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Nice guy, good MP, making the weather: but it has to be ABC – Anyone But Corbyn. Labour could be finished if he wins

Posted on 10 August 2015 | 11:08am

I have thought long and hard, having said two months ago I didn’t intend to get involved in the Labour leadership debate, about whether to publish this piece. I am also aware that there is a risk that it will have precisely the opposite of the effect I hope it has – namely to make people think twice about backing Jeremy Corbyn – as his supporters take to social media to tell each other that if Blair’s spinmeister is against him, he must be alright. I am aware too that I may be helping a right-wing press I despise more than most by enabling them to throw me into the mix of a Labour summer mayhem story; and that having in part given up frontline politics because I was fed up of family holidays being constantly interrupted by ringing telephones, I may be provoking a few calls as I head out on a bike ride up a mountain.

But just as if out on that ride I saw a car crash about to happen I would do what I could to alert the drivers to the danger, so I think I have to say something about what appears to be happening to Labour right now. Car crash, and more.

Apologies in advance for the length, but I guess I have been doing what Marilyn Monroe used to call ‘thinking in ink,’ and I hope that those yet to be caught up in so-called Corbynmania, and who feel maybe they ought to be, will read and think through with me to the end.

Now the last time I saw Jeremy Corbyn, we surprised ourselves by agreeing on something. It was the day after the general election, and we were sharing our disappointment in a makeshift tented BBC studio on Westminster’s College Green as the British people absorbed the reality that they had decided to send David Cameron back to Downing Street with a majority. And we both made the point to Five Live’s Peter Allen that it would be better for Labour to have a real debate about the Party’s future, really analyse and learn lessons from such a terrible defeat, rather than plunge straight into a leadership election that would become a personality contest taking the place of such a debate.

At that stage, Corbyn had not even considered standing, and neither of us imagined for a moment that within a few months he would be the candidate making the weather in the leadership debate, sufficient to be thought of as a possible winner. There was also plenty we disagreed upon, as you would expect when putting together a New Labour ‘control freak’ who feared the country was never going to elect Ed Miliband’s brand of soft leftism, and a 500-plus times rebel against the whip of successive Labour leaders. But the biggest disagreement related to the position he was beginning immediately to stake out, that Labour lost because we were not left wing enough. It is the argument that has been put forward by some in the Party all my political lifetime, and the ultimate beneficiaries have always been the Tories not Labour.

What I will say about that encounter, and the few others I have had with Jeremy Corbyn, is that he is likeable, sincere, a good local MP, and millions of miles away from the detestability of a George Galloway or other lesser known figures on the far left who have done so much more to damage Labour than help it.

Also, it is good that Corbyn is inspiring hitherto disenchanted young people to get involved in politics, and that he is seeking to fire them up with positive messages about change. But it is also important that those who see him as some kind of cross between Russell Brand, Nicola Sturgeon and their favourite uncle take a little bit of time to look at the recent history of the Party they are joining so they can help him to become leader, and weigh it all up in the balance.

That history is made up of all too few spells in government – albeit often making the most important changes to our national life, from the NHS to a Scottish Parliament, from the welfare state to the minimum wage – and long, long periods in Opposition. Tony Blair, whom it has become all too fashionable to despise on the left, was the first Prime Minister to deliver TWO full consecutive terms in office for Labour, let alone the three he won. And Alan Johnson did a very good job last week in reminding the Corbyn-supporting union leader Dave Ward, who had spoken of Blair as a ‘virus’, and New Labour as being too obsessed with winning, that the Blair governments did a lot more good for working people than the Cameron government Labour failed so miserably to defeat on May 7.

If you have already read Alan’s piece, you can skip the italicised bits here, but I thought this section was worth reprinting.

I can understand why the “virus” drivel should emanate from our political opponents, including those in the various far-left sects who last tried to bring their finger-jabbing intolerance into our party 35 years ago. What I’m puzzled by is why it should come from trade union leaders whose members benefited so much under the last Labour government.

Leave aside the transformation in health and education (plus additional jobs and extra pay for nurses and teachers), the 3,000 Sure Start centres, the Disability Discrimination Act, the Human Rights Act, civil partnerships, rescuing 1.2 million children from absolute poverty and 1.8 million from relative poverty, pension credit (which made the single biggest contribution to the fact that for the first time in recorded history being old is no longer associated with being poor), the Pension Protection Fund, the resuscitation of apprenticeships and the world’s first legally enforceable carbon reduction targets. Is it accurate to suggest that trade unionists fared badly in the Blair years?

Hardie’s vision of a national minimum wage wasn’t enacted by MacDonald or Attlee, Wilson or Callaghan; it was introduced by the Blair government along with the right to paid holidays (later extended by law to be in addition to bank holidays). Every single worker was given the right to be accompanied at a disciplinary or grievance hearing by a trade union official, regardless of whether the union was recognised and irrespective of whether the individual was a member. During the “virus” years, a woman’s right to paid maternity leave rose from 16 weeks to nine months. Paternity leave was introduced for the first time.

The ban on trade union representation at GCHQ was lifted along with the pernicious “check-off” legislation, which forced unions to re-recruit their members every three years. The Public Disclosures Act gave protection to whistleblowers, new rights were enacted to protect part-time and temporary workers, agency workers and those subjected to control by gangmasters. Legislation on union recognition insisted that if 50% plus one of the workforce was recruited, the union was automatically recognised. Prior to 1997 it had always been the case that an employer could sack striking workers en masse on day one of a dispute. The Blair government changed the law to prevent that happening.

Far from being a period when trade unions were betrayed, it was the most benign period in their history and, if I may gently point out to Ward, the importance of winning elections can be summed up in four words – the trade union bill.

In short: Labour governments do more good for working people than Tory governments. But first you have to win power. To many who have recently joined the Corbyn campaign, they have only ever known Blair as PM, Gordon Brown for a short time, and David Cameron, first without a majority, now with one. Labour having been so dominant during their childhood and youth, they can be forgiven for thinking there is a kind of pendulum in our politics that goes Labour – the Blair-Brown era – then Tory – the Cameron-Osborne era – and then it will go back to Labour, and step forward Jeremy with his anti-politics look and his anti-establishment talk and his ability late in his career to get people queueing round the block to hear him.

Well here is an interesting historical fact upon which to reflect. Eton College, alma mater of our current PM and current London Mayor, has produced more Prime Ministers than the Labour Party. Now my reaction to that – I suspect this too I have in common with Corbyn – is to say that it shows the extent to which our class-based establishment has long dominated Britain, its politics and society, and Labour is the party that has to change that. But it is also a reflection of what the left is up against when it comes to winning power at the highest level.

I am beginning to fear that Mr Cameron, surely the least strategic Prime Minister of our lifetime, is beginning to pass Napoleon’s test for generals by being the luckiest. He told his wife on the morning after the 2010 election that he feared they would not after all be moving into Downing Street. Five days later, helped by Nick Clegg, he was there. Five years on, he left Downing Street staff in little doubt that he thought they would be having a new boss after the election. But the fear among the non-committed, who ultimately decide elections, that a Miliband-led minority coalition propped up by the SNP would not represent stable or effective government, allied to the Tories winning the politics of the economy because of what the Guardian’s Larry Elliot today rightly called the ‘catastrophic misjudgement’ of failing to rebut the idea Labour caused the crash, was enough to get Cameron over the line.

Clegg has talked of it being ‘an accidental majority,’ in that the result reflected what the country did not want, rather than what it did. The country did not particularly want Cameron back in Number 10. But the desire not to have that Labour/SNP government was, alas, much stronger.

