As all sensible media commentators predicted, the Labour Party is devastated in the first electoral contest under new left-wing leader who shares John Cleese’s initials.

by Harry on December 4, 2015

Story here.

Warning: Crappy past performance of media commentators is no guarantee of crappy future performance.



js. 12.04.15 at 3:29 am

Also Jesus Christ’s. (Just wanted to get there before anyone else did.)

But yes, it’s good news, and thanks for highlighting it.


harry b 12.04.15 at 3:59 am

I know. But I was thinking about this:


T 12.04.15 at 3:59 am

Harry — Is this meaningful given the district? Was the percentage expected? The questions are from an American without any local context beyond the link.


harry b 12.04.15 at 4:09 am

The candidate was locally popular. But the media was calling it as very close indeed — saying a week or so ago that Labour might well lose — and UKIP relentlessly used Corbyn’s lack of xenophobia against Labour. My guess is that the British-Asian vote came out strong for Labour, but the key thing is that the supposedly massive retrograde white working class vote which supposedly hates Corbyn and everything he stands for didn’t materialize. Even after Wednesday’s vote and the relentless BBC effort to show Labour is a disunited shambles. So. Yes, significant. But note the warning in the OP!!!


david 12.04.15 at 4:38 am

2015 GE in May was 23,630 Lab (54.8%) to 8,892 UKIP (20.6%), on a total turnout of 59.6%.

The by-election was 17,209 Lab (62.1%) to 6,487 UKIP (23.11%) on a total turnout of 40.3%; coincidentally, both raw counts declined to 73% from their GE raw counts (identically, both parties increased their vote share by the same 13%). The gain in vote share comes largely at the expense of the Tories (19% to 9.4%), which may be related to the replacement of the born-in-Oldham Kamran Ghafoor with a parachute candidate, or the incumbent-government-midterm-election disadvantage, or disapproval of specific Tory policies, or what have you.

The large difference in turnout could be attributed to that it’s not the GE, that it was pissing down during the Oldham vote, or to ebbs in voter enthusiasm (especially for the Tory candidate) or whatnot. Regardless, because at least a quarter of both Lab and UKIP GE voters straightforwardly didn’t show up to vote, the gloomy anecdotes of masses of door-slamming anti-Corbyn former Labour loyalists can’t be disproven either. Pick whatever narrative you like.


js. 12.04.15 at 5:15 am

harry b — I must, very sadly, admit that I had not seen that sketch before. But also, it utterly made my day, probably my week!


mjfgates 12.04.15 at 6:31 am

I’m glad to see that the MLP did so well, and hope for their continued growth. With numbers like these, they should be able to form a majority government by 2300CE!


Finn 12.04.15 at 8:06 am

God, I saw people saying it would be a majority of less than 2,000.


Daragh 12.04.15 at 9:28 am

Those sensible media commenators include… a 17 year old campaigner, famous for coining the term Milifandom, who was barracked by Corbynistas for daring to air her doubts in public.

To be clear – unexpectedly good by-election result for Labour in a seat they should have absolutely no trouble winning with a candidate broadly considered to be on the right of the Labour party. It’s neither evidence of the electoral invincibility of Corbynism nor a sign of it’s inevitable doom. It also doesn’t change the fact that Corbyn’s ratings and those of the Labour party nationally are dismal, or that the continuing drama in the party itself has essentially allowed the Tories to cruise through a series of cock-ups and scandals that would otherwise have them playing defence at the moment. It almost certainly ensures a stay of execution for the Corbyn leadership, but I don’t personally believe that’s something people who wish Labour well should really be hoping for at this moment.


robotslave 12.04.15 at 9:45 am


er, “that’s the joke?”

Also, I know it’s not uncommon for former NFL stars to go into local politics, and it’s a lovely bit of coincidence for him to win this election 25 years and day after recording “The Superbowl Shuffle,” but when did he move to the UK?


Phil 12.04.15 at 9:49 am

Everyone was convinced it would be close, and that there was a real danger of UKIP winning; I saw first-person reports from Oldham of people saying they couldn’t stand Corbyn, they’d always voted Labour before but never again, and so on. Well, first-person anonymous accounts, now I think of it. But we all believed it. More fool us, and bad cess to those who wanted it to be true.

