[Marxism] After Defeat, Britain’s Labour Party Argues Over Its New Leader

Shalva Eliava shalva.eliava at outlook.com
Fri Jul 24 06:35:28 MDT 2015


FT had a piece on Corbyn yesterday:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/7d242bcc-3126-11e5-8873-775ba7c2ea3d.html#axzz3glz0nyU9

> 24 июля 2015 г., в 8:00, Louis Proyect via Marxism <marxism at lists.csbs.utah.edu> написал(а):
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> (I wonder what British comrades think about this.)
> 
> NY Times, July 24 2015
> After Defeat, Britain’s Labour Party Argues Over Its New Leader
> By STEVEN ERLANGER
> 
> LONDON — Having suffered a shocking defeat in May’s general election, its worst result since 1987, the British Labour Party is busily ripping itself apart over the choice of a new leader.
> 
> The battle is less over personalities than the direction of the party, with some arguing that Labour should move more toward the center, as it did under Tony Blair, and some arguing that it should move farther to the left, to re-engage with its working-class roots.
> 
> But the result has been messy, with numerous insults (“moron” is the latest). Labour has even been unable to unite in parliamentary opposition to Conservative-proposed welfare cuts.
> 
> While the consensus of political analysts is that Labour must move toward the center, where most British voters are, wounded party activists are turning toward an old-style socialist, Jeremy Corbyn, 66. Mr. Corbyn, articulate and straightforward, only reluctantly entered the contest, nominated by some Labour legislators “to broaden the debate.”
> 
> But he got a big lift when Britain’s largest trade union, Unite, a crucial financial backer of the Labour Party, came out in strong support. Mr. Corbyn upsets “the ruling elite,” said the Unite leader, Len McCluskey. “They try and rubbish it, they try to turn it into a joke, but secretly they will be worried sick that ordinary people are suddenly given something to inspire them and something to link onto.”
> 
> Outside the party, Mr. Corbyn is considered unelectable, and hence a great gift to the Conservative Party, and when the Labour Party finally decides, in September, that may emerge as the prevailing wisdom. But his rise — with some polls of party members showing him leading — has served only to emphasize the depth of Labour’s confusion about its future.
> 
> As telling, perhaps, Liz Kendall, 44, the only one of four candidates considered close to the policies of Tony Blair — who led centrist “New Labour” to three general election victories — is running a poor last. On Thursday, she angrily rejected pressure to quit the race to forestall the rise of Mr. Corbyn.
> 
> Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader, resigned immediately after this year’s defeat, and the party that once praised him now blames him for all its troubles.
> 
> No fan of Mr. Blair, Mr. Miliband pushed the party to the left, but voters rejected him. Labour won more votes in England than in 2010, but it was slaughtered in Scotland, losing all but one seat there and 26 seats over all.
> 
> The other two contenders, who are more conventional, are Andy Burnham, 45, born in Liverpool, who was the party’s designated, or “shadow,” health secretary, and Yvette Cooper, 46, the shadow home secretary and former shadow foreign secretary. Ms. Cooper is married to Ed Balls, who was shadow chancellor but lost his seat in May, marking the depth of Labour’s troubles. Mr. Balls is keeping out of the way while Ms. Cooper tries to become Labour’s first female leader.
> 
> Mr. Blair, who is widely disliked in the Labour Party for having led the country to war in Iraq on erroneous claims about Iraqi unconventional weapons, was no fan of Mr. Miliband. The prospect of Mr. Corbyn, who is even farther to the left, prompted another Blair intervention on Wednesday, a warning that “an old-fashioned leftist platform” would mean Conservative rule for the next 15 years.
> 
> “When people say, ‘My heart says I should be with that politics,’ well, get a transplant, because that’s just daft,” Mr. Blair said. “You win from the center, you win when you support business as well as unions. You don’t win from a traditional leftist position.”
> 
> Mr. Blair’s advice to the party: “Move on — but for heaven’s sake don’t move back.”
> 
> But moving on to what exactly? Mr. Corbyn is clear about what he wants — an end to austerity, a big tax-and-spend state. But Mr. Burnham and Ms. Cooper are trying to thread the needle between an appeal to Labour members, who think Mr. Miliband was not sufficiently left-wing, and the larger public, including Liberal Democrat voters and centrist Conservatives, who want a society with more social justice but one that also lives within its means and rewards success.
> 
> On Thursday morning, Ms. Cooper, who worries the Conservatives the most, floundered under tough questioning about her policy positions, causing a BBC interviewer to say that she was good at the rhetoric of unity but that she was reluctant to take firm positions, leaving many unclear as to what she actually stood for.
> 
> Both Ms. Cooper and Ms. Kendall have said that if Mr. Corbyn is elected leader, they will not take positions in his shadow cabinet.
> 
> Mr. Burnham, who is considered politically between Mr. Corbyn and Ms. Cooper, was damaged when Unite failed to support him this month and when he was thought to have flip-flopped over whether Labour should support the government’s plans for billions in welfare cuts.
> 
> John McTernan, a former Blair aide, branded as “morons” Labour legislators who nominated Mr. Corbyn to join the race but did not support him. One of them, Margaret Beckett, the party’s former deputy leader, admitted that she regretted her decision to nominate Mr. Corbyn. “I’m beginning to wish that I hadn’t, I’ll be quite honest about it,” she told the BBC. Asked if she was a “moron” for having done so, she said, “Yes, I am one of them.”
> 
> Trying to explain why Mr. Corbyn was performing so well with Labour Party members, Mr. McTernan said, “Political parties are full of suicidally inclined activists and clearly some Labour members are suicidally inclined.”
> 
> Mr. Blair called Mr. Corbyn “the Tory preference,” and in fact some Conservatives are being urged by The Telegraph, a right-wing daily newspaper, to sign up as Labour Party supporters in order to vote for Mr. Corbyn in the leadership contest. The winner will emerge only in mid-September, giving the Labour Party two more months to sort it all out.
> 
> 
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