The views of the general – and generally not politically-obsessed – public are not insignificant in all this. The two main parties, when choosing a leader, are picking the person they intend thereafter to try to persuade the people of the UK ‘this is who should be your Prime Minister.’ And yet the Labour Party, if it elects Jeremy Corbyn as leader, is selecting someone that every piece of political intelligence, experience and analysis tells you will never be elected Prime Minister. Just as Margaret Thatcher loved it when Neil Kinnock was having to expend more energy dealing with the hard left than he did with her – all the time being attacked as a sell-out by the Corbynites of the day – so the Tories cannot believe their luck at the turn Labour’s election is taking. That too is an important factor. Our job is not to help them do theirs. They have enough advantages already.

I don’t know how many of Corbyn’s new fans are aware of Derek Hatton and Tony Mulhearn, who ran and almost ruined Liverpool (a great city hammered by the Tories and which did well under a Labour government by the way), but these were Labour people who helped keep Neil Kinnock out of Downing Street, and Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street. Back then, though the unions have often been a cause of difficulty for the Labour leadership, there was enough common sense among union leaderships and executive committees to know that the hard left route, if adopted by the Party as a whole, was a march over the end of a cliff.

But it is not just today’s wannabe Hattons and Mulhearns, but also many of today’s major unions and their general secretaries, as we have seen, who are pushing hardest for Corbyn to be Labour leader. Whatever the niceness and the current warm glow, Corbyn will be a leader of the hard left, for the hard left, and espousing both general politics and specific positions that the public just are not going to accept in many of the seats that Labour is going to have to win to get back in power.

I am not talking about safe seats like Islington North, where Corbyn has done a very good job in driving up his majority. I am talking about marginal seats whose defeated candidates contributed to the Fabian Society review of the election, who are pretty clear that Labour did not lose for being ‘not left wing enough,’ but because the leader wasn’t popular or seen as a credible PM, we weren’t trusted on the economy, we were seen as anti-business, and though we were ok at saying what we were against, we did not have the most compelling or convincing vision of what we were for, and how we would make it happen.

I campaigned in several of the seats covered in that review. It was indeed hard work trying to win people over to some of the policy arguments we were putting forward, or trying to persuade sceptics in Bury with Jamie Frith or in Darwen with Will Straw that Ed Miliband got aspiration, supported business, or would know how to stand up to Vladimir Putin or ISIS. But once you add in some of Corbyn’s fixed positions, then frankly Labour is moving from difficult conversation with the undecided voter to not being allowed over the doorstep. Some of the positions winning him the loudest applause in his packed meetings are those that will be met with the most deafening silence when campaigners get out on the doorsteps of the undecided come election time. His long career has laid a plentiful minefield for currently quiet Tory researchers and campaigners. The past, he will discover, is not another country.

The voices of those who fought and lost those marginal seats in the recent election, as well as those who fought and won, and therefore have the right to stand for election to succeed Ed Miliband, are every bit as important as the voices dominating the debate now. More so in fact, if we are serious about Labour being a party of power, rather than just a party of protest that marches, campaigns, backs strikes, calls for ministerial resignations, more money for every cause going, shouts and bawls and fingerjabs but is ultimately powerless in the face of changes the government is now making, freed from the constraints of coalition, loving the chaos that Labour’s election has unleashed.

And whilst I accept that I cannot survey the post electoral scene and say with any certainty  that a Labour Party led by Andy Burnham, Yvette Cooper or Liz Kendall will win the next election, I think I can say with absolute certainty that a Corbyn-Tom Watson led Labour Party will not. For that reason alone, I agree with Alan Johnson that what he called the madness of flirting with the idea of Corbyn as leader has to stop. That means no first preferences, no second preferences, no any preferences. It frankly means ABC, Anyone But Corbyn.

Nor should anyone imagine that once he is there, it will be easy to replace him, no matter how low we fall in the polls. On the contrary, if he fails to win, many of those who helped him get close to it will feel they can just keep on playing the politics of opposition against whoever beats him, and use their new found influence in the party to take that person out.  If Corbyn wins, no matter how inclusive and emollient he might try to be, then stand by for his supporters and backers bringing back the politics Kinnock and others fought so hard to beat. I doubt that the deselection processes will spare those MPs who nominated him to get him on the ballot paper and now say they regret it. In short, stand by for chaos, in the PLP and in the party in the country. To those of his supporters who will say this is alarmism, I say just look back and see how this story has unfolded before.

All of us who have been part of the Labour Party these last few decades know plenty of people for whom the internal politics is more important and more exciting than what politics can do for those who frankly often don’t give much of a damn even if they should. At a nomination meeting in one of Corbyn’s neighbouring seats in North London, a woman hitherto unseen at party meetings, arguing against another woman urging support for Yvette Cooper, proclaimed that Corbyn was the only choice because ‘I care more about  socialism than power.’ I am sure David Cameron says amen to that. To hear people say ‘it doesn’t matter if we win’ is to see people for whom political choice is about what makes them as individuals feel better, not what might make the country a better place. The sincerity of the belief in great causes, and the desire for change, is clear among the Corbyn crowds. But none of that change can come from Opposition.

I remain of the view that Labour would have done better to have had debate first, leadership election second, but that horse has gone. I also said at the outset that the reason I did not intend to back any candidate publicly was that if nearer a general election the Party feels we have little chance of winning, we should become a lot more ruthless about changing leader mid-term. I stand by that. I said then, almost two months ago now, ‘I am a big believer in unity but not in collective denial dressed up as unity.’

Of course unity would not be easy for Corbyn to inspire or manage, given his track record, and he would need to rely on others showing discipline he has never shown himself. But the collective denial is already in danger of beginning, among those deluding themselves that a country that decided against electing Gordon Brown, Neil Kinnock, Ed Miliband or Michael Foot is going to elect someone who at various points felt all four were frankly too right-wing. I’m sorry, but it just isn’t going to happen. I do not believe the Party would  split. I just think we would be telling the country we have have decided to open an even bigger gulf than the one that became clear on May 7, and given up on being a serious party of government.

Corbyn is indeed an OK guy, a good MP, and his stance clearly chimes with many people’s views of anti-austerity in particular. He is also successfully tapping into some people’s disappointment both at New Labour, whether on Iraq, tuition fees or simply not changing the country as much as they wanted it be changed; and also at Ed Miliband’s failure to defeat a government doing so many bad things especially to the very poor who have had to pay the price for a global economic crash caused largely by the very wealthy.

But everything I have seen both of leadership, and of Labour, tells me Corbyn’s ability to lead and hold the Party together is likely to be low; his ability to reach those parts of the country we have been losing, whether to the Tories, to UKIP or the SNP, will be even lower. This will sound like madness to those flocking to hear him speak, and doubtless be dismissed by them as just another old New Labour figure bleating on about the glory days of three wins in a row. I love their idealism just as they probably deride my pragmatism and my obsession with winning. But they bring to my mind Michael Foot’s exchange with  MP John Golding who tried to warn the then Labour leader that he was heading for a huge defeat against Margaret Thatcher, and Foot’s response was to say no, because a thousand passionate people were turning out every night to hear him speak. It brings to mind too the more recent conversations of the converted on twitter when we managed to convince ourselves that Ed Miliband was heading to Number 10.

If he wins, Corbynmania will evaporate even more quickly than Cleggmania did, once the pressures of real, difficult decisions and the day to day leadership of the main Opposition kick in. I fear that activists currently cashing in on perceived ‘betrayal’ by past Labour leaders are going to end up feeling very badly let down.