I had a long argument on Twitter last night and this morning with the author of this piece (Why Oldham West could be just the start of Labour’s worries), which seemed on first reading to be calling the election for UKIP while the polls were still open:

“In Oldham West and Royton, Labour sought salvation in the seat’s Asian vote – but white working-class constituents defected in large numbers, to Nigel Farage’s party, or simply by staying at home.”

Eventually the author persuaded me that this sentence referred to the 2015 General Election result in OW&R. I still don’t think that this is the most obvious way to read that result; it’s true that the UKIP vote went up by 4,500 as compared to 2010*, but Labour’s vote went up by 4,000, taking Labour’s vote share from 45% to 55% (details here). But maybe that represents lots of Labour voters staying at home and moving to UKIP, along with lots of other voters moving the other way. Cunning lot, these voters.

This morning, incidentally, the same author has been on Twitter contrasting the 7% rise in Labour’s vote share unfavourably with the 10% rise achieved at the General Election – Corbyn can’t even get as big an increase in vote share as Ed Miliband. So it’s very bad news for Labour, this win with 62% of the vote. Hey ho.

*I’m comparing the 2015 GE UKIP vote with the 2010 vote for UKIP and the BNP – which, listening to Farage this morning, seems pretty reasonable.


casmilus 12.04.15 at 10:51 am

@3 don’t worry. Lots of Brits wade in and comment on US politics with no idea how it seems in the actual districts or what issues really matter to voters. You’d be returning the favour if you talked about British politics the same way.


engels 12.04.15 at 11:45 am

Daragh’s deep concern for the future of the Labour party is matched only by his sympathy for the innocent victims of pro-Corbyn twitter.


kidneystones 12.04.15 at 12:00 pm

Thanks for this. Talk about a storm in a tea-cup. I’m still waiting for evidence that Corbyn is willing/interested in ‘leading’ the Labour party. He may not be. I find politicians as a group absolutely repellent and watching Labour act-out on the national stage reminds me that we are all merely human. I’ve been watching a lot on Orwell recently and I wonder what he’d make of the current mess. I sincerely hoped Labour would have a right-raging hammer and tongs battle to pound out a clear agenda for 2016.

What could I have been thinking?


kidneystones 12.04.15 at 12:03 pm

Re: predictions. Developments in France are significantly more ominous. Let’s hope these predictions are just as unsound:


Daragh 12.04.15 at 12:10 pm

@Engels – I hope so. Having recently moved and taken stock of things I decided to join my local CLP.

And the point with Abby Tomlinson wasn’t about the (indefensible) abuse directed at a 17 year old by Corbyn supporters. The point was that the reaction to a Labour door knocker reporting what constituency voters and members were telling her about the leadership was to denounce the messenger. Which is just about the best description of Corbynism in a nut shell I can think of.


Igor Belanov 12.04.15 at 12:10 pm

Phil is right- despite overwhelming evidence suggesting it was stupid of me, I believed that there was a real chance of Labour losing the by-election.

It is an encouraging result as it proves that people are not swallowing all of the media’s anti-Corbyn propaganda.


bob 12.04.15 at 12:36 pm

Unfortunately, the Monster Raving Loony Party did not show well at all – and given current circumstances, I would have projected them as clear favorites. Perhaps they should take their show on the road to the U.S.?


Placeholder 12.04.15 at 1:01 pm

My personal theory is that either 1) Labour activists turned around Labour voters. or 2) Labour voters were repelled by the racism and warmongering of the previous whole month leading up to Cameron’s “terrorism” jibe.

“Whereas a week ago 2015 Labour voters broke in favour of airstrikes by 52% to 26%, they have now turned against. Among 2015 Labour voters 42% are now opposed (up 16 points), only 35% now support (down 17). While Jeremy Corbyn’s stance is still at odds with wider public opinion, now both Labour voters and Labour members agree with him: it is his opponents within the PLP who are at odds with the rest of the Labour family.


harry b 12.04.15 at 1:46 pm

David — I wasn’t picking a narrative. See the warning in the OP. The OP is not about Labour doing well, its about the astounding ability of people who have gotten things wrong over and over again to believe that, this time, they have gotten it right. And they will think that next time. And the time after. And…. But, as the OP says, eventually they might be right. Its just that at some point we should start to realise that when they get things right it is a mere accident, nothing to do with their judgment or discernment.

