“Perhaps we will wake up on Saturday afternoon and find it has all been a bad dream.”

Ahead of the election of their new leader, in the Guardian Andrew Rawnsley samples the mood, of despair, among the moderates of the parliamentary Labour Party.

Labour MPs, as a collective, are still getting their stunned heads round what is happening to their party. Because the hard left had been fought – and apparently crushed – so long ago, it simply did not occur to them that it might revive, least of all in the person of a 66-year-old colleague who has been an eternal backbencher since he first arrived in parliament as a disciple of Tony Benn and an enthusiast for the calamitous 1983 manifesto. Because it was so self-evident to his colleagues that the Corbyn candidacy was a joke they did not wake up to its potency until too late. Yet there had been warning signs of the potential for this to happen in the surge of populist left movements elsewhere in Europe, thriving on discontent with austerity and rage against elites. Closer to home, the rise at Labour’s expense of the Scottish Nationalists ought also to have sounded alarms. “Scotland should have told us about the power of emotion and identity in politics,” admits one member of the shadow cabinet.

Allied with those failures of inspiration and imagination has been a disastrous lack of mobilisation. One candid senior Labour MP on the team of one of Mr Corbyn’s leadership rivals says: “We completely fucked up organisationally.” The biggest mistake made by all three of the mainstream contestants was not to grasp the implications of the change to Labour’s system of leadership election. When that went through, in early 2014, something strange happened. Len McCluskey and the other chiefs of the big unions, who had initially been highly hostile to scrapping the electoral college, suddenly dropped their opposition and came along very quietly. I think it is now becoming clearer why. They had started to work out what the changes could mean and how they might be exploited with a systematic drive to sign up supporters for their niche of left politics. About half of the union members with votes in the contest have been signed up by Unite, whose executive were early endorsers of Mr Corbyn.

At the time of the rule change, there was not much comment about the potential effects of allowing registered “supporters” to buy a vote in exchange for the price of a pint. A couple of people on Ed Miliband’s senior staff did think through some of the implications. They argued with him that they should start to actively recruit £3 supporters to try to ensure that the party drew in people who were reasonably representative of the sort of mainstream voters Labour needed to win general elections. That idea was resisted by other members of the Miliband team. “We’ll only get hippies,” sneered one naysayer. So that initiative came to nothing and the composition of the selectorate continued to slide left, a process which has dramatically accelerated during the contest.

Labour modernisers, who had argued for years for one-member-one-vote, gave little thought to the change. There was no effort to recruit centre-left voters as Labour supporters. The machine behind Mr Corbyn did think about how the new system might change the dynamics of a contest and all credit to them for seeing a path to victory by allying old-style trade union organisation with the newer power of social media.

The MP for Islington North was alone among the candidates in putting on his campaign website a link to the £3 sign-up. The teams of all three of his rivals made a terrible mistake in not spotting how this would radically influence the race. In mitigation, one member of the shadow cabinet pleads that they were all too distracted by the shock of the general election defeat.

“While we had our heads under the bonnet of the car trying to work out why we lost the election, these people jumped into the car and drove it off.”

Which leaves stunned Labour moderates stranded on the kerbside, aghast at where the car is now heading, unsure when or how they will get it back and fearful that it might be a write-off by the time they do.

Read the whole thing.

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  • Sergiogiorgio

    It’s the joke that just keeps giving. The Unions gave us Ed the Unelectable. Now they are about the deliver Jeremy the Party Slayer. Who was it that said Unions were just a bunch of self interested, deluded twats? Oh yes, me!

  • eamoncorbett

    No need to worry even if Jeremy becomes leader , the Tories usually tear themselves apart after a prolonged period of government , this has been happening since Harold McMillan was PM and shows no sign of abating , my bet is that the discontent will start after the EU referendum and will snowball from that.

