The Tories and Blairites were ideologically hidebound fools to underestimate Corbyn (Robert Henderson)


Robert Henderson

Note: Robert has his own views on these matters, and I will not contest them. All I will say is that a Corbyn leadership probably would hobble Labour for years to come. In that case, the rest of us would have little reason to vote Conservative, and UKIP, or a UKIP successor, would tend to replace Labour as the opposition. This would force the Conservatives to be more conservative. SIG

The attitude of Tories towards Jeremy Corbyn ranges from amused condescension to an unseemly childlike and profoundly undemocratic glee as they dream of a country with no serious political opposition to hinder them . Blairites respond with poorly disguised incredulity to the probability that a man who does not buy into the NuLabour credo will become the next Labour leader and gnash their teeth and wail that a Corbyn led Labour Party will be at best cast into the wilderness of opposition for a decade or more and at worst rent asunder never to be a serious political force again. In the mainstream media, most of whom have sold their souls to the idea of free markets, free trade and the general paraphernalia of globalism, articles and editorials forecast the end of days if Corbyn becomes Prime Minister.

Interestingly, this hysteria has not diminished Corbyn’s popularity one wit and will probably help fuel his rise to what promises to be victory in the leadership race without the second preferences being counted. Why has Corbyn garnered so much support? The quick answer is he offers an alternative to the free market, free trade religion which has been fed incessantly to the public for decades as the only possible economic system for a modern state.

This immediately gives the man pull with those who have old Labour values, but he has attracted a much wider range of support. The young have flocked to his meetings. Surprising at first glance in view of Corbyn’s age, but readily understandable when it is remembered that British politicians generally have either failed to comprehend or refused to admit that the world they have created over the past 30-40 years is much tougher and more uncertain for today’s young than it was for them when they were young, with housing now hideously expensive, well paid jobs difficult to come by and university education leaving graduates with a debt of £40,000 or more and no suitable jobs to go to. Corbyn is offering concrete policies to help them, not least a huge social housing programme.

But it is not just the young who are suffering. There are millions of older people of working age through to those in retirement who no longer live a life with any real security, as they struggle with ever increasing private rents and zero-hours contracts. Corbyn speaks to them as he speaks to the young.

Finally, there are the huge numbers of people from across the political spectrum who detested the wars which Blair dragged Britain into and have a strong animus towards Blair himself. Corbyn shares their views, going so far as to state that Blair should be tried for war crimes.

Why did the British political class so misread Corbyn’s potential? The Tories as a breed are simply insensitive in their approach to the poorer sections of society. This is epitomised by their inability to understand that to those living lives of great economic uncertainty there is nothing more enraging than to be constantly told the colossal lie “We are all in this together” by rich politicians, as happened in so often Britain after the Lehmann crash in 2008. They simply assumed that those who were not comfortably off and secure in their jobs and housing could be ignored.

The most striking thing about the Corbyn phenomenon is not that he looks as though he will win the leadership election with policies which bear some resemblance to Labour’s old core values. No, the real eye-opener is how out of touch the Labour elite have become with the lives of ordinary people. They either believed they could manipulate the vote to get the result they wanted no matter what the electoral process was or so believed the Blairite gospel of free markets and globalisation that they simply could not conceive of people voting for someone who had the audacity to suggest that Old Labour ideas of state ownership and a disengagement from military adventures were the way forward. Whichever reason it was, the Labour leadership was willing to agree to a new electoral process which chooses the party leader on the basis of a one man one vote with the vote granted to not only existing party members , but also to affiliated union members and every Tom, Dick and Harry who coughed up £3 to register as a supporter..

The potential dangers for the Blairites in such a system (entryism from the left, enemies of the Labour Party voting and so on) should have been obvious, but they would have remained unimportant had Corbyn been unable to get sufficient support from Labour MPs to go on the ballot form. If there was no Corbyn in the race all that would have been left were varieties of Blairite to choose between. The Labour elite’s blind belief in the unshakable dominance of Blairism is shown in the readiness of Labour MPs to give Corbyn enough votes to put him on the ballot. Many who gave him their vote admitted it was simply to ensure there was a left wing candidate in the leadership, race much as Diane Abbott was placed on the ballot for the previous leadership election. When Corbyn entered the race his candidature was treated as a joke by the Tories and as of no more than a sentimental wave to Labour’s past.

In summary Corbyn is running rings around the other candidates because:

1) He offers something different. With him there is an alternative. The Blairites have been so feeble because like all dominant politicians they have not had to argue their case within Labour for a very long time. They ended up believing their own propaganda. Moreover, their case was never strong because Blairism is essentially Tory-lite plus political correctness writ large.