Compare. I spent 6 months believing that the republican establishment will get its way in the primary. I still, basically, believe it. But I no longer say it without a preface of “I’ve believed this for 6 months and it still hasn’t even started to happen, and I have, frankly, lost confidence in my ability to judge well about this”.

On placeholder’s point: I think the evidence presented is quite significant. Corbyn was supported by almost nobody in the PLP. But on Wednesday he was joined in the lobbies by 2/3rds of the PLP. Frankly, I thought Benn’s speech was amazingly good — and profoundly embarrassing, not to Corbyn, but to the government, who had spectacularly failed to make the case Benn made. But public opinion will melt away from the government because the air strikes will not change things in any visible way. The vote was intended, among other things, to exploit divisions in the party, but in fact it may have done the reverse.


MPAVictoria 12.04.15 at 2:11 pm

“harry b — I must, very sadly, admit that I had not seen that sketch before. But also, it utterly made my day, probably my week!”

Seconded. Really funny.


engels 12.04.15 at 2:20 pm

Hilary Benn’s ‘Extraordinary’ Speech for Bombing Syria Was Disingenuous Bullshit

Daragh I’m sure there has been bad behaviour online by some Corbyn supporters – and that’s true of any political movement – but there’s now been a steady stream of BS accusations of ‘bullying’ from whinging war hawks and their friends in the right-wing press for the last several months, which are regularly proven to be false. I didn’t see anything in your link which struck me as ‘indefensible’. (Glad to hear you’ve joined the Corbyn surge — I guess.)


T 12.04.15 at 2:25 pm

@13 Good point but I try to avoid the jackassery. I just watched a British finance guy explain how influence peddling works in DC on another thread. Not a pretty sight.
So the impression I get from the commentators, with some strong disagreement, is that he won a traditionally safe district by more than expected. And the press blew it again. When will the real test come?


engels 12.04.15 at 2:30 pm

When will the real test come?



MPAVictoria 12.04.15 at 2:55 pm

I have been following politics my whole life and I cannot remember a politician who the press has hated more than Corbyn. The whole thing is a fucking disgrace.


Peter K. 12.04.15 at 2:58 pm

How was the turnout? Bernie Sanders has been making the argument that his campaign and his message can help increase turnout by people who might otherwise be apathetic. I would think the same would hold for Corbyn.


Daragh 12.04.15 at 3:24 pm


My motivations for joining are somewhat different. And if your argument for Momentum not being that bad is that they were too thick to get the right private house to protest outside, it needs a bit of work. And I don’t think it’s unfair for MPs to protest organised campaigns of harassment and abuse, nor do I think it should be called ‘whinging’ (god knows how this blog would react if a pro-Israel demonstration showed up outside Steven Salaita’s office or started e-mailing him pictures of dead babies – and rightly so).


That might be because there’s never been a major politician in this country who has been undecided on issues like whether to shoot suicide bombers, and spent his time as a backbencher doing things like appearing on Iran’s PRESS TV or setting out Putin’s case for invading Ukraine in the Morning star.

@Peter K – Turnout was down, as expected at a byelection, so not really an indicator one way or another. Local candidate apparently has a great reputation. Also was enthusiastic about Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse project and voter for Kendall so I’m sure the campaign to deselect him will start sometime in the next 72 hours.


Chris Bertram 12.04.15 at 3:34 pm

False Dawn for Corbyn spells doom for Labour

by every political hack [and Daragh, of course]

Labour moderates were left dismayed last night by the failure of UKIP to defeat Jeremy Corbyn’s terrorism-aligned Labour Party in the Oldham by-election. A source close to Liz Kendall is reported as saying that the party needed “a wake up call” so that Corbyn could be ditched before the election. Tristram Hunt was unavailable for comment, but close friends described him as “terribly disappointed” at the failure of working-class people to vote as he anticipated. “Though Tristram doesn’t know any working-class people personally, he had been reassured by reading reports in the Guardian by John Harris.”


