The problem of originality and building a movement inside a rigid political party…

Right, I’ve been away for a few days. What did I miss? Well, Jeremy Corbyn’s speech for one. Oh, and this revealing commentary from Alex Massie, in which he reveals that the new Labour leader has been reading blogs (or at least one blog), and in effect re-cycled a speech written originally for (and rejected by) Ed Milliband.

It probably shows a real lack of capacity in the former back-bencher’s toolkit as much as anything else. In fact much of the speech is consists of the very things Mr Corbyn has always cared passionately about, human rights and housing amongst them.

All good stuff, but a long way from the transformation of the Labour party requires to turn it into a credible alternative government.

Anthony Barrett, argues that Open Labourism is the only alternative to what he calls the Blatcherism and the managerialist conceit which took the Labour party into such a profound state of ‘unknowing’ about the future.

Anthony’s notes:

“Many who would not (certainly, not yet) dream of voting for him are delighting in his challenge to the managerial conceit of the status quo. Furthermore, the uprising is not confined to the unwashed. The narrowness of the London political-financial class will contribute to its undoing just as much as its venality; what has happened in Scotland being the proof of this.”

On the other hand, Janan Ganesh in the FT (and IT) yesterday argued that:

Nobody who asks for “authenticity” in politicians understands how decadent this sounds. Most people in most societies for most of history would have made do with administrative competence, incorruptibility and a disinclination to plunder citizens or conscript them as war fodder. Mid-20th century Britons dreamt of low inflation and heated homes before they caressed hopes of conviction politics.

A country with the leisure to take umbrage at scripted interviews and bloodless technocracy is doing fine. The modern distaste for spin, which makes heroes of plain- speakers such as Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the UK’s opposition Labour party, is like the campaign against obesity: warranted, but also a mark of how far we have come. There are worse problems to have and we had them not long ago.

None of the people I know of who have flocked to the Corbyn cause are particularly badly off. Ganesh, again…

A Corbyn rally is not a band of desperate workers fighting to improve their circumstances. Instead, it is a communion of comfortable people working their way up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. They have physical health and security; they crave belonging and self-actualisation. They are in politics for the dopamine squirt that comes with total belief and immersion in like- minded company.

There is no disgrace in this, but nor is there any residue of Labour’s worldly origins, as a party devoted to the amelioration of working conditions through parliamentary means. And if Corbynites really think they are following in the lineage of the Jarrow marchers, the Tolpuddle martyrs and other working- class rebellions of lore, it is hard not to admire their shimmering brass necks.

From a very different angle, Ludovica Rogers argues that the mistake the Corbynites are making is to building their ‘movement’ inside the political party (and it’s internal partnerships, and not in wider society. She offers this as an example of what’s likely to happen further down the line:

“In its 6 months in power Syriza has betrayed each and every promise towards the social movements […] But, worst of all, it has helped convince the bulk of the population that “There Is No Alternative” to the measures of neoliberal restructuring.”

There are big big issues that remain to be resolved, and most of them are going begging by a political system in the UK which is too inturned to see much outside the M25.

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