The Corbynite Manoeuvre


Okay, first let me apologise for the paucity of long-form written pieces here at Shabgraff lately.  Normal service will (hopefully) be resumed fairly soon, or a proper announcement of some new normal will have to be made.

Next, let me remind you all of the existence of two new(ish) podcasts featuring me. 

There’s a new episode of Oi! Spaceman, in which I join Shana and Daniel to – for reasons that now elude me – talk about ‘The Return of Doctor Mysterio’. HERE.

And there’s a bonus mini-episode of Wrong With Authority, featuring myself in conversation with Daniel about the 2007 David Fincher movie Zodiac. HERE.

We may do more of these (comparatively) short extra episodes in future, with just a couple of us chatting about a movie outside our main sequence.  We’ve decided to call them Footnotes.  Because we’re just so damn cute.

On the subject of podcasts, there are some great Shabcasts coming up, including another Drunken Whocast (which seems to be genuinely becoming a new regular thing) and a fantastic chat between myself and Sam Keeper of Storming the Ivory Tower on Star Wars, Rogue One, etc.  We talked about, amongst other things, fans who say destroying the Death Star was bad because the economy, or something.  As if on cue, someone then wrote an online article arguing that Offred in The Hamdmaid’s Tale doesn’t have it that bad.  Ho hum.  Watch this space, as someone or other used to say.

I’d also like to thank everyone who donates to my Patreon.  It is a genuine source of amazement to me that anyone is prepared to pay even small amounts of money to help me produce my nonsense articles and podcasts, but they do… and god love the poor fools.  I'm not ashamed of asking for contributions, but I cant help ruefully reflecting on the fact that waiters in St. Petersburg during the Russian Revolution started demanding an end to tipping as a degrading custom.


Now, a word on more current politics.  If you’re in the UK, for god’s sake vote Labour. I don't expect them to win, but the better their showing, the stronger it makes their position, and the more there is to build on in the future.  Jeremy Corbyn will lose, but if he can lose well, that alone will be worth having, a poke in the eye to a media and political establishment that has concertedly undermined him and pooh-poohed him from day one, and - by extention - the people he represents.  If he stays on as leader even in the face of a defeat, as I expect and hope he will, then the closer-run the election, the better.  Corbyn was, as I have always said, always a gamble and a long game.  But what else have we meaningfully got, other than yet another surrender?  And what have we got to lose?

Is Corbyn's Labour perfect?  Far from it.  Deeper ideological issues aside, I'm still furious about the manifesto's acceptance that free movement will have to end.  And there are other things like that.  But Labour are the only party committed to trying to make Brexit something other than a catastrophe for working people.  Indeed, Corbyn's longstanding opposition to the EU as a neoliberal institution offers at least some hope of a left-version of Brexit... which is conceivably doable and worth having.

The LibDems hold out the false hope of avoiding Brexit (and believe me, I know the allure of that siren song) but all their promises depend upon us forgetting 2010. 

Is Corbyn's Labour a radical alternative?  No.  In real terms, the 2017 Labour manifesto represents nothing more than a diluted form of basic, moderate social democracy. But again, a return to even basic, moderate social democracy would, surely, be worth having.  Imagine a government committed to reversing the creeping privatisation of the NHS, reversing the privatisation swindle in other industries, reversing the vandalism done to our school system, ending the economic policies that have failed to achieve their own stated goals while ruthlessly widening inequality and deeping human suffering, staying out of the very foreign wars and clandestine shenanigans that generate tragedies like Manchester...

Seriously, in a sane society, the scandal of the government's and establishment's entanglement with jihadis, springing from the ruins our rulers helped make of Libya, and their continued complicity with the Saudi dictatorship, would bring down the government automatically.

Jeremy Corbyn said in 2003, as he joined millions - myself included - marching against his own party's criminal plans to invade Iraq: "It will set off a spiral of conflict, of hate, of misery, of desperation that will fuel the wars, the conflict, the terrorism, the depression and the misery of future generations.”  Just add this to a lifetime of being on the right side of this argument.  Compare and contrast with Theresa May's record of supporting and launching pointless, vicious, counter-productive Western imperialism.

