The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Neither Corbyn Nor Labour Need the Rebel MPs

I see a great deal of fear around the idea of Labour splitting. While this is a slight concern, it isn’t a major one:

  • Corbyn has the support of the membership. Even most who don’t support him are unlikely to leave the party if he wins this confrontation.
  • If Corbyn wins, Britons will have a choice between an actual socialist party and a neoliberal party.
  • I suspect that “actual socialists” will do as well or better at the polls than “Tory light.”

It is possible that the rebel MPs, once kicked out through re-selection, will form a rump party. That would be a problem, but the next election is will be so non-standard, and likely wild, that I doubt they will make the key difference.

In any case, if you’re a left-winger, a chance to elect a left-wing party instead of choosing between two neo-liberal parties is too important to pass up. In a first pass, the post-system people eventually lose patience with the lead party and elect the second party, it’s just that simple.

Make sure you control that second party, and you will have your chance to enact your policies.

Labour, as a Blairite party, basically continued Thatcherism, but not as quickly. Labour was, simply, the slower road to hell.

Perhaps a party that offers “not heading to hell” will do better than one which offers the scenic route to the same place Tories want to go.

It’s certainly worth a flier. Hell ain’t that pretty. People should be understanding that by now.

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Corbyn Loses No Confidence Vote 172-40 but Vows to Stay


Blair, et al. Committed War Crimes


  1. shargash

    If Corbyn can hang on till the Chilcot report, I don’t think he’ll have any problem with a rump Blairite party.

  2. Labour, as a Blairite party, basically continued Thatcherism, but not as quickly. Labour was, simply, the slower road to hell.

    As with the Dems: continued Reaganism under Clinton and Obama.

  3. The Tragically Flip

    Yes, if Corbyn keeps the “Labour” brand in the split, the advantage accrues to him. Must harder to start fresh with a new party and keep/win any significant support.

    There will essentially be two Lib-Dem parties.

  4. Peter*

    The numbers shown in this VOC seem to reflect the large majority of Labour MP’s not a rebel group. If there is a split in the party the rump will be Corbyn and his supporters unless most of these MPs are removed by voters, is that an actual possibility?

  5. Ian Welsh

    If they stay, they will likely be re-selected. The majority of members back Corbyn, and it looks like they can’t keep him off the ballot.

    I suppose they could split before re-selection and then he’d be the rump. But they’d have to leave the party. He’d be Labour, they’d be whatever their new name is. They’d have more MPs, would they keep them in the next election?

    Interesting question. Let’s see how it plays out.

  6. markfromireland

    @ Peter*

    You need to distinguish between the Parliamentary Labour Party and The Labour Party. They are not one and the same thing. The PLP is one very tiny part of the Labour Party. The Labour Party consists of its members and supporters and includes both individuals and corporate bodies such a Trade Unions.

    Most of the PLP was long ago captured by Blair and his followers but the PLP is not the party.

    If there’s a split – I doubt you’ll be able to refer to Corbyn and his supporters as the rump.

  7. The Tragically Flip

    What does Corbyn have to lose anyway? If they beat him, he’s out anyway. He’s not young, and not like he was going to get some corporate sinecure if he played his cards right. They’ve probably already tried to bribe him to leave.

    This is a fight worth having. If he wins, the Labour party is a genuine lefty party. If he loses, well it’s back to being a neoliberal party which it was for decades anyway.

  8. El Guapo

    From reading today it seems like the plan these plotting scum had was that Corbyn, being the weak milksop the pegged him as, would resign because of the pressure caused by the mass resignations from the cabinet. Now that he has told them to fuck off they have to go to plan b – they need to find someone willing to go against him, which may not be an easy task.

  9. Peter*


    Thanks for the clarification but weren’t these MPs that revolted elected by the party members in their districts? Wouldn’t they have to be replaced with Corbyn supporters in an election to reverse this majority Labour MP rebellion?

    Corbyn can apparently limp along as Party Leader without majority MP support but could he lead the country with this handicap?

  10. Ian Welsh

    That last bit makes no sense. He won’t lead the country till he wins an election. That election would not be with splitting MPs as his candidates, it would be by people selected by ridings after the MPs have left to form their own party.

    What would change is that he might not be “leader of the Opposition” if they leave (not sure the exact rules), but though it matters its not particularly important. Trudeau won the last Canadian election with a party that wasn’t official opposition: but they had the brand “Liberal”.

    This can actually work out well precisely because, one way or another, they won’t be Labour MPs in a Labour government, which means that Corbyn as PM won’t be hamstrung by 80% of his caucus being neoliberals who won’t support the policies he actually wants to implement.

    This could work out very very very well.

  11. bruce wilder

    Organizationally, there is a fundamental conflict between the Labour Party as a membership organization — the old model — and the Labour Party as a kind of loosely worn personal identity. The latter was Blair’s model and is not coincidentally how U.S. political parties are organized [and something like it was the Ur-model of a two-party system in the ancient days of Whigs and Tories, before the modern Parties were organized, following the Second (1867) and Third (1884) Reforms extended the franchise down the ladder of social class.]

