Back in January I interviewed Jon Lansman about his life and his political journey with the Labour left: from prominence in the 1980s to exile through the Blair years to Corbyn’s unexpected leadership win.
“The things I fucking do for socialism!”
This is what Jon Lansman exclaimed to Tom Watson on 15 June 2015, or at least, something similar. He can’t quite remember which word the expletive modified.
It is a pretty dire time to be on the centre-left in Britain. The Conservatives won an unexpected outright majority fifteen months ago. Labour was wiped out in Scotland at the hands of the SNP, which, however progressive it seems, is first and foremost about nationalism. Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats were reduced to just eight MPs. Continue reading Falling away
He is an honest and principled man, goes the refrain, with fresh ideas, but he’s just not a good enough leader. It’s not his ideas or his principles, just his inability to show more competence and do better in the polls. This has been Labour MPs’ critique of Jeremy Corbyn. The implication is that if there were a strong far-left leader who could get closer to winning, the soft left would support him. Continue reading To claim Corbyn is failing because he is unelectable is to miss the point
“Hang on a minute lads. I’ve got a great idea.” This is how the classic 60s film The Italian Job ends, on a literal cliff-hanger. After successfully stealing some gold, Micheal Caine and co. are in a coach hanging off the edge of a cliff, with the stolen booty at the end which is above thin air and the gang at the other. As Caine edges towards the gold, the coach tilts dangerously over the precipice. We never find out what the great idea is.
This is the same dilemma as the Left faces: how far is it possible to get to the golden ideals of socialism without going too far and throwing yourself off the cliff into electoral oblivion. Jeremy Corbyn, who looks set to be Labour’s next leader, is offering the party a chance to run straight at the gold. Continue reading Corbyn and the house of mirrors
After sudden, brutal, unforeseen disasters we seek answers in order to tell ourselves it will never happen again. We expect to be able to halt nature, that with enough will we can protect ourselves from a callous and uncaring world. After the Labour Party’s defeat, as crushing as it was because it was so unexpected, the temptation is there to prescribe a remedy to cure all ills. The SNP’s tartan tsunami washed away the likes of Douglas Alexander, the party’s election chief. UKIP’s purple tornado swirled across left-behind areas of the country Labour would previously have called its heartlands. Meanwhile, Labour could not thaw through the Tory vote in the South, which remained blue as voters gave the prospect of a Miliband government an icy reception. Now that the battle is lost, the war has broken loose within Labour about how to win lost votes with a shift to the right, or the left; or away from metropolitan values or towards them. Continue reading Labour’s dilemma
Russell Brand has given a voice to the disillusioned masses. “I fervently believe that we deserve more from our democratic system than the few derisory tit-bits tossed from the carousel of the mighty, when they hop a few inches left or right” he declares, representing the common man in not-so-common language. To pare it down, he thinks politicians just don’t get it and are all the same and as such voting makes no difference. Continue reading Why young people should vote