Tuesday 17 December 2019 4:36 AM UTC
By Tom C
LONDON Dec 17: We can summarise the causes of the failure of Jeremy Corbyn and Labour in the recent general elections into following six points.
1.The fluctuating strategic relationship of the labour party to capitalism played out through a variety of internal tendencies. In particular, an exploration of the long term disconnection by an increasingly metropolitan out of touch labour party apparatus with its historic working class constituencies; the historic tension built into its original alliance between a socially conservative trade union based mass movement and a narrow liberally minded centralist academic intellectual elite.
2.The more recent emergence of Corbynism as a left tendency project through the dynamic of its infiltrationist shadow party Momentum and the exacerbation of the tensions alluded to above.
The lean towards a more radical critique of capitalism neo-liberalism globalisation, anti imperialism and in particular anti-Zionist discourse and its elision with anti- semitism.Note however, this tendency did nothing to reconnect with the neglected and left behind labour heartlands- on the contrary it created further drift from socially conservative working class voters
3.These divisions and internal ruptures were enshrined in an incoherent Brexit policy (in effect a hidden remain posture) that was interpreted in the historic labour heartlands as a rank class betrayal of the working class referendum vote to leave the EU .
In short just as the working class took the opportunity to punish the remain supporting metropolitan elite in 2016, it again exercised what little symbolic power it has to punish the labour party this time around.No doubt Brexit was a major cause of labour’s defeat. The working class can no longer be taken for granted and will lash out.
The Corbyn project ‘s existential threat to the establishment turned him into public enemy number one hence the tactic of an oscillating ‘two-faced’ demonisation, a systematic programme conducted by the media since his election as leader reaching fever pitch during the general election.
Given the socially conservative nature of the working class and the lingering racialised, xenophobic narrative of empire, Corbyn’s general anti imperialist stance ( seen as unpatriotic and unduly critical) and his long association with international resistance movements was always going to be deeply unpopular.
This was ruthlessly exploited by the establishment to create the myth of a pro-terrorist communist monster. At the same time – the other face of Corbyn – his poor track record of managing those tensions within the labour party outlined above , in particular the anti- semitism allegations, successfully made him out to ineffectual leader unfit therefore to govern the country.
4 So ‘brexit betrayal’ plus ‘demonisation’ combined to make any labour win problematic from the outset, especially after being manoeuvred into going into an election before brexit was resolved.
Having set out the rules of discourse the Tories conducted a brutally cynical campaign of lies and half truths using age old propaganda techniques of repeating simple mantras ab nauseam designed to cut out all reasonable discussion and debate.
Corbyn’s personal limitations as a debater to deconstruct this massive Tory stonewall – his inability to think on his feet, lack of intellectual alacrity, inability to ride the verbal blows and counter punch, the rather wooden ponderous big ideas presentational style, refusal to personalise the debate and on- was just not suited to the demands of the moment.
5. All this was compounded by trying to present and defend a over complex over promised manifesto that was added to with ad hoc blatant electoral bribes in desperation, simply making matters worse. A manifesto designed for workers was rejected by at least enough workers.
A heavy long philosophically dense document with another explanatory costings booklet versus the Tory’s memorable four point mantra ( the christmas carol of get Brexit done, 50 000 nurses 20 000 police officers and 40 new hospitals ….)
6. What was left was a binary choice around personal appeal, charisma and trustworthiness where Corbyn lost out on all scores. In this hiatus, working class voters were invited to rediscover that old dormant voting habit of deferring to their class superiors who always know better, that curse which has afflicted all radical left movements.
It transpires Johnson the archetypal upper class eccentric buffoon but with a compensatory flattering common touch and his campaign team really knew the working class better than Corbyn and his team did.
So out of touch were the labour machine in the preposterous belief that a election victory was for the taking that it spent the first half of the campaign ignoring its disillusioned core voting bank to concentrate resources on winning Tory seats elsewhere, then waking up blinking in mounting disbelief but too little too late. Out smarted, out gunned, out manoeuvred, out of office.
(This report is a summary of discussion on the UK elections help in Birmingham by the discussion group: Inspire… to question..to explore..)
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