MPAVictoria 12.04.15 at 3:38 pm

“That might be because there’s never been a major politician in this country who has been undecided on issues like whether to shoot suicide bombers, and spent his time as a backbencher doing things like appearing on Iran’s PRESS TV or setting out Putin’s case for invading Ukraine in the Morning star.”

But of course their have been major politicians who have supported disastrous wars based on lies, bombing innocent women and children and slashing funding for the poor and disabled while cutting taxes for millionaires. I mean even if I agree with your characterization of Corbyn (which I don’t) that list of flaws is pretty minuscule when compared to the alternatives.

So why the hate?


Igor Belanov 12.04.15 at 3:42 pm


Igor Belanov 12.04.15 at 3:57 pm

Daragh said:

“Local candidate apparently has a great reputation. Also was enthusiastic about Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse project and voter for Kendall so I’m sure the campaign to deselect him will start sometime in the next 72 hours.”

Victorious local candidate Jim McMahon said (from BBC website):

“He says he is “sick to death of what the Tories are doing to towns like Oldham” adding the Northern Powerhouse rhetoric is “write of off the North”, He says it was “about time we show the Tories that people have had enough.””



novakant 12.04.15 at 3:59 pm

I don’t give a flying f@ck about Labour if it wants to be Tories Light – they can die a slow painful death. I care about policy and Corbyn represents my position most closely and, would you believe it, despite the constant and relentless attacks of the so-called “liberal / left” press (shame on you!), he is also very close to the general public on a lot of issues:


engels 12.04.15 at 4:02 pm


Ronan(rf) 12.04.15 at 4:04 pm

Never before has such a moral monster appeared in European politics . How could the democratic process produce such a delinquent ? A rough beast slouches toward islington


Bill Hamlin 12.04.15 at 4:13 pm

“The Monster Raving Loony party were last, on 141.”

There is hope after all.


harry b 12.04.15 at 4:15 pm

I think the hate has a complicated explanation. Anyone under my age (52) has developed their career in politics and the media under the assumption that people like Corbyn would always be so far on the margins that it wasn’t worth paying them any attention. They believe a narrative about the death of the real left, and have based their career choices and all their assumptions on that. And I think that’s fair enough — I, too, made decisions very early in my adult life based on that assumption, and have seen nothing till the past few months to contradict it (I tell you, there have been mornings in the past few months when I have felt pretty stupid!). The young-ish (under 45) Blairites would never have joined this party if they had thought things would turn out this way — they’d have become Lib-Dems or Tories, and they feel they’ve been played for fools — and there is no real way out for them at this point so they are very angry and upset, and desperately hoping that it will all just go away. The media people — well, they’re similar in a way. Even reasonably successful journalists are, on average, no rewarded for being insightful or imaginative —they are risk averse, and run with the pack, and the pack they have been running with has all shared this assumption. So it is very disconcerting and unpleasant for them to have Corbyn in place, and it is made SO much worse by the fact that he seems to be a nice, sincere, decent, earnest person, who really doesn’t seem to want to be horrible to people; and worse still that he is managing an impossible hand reasonably well — or, at least, getting some major victories out of it. (I’ve watched plenty of McDonnell and Corbyn on TV, and they are certainly not masters of the media, but they are doing so much better than they have any right to, having been completely ignored by the media for their entire careers so far). Most of these people have never met actual left wingers, and think they must all be humourless angry ogres — Class War types, maybe? It must feel awful, and I feel really bad for them all and I think you should have some compassion!!

And, as I say, always keep the warning from the OP in the back of your head…


Phil 12.04.15 at 4:19 pm

too thick to get the right private house to protest outside

Don’t be an idiot, Daragh. They weren’t protesting outside anybody’s house, they were standing – peacefully – outside a mosque, before marching – peacefully – to the Labour Party office.


engels 12.04.15 at 4:51 pm

he seems to be a nice, sincere, decent, earnest person, who really doesn’t seem to want to be horrible to people… Most of these people have never met actual left wingers, and think they must all be humourless angry ogres — Class War types, maybe

This almost makes them sound like honorary members of the middle-class (in defence of Corbyn and McDonnell, they both seem rightly angry about quite a lot of things to me).