One of the worst aspects of the so-called Corbynmania is that it is obscuring the solid decent abilities of the other candidates, who are each one of them better than most of the media will acknowledge, and far better equipped for the hard graft of detailed policy-making that has a chance of actually happening, so that we can make more of the kind of change Alan Johnson wrote about. The right-wing press has a dream template for this contest,  ‘loony left’ (sic) v mediocre careerists (sic). That portrayal of Corbyn may be unfair to him (though understand the media has not even got started 0n him as actually most of our enemies want him to win because of the chaos they know will follow). But the portrayal of the other three is just as unfair to them. Of this I am certain however: if the Tories are ever to be defeated by progressive forces in the system we have (and which we cannot change unless we have power) then the hard work that needs to be done is going to have to be done on the centre left represented by those three, not through policy prescriptions of the past and a sudden love-in with someone speaking up for those prescriptions, but who knows in his heart he will not be able to make them happen.

Burnham, Cooper and Kendall need to show now that they understand they are in a fight not just to be Labour leader, but to save the Party. That is a big challenge and one of them needs to demonstrate they can step up to it by showing that they too know how to make the weather in a campaign. And anyone who wants to see another Labour government one day should do what people who want a Corbyn leadership are doing – namely sign up as registered supporters for three quid in the next few days; but then I would hope they  vote ABC. With those three, I could see possible routes both to defeat and also to victory in the country. With Corbyn, I’m afraid I can see only the route to defeat, and much, much worse. I wish it wasn’t so. But it is. And it is horrible to watch, unless you’re David Cameron, or George Osborne, as things stand his likeliest successor in Number 10.

 

 

  • Eintrachtrob

    Corbyn may be unelectable but are the other candidates in that much a better position to deliver Labour to Downing St?

    The 2020 election is extremely difficult to win for Labour as the boundaries will be re-drawn in favour of the Tories and Scotland looks lost to the SNP [It was Scotland who won the 2005 election for Labour].
    Add in 100 seats behind the Tories. . .

    If the public is given a choice between voting Conservative or Conservative-lite [i.e. Blairism] then they’ll choose the real thing in 2020.

  • Josh

    Enjoyed the post. I’ll start by saying that I am not historically a Labour supporter & I agree that the best thing for the party in the short term is that he does not win the leadership election and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.
    What I do see though is a large part of the population that are looking for something different from their politicians and are tired of rehearsed answers and the prevalence of avoid answering questions directly and want someone who can present a vision that they can understand.
    Unfortunately for Labour I don’t see this in any of the 3 other candidates from Corbyn, it has felt like they are all trying so hard not to make a mistake that what they are standing for is being lost and that Corbyn; with nothing to lose; has been afforded the opportunity to be direct in his answers and stand out amongst the candidates. I’m not convinced that its just his policies that winning people over but the fact that people understand what he is standing for provides clarity that the other candidates have failed to achieve.
    I don’t believe that a Corbyn Victory is the “death knell” of the party (unless the PLP act in the way that he has through the years) if it can be persuaded to be a slightly more moderate social movement as opposed to a very left wing socialist movement. However I think that the biggest concern would be that for large parts of the country that did vote UKIP or Conservative is that I don’t think as it stands that he has addressed the biggest concerns those voters have around immigration and Europe or produced any policies that would draw them in.
    Where the party could be successful is drawing upon the people who have tended not to vote on previous elections and if he is able to get the support of these non voters and get them to the ballot box then it would make a huge difference come election day.

  • Craig Thomas

    I’ve been a big fan of yours for decades, not years, but this time, I don’t agree with you on the Labour leadership issue. Let me put this really simply: the mass of Labour members appear to have had more than they can stand of New Labour – and like it or not, we are still a New Labour party and will continue to be under Andy or Yvette. You know full well that from 1997 from 2010 that ideologically we were not that different from a liberal Tory Party. Remember Macmillan built 300,000 council houses in the 1950s? (or was it half-a-million?).

    Tony & Gordon, as you well know, made a Mephistophelesian pact with big business in the mid-90s in order to win, because they didn’t think they could do it if they didn’t. You have to face it, mate: they paved the way for the Coalition’s austerity and for what’s happening now. They softened up the public for the destruction of the state by ceasing to believe in it themselves. And under Gordon we had the commitment to the deficit myth and austerity. Now we have your man taking wads of cash for public speaking. In short – what a sell-out. So you want us to plump for their mediocre, weak, 20-watt light bulb inheritors do you, or for someone with values of humanitarianism we all share, who – and it’s interesting you didn’t really comment on this – is 100% right on the economics and has all the world’s centrist, liberal brains on his side?

    The only way to beat the enemy in 2020, whoever they are, is to defeat Osborne on austerity. You of all people must know that. Unless, of course, there is a Tory meltdown. Doesn’t look like happening at the moment: they’re too used to unity even while they destroy most of what it left of Britain (wait til they come for Turf Moor).

    Don’t kid yourself or others too that JC is just someone inspiring the young (mind, how does a 66 year-old do that?): I’m your age. And perhaps you haven’t seen the age of folk at his meetings. It’s not a meeting of some Labour club at a university. And what this tells us is that we’re many of us, perhaps at least 51% of us, waiting for something. For the end of compromise, caution, defensiveness and feeble, pathetic triangulation, and the re-birth of a Labour party of centre-left values. What you must surely know now is that your man was never a man of the centre-left, indeed, barely ever of the Labour Party, which most think now he detested.

    Which leads me to this final criticism of your piece. As well as being predictable, it wasn’t thoughtful enough. It is based on a model of our politics that at the very least is beginning to crack. People queuing round the block to listen to a potential Labour leader? If you’d been told this back in May, you would have laughed. So would we all. None of us saw Jeremy coming, but none of us saw what he represents coming, and this is the key: not a bit of this to please this segment and less of that to appeal to that segment and holding out some crumbs to try to lure another segment back to us, but something simple but something immensely powerful: hope.

    Is it so mad to think that Jeremy might not win in 2020? Think of the strange things that happened in politics here and in the world since the moment you began working for Tony, never mind when you, say, left university. None of us can see the future. Did any of us – except Tony Benn, so far as I know – see 4million voting UKIP? I’d say this to you to finish: if 4 fecking million can vote for Farage, then 12 million can vote for Corbyn, right-wing press or no right-wing press.

    • Mike Brooks

      Entirely wrong on the last point. UKIP are a one policy party, and appealed to the lowest views of those who believe that immigrants are stealing our jobs and housing, aided and abetted by the evil EU.

      Farage wasn`t even conversant with his own party`s policies, which seemed to me made up on the hoof, and were often contradicted by other spokesmen. Corbyn would be leading a party that would have to appeal with a wide range of policies, and since they would be the wrong ones, and therefore unpopular, he could never win

  • Gobannian

    Many sound points. But what the ABC candidates have so far failed to do is make their campaigns anything more than a hob application. It is not enough to say you can save the party; you have to show why it is worth saving.
    And on one particular issue, the curse of the economic crisis which brought down the Labour government they seem paralysed by polls. None of the ABC candidates seem willing to say that overspending was NOT the cause of the problem. They are hypnotised by polls showing people want the deficit reduced.
    So they end up abstaining on a Budget vote. What possible point is there in a party which abstains on such a central issue as that?

  • Steve Wallace

    Said this very thing on my FB page last evening. Dodging (metaphorical) missiles from my right-on hard-left friends who rate power as a dirty thing to be avoided and have whipped themselves into a frenzy. Fear though that this intervention is too late.

  • Robert Reed

    Its good to hear your views.

    I don’t see how the labour won’t split now.

    The moderates will not be able to remain in a party that will call for the return of clause 4, pulling out of NATO and declaring war on business and the city of London. I can’t continue to fund a party which hates it past leader more then say its new friends like Hamas.

    The party will end up in an endless debate on whether to ban farming, and when to abolish the monarchy.

    How can anyone see a way out of this mess.