Blair hollowed out the Labour Party of all its core values: Thatcher did the same for the Tory Party. All we are left with are two neo-liberal internationalist parties wedded to globalism and political correctness. Corbyn is offering the chance of restoring some of those lost values to Labour.

2) Blairites and Tories are portraying Corbyn as a member of the extreme left. This is objectively wrong. Had Corbyn been putting forward his present ideas thirty years ago as Labour MP he would have faced accusations of being a centrist sell-out. Worse for the Blairites they do not understand that many people who are not rabidly left wing would welcome the energy companies, water companies, the Royal Mail and British Rail being returned to public ownership because they understand instinctively that absolutely essential aspects of the economy should be in public hands. For such people this does not seem like leftwingery but a government just looking after the national interest. Ditto protectionist measures to protect British industry.

3) The people who attack him including the other candidates and many Labour MPs offer no real argument against him. All they do is point at him and say either that he is absurd or is living in the past. They offer no real argument against what he proposes. On economics his opponents simply assume that anyone who does not unreservedly buy into the laissez faire religion is either mad or bad. The Tories and the Blairites are both making the mistake of imagining that pointing at Corbyn and shouting “socialist”, “looney left”, “nationalisations”, “unions” will make him profoundly politically toxic to the British electorate.

4) When he is attacked over potentially seriously damaging issues such as being rather too eager to sup with terrorists or the anti-semitic, his accusers go way over the top. For example, on his supposed equivalence between Isis and the USA in Iraq, Corbyn has condemned Isis pretty emphatically and simply said that where the USA has behaved badly it is reasonable to say that should be condemned as well. Or take his wish to see the railways renationalised by letting the licenses run out. All the laissez faire gentry are saying it cannot be done because of the cost and legal quibbles over ownership of assets such as rolling stock. This is obvious nonsense because the East Coast line was taken back into public ownership without any cost or difficulty and run efficiently. The effect of such exaggeration negates the criticism which could reasonably be put on Corbyn.

5) In the present circumstances Corbyn has the priceless asset of not having an aggressive personality. That makes the increasingly angry attacks on him seem absurd.

6) Corbyn actually answers questions rather than trotting out soundbites. Moreover, his answers mostly show he has been well prepared on anything which is likely to crop up. You may not agree with his policies – I disagree with many of them – but at least Corbyn presents a coherent plan of action for this policies.

7) He doesn’t panic when asked awkward questions.

8) Unlike the three other candidates Corbyn is a recognisable human being, someone untrammelled by focus groups and advisers or years in office being controlled by the party elite

  1. The other candidates haven’t got an ounce of personal authority between them. You watch them robotically trot out the NuLabour mantras and think, God, is this the best the Labour Party can do for a leader?

All that Corbyn promises may well turn out to be pie-in-the-sky. But that is to miss the valuable public service the man is doing. If Corbyn becomes leader, and perhaps even if he does not but makes a strong showing, the timeworn consensus between the Tory and Labour Parties will be broken. That alone would be a healthy development because it would force not merely the Labour Party to develop and justify its ideological position but also shift the Tory Party from a blind belief in laissez faire economics.

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6 thoughts on “The Tories and Blairites were ideologically hidebound fools to underestimate Corbyn (Robert Henderson)

  1. Robert, this idea of democracy as a closed shop where all the parties must have the same philosophy is absurd. I welcome broader debate. I would vote Labour if that party promised to halve property prices. They could do that by preventing anyone from having a mortgage on more than one property, and requiring banks to foreclose on all other mortgage debts and send the properties to auction with no reserve! End housing benefit and institute a land value tax. That would get my vote.

  2. It is not likely that Corbyn will last five years or ever contest an election. How the Tories will get back to the ace position of conservative is not clear, nor why they overlooked it as the natural ruling position in the first place; not just in England, but anywhere in the world! The thicko SNP is seen as conservative up north. 

  3. Let me make clear that I do not believe or hope that Corbyn will have the opportunity to put all his promised policies in action. I could not support his stance on immigration, English Votes for English Laws, defence including Trident or what you may be sure would be more repressive pc laws to stifle debate, Corbyn primary role is as a catalyst to breach the laissez faire consensus and end the “There is no alternative” totalitarian ideology we have at present.

    But Corbyn, although a strange bedfellow, also has great utility for our cause if he comes down firmly in favour of leaving the EU. To have the leader of one of our two major parties campaigning to come out would be a massive boost to the OUT campaign.

    As for the policies Corbyn puts forward which are unpalatable such as open borders immigration to all intents and purposes, it is very improbable that he would be able to get the Labour Party top adopt them. It is interesting that Corbyn keeps on saying that the policies he outlines are not written in stone and up for debate within the Party.