McDonnell’s sense of humour is of course fantastic, if not always fully appreciated by his audience:


harry b 12.04.15 at 4:58 pm

Oh McDonnell seems angry and, yes, he does have a great sense of humour (as Livingstone does). But Corbyn — sure, he seems angry in the sense that he is angry at injustice. But he doesn’t seem an angry person — you get no sense that he is angry at people, or that he’s an angry person who just happens to be channeling his anger at injustice. The anger is only a response to things that ought to make any discerning person angry. That’s what I meant. They’d all be so much happier if Corbyn were like Anthony Sher in The History Man, or something like that. (I have to say that if Corbyn has a sense of humour, he keeps a pretty tight lid on it in public— which is a good thing!)


harry b 12.04.15 at 5:00 pm

I hadn’t actually watched that, and to be fair Bercow seems to get the joke!


LFC 12.04.15 at 5:03 pm

Corbyn is not pro-Putin enough
by a CT commenter

Despite having called, at least according to some accounts, for Britain’s leaving NATO, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has not appreciated sufficiently the cooperative character of Russia’s foreign policy, a failing that will cost him the votes of working-class voters who might otherwise be inclined to support him.


Daragh 12.04.15 at 5:15 pm

@Chris – I had a lengthy reply, but frankly I’m more interested in hearing your thoughts on Livingstone’s 7/7 comments, or how Cameron got away with ‘terrorist sympathisers’ due to the fact that McDonnell and Corbyn both have long, well documented histories of sympathising with terrorists (which I know you believe isn’t an issue the electorate will care about).

@Phil – sorry, when someone poss a picture online saying they’re outside someone’s house I assume that’s where they are, or at least where they think they are.

@ Igor Belanov

“It’s a movement that shows no sign of slowing down. As cities and counties line up for devolution, the Chancellor is casting himself in the role of Commander in Chief.

It took the Labour Party too long to recognise that after years of debate about Scottish independence and Welsh devolved government those of us who remain might rightly ask as well, what about us?

Whatever your political view it is hard not to credit Mr Osborne and the many local leaders who have helped frame the debate about what an empowered England might look like. ”

Gosh what a vituperative condemnation!


CJColucci 12.04.15 at 5:45 pm

For the benefit those of us across the pond who have non-parliamentary systems and are used to ticket-splitting for president and Congressional candidates, to what extent, generally, is a local race a function of the popularity of the party leadership as opposed to the quality of the local candidate? If you’d rather have Cameron’s than Corbyn’s hands on the levers of executive power, but the Labour candidate is far superior to the Conservative candidate, what does a voter do?


TheSophist 12.04.15 at 6:40 pm

Js @6, MPAV @21 : Me too – that was glorious.

Bill Hamlin @35: I am confused. When did the GOP start running candidates in English by-elections?


david morris 12.04.15 at 6:48 pm

No mention in comments (as far as I can see) of the extraordinary number of postal votes cast. (11K ?). Quite convenient for Labour……

kind regards


MPAVictoria 12.04.15 at 6:51 pm

“No mention in comments (as far as I can see) of the extraordinary number of postal votes cast. (11K ?). Quite convenient for Labour……”

I blame the Rand Corporation. No wait, Flying Saucers. NO! Must be the reverse vampires!


harry b 12.04.15 at 6:56 pm

CJC — you vote Tory. Individual MPs have virtually no influence, independent of their capacity to influence their party and their leadership. A tiny handful of MPs have accumulated influence through a combination of charisma, expertise, and long hard slog — I can see Tories voting for Frank Field, or Labour people voting for David Davis — but even then they are usually, of necessity, in safe seats (as in the US House many seats are not competitive, although the explanation for that is not deep-seated corruption).


