vote majority Labour anyway - regardless of how much you may like their policies.

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    2. Chris: This was an election for the Scottish Parliament, so what the rest of the UK does doesn't matter. If you wanted very left wing policies + Indy you could have voted Green (on the list). Just 6% did so.

      The Labour "offer" was much further to the left than the SNPs, symbolised by the pledge to raise the top rate of tax back to 50% (which the SNP refused to follow). So the collapse of Scottish Labour *below the Scottish Conservatives* suggests that perhaps the SNP surge had little to do with left-wing positions.

      Put it this way - if the SNP were so convinced that most Scottish voters would be happy for higher taxes and higher spending, then they would have promised it. They didn't think so, and the election results seem to support their strategy.

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  5. Anonymous - Laura Kuenssberg made just this point, but it's bizarrely illogical; the idea seems to be that Labour is now too left-wing for Scotland, but not too left-wing for Crawley and Hastings. The poor showing from Labour in Scotland has to be set in the context of an extremely good showing from the anti-austerity SNP.

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    1. The SNP are 'against austerity' rhetorically, but not in practice. Now the Scottish Parliament has tax raising powers, they are refusing to use them. In particular, they refuse to raise the rate for those earning over £150k back to 50% (in practice which would only hit a small number of bankers in Edinburgh and an even smaller number of oil industry execs in Aberdeen) in order to lessen cuts to public services. Labour made just such a promise, and *fell behind the Conservatives*. In Scotland.

      I am sure that Glasgow or Dundee are just as left wing as Crawley and Hastings, but these two towns are not representative of all of Scotland. The SNP suffered double digit swings against them (towards Con) in the North East of Scotland.

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    2. The point is that Crawley and Hastings aren't left-wing in the slightest - they're solid middle-class southern English towns, precisely the kind of place that we've been told it's vital Labour holds on to, if necessary by moving to the right. Except when a left-wing Labour party succeeds in holding on to them, whereupon we're promptly told that it's vital Labour holds on in Scotland, and the threat of losses in 'middle England' goes down the memory hole.

      There was a poll last year which showed that both SNP and Labour supporters believed they were on the Left, their party was on the Left and - most importantly - that it was more left-wing than the other one of the two: Labour supporters thought the SNP was right-wing, SNP supporters thought Labour was right-wing. I don't know if that still holds good. But I do think that the SNP have managed to superimpose the nationalist/unionist and left/right polarisations onto each other - which is obviously bad for Labour, whose unionism costs the party its Left identity before any of its other policies have been considered. We've always known that reviving Labour under Corbyn would be a long job, but I think in Scotland it'll be particularly long.

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  6. As a Sanders supporter in America, I think it's good that Corbyn didn't suffer an electoral backlash as the Blairite rump had hoped. (Also congratulations to Mr. Kahn and Leicester City!)

    However it's bad that UKIP won in Wales just as it's very bad that Trump is the Republican nominee here. (When American conservatives find out that London elected a Muslim mayor they'll wet their beds.)

    What keeps me hopeful is that the youth are overwhelmingly supporting Corbyn and Sanders. Ultimately they are pragmatic and want to try something that works, not the failed austerity policies of the right or the compromise austerity lite policies of the center right neoliberals.

    Despite the fact the Delong wants to appropriate the term "pragmatic" for the center right neoliberals, the fact is that their policies of compromise have failed. An authentic pragmatist would try something else along the lines of a Corbyn or a Sanders: true social democratic policies that promote prosperity for everyone. That's why the youth are voting against the establishment and for something new.

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    1. It's bad news that UKIP now have Welsh Assembly members but their 12.5% of the vote is well down on the 27.6% they obtained in Wales in the 2014 election to the EU Parliament. Labour did better here than anyone had expected, losing just one seat and that to Leanne Wood, who represents Plaid's left wing and spoke alongside Jeremy Corbyn at the anti-Trident rally in February.