  • Malc lab

    Like most people I Disagree with alistair over Iraq, but agree with this article. Also good generous language and designed not to inflame the left unlike Blair’s insensitive comments. Corbyns socialism has a place within labour in running housing or transport policy, but he will never be able to unite all of Labours talents and reach. I agree with The Millifan girl I believe AB has the best chanc of uniting but instead I will be putting YC as 2nd pref. Let’s gets Cameron out !

  • JohnJustice

    Spot on Alastair.

  • Carrotbrain

    Labour toadied to the corporates and the media and forgot to build houses. Yes Blair and Brown did some good and yes I’m glad they did a number of things, but a mental block on changing the structure has enabled the neoliberal purpose.

    Corbyn ironically has stopped Labour implosion,because he offers representation the members did not have. He offers sensible mixed economy solutions acceptable in many countries, but resisted by UK politicians who are submissive and blind to contrived inequality and how it cleverly conspires to control Britain.

    ‘Fear’ of Corbyn from both Tories and Labour upper ranks is simply spin as attempt to detract from his sober message. Perceptions have shifted right, that is the reality, which makes for need to address the perception shift, not dance with it.

  • Yvonne

    My opinion is that you are completely wrong Alastair Campbell. I’m afraid that you have lost your ability to judge the mood of people and the times. I was a member of the labour party through the 70’s and into the early 80’s and was invited to a “secret” meeting regarding the changes wanted in the labour party (remember you wanted more women in parliament…eventually got them with the Blair babes!) It was then that I gave up my labour party membership.

    My view then and ever since was that the party would only get back to being truly united when working people started to suffer as they surely would. It has happened earlier than I thought because the tories did not “win” the election. Working people either voted UKIP (I will never understand the logic) or mainly did not vote.

    I come from pure working stock and my circle of family and friends have only ever voted labour……in the time before the election, I couldn’t believe that some of those were saying that they would be voting UKIP and others saying that they would vote for Nicola Sturgeon (Anti Austerity) if they were able to. People were saying these things not from a rational point of view but from a gut instinct as Labour and Conservatives felt like the same thing.

    Jeremy Corbyn and what he stands for is exactly what working people need and want…..he has no ego and is so completely inspiring to so many ordinary people like myself. This is becoming a huge movement again and there is no doubt that the momentum will build over these next few years as Tory policy kicks in and more and more ordinary working people really do start suffering.

    • Mike Booth

      Having recently joined the Labour Party ( my trade unionist father will be so proud) because Jeremy Corbyn speaks the words of my true Socialist heart, I may be just one of the fold who is returning to their Labour roots but at 66 years of age I feel that I have come home. This commitment runs very deep and stretches back over generations. Tory austerity has done this and I believe it has woken up the sleeping giant in the electorate. Alastair may be underestimating the surge towards Labour. He should be welcoming this and applauding Jeremy Corbyn. Hearts and minds win elections. Something New Labour sadly lost. I appreciate all the social gains achieved by Labour governments. The horrors of a Tory misgovernment in 2015 has woken me up. I believe in a better future as my father did when he voted in Labour in 1945. Politics is not a game, or a career it is a belief in a better world for our children.

    • Michele

      I’m not sure how I botched up and got myself included in the ‘approvers’/likers/uppers of this post but it happened.
      I’ll resist swearing and just do a “…….grrrrrrrrrr”.

      I’m unhappy with language such as ‘pure working stock’ regarding humans, not pedigree animal herds.
      Is that emotional of me?
      It sounds as if, even if your Dad was a miner (like mine), you decided/chose to not settle yourself in another level.
      Another = not better, just different/another.
      Was that mis-placed pseudo ‘loyalty’ hoping for public approval?

      My Dad was as pleased as Punch that I avoided the local factory/piece work rate that was the females’ equivalent of trooping down the pit and that I got a job that did have defined routes/tests towards promotion.
      He had the sense to realise that if people like his daughter, who’d passed the 11+ and became members of the ‘professional’ classes, their opinions and their votes would come to be regarded ……

      He paid his union subs every month but never regarded t’union as the owner of his mind.

    • Zia

      Corbyn is winning the arguments because New Labour told us our opinions did not matter. Blair’s labour party was a reflection of Tory government it replaced. More I listen to Corbyn the more I like his ideas. I have saving of £46b v spending 0f £35b so our deficit may be reduced with Corbyn.

  • Ted

    But Alastair, you don’t actually mention policy at all here. Which of Jeremy Corbyn’s supposedly ‘hard left’ policies do you think is going to cost votes? Because most of them – council house building, publicly owned rail, rent controls – are rather popular ideas, and his anti-austerity economic policy is supported by most economists and indeed by the IMF. I suspect the reason Corbyn is doing so well is less that he is left wing as that he is able to inspire people. None of the other candidates seems to have a clue about how to do that.

    • Jeremy Sare

      I would have thought leaving NATO, EU and abolishing royal family are all good enough to guarantee defeat. Electing someone with not even any shadow Ministerial experience means we will still have the Bedroom Tax in 2025 and a huge increase in homelessness.

    • Lex Parsimoniae

      You have to understand that elections has nothing to do with actual policy.

  • Oriental Imp

    Sadly, you are correct in almost every detail. It’s so depressing. If Corbyn wins I’ll have to leave the party. But where to next?

    • Shaun Whitfield

      The Tories, I would imagine.

  • Bob Tivey

    100% agree with the Campbell / Johnson analysis. I have been a supporter and member of the Labour Party since the 1960s and have no desire to return to the romantic impotence of permanent opposition. I would love to see an opinion poll on the question of how likely it is that a Corbyn-led Labour Party would win a general election.

    Support for him ranges from the dangerously naive to the downright disingenuous. I am reminded of Denis Healey’s phrase about left-wing critics in the 1970s, “they must be out of their tiny Chinese minds” if they think Corbyn could win a general election.

  • Heathcliff Blair

    Can’t fault a word of that, but Alistair, I’m sure you’ve nicked a couple of my lines. LOL. No, I think they’re just common thoughts in this tricky situation. Anyway… so Labour goes into another one of its recuperative, self-induced comas to sort out a turbulent inner biology. Ten years to heal? Probably.These periods seem to be necessary – not desirable, but necessary. I guess it’s a characteristic of such a thoughtful party.

    At the end of it, who knows? That landscape is difficult to predict from here except that the Tories will be utterly tired, the public will be utterly tired of the Tories, and Labour will be utterly tired of losing. So they’ll energise and organise along rational lines. Result – another landslide! Well, maybe. But ten years or more..??? Christ, that’s a long time. Meantime folks, eat your greens, get a little daily exercise, and keep your eyes peeled.

  • mbcunningham

    Say you’re right Alistair(you may be) then 1 (possibly 2) of the other mediocre candidates will have to stand aside! If they don’t they deliver JC victory. I have nothing against AB/LK – i simply don’t believe in them anymore. I also believe that choosing leader now to fight an election in 5 years time is MASSIVE mistake..

  • Dominic Hills

    This is why Alastair Campbell is so great. He has focused on Corbyns winnability in key marginals . This is all that matters. Only he claims that Corbyn is the worst candidate for success in these seats . The premise of his argument is based on false evidence. Ukip voters pick Corbyn as their preferred leader. greens are returning in droves and even SNP voters are looking interested, considering who their pm is. Campbell you must have hitting your head against a brick wall when you heard Blair saying “I wouldn’t want to win with someone like Corbyn”. Thats what happens when TB is left without you to tell him what to say. You are a great asset, Please join up with Corbyn and lets go for a landslide victory in 2020.

  • Jon Stone

    This is more measured and convincing than anything that has emerged in the mainstream papers arguing against Corbyn, but unfortunately, it still falls prey to an arch presumption that many commentators don’t seem to be able to think their way out of – that nothing can ever be done to make left-wing policies as broadly appealing as they are ultimately sensible, and that therefore Labour and the left have to put on the top hat and cloak and twirl their capitalist moustaches in order to sneak into power and temporarily sabotage the juggernaut of plutocracy.

    This is a failure of imagination. Of course, historically, it’s hard work fighting the mythology of the right, with all its wealthy adherents and all its clever sophistry. But equally, you can’t galvanise voters with subtle nuance, and in the long term you lose their trust if you seem to be blowing whichever way the wind is.

    Campbell’s analysis is founded on a success that cannot be repeated – a tactic with ever-diminishing returns – that is, essentially, hoodwinking people in order to get them to elect you.

  • Michele

    It seems from reports in the media and some of the tripe posted ahead of me that some people really enjoy kicking others in the head, there’s a ring of spite to some of it, pretend-jollity about avenging New Labour (as in the up2date, newly-realistic and organised party that achieved such a lot in 13yrs).

    Are they not satisfied with the harm they did to that NEW Labour in 2010? Was the spite inflicted then, by that other awful ugly selection process that used one (blood) brother against another not enough to satisfy anybody’s blood lust?

    I’m not aware that a single actual vote could have been counted yet (or if they have and have been leaked, illegally) so exactly who are these rejoicers allowing to misinform, lead them by the nose? Torygraph? Wail? Sun?

    Be proud of yourselves lovelies.

  • Dominic Hills

    This is why Alastair Campbell is so great. He has focused on Corbyns winnability in key marginals . This is all that matters. Only he claims that Corbyn is the worst candidate for success in these seats . The premise of his argument is based on false evidence. Ukip voters pick Corbyn as their preferred leader. greens are returning in droves and even SNP voters are looking interested, considering who their pm is. Campbell you must have hitting your head against a brick wall when you heard Blair saying “I wouldn’t want to win with someone like Corbyn”. Thats what happens when TB is left without you to tell him what to say. You are a great asset, Please join up with Corbyn and lets go for a landslide victory in 2020.

  • Laszlo

    “You and your circle have always voted Labour, so it isn’t you that need to be convinced in order for Labour to get into power”

    And that kind of thinking is why Labour got itself destroyed in Scotland.

  • Chris

    The Labour Party in its present state (and prospectively under the leadership of any of the non-Corbyn three) is not fit for purpose. It needs to break in order to mend and a Corbyn leadership will eventually cause that to happen.
    Mr Corbyn (of whom I am an admirer) might then I imagine become the father of a (call it for instance) Red or Dead party and the rest of the current Labour party can do the obvious thing and join with the Liberal Democrats to form a 21st century, fit for purpose centre party for the UK which can begin to disrobe the Conservatives of their disgusting claim to that position.
    The fly in the ointment of all this is of course the time it will take to happen. But it is only change of such radical and courageous magnitude which will keep anything like the Labour Party in the game. It has done great things but has had its day in its present form.
    Not sure how devolution would play into the mix but suspect its effect is likely to be neutral at worst.

  • Shelby Derbyshire

    If Corbyn wins, it’s because the people who support the Labour party want him to win. If anything, your blog shows nothing but power hungriness. I would rather have a man who spent 100% of his time in shadow government but provided a viable opposition, and actually fought for the things his supporters wanted him to, than a power hungry cretin who compromises the founding beliefs of his party in favour of Leadership (and then, guess what, loses by a devastating amount anyway by ignoring its core voters). That’s real democracy, and not a load of MPs frantically scrambling for power – a mental image, of course, that most working class people have of MPs.

    I don’t want two Tory parties. The Conservatives are better at Conservatism, that’s why they won by landslide – and Labour’s core voters ran to UKIP, to the Greens, to the SNP.

    Corbyn is the only viable candidate who will re-engage the party’s core voters – who are, by the way, LEFT WING. Your horror will prove unfounded, I’d bet. Corbyn is the only way the Labour party will gain back the popularity it has lost.

  • Michele

    How odd, you had a Like and I signed in to add a second and now none show ….. bleddy Disqus

  • Fufina

    Situation is fundamentally different in the states, swing states have significantly less turn out than the UK, while ‘safe’ states maintain high turn out numbers.

    Corbyn could get more votes than the Tories in 2020 (unlikely), but he would not win the seats he needs to do. Boosting Middlesbrough’s turn out by 20% does nothing for helping win in Southampton.

    I voted new labour, voted Liberal in ’10, ’15, and if i was faced with a choice between Corbyn and any other option i would vote for the other option in the election since i think a socialist platform would make everyone worse off.

  • ¿The Question Mark?

    Only “Labour as you know it and how you want it” will be finished. The Labour Party will always continue no matter how unpopular or unfashionable their policies may seem to be at the time. Brush up on your history of The Liberal Party. After Milliband’s defeat Labour needs to reflect and reposition itself as a progressive, and democratic party of the left. A Socialist party. Corbyn has vision and ideas, the other candidates do not. Vision and ideas have been absent from the party since around 2005, hence the decline since then. Threatening or blaming Labour supporters for aspiring to a shift and change from the centre right will not solve the “unpopular” crises that has been affecting the party for a decade. Respect them and move on. Solidarity brother.

  • Andy Ashwin

    No. But it’s better than having Tory/Tory-lite/Tory/Tory-lite forever.

  • DesiResi

    These are fair points and well made. I actually agree that Corbyn probably isn’t the messiah the left of the Labour party have been waiting for and that it’s entirely possible he and his policies may consign them to yet another defeat in 2020. However perhaps another defeat is well deserved since, ultimately, what Labour is not offering is a vision for the future of Britain under a Labour government and I don’t think any candidate can win a general election if they haven’t got one. That is something Corbyn is promising, even if some say it sounds like a pipe dream and it explains a lot about his appeal.
    This seems to be the glaring issue with a lot of these otherwise often very well written and thought-out pieces, they never actually seem to offer an alternative to Corbyn and that instantly means the arguments boil down to “I disagree with him ideologically and that is why he will be bad for the party”. I doubt that will really cut it with the Labour membership and, it seems, it hasn’t.

    Whilst I appreciate the merits of pragmatism in politics surely you have to admit it’s not the most effective rallying cry when faced with an opponent in the party whose idealism serves to make every other candidate look confused and non-commital on policy issues. The failure to criticize Corbyn for any reason beyond his ideology is a huge mistake and it is handing him the leadership election.
    Beyond that the Conservatives already seem to have cornered the market on being the pragmatic party with their message that austerity is and will be the only answer to the nations economic woes, is it any wonder that candidates who promise pragmatic politics are seen as “Tory-lite”?.

    I want change, so I’m looking at supporting Corbyn, partly because of a preference for his principled stance towards politics but mostly because no one else stands to offer anything, until somebody does offer something else, I can’t see them stopping Corbynmania before the leadership election.

    Also, out of interest and relevant to the debate, do you think that Labour have been outmanouvered here by a Conservative party that, whilst fiscally Conservative and pro-business, has sold many on the back of socially Liberal policies that were originally charted under New Labour?

  • danskr

    You really don’t get it do you – for you and the rest of the establishment (and you are now the establishment), you want power for powers sake even if that means continuing the same market as god policies introduced by the
    Conservatives in 1979 – maybe with a little bit more compassion than
    Tories but still essentially, letting the Tories continually set the
    agenda. After the last general election I felt I couldn’t sit back
    and jumped on the opportunity to have a say in the new Labour leader.