  4. This is a reply to your stint, Robert. Thanks for you reply to me.

    Why you feel democracy has merit is not clear, Robert. My best guess is that you have simply yet to think about it. I recommend Political Parties (1911) Robert Michels and A Pure Theory of Democracy (1918) William Hurrell Mallock.

    Corbyn is the most complete ignoramus, of course.

    The Labour Party will soon dump Corbyn, of course. It will be interesting to see how they go about it.

    The media have not sold their souls to the free market but rather to the state; or that might be the case if souls ever existed. Anyway, like you, the media love the state.

    Corbyn is only popular with fools who love the Lenin-Hitler outlook. Politics, including democracy, is worship of the jackboot and a sheer hatred of liberty. Fascist politics is a pleonasm; be it red fascism or brown. The vote is even more totalitarian. Maybe we ought to vote to see if you can use the toilet.

    Corbyn will win the current contest. He has most of the 40 000 newcomers to back him.
    As we do not have a free market, it is not having an alternative to that which boosts Corbyn. Instead it is the crass ignorance of the 40 000 newcomers.

    Economics is not for the anti-social state and its policy, is it? The state cannot be economic. It can only abuse the people. It has to tax and taxes are never economic.

    Why do you call liberalism a religion? It has never competed with the religions, but Marxism did. Liberalism is not exclusive but a religion usually is; though a few Indian ones are less jealous than the western ones.

    The market is the only economic system. That is one reason why the late USSR had to put up with it, as they admitted in 1921.

    Why do you worship the state, Robert? Are you a masochist?

    If you love the state then you ought to love war, as that is the main aim of the state. So if you love crass voting then why not love war?

    The media have not misread Corbyn’s potential, even though the 40 000 newcomers to the Labourites have.

    The Tories have gone Politically Correct [PC]. Why they abandoned the political ace conservative card is a mystery but like the Church of England and Christianity, both prefer PC to their avowed creed. Conservatives and Christians now look in vain as to where to go.

    Politics cannot do much for the poor. Best that the state is rolled back or got rid of entirely. Would that politics did ignore the people, it is the one thing that might help people.

    The Labour MPs who backed Corbyn did not expect 40 000 new voters. Had they done so then he would not have got the 35 MP backing that he needed to enter the contest.

    Thatcher did not clear out the Wets.

    No, they are not wrong to objectively call Corbyn “far left”. It is true that many say they would like to nationalise things but the Labour Party will not advocate it next time, Butskellism is dead.

    They do not need to make Corbyn a loser in any general election. He would have been such, even in the 1960s, or 1950s, when socialism was still the intellectual fashion. That you do not comprehend that means you need to reflect on political reality, Robert. You seem not to know what you are in love with.

    Why do you imagine that that liberalism has won out? Mrs T flirted with it, as did Sir Keith before her, that is all.

    No, the centre consensus is here to stay. It is centuries old now. It can only be broken by a new middle ground, as did happen in 1979.

    You do not like liberalism, do you? It is not about political policy but anti-politics.

    • You have completely misunderstood my view of Corbyn. I am not putting him forward as someone to admire or follow, merely as someone to act as a catalyst to break the current political consensus and possibly to aid Britain’s departure from the EU.

      I do not worship the state but recognise state power is necessary. In fact the vast majority of libertarians do because they at worst support the minimalist state. The question to be decided is not whether the state is good or bad but what should be its scope.

  5. I was not quite clear that my earlier comment got through, Robert, but thanks again for your reply.
    I disagree with politics itself in favour of complete liberalism and total free trade. So I guess you must see me as the opposition. However, I think pristine liberalism has no enemies, only the likes of Corbyn who mainly just ignorant. The solution to that is debate.

    Debate is institutionally co-operative; though most feel hostile at the personal level. Its aim is truth. Eristics and polemics are just grist to the mill of truth. The old Roman, Martial, said “he means well is no good unless he does well” and we can reverse that, to say that the debater meaning ill will cannot not be bad unless he does ill, and mere free speech usually just makes for truth.

    Similarly, politics is uneconomic and anti-social quite institutionally.

    There is no free trade consensus; yet. When there is then there can be no state. Free trade is trade free of the state. That is my cause. You are against it, but why? Do you hate people?

    In economics TINA is the case. We can either have the market system or the market system, but the USSR did outlaw the market: they painted it black in 1917 then part of it white in 1921. Even a white market remains a market.

    TINA is true. Why do you feel it is not?

    The EU aims at war: that is why I am against it. It talks peace but it aims at war.

    The UK coming out of the EU would be good but not the end of the EU menace. What is bad about the EU is that it is political.

    There is a slight chance that Corbyn could go from ideological politics to practical front bench politics. Trotsky did in the USSR.

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