  • chrisjones2

    Fear not. Jeremy will unify the Tories like no other — if only in laughter

  • chrisjones2

    How come you can post ‘twat’ but when I do I am censored

    Btw i fully agree with you

  • terence patrick hewett

    Apparently Labour MPs as a collective are still getting their stunned heads round what is happening to their party: except that “their” party is not “their” party. They hi-jacked a party conceived to represent the working person and then treated their core supporters with contempt; gleefuly participating in their destruction. Simply a part of a greater political alignment hopefully ending in a federation of the four nations.

  • eireanne

    a federation of the Uk nations is not at all feasible https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2014/09/25/squaring-the-circle-what-no-means/

  • chrisjones2

    “their” party is not “their” party.

    No. Within its own rules it now belongs to the Unions and the £3 voters who hijacked it. As for representing ” the working person” if you believe the Unions guff on that you are a fool I am afraid

    But I agree on the realignment. With Labour unelectable we will see a new Tory age for perhaps 20 to 25 years during which the UK will be recast economically

  • terence patrick hewett

    I said it was “conceived” to represent the working person as any cursory examination of party history will bear out. In addition I rather think that it will be the Tory party that will be the next victim of political realignment since all the usual suspects may indulge themselves in a bit of risk free de-fenestration in the sure belief that loss of office will not result.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Cameron narrowly won the May 2015 general election; he attempts to re-negotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU and makes the expected pigs-ear of it. The UK exits the EU after a referendum, triggering a Scottish exit from the UK. A constitutional crisis occurs which inspires an Anglo-Celtic Federation of independent nations, trading with the world. The challenge inspires science and industry and the Federation becomes highly competitive, successful and rich and to everyone’s surprise the Republic of Ireland joins leaving Scotland isolated and shackled to the corpse of the EU. Scotland applies to join but receives the reply that a referendum of all the constituent nations will have to be held. Brittany then declares UDI and applies to join their Celtic brethren in Cornouailles shortly afterwards followed by Normandie, Picardie, and the Pas de Calais. The Hundred Years War starts all over. Scotland cannot resist the temptation of wholesale arson, rapine, pillage and slaughter and is welcomed into the Federation.

  • Steve Larson

    The left needs to accept that there is a problem in many of its activists and leaders of not listening to people but believing that they have every course of action and interpretation that is needed.

  • gendjinn

    “…..and to everyone’s surprise the Republic of Ireland joins……”

    A good basis for a fantasy novel there.

    Do you honestly think that there are any circumstances under which Ireland would sell it’s freedom to the state that committed numerous genocides against it?

  • Kevin Breslin

    My thoughts of an Anglo-Celtic revival inspiring Science and Technology is that of Einstein despising “Deutsche Physik” and National Gods.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deutsche_Physik

  • terence patrick hewett

    It was of course meant as a joke: but a joke with an element of reality. Irish political classes and academe have invested much intellectual capital in the EU. When the Republic joined the Euro it forfeited much of its sovereignty and for a time the country was directly ruled from Frankfurt by the Troika: one can argue that Ireland’s freedom has already been bought and sold.

    Ireland is in a difficult position stuck between the UK and the EU and with the projected EU fiscal union Ireland will be asked to submerge effectively into a super-state thus losing all its sovereignty. A federation of the 4 nations may be the less unpleasant. We all know that decisions are often a choice, not between good and bad but between bad and worse.

  • terence patrick hewett

    I shall re-read The Golden Bough!

  • gendjinn

    Emotional context has always been a problem on the ‘nets.

    You are quite correct and given how climate change is unfolding, Ireland is going to get absolutely shafted by the UK in precisely the same way we’ve been before.

    In the context of Fermi’s Paradox the only solution is a single world socialist government, for the people, by the people, of the people. The billionaire’s are the enemy and 1786 is the only viable salvation for the human race.

