If Labour’s Left needs fresh material in its eternal search for new ways of abusing Blairism, and of course helping Jeremy Corbyn to victory, it simply needs to distribute this new Spectator piece.

It’s John McTernan, former political secretary to two prime ministers (Tony Blair and Julia Gillard the, er, anti-Blairite pm) having a political breakdown on behalf of Blairites everywhere. McTernan argues that if there’s a Jeremy Corbyn victory, the new leader should be removed immediately. Whether by ice-pick, shooting or poision McTernan doesn’t say. “Who cares about the grass roots?” – McTernan goes on – “Nobody is voting for Tumbleweed CLP”. The contempt for regular people contained in the comments is powerfully reminiscent of Gerald Ratner, the mild-mannered CEO personally insecure in his inheritance of a retail empire so who went on an assertiveness course and thereafter unintentionally became a legend. Maybe in future this political version will be called a McTernan? ‘The Labour Party is crap. The public is crap. If you elect the wrong leader you’re crap. The constituencies are crap. It’s all about saleability, you morons’.

McTernan thinks that if David Miliband hadn’t huffed off to the US, there would have been no competition against him for the Labour leadership after the inevitable defeat led by his brother. Really? It’s a wonder David Miliband himself didn’t see it that way if he’s such a political genius and it’s all so obvious. Instead of, you know, making everyone nauseous by, in the immediate aftermath of his brother’s defeat, not quietly comforting his own blood but instead appearing by satellite from New York to tell the country what a terrible failure his own brother is (if you missed it, you’ll likely have seen one of the many repeat performances since then).

But hey, John, what do you think the Jeremy Corbyn phenomenon is all about? Why do you think Burnham and Cooper are talking left and the Blairite candidate is nowhere? You think it’s because the Labour Party only ever wanted another Miliband, only this time one a bit more to the right?

The harsh reality for Blairites (like me, actually) is that Tony Blair was too busy changing the world in various ways, mainly good, and battling Brown and the left to worry about succession. He had a historical window – because Labour had been out of power so long – and probably knew it would likely close again after him and Labour would revert to type. Maybe Gordon Brown’s misplaced prime-ministerial ambition made all of this inevitable, I really don’t know. But the simple fact is that Tony Blair allowed all his competent lieutenants to be killed off and all that was left were the former back-room special advisers – most of them evidently poorly-suited to actual political leadership. They’ve become the aristocracy who guillotined themselves.

It’s worth remembering that Labour’s special adviser generation has never won a single election in the UK, Scotland or London (nor Australia). And also that if Corbyn wins handsomely in the first round then loses through transfer votes, one of those special advisers will need to stand in front of David Cameron at the dispatch box knowing s/he’d been crushed by the guy sitting way off to her/his left and elected on the back of perhaps less than 1 in 4 of the selectorate – before pandering to that huge left-wing group at every turn.

For those looking north, one of the most striking things about the SNP is how their MPs and MSPs genuinely reflect the folk who elect them – there’s no doubt that’s been essential to their success. No, Labour’s heard enough from the special advisers-turned-politicians. And there’ll be no Labour government until the whole edifice has been rebuilt by smart folk with a hinterland and who base their politics first and foremost on what they hear and see in their own constituencies by walking about and talking to regular folk.

It’s not all bad news, mind you. Those folk are already on the Labour back-benches – just watch the excellent newbies on Newsnight. Whether or not Corbyn wins, New new Labour can be up there bagging the middle-ground again in time for 2025 (in England, at least), once everyone’s got tired of defeat again. Probably. It’s really just a matter of whether or not victory is presaged by outright schism as before Kinnock and Blair came along.

10 Responses to Blairite political breakdown ushers Corbyn to victory
  1. “For those looking north, one of the most striking things about the SNP is how their MPs and MSPs genuinely reflect the folk who elect them – there’s no doubt that’s been essential to their success.”

    Spot on. Unless both the left wing press and the Labour party realize this, they’ve a long road ahead.

  2. There are some interesting definitions of “success” in this discussion.

    If losing 5 million votes and increasing the number of non voters from 8 million to 18 million whilst losing the Scottish Parliament and then Scotland is regarded as “success” the bar cannot be set very high.

    Interesting to see the CWU mentioned. Particularly when it was that we’ll known left wing lunatic and POEU sponsored MP the late John Golding who championed the adoption of the 1983 manifesto on behalf of the proto Blairite wing of the party, who also went behind the Foot leadership campaign. All of whom then proceeded to deliberately do everything in their power to undermine what they had voted for at every opportunity to ensure the Party lost in 83..

    Demonstrating that they, along with their contemporary heirs, would rather the Party continually lose then stand on any platform other than a neo liberal one. Not a lot seems to have changed in this regard.

    This lot and their hangers on/fellow travellers certainly know how to do projection. Logic and evidence points to them being in the wrong Party.

  3. Oh btw S Dorset CLP backs Yvette Cooper. Prob indicates more about individual votes than the executives of UNITE etc so heavily promoted on the Tory BBC.

  4. I suggest that legal action would reverse that. Just two votes – one in the Lords, one in the Commins – plus exposes of abuses of the LP constitution already under weigh I expect would play roles in the context of legal action by officers he would need to replace would fix it.

    Do you think as many as 25% of Labour MPs would take a whip imposed by a symlathiser with terrorism?

  5. Eric, I’m a big fan. I defend you against all comers every time you fuck up, I really do. I am mocked for it. We’ve only met once. It was in Strangers’ about 30 mins before the event. I think you are great and a big loss to the party and parliament. You are politically sound and I agree with much but on John McT you are just wrong. Love, a former Special Adviser

    • Thanks, Ian. Nice to hear, truly. I’m not sure where you think I’m wrong about John, though. Of course I see why he’s frustrated by the Corbyn business, but saying an elected leader should be immediately deposed and specifically using “Tumbleweed” to mean any CLP other than, say, one or two in North London (where I live), is a disaster of Ronson proportions, surely?

    • Ach, Ian, watching CWU/Unison awfulness on Newsnight here. Do you know, the ridiculously junior status of Liz K as Blairite torchbearer (don’t remember that when she was Harriet’s SpAd, tbh) and John’s desperation really does magnify my argument that Blair saw nothing beyond his own (massively successful) leadership.

  6. Spot on. A parliamentary body full of career aparatchiks with little or no connection to the grassroots movement, or real life experience is going nowhere. Look at the number of candidates parachuted in from central office over the years.

  7. The Tory and trot type entryists etc are not being asked to agree to Labour’s Aims, nor to agree not to support or remain/become members of other parties. Nor to constitute a party within a party.

    Harriet Harman should stop the contest, which Corbyn doesn’t rate to win, because buying a vote for £3 or £1 with no commitment is bringing Labour into disrepute.

    In default the PLP should bring legal action to remove Corbyn from the whip if he opposes such action: he has defied it as often as Kate Hoey who should be similarly removed. IM opinion, as a respecter of Blair who opposed terrorism, and opponent of Corbyn who did not.,

    • Thanks, Tony. If Corbyn’s the leader, he’ll be in charge of who has the whip and who doesn’t. Mind you, it was the former special advisers who designed the new election process as a compromise after Falkirk.


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