“Corbyn owes less to his own merits than to the weaknesses of the alternatives…”

Before I sign off for the weekend, this from Chris Dillow on the Corbyn victory:

Was this a victory for Jeremy Corbyn or a defeat for the Westminster Bubble? I ask because of three different but related things.

One is organizational. Many New Labour figures supported the introduction (pdf)of registered supporters as a means of weakening the influence of activists and union leaders – of avoiding “stitch-ups by special interest groups”. It turns out that that innovation bit them on the arse as it was those registered supporters who delivered Corbyn’s victory.

A second sense is partly organizational and partly ideological. New Labour and the media promoted an ideology of “strong” leadership, the upshot of which is that leadership elections become high-stakes winner-take-all contests. If Labour had a more collegiate leadership system, the Bubble would at least have lost less in this election.

Thirdly, Corbyn’s success, I suspect, owes a lot to the perception that he was the anti-Bubble candidate. Without him, the leadership contest would have been an unspiring low-grade marketing exercise, uplifted only by the under-rated Liz Kendall’s ideas of empowerment and popular control. What the Bubble overlooked was that talk of appealing to the centre ground beg the question of whether the terms “left, right and centre” have a clear meaning any more. Many voters, for example, support both austerity and redistribution, and nationalization and immigration controls: does that make them left or right, or what?

In the fetid atmosphere of bland and unempirical marketing-speak of making Labour electable, Corbyn was a breath of fresh air. He asked questions that matter to those of us outside the Bubble: how to increase investment and living standards? I find his answers to those questions uninspiring. But when one of his rivals can only say “vote for me coz I’m a woman”, it’s easy to see why so many people think otherwise.

Let’s remind ourselves of a big fact. Corbyn has been an MP for 32 years and for 31 and three-quarters of those nobody talked of him as a potential Labour leader. That he now occupies that role owes less to his own merits than to the weaknesses of the alternatives.

In the meantime, do keep an eye on the Slugger Facebook page

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • “owes less to his own merits than to the weaknesses of the alternatives”.

    That’s a vacuous unoriginal statement Slugger. What does it say about anything?
    You could say that about every successful candidate in every election since the dawn of time. It adds nothing to the debate about the issues. Verbal wallpaper in fact.
    Have a good weekend.

  • the rich get richer

    In fairness if you had one iota of Labour DNA in your make up how could you have put a mark opposite the New Tory candidates in the labour leadership contest.

    Its hard to do any sort of a mark when you have two hands over your nose.

  • 23×7

    “It turns out that that innovation bit them on the arse as it was those registered supporters who delivered Corbyn’s victory.”

    Considering the margin of his victory this is quite simply untrue.

  • chrisjones2

    I think it sums up his party.

    They have no vision for the 21st Century so have reverted to a mantra from around 1920

  • gendjinn

    “owes less to his own merits than to the weaknesses of the alternatives”.

    Utterly refuted by the numbers that were inspired to join the BLP to vote for him.

    When Corbyn is PM in 2020 will that line be trotted out to insult the Tories?

  • How is wanting a society based on the values of justice, fairness & human rights going back to the 1920s? What do you understand about the the 1920s that makes you say this? In the 1920s there was no universal suffrage, no free healthcare, no free education, little protection in the workplace. Show me where Corbyn has advocated a return to such a society?

  • mickfealty

    Read the rest of the piece. Chris is no comfort seeking insider…

  • mac tire

    Chris is talking about nationalisation, no doubt. It has already been pointed out to him that this is not always a bad thing – Deutsche Bahn, for example.
    However, Chris would prefer a rubbish service, overcrowding and high fares simply because it is privately owned – in some cases by companies that are wholly or partly publicly owned in other countries, who then invest their lovely profits in their own transport system.

  • chrisjones2

    “the values of justice, fairness & human rights”

    Just like the Tories then?

    I am talking about the Union domination of a movement that has lost its way. About the abuse of power by Union bosses. The theft of assets from their owners through Nationalisation. Half baked economic theories that have destroyed the economies of countries like Venezuela and Cuba and enslaved millions for a generation

  • chrisjones2

    “Chris would prefer a rubbish service, overcrowding and high fares simply because it is privately owned”

    You clearly dont remember the 1970s

    Coal mines clapped out dangerous uncompetitive and cost the country a fortune

    Steel plants loss making hiugely subsidised

    You want a phone? You will have to wait perhaps 6 months as the unions dont think you need one

    Need your dead granny buried? sorry we are on strike

    Inflation hitting 25% with crippling wage demands and out of control unions

    Want to buy a car? Only British of course. Badly made, badly designed rust ridden mess and you are treated as though you are privileged to be allowed to buy it

    Utilities? State owned. Crumbling infrastructuire. Heavily over manned – just look at London Underground today where automatic trains would be cheaper and safer but are blocked to protect drivers jobs

    Thats what Labour does for you. If you don’t pay for it on the bill you pay through tax and you pay more and more and get less and less

  • chrisjones2

    “the numbers that were inspired to join the BLP”

    Yes …but many of us joined for just this result …to see the party off to oblivion

  • chrisjones2

    Keep going. Why not expel them form the party to keep the ideology pure

    And meanwhile the electorate looks on and thinks …..don’t what any of that.