      As a general summary, I would say that Corbyn has shown that he can hold Labour's ground but not yet proved that he can reverse the losses suffered under New Labour. It's often forgotten that Labour lost 5 million votes between 1997 and 2010. None of those criticising Corbyn have shown why the policies that failed then would succeed now.

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  7. That Rentoul column is dreadful, but it's revealing of how the anti-Corbynistas think. The mindset seems to be that the party has been temporarily taken over by a force completely alien to it - as if Corbyn were Donald Trump or David Duke - so that a change of leadership is genuinely the first priority. Rentoul says that "under Corbyn, the party is on track for defeat", but I wonder if he and others aren't at least as worried about the possibility of Labour winning under the current leadership. It would explain why so many on the centre and Right of the party seem so unconcerned about the obvious risks of destabilising the party - better leave the country in Conservative hands than risk a win for Jeremy Trump's bizarro-Labour, as they might put it.

    This 'better the devil you know' attitude might also explain Tim Bale's piece. I've thought for a while that the way that some MPs are acting - Dan Jarvis employing two full-timers paid for by 'party donors', Rachel Reeves issuing her own alternative Budget response - only makes sense in the context of preparing for a split. (They - and/or their supporters - may think they're preparing for a leadership challenge, but they must know that there's no mechanism to make that happen, and no likelihood at all that they'd be successful if it did. Splitting the party's easy by comparison.)

    So it's nice in a way to have Bale (after Peter Kellner) breaking cover on this one - but his argument is bizarre. He says that a new split could be more successful than the SDP if it was launched on a large scale: he suggests 100 MPs resigning simultaneously, then fighting the resulting by-elections under the name of 'Real Labour'. But the SDP didn't plan to start in a small way; I'm sure the Gang of Four would have loved to get 100 defectors on board instead of 27. The appetite wasn't there, and there's no evidence it would be any different now. Nor is resigning a sure-fire route to success; one of those 27 (Bruce Douglas-Mann) did resign, fought a by-election and lost, never to be seen in Parliament again. (Most of the other 26 lost their seats two years later, along with two of the GoF.) Out of 100 defectors they'd be lucky to get 50 re-elected; Labour would fight hard, and the Tories certainly wouldn't graciously stand aside. (Of course, potential defectors know this as well as I do, which is one reason why getting as many as 100 to defect is a pipe-dream.) Nor do I think the Electoral Commission would register anyone as Joe Bloggs, Real Labour - least of all if their evident intention was to run against Fred Smith, The Labour Party Candidate.

    But even if they succeeded in getting their people re-eleced and creating a new (sixth?) Britain-wide political party with 100 MPs - what then? They'd destroy Labour's prospects of forming a government for a generation, but I can't see how the new party would have any prospect of gaining power itself - except by either re-entering a rightward-moving Labour Party or joining a coalition with the Tories, both of which the SDP has now effectively done.

    Either way, the strategy suggests a willingness to throw two or more elections to the Tories which I find both repugnant and alarming. If anyone hates Corbyn enough to contemplate going down that route, I have to wonder how they really feel about the Labour Party.

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  8. Tories are dumb: they spend decades backing mass immigration, then object to London having a Muslim mayor. As every street sweeper and BNP member worked out twenty years ago, if you allow loads of people from culture X into the country, people from that culture will reach positions of power and the country’s culture will to a greater or lesser extent be “X-ised”.

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    1. The BNP sounds so sweet...

      http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2005/jul/20/otherparties.thefarright

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    2. Well at least the BNP are nowhere near as racist as the Labour Party. Labour took part in the slaughter of a million Muslims in Iraq for no good reason. In contrast the BNP opposed that war from day one.

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    3. Ralph, you've just described the social/ cultural story of the UK of the past 2000 years- a nation built upon successive waves of immigration, whose ideas and cultures over the centuries have shaped and now constitute UK culture. It's great isn't it?

