Pinch yourself, comrade, but Labour is exciting again

September 11, 2015 at 8:41 am (democracy, elections, labour party, posted by JD, reformism)

By Dave Osland (at Left Futures)

Labour Leadership Candidates and now they are 4_edited-1I guess I’ll never make it as a bureaucrat. When people start droning on about paragraph this, subclause that of any organisation’s rulebook, I usually interpret it as a cue to get another pint in.

But if there is now going to be a debate over what  precise mechanism Labour should use to elect leaders in future, let me say this now; the current arrangements have proven a huge success.

I’m not just saying that because they are perceived to favour the candidate I have backed from the beginning, namely Jeremy Corbyn. My point is that they have enabled Labour to engage the electorate in a manner I haven’t witnessed in decades.

This was brought home to me forcibly when I attended a routine City drinks reception, and I was struck by the number of people who – knowing that I am a Labour Party member – raised the subject of the race.

I should stress here that the attendees were not in the main high rollers with telephone number salaries. Instead this was in the main a gathering of what you might call ‘the real City’, middle-class commuter belt people on what most of the country would consider a good whack, but hardly enough to lead the life of Riley in expensive London.

They were there for the free plonk and canapes and the networking, but many spontaneously buttonholed me and started talking politics.

It’s not that any of them were raving Corbynistas. The first of the many double-cheek mwah-mwah kisses I got that night came from a young woman I had assumed to be apolitical, who looks like Liz Kendall, dresses like Liz Kendall, and was most impressed with – yeah, you guessed – Liz Kendall.

Similarly, a man who once sat on the board of a company you will certainly have heard of revealed that he had been a Labour Party member as a young man in the 1970s, and had signed up as a three-pounder with the intention of voted for LK.

A guy who has set up his own successful PR outfit – yes, aspirational businessman to a Tee – mentioned that his wife had rejoined as a full member after the May defeat, and was supporting Burnham. That had, in turn, increased his interest in what Labour does.

His colleague confided that he had not voted for many years. He liked some Corbyn policies, detested others, but was glad that there would again be a clear choice between opposing parties. Maybe that will get him to the ballot box next time.

To top it all, a multimillionaire corporate lawyer who had taken a drink revealed that his father had been a Communist partisan in a southern European country in world war two and that, if anything, he finds Jeremy insufficiently assiduous in promulgating the needs of the toiling masses.

Now, the last few months have – probably unavoidably – seen Labour Party members too wrapped up in the internal battle to notice that we are talking to the public again, in a way that I haven’t seen in years.

As it goes, I live in Hackney North, one of the few constituencies where the CLP still boasts a four-figure membership that enables it to be a genuine force in the community.

But we have all heard the stories of areas where Labour barely functions and it is hard to even get a quorate meeting together.

The oft-remarked-upon energy that has been generated in the last few months has presented us with a one-off opportunity to rejuvenate our structures up and down the country.

Let’s stick with OMOV. And the one-year free membership for registered supporters looks like a no brainer.

Yes, I have heard old stagers argue that they shouldn’t have the same rights as those us who have been around for yonks, but from a marketing perspective, this idea is a clear winner.

What’s more, the need to win over people who voted other than Labour in May is a statement of the bleedin’ obvious. We need to go easy on the social media Thought Police routine.

Let’s declare an amnesty for those who may have tactically backed the Lib Dems in hopeless seats or voted Green in disillusionment with our offer four months ago. Nor should past support for the Tories or UKIP be any bar to involvement now.

If people have changed their minds, they should be welcome on board.

Now the voting has closed, thanks are due to Jeremy, Yvette, Andy and Liz alike. Yes, things got harsh at times, but as the standard marital advice cliche goes, least said, soonest mended.

Comrades, Labour is exciting people again. When was the last time you could say that with a straight face?


  1. Glasgow Working Class said,

    It has engaged the hard left and others who would not join and support Labour and indeed those who hate my party which is possibly about to be taken over by losers again.
    I suppose paying three quid to destroy a great party is worth it to them.

    • Political tourist said,

      Can you be in Ukip and the Labour Party at the same time???

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        Can you find out?

  2. pinkie said,

    Ok Mr Glasgow, how has your beloved party been winners recently? Look at your results. You have failed and stop pretending otherwise, you fool. Funnily enough I support Labour, but I don’t support your desperate attachment to a failed approach. You go on and beat the SNP, go on. What are you going to do Mr Reasonable?

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      Do you want an answer to your thingy?

  3. Political tourist said,

    Well done to Jeremy anything that rattles the likes of Glesga Bigot and the Daily Mail can only be a good thing.
    Sinn/IRA hee hee.

  4. dagmar said,

    Osland is correct. I have been amazed, being over there at the moment, about hearing people on the streets of the East London/Essex borders talk to each other about politics – and about Corbyn (though not about Labour). I didn’t get involved, I just listened. And on the Overground last night – ok, ok, while going through David Osland’s Hackney – the people sitting both immediately left and right of me were scrolling through their phones and reading Corbyn’s facebook timeline. Something is going on – but will it last?

    • Southpawpunch (@Southpawpunch) said,

      Actually very little is going on yet. Mr Mush has been elected in much the same way that maybe John Hamilton was elected Leader. Never heard of him? – he was the Labour Leader of Liverpool City Council; you will have heard of the Deputy leader – Derek Hatton.

      I think with Corbyn’s recent concilaitions to the right – no compulsory reselection – he is going for the Hamilton strategy: If I’m nice to them they won’t immediately knife me, especially as I won so well. I can at least be a figurehead. Please.

      But they don’t play by ‘nice guy’ moves. It will get interesting but maybe not for long as they can move very fast.

      But good things could emerge – such as a left split that can then be eaten by the real Left to form a european type ‘Left of Labour party’ although I think the dead-end and inevitable defeat of a Bennism insurgency redux (and a fair bit more to the right) to be the most likely outcome

      • Political tourist said,

        And with it the end of the UK.
        Good old Jeremy.

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        Pt do stop being a narrowback Nats si knobend.

  5. John Rogan said,

    Consider the following.

    Jeremy and Tom agree on overhauling the Labour Party to make it more democratic and responsive to the members. Harmony in action.

    They both agree that the Leadership should be accountable to the newly overhauled Democratic Party. Again harmony.

    Said newly overhauled Party votes to keep Trident (for example) as Tom wants but Jeremy doesn’t.

    What next?

    Does Jeremy good along with Party decision or not? Or resign and fight?

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      3 quid a vote is hardly democratic.

  6. controversialchristian1 said,

    Yes it is, and when Maggie May starts using terms like ‘working class’ which has been taboo for years, even bizarrely the very reality of class discrimination by a sold out and tired mainstream media, you know things have changed. Corbyn is just one of many things that have made people wake up to the truth of the matter, that we now live in and under a dangerously skewed social, political and particularly economic system, with concentrated wealth and power in fewer and fewer hands, a shrinking middle class and a growing disenfranchised majority. This is the very polar opposite of what a healthy democracy should be. Situations like the BHS debacle with Phillip Green and Sports Direct with Mike Ashley have shown that capitalism with no checks and balances works for the very richest, and few others. The rest of us have no choice but to claw back democracy. Anyone else who thinks this system is fine, but is struggling to make ends meet or fearful for the future can keep their heads buried in the sand or hope that the Tories or Tory lites, the PLP, will make things better. I wish you the best of luck with that.

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