  • chrisjones2

    Perhaps. The Conservative / EU / UKIP issue will resolve it. If we either we will get a decisive in or out vote in the referendum. I suspect UKIP will dissolve into the Conservatives. If its close to hung then there may be problems

    So for Cameron I think the calculation is simple. Instinctively he wants to stay in Europe but needs a big concession to get that – and the migrant crisis may offer than chance. If it doesn’t then campaigning for out will unite the Conservatives and UKIP

    Unless of course Corbyn proposes we leave the UK for a new alliance with the workers paradises of Russia, Cuba. Gaza, North Korea and Venezuela as an alternative

  • chrisjones2

    It could form a new economic area outside the EU along with with say the UK . We are its biggest customer after all

    A bit like Scotland did in 1707

  • chrisjones2

    Yes and we could all live in yurts and subsist on Mung Beans and fermented yoghurt and hope to live to 50

  • 23×7

    Better that the party belongs to the £3 voters than the Mittals or the Tory hedge fund crowd.

  • 23×7

    For someone who believes Corbyn to be a joke he certainly seems to interest you. Labour also lost a lot of votes to UKIP, What makes you think they’ll all vote tory once the EU question has been sorted out?

  • 23×7

    Indeed. There’s only so many pigs you can fit round the trough.

  • 23×7

    Yet you are fascinated enough by Corbyn to keep coming on this forum to post about him. Mmmm.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Absolutely 23X7, because as much as enjoy watching Labour squirm with their impending doom, I also recognise the political imbalance it will cause with no-one holding the Tories to account, as Labour implode and any meaningful opposition just become a party of protest.

  • 23×7

    … or are you just a bit worried that someone is about to set a light to the neoliberal consensus in the UK?

  • chrisjones2

    “numerous genocides”

    ….and invested so much in it and offered so much employment to its people

    …and where were the genoicdes?

  • chrisjones2

    They are welcome to it ….and the associated political Siberia that will follow. Their choice

  • chrisjones2

    Because the choice will be between that and what they regard as lunacy

  • chrisjones2

    At Stormont they just enlarge the trough or have a big trough for the big piggies and a series of little troughs for the small piggies (segregated by breed) so the small piggies can each feel superior to the other

  • Sergiogiorgio

    The only thing worse than the status quo is a move backwards, to some sort of failed state run hegemony. Corbyn is man out of time, a throw back to militant Labour. When even your political “enemies” are telling you this, its time to listen.

  • 23×7

    Greeting card philosophy.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Me or Corbyn’s manifesto?

    Time will tell 23X7, just as it did with Ed’s ‘ead stone.

  • gendjinn

    You are the perfect embodiment of the Orwell quote: “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them. “

  • Catcher in the Rye

    Cameron narrowly won the May 2015 general election; he attempts to re-negotiate the UK’s relationship with the EU and makes the expected pigs-ear of it.

    It is clear that the UK voting public granted an overwhelmingly Eurosceptic mandate in May 2015. I may not like it but it is a fact.

    I think the more likely outcome is that Cameron successfully renegotiates and comes home with his concessions in hand and urging a vote to stay in the EU, which he then wins (Cameron has a pretty good record at winning referendums). What that does to the Conservative Party is anyone’s guess.

    The Scottish referendum comes later, and is the next problem down the line. It’s highly dependent on what happens with Europe.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Well yes: I have just re-seen the film Barry Lyndon:

    Some died of drinking whisky
    and some of drinking beer
    some died of consipation
    and some of diarrhoea
    but of all the world’s diseases
    there’s none that can compare
    with the drip, drip, drip
    of a sceptic prick
    with chronic gonorrhea.

  • gendjinn

    Great movie, going to have to dust it off tonight. The Duellists is worth checking out, not as good but still worth it.

  • gendjinn

    You make it easy to know the right side of any argument. It’s the one you oppose.

  • terence patrick hewett

    Is that Joseph Conrad? geat stuff.

  • gendjinn

    Yes it is, what a great writer!

  • eamoncorbett

    Your pigs ear comment of a few days ago has taken on a new meaning.