Tuesday 2 July 2019

Peak Corbyn

As you perhaps know I am an inveterate, nay veteran strategiser: I have done it for a living in the military and in commerce.  In the aftermath of the dreadful GE 2017, my thoughts inevitably turned to how the Tories might work their way out of the ridiculous hole May had dropped them in.  (Obviously someone had been given an inkling of the result beforehand, because at least the DUP deal was immediately ready to roll.)

Sticking to aspects that are germane to the matter in hand right now, my strategy incorporated the following elements that had positive leverage potential:
  1. The next (scheduled) GE would be five years ahead, a helluva long time
  2. Corbyn was 68; McDonnell 66
  3. In the ensuing years there were likely to be a number of truly loonie-left Local Authorities to provide public evidence of what these latter-day marxists do, given a sniff of power - 5 years being a mighty long time for them to hold their discipline
  4. Da Yoof, whilst capable of surging onto the streets and into the polling booths in a fit of childrens-crusade enthusiasm, are nowadays notoriously fickle, flighty, of short attention-span, and low propensity to make commitments beyond the next Deliveroo pizza horizon  
Anyhow, their attention-span lasted long enough to grant Magic Grandad a full Triumph at Glastonbury 2017; and Momentum, buoyed up with all the confidence May had so culpably endowed them with (see recent posts), was gearing up to take over the world.

Then the long drawn-out Brexit stuff engulfed them, and Corbyn's resolute fence-sitting - almost indistinguishable from being fully impaled on a sharp bit at the top - has begun to annoy quite a number on the Left.  The tone of many a leftie article just now is:  too late, you old git, we've got your number now, and if you change your mind this late in the day, nobody will believe you.  Anyhow - remind me why we ever liked you in the first place?  And where's that pizza?  

Oh, how fickle is fortune, eh? (see item 4 above).   And then we come to item 2, and this week's "Corbyn has lost it" meme, so rapidly fanning out from the Murdoch press.  As with all good malicious rumours, per the Trump handbook (see Scott Adams passim) the key is to say something that immediately chimes, that was almost on everyone's lips anyway, that crystalises the already-present but non-articulated thought.  And, let's face it, this one falls on pretty fertile ground.  The timing was perfect.

Of course, Team Corbs (I believe they go by 'LOTO') have rushed into full Rapid Rebuttal mode - but this one would have been a challenge for Bad Al Campbell** lui-même in his formidable Excalibur prime.  Unfortunately, the best they can come up with is, Jezza is really quite fit.  For his age.  Ahem.  Sadly, as lots of people know all too poignantly, there is many a deep-dementia sufferer who is as fit as a fiddle ...  and that's even before we get into "Methinks / protest ..."  Just how smart is it to call for a full enquiry?  Who knows what else will come up?

People have periodically been calling 'Peak Corbyn' for at least 18 months, but thus far I haven't been convinced.  Today, there's a decent case to be made.  He seems to have a tight pretorian team that can face down even McDonnell, so they can probably keep him, El Cid-like, stuck on his fence for a good while longer.  (People did the same for Gordon Brown, as we frequently noted at the time.)  Trouble is, there may no longer be the adoring crowds gazing up at him from either side.  No Glastonbury for Corbs this year (according the Grauniad, he'd have been booed if he'd tried).  Could be quite a lonely place when the wind gets up.  Clambering down again may be painful in itself, and too late anyway.  Talk is already of handing the baton to Rebecca Long Bailey.

By the way, I hear McDonnell's health is not of the best ...

**Did he even start the rumour ..?

UPDATE:  this,  from today's Guardian
Rumours have been flying for months not only about Corbyn’s physical health ... but more broadly about his intellectual capacity; his ability to master an endless series of complex briefs and take timely decisions on difficult issues, while simultaneously managing a sometimes fractious party and dealing with whatever unexpected crisis blows up.
 AND MORE:   (also Graun)
Corbynism’s greatest liability is now Jeremy Corbyn himself ... He sounds tongue-tied and looks like a man hiding from battle, which undermines the image of a candid crusader. When the hero no longer embodies principles on which his movement was founded, the whole edifice wobbles. The attention of young idealists drifts; affection turns conditional; benefit of the doubt is withdrawn. It is getting notably harder, for example, to be loyal to Corbyn and determined to combat antisemitism at the same time ... He once exuded a gentleness that made allegations of fanaticism sound preposterous. Now his peevish side cuts through. He once animated feelings of belonging and purpose in people who had felt starved of inspiration by soulless New Labour. Now he refuses to quench the thirst of his party’s parched remainers ... Few Labour MPs, if any, relish the prospect of an election under their leader, although most pretend to want one. It is hard to present Corbyn as a man for the future, and May’s departure will date him even more. He will be a stale continuity figure from the time of stasis, irradiated through years of loitering ineffectually amid the referendum’s toxic fallout. His aura of specialness has dissipated, revealing the man in all his flawed mediocrity. The prospect of Britain having a radical Labour government is sliding into the gap that has opened up between an idea people once called “Jeremy Corbyn” and the actual Jeremy Corbyn.


