I sat down to watch Conference, this morning and in practising my friendship skills spoke to the woman in the seat beside me and when we exchanged names, I discovered that she was Emmanuelle Avril, whose paper, “The (Unintended) Consequences of New Labour: Party Leadership vs Party Management in the British Labour Party” had caught my eye several years ago. (See below/overleaf for cross references to the paper and to my previous articles.)

So we had a coffee and talked about the coincidence that in a room of 3,500 people that we should sit together as she observed, the number of people who will have read the paper is very limited, which is a shame.

We talked about the answer as to why the stupidity of the previous afternoon had occurred.

The leadership is at the least bi-polar, as in it has two poles. One is Jeremy Corbyn and the other is the staff and dominant politics in the Leader of the Opposition’s office (LOTO). Their shared politics was formed in the 1980’s prior to Blair’s ascendancy but throughout the whole of the history of the Labour Party, the Unions have got what they wanted. The question now is what do they want and to what extent are they united in that vision?

There are three political currents in Labour’s Brexit Policy majority. The first, made of mainly rump Bennites or exiles from the Communist Party wish to leave the European Union, either because they think that defeating British capitalism is easier than defeating European Capitalism or because they believe that the EU treaties will inhibit a Corbyn Government pursuing its manifesto. The second consists of psephological illiterates who think that we can’t win back the seats lost north of Watford if we argue to remain, ignoring the fact that even in the north of England the majority of Labour’s voters, our baseline, voted to remain. The third consists of Leader ultra-loyalists, who seem not to have noticed that Corbyn has been moving towards remain albeit at a glacial pace since last year. We can assume that Corbyn is in third group and that much of LOTO, and the left’s leadership, whose politics were forged in the late 70’s and 80’s remain in the first.

And that’s the problem, too many of the current left’s leadership cut their teeth at a time when the left was strong and in particular strong in the Unions; too many of them just think, “it’s our turn now” and ignore the political revolution brought about by the 2008 economic crisis. The Unions voted with the left over this period and then they stopped but many of the Left’s leaders still think that the old tactics and old politics work.

In contrast to this, it delights me when working with Labour for a Socialist Europe that the average age of their activists is so obviously young.

In my article, the Death Agony of Social Democracy, I select some quotes that reinforce the paradox of control, that closing down debate kills innovation and renewal and in fact toxified the party and drove activists away.

… the way the newly created policy forums functioned, where minority opinions struggled to even be recorded. Vladimir Derer, founder of the Campaign for Labour Party Democracy, expressed the view, echoed by many party members, that only political debate can keep activists, whom the leadership relies on to run the local parties and campaigns, interested. Participation to the political debate, which “wine and cheese evenings” could never replace, is an essential motivation for partisan engagement …

When they, i.e. Blair and Brown moved on, they had no platform and no ideas to renew themselves or the Party. Labour selects the most left wing candidate that it thinks can win, and in 2015 there was no confidence that any of the candidates could do that! The ideas of the “three wise monkeys” were weak and so Corbyn won, but he can’t build the party he needs reusing the Party control tactics of Blair.

ooOOOoo

I created a wiki page to host the paper and posted a mirror copy of the paper there. I also made a blog post of my storify story, the Death Agony of Social Democracy., which includes a number of other quotes from the paper. The paper is also available on open access here….

An amazing coincidence
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