There’s a popular fallacy doing the rounds which is particularly insidious. It states that, as long as insurgent types such as Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders (and any other radicals with sufficient detachment from ‘the Establishment’) keep travelling the country and attracting sufficient numbers of people to gatherings of supporters, they will win. Not only will they win internal party squabbles; they will win power when those parties go to the country, too. In the case of Sanders, this adage has already been discredited. But it persists in other countries, most notably this one, where yet more extreme politicians (of the extreme Left and of the extreme Right) think power is achievable by replicating this method. Continue reading
Something is happening to opinion journalism. Never an entirely reputable business in any case, the format has witnessed a severe degradation in recent years. Doubtless the proliferation of new media and social media – where everyone can and must have an opinion on everything, with the most extreme and partisan voices often emerging as the most popular – has something to do with this. It has made household names of a few nobodies, but it has done more than that: it has given hope of similar advancement to a whole crowd of mediocre would-be writers. Continue reading
Suddenly, the Labour leadership election is wide open. What had been expected to be a bland and uneventful contest has become a serious spectacle, prompting furious comment, hysterical front pages, and – perhaps surprisingly – genuine political introspection. The man who has caused this unexpected course of events is Jeremy Corbyn, a longstanding and formerly little-known Labour MP who has represented Islington North since 1983. His newfound success is remarkable; some polls suggest that he will win the election on first preference votes alone. The reaction to this – from both the Left and the Right of the Labour Party – has been tremendous. Some Labour MPs, for example John Mann, have even called for the hustings to be suspended due to an apparent threat that communists would join the party and vote for Corbyn en masse, thereby tipping the balance in his favour. Continue reading
Like some perverse retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, Ed Miliband was haunted by ghosts of prime ministers past – especially during the election campaign and by one of them in particular. While he was off campaigning in Bristol, the Labour leader drafted in his former boss to add some vim to proceedings in Sedgefield.
As well he might. Tony Blair is the most successful Labour figure in recent history, with three general election victories atop his otherwise already impressive record; indeed, he could even go down in history as the last Labour leader ever to win a majority at a general election, never mind three of them. And his skills do not just extend to winning, as the impressive speech he delivered on that occasion demonstrated. (It is also important to note that, unlike Miliband, whose attempt to imitate Wordsworth’s ‘happy warrior’ betrayed a seeming distaste for the platform and the podium, Blair appears to have a genuine relish for campaigning; some of it is always on show when he addresses a crowd, as has been demonstrated since.) Continue reading
After a humiliating defeat for his party at the polls in the British General Election, Ed Miliband may be gone, but his legacy continues to shape events in Westminster – and not for the better. The losing Labour leader has left his party an immense and almost intolerable burden. It falls to those left standing – unlike former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, who lost his seat amid the debacle – to pick up the pieces and begin once again to rebuild the Labour Party.
Foreign policy, it seems, occurs very low down indeed in their list of priorities – which includes such momentous tasks as reversing the electoral rout in Scotland, reconstructing the decimated Labour leadership, and attempting once again to engender an image of economic competence, which for nearly ten years has eluded the party and those in most desperate need of it. Continue reading