Some Thoughts on Last Week

1. The Blairite position that only a centrist political project can achieve any sort of popular mandate is skewered. 

2. JC is now totally unassailable for some time to come. I think most people expected his poll position to improve as voters would get to see the candidate for themselves as opposed to the one defined by others, (and by others I include the Right of the Party). However, the improvement in his rating and the same time of the Party is astonishing. I cannot think of any equivalent in the UK, (after all it is only 2 years since the last election and only a month since the local government elections).

3. While May was exposed as particularly flawed campaigner, I don’t recall Cameron being master of political strategy. The difference clearly this time surely was that against a background of austerity the Labour Party offered a clear set of alternative policies that have exposed the choices that the Conservative Government has made as explicitly political choices.

4. I can think of very little I can object to in the manifesto that JC ran on. Crucially, he accepted the primacy of the Party. I have a fond memory of Ed Miliband initiating a policy review that all members could contribute to and then he announced the results the day before the review was completed!

5. It is clear that JC’s strengths now outweigh his weaknesses. Certainly the sneering tone of so many of his critics inside the Party has served to undermine them not JC. Chris Leslie’s statement was patently ridiculous considering where we started this campaign, and more importantly where we were 2 years ago. JC and his allies can justifiably claim that if the parliamentary party had shown unity towards the leader for the last two years then we might now be in government. It is no use saying the Left has criticized Right Wing leaders of the Party in the past, as they generally didn’t get the opportunity to do it on Newsnight, (as for instance Charles Clarke did as recently as last week). 

6. Of course there will be calls on Hard Left websites for punitive action against Blairite MPs and there will be lots of ill-informed speculation. (Just as last year there were attempts to link Corbyn with all sorts of events that had nothing to do with him). The notion of betrayal is very strong on the Left, and of course there is some evidence to support their case. It does not seem that the leadership around JC intend to pursue the road of revenge and purge. However, it has to be said that mandatory reselection should be part of the processes of any democratic party. The main argument against it seems to be that anybody deselected immediately claims intimidation/corrupt practice or both as the reason for their deselection. 

7. We need to be clear about what we want in terms of a democratic party structure; otherwise we will have nothing to contribute as these structures get remodelled.

8. It is not likely that all these new members and all those who have voted for Corbyn in the past two years will align themselves to a series of Hard Left positions over the long term. I am still firmly of the view that if any of other candidates for the leadership two years ago (Andy Burnham for instance) had voted against the benefit cuts that Harriet Harman committed the party to, then JC would still be on the backbenches. 

9. Letting those who have opposed JC back in the cabinet is for the long term. But do we really want to see the return of the likes of Caroline Flint for example. 

10. However, instead right now we have a genuinely popular Left Wing leader, promoting the sort of policies and ideas we could only dream of a few years ago. 

11. And to repeat the Blairite position that only a centrist political project can achieve any sort of popular mandate is skewered. 

12. All this has opened up a political space that should make the sensible/soft left very happy this week. I know that’s how I feel.

Vince Simonet, June 13th 2017.

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