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  9. "So when the council elections were not a disaster"

    But they were a disaster! They didn't even meet Corbyn's own very low threshold of "not losing seats". At this stage of the electoral cycle you need to be gaining 100s of seats or you're not going to win the next General Election. Labour is going backwards under Corbyn, that's a fact that can't be denied.

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  10. " .....Within that framework any leader that opposes US imperialism gets most of the way into the good guys camp, whatever the nature of their regime. It is an approach to international relations worthy of a neocon. "

    Talk about bass-ackwards.

    The U.S. neocons love guys like you - the ones who will unilaterally disarm to set a good example for the world , and maintain that stance even as the U.S. grinds its jackboot into your face.

    Leaders who resist U.S. imperialism ARE the world's good guys. The nature of their regimes is secondary to that much , much greater good.

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  11. You assert there is “a general tendency on the traditional left to divide the world into heroes and villains, and choose which side particular people or leaders are on by a dubious process of association. Within that framework any leader that opposes US imperialism gets most of the way into the good guys camp, whatever the nature of their regime.” As someone engaged in left politics for over 40 years and now a Labour Party member glad to support Jeremy Corbyn, I have to set the record straight on this.

    If I ever believed the world could be simply divided into heroes and villains, then it was a very long time ago, although I admit I still often feel humble when I meet ordinary people who display heroism in defence of their rights or communities that I doubt I could ever attain. It certainly is not the case that just opposing US imperialism makes someone a ‘good guy’. I have no time at all for Kim Jong-un. Vladimir Putin is clever and competent in his own terms but I certainly don’t trust him. Nor am I impressed with the often corrupt and repressive way in which the PLO and Hamas treat their own people, and the same is true of the Iranian regime despite glimmers of reform. I could go on. I also know that I would find myself on the wrong side of each of these regimes if I was unfortunate enough to live under them. No illusions.

    What does distinguish the ‘traditional left’ in politics is that we also have no illusions about the role of the US or indeed our own state. Coming to political maturity at the tail end of the Vietnam war, with the US actively promoting dictatorships in Latin America (a bloodier business than Soviet repression in eastern Europe), I have never been able to see the US as a benign force in world politics. The Iraq disaster just confirmed this. The history of British imperialism with its horrors for those colonised shows that the British ruling class has been no better. Ditto for France, Spain, Portugal, Russia …. Throughout history the great powers have disregarded the interests of those who get in their way.

    Nick Cohen’s article is typical of those criticising the left for alleged ‘anti-semitism’ in recent weeks in that he completely ignores the suffering and abuse that Palestinians have endured at the hands of the Israeli state for decades: dispossession, exile, theft, blockade, occupation, humiliation, ethnic cleansing, death. None of this deserves mention. At least he acknowledges that Palestinians exist; many commentators don’t even do that. I find all of this profoundly racist. Do Palestinians not deserve the same rights as every other human being? Does being Arab deny them this?

    When I re-joined the Labour Party last summer, I knew that if Jeremy Corbyn won he would be subject to all kinds of attack, as the politics he represents poses a challenge to the dominant elites. At the same time, I was optimistic that his victory would open up discussion, as it has done, particularly on economic policy where John McDonnell has done a good job so far. I’ve been around too long to expect any restraint in attacks on the left, but even so the weeks running up to the election were particularly dirty. But we have, as Corbyn says, ‘held on’ despite everything that has been thrown at us. The ‘anti-Corbynistas’ have failed. Now let’s move forward.

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    1. I did say tendency. If you want an example of that, see the previous comment.

      You say: "Nick Cohen’s article is typical of those criticising the left for alleged ‘anti-semitism’ in recent weeks in that he completely ignores the suffering and abuse that Palestinians have endured at the hands of the Israeli state for decades." Someone else on twitter was very exercised that I did not mention the extent to which those antagonistic to the current Labour leadership had exploited the antisemitism issue. They ended the discussion by saying "you're clearly not capable of taking onboard anything that doesn't come with tabloid approval".

