peterbirks: (Default)
A major weakness amongst politicos is the inability to see the opposition as a coalition. While they can see the infighting and demands for compromise in their own faction, they tend to see opposing factions as homogenous masses of like-thinking (where "like-thinking" equals "wrong-thinking") fools.
This has been repeated with Corbynism; both the left- and right-wing press see Corbyn's victory as one of a small faction of the Labour Party, but they therefore (and incorrectly) assume that it's a united faction.
This is even weirder because, when you think about it, fans of Burnham, Kendall and Cooper have much more in common with each other than they do with Corbyn, but that does not stop three factions appearing in a (rather narrow) part of the political spectrum.
With Corbyn's fans, the potential cracks are even larger. Four groups appear to me to make up this "coalition". And Corbyn will find it very hard to please some groups without displeasing others.

(1) The unions, particularly Unite, Unison, and the RMT. The "traditional conservative left".
It's not hard to see what the leadership of this group will fight for: (a) legislation making life easier for the unions and (b) actions that will not threaten the jobs of existing employees.
Potential source of conflict: Trident, other "politically incorrect" industries that provide jobs in certain narrow geographical areas. Second potential source of conflict: immigration and refugees/migrants.

(2) What we might loosely call the "hard" left, both inside and outside the Labour Party. Those who perhaps left the Labour Party but re-affiliated to vote. People with a sympathy for Respect, Socialist Worker, Morning Star, or elsewhere on what was once the Bennite wing of the Parliamentary Labour Party.
Potential source of conflict: Backtracking on Trident, NATO, Hezbollah, anti-Israeli sentiment, any alignment/discussions with the USA or indeed any government not politically approved.

(3) The New Puritans. Into which I would place hard-line feminism, people who think that LGBT issues are more important than anything else rather than just a single factor in social change. Also hard-line environmentalism, hard-line animal rights.
Potential source of conflict. Quotas. Representation.

(4) The New Enthusiasts. Let's not deny that Corbyn has galvanized a previously jaded and cynical non-electorate aged 18 to 25. What is worrying is that much of this has been based on two dangerous themes - anti-politics and populism.
Anti-politics is always a short-term honeymoon -- look at Syriza, or the comic in Italy. It's a short-term honeymoon because to get anywhere in the real world of politics you have to act like a politician. If you don't (hello Yannis Varoufakis) even your friends will drop you.
Populism is more dangerous because it is the devil on the shoulder of democracy. As many countries have found out, populist decisions such as subsidies for the price of rice or wheat or other food staples, are very easy to introduce and very difficult to get rid of. On the plus side, you can maintain populist stances in opposition without upsetting anyone except people who can add up the cost.
We have seen New Enthusiasts many times before in other countries -- think Obama volunteers or, in my youth, the great Eugene McCarthy (perhaps the closest parallel in recent history to the Corbyn movement). McCarthy got shafted by the Democratic Party establishment, so the New Enthusiasts were able to maintain their faith. How well Corbyn can keep these New Enthusiasts onside in the face of the special interest groups in the unions and New Puritanism will be the first real test of his leadership (the second, of course, will be how he copes with the significant opposition within the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP)).
Other potential sources of conflict with the New Enthusiasts: Europe, Scotland, Economic Strategy, Union-supported job laws that will benefit those in jobs at the expense of those coming onto the labour market.

Which brings us to Corbyn's other major problem. While he has to manage one kind of coalition amongst his supporters, he has to manage another, entirely different set of factions, within the PLP. His dealings with the first group will impact on his relationship with the second, and vice-versa.
All of this will demand a great talent for compromise, pacification and, I fear to say, fudging. Although this is a good short-term tactic for keeping a coalition together, it is a bad long-term strategy because it turns you into "just another politician", using words that don't mean very much because these are the only words that won't upset anyone apart from those people who would like meaningful statements.
But, hang on, meaningful statements are precisely what the New Enthusiasts want.

IN all of this, the Conservative Government, Conservative policies, do not figure, except that Corbyn will try to rally a unity around opposition to the Conservative policies. But the things on which all of Labour agree will pale into insignificance compared with

As you can see, that makes for a difficult time ahead. Thatcher would have solved this by ruthlessly ditching former allies so as to maintain a single force. Lenin did the same. Hitler, on the other hand, played the "let them plot against each other" hand, on the sound grounds that if they were plotting against each other, they would be plotting against him.

What path will Corbyn take? My fear is that he will not be a strong enough personality (or ruthless enough) to impose his will the way Thatcher did. The analysis this morning that Tom Watson will be a crucial character in the drama that will unfold, is undoubtedly true. Watson is the most important Deputy Leader that the Labour Party has ever had.
He's the LBJ to JFK.
And we all know how that one panned out.

August 2017

20 212223242526


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Oct. 18th, 2017 12:02 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios