Tories Rout Labour; Corbyn to Depart; SNP Also Wins Big, Setting Up Long-Term Dissolution Struggle

Boris Johnson achieved what Theresa May hoped to do with her snap election gamble in 2016: deliver a crippling blow to Labour. The Tories are on track to secure 364 seats, or a 38 seat majority [update: calculated US style, as in seats in excess of what is needed to win a vote]

While the Tory margin of victory is only depicted as “comfortable” in the Wall Street Journal the results are terrible for Labour. The Tories breached the famed Labour “red wall,” taking seats across the working-class districts in the heart of the country. The late-hour hand-wringing by the Torygraph that the Brexit Party might still have enough life left to do the Conservatives some harm proved to be wrong.

Clive, who among other things goes outside London from time to time, was one of the few who has been consistent from the outset in predicting a big Tory victory. By contrast, the Financial Times last night was wobbly on Tory prospects for a solid win.

The numbers, courtesy vlade:

– Tory vote is almost the same as it was two years ago – 13.9m vs 13.6m last time.
– Labour vote collapsed from 12.9m to 10.3m
– LD vote took about 1m voters more, presumably from Labour (mostly, plus some disaffected Tories, but overall it’s likely wash)
– Greens took 300k more votes, again, presumably from Labour
– BP took about 30k more voters than UKIP did last time – trivial
– SNP got 300k more votes – again, presumably mostly from Labour
– DUP and SF lost about 50k votes each, which for each is about 20% of voters. That’s massive.

So, looking at this:
– Labour lost 2.6m voters. About 1.6m of them is likely to LD/Green/SNP. One would have to do a constituency-by-constituency analysis to see how that would change the result.
– Tories took relatively few vote from UKIP or Labour, 330k total, but possibly in key constituencies.
– That leaves about 800k voters that voted Labour before staying at home with pox-on-all-of-you (I assume).
– in England, the Tories+BP likely won the popular vote (I don’t have breakdown, but assume that each would have same vote in Scotland, and BP is almost entirely English). Only if you add Scotland it’s more even. That said, the margin would not be this large if the UK had some sort of PR.

The hot take from the BBC:

The result so far is remarkable for the Conservatives – better than many of them had hoped for.

They have won a majority which will allow Boris Johnson to make sure Brexit happens next month.

There were some astonishing results, with a number of historic Labour heartlands falling to the Conservatives.

Labour, by contrast, could hardly be in a worse position.

Jeremy Corbyn has made it clear he will go before the next election – but he wants to stay for a period of reflection. Many in his party want him to go immediately.

In Scotland, the picture is quite different.

The SNP have come close to sweeping the board – gaining seats from all their rivals.

A Tory majority at Westminster means one constitutional quarrel – Brexit – might be over, but another – on Scottish independence – will be back with a vengeance.

And the Guardian:

Labour voters have overturned decades of political tradition and defected to the Conservatives across its industrial heartlands, transforming the electoral map and ushering Boris Johnson towards a significant Commons majority.

In results that surpassed even Johnson’s wildest expectations, the Conservatives unseated Labour for the first time in decades in solid red seats from Wrexham in north Wales to Blyth Valley in Northumberland.

The shock of the exit poll, which predicted Labour’s worst general election result since the 1930s, gave way to dismay and anger as unseated Labour MPs blamed Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership for the party’s dismal showing.

At Spennymoor leisure centre, outside Durham, dejected Labour activists looked on as votes piled up for the Conservative candidates in Bishop Auckland and Sedgefield, mining communities where the closure of the pits cast a long shadow over the area’s politics.

And Ian Dunt:

The basic summary is as follows: total despair. Catastrophic era of darkness. The end of everything you value. Overall, not great.

Labour has been wiped out. Boris Johnson is triumphant. He is set for a majority, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the New Labour years. It is a disaster of unmitigated proportions. This is the largest set-back for liberalism and the left since the referendum result and arguably even greater than that. Is it a calamity.

Jeremy Corbyn announced he would not fight another election early this morning, after he secured re-election to his seat. And with that, the battle for the future of the Labour party began.

Corbyn said he would stay on to oversee the ‘conversation’ in Labour about his replacement. In reality that means he wants to ensure a successor of his preference. The unions will try to make sure that happens. They are unlikely to have any self-awareness or demonstrate much soul-searching about what has happened.

Corbyn supporters are screaming all sorts of nonsense, blaming Remainers and ‘centrists’ – a term which includes anyone on the non-Corbyn left – rather than the fact that their messiah was quite plainly and demonstrably ill-suited to the job and should never have been given so prolonged an opportunity to demonstrate that fact. It cost us everything.

And from Clive:

It was indeed all about Brexit. But Brexit was never about leaving the EU. For Leave, it was about ridding the U.K. body politic of a nasty infestation of authoritarian Liberalism vine weevils which had preyed on the U.K. at will, for all species of parties, for twenty years. Invidious, insidious and you couldn’t tell it was in your political party plant pot until it was way too late. By the time you saw the leaves wilting and the flowers dropping off, it was too late. They got everywhere — Labour (Blair, Campbell, Mandelson), the Conservatives (Osbourne, Grieve, most of the Cameron era intake) and the Liberal Democrats (Clegg). The BBC was full of them, as was academia. The civil service, too. It was time to clear house and Brexit was the way to flush them out.

For Remain, EU membership was simply about stymying the Conservatives. A lot of Leave’ers neither knew nor cared what the EU was, how it worked, what its ideological direction of travel is, what its policies are and how it operated behind the scenes in terms of its internal politicking and power plays. It really didn’t matter to huge swathes of Leave’ers — it impinged on right-wing governments, whatever the electorate had decided in that political cycle, and that was all that mattered.

Mind you, we didn’t see this coming, but (unlike on negotiation dynamics) we don’t hold ourselves out as having any particular insight on UK politics. So even more so that usual, we are dependent on our sources. And with the press in the UK being if anything more partisan in the US, and having done a terrible and irresponsible job of Brexit reporting, it was even harder than usual to parse signal from noise. It wasn’t helped but the fact that the formerly-most-relaible-of-the-bad-lot YouGov poll showed a late Labour surge, lending credit to the now-clearly-wrongheaded notion that Labour was succeeding in making the election about the NHS and the sorry state of social services.

We were far from alone in expecting a closer contest. As Richard North put it:

A reminder of what’s been on the Telegraph website all day. It looks as if there needs to be some blood-letting in the polling industry as well.

Let us also not forget that SNP did better than expected in taking seats from Tories, despite what critics depicted as an overloaded and too IndyRef fixated manifesto.

North’s take early on in the evening was “What comes over therefore…is that the Tories are not winning this election. Labour is losing it.” Turnout was lower than in the 2017 election, 66% v. 68%.

This defeat may indeed represent a lasting realignment of voters. There will be many post-mortems and no doubt academic studies. But what were the causes? Some initial thoughts:

Corbyn. His attempt at constructive ambiguity on Brexit was a hot mess. The party’s two referendum pitch was a turnoff given how tired voters are with Brexit (having no idea that the pain will persist and intensify after the passage of the Withdrawal Agreement. His failure to articulate a positive vision for Brexit, such a softer one, allowed Johnson to get away with his nebulous but catchy “Get Brexit done.”

Corbyn. He’d previously been only a backbencher and it showed. He lacked the signs of inner steel and decisiveness that voters expect. He was admittedly plagued by the saboteurs within of the Blairite wing. Yet the widely mistrusted Johnson executed a purge of Tory moderates. Skeptics predicted it would damage the party and Johnson. That call proved to be wrong.

As Lambert put it:

Corbyn upon his ascension to the leadership should have adopted the sage policy of Baron Harkonnen: “The man must die. He tried to help my enemies.”

Corbyn. The anti-Semitism slurs stuck. I can’t judge how important a factor this was in voting. A US based political scientist who has reasonable UK contacts thinks it was significant. Readers?

The collapse of the Remain effort. People’s Vote fell apart. The very early “This is our last stand on Brexit….we need to rally out troops” in early editorials didn’t materialize. Perhaps it was the lack of a suitable party champion. Visibly conflicted Labour wasn’t it despite Corbyn’s lame two referendum pitch to them. And the LibDems had limited appeal as Tories lite, made worse by overplaying their hand (ruling a coalition with Labour).

The reason the lack of an effective Remain effort matters is it would made it difficult to get away with mere Brexit grandiosity. The more Johnson was called out on his Brexit schemes, the more questionable voting for him (or staying home rather than making a tactical vote)might have seemed.

One downside of this victory is it is likely to stoke Johnson’s and the Tories’ worst tendencies, which is to continue to overplay their hand, as if their mandate matters to the EU. Sir Ivan Rogers’ latest warning looks even more probable, that Johnson will feel invested in his promise to leave by the end of 2020, which is an impossible timetable for a trade deal save a very thin one, and not credible for a more complex services pact. Recall that Sir Ivan anticipated that the UK side wouldn’t realize it was in negotiating trouble, both from a timing and potentially even a fundamental perspective (he thought it was possible talks could break down). Even though the UK could extend the transition period once, for one or two additional years, that needs to be invoked before July 1, 2020. Rogers believes the UK will remain in denial until too late.

So expect a continued wild Brexit ride, although things will probably look artificially calm though the first few months of the year, and potentially as long as the late spring. But don’t expect a happy ending.

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239 comments

    1. vlade

      Despite all the unionist talk from Tories, I suspect they will talk to SNP, and if NI showed interest in reunification referendum, will run that too. Both are more hassle than worth it, and Tories are now party of English nationalism. Works for SNP, DUP had what they deserve.

      Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, this is a quiet triumph for Sinn Fein, they have achieved their strategic objective of having a majority of nationalist MP’s. Their reduced vote was because they didn’t run a number of candidates in order to give the SDLP and Alliance a clean run at the DUP, they also ‘unofficially’ told supporters in a number of constituencies to support whoever was most likely to unseat DUP candidates.

      This puts the Irish government in a huge bind. As Vlade says, Scotland and Northern Ireland now have no value to the Tories, on the contrary, they are only (from their perspective) a drag on their objectives. Its very hard to see the United Kingdom stay together when you now have two of the four main constituent nations with nationalist majorities, along with a PM who despises them both and has no interest whatever in the Union. In fact, I don’t doubt they are now wondering if Scotland/NI could become a sort of ‘hostage’ in negotiations with the EU (‘be nice, or we’ll leave you with two new members on your hands, both with smoking wrecks where their economies used to be’).

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      1. paul

        Maybe not NI, especially with a sea border coming, but Scotland will be held tight.
        It is just too valuable.
        Imagine an rUK without oil?
        Where would they put their WMDs?
        Do you not remember the last days of the 2014 ref where there was outright panic and purdah breaking (and broken) promises made?
        Being the third largest party in Westminter and the largest in Scotland means nowt in the current UK.

        Reply
        1. makedoanmend

          Hello Paul. What a mixed bag for the SNP, hey? They did better than expected but I still feel they just didn’t do good enough. In crude terms, 50 seats was the psychological hurdle in order to really push for a new referendum – it sort of legitimizes the demand which the Tories are intent to ignore anyway. I also believe that many middle of the road voters are glad that Brexit “has been done” and that reflected in the seats that the SNP didn’t win – bar that one Labour seat in Edinburgh. Glasgow is now firmly SNP territory.

          However, since you’re clued up on the Brexit legislation with regard to Scotland, what exact powers are the Tories taking from the SNP/Scottish Assembly? Will it impact the ability of the SNP to spend on social housing and the like? (And I’m still amazed about how many locals don’t know that most money flows centrally from London to Scotland. If the London government, for example, cut the “national” budget for the NHS, Scotland’s share of that budget is, well, zero.

          Also, do you think “one-nation” Toryism will help or hinder the SNP cause?

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          1. paul

            82% of seats is something most parties in most countries would bite your hand off for.
            In half the con holds the majorities are down to hundreds.

            I’m not that clued up, but powers evolved to the EU were supposed to return to the devolved region, but ended up as reserved to westminster, The EU GMO opt out used by Scotland is an example.

            The ramping up of the Scottish office, from 40->2900 staff in a shiny new building suggests a long term to take a greater interest in Scottish government.

            PM johnson’s offhand comments about constitutional reform during the election, his manifesto stated that scotland’s welfare had come second the the SNP’s ‘obsession’ with independence, implying he would come to our aid.

            Any US trade deal on health would require taking control of the scottish NHS, and pretty much anything else devolved that stands in its way.

            Plus the fact that a majority UK government can do whatever it likes. I doubt he’ll shut down holyrood, but he can certainly starve and neuter the beast.

            Reply
            1. makedoanmend

              Don’t get me wrong Paul. I think the SNP had a marvellous election; far beyond what I or most other external punters expected. The dedication of both SNP volunteers and elected officials is truly inspiring to behold. I though some Irish Parties were particularly adept but the SNP holds its own and more.

              I just don’t see the results as, de facto, leading to a new referendum. The results give the Tories too many talking points with which to thwart calls for a new referendum. Anyway the sheer majority of the Tory party South of the border is a veritable counter weight to any SNP demands/requests.

              And, yeah, I can see the Tories killing Scottish self-determination with short term kindness. Holyrood reduced to a glorified talking shop suits “one nation” Tory policy to the core. Most neo-liberal parties across the West operate a very centralised power-financial structure that intentionally creates local power vacuums. It directs the local population’s orientation in such a manner that only a strong central political party can deliver basic services. That’s my observation anyway.

              Neo-liberal parties centralise all state finances so that they can control both who is rewarded (or not) and the larger economic narrative.

              I really can’t help but draw parallels between the now dominant TINA neo-liberal parties* that are now emerging in the West and the old Bolshevik party – where the party was the state. (Of course I’m over egging it because we can potentially vote the bums out.)

              *many times the supposed opposition is just the doppelganger of the current party of government – they are neo-liberally interchangeable

              Good luck to you and your fellow SNP travellers

              Reply
        2. Louis Fyne

          the North Sea fields are dwindling. Moving the submarine base out of Scotland would mean jobs somewhere in the England or Wales.

          Scotland is going to have a rough road if it’s independence….but they do deserve it.

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          1. paul

            They’ve been swindling as long as I have been of voting age, yet they still keep popping up.
            Check out Clair ridge, whose announcement was made after the last referendum claims of no more oil.

            Where would you put the WMDs?

            You’re right about the rough road.

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        3. Donn

          I tend to agree with you Paul, though less on the basis of oil et al. I think the Scottish demand for independence presents a profound threat to the ‘imaginal wellspring’ that sustains the very idea of a British state, and of Britishness as an identity.

          That identity imagines the entire island of Britain as constituting its proper domain. So while NI’s loss could be endured, Scotland’s loss presents as an existential threat. Were it to occur, it would mark a shuddering end to what at least one historian has called ‘the first English empire’. The long-standing, easy and wrong equivalence of ‘English’ with ‘British’ could no longer be sustained, and the view that London’s political classes hold of themselves, their state, and that state’s place in the world, would be undone.

          Potentially interesting times ahead.

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        4. Olivier

          The oil is (mostly) gone. It sure made a big contribution to the UK economy while it lasted but that’s in the past. Not a reason to hold on to Scotland.

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      2. makedoanmend

        It’s funny to see Taoiseach Varadkar and Donnybrook RTE crew trying to put a positive spin on the vote in the North. They are now making clarion calls for Stormont to be reignited in its second incarnation. (My, how things change so quickly Leo. Two years ago you couldn’t give a rat’s arse if Stormont ever saw the light of day again.)

        My take is that the Dublin regime would like to see a show-piece assembly which acts a symbolic halfway house in order to legitimize the Irish sea customs border between the UK and the EU-Ireland. Given that even the most ardent neo-liberal prognosticator of RTE and the Irish Times acknowledge that the DUP did not only hinder negotiations about the reintroduction of Stormont but also spent that time blatantly insulting their Sinn Fein counterparts across the table, it takes some neck to suggest that everything is just kosher now. I expect Sinn Fein to obtain a few political tokens from Fine Gael/Fianna Fail if they are to consider taking up seats in Stormont again. The real negotiations will be between Sinn Fein and the Dublin establishment.

        While I feel that Taoiseach Varadkar genuinely thinks that he can work with Prime Minister Johnson and his motley crew (all parties being birds of the same feather), I fear the neo-liberal oriented EU won’t be as accommodating with their Tory neo-liberal counterparts. Once the “Irish question” has been put to bed, Ireland’s influence is then dependent on Commissioner Hogan, and he must put the EU before Ireland.

        Anyway, the Tories must be licking their chops. Whatever is left of the public goods and commons is now being served on a silver salver for Christmas. I always shake my head when its suggested that the United States is going to get the NHS. No, that beast will be carved up among themselves. Sure they’ll have to give the United States a cut in return for a trade deal, but no Tory nor their “influential” backers is giving that sucker away for free.

        As always, while many Irish people now contemplate the possibility for a UI, they do with less than outright enthusiasm. As one Protestant business owner in the Republic (he sold all his businesses in the North a few years ago) said to me, I don’t want that sectarian shite to infect our state.

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        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes indeed, its entirely possible that Northern Ireland could vote to join the Republic, and the voters of the Republic would say ‘no way’.

          Varadkar is in a spot of bother over this. The dislike between FG and Bojo seems genuine, its been a deep shock to the anglophiles in FG to find that the Tories really have contempt for them. I’ve heard FG supporting friends say things you’d only hear SFers say a few years ago. Varadkar is something of a people pleaser, Coveney I think is made of sterner stuff. Big Phil of course won’t take any nonsense. I think they’ll push hard for Stormont to sit as a way of taking the heat away from Brexit and on them – they’ll enjoy seeing the parties in NI squabble about ‘normal’ things.

          Sinn Fein I think will bide their time until the next election in the Republic. There is every chance they’ll be in coalition in the Republic and they’ll make a border poll a fundamental part of their negotiations.

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          1. makedoanmend

            Yeah, Sinn Fein’s recent by-election win in Dublin wasn’t well received by the establishment.

            They thought the beating SF took in the locals and the Euros put paid to them, if only for a while. However, many don’t realise that the abortion referendum (especially McDonald’s & O’Neill’s gleeful response to the Yes result) hurt SF in many, many constituencies – including many in the North. It was a real own goal. All they had to do was keep quiet and suggest everybody vote their own conscience. But no…

            It seems, though, that the Aontu splinter group is now largely irrelevant, but SF turnout suffered a bit. They were really intent upon Fermanagh/South Tyrone and the North Belfast seats in the North this time, which they got.

            Fair dues to John Finucane for running an extremely positive campaign. And fair dues to the UUP (Ulster Unionist Party) for running in North Down. As a Unionist party, the UUP sometimes shows a bit of new thought and creativity.

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        2. eg

          many thanks to the NC commentariat for the insight into the NI results — difficult to get much discussion about it elsewhere

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        3. fajensen

          I always shake my head when its suggested that the United States is going to get the NHS.

          Agree. They will keep the NHS as-is, then flog off all the Services (cleaning, portering, nursing, IT-services, NMR, X-Rays, blood tests …. and so on) to “private investors”. The privatised services will then attach themselves firmly like ticks on the NHS body and bleed all those delicious juices out of it!

          The Tory’s can then slag the NHS for being in a permanent state of crisis while using the crisis to pump their friends & benefactors tax-sheltered accounts with British taxpayers money.

          And for each service, there is a position as a board member for a Tory MP!

          Reply
      3. russell1200

        From what I saw, Sin Fein didn’t do particularly well as a party. It was SDLP that was the cause of the Nationalist (combining SDLP and SIn Fein) majority over the Unionists.

        The report I saw said it was a win for more moderate votes.

        Maybe, but I suspect is was, like with the Scottish vote, that many in Northern Ireland do not like the idea of Brexit. Sin Fein was viewed by some as not being very helpful in that of they took their seats in Parliment the Remainers would have had enough votes to block Brexit.

        I have been reading the Irish Independent and a number of folks have called for Sin Fein to take their seats to block Brexit. And I have also seen discussion that Sin Fein wants Brexit because they believe it will lead to the unification of Ireland.

        Again, maybe, but that whole unintended cause-effect thing can often play havoc with cute strategies like that.

        On a final note, in reading the Irish Independent, I got the sense that they had a general expectation of a Torry win. Maybe that is the advantage of an informed outsiders perspective?

        Reply
        1. makedoanmend

          Some 58% of the North’s population voted against Brexit during the original referendum, and last night the anti-Brexit parties (SF, SDLP & Alliance) took the majority of seats. SF had 7 before last night and they have 7 today, albeit a couple of different seats. The result suits them. Sinn Fein is a moderate party. Ask any leftist and they will say they are too moderate. For the Indo, anything not to the right of the Tory party is immoderate.

          You have to take the Indo’s (Irish Independent Newspaper) commentary with a grain of salt. They are just another neo-liberal rag peddling the story of TINA.

          Their call for Sinn Fein to enter the UK Parliament was simply a stick with which to beat Sinn Fein, and not a very heavy stick. Sinn Fein’s core electorate in the North would abandon them en masse if their reps pledged an oath of allegiance to the British crown; and the neo-lib Indo knows this, as does everyone else in Ireland. Also, everyone in Ireland knows that if Sinn Fein had actively tried to block Brexit in the UK parliament, given SF’s political outlook, all hell would have broken loose. It doesn’t take much imagination to understand the angry reaction of English nationalists if Irish Republicans interfered in UK affairs.

          Anyhow, SF never had the numbers to change the political calculus, and again the Indo knows this.

          Sinn Fein didn’t have its best campaign in the North last night but many voters are jaded and many anti-abortion SF voters stayed home. They’ve also just fought several separate campaigns in the Repulblic. Their only real loss was Derry City. I was surprised when they got John Hume’s old seat but not surprised when they lost it. It’s still a solid nationalist and anti-Brexit seat under the SDLP.

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    3. Fazal Majid

      Catholics are already a majority of the population in Northern Ireland, if not yet of voters, due to higher natality. The long-term trend is utterly unsurprising.

      Reply
  1. Bugs Bunny

    Maybe this is actually the best worst result for Labour. Hang Brexit fully around the Tories necks, get a leader with actual mettle and charisma to constantly harang Johnson for every ridiculous outburst or idiot comment. Brexit is out of the way now so Labour can rebirth itself. Corbyn does need to stand down.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I wish, but in rejecting Corbyn you can be sure that the old Blairite wing will try to come back from the grave. His opponents are sure to depict his failure as one of his policies, not just of his person.

      Reply
      1. Redlife2017

        Yvette Cooper has already slunk out of wherever they hide backbenchers.

        My very personal opinion is that the Blairites that are left won’t appeal beyond what the democratic party appeals to. And we can forget ever getting the old mining areas back.

        If someone like Barry Gardner comes up, then it could be interesting. He’s in Labour Friends of Israel, will probably keep the decent policies (NHS, education, water, rail, parts of Green New Deal) and has worked under Blair, Brown, and Corbyn.

        One positive of the Tory manifesto, I believe it includes repealing the Fixed Term Parliament Act. And they will throw some money around. Hopefully real money.

        Thanks for all the work you’ve done on UK stories. It’s depressing but life goes on.

        Reply
        1. Darius

          Just what the world needs: more PEPs, progressive except for Palestine. Ethnic cleansing is fine, as long as it’s Palestinians.

          Reply
          1. Redlife2017

            I don’t disagree, but when you consider that The Canary.co and other left-wing media are being investigated for antisemitism:

            John Mann, the government’s independent adviser on antisemitism, is to launch a probe into the role of the Canary and other far-left websites in the growth of Jew-hate in the UK.

            The former Labour MP resigned from Parliament in September in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to tackle rampant antisemitism within the party.

            Lord Mann – who was MP for Bassetlaw for 18 years and was made an independent peer in October – wrote on Twitter on Friday: “I can this morning announce that as government adviser on antisemitism that I will be instigating an investigation this January into the role of the Canary and other websites in the growth of antisemitism in the United Kingdom.

            And of course, we can’t forget this lovely government document updated in late September this is LITERALLY called “Violent extremist tactics and the ideology of the sectarian far left”. Here is the overview:

            The sectarian far left consists of a number of small, close-knit groups, each of which aspires to lead the workers into revolution. Survey data suggest that people who agree with the ideas promoted by the sectarian far left are more likely to sympathise with violent extremism.

            So, I think we may have to be a bit pragmatic here…

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            1. Donald

              I can’t tell if you are saying that far left media are actually antisemitic or if you are saying that they are being called antisemitic and so it would be pragmatic to dump them. Or maybe you are saying something else entirely.

              It’s difficult on this side of the ocean to know what to make of the charges of antisemitism over in Britain. I’ve read conflicting reports. I know what happens in the US–bigotry against Palestinians is entirely normal and mainstream, manifested in the fact that “Israel’s right to exist” as a Jewish state depends on the right to have expelled Palestinians. Just getting people to understand that is an uphill fight. Half the time charges of antisemitism against the left are really just charges that the person thinks Palestinians have human rights. So it’s like that in the US. I am just guessing, but I bet it is similar in the UK.

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              1. Oregoncharles

                Absolutely – and Corbyn’s response was weirdly limp, part of his wider failure of leadership. I’m blaming the victim here, but the reactionaries/Zionists did what we expect, and Corbyn didn’t. I’m taking it personally because our household, and the Green Party, are very pro-Palestinian, so there’s a personal impact.

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              2. Redlife2017

                Sorry I am not at all saying they were anti semitic. Rather that the witch hunt has begun. The Canary is a great resource that was founded by two lovely Jewish women.

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            2. Mike Elwin

              Anti-semitism can be hung around anyone’s neck, now that the absurd definition equating criticism of Israel with anti-semitism has been widely accepted. I suppose the real value of the charge is that it buoys up the West’s only reliable ally in the Middle East, but it’s going to play havoc in elections.

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              1. JBird4049

                IIRC there was a recent effort, a test perhaps, to label Bernie Sanders as anti-Semitic, which has failed because he is Jewish. Honestly, from what this American could see with Corbyn, he was constantly being tagged as some variety of Trotskyite Jew-hater. It looked like some slick version of “Barack Obama, the Kenyan Socialist who hates America (and he’s… one of those people.)” propaganda campaign. It is a political cliche, but repeat the Big Lie often enough and people will believe.

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        1. ptb

          LD got 3.6mm votes, but jack s##t for representation. that’s why first-past-the-post is no good.

          But strategically, UK liberals successfully stopped Corbyn, the sponsors get to have their market paradise free of EU bank regulations, all while their political opponents take the blame for the side effects. its a huge strategic win for someone… not exactly centrist, but kindof…

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        2. .Tom

          True, but true centrists are unable to see centrism as anything other than the natural fixed-point destination of the evolution of liberal democracy and the only morally defensible political philosophy. Everything is put into this context one way or another. They will argue that Corbyn’s failure demonstrates that left-wing populism in contemporary British life can only fail.

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    2. PlutoniumKun

      Its possible, but the splits in Labour are very deep and they could get worse. I don’t honestly see anyone who has the capacity to both win an election and hold the party together. I had feared Brexit would be more damaging to Labour than the Tories and I think this is coming to be true.

      I now think that if Labour stays together as one party it will continue to limp along as a wet rag opposition due to its internal splits. I actually would love to see it split into a ‘real’ left party and a centrist party, encompassing the Lib Dems (this would match the sort of pattern we’ve seen elsewhere in Europe). But unless those two parties worked together, with FPTP this could give the Tories a permanent majority.

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      1. Ven

        YES!!

        We need a proper left party to present a real choice, rather than this sham choice of everyone being in the “centre”, and actually just serving the 0.1% agenda. It probably won’t happen, because no one will want to give up the “Labour” mantle and its historical networks across unions and the community.

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        1. Louis Fyne

          given the wet rag performance of UK Greens (unlike many of their continental counterparts, no offence) a new-Left should prepare itself to be wandering in the desert for a long time.

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          1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

            I know of a few true Lefties who have abandoned the Greens for their lack of any depth in economic & Green policies & i imagine that they are not the only ones who have done so. A female friend of mine from Manchester decided that the Greens referring to biological females as non-trans women was the final straw.

            Reply
        2. makedoanmend

          Hello Ven,

          I’m with you 100%. But I have a problem: what’s a “proper left party” these days? So many social democrats across Europe sold their souls for a career. This not only created disillusionment among their voters but also tarnished the entire ethos that had been pain-stakingly created over several decades. Neo-liberalism has destroyed it and its message. Liberaltarian ideology has been revolutionary and the left, such as it is, has no remedy. Hell, most leftists these day refuse to acknowledge that a revolution was fought and won by the neolibs some time ago. If you don’t acknowledge that you’ve lost, how can you move forward? We continue to fight the old lost battles while the neolibs create new battle grounds that ensure they nearly always win.

          The nominal right is running rings around the left. There was nothing wrong with Labour’s manifesto except that ordinary punters weren’t interested. The Tories are offering easy answers (just get it done), and goodly dollop of old nationalism, and a bright future as a trading colossus without explaining how this is states of affairs is supposed to come to fruition. Their messages work. The left’s messages are just not resonating.

          best

          Reply
          1. templar555510

            Yes makedoamend you said it. Personal history : my father worked in a factory all his life , my mother was a part-time school cleaner. I are up in a council house in the 1960’s . I failed the 11+ , but I became middle class, gained entry to ‘ the professional classes ‘ , have my own business etc. etc . Those were different times . The social mores that prevailed – respectability, economic security , marriage for life have disintegrated. The genius of the Neo-liberal narrative is to have convinced my generations ( born 1949 ) and our offspring that what has changed is both ‘ natural ‘ ( economics ) and ‘ progress’ ( social ) and end up with a society un respectable, insecure and marriage is ok until it isn’t . The old world wasn’t perfect by any means , but one thing I keep coming back to , and which I still find hard to contemplate , is that the people at the top are the same ones we managed to sideline in the sixties – the old Etonians. So yes, if there is ever to be a renewal on the Left the narrative , to gain any kind of traction , will need to be something entirely new . For my own part I began to frame the realm of politics as striking a balance between the individual and the collective, rather than Left and Right , since these have become meaningless terms in the present day . If we were able to contract a political organisation that similarly framed politics like that perhaps there would be a chance of it succeeding. What on earth we would call it goodness knows .

            Reply
            1. Synoia

              I still find hard to contemplate , is that the people at the top are the same ones we managed to sideline in the sixties – the old Etonians.

              Scum always rises to the top.

              Reply
              1. John

                It is also why the French refer to it as the “ancien regime”. No matter how many heads get chopped off, they still abide and return.
                Greed is a one trick thing.
                The homeless in the streets of England is a good start on the reintroduction of serfdom.

                Reply
            2. norm de plume

              ‘For my own part I began to frame the realm of politics as striking a balance between the individual and the collective, rather than Left and Right , since these have become meaningless terms in the present day’

              Yes. Not just meaningless but an active impediment to progressive change. Mainstream ‘left’ parties were born and prospered in those halcyon days when capital had not yet defeated labour. Now it has, and the roots of progressive political strength have withered into sclerotic avenues for party jobsworths to fly the flag half heartedly for a while until retiring middle aged into the middle class, their children safely installed in posh schools, legacy assured. Mainstream left parties now are like the teams the Harlem Globetrotters played, though their incompetence is not quite as polished.

              Which has beached a great army of us, not union-affiliated but sympathetic to labour as part of a much broader array of concerns, which, if you had to label them with a word, might come under ‘Prudence’. Eg, reversing the trends toward:

              massive inequalities of wealth and therefore power;
              loss of personal privacy and therefore freedom;
              environmental degradation;
              privatisation of essential public services;
              private ownership of MSM, with its attendant censorship and propaganda;
              aggressive and acquisitive wars waged by ‘our side’ without our consent;
              the scarily enthusiastic march toward world war with China and/or Russia;
              the daily shower of lies we must negotiate to stay abreast of all of the above…

              The percentage of useful pieces I read which hail from rightward sectors of the political spectrum has increased notably in the last year or so. I don’t think I am becoming a wingnut, but several of the American Conservative articles linked here and elsewhere, a few by Hitchens the Elder (Peter) and of course the continuing Empire-rattling thrusts of Tucker Carlson have made me re-assess the shape of what might come next in terms of political organisation. Whatever happens, it will have to marry some of these ‘paleocon’ elements with traditionally ‘left’ parties and coalitions in order to overcome the neoliberal borg.

              If polls consistently show that most of us hold progressive views on the issues listed above (among others) – or to phrase it from a different perspective – if it is true that a majority of us want to:
              reduce inequality (eg, end offshore, prosecute banking fraud, set up public banking option, increase wages, act upon opportunities afforded by MMT, etc);
              limit corporate power (esp surveillance);
              tax carbon brutally enough to discourage further damage;
              restore a public media from which we can get (relatively) bias-free news and a range of opinion;
              reverse the sale of vital public services and utilities – esp health, education, water, power;
              take steps to dissociate ourselves from America’s wars of conquest or repression, and more generally regain some semblance of political sovereignty..

              then there is a huge, potentially decisive but utterly sidelined voting bloc sitting on its hands out there, quietly fuming.

              This massive exclusion of political representation for a significant political bloc cannot be entirely without guidance or planning, but it could perhaps have been stymied by a Labour leader possessed of the wherewithal to direct this force to take the establishment on frontally. Corbyn, who seems a fine man from this distance, fell a very long way short of what was required. His failure to meet the charges of antisemitism with the contempt they deserved was emblematic of this. But perhaps no-one could have made a silk purse out of the sow’s ear he had.

              To me, Labour is dead. Too Big to Fail immediately, but also too big to reform adequately in any remotely acceptable timeframe. More broadly, the whole concept of party political representation is no longer fit for purpose. We need to have strong and resourceful individuals not tied to party structures (which in the end become carefully controlled ropes of restraint) standing as independents on platforms like the laundry list above, and who, upon entry to Parlt, consort with likeminded individuals, also elected by their constituents on similar platforms, there to form natural coalitions, which would change shape according to the issue.

              The best of these would hopefully rise to the top, and become PM. The best of the best, first among equals. While it is difficult to imagine Corbyn ascending to the summit in such a scenario, one thing is for sure: Johnson wouldn’t.

              Reply
          2. workingclasshero

            It could be the u.k or u.s. it’s the same story.people don’t seem inteterested in actual party position papers,which to me seems insane.sad times.

            Reply
        3. feox

          What are you talking about? People had a real choice, in the form of a true ideological alternative, with Corbyn. The electorate said clearly they don’t want to change course from the extreme form of neoliberalism of the Tory’s last 10 years. The electorate is responsible for its own choice, and must bear responsiblity for them.

          Reply
      2. Ignacio

        I agree with the split option. Having a two-faced party with so politically distant factions doesn’t make any sense IMO. But certainly the name ‘Labour’ shouldn’t be kept by the blairite faction being so business friendly. In many european progressive parties there is this very same division but lately leadership has gone in some countries to the more progressive faction. I think they all should go real and get rid of those that really aren’t progressive. Having a fifth column inside is not good strategy.

        Reply
          1. PlutoniumKun

            This is the conundrum. The majority of people in the UK are left of centre, but it seems impossible to imagine one party that can represent the spectrum from the Labour left to social democrat centrists. But if they split into two, then FPTP means that even with a combined 55% or so of the electorate, the Tories would still win. So they could only split in a way which allows for mutual co-operation. But there is a woeful history of this type of co-operation in British politics, mostly down to the chauvinism of Labour types.

            Reply
      3. salvo

        that’s an interesting proposition because in germany the old spd has split in 3 parties: the spd, the greens and the Die Linke. All three of them have in the course of their political history practically moved more and more to the right, all in support of the german neoliberal project, ie.e. all of them embracing the “Schuldenbremse” like a fetish of responsible politics (with the exception of the left wing in the Die Linke). The spd has become a 10-15% party almost indistinguishable from the cdu in most policy fields, the greens (20 % in polls) have become a kind of green fdp with a progressive coating, very compatible with the neoliberal project, the left (10%) is split between a so-called reform wing ready to abandon every genuine left position to form coalition governments and a more and more marginalised left wing (Wagenknecht has been bullied out of leadership). So, I’m not sure if in the dominant neoliberal framework any really alternative political approach, if by split or not, may have a chance at all. As a political actor, you get integrated into the neoliberal system and get rewarded with a succesfull career, or you get marginalized and destroyed. In Germany , the only successful alternative is a fake one, the afd (20%), the emerging “alternative”, is a party which succesfully combined the dominant german neoliberalism with the most reactionary policy positions.

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      4. OintmentForFlies

        @PlutoniumKun , I think thats accurate. For its own survival, Labour has to win back heartlands and retreat to core. Remainers and ‘centrists’ like me will be sidelined and hopefully scooped up by a sizeable centrist stance. Sadly with a thumping majority, electoral reform is not scheduled to happen any time soon. Ho hum.

        Its a ‘Cherchez la femme’ problem: excuse the sexist phrase but all a new third centrist entity/party/thing can ever do is nibble away the power of a default two party system created by FPTP in the first place. I believe, by design FPTP naturally strips things to a 2 party system. So I repeat: with a thumping majority, electoral reform is not scheduled to happen any time soon.

        Ho hum.

        Reply
        1. Fazal Majid

          Brits had the opportunity to reform the undemocratic FPTP system in a 2011 referendum, and blew it by voting 2/3 against it.

          Reply
      5. David

        I’ve long argued that there will be no true party of the Left in the UK (England?) until the firm that has traded under that name for a generation has been closed down for good. Destruction of the neoliberal pirate crew that took over the Labour Party (and the LDs actually) is a necessary (but obviously not sufficient) condition. Corbyn , I suspect, will be seen to have laid the ideological and organisational groundwork for this. A Johnson government will simply ignore what you can simply describe as the Guardian Lobby, with its fixation on skin colour, genital disposition and absolutely not offending anyone except white males. The election has shown, if it’s shown one thing, that nobody really cares about such things. I think the shock of defeat will eventually kill of the Blairite remnants, leaving the possibility (no more) of some kind of genuine party of the Left emerging.

        Reply
        1. Joe Well

          >>I think the shock of defeat will eventually kill of the Blairite remnants

          Could you expand on this?

          I am honestly baffled how this could be possible. What keeps neoliberalism afloat is always $$ from the private sector. It doesn’t depend on popularity or it wouldn’t exist in the first place.

          Reply
      6. Cian

        Splits is mischaracterizing what is going on here. The problem was that the membership (and it’s a mass membership party) wanted one thing, the MPs in parliament wanted another. We may see that flare up again, but it’s really a fight between mass membership (and it’s currently a huge party) and the Parliamentary Labour Party. It seems like a more equal split simply because the media (mostly the Guardian and the BBC) amplify the right.

        I actually would love to see it split into a ‘real’ left party and a centrist party, encompassing the Lib Dems (this would match the sort of pattern we’ve seen elsewhere in Europe).

        So you want a repeat of the Thatcher years – with a new SDP? That would further entrench Tory power unfortunately. Though what we’ve seen in this election is that there isn’t a whole lot of enthusiasm for the centrists, and to the degree that they have any chance it is in alliance with the left.

        Reply
        1. ahimsa

          The real split I see in the results is that between the new Leave-Remain (or urban-provincial?) divide of the referendum and the old Tory-Labour (or Tory-nonTory?) divide of electoral politics. (Note: I enjoyed and learned a lot from Clive’s essay post on the nature of Toryism here at NC.)

          As others have already mentioned, first past the post (FPTP) voting has once again played a crucial, albeit its intended, role of delivering a clear outright majority, despite the electorate being quite evenly divided along Leave-Remain lines.

          Labour recognised this split but weren’t able to realign themselves, instead they desperately tried to keep both their Remain and Leave voters onboard. They blithely voted Article 50 through and began fighting on multiple fronts. Internally trying to reform themselves after Blairism along old Labour Left working class issues and externally opposing the Tory Brexit but afraid of losing their Leave voters. They tried staking out a high ground of sorts based almost entirely on domestic issues but it was always a catch-22 because of FPTP electoral constituencies. I suspect the rout would have been just as bad had they committed themselves and become the party of Remain voters – look what good it did the LibDems.

          It has long been clear to all sides that the House of Commons with its rabidly partisan party-politics was no longer fit for purpose in a UK fractured along cross-party Brexit lines. The Tories recognised this split and decided to own the Brexit vote by realigning themselves along the referendum lines. They threw their moderates overboard and agressively went after ‘Workington Man’, i.e., disaffected Leave-voting Labour voters. It worked.

          The alternative was parliamentary and electoral reform to facilitate compromise and cross-party legislating. That cause has now been set back at least 10 years. There’s no longer a dilema, because the Conservative Party chose to become the party of Brexit.

          However, it wouldn’t surprise if the Tories (once the party of Unionism but now the party of English Brexitism) thought chucking Northern Ireland and Scotland overboard would ensure their rule for decades.. or not?

          Reply
        2. bold'un

          My theory is that Labour did not want to go into a (centrist) ‘coalition of chaos’, and could not see its way to a standalone majority: the key ‘tell’ was not making a deal with Theresa May in April 2019, and not doing a reshuffle in the summer with the view of presenting a winning team. The best road forward for them is to reconquer Scotland (elections 2021) arguing that the SNP which supports both ‘Indyref2’ and ‘remain’ is illogical (the arguments for Brexit and independence are so similar) and so Labour is the only party that can keep the United Kingdom together. The other argument (if inflation and unemployment should increase before 2024) is that the SNP can never govern the whole UK, and therefore cannot save jobs… in some sense disaster socialism against vulture capitalism!

          Reply
      7. Darius

        Allow me to suggest ranked choice voting with five-member constituencies. This would most accurately reflect the will of the voters and neither the Tories or Labour would get clear majorities. I suspect that the parties would undergo a scrambling and re-sorting, as well.

        Reply
    3. Biologist

      Also, you assume that Johnson and the Tories will get the blame for the inevitable Brexit mess and.

      Given the sorry state of Labour’s opposition when the Tories were actually in a weak position (the last 2 years), and given the sad state of the press, I think Brexit won’t hang around the neck of the Tories. Instead, they’ll probably manage to shift the blame to immigrants or other undesirables.

      Reply
      1. makedoanmend

        Hello Biologist,

        I agree. The Tories created and implemented austerity that was supposed to create some restorative entrepreneurial animal spirits which would uplift the unemployed, the poor and the disabled from their despair. Uncertainty of one’s next meal wouldn’t occur anymore because everyone was going to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps. Didn’t happen.

        Instead many people, including many middle class voters, are increasingly facing an uncertain financial future. Nine years of Tory rule, I would argue, has created uncertainty and risk for more people than ever before. Then add in the uncertainty and apparent chaos of Brexit and more uncertainty was heaped upon existing uncertainty.

        Who benefits? Those who told the populace it would get things done, implying a reduction of uncertainty. Who indeed? – the very party that created the uncertainty and increased risks to ordinary voters – The Tories.

        Got to hand it to them.

        Reply
      2. Cian

        Do you think the sad state of the press might have something to do with the belief that Labour were a poor opposition? Given that the opposition (who don’t have any power in the UK system) managed to delay Brexit, and destroy a Tory leader, objectively they can’t have been that bad. So what does it say about our perception, and the forces that shape it, that we think Labour were really bad?

        Reply
        1. makedoanmend

          Hello Cian,

          Undoubtedly the ownership of the a large chunk of the MSM by a wealthy elite is an influencing factor. So be it.

          The left when it was originally constituted in its many forms throughout the West and beyond faced much more fierce and sustained attacks than we experience today. I suspect they would have laughed off anti-semitism smears as school yard taunts. Many old leftists faced actual social ostracization, loss of income, physical intimidation, and sometimes worse.

          If they found opposition from one direction, they sought a new direction. If one goal became immediately impossible, the found a new goal.

          I suspect most had some greater motivation than the immediate political objective – some bedrock knowledge of what their worth was to themselves and to their larger community. For many, they valued their own labour value and its social value. They valued it enough to demand they get most of it.

          Such is my sermon :-)

          I wish I was a lot younger. A leftist can start from a clean slate and learn from the mistakes of those who came before. Yeese can write your own new books.

          I currently think there is a lot of fertile ground which has been created by the vacuums which exist in local communities. Building from the ground up will be tedious and require working with seemingly political adversaries. That’s my viewpoint anyway.

          And many leftists had nothing to show at the end of the day. The lost one fight after another. But they usually led interesting lives.

          best of luck

          Reply
        2. vidimi

          yes, this. the “impartial” BBC was dreadful in their coverage with Laura Kuenssberg, in particular, acting like a tory operative. every british news source except for the mirror had their daggers out for corbyn. he was disliked only because the media portrayed him with such hatred.

          Reply
        3. Jokerstein

          Given that the opposition (who don’t have any power in the UK system) managed to delay Brexit, and destroy a Tory leader, objectively they can’t have been that bad.

          Except that the Tories (and May herself), plus Bercow destroyed May and delayed Brexit. Objectively, Labour WERE that bad.

          Reply
        4. Yves Smith Post author

          I don’t agree that it was the opposition in the Parliamentary sense (as in Labour leading non-governing-oalition parties) that delayed Brexit. Look at the votes on May’s withdrawal agreement. She didn’t even have the full support of her own party. Look at the opposition of the moderate Tories, particularly Hammond, who would not vote against May in the various “no confidence” gambits but were clearly opposed to Johnson’s harder Brexit and were purged.

          Labour was not opposing in a terribly serious way. Businesses were very concerned but were afraid of incurring the wrath of the Government (which indicated it would be vindictive). They would be an important hidden constituency that would work quietly through other channels (among them the moderate Tories and LibDems).

          Reply
    4. Cian

      Any leader who isn’t on the right is going to portrayed by the media as ‘bad’. Any leader on the right is going to do worse. This is the problem that Labour’s facing – an extremely hostile media on the one side, a deeply polarized country on the other. Not unlike the US.

      Reply
  2. Ignacio

    One must be a clown to win big these days. I miss reports on Russia meddling.

    The Labour… well what to say about their miserable failure.

    Reply
    1. RMO

      Well, there have been many claims of Putin attempting to harm or break up the EU, the Tories ran on the Brexit issue which breaks a fairly large nation out of the EU… so I posit that there was substantial nefaroius Russian meddling and “hacking” in the election in order to arrange a Tory win! /s (but ludicrous as what I said is, it still makes more sense than all the RussiaRussiaRussia nonsense that constantly appears in what are ostensibly serious and credible news organizations)

      Reply
  3. salvo

    interesting, that a lot of people claim Corbyn is just to decent a man to become GB’ leader, so people prefer a liar leading them?

    Reply
    1. vlade

      People prefere a leader. A known liar who looks leader-like (Trump, Johnson) is perferable to somoene who doesn’t even seem to be interested to be a leader. That’s humans to you

      Reply
      1. salvo

        well, it seems so that at least in Britain people prefer a liar to a decent man as leader, but it this really true of “humanity”? If so, then “humanity” is really doomed.

        Anyway, while I personally never focus on the person in my choices regarding politics, I’d never vote for someone I know to be a liar.

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          The problem is, that from the perspective of many voters, Corbyn is a liar. His continued dissembling on Brexit made him look shifty and untrustworthy. People preferred the bombastic obvious liar to the ‘what does he really mean?’ type liar.

          Reply
        2. vlade

          Two electricians come to fix your house.

          One is a lovely chap, but keeps saying “110V or 220V? Your choice really, don’t ask me, I don’t care”.

          The other comes and and says “so, we’re going to fix it”, and then amuses you with stilly (and sometime offensive) jokes. He’s clearly fabricating, but you’d not mind having a beer with him down in the pub.

          Who’s considered a better electrician until they finish the job?

          Reply
          1. salvo

            sorry, but this is a very poor analogy, what makes you assume that the liar is just making silly jokes an not concocting how to destroy your entire existence?

            Reply
            1. vlade

              Corbyn is not a leader. He doesn’t have the skills, or the inclination.

              PM must be a leader, or at least seem to be one. Johnson showed resolve by purging his rebels. Corbyn didn’t. Johnson “negotiated” a deal with the EU that May “couldn’t”. Corbyn muttered about second referendum.

              No matter how decent man Corbyn is or isn’t he’s NOT a leader. It’s not his competency.

              Johnson is liar, but he LOOKS (I doubt he is) like a leader. The choice is stark – Johnson was miles ahead of Corbyn in leadership polls.

              End of story.

              Reply
              1. vidimi

                corbyn was too scared of the media coverage he would get if he were to purge his party. the same is true for most leftist movements all over the world. they thing they can appease those who are bent on destroying them. just look at madero, rousseff and lula, morales, etc. every time corbyn or momentum started talking about deselecting rebel MPs, the press would start harping about stalinist purges. Boris didn’t care as he was safe from this line of attack. corbyn should not have cared either, although rebel MPs is not why he lost.

                also, johnson does not look like a leader. he looks like a clown. before he came on the stage nobody would have ever described a leader in johnson’s term. it’s just the media coverage that he has got since that makes you think of him in those terms.

                Reply
                1. vlade

                  “corbyn was too scared “. And that says it.

                  Would the purge make the attacks from Telegraph, Daily Mail and Sun any worse? Would it make much differnce to people who already hated his guts?

                  No.

                  Would it make a difference to how he could run the party? Yes.

                  But his problem was that he didn’t withdraw the whip from rebels either side. Again, sitting on the fence.

                  Reply
                  1. John k

                    Yes, a fence sitter. That’s not a leader. A leader decides, hopefully he makes a good choice, if not turn him out at the next election.
                    The country looks to have been desperate for a leader that would get it done… perfect slogan.
                    Country might have given a similar majority for a remain leader, but none on offer.

                    Reply
              2. salvo

                well, ok, at least you have someone to blame, or, as it seems, there is actually nothing to complain about, as you have got your true leader: Enjoy your time under his leadership

                Reply
              3. bun

                rubbish. Leadership entails taking a principled position. Taking sides in a split country is not leadership. Corbyn’s position of not picking sides and working for what the people decide was the only adult conversation in the room. Everyone else ignored the other half of the country. Only in a thoroughly effed up country like the UK (and arguably the US) is that considered ‘leadership’

                no way the very very established british establishment was going to let the Corbyn win. Bojo could have beat poor children with a stick and still be portrayed as a ‘leader’ by them

                Reply
                1. mpalomar

                  Agree. Corbyn had a nuanced position on brexit that the media refused to understand and actual issues. Because of Corbyn’s support for Palestenians he was set up as an antisemite in most of the press in the UK.
                  Leadership culture is BS.

                  The media let BJ get away with his empty Brexit slogan. Failure was at multiple levels, voters bear some responsibility but the media is highly culpable.

                  Reply
                  1. Carey

                    Corbyn, Sanders, and the left in general are held to a much higher standard than BoJo, Trump (don’t kid yourself, Dem leadership™ *love him* for the cover he provides), and the Right. It was ever thus; til the Revolution, at least.

                    Reply
                  2. Yves Smith Post author

                    Bollocks. “Nuanced?” With all due respect, what planet are you from?

                    I read Corbyn’s position (or more accurately, positions, what he said was horribly muddled. It was confused, contradictory, and showed an appalling lack of understanding the basics of dealing with the EU (not that this wan’t a frequent fault in the Tory camp, but if you are on the outside, you need to have better game.) They were total embarrassments.

                    People do not want to vote for bafflegab. They suspect the person is trying to cover for being totally out of their depth or planning to snooker them.

                    Reply
                    1. mpalomar

                      Indeed people do not want to vote for bafflegab but the UK just voted in BoJo’s pithy ‘git her done’ or whatever it was.

                      Corbyn was “Remain – and Reform in Europe” largely because his party was remain. Corbyn’s point was that ultimately wherever the UK wound up the issues he was interested in would still be there waiting to be addressed. The media was not interested in those issues.

                      At core he was unenthusiastic about the EU, “Over the years I have been critical of many decisions taken by the EU, and I remain critical of its shortcomings; from its lack of democratic accountability to the institutional pressure to deregulate or privatise public services”

                      There was no actual possible position or response to the Brexit question except muddle and multiples of muddle; just not possible for sound byte journalism unless it was the buffoon’s bluff by Johnson that the media winked at and let pass.

                      As to my planet of origin, that remains unclear.

      2. Darthbobber

        The most successful politicians have a ruthless streak in them. FDR, in the service of his goals, could logroll bills, cut side deals with regional power brokers, cut opponents off at the knees and toss inconvenient allies overboard without them seeing any portent of that until they were already in the water.

        Reply
  4. Neil

    I’m from the South West UK, this is a conservative area. If you look on the map, nothing much has changed in this area. So I’m not party to the bigger changes up North. In a very simplistic way I think there are two things going on; firstly there is a financial squeeze on a big proportion of people and that has been the case for some time. I believe this was a big part of the Brexit Ref result, and also spills over into increasing racism, antisemitism and similar thoughts. I have had more people in recent years talk to me about immigrants and certain groups of people being the problem than ever before. Secondly there was no real choice, vote Boris get Brexit, vote Corbyn and prob still get brexit but also Nationalisations (this spooks people who remember the 70’s), tax changes that would hurt business owners and whatever else they are planning. The press has done a good job making Corbyn look bad, but to be honest he made it easy for them

    Reply
    1. Romas Liutikas

      There´s an elefant in the room: and it is immigration. London is now officially less than 50% white British. That is all age groups. In the under 18 category it is probably more like 70%. That is a huge change. But a change that is never talked about. There is a resulting rise in xenophobia. Especially in rural areas and in the deindustrialised North. Brexit was nothing but a cypher, a politically correct way to express this xenophonia. When Brexit is done the result will be that
      a. the economic problems that are fuelling Northern xenophobia will have increased
      b. all the despised minorities will still be there
      c. xenophobia will turn against these minorities
      England is heading into completely unknown territory. The old British establishment, that has channeled xenophobia with Brexit won´t know how to deal with the “real thing” once it rears its ugly head. The Eton brigade seems utterly clueless and delusional. (That is what I gather from reading the Spectator). They won´t know what hit them once Brexit is done and the North will turn to the next xenophobic project. And this time it will be the real thing. That is Tommy Robinson on steroids

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        That elephant is Climate Change. With the EU, the population could flee to the EU. Now it cannot.

        The Thames estuary, parts of London, and East Anglia (The Fens) will become part of the North Sea. England could loose up to 30% of it’s useful land quite quickly.

        Boris needs to understand why Canute is so famous.

        Reply
        1. stan6565

          Quite quickly. Can someone volunteer a figure for “quite quickly “.

          My bet is about 100 years for anything appreciable.

          Reply
          1. Synoia

            3-5 years. Climate change effects will continue to accelerate. The hundred year figure was an extrapolation from the climate change projections from new century.

            Reply
            1. John

              To be more specific…how about just a breaching of the Thames Barrier a couple times a year and flooding all those nice ground floor entrances at Canary Wharf in 6″ of water. That is how it will start. Going on in Miami and US east coast right now. Just the occasional full moon king tide for starters. Hell on urban infrastructure.

              Reply
    1. PlutoniumKun

      You can only blame the media up to a point. If people really do believe that (I find it hard to believe) then you really do have to say that some folks are just too stupid to be allowed vote.

      Reply
      1. vidimi

        you find it hard to believe because you are exposed to a wide array of sources. the typical little englander only gets the news on the BBC and ITV on TV and the daily mail in print. they portrayed corby as someone who would destroy the british way of life (one line went that corbyn would take away your house).

        Reply
    2. Darius

      I heard Corbyn interviewed last week by some BBC clown who kept asking him to apologize for his anti-semitism. Rather than challenging the premise of the question head-on, he dodged it. This gave the issue credibility. It seemed like US-style consultants had counseled him to stay on message, not engage the issue. However, if he had denounced the premise of the question as entirely made up and pointed to the Tories as the true home of racism, putting the questioner in his place, that would have modeled leadership to the public.

      Reply
  5. Jesper

    It will be interesting to see which Labour direction goes now, the analysis of the election (or possibly the reporting of analyst opinion) might set the direction.
    From afar (from my biased opinion) then I’d say that this:

    Corbyn. His attempt at constructive ambiguity on Brexit was a hot mess

    is why Labour lost. Corbyn had (in my opinion) good ideas for UK for after the Brexit had been resolved but for me since he by his ambiguity ignored Brexit then he came across as someone who ignored an issue which needed resolution. Resolve Brexit, one way or another, and after that then address other issues.

    The champagne and caviar echelon in Labour is likely to claim that his policies were wrong and therefore argue for a turn of the party back to what it was under Blair. Labour is a divided party, I have the impression that Blairites have a disproportionate amount of power. After this defeat then maybe Labour should split, they are not credible to govern as they are so split so they are unlikely to win the confidence of the voters to govern – therefore they might as well split the party.
    The first by the post system creates some strange parties, in a different system the Blairites and Corbynites would be in different parties but with FBTP then somehow they somehow find themselves together and fighting internally instead of fighting externally.

    Reply
    1. rtah100

      Exactly this!

      Already the Blairites are slinking from the shadows, sharpening their knives. According to them, Labour lost because of anti-Semitism and personality and inadequately neoliberal policies. This despite the data not 24h old showing them that the swings in the NE were away from Labour to the Brexit party and not the Tories because the supporters wanted Brexit and not a Tory government!

      Corbyn should have supported leave, shot Johnson’s fox and set the battleground of the election on the direction post-Brexit policy, a New Singapore versus New Jerusalem – in a Blakean sense, although it might have helped with both the Hamas and the Zionist lobbies :-)

      Reply
      1. CBBB

        Speaking of the Brexit Party – did Nigel Farage get a big pay-off from Boris or something? He’s an irrelevancy now isn’t he? His Brexit Party got nothing and now Brexit will happen (I guess) he has no purpose anymore. He could have not made the deal with the Tories and competed against them and maybe caused a minority government where his influence would go on.
        Maybe he’s really a honest guy in the end and just wants “Brexit done” but he always seemed like he really wanted the limelight and influence to me. Now he’s totally obsolete.

        Reply
    2. vidimi

      there was no way to win for corbyn. if he had embraced brexit he would have lost the remain areas to the lib dems. if he had rejected it, the results would have been the same as they were last night: keeping the remain labour seats and losing the leave seats up north. you can criticize the strategy but i can’t think of one that would have done better.

      Reply
      1. CBBB

        I really think this too. Corbyn may not have been effective as a party leader but I doubt any more else could have done much better given the massive contradictions created by Brexit. Embrace Leave -> maybe keep the north but lose London, strong Remain -> map not too different from last night.
        This Brexit split seems insurmountable to me at least.

        Reply
      2. rtah100

        If he had lost the New Labour / Remain seats to the Libdems (and I doubt this – they had a very stark policy of revoke and it got them naught), then he would still have been the leader of a likely minority government.

        Reply
      3. Jesper

        You are probably right, on the other hand there is the argument that those who try to please everyone end up pleasing no-one not even themselves.
        https://blogs.psychcentral.com/imperfect/files/2017/03/14-Quotes-about-People-Pleasing.jpg
        Corbyn is probably a man of principle (as far as I can tell he is) but his refusal to commit on how the Brexit vote should be handled does not come across as the action of a man of principle – nor does his refusal to commit come across as coming from a radical man which appears to be how media sees him (or at least how they report about him).
        Either go with principle and be honest or go with pragmatism and abstain to let the Brexit (for better or worse) be handled by the Tories. Hindsight is easy and being an armchair expert as I just was/is is even easier so I can’t nor should I fault him for the choices that he made.

        Reply
  6. ven

    Labour heartlands going to Conservatives was because they overwhelmingly voted for Brexit; and Labour was divided, with Remainers seemingly having the upper hand. If Corbyn had come out pro-Brexit, he may have done better in the heartlands; but he would have had a rebellion in the PLP, and lost London.

    Plus the systematic, prolonged character assassination by Blairites and media, all combined to undermine his image as a leader. His own personal, consensual style, which is arguably better (from an outcomes perspective) leadership approach, does not sit well with most people. People want decisive, ‘charismatic’ (whatever that means) leaders, even if they are liars and racists; they are accustomed to being serfs.

    You get what you pay for. Looming economic crises, massive inequality, a privatised NHS and climate catastrophe. That is where ‘charismatic’ leadership has taken us to so far. As conditions deteriorate, no doubt we’ll swing even further right. And that is how we shall end.

    Reply
  7. PlutoniumKun

    The maddest thing to me is that the London Stock Market and Sterling are now surging. Mr. Market actually thinks Bojo as PM with a free hand to do what he wants is a good thing.

    Reply
    1. New Wafer Army

      It’s a short term bounce on perceived stability. People who dedicate (waste) their lives in the pursuit of money are usually not very bright. Cunning, immoral jackals, yes; deep thinkers, no. The Keynes quip comes to mind. He was asked, “if businessmen are so dumb, how do they get so rich?” To which he replied, “Because they compete with other businessmen”.

      Reply
    2. Louis Fyne

      the UK is the one-eyed king in the land of the blind versus the cluster_____ on the continent, see France, Germany, Italy, etc.

      in my opinion

      Reply
    3. Glen

      Because it is a green light for neoliberal policies “out the ying-yang”.

      This WILL be used to dismantle the NHS, etc.

      BREXIT as the wedge issue to destroy whatever the BREXIT voters actually wanted has been a resounding success!

      Reply
    4. fajensen

      The maddest thing to me is that the London Stock Market and Sterling are now surging. Mr. Market actually thinks Bojo as PM with a free hand to do what he wants is a good thing.

      It’s just robots, there is nothing ‘there’, ‘nobody at home’. The robots sniff the newsfeeds and since all the British media are chuffed with the Tory victory, the robots believe that ‘sentiments are positive’ and pumps money into the furnace, which stokes the markets, which makes them positive.

      Come next week and the British media will be foaming with apoplectic rage because the UK will not be leaving on the 1’st of January because ‘Brussels’ will not share the latest UK position that the number of mandates the Tory’s got should give the UK a better set of negotiating cards and that will be totally unreasonable to the British side.

      Then the robots will see ‘Unhappy’ and suck all the money back out!

      It is the same with the Orange Oracle (That Lies About Everything)’s ‘Trade Deal’. It’s On, then Off, then On, then Off, now position papers is the ‘Trade Deal’ and It’s On (& UP) later that deal will be another dud and another lie will be applied. The robots will just keep trading the volatility, no intelligence is needed at all.

      Reply
  8. vlade

    Just a note – in the UK, the “majority” is counted differently than in the US, it’s comparing the winning and losing sides. So in the UK press, you’ll see majority of 76 (74 ex speaker). Don’t ask why.

    Reply
      1. avoidhotdogs

        Thanks for that. I didn’t know if it was a typo or you preferred USA methods so I had email convo with vlade. Here’s how we Brits think of it which I said to vlade:

        I don’t understand personally why Americans quote “how far over the line you got” as “majority” – our British concept of the overall majority (double that) is more realistic to a Brit since that’s exactly what the winning party gets over the combined opposition in a parliamentary vote! So in a 650 seat legislature, every additional seat beyond 325 also reduces the opposition by one, so getting 330 means you win motions by 10 not 5 with voting by party lines.

        Of course we must also factor in the 7 non sitting SF MPs and the Speaker but they’re a minor complication….

        Reply
      2. Clive

        And it doesn’t make sense because, unlikely though it may be, if every single MP not in the government voted against the government, it would “only” need 364 (government MPs) minus 326 (half the total number of MPs+1) to defy the whip to deprive the government of the majority. Which is clearly, then, having a majority of 38. Why it’s never expressed in these terms is a perpetual mystery.

        Reply
        1. rtah100

          The British convention makes sense if you consider abstentions or non-participation. If 76 Tories declined to take their seats or votes and the opposition parties all turned up, Boris would still have a majority.

          Why you would frame it that way is not clear but there is a logic! Perhaps it honours the convention of the whip, that an MP’s choice is to vote with or to abstain (or be selectively diabetic / in Afghanistan) but not to vote against party, in place of which it would be more honourable to resign.

          In which case, the definition could do with updating!

          Reply
  9. Louis Fyne

    to be machiavellian….(in my opinion) dissolution would the best thing for Boris/Conservatives and cement their power for decades.

    Let the generally left-wing Scotland go their own way…. and it solves the circling-the-square landscape in Northern Ireland. Independence will not work well for Scotland long-term: in the EU and tethered to the GBP? yikes. be careful what you wish for. just saying.

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      Until Hell friezes over or large parts of the UK are submerged because they are low lying. I note that the UN climate change conference is yielding only mountains of papers, and no concrete plan.

      With climate change, Brexit is equivalent to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. And the potential EU lifeboat is being driven away.

      Reply
  10. JR

    The UK election results also pose the questions of which of the D candidates come across as the American versions of Corbyn and what the UK election results mean for, or how they will be put to use in, the D centrist/progressive contretemps.

    Reply
    1. CBBB

      I don’t think any Democratic candidates are equivalent to Corbyn. People might say Bernie Sanders but that isn’t true, I think Sanders is actually a much better politician and Brexit really was the dominate issue that sunk Labour. Nothing equivalent in the US.

      The track-record of “Blarite/neo-liberal” type social democrats in Europe is pretty dismal. Going back to Blair /Clinton policies is no solution.

      Reply
    2. salvo

      I quote from comment on Craig Murray’s blog

      “I am not a racist, neither am I some little englander or “deplorable” The only comfort for me in this election is that I get Brexit. At the cost of five Tory years…_”

      I though about it, and it might explain also at least in part the success of Trump in the USA? Essentially he has based his political messaging on a kind of USExit, exit from an order which allegedly disadvantages the ordinary hard working (white) US citizen

      Reply
      1. PKMKII

        The difference is that there’s no singular issue that a “USExit” can focus around like Brexit provided for the UK. There’s the on again off again trade war with China, but that’s too wonky to deliver a result appealing to the hinterland reactionaries. The Wall has great symbolic value, but the actual building would be inevitably so slow, wasteful, and full of holes, metaphorical and literal, that it can’t translate into something definitive. Plus, similar as to the situation that Romas discussed in the UK, that’s really a proxy for the immigrants already in America, not the trickle coming over the border now, and The Wall doesn’t deport those people. So there it comes down more to the power of Trump’s cult of personality, whereas in the UK Johnson could run on being an avatar of Brexit instead of running a campaign about him individually.

        Reply
        1. djrichard

          As I think Michael Moore put it, Trump was a middle finger to the establishment. All Trump had to do was to identify the enemy, and loss of jobs due to global outsourcing was high up there. More importantly, Trump understood that the enemy was a “virtuous” enemy, one that sold outcomes as being virtuous, e.g. the virtue of free trade leading to natural winners and losers. If you’re going to take on the virtuous class, you’re going to have to adopt some other mantle: a clown, a cult of personality, an iconoclast, an SOB, what have you.

          It suggests Dems have an avenue by identifying the enemy as well. But all the Dems can do is identify Trump as the enemy. Nothing else ranks. And that tells the Trump voters everything they need to know about who is winning their hearts and minds. Fundamentally the Dems are disabled because they identify too strongly with virtue, to the point that if Trump is against something, then the Dems instinctively know that that must be something virtuous and therefore take the opposite position. They add zero intelligence.

          Reply
  11. CBBB

    Jesus, this Brexit thing is going to go on for years and years more. “Get Brexit Done”, what a joke. In 2 years we will still be talking about negotiations.

    Reply
  12. Musicismath

    I think the anti-semitism smears cut through because they worked on multiple levels, with multiple constituencies. What they did was provide cover–plausible deniability, if you will–for those whose real objection to Corbyn was his anti-racism and anti-imperialism. If both could be shown (or at least insinuated) to stem not from moral principle but personal prejudice, then anti-anti-racism and anti-anti-imperialism are off the hook. This cover was equally convenient for well-off liberals looking for an excuse not to vote for the left, and more working-class constituencies, whose suspicions (voiced on multiple doorsteps apparently) that Corbyn was “anti-West,” otherwise untrustworthy, or would side with Britain’s “enemies” were products of deeper anxieties about immigration and race.

    In both cases, Corbyn’s low personal ratings stem from the success with which he has been painted as an outsider or fellow-traveler, associated not with “us” but with “them.” Whether that Other is Russia, the IRA, multiethnic London, the Afro-Caribbean community, or (most importantly, I think) British muslims and South Asians, the unpalatable conclusion is that anti-imperialism and anti-racism have less public support or purchase in Britain than many on the liberal left and inside universities have assumed.

    Reply
    1. djrichard

      The attacks were no different than the sort which asks “when did you stop beating your wife”? If you plead innocent, the take away is that you’re conceding authority to those that are making the attack. I.e. you’re weak.

      Trump understands this implicitly. Never apologize. Even better, go on the counter attack. Sure this “violates norms”. But once you recognize that the other side is using “norms” to their advantage, then you best get comfortable with violating norms.

      Reply
  13. vidimi

    Disagree with vlade’s analysis. Craig Murray showed that the majority of LibDem gains came from remainer Tories defecting from the Conservatives. Labour’s main losses came to the Tories in leave areas. There was not much voter loss to the LD from labour with the exception of some tactical voting in mostly London seats.

    Reply
  14. Harry

    “It was indeed all about Brexit. But Brexit was never about leaving the EU. For Leave, it was about ridding the U.K. body politic of a nasty infestation of authoritarian Liberalism vine weevils which had preyed on the U.K. at will, for all species of parties, for twenty years. Invidious, insidious and you couldn’t tell it was in your political party plant pot until it was way too late. By the time you saw the leaves wilting and the flowers dropping off, it was too late. They got everywhere — Labour (Blair, Campbell, Mandelson), the Conservatives (Osbourne, Grieve, most of the Cameron era intake) and the Liberal Democrats (Clegg). The BBC was full of them, as was academia. The civil service, too. It was time to clear house and Brexit was the way to flush them out.”

    So true!

    Reply
      1. Harry

        “swamp draining” is no simple thing. First of all, its terribly difficult to do when up to one’s ass in alligators. Secondly, lots of bottom-feeding frauds claim to be swam- drainers but are not, and actually love a swampy environment. All the better for feeding.

        Reply
  15. Harry

    “Corbyn supporters are screaming all sorts of nonsense, blaming Remainers and ‘centrists’ – a term which includes anyone on the non-Corbyn left – rather than the fact that their messiah was quite plainly and demonstrably ill-suited to the job and should never have been given so prolonged an opportunity to demonstrate that fact. It cost us everything.”

    He was ill-suited to the job. John McDonnell is way better suited. However it wouldn’t have mattered much. By the end of any campaign, any left wing Labour leader would have be painted as an antisemite Marxist who would sell the country to the Russians for a season ticket to Dinamo Moscow. The BBC, and pretty much all newspapers save the Mirror would push this line for all they are worth regardless of leadership choice.

    The UK has form.

    Reply
    1. vlade

      The evidence does not bear that out. Last time the press was full of attack on Corbyn too, and Labour did very well – because a number of remainers decided Labour was the best chance for them.

      Blaming it on evil press barons means Labour will lose the next elections too. I’d like to say that in the last 40 years (yes, THAT long) the ONLY Labour leader to win was Blair. Love him or loathe him, it remains an indisputable fact. So it’d better get its shit together if it doesn’t want to hand the country to Tories permanently.

      Reply
      1. Harry

        I remember – he paid fealty by actually flying over to pledge him a lifetime monopoly over UK media.

        You can tell that do I loath Blair. And I voted for him in ’97 (I think that was his first win).

        But if we are restricted to change that is blessed by the BBC and Mr. Murdoch, is that really change worth fighting for? Me personally, I cant be bothered with supporting one brand of neoliberal cos it involves slightly less single mother prostitution than the other type. That was pretty much the road that led here and to quote Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men, “if the road you took brought you to this place, what use was the road?”

        Reply
        1. vlade

          My point is that the Labour wasn’t able to produce a true charismatic leader except Blair for 40 years now. It’s a looong time, so IMO something is wrong somewhere.

          In the US, even Warren is more charismatic and definitely leader-material than we got from Labour. We got a collection of sort-of-nice but-not-really-driven people (drive != passionate. I’m sure Corbyn is passionate about stuff, but he doesn’t seem to be driven to the extent that some other politicians are. Driven is not just passion, it’s the ruthlessness that comes with it to get to the goal).

          Reply
          1. CBB

            I feel in the UK the driven people all go to be Tories. If you want power for yourself, joining the Conservatives is the way to go, even going back to WWI the Conservatives have formed far more governments than Labour.

            Reply
          2. vidimi

            but charisma, when applied to someone you haven’t met, is a perception you get from the media. that’s the whole point. corbyn is a fine and passionate public speaker, but who has listened to a full speach of his? the media just painted him as someone boring, grey.

            for most people, their only exposure to corbyn will be through the media lens, which is never favourable.

            should a leftist government ever win it will be because the tories fucked up the country so badly that they can no longer hide from it. then it will become an imperative to break up the enemy media.

            Reply
          3. Harry

            My suspicion is that same forces that are restricting the rise of young talent elsewhere in the economy are restricting it in Labour. The old guard hates the young blood coming up and is seeking to guide it in its own footsteps. We will probably need to progress like science.

            One death at a time.

            Reply
            1. ChrisPacific

              Yeah, that was my immediate reaction to vlade’s comment. Unless you believe that charismatic people aren’t drawn to left wing policies (the US and NZ would both seem to to be counterexamples to that theory) then you’re probably looking at conscious or unconscious organizational suppression of some kind.

              Reply
      2. vidimi

        yes, labour will likely lose the next election too because the press will demonise any leader with progressive politics. John McDonnel will get a similar treatment. he will also be called a communist and an antisemite. in 40 years, every british prime minister elected has been the one endorsed by murdoch. that’s not a coincidence. tony blair further proves this.

        Reply
        1. vlade

          So, Murdoch is going to control the UK forever and ever, as a vampire, right? Except that, remember, Corbyn got way more vote in 2017. If you look at the numbers, the majority of people who quit him didn’t quit because of Murdoch press (the majority of the defections is to LD, Greens and SNP, plus some stay-at-home).

          Murdoch didn’t force Labour to play silly buggers and refuse any sort of coalition/truce with anyone. Which handed Tories a number of seats (would it make a difference – I don’t know, I didn’t look at the numbers). Even against the fact that Labour majority was always a moonshot in this election.

          Murdoch didn’t force Labour to play both sides of the Brexit fence either.

          Reply
          1. vidimi

            no, wrong. almost everyone who quit him quit to the conservatives. almost no labour voters turned to the Lib Dems except in tactical voting scenarios. historically labour-voting leave constituencies switched to the conservatives and that was due to brexit and nothing to do with corbyn’s charisma or lack thereof. he could have taken a stronger pro-brexit stance but then lost the leave areas to the lib-dems.

            to the extent you’re saying that labour was too timid and fearful of the media, you are right. they failed to purge their internal enemies for fear of being compared to stalin. they swore not to form alliances after the media accused them of forming a scottish independence alliance with the SNP.

            there was no way for labour to win this election. they wouldn’t have won it with a more charismatic leader. and they wouldn’t have won it by embracing brexit.

            Reply
            1. vlade

              Tories got about 300k more votes than in 2017.

              Labour lost 2.6m voters. LD gained about 1m votes, Greens about 300k, and SNP about 300k too.

              There’s about zero chance that say Green voters came from Tories in 2017. Almost all of that is Labour.

              I’d expect SNP getting more Labour voters than Tory ones.

              Even if every single LD voter came from Tories (which I don’t find plausible), that would mean Labout lost about 1.3m voters to Tories because of its “remain” stance. Except, that message wasn’t clear enough to attract any LD/soft-Tory vote (and don’t tell me it’s impossible – Labour DID get extra 2.6m votes last time, when LD were strongly pro-remain).. So you could argue that with a stroner remain stance, Labour would have kept the 1.3m LD and Green voters, maybe some SNP, offsetting the 1.3 migration to Tories.

              And here is the point. Labour was on the fence, but the public didn’t want a fence sitter. It was impossible, at the time when the public saw Brexit as THE main issue. So they were going to lose some voters either way. THAT is the main reason people quit Labour.

              Labour wasn’t able to put out a simple message – on anything. Tories did, on pretty much single subject (that mattered the most), and they won.

              Reply
            2. djrichard

              “there was no way for labour to win this election”

              Unless Corbyn embraced Brexit and sold it. Really sold it. E.g. as a platform for enabling labour-led reforms even more so in the UK.

              I think he himself was already sold on Brexit, he already embraced it. He just didn’t want to sell it to his constituency.

              Reply
        2. Anonymous 2

          Exactly. Murdoch is the evil genius (to use Michael Foot’s phrase) who lies behind most of the major developments in British politics in the last 40 years, and one who has been able to play the long game unlike elected politicians who inevitably have a shorter effective life as a political force.

          The sad truth he is a better, more cunning political operator than anyone the Left have had during that time and has run rings around them. I expect him to ensure that the UK is irreversibly nailed down as a fully neo-liberal US/Murdochian# colony over the course of the next few years. I know he is 88 but his mother lived to over 100 and was reportedly active well into her nineties.

          I fear it is game over for the Left in the UK. I hope to be wrong but I do not count on it.

          #Murdoch believes in dynasties, doubtless expects his sons to inherit.

          Reply
    2. Clive

      It was laughable, in a face palm way, to watch the Guardian in the closing stages of the campaign, having correctly surmised that screechy preachy Jo Swinson couldn’t get herself arrested never mind elected, had to pivot to Labour to have any chance of a Remain victory (or to deny the Conservatives victory). Yes, that Labour. The same one you’d just spent the last three years slagging off. As Fleabag put it, you have to hand it to them, for sheer nerve.

      As vlade says above, you can only attribute so much to the press. And it’s not that much. Faith in the mainstream media, already (deservedly) on its deathbed before this election, is probably yet another casualty of yesterday.

      Reply
      1. David

        Yes, I noticed that. It was like watching a long, slow, smile of recognition and understanding traverse the face of the local village idiot. I don’t know what the Grauniad thought it was doing over the last few years with its hate campaign against Corbyn (they were still suggesting he was a reincarnation of Himmler until a couple of days ago) but are than a few of their readers must have noticed the screech of rubber at the last moment and the whiplash inducing change of direction. Is it the case that too late can be better than never?

        Reply
        1. PlutoniumKun

          They’ve done another switcheroo today, into full on blame Corbyn mode. Really, the Guardian should just form its own party, or just support that women only party they were trying to hype a while back (did they get any votes?).

          Reply
          1. David

            Thanks for reading that article: I couldn’t bear to. So now Labour has to win the next election by appealing even more to the prosperous, liberal urban middle classes and telling the working class oiks to get stuffed. God help us. There’s a similar rant by Ian Dunt today (I couldn’t finish it) about how Remain are the good guys who represent everything that’s best about Britain. What are some of these people going to do for jobs in a while?

            Reply
      2. vidimi

        just because you don’t trust the media doesn’t mean that their propaganda isn’t effective. for instance, the majority of the public liked labour’s manifesto but couldn’t vote for labour because, for some reason, they just couldn’t stand corbyn.

        Reply
    3. Deschain

      Corbyn was the wrong man at the right time. Having unexpectedly stumbled into real power, he had no idea what to do with it.

      It’s less about charisma and more about picking up the power that’s lying around and using it to help people. I think (hope) Sanders can do better in that regard.

      Reply
  16. Musicismath

    Age and cross-generational experience are obviously factors here as well. The day before election day, I had a rather uncomfortable lunch with a few of academic colleagues. We all know where we stand politically, so we tend not to talk politics much, but with the election looming the gloves came off somewhat. One colleague related how she had studied for her A-Levels by candlelight during the “winter of discontent,” how under Callaghan there were constant strikes, the unions were too powerful, and the nationally owned railways and utilities couldn’t be relied upon. For someone of her generation, there was simply no way of not making the parallel between Corbyn and the failed Labour leaders and political movements of the ’70s and ’80s. Momentum is Militant Tendency, Corbyn is Michael Foot, unions, then and now, must be resisted, public ownership is a joke, and the only credible way forward is Thatcherism.

    For someone of my generation, of course, all this is not part of lived experience: for my entire life, I’ve only known neoliberalism and the Third Way (in two countries); asset sales and privatisation; rent-seeking and fee-extraction; insecure workplaces and student debt. From my perspective, Corbyn and his team looked like a chance for a fresh start and some new economic ideas; for someone over about 55, though, he looked like a recursion to nightmare and discredited past.

    Reply
  17. AdrianD

    IMHO the best view from a Left Leave point of view has been offered by Lee Jones, and it can be found here – essentially the left lost when it failed to first identify what Brexit was (a revolt against the status quo) and then repeatedly failed to grasp the opportunities it offered – I agree with him completely:

    https://www.thefullbrexit.com/why-labour-lost

    Reply
    1. Ataraxite

      Brexit indeed offers many opportunities, but most of those seem to be for the rest of the EU27, who will gladly take the businesses, jobs, taxes and profits which the UK is apparently quite comfortable relinquishing in return for such important material goods as “sovereignty” and “respecting democracy”.

      Not that the tawdry collection of rhetorical devices and non-sequiturs masquerading as analysis in the article you posted really warrants rebuttal, but let’s say Labour did “grasp the opportunities” of Brexit, and supported some form of full-blooded Lexit. Do you really think that metropolitan remainers would have stayed with them, instead of defecting en masse to the Lib Dems, Greens or anyone else? How would Labour have won by driving away the core of its vote?

      Reply
      1. PlutoniumKun

        The left wing People Before Profit in Northern Ireland was advancing very well until they advocated Lexit. They scarcely even exist now, just a rounding error. It never fails to amaze me that there are some on the left who see joining forces with nationalist libertarians over Brexit is some sort of good idea. Its like watching a baby antelope wander up to a pride of lions asking whats for dinner.

        Reply
        1. djrichard

          Just reading from wikipedia

          People Before Profit supported leaving the EU but did not campaign for a Leave vote in the 2016 EU referendum. People Before Profit’s support for Brexit attracted criticism from Sinn Féin and pro-remain activists, especially as Northern Ireland voted to remain. This was a factor in the loss of McCann’s seat in Foyle.

          Just from that alone it sounds like PBP was no different than Corbyn. Both had the opportunity to sell Brexit for all they were worth, as a spring board for the larger vision they had for Ireland and the UK respectively. And both blanched; rather than grabbing the brass ring, they let others do so.

          Reply
      2. Clive

        Labour could have backed May’s Deal (by abstention on the votes) then let a weak leader and divided Conservative party struggle on trying to get the rest of the pieces into place for the subsequent couple of years.

        But no. The Remain’ers in the Parliamentary party wanted everything. No compromises (which was what the electorate had wanted to happen in the 2017 election result). Nothing less than total abandonment of Brexit would do.

        Like Anne Robinson would say if they and the Conservatives were in the head-to-head on The Weakest Link “Labour, you leave with nothing”.

        Reply
        1. Musicismath

          Yes. People in my orbit were confidently predicting that Brexit would never actually happen. There’d be some kind of deal done or intervention from the deep state and the whole thing would go away. Once that approach became untenable in late 2018/early 2019, they switched to expressing impatience about Labour’s refusal to make revocation of Article 50 official policy. Of course now I suspect that they’ll refuse to recognise the extent to which the compromise on Brexit has contributed to this result.

          Reply
          1. AdrianD

            @Ataraxite – by refering to metropolitan remainers as labours “core vote” you seem to be supporting Lee Jones’s arguments rather than refuting them. What we saw last night was that Labour’s real base – who had voted with theim in 2017 when Leave was still the policy – have switched to the Tories.

            @Clive & @Musicismath – I agree, but would add that there was likely also a large portion of the PLP whose sole intention was to ‘get their party back’ by enabling an electoral humiliation and who knows what schemes they may have employed then to do so.

            Reply
  18. russell1200

    Jo Swinson (Liberal Democrat Leader), who made a point of saying that the LD would not combine with Labour in a government lost her seat! So by party rules the LD need a new leader as the leader has to be a MP. Wow!

    I have seen a number of reports that indicated that she got less popular as the election got further along, but never could quite understand the cause. Obviously her constituents took issue with something she was doing.

    Reply
    1. Musicismath

      News articles (based on interviews with her constituents) suggest that she was increasingly invisible in the electorate due to her party leadership responsibilities and the SNP did a very good job of making clear to everyone what her voting record had been like under the 2010-15 ConLib coalition.

      Reply
    2. PlutoniumKun

      They horribly miscalculated. Partly, they elected a terrible leader – in the past, the LibDems have always done well when they’ve had a charismatic leader, its what they need to rise about the noise and fury generated by the two larger parties. Taking a strong anti-Labour stance seemed to make sense as nearly all their target marginals were Tory held – but they seem to have forgotten that combining this along with the old memory of their part in austerity would undermine a huge chunk of those who regularly vote for them – basically people who vote for them because traditionally they dislike Libdems less than they dislike the other parties (as opposed to real supporters). The very hard Leave stance also damaged them I think – most Remainers know full well that Brexit could only be undone through another vote.

      Reply
    3. vidimi

      she was nakedly ambitious for her own sake with a terrible voting record. the lib dems thought that they could get enough disaffected remainer tories to be a powerhouse but miscalculated.

      Reply
      1. Darius

        A limey lady Mayo Pete! No wonder that people disliked her the more they saw of her. Jo Swinson is someone you really have to know to dislike.

        Reply
  19. SOMK

    This comes across as an excellent and thorough Labour autopsy report

    Boils it down to three main points

    1. Brexit and equivocating on the result

    After its unexpectedly strong showing in 2017, the Labour leadership started to edge closer to becoming a force for stopping Brexit, despite Corbyn’s inner circle and a series of key backers in the union bureaucracy resisting the tide on the entirely reasonable basis that the party’s electorate was far more split on the issue than its overwhelmingly Remainer membership and activist layer. The result was the sense of betrayal over Brexit was especially acute among many “rusted on” working class voters who had seen in the referendum a chance to reassert some control over politics, precisely because their traditional party now seemed to be part of the charge to deny their popular sovereignty. The alienation could not be more extreme.

    2. Corbynism, a project whatever its merits widely out of step with public opinion

    While many on the left saw in Labour’s relatively radical (for the UK) big-spending statist programme a serious rupture with “neoliberalism” and “austerity”, full of policies that were in themselves popular with the public, in fact the program looked unrealistic to many voters, who would have been sceptical of Labour being able to deliver it given the constrained realities of state finances. It also seems likely to me that public scepticism was exacerbated both by the policy program’s “created by central office” feel and Labour’s inability to deliver on Brexit, making its other promises seem even less plausible. Finally, there is the simple fact that the radicalisation of Labour has not happened at a time of radical change in public attitudes, making Corbynism look ideologically very far out of step with the vast bulk of voters who still hold more moderate views. These are similar contradictions to those which have humbled other left projects in recent years, most catastrophically SYRIZA’s decision to implement harsh austerity in Greece when it had no social base to do otherwise.

    3. The decline of unions

    In the end, though, the contradiction at the heart of Corbynism was its inability to address Labour’s third problem, the long-term loss of its former social base, a decline that — ironically — had created the possibility for a radical left-wing Labour leader to be elected in the first place. Labourism’s base was in the bureaucracy of a mass, powerful but relatively conservative trade union movement, one that by WWII was deeply integrated within the political structures of British capitalism. Union leaders and Labour MPs dominated the party, with the constituency members a relatively weak component until more recently. The more recent change in that balance has been driven by the decline of the unions as a social force, which was accelerated by their wage-cutting Social Contract with the Labour government of 1974-1979. Despite the subsequent mythology about Thatcher successfully practiced “hegemonic neoliberalism”, she really mainly depended on Labour’s travails during the 1980s to protect her from her own unpopularity.

    Not exactly earth-shattering, but knits them all together very well.

    Reply
    1. Louis Fyne

      The London-centric, Guardian-reading Left suffers from the same “let them eat coding” mentality that many in the US left has.

      Clearly made evident by contrasting TV comments from angry surviving northern Labour MPs (see ruth Smeet on Sky News) v. still tone-deaf London Labour MPs

      Reply
    2. vlade

      1 is bollocks. The strong showing in 2017 were remainers who went to Labour as the only hope for either a revocation or a non-Tory soft Brexit. Labour betrayed them AS WELL as they leavers by sitting on the fence, trying to attract both, and failing miserably. If you try to pitch to both, don’t be surprised if both end up hating you.

      It’s not that there were remainers in the Labour HQ. It was that Corbyn didn’t care enough to make a stand either way and force the issue. There is plenty of evidence that Corbyn didn’t care enough about Brexit, and THAT is what sunk Labour. Both as the Brexit issue, and as the point where people said “he’s not a leader”.

      Reply
      1. Tony Wright

        An Australian ex- PM Malcolm Fraser once said that in politics “Disunity is Death”.
        Both Corbyn and our previously aspiring ALP leader Bill Shorten have learnt the hard way that so is policy ambiguity; Brexit with Corbyn and the f…… Adani coalmine with Shorten.
        Policy development and nuance (new what?) just don’t hack it in today’s dumbed down politics. All you need is a three ot four word slogan repeated ad nauseum.
        Make America Great Again,
        Get Brexit Done,
        Stop the Boats ( Tony Abbott)
        And having a constant Citizen Murdoch synchophant army pushing for you in the MSM helps too.

        Reply
        1. Anonymous 2

          “Disunity is Death”.

          And that in a nutshell is the problem for the non-Tory parties in the UK. Since 1974 only Blair has managed to challenge Tory dominance and he only did that while changing Labour into Tory-lite (one could spend a good deal of time arguing whether that was necessary but it is undeniably what he did).

          Old Labour (to distinguish it from New Labour) last won a substantial majority in a General Election in 1966, that is 53 years ago now. I remember that election and state with confidence that the social, economic and cultural environment in which that victory was achieved no longer exists. The UK has become a much more individualistic culture than it was in the 1960s. The great power of the trades unions is no more.There is no evidence IMO that that is going to change any time soon.

          A major problem for Labour has arisen as a result of the rise of the smaller parties – LibDems, Green, SNP, Plaid C. These now split the anti-Tory vote which in a FPTP system is hugely damaging to those who oppose the Tories. In the main these parties draw votes from people who in the past would have been more likely to vote Labour than Tory but will no longer, for various reasons, do so. Labour has not adjusted its mentality to the changed situation and appears to me simply to hope that the small parties will go away. Until they find a strategy (apart from Blairism) to adjust to this situation they are IMO doomed to opposition. In any event, as I mentioned earlier I think the Tories and Murdoch will now spend the next five years building structural features such as trade deals with the US which will make the government of the UK in any manner other than a Tory one simply impossible.

          Sorry to be a gloomster but IMO La Commedia e Finita. I doubt it is now much use arguing about who to blame

          Reply
    3. djrichard

      “2. … in fact the program looked unrealistic to many voters, who would have been sceptical of Labour being able to deliver it given the constrained realities of state finances.”

      Too bad that reality can’t be defeated. By a campaign that says the deficit doesn’t matter. Don’t even need to introduce MMT into the conversation. Just talk about how winners are more than happy to swap their currency hoards for bonds printed by the Sov Gov.

      Reply
  20. tegnost

    They have won a majority which will allow Boris Johnson to make sure Brexit happens next month.

    What happens when the dog catches the car will be fun to watch, well, make that interesting…

    Reply
      1. Tony Wright

        An overdue recession should add a heavy dose of spice as well.
        2008 repeated? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet…
        The rows of financial dominoes are longer and more interconnected this time and the mountains of sovereign debt worldwide mean no bail out safety net when the manure next hits the fan.

        Reply
  21. Lee

    It was indeed all about Brexit. But Brexit was never about leaving the EU. For Leave, it was about ridding the U.K. body politic of a nasty infestation of authoritarian Liberalism vine weevils which had preyed on the U.K. at will, for all species of parties, for twenty years.

    The above from Clive caught my eye. It would seem to indicate a reassertion of the primacy of the nation state as a potential brake on supra-national, neoliberal power more removed and unaccountable to citizens of any given national polity. As to how this increased voter leverage within the UK might play out, that remains to be seen.

    Perhaps mistakenly, I have the impression that the UK is dependent upon trade for some key material necessities and that trade disruptions could produce further austerities that will not be suffered with silent stiff upper lips.

    Reply
    1. JTMcPhee

      Maybe in medical terms, the body politic had parasites infesting its gut, but the medicine administered just demolished the gut biome and freed the parasites to eat the rest of the organs…

      Reply
      1. Lee

        OTOH, one might assume that the national electorate might more easily alter the course of a single state than is the case as part of a larger entity. But swerves to the either the left or the right or some combination of both are certainly possible. As to the latter case, some years ago Robert Reich offered this conjecture as to what that would look like in the USA:

        The platform of the [hypothetical] Independence Party, as well as its message, is clear and uncompromising: zero tolerance of illegal immigrants; a freeze on legal immigration from Latin America, Africa and Asia; increased tariffs on all imports; a ban on American companies moving their operations to another country or outsourcing abroad; a prohibition on “sovereign wealth funds” investing in the United States. America will withdraw from the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund; end all “involvements” in foreign countries; refuse to pay any more interest on our debt to China, essentially defaulting on it; and stop trading with China until China freely floats its currency.
        Profitable companies will be prohibited from laying off workers and cutting payrolls. The federal budget must always be balanced. The Federal Reserve will be abolished.
        Banks will be allowed only to take deposits and make loans. Investment banking will be prohibited. Anyone found to have engaged in insider trading, stock manipulation, or securities fraud will face imprisonment for no less than ten years.

        Robert Reich: 2010 Aftershock: The Next Economy and America’s Future

        Reply
  22. Olivier

    How long till Nicola Sturgeon (or her successor) is given a triumphal reception in France as the PM of the once again independent nation of Scotland? Paris needs to start thinking about how much éclat it wants to give to the reunion, as it cannot be far off.

    Reply
    1. Colonel Smithers

      Merci, Olivier.

      J’ai hate assister a une telle reunion. Et pourquoi pas une belle reception a Saint-Germain?

      La partie ecossaise de ma famille est venue en France en 1715, peu après le vieux pretendant. Une dizaine d’annees plus tard, la famille est partie a Maurice.

      Reply
  23. skk

    To say because.. “Leave” is not enough. You’ve gotta ask WHY is Leave so popular in traditional working class areas ? I lived in the NW and NE of England for 5 years in the late 70s’/early ’80s – Liverpool 8(Toxteth) ( !) and Middlesbrough ( South Bank ! ), living amongst the working class – by choice and circumstances. I watched the deindustrialization take place – car manufacture, docks, steel works, petrochemicals, shipyards. Later it was coal-mining. These industries were not just jobs but also a way of life to people going back several generations. And that was under threat.
    At that time race as in people of sub-continent origin people and Afro- Caribbeans was the popular rallying point. The tensions were severe. Enough to disgust me, abandon campaigning for the working class and move down South.
    That aspect of race has clearly dissipated. But now its poorer European people(white ! ) who are identified as the cause. You can’t say racism but you can say ‘xenophobia’ . Thus BRExit. Thus Leave – in those areas. And if one supported Leave, for other reasons – e.g. “what the EU did to Greece”, one still had to be uncomfortably aware of the unsavory company one kept.
    Unsavory – but they have a point. As they had a point 30 years earlier. You can keep pointing to capitalism as the real underlying cause but that clearly is a spent message.

    But the tensions within intellectuals of the left parties between “workers of all countries unite” versus “socialism in one country” are over a century old – in the communist parties it was crystalized in the split between Trotskyism and Stalinist/Maoism.

    Now its the Social-Democratic parties turn. A split is best – between the Dennis Skinner “Beast of Bolsover” ( what a shock that was to see him walk the plank ) ilks and the remainers like the Blairites, IMO.

    OTOH, while the notions of working class/proletariat are quite valid in the poor nations, and also the manufacturing nations like China, maybe the notions of “what is the working class/proletariat” in the WEST where service jobs dominate need to be thoroughly reworked. I was asking this question back in the ’80s ! With no answers.
    It will be interesting to see this evolve. Meantime many people are hurt in the process.

    Reply
    1. Lee

      Perhaps class would be better determined by one’s relationship to capital— what degree of control does one have over how much of it. To what extent do one’s earnings from labor reflect one’s value in the service to those who control capital vs. the value of one’s labor to society overall. The argument that relatively privileged workers in developed nations are, with their capitalist overlords, sharers in the surplus value generated from the periphery as well as from their own subaltern internal populations was always a hard to sell to the previously relatively well off working classes of developed countries. What with austerity, occupational dislocation and the like, it hasn’t gotten any easier, and its validity more in question.

      Reply
      1. skk

        Yeah.. the idea of a share of the superprofits which results in a labour artistocracy was definitely a hard-sell. Don’t I remember that heh ! But of course, if true, why should the labour aristocracy give up that share, at least voluntarily – come to that why fight against capitalism ( imperialism in Lenin’s formulation ) while the share continues ?

        And that share of the superprofits, if it exists, comes not just directly in higher wages but also social benefits -like the NHS, unemployment and disability and pension benefits, council housing.
        As you say – then austerity came along – and the huge cuts in these social benefits.

        Now Boris promises to end it. What with ? MMT I suppose. It will totally be a fascinating period we’ll be watching.

        Reply
  24. Ultrapope

    Question from a confused American: my assumption has always been that the Lib Dems and Blairite wing of Labour are both center-left, neoliberals. Are there any noteworthy differences in their ideologies? If not, are their differences mostly with regards to political strategy?

    Reply
    1. thene

      It’s perhaps best to think of the Lib Dems as an escape valve for England’s two-party system. Under Charles Kennedy (when Blair was PM) the Lib Dems ran to the left of Labour. Without having any fixed ideology, they introduce a profoundly different dynamic that the the US two-party system lacks. For example, historically the Lib Dems have been most effective at winning by-elections – one-offs that occur between general elections when a sitting MP resigns or dies. They’ve won by-elections even in constituencies that are usually safe Tory or Labour seats by mobilising protest votes against the sitting government, both from tactical voters and from peeling soft supporters away from the big 2 parties. Their best American parallel might be the mythical Independent Voters (ie ‘Independent’ voters don’t really exist, they’re for the most part just GOPers who hate being labelled as partisan). This is how the Clegg-Cameron regime happened.

      Reply
      1. jrs

        “‘Independent’ voters don’t really exist, they’re for the most part just GOPers who hate being labelled as partisan”

        or they are social democrats and further left who hate being labeled as Democrats, hence the independents that poll favorably for Sanders etc..

        Reply
    2. David

      Historically (ie in the 19th century) Liberals were middle class/professional/factory-owners/low church in opposition to Tory landowners/aristocracy/high church. When the Labour party was formed, it was largely based on working class support with an intellectual middle class component. Labour took over from the Liberals as Not The Tories after WW1, and the Liberals essentially declined into a small, rather agreeable party, on the right side of most issues, and acting as a safety valve for disaffected Tory or Labour voters. With Blair’s abandonment of any visible left-wing ideology, the difference between the two wasn’t always very clear.

      Reply
  25. Joe Well

    For any Americans (sorry to hijack, but I think that’s most of us reading this) who want to draw Corbyn:Sanders analogies, you can’t.

    1. Brexit was the defining issue in this election*, no parallel in the US.
    2. Bernie Sanders, rising in the polls, is on track to win the Dem. nomination against a clown car opposition just as Trump did last time. The 15% threshhold required to get any delegates makes this even more likely, since Bloomberg et al will just have the effect of keeping Buttigieg, Warren, et al from reaching the threshhold.
    3. All opinion polls show Americans swinging hard leftward on healthcare, inequality, and “defense,” and softer leftward on the environment.
    4. A bit harder to paint Sanders as an antisemite, though there surely will be attempts.

    *Michael Tracey on Brexit and this election:

    “2017 Labour manifesto declared that the Party “accepts the referendum result” and would deliver Brexit: they won seats, in defiance of polls. 2019 Labour manifesto promised another 6 months of Brexit agony and a second referendum: they are getting destroyed. No great mystery here”

    Reply
        1. RMO

          He will have the votes to be the nominee but I think there’s a good chance he won’t be. The Democrats manipulated the last primary against him and just remember what their defense was when taken to court for doing so: they do not need to run a fair primary or even follow their own party rules and can just have a handful of power brokers go into a room and decide who the candidate will be.

          Reply
          1. Tony Wright

            In which case the Democrats will hand the US ( and the rest of the planet, sadly) back to the tender mercies of Trump.
            Unless of course the next recession hits before November 2020, despite the ridiculous “keep inflating the bubbles” policies of the US Fed ( interest rates ridiculously low and the repo market ” not QE”, QE.
            Alice in Wonderland economics worldwide.

            Reply
      1. Plenue

        The only obstacle for Sanders is the Democratic Party itself. He’s second place in the (already heavily rigged) polls, and that’s with a media blatantly trying to sabotage him. If the Dems would just support him, they would have a candidate who will eat Trump alive.

        Reply
        1. John k

          They’re being well paid to stop Bernie. Donors don’t mind trump.
          Hopefully the large field splinters the status quo Hillary vote sufficiently they can’t stop him.

          Reply
    1. The Historian

      Sorry, but what happened in Great Britain IS going to happen here in 10 months if the Democrats don’t learn the lessons that are being shown to them in this election. You are looking at details when you should be looking at the big picture.

      1. No we don’t have Brexit but we have many other defining issues. One is Democratic Party hatred in this country. All those people who feel the Democratic Party betrayed them are going to have to be convinced otherwise, and I don’t see anyone even making an attempt to do that. Sanders is running on the Democratic Party ticket – he’s got to overcome that Democratic Party hatred and it won’t be easy. Do you think the Democratic Party will let him choose his own Vice Presidential candidate? As a person told me recently: “I’d vote for Bernie, but he’ll probably die in office and then we will get stuck with another Obama.”

      2. I don’t know what polls you are looking at or if it is just wishful thinking, but among those who don’t hate the Democratic Party, Biden still has a hefty lead. He’s going to have to fall on his sword to lose right now and I’m betting the Democratic Party has put in place protectors so that he doesn’t do that. And he has all the power of the press behind him like Johnson had, don’t discount or minimize that! Sanders is going to have to find other ways to market himself to reach the average person.

      3. Opinion polls are a dime a dozen and they only represent what people have been thinking in the last few days – any good demagogue can change them at will. And Trump is a much better demagogue than anything the Democrats have – he at least connects with the angst that is happening in this country. And when given a choice between social programs and jobs, people always vote jobs.

      4. Do you think antisemitism was the reason Corbyn lost? Don’t you think it had more to do with his lack of charisma and his inability to connect to the average citizen?

      If the Democrats – and that includes Sanders – refuse to look at the big picture of what happened in Great Britain, they are going to go the way of the Labour Party – and that is the only thing obvious about any of this.

      Don’t get me wrong. I hope Bernie wins, but do not in any way underestimate the battle that it will take for him to get the nomination or think that somehow it is a “done deal” right now.

      Reply
      1. voteforno6

        Remember when it was impossible for Trump to win? Good times.

        It seems that Labour had problems taking firm positions on any number of things. I don’t think that’s a problem with Sanders.

        Reply
        1. The Historian

          Do you remember how Trump won? Do you think Bernie can do that?

          Trump got lots of press, most of it negative, but so what. How much press does Bernie get?

          Trump has an amazing flair for the dramatic. Most of what he said was half truths to outright lies but it did get people’s attention. Do you think Bernie is willing to do that? Would you respect him if he did?

          Bernie has a MUCH harder battle than Trump had – I hope Bernie can win, but I wouldn’t bet my house on it.

          Reply
          1. Anon

            Your comment reveals more about the electorate than it does Sanders’. Combine the bias of the MSM, ruthless gerrymandering, voter suppression, and a presidential electoral system that benefits low-population states (the median pop. of all the states is under 5 million, the population of the top 10 states is ~160 million. Texas has 755k people per electoral vote while Vermont has 205K people per electoral vote).

            A winner-take-all-votes system that focuses attention on “battle ground” states and not the population at large is problematic.

            Reply
          2. Plenue

            Sanders will not only win, he’ll pull the rug out from under Trump by sucking away many of the marginal votes that went to Trump out of either a desire to smash the system, or out of desperate hope he might fix their economies. The only problem Sanders might have in the general is the diehard Clintontards who would rather Trump win than the New Deal be reborn (Thomas Frank once pointed out that for the Clinton types their entire political lives have been defined by a repudiation of their parent’s legacy. Sanders represents a kind of nightmare return of something they though they had defeated).

            Reply
            1. RMO

              “Do you remember how Trump won? Do you think Bernie can do that?”

              If you mean how Trump won the election I think Bernie can – despite the fact he will have all of the media and much of the Dem party elite actively trying to take him down. If you mean how Trump won the nomination, I’m less hopeful. The old saying about how the Republicans fear their base while the Democrats loathe theirs comes into play. Trump was popular enough with the base that keeping him from the nomination through underhanded manipulation likely would have damaged the party severely and the Republican elite were scared to do risk it. I have doubts that the equivalent people in the Democratic party wouldn’t prefer blowing the party sky high over letting Sanders win even if his support from the base becomes overwhelming.

              Reply
              1. John k

                He wins if the base overwhelms… problem is, the dem base is divided between left and right. This means winning the nom is the bigger problem.
                Indies by def don’t like either party policies, very receptive imo to progressive policies. And indies at 40% are a third larger than either party.
                The general should be easier, not at all close. Maybe wins as many repubs as Hillary dems that vote trump. Likely wins senate. There would be some surprises, maybe Tx.

                Reply
    2. Chauncey Gardiner

      Hope you’re right, Joe Well. On the News yesterday evening when early UK voting results showed Johnson winning, one of the featured “analysts” said there are lessons in the British voting results for candidates in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. Seems to me the Neoliberal self-labeled “Moderates” of the Dem establishment are again singing that same ol’ tired song, “Triangulation”.

      Reply
  26. Bert Schlitz

    Its all over forwarding Brexit, which people are tired off. Overrated election in general. I could knock off 50 Tory votes right now. When debt deflation begins, they are screwed. Sometimes you gotta job to reality. Labour essentially were jobbers.

    Reply
  27. Joe Well

    Is the Tory reign of terror already getting started?

    From Twitter

    “I can this morning announce that as government advisor on antisemitism that I will be instigating an investigation this January into the role of the Canary and other websites in the growth of antisemitism in the United Kingdom.” –someone named Lord (of course) John Mann

    Reply
  28. GeoCrackr

    One thing I’m wondering, which nobody seems to have mentioned yet, is the role of electronic (i.e. hackable) voting machines in the UK election and how reliable the results really are. Personally I haven’t trusted the results (much less the post-election analysis) of any US election in the last 20 yrs, after I first started seeing the documented evidence of election fraud in key precincts/states. We all know how vulnerable electronic vote tabulation is, and how “discrepancies” always favor conservatives — does anybody know whether the voting system(s) in the UK are subject to this?

    Reply
    1. Musicismath

      Voting in Britain is very low-tech. It takes place in local schools, churches, and village halls. You report to a scrutineer, who checks you off against the list of voters registered to vote in your electorate. You’re given a voting form, a wan little single-page sheet of the kind that would normally come into your letter box advertising cleaning services or the local fete. You then take this to the voting booth and use a pencil stub to make a cross in the box next to the name of your preferred candidate. You fold your form over, place it in a ballot box while overseen by a scrutineer, and then you’re done. After voting finishes, the ballot boxes are taken away and the voting forms in each one are then counted by hand by counting teams in full view of scrutineers.

      My own electorate was supposedly up for grabs by Labour this election; instead, it went Tory with a 4-figure majority, the Conservative candidate taking upwards of 50% of the vote. Judging by some of the dodgy conversations I’ve overheard in the local pub lately, I am not in the least bit surprised by or suspicious of that result.

      Reply
      1. stan6565

        Exactly so. Very pedestrian but very transparent.

        You get a voting card a year or more before the election. It is tied to your permanent place of residence, where you pay your council tax. This would be property tax in the States I think. Second homes are so declared on voting registers, so you don’t get to vote twice.

        I thought, the only way to rig the system would have been to intercept the ballot boxes on their way to counting, open them up and quickly scrub out the undesirable votes and replace them with correct votes and then present that to a sports hall full of witnesses looking at officials opening and counting the votes.

        I don’t think even Darth Wader could have pulled that one.

        Reply
  29. DHG

    Brexit only happens if it fits Gods purposes and the Anglo-American world power still remains fully functional in its present form.

    Reply
  30. stan6565

    Apologies Yves ; copying from your intro,

    Clive said it best: He summed up everything in one.

    It was indeed all about Brexit. But Brexit was never about leaving the EU. For Leave, it was about ridding the U.K. body politic of a nasty infestation of authoritarian Liberalism vine weevils which had preyed on the U.K. at will, for all species of parties, for twenty years. Invidious, insidious and you couldn’t tell it was in your political party plant pot until it was way too late. By the time you saw the leaves wilting and the flowers dropping off, it was too late. They got everywhere — Labour (Blair, Campbell, Mandelson), the Conservatives (Osbourne, Grieve, most of the Cameron era intake) and the Liberal Democrats (Clegg). The BBC was full of them, as was academia. The civil service, too. It was time to clear house and Brexit was the way to flush them out.

    For Remain, EU membership was simply about stymying the Conservatives. A lot of Leave’ers neither knew nor cared what the EU was, how it worked, what its ideological direction of travel is, what its policies are and how it operated behind the scenes in terms of its internal politicking and power plays. It really didn’t matter to huge swathes of Leave’ers — it impinged on right-wing governments, whatever the electorate had decided in that political cycle, and that was all that mattered.

    That is exactly how it was seen in the street. The whole matter got greatly exarcebated by the two years of blockade in the remain parliament. Voters watched it on the telly, aghast.

    Now that the democratic process has been liberated, I hope our PM, Mr Boris Johnson, will rise to the challenge, pacify the still hurting detractors and move us towards a new and better place that we voted for.

    Reply
      1. Titus

        2 Things, he is policy agnostic. He is about obtaining and using power like LBJ. 2.Dominic Cummings is no one’s fool he just won this election as he has every other ‘vote’ he has decided to take on. Boris will take the advice given to him because he wishes to stay in power. In no way is Boris getting to decided anything on his own.

        Reply
        1. Mirdif

          Dom Cummings is a moron. Head off over to his blog to read his ramblings. Just another thick arts graduate who almost knows almost something. The postscript on the ruin he’s about to cause will not be kind.

          Reply
  31. skk

    On a note of trivia – or perhaps quite meaningful, I noticed that Neil Hughes was the Liberal Democrat candidate in Workington. He got 1500 votes. Neil WHO you ask ?
    Those who’ve watched the awards-winning 7UP documentary series – which has followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old, revisiting them, those that are alive and wish to participate, every 7 years and making another documentary. Its now at 63UP. Those who’ve watched the series will know exactly who I mean. I’ve followed the series religiously ever since it was part of the curriculum for my 1 and only semester in Humanities – Social Psychology.

    Neil had bounced around quite a lot. To see him pop up on screen in this election was quite a surprise. And perhaps meaningful too – of where England is at.

    Here’s the vid of the declaration of the results in Workington : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hIThlzTuPK8

    Neil is on the far right.

    Reply
  32. Maurice

    So Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party lost workers’ votes while trying to get urban middle classes’ vote and trying to look respectable in the eyes of the establishment. In the 1980s, the French Communist Party more or less pursued the same policy, and got the same results: being wiped out.

    Since then, French workers have been without political representation to speak of. With industrial production being moved to other countries, French workers have been relegated out of main cities (and have thus been unable to culturally integrate newcomers as they used to do: il was the end of the “French model” of assimilation (Michèle Tribalat, 2013)). In a desperate attempt to fix things, the French launched the Yellow Vests Movement a year ago and are now striking in great numbers to stop a pensions’ reform where they have much to lose. Will the current French president be up to the task of finding a way out? That is somewhat doubtful, as he is said to dine every week with Bernard Arnault, the richest man in France, and hasten to do what he is told.

    Despite obvious physical differences the French president is no less clownish than Boris Johnson and from the actions of both, ordinary citizens can expect little. So let us see what kind of British potential Boris Johnson is about to let loose. Chances are that it will be the equivalent of France’s greatness according to Emmanuel Macron, that is not much, at least in the short term. In the long term, we are all dead. But let us hope that in the meantime, our British friends will finally work things out, preferably with no civil war, or, if the are to repeat their own history, with a short one.

    Reply
    1. Mirdif

      Galloway had been saying for a number of weeks the Labour party will be crushed in the election. He also said, he wished it was not so as he’s from the same left wing as Corbyn.

      I’m looking forward to the next decade as I suspect the Tories will still be in power for that long at least meaning the craziness of that idiot Dom Cummings is about to be unleashed on the civil service and there’s lots of money to be made from the ensuing chaos…err change management.

      Reply
  33. skippy

    So let me see the whole Brexit thingy was predicated on expressions of liberty and freedom, but to whom, not that Tories enforced austerity and then fat fingered the E.U. and immigrants as the culprits.

    And after all of this its labours fault for not providing a counter narrative to the neoliberal machinations when the MSM and every other cultural orifice is engaged in moralistic bombast about the one party that has had no agency for yonks – ????

    The U.K. has been far right wing since Thatcher and completely, subservient to the U.S. neoliberal agenda, that they could not force Russia or China to bend to their will now is a PR marketing propaganda psyopt to avail themselves of their own agency come home to roost.

    Reply
    1. Clive

      Strangely, I’ve just been watching a BBC political punditry panel programme (the usual suspects included).

      The pro-EU corespondents, who are the archetypal centrists you tend to get on such shows, in response to a suggestion by the (largely token) Leave-supporting journalist that Johnson would (with his somewhat flexian ideological attachments) be willing to splash the cash a little on public services, the NHS in particular, asked “but where is the money going to come from? we can’t have overt fiscal irresponsibility in a low-growth economic environment…”

      It’s a funny old world.

      Reply
      1. skippy

        Not pro anything attached to dominate economic thought during the period in question, although there are various degrees of application and late stage symptoms.

        “we can’t have overt fiscal irresponsibility in a low-growth economic environment”

        See above.

        The Tories ran on a simple platform that everything was somebody else fault and as goats divine managers they were the ones to fix it all. We were even getting media down under that Australia would seriously have to consider its security sharing if Corbyn was elected. I mean how hard is it to put the electorates head on backwards considering the onset of ME wars.

        Reply
        1. Clive

          No, the Tories did not run on a platform that everything was somebody else’s fault.

          They ran on a platform that there was no longer sufficient numbers of the people who wanted to remain in the EU, a referendum had been held where this was confirmed but even though Remain has had three and a half years to try to modify the environmental condition of the electorate and reshape the narratives, they had been unable to achieve this.

          Rather than give Remain another three and a half years of trying, it was time to say “enough, already”.

          This proved to be a winning policy response.

          Reply
  34. Mirdif

    Two questions arise from the result:

    1 – How does London manage the secessionist tendencies in Northern Ireland and Scotland. My feeling is Northern Ireland is going to be part of a federal structure with the Republic of Ireland within a decade. Most likely wide devolved powers will live at Stormont until the time is ripe to integrate it. There doesn’t seem to be the appetite in Dublin.

    Scotland is the more difficult one – how long before the SNP try the Catalan stunt? Amusing that for all the nonsense about the EU collapsing it’s the United Kingdom that may yet collapse. I think some of the EU go-softly approach is to prevent such a collapse happening any time soon.

    2 – Does Johnson string out the FTA negotiations over a decade or does he sign the pre-prepared FTA that the EU no doubt has waiting in one of it’s filing cabinets? If he does the former the EU will likely sequence the talks and introduce cliff edge after cliff edge to bend London to its will and the resultant uncertainty will ruin the symbolic manufacturing of cars when the Japanese close their plants. If he does the latter the FTA is signed next year but without a transition period built in to it, it will be as close to no deal as to mean no difference and those car manufacturers will be gone in 12 months. Even with a transition it gives those manufacturers until the end of the FTA transition, if there is one, to close the plants. The same can be said for financial services and chemicals manufacturers.

    He might go for this latter scenario and hope the economic pain has been forgotten by the 2024 election.

    In all cases the country is screwed.

    Reply
  35. Summer

    “Clive, who among other things goes outside London from time to time, was one of the few who has been consistent from the outset in predicting a big Tory victory. By contrast, the Financial Times last night was wobbly on Tory prospects for a solid win.”

    I’ll bet the Labour Party had all kinds of Mckinsey-like consultants on this thing…they should have just sent out Clive.

    Reply

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