Labour won’t fill the empty centre

Mainstream socio-economic thought has diverted so far to the Right, these last decades, that the Right actually imagines it holds the Centre Ground. This is a ridiculous conceit, worthy of its own nursery rhyme. That Labour keeps chasing purchase on the same dumb end of the political see-saw means the party is merely adding weight to the lowest end. Labour is convinced that this is the only way to regain electoral credibility but is this because it believes that neo-liberal ideology is truly the best or only option or is it incapable of paying more than lip-service to the widely available evidence to the contrary? Does it even care or has the power of governance become the end, rather than the means..? Well, count me out because, if I’d bought into TINA, I could have just voted Conservative. If I were seeking more Toryfication, I would have.

I live in a time where the centre has shifted so far to the crazy that I’m beginning to wonder if sanity is not, in fact, on some long sabbatical but is dying of neglect in a damp, dark dungeon, somewhere. Observe how, out of 232 Labour MPs, Jeremy Corbyn is the only leadership candidate who openly challenges the socio-economic narrative. The only one… His platform and approach are greeted by mainstream with a mix of mischievous relish and fearful contempt. He is treated by his own party as a distraction and an outlier. They humour him as they do their traditional voters and the wider electorate. So much for ‘listening’. So much for ‘learning the lessons’. Meanwhile, his most ardent fans compensate as though he were some all-encompassing last hope. But a one-man-band who can’t carry the Parliamentary Party with him? This is indication enough, to me, that Labour is not a credible answer.

Jeremy seems a decent enough chap. He speaks common sense analyses and appears to have the courage of his convictions but that does not mean he has managerial acumen and, I know this may be controversial but he doesn’t particularly inspire me, either. I also recognise those traits that attract to him the yesteryear labels and I know that, whether I can disregard his style and temperament or not, his charisma level has already been determined and framed by those that can open doors for him or slam them in his face. We’ve just had a Tory budget comprising several Labour policies so it’s no good kidding ourselves that the messenger is not perceived to be as important as the message, is it, however superficial or expedient that is.

Of course I’m relieved that someone from the left-wing of Labour has at least got a platform upon which to challenge the stale consensus. I hope he manages to reach further than the already converted and helps to shift consciousness in the wider population but I have no faith in his party nor the Media supporting him into leadership, let alone supporting him into leading a government. I don’t even think he’s the best man for the job. He’s just the only one willing enough, at the moment, with a slim chance at it. And that is exactly the rub because that’s the same hold-your-nose, stepping-stone justification for wanting him to win as I applied to voting Labour during the General Election. But Jeremy Corbyn is not the problem. Labour is. The empty centre he exposes is why.

The raging monster that is neoliberal power needs slaying, desperately but Labour looks neither able nor entirely willing. And perhaps it is too late, anyway. After all, Labour has had years to know who they are, what they stand for and where they want to take the country. They’ve had years to construct a narrative the electorate could identify with. They’ve had a whole Parliamentary term in Opposition to establish and refine it. They’ve actually had the same amount of time as everyone else. If they had wanted to keep up, they could have.

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10 thoughts on “Labour won’t fill the empty centre

  1. Suspect if Corbyn wins he’ll begin succession planning fairly quickly – young ‘uns like Burgon perhaps – I actually believe he’s doing it reluctantly, and unless he suddenly becomes hugely popular, he’ll take the punishment, hopefully whilst changing the framework of debate, and purge /persuade the awful ones.

    I’d rate the chances of that happening successfully within 5 years at about 12-1.
    Still possible though. PLP is a thoroughly dysfunctional organisation, but it only takes a few folk to change one of those.

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  2. Although Blair and Mandelson largely succeeded in excluding left wing candidates, there is still a core of old left wingers like John Mcdonnell, Michael Meacher, Kelvin Hopkins and more. The SNP wipe-out removed some others like the wonderful Katy Clarke but now there is also a new contingent of left wing MPs. As Oblomovil says, Richard Burgon, Cat Smith, Clive Lewis and more have joined Jeremy Corbyn and the old guard in challenging the socio-economic narrative. So it isn’t quite one out of 232 MPs. It is a sandwich PLP with old and young left wingers with a largely New Labour-ish filling. Nevertheless, the Blairites are a hugely diminished force.

    Margaret Thatcher said that New Labour was her greatest achievement. Dismantling that legacy takes time but the LP is at a crossroad and must now disavow TINA and austerity or go the way of Pasok. I’m backing Jeremy Corbyn because he is offering the economic policies to undo the scourge of financialisation and reverse the injustices of the last 30y. Whether he’ll even get as far as being elected leader is by no means certain but the genie has been let out of the bottle and those who oppose neoliberalism now know, through JC’s campaign, that there are many like themselves who are prepared to slay the raging monster.

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    • Thing is: 1) I am not a Labour person. I owe it no loyalty. I am, though, a citizen who would like Labour to worthy of my vote. 2) I know there are other left-wing thinkers however my point was that Corbyn was the only – to put himself up for leader. 3) I’m running out of patience with the machinery of the party as much as with its right wing. 4) I’ve said that all, already – over the last two years and I’m sick of trying to stick up for them. I’m out of patience. If the party is still not what I can vote for by 2020 then, shame on them.

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      • Oh no, please don’t apologise, Sue. You have nothing to be sorry for. I am sorry that I’m struggling to stick up for the party and that I find myself writing so caustically about it, these days. I’m sorry, too, that my reply to your comment was rather brusque. I didn’t mean to be ungracious and it was not meant as a personal reproach – I’m always keen to know your view. It was my first communication after a rough night and I should have waited until I was in a more settled frame of mind. xXx

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  3. No – I think you were right to pull me up. I am also sick to death of trying to justify the LP. So when JC offers me some hope (with offers of help from MMT’s Bill Mitchell and support from Costas Lapavitsas) I jumped into the fray without any sensitivity. Thank you for your generosity but I was being crass – sorry. xxx

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