    In the Blair model, members of the PLP are careerists. They become MPs by following a highly structured career path, seeking the patronage of incumbent MPs and their various policy research groups. If on that path, they do much of anything to cultivate what in the U.S. we would call a grass-roots following, it tends to be incidental.

    Blair was not entirely wrong in his electoral analysis: the solid Labour vote is firmly anchored in personal identification with the shadow of the industrial revolution in formerly coal and steel producing manufacturing areas. Moving beyond that base to win a national election required winning among young professionals who had moved away from coal and steel towns to the bright lights of the big city.

    When Cameron came along and started competing for the young professionals, the Blair strategy collapsed. The ambition of the PLP — to win the young away from the Tories — seems to have been put within reach by Brexit.

    For Corbyn and old Labour, though, the basic economic problem isn’t the disappointment of the ambitious young that they might be cut off from the cash and glamour of the EU; the basic economic problem is that while the 10 richest areas of Northwest Europe are scattered about France, Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, with central London leading that pack, of the 10 poorest areas in northwest Europe, 9 are Britain, mostly in the Midlands.

    Blair’s solution was to deliver government transfers to those areas. Cameron’s austerity took those benefits away. The PLP was not willing to vote against austerity, which broke that basic alliance and Corbyn was elected Leader as a result.

  12. Ian Welsh

    And Corbyn has done very very well amonst the youngs. In fact, without them he wouldn’t be Labour leader.

    His strategy for getting youngs, I suspect, is now better than Blairs, because there is a new crop of youngs, and they don’t like austerity. At all.

  13. markfromireland

    @ Ian – yes but you need to take this further and look at some of the criticisms and why a group of mostly Blairite left-behinds are making the particular criticism they’re making and look at the timing.

    Timing first:

    Any attempt to get rid of Corbyn has to take place now because Corbyn and his supporters will use the next conference to rewrite the party’s rules stopping precisely the sort of overthrow now being attempted from taking place. Corbyn and his supporters have been entirely open about this.

    The political chaos caused by the result of the British referendum adds cover – a useful excuse, but this coup has been in the making for a long time, and would have taken place around now irrespective of what the referendum’s result had been.

    The PLP has been divided between Blairites and socialists for quite a while. Do you remember remember how 184 Labour MPs refused to vote against the savage cuts in welfare the conservatives were passing? Those MPs were never ever going to support Labour becoming a part of the left again. Only 48 labour MPs voted to oppose the cuts.

    So a coup by the PLP was always inevitable and now or round about now was always likely to be when.

    There’s good coverage here of the coup’s genesis here: The truth behind the Labour coup, when it really began and who manufactured it (EXCLUSIVE) | The Canary I’m inclined to believe it not least because it matches quite closely to some of the things that Craig Murray’s been saying here It’s Still the Iraq War, Stupid. – Craig Murray and here Another Media Setup? – Craig Murray and here How the News Agenda is Set – Craig Murray. I mighn’t put quite as much weight as Murray does on how the imminence of Chilcott is driving much of this but it’s a matter of degree only.

    The Excuse:

    The excuse being used is that Corbyn was ineffective during the referendum campaign but this is disingenuous to put it mildly. Corbyn has always been a eurosceptic he went along with “Remain” in the hope of fostering unity but as somebody with far more contact with grassroots than the middle class Blairites he’s well aware of the fact for vast swathes of the country globalisation has been a disaster and that people would leap at the chance to vote against a system that had devastated their lives, communities, and the prospects of their children.

    When Corbyn said that he’d done the best he could he was being completely truthful. Momentum is a grass roots movemnent and they would have informed him that had he failed to make clear that he had severe criticisms of how the EU had contributed to globalisation’s despoliation of working class England that Labour would be facing an even bleaker prospect than it’s facing now in the midlands and north.

    If Corbyn wanted to avoid the utter meltdown that occurred in Scotland then he needed to sound critical and he needed to keep his distance from the hated Torys and that is precisely what he did. No wonder the Blairite wing is furious, by acting as he did he made it clear that day of the Tory dominated consensus was over. Corbyn’s behaviour during the referendum campaign made it crystal clear that he was determined to ensure that Labour would return to its socialist roots.

  14. markfromireland

    I forgot to mention in my comment above that the next Labour party conference will take place in Liverpool between Sunday 25 September 2016 to Wednesday 28 September 2016.

  15. Cripes

    These are interesting times and it gets harder to unravel the thread of events and interests as standard political classifications become useless. We see authentic populist anger against neoliberalism’s economic warfare rally behind Trumps fake populism.

    The party of FDR has fought off a left insurgence led by a 74-year old and his 20-something supporters, in order to defend finance overlords and foreign wars that decimate their constituents.