GridBot said...

Following through with the peak Corbyn theory - how do you see it playing out?

Lets suppose the labor reigns are passed to Rebecca Wrong-Daily (interestingly she put her name on the forward of the "Bring Energy Home" document) she's 39 and I'd guess she stamped through and through with the same Corbyn/McDonnell ideology.

Suppose also that BoJo takes the conservative premiership, but for some reason isn't able to do much with brexit and it some how comes to a GE.

Game of top trumps - Bo "Calamity" Jo VS. Wrong-Daily who does the electorate pick and where does that lead us?

Anonymous said...

Here's an angle worth exploring - the teams behind them:

1) Team Corbyn (Milne, Murphy, Murray, McCluskey etc) probably realise that they have never been closer to gaining power and installing a hard left Government in the UK, and that the opportunity may never present itself again and as a consequence I expect them to be very organised - even at the expense of alienating large chunks of the PLP - and fight like hell for their prize at the GE. I can't see them ditching Corbyn as that would turn Da Yoof types off if the Magic Grandpa was binned.

2) Team Boris will take time to get put together and will have to be super-organised and lucky not to make a pig's ear of EU Exit. He didn't really manage to run an effective Mayor's office (lots of them hated each other/him), so I just don't see him running an effective No 10 operation, and again, he alienates large chunks of the Tory MPs

Nick Drew said...

GridBot - how do you see it playing out?

A more first-hand knowledge of the People's Party is probably needed, to give a really good answer. As noted in an earlier post, that energy paper wasn't short on insider input and serious thinking, even if has been turned into a pretty impracticable Policy via some ideological preoccupations (incl allowing the unions to pitch for max Jobs-for-the-Boys - but to be fair that is their role in life) and ultimate lack of real-world experience. But it wasn't outright doctrinaire hogwash.

I don't under-estimate BJ's ability to self destruct

Anon: on 1) I'm inclined to agree with the first bit. As suggested here before: one of the great (& predictable) things about marxists is that, while they're not averse to shameless tactical flip-flops (or pivots as we must learn to say), on some things they dig in ferociously and can't be shifted, come Hell or high water - it's a matter of pride; a belief that some things count as Ideological Purity; and ends up being a loyalty test-cum shibboleth. Brexit / Lexit seems to be in that category.

But as for never ditching Corbs ... not so sure. if he becomes a liability, well, McDonnell wants power more than he does friendship

On 2), see note on BoJo above. But he does seem to have Lynton Crosby on the team, a man who doesn't mince words or have any fanciful notions. Maybe also Cummings? - whom he worked with productively in 2016, and is seriously smart.

He is also more credible than Hunt as a nutter who would actually press the no-deal button (the 'Israeli' nuclear strategy) - which might just tell for something with the EC. Then again, it might not.

There's also the question of how susceptible he is to Dominic Grieves, or vice-versa. DG will assume Hunt would do anything rather than trigger a GE. He might not be so confident about Boris (credible nutter again).

Anonymous said...

I always think a smart person consciously surrounds themselves by people smarter then them - it's obviously why I visit here regularly!

If Boris is smart, he'll choose the smartest people and let them get on with doing what they need to without the need to micro manage every little decision.

Ideally Boris will be Boris and be a good sideshow attraction for the media whilst the grown ups get on with government.

But this, of course, assumes there are grown ups in government...

andrew said...

Channeling my inner dominic cummings:

Corbyn and Johnson are both a product of the London metropolitan elite: accepting the current structure of the british state largely as it is.

As such they are both a waste of plasma and increasingly irrelevant to the course of the UK's future.

The future will be increasing guided by special interests, not broad based political parties.

Jan said...

The Grauniad have really got it in for Corbyn haven't they? I'd say it's the Blairites pushing for power as they've all been quietly waiting in the wings..........apart from Chuka who was too impatient. They haven't gone away and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Alasdair Campbell is behind it.

hovis said...

I still maintain, the two main parties have the structures but not the actual support - they will be dead within 10 years - I see the decay taking a good while but inevitable - think the end of the Ottoman empire - weak power structures holding up for so long, unexpectedly, but finally imploding.

Andrew - yep about right also

Anonymous said...

The stuff in the Guardian is just the continuation of the campaign that's been going pretty much since he became leader. We all know you have to vary the attack a bit, and the anti-semitism drum pattern is getting a bit old. Brexit and "intellectual capacity" are the equivalent of bringing on the spinners and bowling round the wicket on a flat pitch where the anti-seamer attack is blunted.

Corbyn's enemies are mostly in and around the PLP and various pressure groups. How much damage has May done him? But there are a lot of powerful Labour figures who long for the great Blair days of open borders and perpetual Middle East wars.