Chris Bertram 12.04.15 at 6:56 pm

7115 postal votes, in fact David. Labour would have won if every single postal vote had been rejected.


harry b 12.04.15 at 6:59 pm

That said — in by-elections the personalities of the candidates have more effect, and voters, knowing they are not voting for a government, are much more inclined to use elections to punish governments — but I don’t think anyone thinks that in this case lots of Tory voters went for the Labour candidate to show their disgust with Cameron. But if they did, that would have been very good news for Corbyn.


CJColucci 12.04.15 at 9:04 pm

Thanks, harry b.


novakant 12.04.15 at 9:11 pm

Daragh, the real terrorist sympathisers are Blair and Cameron who were so far up the @ss of Bush, Qaddafi and King Abdullah that they almost entirely vanished – this hurts us to this day, but yeah keep trotting out those old stories.

Btw, since you’re so well informed, I’m sure you must have heard about the collapse of the trial against accused terrorist Gildo for fear that the UK security services would have to officially admit having supported the same radical Islamist group the defendant was a member of.

But sure, Corbyn and his choice of company is of course the real problem in UK politics today …


Matt 12.04.15 at 9:57 pm

@LFC what’s up with the Putin/Syria obsession? You were the first person to mention Putin in the Syrian air strikes thread and now you’re cross-linking to it in this thread.


Phil 12.05.15 at 12:18 am

Daragh @43 – the story spun out of that picture has been denied by the march organiser and the local vicar (who was there); Stella Creasy has disowned it; the person who posted the picture hasn’t come forward, and nobody can identify them. Face it, we were trolled.


js. 12.05.15 at 1:04 am

engels @39 — I had read about that but not seen the clip. It’s great.


LFC 12.05.15 at 1:27 am

Matt @54
@LFC what’s up with the Putin/Syria obsession?

Sorry, bit of an inside-CT thing. Part of a ‘dialogue’ with Ze K, who has commented here for a long time (as long as I’ve been reading CT) under a variety of different names and who is — how shall I put this? — a strong defender of Putin, among various other things.

If you look at the Syria thread, my mention of Putin there was in response to Ze K’s bringing up a Mafia analogy. I just thought it was amusing to see him deploying that analogy under the circumstances. He of course replied, as he always does, in this case distinguishing states that operate in a “gangland environment” (his phrase) from politicians who are a “different category” from states — subtle distinction, that — and so it goes. However, to be self-critical, I should not have said anything and prob just have ignored him. He will always be here, so nothing in that respect will change anyway. (And he livens the place up, I suppose, in a way… )


LFC 12.05.15 at 1:30 am

But yeah, on reflection, I probably should not have brought up Putin. (“It’s all my fault,” to quote what R.E. Lee reportedly said after the failure of Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg.)


LFC 12.05.15 at 1:42 am

re the Mao’s Little Red Book clip: great stuff.

Just shows again why the House of Commons is more fun to listen to or watch than the U.S. House of Representatives. (Except when they’re asking during PM question time about whether my Rt Hon friend will look into, e.g., the state of Mrs. so-and-so’s missing pension benefits who lives at such-and-such lane in my constituency (ok, I’m exaggerating a little). I mean, that’s very important for the people concerned, but for an outside listener a little dull.)


novakant 12.05.15 at 1:50 am

Yeah, the commons can be fun, but I think the lightheartedness after the Syria vote was uncalled for:


LFC 12.05.15 at 2:23 am

Possibly one reason the Little Red Book is ‘ok’ to quote from, in quasi-jest say, is that it was mostly composed, iirc, before its author acquired power and started down the path of doing what he did when he ran the country. The writing’s somewhat epigrammatic quality also helps, I suppose.


engels 12.05.15 at 3:05 am

one reason the Little Red Book is ‘ok’ to quote from

It should probably be noted that the overwhelming consensus of the UK media was that it definitely wasn’t. But (as McDonnell didn’t quite say afterwards) screw them.


harry b 12.05.15 at 3:54 am

The little red book incident is symptomatic of the determination of everyone in the press to get Corbyn. McDonnell was OBVIOUSLY mocking Osborne. Osborne, remember, is the one who is hanging out with the Maoists. The very same press that went after McDonnell for quoting from the red book, only a few weeks earlier were demanding that Corbyn go to the banquet with the Chinese leaders and be nice, and friendly, and say nothing about human rights abuses. But this was the day of his biggest victory so far — saving millions of low income workers from a massive tax increase. So, lets all deliberately misinterpret what McDonnell was doing, so that Corbyn gets no credit for a great victory, and pretend that McDonnell, rather than Cameron, is the friend of the totalitarians.