  • the rich get richer

    Does it ever occur to you that maybe things have gone too far the other way now. If its possible to go too far one way then its also possible to go too far the other way.

  • Reader

    chrisjones2: Inflation hitting 25% with crippling wage demands and out of control unions…
    Not really an issue these days. There has been a long sequence of laws limiting the power of the unions. In Thatcher’s first term, the laws were essential, in the second they were useful, in the third they were unfair and Cameron’s intentions are vindictive and oppressive.
    To be frank, I want a competent opposition to make honest and sensible arguments attacking the conservatives from the centre, not just from the left. What chance is there for that, now?

  • notimetoshine

    Arguably the high inflation rate was a result of a full employment economic philosophy that was very much in vogue during the post war period.

    Of course this means subsidising loss making ventures.

    Thatcher accepted unemployment as the side effect of privatisation and the free market policies she pursued.

    As someone who strikes me as a bit Thatcherite, I take it you don’t mind people stuck on benefits not working?

  • Sharpie

    Billions are trying to live the lie that they can all live the way we do – that we are a meritocracy, where hard work and individualist approach to life will reap personal rewards and the poor are there by their own fault and fecklessness. That we can all rise to the top. Its crap. 1% of the world are about to own 50% of its wealth. That is the system you think you love.

    Corbyn name checked some of the global issues the world is facing and maybe now we can have a more grown up debate about what they mean for our way of life and how they can be tackled far further upstream than sending a fence to Calais or selling arms to my enemy’s enemy using my countries aid budget.

    The ecology is collapsing around you. COP Climate negotiations in Paris this year will be far more real and honest now that people are starting to wake up to the fact that tens of millions are agitating for emigration from degraded eco systems, lack of water, and desertification.

  • Sharpie

    That is a fairly obvious lie. Did you join to do this? How many did? He still for 50% of party members’ votes

  • chrisjones2

    Of course it is. regulation is imperfect but give me that to domination by union bosses simply featherbedding their members at the expense of all of society

  • chrisjones2

    Yes …because Thatcher changed the whole game plan.

    Corbyns plan for QE at a time of economic growth will stoke it up again

  • chrisjones2

    I do mind that as its bad for society and for them

    Thatcher accepted unemployment in the period of readjustment in the economy as the price. But pray what is Unemployment now in NI?

  • chrisjones2

    I am sorry but the migration has nothing to do with climate

    If you look at the sources of migration its war (Sudan, Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq) and the economy (Africa and to an extent Eastern Europe). Many Nigerians for example want to come to the UK for a better life . Their state should be the richest in Africa but its revenues are plundered by the elites

    The Climate change mantra is a myth in this debate as in so many others

    PS where did all that ice come from this year? And what ever happened to the acid rain that in the 1970s we were told would destroy our seas and agriculture by 2010. Whoops

  • chrisjones2

    Does that include those signed up by the Unions? But anyway, the main thing is we got him in and now we can sit and watch what happens

  • 23×7

    Are London underground trains not safe? Please provide more facts before I head back over.

  • 23×7

    Bingo! Think I got a full house of left wing cliches there. Keep them coming as I’ve just got another sheet.

  • MalikHills

    As someone whose politics lie somewhere to the right of
    Attila the Hun in one of my more benign days I am delighted to see
    Jeremy Corbyn win, and not for the sneering reasons so many Tory
    commentators are braying about.

    I most certainly do not dismiss the electability of Corbyn. If –
    indeed when for it is a certainty as it happens to all parties in
    government for a long time – a substantial economic downturn happens or
    major political scandal erupts, Corbyn will be positioned with a radical
    alternative to a jaded Tory government and then all bets are off.

    I am delighted to see that politics is getting interesting again,
    that hundreds of thousands of people were sufficiently enthused to
    debate about and come out and vote for the leader of a political party
    and that they elected a man whose politics I completely reject but who
    is self-evidently an honest man who sincerely holds political positions
    to which he has long been committed.

    Now if only something similar would happen to the Tories, if only
    they would elect a leader who was actually a conservative, you know one
    who believed in the rights of the individual (not multinational
    corporations), keeping a balanced budget, the rolling back of the powers
    of the state, the centrality of family life, respect for the rule of
    law, support for national sovereignty and the defence of the nation’s

    You know one of those crazy types.

  • 23×7

    Meanwhile we can sit back and enjoy the tories ripping themselves to shreds over Europe. For the tories Europe is a wound that cannot be healed.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Chris, my Florida born mother-in-law, a celebrity psycoanalyst, used to murmer when she heard anyone gloat about their hopes that support for something would produce a negitive result, “be careful what you ask for, you may just get exactly what you’ve asked for!”

    You do realise that the Murdoch media machine is not utterly foolproof on the outcome of elections, especially those four years off………………

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Actually, pretty much the all party “public interests first” mantra of the 1960s……….

  • SeaanUiNeill

    In a situation here in the wee six where most employment is directly or indirectly subsidised by state funds…..

  • SeaanUiNeill

    So feather bedding far fewer high salaried directors and banisters with astronomical bonuses passed by their colleagues is less expensive to us all? At least the union members filtered what they received back into a circulating economy…..

  • Steve Larson

    He won because he was considered more credible than the other candidates.

    I do not know what to make of him.

    Cooper and Burnham and Kendall were jokes, he just had to appear even slightly human.