    I don’t remember if I signed on before or after Jeremy Corbyn was
    nominated, my main focus had nothing to do with who was more left or right of the party but soley to see if I could help support a
    candidate that was willing to challenge the Austerity narrative. And
    Corbyn was the only one who has stood up to that challenge. Maybe if the PLP had nominated a more ‘moderate’ candidate who was willing to challenge the Tory narrative then maybe be vote would have gone to them. But now even if Yvette or Andy changed to tack its too late. We have a candidate who is truly outside the ‘Westminster Bubble’. Fuck history – he is no IDS and no Michael Foot, but if you really want to use historical events as a guide, then the one key lesson of recent tjimes is how bad you and everyone else has been at predicting future elections, never mind ones five years away but even a week away.

    This is the first time I have ever paid money to officially affiliate myself with Labour (on any other party for that matter), however I am one of Labour’s long time natural voters. I worked for over a year on Judy Webb’s telephone bank in the run up to the 1997 General Election cold calling and talking to thousands of voters in all the swing seats.

    Even then it was obvious that Tony Blair was not real Labour – and
    working at John Smith house I bumped into many of the new generation of Labour careerists. People in smart suits, obsessed with the media and interested not in social justice but in being on the winning team. It was obvious even then that Tony Blair was not real Labour.

    I even almost got the sack when someone tacked a cartoon I drew of
    Tony Blair as Luke Skywalker, fighting Margaret ‘Darth Vadar’
    Thatcher exclaiming ‘No you are not my Father!” Luckily no one
    dobbed me in, but even so I still supported and fought to get Labour
    into power – I reasoned it made no difference if the leaderships
    motives were not honest as long as the policies were Labour (ish).
    Over the years I defended Labours record against friends who become increasingly disillusioned with Labour and saw no difference between them and the Tories. I still stick to that reasoning for then but no longer. Labour did do some great things but they are greatly
    outweighed by the bad ones – the obsession with ID cards and the
    ability locking people up with out charge for a month stand out. The
    attitude towards public housing and transport was lamentable.

    But now the whole New Labour project is dead. Its strategy is just letting the Tories tie Labour into knots as it chases its own tail. As others have said – You can’t out Tory the Tories. The possibility of a Corbyn led Labour party is bringing back disillusioned Labour supporters in droves – and you are a fool if you underestimate that potential.
    You actually have it backwards – it might be a risk voting for
    Corbyn but the car crash will happen if any of the others win. This
    renewed support will evaporate quicker than an ice cube in a 1970s
    steel plant. Labour will lose its left wing support for good. Labour
    needs someone who can not only stand up and challenge the Austerity lie and also has the honesty and principles to be believed.

    It will be tough fight, with most of the media (and now even the Guardian allegedly) lined up against him. But the payoff if he wins the next election would immense.

  • Rhys Davies

    The Labour party is at odds with the Labour movement, which is more to the left of the New Labour neoliberals. The fact that Corbyn is so far in the lead, despite him not being young or sexy in bespoke suit indicates just how disenfranchised the movement has become. The party has migrated from the north to the south, along with all the money and joined the political class. We’ve had enough of Tory Lite, we want a more left wing orientated party. It shouldn’t be hard-left but it shouldn’t be centrist either. The time has come for us to stop whoring round the middle ground and give the British public a real left wing progressive alternative to the Tories -who have no problem being right wing. It’s a shame Corbyn isn’t young, groovy and charismatic, but then people see him as real, as authentic in a political system where conviction politics and conviction politicians have been subjugated by perceived reality and spin and the Americanisation of the parliamentary system. And Alastair – why do you have an American spell-check on this blog? We spell Labour with a ‘u’ in this country.

    • Michele

      I’ve never been picked up on spelling Labour with its ‘u’ ….. now to see whether I get picked up on writing it without one – Labor

      thrum thrum

      Hmmmmmm, haven’t had either pointed out as an error. Perhaps your feature is not one that’s actually part of the blog?

  • Michele

    It’s sickening to see comments in various places from gloaters who joined Labour just in order to have a vote to do it down.
    When did ‘we’ (ie: British people) become so disingenuous or did we really?

    Are these new ‘joiners’ even proven to be British?
    The shocking spite of it all signals a nasty future if so.

  • Matt Templeton

    Can you expand on that? It seems to me just as likely that a coherent campaign for a properly National, NHS, rather than the one Blair and Brown started the privatisation of – from a new 1/2 sized truly labour party – could have the reverse effect. I.e. could stop or reverse this process. Even if the Tories are in power.

  • Matt Templeton

    Arbitrary? 1. I believe a majority of people in the country want the Railway renationalised (look it up). I’m not sure of their motivations/reasons, I’m not massively moved by this issue but there’s clear will for it amongst many 2. Energy. Are you kidding me? That industry is a complete racket so far as I can see, a small group of companies laughing all the way to the bank while the poorest get shafted with extortionate coin-op machines unlawfully forced on them. It’s a classic oligopoly in need of intervention. And that’s before we discuss climate change and the vested interests keeping us addicted to fossil fuel production for no reason but maintaining their existing profit bases. We don’t necessarily need everything centralised but left as is it’s ridiculous 3. Housing – expanding the state to build a few million houses. Unless you’ve been asleep for 20 years you will know that we have a chronic housing shortage, and we have an economy in which (a) house prices are insanely high for people because of that; and (b) we’ve also got tangled with these insane house prices in the mother of all ponzi schemes involving financial services addicted to the housing market, those lucky enough to have purchased houses 30 years ago addicted to spending their windfalls, and that spending being key to domestic demand. It’s all mad, as it’s not based on any real production, it shuts out the next generation and on that basis it is a bubble which can only burst (again). That scheme needs to end, we need a real basis to our economy, and at base as I say, we need millions more properties to be built ASAP, not more land banking and penthouses. Arbitrary….

  • Michele

    I don’t actually accept your last paragraph.
    Is it just your opinion or do you have the proof?

    • Mike Brooks

      Simple arithmetic says that has to have happened.

      • Michele

        Sorry for late acknowledgment, yadder yadder ……..
        Gordon Brown actually gained a similar number of ex-LibDem votes to those gained by DC.
        2010 – DC 10.7m, GB 8.7m, NC 6.8m
        2015 – DC 11.3m, EM 9.3m, NC 2.4m

        Tim Farron is a lot brighter than NC, it will be interesting to see what happens next time there is a vote.
        Third parties do tend to be a bloody nuisance at ‘make yer mind up’ times 🙁

      • Michele

        I’m looking forward to your explanation, your ‘simple arithmetic’ just does not forgive the anomolies in what we call ‘our’ voting system.

        Look up the national totals of votes per party and the effects on seat numbers.

        Nope, PR is not the solution either but there has to be somethig better than what we have.

  • Mike Brooks

    I`m told that colonic irrigation would be good for me, but I don`t want it.

  • Mike Brooks

    Jarvis, Starmer? You`re kidding yourself mate! These people will probably be de-selected well before 2020. What Corbynites won`t tell you is that they see him as `holding the fort` until a younger, more thrusting hard left candidate can take over.

  • Michele

    When the heck are Labourites going to put some records straight?
    I’m getting totally fed up of lies being allowed to stand, not be corrected, it’s as if there’s some stupid shyness about killing outright lies!

    There IS the time to correct misrepresentation whether it’s intentional from disingenuous rivals or just accidental misinfo.

    We’ve had the Liam Byrne note mis-represented and exploited for five years now, most of the time by people who do know the truth and the ‘tradition’ but are so dismissive about the interests of the public they’ll pretend not to.

