Sunday 15 December 2019

Weekend Election (2) - What Next

To envision the full potential horror of Momentum - a sophisticated 'ground operation' of decisive effectiveness in the cause of marxist identitarian dictatorship** - is one thing.  To figure out how to neutralise it politically is quite another, whatever parliamentary majority the Conservatives now command.  By 'it', I don't just mean Momentum with a capital 'M': the left is often fairly amorphous & blob-like, and will readily re-form in a different guise: they're good at that.  What's meant here is the determined, disaffacted leftist bedsit 'officer class' we've discussed before which, if Momentum disbanded tomorrow, would still exist as a fully networked 'virtual' revolutionary base.  They've trained together; they've 'fought' together; the camaraderie is there.

There are two 'passive' approaches I don't think it prudent to rely upon; one complacent and lazy, the other honourable and much more demanding.

1. The lazy argument is that Corbyn-style marxism is now proven to be terminally unattractive to the British electorate: ergo, the matter can safely be ignored.  They'll all drift off to get proper jobs and have families.  If they do ever re-surface, they'll be spurned just as surely as they have been this time around - and take down the Labour Party with them (again).

I don't buy either part of that.  We might readily accept that some of them will be pretty disillusioned right now, and may well drift away.  The attention span of da yoof is notoriously short - indeed, one might fairly contend they've already slipped from their 2017 high-water mark. That's helpful, as far as it goes: some of the weaker brethren are, well, weak.  But for a solid core, the grievances are strong, the ideology solid, the narrative compelling.  It's easy to stay networked, ready to be re-mobilised at short notice - even if they aren't actually back in action straight away (see footnote). 

And next time?  Under better generalship in the mainstream Labour Party, the crack Momentum infantry could easily have had far greater impact this time.  The Labour campaign, incompetently conducted by first-timers following Corbyn's purge at the time of Party Conference, was strategically flawed, tactically inept (e.g. pouring resources into Uxbridge, a mere vanity project) - and that's before factoring in the oft-remarked observation that facing almost any other leader than Corbyn, the Tories would have been toast (unprovable; but it's certainly what many Tories think).  Good troops were squandered by Corbyn's Labour like the Commonwealth forces in the fall of Singapore. Who's to say that the infinitely more political McDonnell couldn't have pulled it off?  Complacency about next time isn't good enough.

2. The more strenuous, and altogether honourable 'passive' approach recognises the grievances - the real ones.  It attacks them via a 'One Nation Conservative' strategy, as announced by Boris on Friday, of Actually Redressing the Grievances; and who knows, he may mean it.  Nothing like draining the swamp to flush out the alligators: and it would be wonderful to be able to rely on this alone, to deal with the disaffection and see off the marxists.

The trouble with this laudable mission is several-fold.  (a) Some longstanding problems take an awful lot of turning around: maybe more than one parliament, given the mighty distractions of Brexit, and a probable recession starting soon.  (b) Some of the grievances are outright spurious, but the contrived 'hurt' is real enough in the eyes of the beholders.  (c) Some problems, notably health and old-age provision get bigger, the more successful you are at dealing with the current manifestations.  Demand will always be one step ahead of supply.  (d) Some problems are unlikely to be solved by anything I've seen in anyone's manifesto.

All in all, a realistic best case would be that in 2024 Johnson's government gets a decent amount of credit for demonstrably trying hard - hopefully with a few tangible quick wins that haven't simply been banked and forgotten.  But everything can always be labelled "too little, too late".  It will be a mighty feat of WW2-style Keynsianism - plus supporting propaganda - to leave a large number of people feeling materially and morally better off in a mere five years.  The BBC cannot be relied upon to do anything constructive towards that end, nor (e.g.) the teachers' unions, nor Labour councils ... etc etc.  That's not even to mention the SNP.

Splendid though it would be to rely on manifest Tory success in addressing the nation's intractable problems for Momentum spontaneously to wither on the vine within five years ... but I wouldn't trust to it myself. 

(Part 3 to come)

** In case anyone imagines this is overstating the matter, you don't have to go far to find people writing about preparations to wage the Class War starting on Monday.


dearieme said...

Carry on, ND. This is good stuff.

david morris said...

You don't think that McDonnell as Labour leader would have been easier to pick off than Corbyn ?

Raedwald said...

None of the options are good or attractive.

First, tax cuts are out. Boris will need to keep current expenditure right at the limit. The problem is that demand will rapidly outgrow the necessary GDP growth to sustain it - yes, there's a downturn coming. We can steal enough GDP from the EU by gaming competitiveness in the short term perhaps but lose friends.

Ok so borrowing to invest - infrastructure - zero interest rates - makes sense but shovel ready schemes are rare as hens teeth - so HS2 may continue not because its good value but because its good Keysianism.

