How Brexit led to Corbyn: UK politics review 2017

Official portrait of Jeremy Corbyn crop 2
It’s 2015 and Ed Miliband stumbles off the stage after failing to convince the audience that New Labour, which had left government five years earlier, had not overspent. It was a symbolic moment of that year’s election and also shows how much priorities have changed in British politics in the two and a half years since. Continue reading How Brexit led to Corbyn: UK politics review 2017


An anti-Brexit party really could succeed


Ever since the EU referendum result in June 2016, excitable speculation about the potential for an anti-Brexit party – most recently ignited by the support of former Daily Mail political editor James Chapman – has found its equal and opposite reaction in vigorous sneering at its prospects. Continue reading An anti-Brexit party really could succeed

Interview with Jon Lansman, Momentum founder

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 was the deadline day for MPs to nominate candidates for the Labour leadership contest and Lansman was helping Jeremy Corbyn. Yet as a kidney donor he had an appointment to have a large sample of blood taken. Continue reading Interview with Jon Lansman, Momentum founder

Falling away

London Mar 15 2008 Stop the War protest AB 8

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

To claim Corbyn is failing because he is unelectable is to miss the point

Jeremy Corbyn No More War crop

This article was published on Backbench

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

Corbyn and the house of mirrors

Jeremy Corbyn

This article appeared on Backbench

“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

Labour’s dilemma

Miliband, Ed (2007)

This article was published on Palatinate

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