Labour: The Way Ahead

A superb article by Paul Mason, ex economics editor of Channel 4 News and Newsnight, and author of 'Postcapitalism — A Guide to Our Future':

Paul Mason
In the war movie The Way Ahead, David Niven is in charge of a platoon of working class conscripts, who skive their way through basic training. In their first real battle they’re forced to launch an attack on the elite Afrika Korps. As they go over the top Niven quips: “This is for the day on the training ground we missed”.

For the Labour left, the last five weeks have seen the same kind of payback. Last year’s victory was too easy: it felt like a bloodless revolution. But they’re never bloodless.

Corbyn won the leadership election in 2015 almost by accident. He wasted months trying to operate a “collegiate” shadow cabinet, half of whom turned out to be leaking and sabotaging everything he did, and preparing to overthrow him. The movement that brought him to power got shunted off into local ward meetings, got bored and demobilised. His own leadership operation was, at times, shambolic.

But the revolt of 170 Labour MPs following the Brexit referendum has now forced the left, unwillingly, to wage the fight that was always coming. With Corbyn assured of a place on the ballot paper, winning again will still be a challenge — but not the main one.

The real challenge is to make this leadership campaign the springboard for winning a general election. That, in turn, demands we spell out an alternative political strategy to the one inherited from Blair, Brown and Ed Miliband.

To do this involves facing the following facts squarely:

  • A hard-core of Labour coup plotters intend to destroy Labour as an effective opposition between now and 2020.
  • Corbyn to become prime minister means Labour will have to win as an insurrection or not at all (For the sake of clarity, this is a metaphor not an actual call for armed insurrection).
  • Labour has suddenly become a mass party. It can become, as Corbyn says, a social movement. But this would be something new in Labour politics and therefore difficult to achieve and hold together.
  • The route to power also involves Labour itself becoming a more formal alliance and, in turn, being prepared to make political alliances across party lines.

Understanding the coup

Day after day, the tactics of the coup plotters have evolved. It began with veteran Blairites, quickly spilled over into a disorientated group of soft-left young MPs and was organised in the background by the Blairite apparatus. The sole aim was to remove Corbyn: lest we forget, Angela Eagle launched her doomed campaign with not a single policy.

Then a pattern of political coercion emerged: create a spurious victim narrative so that the Labour membership, whose democratic decision was being stolen from them, could be portrayed as a bunch of mysogynist thugs.

Then Corbyn’s enemies on the NEC suspended the entire local apparatus of the party and excluded 130,000 recent joiners from the vote. They used millionaire money to attempt to get a court to exclude Corbyn from the ballot. They used the Sun and to encourage non-Labour voters to join the party defeat Corbyn. They dragged Labour’s reputation through the mud of tabloid journalism with slanders, willingly repeated in the broadcast media.....(continued here)

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