      Naz Shah rightly apologised for her past comments. In it (http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/naz-shah/naz-shah_b_9785052.html?utm_hp_ref=uk&ncid=tweetlnkushpmg00000067) she mentions the plight of the Palestinian people as a way of explaining why she made those comments, but in no way to excuse them. Equally the fact that Corbyn's critics have blown up the issue provides no excuse.

      The right response to this issue is not to try and excuse it in various ways. The right response is the one I gave in my post just before mentioning the dark arts of political spin.

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    2. Naz Shah was wrong in what she did and right to apologize. But it’s worrying when people give more weight to a hastily written social media comment than to the reality of the suffering of Palestinians, whether the many hundreds of civilians killed in Gaza that summer, those enduring ongoing occupation, or the millions of ethnically cleansed refugees. I don’t understand how such a low valuation can be given to human lives.

      I am also concerned about the attempt to censor any discussion of the relationship between Zionism and Nazism by labelling it as ‘anti-semitic’ irrespective of what has actually been said. A Labour councillor in Newport has recently been suspended for tweets in which he compared the behaviour of the Israeli regime to Nazis. It’s important that we are able to discuss this question freely and seriously as it involves not just Israel but our very understanding of what ‘western civilisation’ means in its relation to others.

      This issue has been with us from the outset. It can be seen in Columbus’ brutal treatment of the Arawaks and in the violence meted out by English settlers in the north. Adorno pointed to the continuity between the Enlightenment and Nazism. Jefferson kept his slaves and Franklin praised the prince who “removes the natives to give his own people room”. The First Nations experienced ‘manifest destiny’ as a westward version of the later Nazi search for ‘Lebensraum’ to Germany’s east. The Nakba expulsion of the Palestinians follows a long and painful tradition.

      Post-war decolonisation profoundly changed the world but we have not yet fully absorbed its implications. The heritage of settlement lingers in many countries and weighs more heavily in the Levant than anywhere else. We have to discuss this if we are ever to find a resolution.

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    3. Shah should realise that helping the Palestinians is extremely hard because of the power of their opponents. Given the difficulty, nobody should do anything stupid and counterproductive, which is what she did. Similarly, the failure of Corbyn to publicly come out and say the IRA campaign was murder (as were the loyalist terrorist campaigns, and the minority of members of security forces who broke the law themselves) is an open goal for the Tories, and if he really did want to help the millions suffering under austerity he wouldn't act like a fool.

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    4. Lyn - it seems to me that you believe that racism and anti-semitism are justified in certain circumstances, i.e. circumstances where a set of people have been oppressed by the people against whom you are being racist. So Naz Shah's support of the claim that Israelis should be deported is justified because the Palestinians have suffered more at the hands of Israel.

      I think Simon's point is that anti-semitism and racism are never justified. It is one thing to point out the plight of Palestinians and criticise the people who have caused their suffering. But that criticism should not spill over into racial abuse or justifying racial abuse - something Naz Shah realised and apologised for. Unfortunately, a lot of people on the left and right seem to struggle with seeing the difference between these two things - both when it comes to anti-semitism and Islamaphobia.

      As for this point: "I am also concerned about the attempt to censor any discussion of the relationship between Zionism and Nazism by labelling it as ‘anti-semitic’ irrespective of what has actually been said." I agree with you, but the part of this sentence which is doing all the work is "irrespective of what has actually been said".

      Show me a statement comparing Zionism to Nazism that isn't either factually incorrect, disproportionate or deliberately made to be inflammatory then I'll be happy not to call it anti-semitic. Such analogies are designed to take an element of truth and distort it beyond recognition with the aim of vilifying and defaming.

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    5. From what possible reading of the sentence “Naz Shah was wrong in what she did and right to apologize.” can you conclude that I am justifying her, let alone supporting a claim that Israelis should be deported? How can you justify your assertion that I believe that “racism and anti-semitism are justified in certain circumstances”? My point was that those who criticise Naz should also show concern for the suffering of the Palestinians. Please re-read. I am still waiting for anyone alleging anti-semitism on the left to acknowledge the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and to recognise their right to return.