    We get the crap about ‘inherited debt’ re PFI several times a day and most of the time from cynics who do know very well about investment now, sooner not later. NHS facilities allowed just to rot for nearly 20yrs under Thatcher/Major till the mid 90s, the tactic was for people with the money being forced eventually to go private and look after only their own- who gives one about altruism? They were doubtless well-used to using credit for themselves so did know very well the wisdom of it, especially at times of historically low interest when it is not bad debt, it is good debt (as in for investment) and if it’s in the interests of the whole population not just one’s immediate family, so much the better.
    Our PFI-improved local hospital was one the coalition tried to flog off recently, had our protests not been as successful as they were I have no idea where I would have had my emergency surgery a little while ago, probably nowhere? To think the LibDems were part of that ….. 🙁

    GB and the egg; ofgs the man had an egg smashed on the back of his skull, behind his left eye. What must the sound and the dribbling results of that seemed like (or reminded him of)?
    I doubt the bigot gave a thought to that, does she give one about what caused his blindness?

    Yep, wordy explanations are boring but if the Left doesn’t start reminding us of them I’m just going to give up on voting.

  • Tracey Shepherd

    Brilliant article. Agree with every word. Sadly!! Our party is on the precipice of the biggest hammering of its life!! We chose the wrong brother last time and now he has left us with the most corrupt voting system in the modern world!! How can my vote as a member be weighted the same, as someone, who has paid a measly three quid for no other reason, other than to make chaos!!! Cheers Ed…. what a terrible legacy you have left us!! I was totally aghast at the exit poll….I would be totally bereft on 12/9/15 – if we drive off that cliff to oblivion!! ABSOLUTELY ABC!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • AMac

    All I can hear is the sound of the establishment closing ranks. Owen Jone’s excellent book skewered beautifully how the establishment maintains it’s hold over the country and it’s governance. Until a few weeks ago I felt that we labour supporters and party members were outside of all this and it felt like a good place to be. We struggled to make our point and to gain power to start the fight against that very establishment but at least we were trying. But it turns out we’re not. The PLP and the vast majority of the apparent left-leaning media (which is a pretty small pool anyway) have all taken precisely the steps Jones outlined – it turns out that you know best and it’s stupid of people like me to interfere and dare to think differently.

    Vested interests run the country. We know that. A left leaning party always struggles to win power. We know that. The media is shockingly status quo orientated and generally right of centre. We know that. We also know that at some point we either give in to that and roll over or we look for ways to fight back – to impose our collective power on the country so that we, the population, decide how we should run ourselves and not how a few powerful and influential people decide we should. The labour party took this path in it’s early days but it’s constituency no longer exists in the same way. The country is no longer full of hard working men who built things and made things and mended things. It’s far more diverse than that and needs a party that represents it.

    Jeremy Corbyn is not the messiah. He’s an effective and interesting politician who says what he is thinking and keeps himself open to debate and discussion. He’s probably left of what we now regard as the centre and he has some good ideas, some exceptional ideas and some less good ideas,. But he does like to discuss and ask and is not afraid to speculate in public. I think he’s the only politician I’ve seen do that for some years. The last election campaign was littered with people in suits being driven to studios in the back of big cars where they would be asked questions by others in suits, who’d likewise come in the back of a big car, and then they would give semi scripted answers. None of them ever said anything that hadn’t been passed by a committee. None of them ever said anything that generated a proper discussion. Ed Milliband had a go but he was drowned out and not fully supported by the party that elected him. We have better discussions around the family dining table than I ever saw in a televised interview or debate.

    So the main reason to vote for Corbyn is nothing to do with electability or otherwise – who the hell knows or can second guess what people we don’t know might or might not vote for in five years time? It’s to do with finding someone who can speak for us – that is the idea of democracy isn’t it? That one person speaks for many? The party – and politics – needs rebuilding to be reflective of us and effective in representing us and fighting our causes – none of the other three candidates is going to do that; indeed we can be pretty sure that any rebuilding will be killed off in double quick time if any of them do win. Only Jeremy Corbyn gives us the possibility to rebuild – maybe win next time, maybe not but it won’t matter in the long term if we are building something that works for us and represents us, not the vested interests that everyone seems so anxious to protect. It’s called people power – where the 99% lead the 1% and not the other way round.

    I’m shocked you of all people can’t see this Alastair – be brave and look to a different future. It’s not dreaming and it’s not starry eyed – it’s pragmatic and thoughtful yet positive. You and the team did some great work in making Labour electable back in the 90’s and the governments did some good work too – but that was over 20 years ago now and things have changed – not yet for the better. Look deeply at what we need now, not at what worked then – after a fashion…………………………….

  • Nick

    Isn’t the main problem that Burnham, Cooper and Kendall are so bland, unengaging and tarred by the association with the last failed Labour opposition? Would Corbyn be achieving the same level of apparent success if he was standing only against Keir Starmer and Dan Jarvis…?

  • Michele

    I’m absolutely sure lots of Trade Union members benefitted under New Labour from exactly the same improvements brought in for other families and workers (parents unionised or not).
    Whether or not Mr Corbyn bothered to vote for those improvements I have no idea.
    According to ‘They work for you’ website he has only shown his cards on 41% of votes in the past year. Why? Couldn’t make up his mind? Didn’t want to reveal his opinion (should he have that right)?
    Would he bother voting more if he became Party Leader and if he’s so shy of showing his cards what sort of leader could he be anyway?
    Even though things had been stitched up so badly by the actions of one N. Clegg that a missing vote was usually meaningless I still think his constituents had/have the right to know his thinking.
    As for him having claimed the lowest expenses in the House it would be very strange if that was not the case; he lives just a few miles from HoC and I’d imagine has a Freedom Pass which means he could get to and from for nothing in approx 20mins 24/7.

  • digitaurus

    Thank you for a very interesting article. The problem with Corbyn is not that he is unelectable (but otherwise a nice guy etc.) The problem is that his policies – popular or not – would be disastrous for the UK. Couple this with the far left’s liking for playing hardball inside the party if given half a chance and this spells very very bad times for the Labour Party – and bad times for the UK if he (or a successor) ever got elected. It looks like the only thing standing between us and that nightmare scenario is the good sense of the British electorate. Fingers crossed.

  • Michele

    ‘fake’ socialists?
    It sounds as if you’re more keen on a dictatorship than a democratic form of a mixed economy.
    .
    Those days are gone, wake up and smell the good quality coffee.

  • reaguns

    Either Alastair said earlier, or I interpreted from between the lines, that the best thing would be to select Cooper, Burnham or Kendall, and then in 2018 or so if they didn’t look like winning, ie if they were around the level Miliband reached, then brutally change them like the tories would.

    I think Alastair is pretty sure, as I am, that the chances are we would end up changing, even if Andy or Yvette or Liz does a bit better than we predict, which they could, there are other more inspiring talents within the fold.

    However I think that because those three are pretty passionless, and so inspire no great passion or loyalty, they would be easy enough to get rid of if they weren’t cutting the mustard. Corbyn on the other hand, I think will have used Frankfurt School / Chavez tactics, or his supporters will, to the extent that he will be unshiftable mid term.

    Can we really be saying that Osborne is unbeatable in the next election? The guy that people like less than Cameron… that even his own party think lied about austerity… the guy who caused the omnishambles… who is disliked on right and left… who was once considered not only cannon fodder for Boris Johnson, but so poor that even the utterly lamentable Theresa May was given a chance of beating him… can we really be saying he has already taken an insurmountable lead for an election in 5 years time?

    Get a grip labour, with Dan Jarvis, Tristram Hunt and others, there is so much talent in the party, and so much room for attack on the tories that this really needn’t be the case. But if Corbyn takes over, not only is losing the next election a certainty, it may result in a generational reign for the tories, and further weakening of the challengers.