The comrades will go into attrition mode. No longer legit TU led protest marches with risk assessments and set routes and stewards cleared days in advance by the police but guerilla pop-up protests - a few hundred thugs with masks suddenly appearing to create maximum shock and disruption. Day after day. Economic sabotage. Internal cyber warfare. They will use fellow travellers in schools and the NHS to weaponise children and the sick. Internal activists will be taught how to leak secret documents - nothing inside government will be safe from sudden disclosure. Drones will cause chaos.

Of course provoking a reaction, ramping up the temperature, is exactly what they're after. Just as the scores of blindings, amputations and serious injuries feed the conflict in France.

I only hope our grey men in the shadows have wargamed all this and contingencies are also oven-ready. It's going to be a rough ride.

Elby the Beserk said...

I believe Cummings is smart enough to be aware of what you suggest will happen, Nick, and will be taking appropriate action. Asymmetrical guerrilla war would seem to be his MO. And he's devious enough to do it well. I do agree with your prognosis.

Regardless, social media has emboldened the Left. so that they have moved more to the Left, and further on Leftwards have enthusiastically adopted violence in parts of the US. Expect more here. Police may have to be taught how to use their batons again, rather than waving them around during Pride.

E-K said...

They are so out of touch with the working class they will see Labour out of office for a second term too. Frank Field thinks so.

I fear that there are many Deep State operators who would use Momentum types as their cover and even direct them. They would make the country ungovernable for a truly Conservative administration.

Nick Drew said...

DM - it's a judgement based on TV interviews, frankly - because I've never met the man

but I do judge that McDonnell is: (a) politically sharper & more ruthless than Corbs - e.g. his TV performnaces: significantly more adroit. And he clearly knew the anti-semitism boil had to be lanced decisively much earlier in the piece, and would have done so had he been leader, with people like Chris Williamson being immediately & cheerfully thrown under the bus

(b) far less encumbered by sentimental baggage, a.k.a. 'loyalty to his old comrades' - (cf Henry V & Falstaff)

(c) far more ideologically driven: motivated by the Cause (hence a & b above)

(d) no hint of the tetchy old Steptoe with limited brainpower

As such, I'd say he'd have made a much better fist of things. Nobody would ever have voted against him for being 'weak'

L fairfax said...

The young need to be able to buy cheap housing or Labour will have a good chance next time.

BlokeInBrum said...

There are many problems that need to be dealt with. The first is that Conservatives concede every battle they fight or don't fight every battle they could. See Boris not trying to filibuster the Withdrawal Agreement in the House of Lords. The left fight every battle tooth and claw, whether there is a chance of winning or not.
Also, all the battles the right fight are defensive. That needs to change, shine a light on the hypocracy and deceit of the left, put them on the defensive and make them defend their positions. You only have to see how Corbyn coped when he was asked how he was going to pay for all of his promises.
The left have claimed the moral high ground on many positions. Targeting the Labour Party on their anti semitism undermined their self perception as morally superior to the right. More needs to be done to destroy this image of self righteousness.
And this leads us directly to education and the media. I have young acquaintances who are posting on Twitter that if you vote for the Tories then you have blood on your hands. Schools and Universities are breeding grounds for young militant socialists. More needs to be done to de-radicalise education, and more needs to be done to prevent the media from being cheerleaders for every left leaning cause going and giving an easy ride to every lefty demagogue going.

Nick Drew said...

BiB - that's pretty much another way of saying what I wrote at the outset:

"The aim (to caricature it briefly) must be to force 'reasonable' members of the Momentum tendency - yes, they exist - to give up their recent dreams. A truly vital task"

As regards not fighting every battle: my inference is that, from the very start, the Cummings plan was to get a GE, which he was convinced Boris would win, ASAP. Many other things could be sacrificed to that end: and there's nothing wrong with tactical withdrawals PROVIDED they are made as part of a strategy

The value of the 2019 GE win is inestimable

Incidentally, the sickest person in Britain right now must be Nick Timothy. If his advice hadn't been so shockingly bad in 2017 ...

andrew said...

So glad i do not work in politics.
Almost all advice is situational.

Nick T's (abysmally presented) policy on social care (granny has to sell house)
Did make some sense :- otherwise everyone is buying a few lucky greedy children an massive inheritance.

If as a mass we had decided "get brexit done" was just not realistic or a pos or not true, things might have gone very differently.

I suppose the difference is that enough people wanted to believe.

BlokeInBrum said...

Sure, winning the GE is important. But it will be a waste of time if henceforth you implement every crackpot plan and retarded policy that the left wanted in the first place.
I can confidently predict that we will have a Brexit which is so soft and wishy washy that it's indistinguishable from not having left at all. With the added bonus of paying through the nose without having any meaningful say in Europe.

Combined with the Tory party embracing every big state, socialist light policy going, the 'right' may well never have bothered contesting the election in the first place.

They need to stop conceding ground to the Socialists, stop apologising for being Conservative, and show, not tell, how Conservative values and policies are better for the British people.

E-K said...


The thing is that selling granny's house can come after years of the family caring for her. I don't mind the idea. What is wrong is when her care fees are double what they should be in order to subsidise the dole scrounger in the bed next to her.