Wednesday, 28 June 2017

The Corbyn conundrum

The power of the cult in British politics is growing.  The adherents of immolation who promote the myth of Tory Brexit, usually distinguishable by a monobrowed rejection of any sentence that contains more than one clause and words with more than one syllable, continue their selfish path to destruction, now supported by a peace-threatening bribe to a tribe of Neanderthal thugs.  At the same time, there remain a core of Jeremy Corbyn's followers who have a messianic urge to both claim the right to govern and to dismiss the concerns and plurality that has led to his current near-success.

My views on the Tories would remain constant, were they not continually finding new depths of amoral cupidity into which they can descend.  It is a sad reflection of the corruption of discourse that Philip Hammond now seems like a reasonable, well-adjusted paragon of the centre-right, although his liberation by May's monumental blunder is at least resulting in some subtle, well-argued baiting of the fascists, lunatics and dribblers epitomised by the quisling tendency.  Yet when even defenders of the right find it necessary to distance themselves from the blatant blackmail being foisted on May by the DUP, there is a febrility and uncertainty that renders the path ahead remarkably interesting but deeply unnerving.

One of the most satisfying elements of the General Election result is the extent to which the hubris and arrogance on all sides did not result in a decisive outcome.  You would be forgiven, however, for assuming that Labour had, by not winning, marched to victory on a level not seen since 1945.  There is also very little reflection taking place, at least by the Labour leadership, as to the various reasons that secured a vote for them and the avoidance of the annihilation that May and Crosby had sketched out for them.  Unless this is taken on board, then this support is not a plateau for garnering votes but a peak with an equally unappealing precipice.

Even with the apparent reinforcement of a two-party system, the Commons remains unrepresentative and totally unsuitable for a modern democratic chamber.  The only viable combinations of MPs to form a party-based administration are the DUP/Tory coalition of bigotry, or a grand coalition involving Tory and Labour.  Hardly flexible, or reflective of the advance of the centre-left at the expense of UKIP, which is the under-reported analysis of this election.  Labour cannot assume that "one more heave" will secure a majority, nor that this is a desirable outcome without commitment to causes that reach beyond tribal boundaries.

The psephologists will research the extent to which Labour's support was bolstered by those who shared two imperatives - stopping May from having a free ride for five years, and creating the possibility for a contemplation of how to minimise or eliminate the damage from the European folly.  The extent to which this group of voters is engaged and prepared to continue to support Labour will be critical, as it contains people who would, in a preferential world, choose them over the Tories but would otherwise support other parties.  This may be a substantial percentage of voters, whose support was not based around enthusiasm but a recognition that in a screwed-up system the needs of the hour had to dominate.

Corbyn is popular and playing an effective outsider card at the moment.  However, this does not necessarily translate into a simple path to power.  Scotland's snubbing through the DUP deal, and the tainting of Labour's brand through its complicity in anti-SNP propaganda may well play badly in the weeks and months to come.  Anger about austerity and perpetuation of the status quo could easily tip against Labour once it becomes clear that their endorsing of the Tory Brexit line will reduce any incoming government's room for manoeuvre.  Whether Labour can position itself around a more sensible and pragmatic position that allows for rowing back from their complicity in causing the mess is a key test - and galvanising and encouraging backbench revolt in the Tory ranks has to be a priority alongside continuing to campaign - the echo chamber's adulation may not be enough if there is a bitter second election in the near future.

Much of what was in the Labour manifesto was mainstream social democracy, and should be welcomed as such.  It is why support remains high, and needs to be built on - although there is part of me that considers it significantly less adventurous than the SDP/Liberal Alliance platform of 1983, the potential to reset the political centre slightly to the left of Tony Blair would be a welcome achievement.  Political reform and internationalism cannot be forgotten as ideas that underpin a continued level of support for Labour from beyond its core base, nor should the concept of informal collaboration to undermine the Tories.  I want Labour, and by extension Corbyn, to succeed.  At this stage I am still not convinced that a heroic failure will provide the basis on which the final destruction of the Tory hegemony can be achieved.  It would be ironic if they achieve it themselves, which seems as plausible at the moment as the determinist momentum that some of the more starry-eyed on the left seem to think sufficient.

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