Jeremy Corbyn and the obsession with the history of Marxist revolutions.

Apparently there was a pitched battle for the Chair of the Portsmouth Constituency Labour Party last night…

A pitched battle between New Labour and New Old Labour by all reliable accounts. Probably de riguer in the party by now if Damian McBride’s analysis is anything to go by…

for all the indifference that Corbyn and co appear to be showing to the need to persuade the public to vote for them in five years’ time – they are operating with relentless and at times brutal efficiency in their efforts to seize control of the Labour party’s internal machinery. It explains why Corbyn has been willing to appoint only true believers to his key shadow cabinet and inner circle jobs, and is allowing Unite the union to terrorise the party’s staff and MPs like a homage to the Bolsheviks’ NKVD secret police. Why? Because, as any good Marxist knows, you must secure your revolution against the enemies within – including the temptation to dilute the purity of your principles and policies – before there is any chance of taking on your enemies without. Secure the revolution, silence all internal opposition, eliminate any disloyal elements, they tell themselves, and then we will have the strength and unity to take the fight to the Tories, the media and the public. If that strategy seems hopelessly misplaced and outdated, remember that it is only 15 years since the last successful socialist revolution in Britain, Ken Livingstone’s seizure of the London mayoralty.


Livingstone’s 2000 victory in London tells them that a seemingly unfashionable, far-left maverick can command popular support in defiance of his own party, the media and the bourgeois establishment, simply by speaking his mind and sticking to his principles. It’s a good theory, but it comes with grave dangers. The Livingstone who won as an independent in 2000 and as the Labour candidate in 2004 was the same Ken who lost badly in 2008 and 2012. In 2008 we told ourselves that the media assault on Livingstone and the toff factor with Boris Johnson would play in Labour’s favour in terms of driving turnout among working class voters in inner-city London. As it transpired, we were swamped by the size of the vote for Johnson from London’s suburbs, totally alienated by fears that Livingstone would increase their taxes and extend the congestion charge, as well as wanting to signal their anti-Labour sentiment at the nadir of Gordon Brown’s administration. The same pattern repeated itself in 2012: all the more crushing in the wake of the omnishambles budget, with Labour 10 points ahead in the national opinion polls.

Yes. Only this time it may not only be the affluent middle class the Corbynites are losing for Labour. In an albeit tiny electorate, there was some poor news from working class council ward in Ashford in Kent…

I would venture to say that Scotland doesn’t look like it’s going to do Mr Corbyn any favours next May, and it’s London stronghold may follow suit.

Policy on its own is certainly not politics. But policy as an abstraction, ie with only the slimmest grasp on the nature and consequences of current government policy is not a form of politics that most voter can relate to either. In the centre or anywhere else.

Do read the whole thing


  • SeaanUiNeill

    I find it astonishing that the New Labour opponents of Corbyn seem to be unaware of their own weeding out of dissenting voices just after Michael Foot had been politically assassinated and especially after Blair had removed clause four and re-configured Labour (U.S. Bernays PR friendly style, as Damien suggests) into a similar party of sound-bite media friendly politics to Thatcher’s re-configured Conservative party.

    I keep remembering both Thatcherites and New Labour politicians say “no plan “b”, there are no other ways” over the last thirty five years. Now the financial disasters since 2007 have proved that their joint neo-liberal economics and its catch all “leave it all to the market” is simply not a golden ticket to automatic economic success. Is the definition of insanity not “doing the same thing that has failed over and over and expecting it to succeed”? Perhaps a little real revolution is just what we need now, especially as its being driven not just by a tiny clique, but by the biggest ingress of membership any political party has experienced in over half a century, something Damien is seemingly ignoring in his analysis of the arguments of the Labour big boys and girls, with the tired old gang struggling to hold on to their discredited 1990s stance against what are in general politics that even Harold Macmillan’s Conservatives could have supported!!!!!

    Perhaps there is a plan “b”, but its just one that the economics of the neo-liberal “middle grounders” (what a misnomer for what is in essence a massive shift to the right) simply cannot even begin to understand. And what is not understood can only be countered with evasive mockery.

  • Mike the First

    How odd that under this supposed “weeding out of dissenting voices” under New Labour (which apparently includes Kinnock’s and Smith’s leadership) that the likes of Corbyn, McDonnell and Tony Benn remained Labour MPs throughout.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    As will each and every economic neo-Liberal neo-Thatcherite, (sorry, slip) neo-Blairite relic of the good old media friendly sound bite led days who similarly chooses to stay a member of Labour and continue the debate from within the party, Mike I. The all important “Weeding out” process was never from party membership but significantly from the controlling echelons of the party hierarchy, unless perhaps you have discovered possible grave pits in the Richmond Park plantations for those of Militant Tendency who were simply too dangerous to contain within the tense policy of “live and let live under our thumb” enacted against the illustrious and much missed Tony Benn and the others.

    Or are you trying to say that “slippery Tony” Blairs’s cabinets were as carefully representative of the wide spectrum of political opinion within the Labour Party as, say, Jim Callahan’s cabinets?

  • 23×7

    What I find astonishing is that the New Labour opponents of Corbyn haven’t come to terms with how thoroughly they were hammered in the recent leadership election. Corbyn and his supporters have every right to to begin shaping the party to represent the views of the Labour members who voted for them.

  • Greenflag 2

    From the top down ‘weeding out’ eventually led Blair to his Iraq expedition .

    The ideology of neo conservatism is to create a world where nations are subservient to global financial markets and the lowest common denominator is the lowest price of labour . Financial capital can go where it will in nano seconds just look at the world currency markets and most of that is for speculation purposes more so than trade.

    The harsh truth is that there appears to be no alternative to the immense power now wielded by the neo con quasi fascists of the west and east- and their political puppets . But sooner or later it’s message of impoverishing the majority of people for the benefit of a tiny minority will reap its own political and social reward .

    The English eventually revolt . Just like everybody else . Despite the medias obsession with tearing down Mr Corbyn at the behest of the Murdochs and their ilk the ordinary Briton will send the Tories to political oblivion sooner than most here on slugger can imagine .

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Could not have put it better myself Greenflag! Just for interest, my wife was at school with one of Murdoch’s kids, and yes, interesting stories!