    In Brexit, it appears that old labour, provincial and actual old folks have rejected Euro-integration, defeating the millenials and their posh allies in the southeast. After the wailing and gnashing of teeth is over, who is left and who is right?

    The categories are imploding and the cattle are smashing their bodies against the fences. The tenders rush frantically to distract the raging mass, hoping for time to repair the broken parts.

    Eventually, the herd will breach the fence. Control is hard to restore.

    Ian’s strange faith that the ascension of youth and passing of the old will fix this mess is misplaced and faintly reminiscent of love beads and patchouli.

    Just as the greatest generation and the hippy boomers aged into their social place, so too will todays young. In other words when they assume the levers of power in 10-20 years, they’ll be in their 40’s and 50’s.

    They’ll identify with their class and social role and they won’t be young. The evidence so far is not that they’re more radical than the generation of the thirties and sixties, but who knows what events may bring?

  16. Peter*

    I didn’t realize that the Labour Party membership was such a tiny fraction of the voters who support and elect Labour MPs and Crobyn’s election as leader, by this small number of select party members, may not reflect that much larger demographics’ positions. I think I’m correct stating that that this party election is the only one Corbyn can directly stand in besides his local MP election and the voters must elect a majority of MP’s of one party to Parliament before they can appoint the PM, unless there is a coalition. For Corbyn to become PM new Labour MPs will need to be elected and if the rebelling MPs leave the party he will never lead the country.

    Extrapolating the small number of votes that elected Corbyn as party leader to how voters will choose their local MPs may be wishful thinking. I think UK voters are not unlike voters in the US who may despise the party elites and the government but will still vote for their local incumbent representative if they brought home the bacon.

  17. markfromireland

    @ Peter* June 29, 2016

    The short answer to your question is “that was then and this is now” but there are a lot of factors including:

    Much of the local party structure was moribund so it was easy for a tightly organised and well disciplined movement to take control of branches – the Blairites did, successfully what Militant had tried and failed to do previously.

    Another element was that many candidates were imposed by Smith Square which had been well and truly captured by Blairites.

    There was also a generational aspect as the older Trade Union sponsored MPs died off.

    Furthermore legislative changes pushed through by successive conservative governments militated against left-wingers being selected by making it much more difficult for them to get union funding.

    Finally “that was then and this is now” – the sitting MPs mostly represent the consensus of the Blairite establishment, many experienced members are returning to the party they left in disgust at what Blair had done to it. New new members if you don’t mind my putting it that way tend to be young. Current MPs and Blairite organisers are now the “old guard” middle aged establishment and are not only behind the times but are closely associated with the globalist status quo to which Corbyn and his young supporters are adamantly opposed.

    Lots more I could write on this but that’s the gist of it.

  18. EmilianoZ

    Corbyn might have done well with the young but they wanted to remain and he didnt deliver the goods. Some are furious with him for what they perceived to be a tepid at best campaign for remain (according to the Guardian).

    Labour cannot win with only the young. Corbyn cannot have the young and the working class at the same time. The working class wants out of the EU.

  19. Ian Welsh

    It seems the coup was timed to be after the referendum and before the General Meeting because the MPs knew that in the General Meeting there was going to be a rule change to ensure that Corbyn would be on any future ballot. (Aka. both sides knew this was coming.)

    Old Labour knows they can’t win an actual election against Corbyn. Their plan was to keep him off the ballot.


    a) it looks like he has the 40 MP threshold of support;
    b) the Blairites own legal counsel’s opinion that the current leader is automatically on the ballot has been leaked.

    Have I mentioned what a lovely day it has been so far?


    (Edit: I see that MFI dealt with the timing before me, but his comment was caught in moderation. Still, way more detail than I provided.)

  20. markfromireland

    To say that “the young” wanted to stay in is disingenuous at best. The young midde-class wanted to stay “in”. This is why university towns voted “in, that’s why London voted “in” but once you got away from London anf middle-class areas the vote to leave was so high that it could only have been achieved by a majority of every generation voting for “leave”.

  21. Ian Welsh

    I’ll lay odds that even the prosperous young will still be for Corbyn.

  22. Josh

    @cripes The hippies were always the minority. They just got more media attention.

    As a (non-British) millennial, I would have voted “remain” to increase my chances of being able to find a job somewhere in Europe. Even (especially) in that case, I would still vote for Corbyn because he’s anti-austerity & school fees – in other words, he’s against the policies that would be pushing me out of Britain and onto the continent.

  23. CMike

    Is this a fair assessment? Labour is not going to win a majority of Scottish seats anytime in the next fifteen years and, therefore, can only come to power in a coalition with the SNP. Should Scotland leave the UK, no Labour leader who was recognized as socialist leaning would have any prospect of forming a government for a generation. Meanwhile, as long as the price of oil remains depressed, it’s unlikely Scotland would vote for independence even the the wake of the UK leaving the EU.

  24. On the Tory side, as expected, Boris is out. He does not want to clean up the mess they made.

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