      For the record: racism and anti-semitism are never justified; Israelis should not be deported.

      On comparisons between Zionism and Nazism, I agree these have to be treated with great caution. First, there is no analogy between anything Zionism has done and the genocide meted out by the Nazis. If any comparisons are made, they can only relate to the early years of Nazi rule. Are all such analogies simply intended to vilify and defame? No doubt that is often the intention. But there is also another motivation, namely to shock the reader into some human empathy. A Palestinian farmer watching his olive grove being torn down by Israeli settlers must feel much the same despair as a Jewish businessman seeing his shop trashed by Nazi thugs. Palestinians are people too.

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    6. I don't want it entering the record that Naz Shah supported a claim that "Israelis should be deported". The graphic she posted on FB is clearly a joke rather than a serious recommendation. It's a callous joke, highly liable to offend anyone with political, cultural or personal ties to the state of Israel, and Naz Shah was right to apologise for posting it (as Lyn said above). But it's not evidence of anti-semitism, unless we expand the definition of anti-semitism to include "making statements likely to be offensive to Jews" - which I don't think we should, for reasons which I hope are obvious*. Even if Lyn had defended Naz Shah's posting (which she didn't), it wouldn't follow that she was claiming that racism was "justified in certain circumstances".

      *I'd make an exception for "as a Gentile**, making statements in the knowledge that they were likely to cause offence to Jews, and with the intention of causing offence to Jews".

      **I don't think claims of anti-semitism should ever be used to police what's said by Jews themselves.

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  12. "It is where Sadiq Khan is"

    I really don't believe you are that naive. It clearly is not where he is:see today's Observer. Khan nor being a fool.

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    1. It is absolutely where he is. I've always made it clear that the anti-Corbyn militants are the minority of Labour MPs and the majority of Labour commentators who go out of their way to publicly criticise Corbyn. Khan is part of the majority of Labour MPs who are obviously unhappy with Corbyn being leader but do not see it as their duty to undermine him publicly. The anti-Corbynistas are option 2 using Bale's categorisation, and Khan is part of the majority going for option 1.

      Khan ran his campaign his own way, and I'm very glad he did. Of course as a result the media will talk about 'rifts with Corbyn', because the media can think about nothing else. They would do the same with all but around 20 Labour MPs. But nothing I've seen puts him in the anti-Corbynista camp, and that is something I not you decide.

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    2. I meant the majority are going for Bale's option 3 of course.

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    3. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/may/07/sadiq-khan-londoners-deserve-better-tory-campaign

      Yes yes, no implied criticism of Corbyn here. Just ultra loyalty.

      Labour has lost in 2020, as you may implicitly accept above. Like most Labour MPs I accept that the majority of members are only going to accept that a change of course is required after defeat. Sad for those who need a change of government but there we are. But, one should never lend oneself to wrongdoing, and so if you truly accept Cohen's criticism of the part of the left Corbyn represents, that means you can't lend him aid.

      As for
      "the council elections were not a disaster"

      Between 2011-12 Labour realists (like me) said a National Equivalent Vote share of 37% in 2011 and 39% in 2012 in the local elections was probably not going to be good enough by 2020.


      http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/RP14-33/RP14-33.pdf

      now apologists like you are saying a NEV of 31% is good enough.

      It is just sad, really. But, at least we get to test your hypothesis of why Labour lost in 2015 to destruction, eh?

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    4. There is a huge gap between open criticism and ultra loyalty, as you well know, and 'implied criticism' of that kind falls in that gap. What was Khan supposed to do - say he ran a different campaign but that Corbyn's was just as good? Sometimes you are so naive.

      And I did not say 31% was good enough. READ THE POST!!

      You act so like the militant tendency. Any contact with the supreme enemy corrupts, so even though the party still contains a huge majority of MPs who did not support Corbyn the party is written off. Anyone giving advice to the party 'collaborates with the enemy' and becomes their 'apologist'.

