Owen Jones has an epiphany: centrist Labour MPs are responsible for the rise of Jeremy Corbyn
One of the annoying things about being part of Britain’s marginalised political blogging community (see what I did there?) is the regular insult of seeing ideas first expounded on this blog being subsequently “appropriated” by high profile, celebrity journalists who come late to the party and then claim all the credit (and pageviews) for ideas that they did not originate.
I stay up late into the night ranting sometimes (I hope) semi-original analysis into WordPress, and then three months later some SW1-dweller pops up on the Sky News paper review making the same point as though it is astonishingly fresh insight, getting paid for being late to the party and taking all of the credit.
Meanwhile, on a completely unrelated note, Owen Jones has worked out that Jeremy Corbyn did not sweep to the leadership of the Labour Party in a vacuum, and that the rise of Corbyn was only made possible because of the accumulated failings of Labour’s centrist MPs.
From Owen’s totally original Guardian column (my emphasis in bold):
There are many decent Labour MPs, but it is difficult to think of any with the stature of the party’s past giants: Barbara Castle, Nye Bevan, Ernie Bevin, Herbert Morrison, Margaret Bondfield, Harold Wilson, Stafford Cripps, Ellen Wilkinson. Machine politics hollowed out the party, and at great long-term cost. If, last year, there had been a Labour leadership candidate with a clear shot at winning a general election, Labour members might have compromised on their beliefs: there wasn’t, and so they didn’t.
[..] Corbyn’s harshest critics claimed superior political nous, judgment and strategy, then launched a disastrously incompetent coup in the midst of a post-Brexit national crisis, deflecting attention from the Tories, sending Labour’s polling position hurtling from poor to calamitous, and provoking almost all-out war between Labour’s membership and the parliamentary party: all for the sake of possibly gifting their enemy an even greater personal mandate. They denounce Corbyn’s foreign associations, but have little to say about former leader Blair literally having been in the pay of Kazakhstan’s dictator Nursultan Nazarbayev, whose regime stands accused of torture and the killing of opponents. Corbyn’s bitterest enemies preach the need to win over middle-class voters, then sneer at Corbynistas for being too middle class (even though, as a point of fact, polling last year found that Corbyn’s voters were the least middle class). They dismiss Corbynistas as entryists lacking loyalty to the Labour party, then leak plans to the Telegraph – the Tories’ in-house paper – to split the party.
It is the absence of any compelling vision that, above all else, created the vacuum Corbyn filled. Despite New Labour’s many limitations and failings, in its heyday it offered something: a minimum wage, a windfall tax on privatised utilities, LGBT rights, tax credits, devolution, public investment. What do Corbyn’s staunchest opponents within Labour actually stand for? Vision was abandoned in favour of finger-wagging about electability with no evidence to back it up.
Corbyn’s opponents have long lacked a compelling vision, a significant support base and a strategy to win. When Labour fails at the ballot box, its cheerleaders are often accused of blaming their opponents rather than examining their own failures.
The same accusation can be levelled now at Corbyn’s opponents. They are, by turns, bewildered, infuriated, aghast, miserable about the rise of Corbynism. But they should take ownership of it, because it is their creation. Unless they reflect on their own failures – rather than spit fury at the success of others – they have no future. Deep down, they know it themselves.
Slow hand clap. Finally, acknowledgement from a “mainstream” political commentator of what this blog has been saying consistently, even back when a Jeremy Corbyn victory in the leadership election was seen as an absurdity.
Jeremy Corbyn did not become leader of the Labour Party in a vacuum. A cloud did not suddenly descend on Labour Party members, making them crazy and amenable to markedly more left-wing politics. There was no extraneous event on which blame can be pinned, save Ed Miliband’s disastrous tenure as Labour leader, culminating in the 2015 general election victory. The problems are far more deeply rooted, and go way back beyond Ed Miliband and Gordon Brown.
Good job, Owen.
Of course, readers of this blog will know that I have been consistently making the same point, repeatedly, stretching back well before the 2015 general election:
So well done Owen. You got there in the end, nearly a year late.
But now that this blog’s ideas have been given voice by the boy wonder, maybe they will actually receive some due consideration and debate.
Who needs acknowledgement or recognition or money or credit, anyway?
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