    You can’t even see space for an SDP type breakaway, for two reasons. One the Lib Dems have collapsed and cannot be the leaders of this. And two, Cameron has moved his party so far leftwards, that the New Labour / Blairites already have a party to go to in the conservatives, there is no Foot and Thatcher to define themselves against, only the Foot!

  • Michele
    • Ehtch

      Thought for a minute that was from written by Ilya Kyrakin, the man from UNCLE, for a moment. But of course not, he is a naval coroner doc in NCSI these days, of course.

  • I’ve just had my 19th nervous breakdown and only worry now that the dosh spent on the publicity for the leadership contest will be so much that now it really doesn’t matter much at all who wins loses comes second or third. The only ABC I love listening to is the wonderful band by the same name.

  • Michele

    Are you aware of Labour MPs that have not voted against cuts?

    Please name and shame (no need to bother about Corbyn’s behaviour in that dept, we know already he doesn’t show his cards very often by entering a lobby).

    • Sula Maye

      They abstained did they not on masse on the recent welfare cuts! was I hallucinating? Read what I said, I said voted against it not who voted for it. My point is that any split is being driven by the right wing this time and not the left and ac et al are being devisive and treating the majority who voted for corbyn as idiots rather than respecting the democratic process. Not that ac and tb have demonstrated a great deal of respect for democracy.

      • Michele

        That was Ms Harman showing respect to the responsibility owned by whoever would become permanent new leader.
        Let’s see whether JC’s own cards are shown more often now he’s in the public eye and not hiding in the shadows ….. voted on 41% of recent topics at the last count.

  • Michele

    Dr Kelly was actually more worried about possible revelations re his personal life / bigamy.
    Re his public life he had already proved that the remaining WMDs (as in those not used in Halabja a few years earlier) had been transferred for ‘safe hiding’ to Syria years earlier (and we have actually seen their subsequent use on Assad’s own people).

    DC relied on MPs’ distaste about another mid-East attack, hence his panicky recall from Summer Recess a little while ago. If MPs had agreed to attack Assad it was always possible that UN inspectors would later find the depleted canisters and their markings and been able to prove they had originally been in Iraq.

    Imagine how little that result would have been wanted by DC (even though it mattered so much for the UK, never mind Mr Blair & Co). Disingenuous? You bet.

  • Michele

    Being anti-Zionism is NOT the same as being anti-Jewish.

    The former description is about someone’s CHOICE of politics (and plenty of Jewish people are NOT Zionist).
    Judaism is a faith and a bloodline (usually certified in writing by invitees to births and something that a person cannot choose to disown even if they want to – or at least not as far as others of the religion allow).

  • Michele

    You remember the use of some of them in Syria quite recently?
    Check up; Mr Blix and Dr Kelly had both been convinced most had been ‘hidden’ across the border in Syria (ie: those not hidden inside the 000s killed in Halabja a couple of years earlier).
    I know, the truth is boring when you’re happy on a bandwagon x

  • Ehtch

    I have been telling you Ali for years that you have been taken in and showing London within M25 arrogance, but would you listen???

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i83EF-0Xcvs

    • Ehtch

      oops! repeat.. but different comment new. : )

  • cellWarmer

    Corbyn landslide: Someone just got a little bit closer to that cell in the Hague, didn’t he? You can refuse to publish this comment all you like, but it doesn’t change the reality that as time goes by, your legal position becomes more and not less precarious. Which let’s face it was the underlying motive behind your lofty pronouncements on the leadership contest etc etc. 😉

    • Ehtch

      Ummm, can I suggest how much GWB was blackmailing the UK if we didn’t…? That is where the story lies. But of course, allegedly.

      • Michele

        Crap, America needed watching and it’s shameful that other nations did not have the stomach for playing a share.

        • Ehtch

          What I was trying to say, the roadblock stopping the publication of The Chilcot Report, is the Pentagon. It will never get published, hence.

    • Michele

      So ….. did he ‘refuse to publish this comment’ all he likes or not?
      Silly Billy kinda troll xxx

  • ¿The Question Mark?

    I think you should at least congratulate the new Labour leader, deputy leader and candidate for London mayor. Not many people are interested in tweets from Turf Moor.

  • Michele

    Shouldn’t some action be taken against the Telegraph for their suggestion 17th June?

    http://www.independent.co.uk/video/?videoid=4478244677001

    I’d not realised there had been an actual ‘movement’.

  • Ehtch

    Another new chapter for the paperback version Ali, JC? It was like Burnley winning five-nil at Old Trafford, we could say. Think it will be more interesting than a DC one you are thinking of at the moment. But yes, still early days yet. Maybe for the 2nd edition hardback. Another one of my vid efforts…

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i83EF-0Xcvs

  • johnplatinumgoss

    We saw what you and Tony did for Labour – you made it a Red Tory Party. You took us into illegal wars. Yes, nice cushy number for some. And here is a Labour leader with principles who I see on anti-war marches, yet you, and our media, are trying to finishhim off before he gets started. Let me warn you Alastair Campbell, he is the people’s choice and he opposed your wars.

    • Michele

      Hello Mr platitudinous.
      I’m always intrigued by first visits that are really about enabling a pop on Iraq (no matter what the respective blog’s topic actually is).
      I’m also always intrigued by first visits from people that must think ‘standing by’ would have been better.

      There were two possibilities, stand by and let SH– kill every last one of ‘his’ people or intervene and stop GB doing something like that by typical US over—-.
      Which one seemed most honourable to you?

      It wasn’t a scap outside a pub that few would do more than watch and have a larf about ……
      Why not extrapolate about what would by now be Iraq’s situation if the West had not intervened and been watched – take the Syrian refugees as your example if one’s needed.

  • Chris

    I just wanted to comment on your thoughts on manual labourers as you described them. You appear to be of the belief that cost is the only factor when employing workers. My brother is a civil engineer / site manager and has experience of working with labourers and ground workers from many countries.

    Working for a large company with a remit to get the job done, my brother is not involved in budget so how much individuals earn is not his priority. He does however much prefer workers from EU countries outside of the UK measured on willingness to work specifically mentioning those from Slovakia.

    He has even commented that occasionally work has been done incorrectly, sometimes based on communication and language difficulties yet this is not a big enough disadvantage offset against the usual benefits such as speed and quality of work in comparison to many UK workers.

  • Michele

    According to the graphic from Fraser Nelson retweeted by AC on Sept 15th:
    National Debt inherited by Labour ’97 was approx £375Bn and had grown by £625Bn by 2010 = 13yrs.
    I remember that as a period of investment in infrastructure and services for all.
    It grew by £500Bn under the coalickon in the 5yrs since 2010 (quite a hefty hike!).
    It’s projected to reach around £1.65Bn (an even heftier hike pa) by 2018.

    Both of the last periods are so far the longest in living memory of lower than low interest rates.
    What have these govt debt loans been spent on (vs: invested in)?
    Has it all been on minimum earnings top-ups plus housing benefit to greedy landlords (many of whom are being already subsidised with such low interest mortgages)?

  • Michele

    Can Vince Cable be serious?
    He reckons that disaffected anti-JC Labour members / voters will now leave in their droves and join the Lib Dems.

    I don’t usually do the LOL response but just have to now ….. he must be flippin’ bonkers LOLlllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll
    Get a grip Vince, remember what YOUR lot did in ’10 (which was all the worse once we learned they’d also been offered a partnership by GB but not such high Cabinet roles).
    Ye gawds 🙁 he really can’t expect to ever convince (or fool) anyone about Lib Dem altruism ever again.

  • Michele

    You could at least have chosen adjectives that matched each other in spirit durrrrrr

  • Michele

    So you’d prefer all the improvements (not least in schools) that happened ’97-’10 (after 18yrs of thatcher et al-dom had not happened?

    Just so you could feel virginal?