Interesting what's happened to the Graun over the last ten years. Assange and Bradley Manning were Guardian heroes not so long ago. Now they're 100% behind "invade the world, invite the world, in hock to the world".

Anonymous said...

addendum - I can't but wonder if the change of Guardian tack was anything to do with their financial woes, which appear to have been at least temporarily averted by "reader contributions". Perhaps some readers, or even just one, have deep pockets.

There's a sort-of precedent, the Sierra Club, a sort of US equivalent of Friends Of The Earth, who were bailed out by a billionaire on condition they shut up about population growth/immigration and its effect on US wilderness.

Nick Drew said...

You have also to wonder how much of it stems from Guardian staffers (shop steward Nick Cohen) taking revenge on their *much loved* former colleague Mr S.Milne of Winchester & Oxford ...

E-K said...

A shame to read sad reports via the Graun. Corbyn has been the Tories' most potent politician.

hovis said...

Given the latest round of wobbles on the Corbyn front I'll throw these into the ring to try and stir things up:

The relatively recent leak to the Washington Post of Pompeo "pushing back" against Corbyn and appearing to suggest the US would prevent his election from happening.


The leak that the Guardian are now 'back in the fold' with UK State intelligence.

My own take is that is:
US and UK Security services are closely wedded to support of Israel and will portray any support for the Palestinians and criticism of Israel as "anti semitic'. This is in addition to to normal cut thrust and genuine concern at the political level. In essence they are another set of actors in this.
Labour on the other hand whilst taking a pro Palestinian position, do have a large body of anti-Semites in the party including at the top. So this doesn look like its a binary choice of realities, but a single one.

Additionally The Guardian is the paper of the establishment, and has been for a while supporting intertwined Govt. and Corporte interests - an example of the latter are the large number of puff pieces that are recycled GSK PR positions.

Sebastian Weetabix said...

The only trouble with Hovis's take is that Corbyn et al genuinely *are* anti-semitic, q.v. 'zionists born in this country lack irony' just to give one example.

The hard left are very happy to support dead Jews via holocaust memorial exercises, but they have a real problem with live ones.

Corbyn and his team are a bunch of rather stupid very nasty shits.

andrew said...

Sw +1

Most people have reservations about friends who drive home drunk even if they say they are in control and dont worry.

In the same way i think most people have reservations about a party that acts in an antisemitic manner but professes they are not so.

And for some that will be enough to stop them voting.

andrew said...


Note that this single issue (!) has occupied an extraordinarily large amount of the whole parties mindspace.

A tribute to the power of special interests on both sides and the weakness of the core party

hovis said...

SW: Indeed #1; my earlier post certaily didnt excluded that position. It was more motovated by why now.

Andrew: Indeed #2 for special interests on both sides.

Anonymous said...

Genuine question - What evidence is there of anti-semetism within the Labour Party?

Anonymous said...

"What evidence is there of anti-semetism within the Labour Party?"

For some people, a foreign policy that is not 110% supportive of Israel (see Blair/Cameron/May) would be ipso facto anti-semitic.

Corbyn's relative neutrality raises the nightmare scenario of a UK government that might not be up for attacking Iran!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the answer - with out wanting to trivialise the significance of not supporting Israel - is that it?

The way it is portrayed in the media - Corbyn and his cronies - may as well be holocaust deniers. Is this really a narrative to undermine there credibility/appeal to the electorate?

Nick Drew said...

Anon 8:43 - no, I don't thinks that's it. It's a part, but by no means all.

I will give you a trivial example. Never in my life (I'm not a Labour Party member) have I heard the term "Zio" being used, by anyone. But I am reliably told it is flung about in many Labour Party contexts, as a freely-used heavy-duty insult.

For the rest you need to go to somewhere they document this & worse all the time. JC, or even just the good old Graun. I'm reluctant to suggest what search terms you might use, though, because it's a minefield out there.

You might page through Jonathan Freedland's stuff. Notwithstanding the obvious personal interest he has in the matter, he is generally seen as pretty even-tempered and balanced, but see these:

etc etc etc

Anonymous said...

ND - I guess we disagree re Freedland - as one of the chief drum-beaters for perpetual Middle East war (to be fought by US/UK/EU) he has a massive stake in Corbyn not being PM.

I have a massive stake in Corbyn not being PM, too, but for different reasons, all of which are to do with his effect on the UK, and none of which are to do with Israel or any non-UK country.

But the attacks on him for "anti-semitism" are dishonest and a disgrace to UK politics. The people who make them should be ashamed.

andrew said...



As you can see into the near term future, can you please tell me the next winning lottery numbers

Or even better your favourite footgun story

They even employed carter-ruck to send out bullying letters!

Nick Drew said...

Certainly, Andrew.

Mystic Mug says ...

if the sun rises in the east tomorrow, Owen Jones will write an article explaining why NDAs for Labour Party employees are wholly just and equitable