      And finally, if you understood anything you would know your last sentence makes no sense.

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  13. In what way is this "Mainly Macro"?

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    1. In the same way that 'mainly' does not mean the same as 'only'.

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  14. An interesting take on the anti-Semitism controversy from a leading Israeli historian and fellow Oxford don.

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  15. All the Blairites need to do to regain their Labour Party is get enough of their supporters to pay £3, which is exactly what they needed to do to stop Corbyn in the first place.

    Unless they don't have that support in the low hundreds of thousands.

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  16. gastro george8 May 2016 at 07:11

    It's interesting to see the anti-Corbynistas using the Scottish results as a stick to beat Corbyn (as if they wouldn't use anything as a stick if they could) when they are a culmination of a process begun by Blair as soon as he gained power.

    It's really tough in Scotland to be Labour right now, because they are suffering from a classic squeeze. The years of neglect and being taken for granted by Labour in Westminster has allowed the SNP to position itself as the true voice of the left in Scotland, with a radical position to liberate themselves from the Westminster yoke [I'm not saying that I would subscribe to this view, but this is the offer]. Davidson seems to have been very successful in positioning the Tories as the authentic voice of unionism. This leaves Labour with nowhere to go. Following Blairites like Rawnsley, who is today asking Labour to bid for centrist, pro-union voters, is a dead end. The outcome of the referendum showed that tying yourself to the Tories [they really needed to run a separate campaign, as Corbyn is doing for the EU referendum] means that you get shafted by them as soon as, while haemorrhaging the radical vote.

    Scotland is probably lost for Labour for a decade or so until, assuming the union remains, Labour can demonstrate some radical progress in Westminster.

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  17. gastro george8 May 2016 at 07:45

    @Phil - IIUC a lot of the right wing "troops" in the PLP have been parachuted into or imposed on their constituencies by the Blairite machine. As such they might be out of a job sooner anyway - hence the major noises about reselection.

    But as with Scotland, Blairism in England has run its course, and they are now a group of MPs without a viable constituency. The culmination of the Third Way was always going to be "why vote for a faux-Tory when you can vote for a real one". So they are running around like headless chickens, powerless but desperate to show that they're not. With every action, their lack of focus, sheer bitchery (John Mann's hysterics were risible) and unreliability makes them more un-Serious than their projection on Corbyn.

    It's a tragedy, because people like Cooper and Burnham could be part of an effective opposition to the Tories. If they can't see that they would be more likely to fulfil their ambitions by doing that, then the loss is all theirs.

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  18. Whether with Corbyn or someone else as leader - and even if Corbyn takes on board Kahn's advice about being inclusive and a 'big tent' (not sure he would anyway) - the electoral arithmetic now makes it almost impossible for Labour to aim for a majority in first-past-the-post elections.

    Instead of sniping and moaning about Corbyn, why have none of the anti-Corbynista pragmatists focussed on ways to change the electoral system so that Labour has a better chance of leading a coalition government? Why not agree with the SNP, LD, Greens - and UKIP - on seat distribution at the next General Election with an agreement to change the electoral system immediately after the election?

    It seems an obvious option - so why isn't it at least being evaluated openly? If you aren't in Government then the best policies in the world don't count for anything.

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    1. One failure in publicly opposing the Tories by the previous leader (and I think Miliband was fine, btw) was that they didn't scream about the new electoral boundaries that the Tories wanted to implement (which the Lib Dems blocked). They are normally drawn by non-partisan Boundary Commissions. Instead the Tories came up with a scheme ostensibly to equalise the number of constituents per seat but of course it will have been spat out of a computer program to maximise the number of Tory seats. Not calling them on it helped them a little to win last May -- and now they are going to implement those boundaries after all. Smacks of Northern Ireland in the olden days

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  19. I think ABCs is a better name than anti-Corbynistas, i.e. Anyone But Corbyn

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    1. As that would imply that John "Bombs, Bullets and Sacrifice" McDonnell would be an improvement, I doubt it.

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