Moreover, a Labour movement is really the only hope we have.  A revival of solidarity and struggle amongst the working class.  And that can only be strengthened by a left-wing Labour Party that isn't just losing badly all the time.  A loss this time will still be a loss, but a strong loss could be the springboard for other, better things to come.

Labour in government is often weak, cowardly, and treacherous.  But an unreliable friend is preferable to the guy in blue who's kicking you, or his mate in yellow who isn't kicking you either but who is standing to one side, watching, filming it on his camera phone, and feeling self-righteous about not actually joining in.

Seriously.  I don’t care how disillusioned you are, how disdainful, how discouraged.  I’m all of those things too, plus I’m intellectually committed to an anti-reformist variety of socialism, but I’m going to vote Labour.  Moreover, I’m going to vote Labour with – for the first time in my life – some species of spring in my step.  For the first time in my life I will be able to walk out of a polling station not feeling dirty, compromised, and miserable.  For the first time in my life I will be able to put my cross in the box with some degree of enthusiasm.  For the first time in my life I will be able to vote for a party led by someone who, for all his faults, generally manages to treat me like a grown-up.  I will be able to feel like I have actually voted for a party I actively want to win, not just one I least want to lose.  Because there’s a Labour Party to vote for that, I think, genuinely represents some kind of alternative - imperfect and mild though it be - to just yet more of more of the same old wretched shit.

That's all for now, comrades.



Christopher Brown 3 years, 7 months ago

Well said, and shared on Facebook for propaganda purposes :)

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Sleepyscholar 3 years, 7 months ago

I very much wish I could. But as with Brexit, I am denied a vote (anywhere in the world) by virtue of having lived outside the UK for more than 15 years.
Here in Japan I am disgusted by the media's parroting of the 'Corbyn is a dangerous left-wing extremist' line. Never mind that even the extreme right-wingers who rule this country have overseen many policies more progressive even than Corbyn is advocating.
For most of my life I, too, have had a suspicion of Labour -- again, a suspicion that derives from a position on the left, and being worried by the politicking and capitulations to the right-wing. But in this instance there really doesn't seem to be any coherent argument against voting Labour.

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Lambda 3 years, 7 months ago

I think "vote for whoever has a chance of defeating the Conservative candidate in your constituency (unless you live in some horrible place where that's UKIP)" is a perfectly coherent vote in our broken electoral system.

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Sleepyscholar 3 years, 7 months ago

As soon as I posted, I thought exactly the point you make, but decided not to footnote myself with such a caveat.

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Aylwin 3 years, 7 months ago

Opposing Brexit (or even just opposing hard Brexit, given Labour's position on freedom of movement etc) would seem to be one coherent argument for voting Lib Dem or Green (and rather a considerable one, given how profoundly the possibilities of action in countless other policy areas will be determined by the outcome of that question).

So would supporting electoral reform.

So would supporting redistribution of wealth from rich to poor (yes, really).

Supporting Scottish independence, and all the possibilities that go with that, would obviously be an extremely coherent argument for those in Scotland to vote SNP.

None of which stops Labour being the lesser-evil non-Tory tactical option in most areas of England and Wales. But coherent arguments for voting for other parties where they have a chance of winning, or where the Tories are out of contention, or on the basis of a rejection of the whole notion of lesser-evil tactical voting, are hardly lacking.

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BeatnikLady 3 years, 7 months ago

I'm in Scotland and in a constituency where the MP isn't going to be shifted, so luckily I'm able to vote the way I want, which is Labour. The centrist SNP have been around for ten years and have changed very little - I'm glad to see that Corbyn seems to have increased the Labour vote across the board.

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David Moran 3 years, 7 months ago

Isn't it lovely that there is no "seems" about it.

Obviously I wish he had won but a resurgence that makes May look this bad will do me for now.

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