So, as engels says, “the overwhelming consensus of the UK media was that it definitely wasn’t” ok to quote from the little red book, even mockingly, even when your audience is a willing partner of the Maoists, whom you have been told that you are not allowed to criticize.


Dipper 12.05.15 at 10:37 am

The Little Red Book episode shows why McDonnell is a disastrous choice as Shadow Chancellor.

He had one job. Stand up, nail the chancellor for being a clueless muppet, sit down. But no, he has to start waving the Little Red Book around, and suddenly its all about him.

This is not an accident. Everything about John McDonnell’s politics is about him and how left wing he is. Look at me quoting Mao at the despatch box – how left wing am I! Look at me talking to terrorists – how left wing am I!

The same goes for Jeremy Corbyn. Look at me in my Lenin hat – how left wing is that! Look at me talking to Hamas – how radical am I!

They may sometimes be right on some issues. But ultimately they are all about them and their clique.


Ronan(rf) 12.05.15 at 10:59 am

I find the Hamas , Hezbollah, Ira stuff a little bizzare, I have to say. I absolutely would want people involved in foreign policy decision making to have some capacity to understand how others think, what they value, why the fight etc Perhaps Corbyn et al went too far and drifted from understanding to supporting ( perhaos. I don’t know, nor admittedly really care) but someone who has spent time in the company of Islamist militants is still preferable (IMO) to someone who went from public school, to oxford, to a pr company to politics. Not that there’s anything particularly wrong with the second path, and I’m not a fully signed up believer in the ” real world experience” school for what we should want from our politicians , but in a perfect world (IMO) anyone involved in foreign policy decision making (not neccesarily for more technical issues such as trade, but on the conflict side) should speak at least one non European language and have spent considerable time living in a semi failed or failed state among militants and their social milieu. Everything else leads to WEIRD style incomprehension


Ronan(rf) 12.05.15 at 11:03 am

Okay “everything ” else doesn’t lead to WEIRD style incomprehension (education and empathy without experience can suffice)


engels 12.05.15 at 12:40 pm

Shorter Dipper: I’m not interested in policies, or even politcians’ personalities, just how those personalities are represented to me in the Daily Mail; I’m not a narcissist but Corbyn is.


dipper 12.05.15 at 12:53 pm

Ho ho Engels

Policies are not as important as folks on here think. Cameron has done very well despite not having any. If he needs one he generally uses a spare labour one.

Personalities and how people navigate the political process are important. Corbyn shows no ability to handle the process. In fact his entire political career has been about avoiding having to actually be responsible for anything. I agree with a lot of what Corbyn says., but he will never be able to deliver any of his policies because he has none of the required capabilities.


engels 12.05.15 at 1:56 pm

You said ‘everything about McDonnell’s politics is about him’ and – the truly ludicrous part – ‘the same goes for Jeremy Corbyn’. Whatever Corbyn’s short comings may be I think you might hard pressed to find anyone in British politics to whom that applies less accurately.


harry b 12.05.15 at 3:10 pm

seconding engels. In fact — it is precisely his lack of narcissism and personal ambition that is probably his greatest shortcoming in this game. And certainly something that magnifies the anger of the ambitious little shts who made their way up through Blairism and mystifies the Oxbridge media types.


faustusnotes 12.05.15 at 3:20 pm

haha Cameron doesn’t have any politics. haha. The pig fucker general knows exactly what needs to be done to get ahead. As for the idea that McDonnell’s little red book was all about him – only if you believe the Daily Mail and nothing else.

But that, I think, is where ronan(rf) is wrong. Understanding, thinking about the enemy – all irrelevant. The Daily Mail wants men with big balls to Do Things about Stuff, it doesn’t want 65 year old vegetarians in cardigans talking about what actually works. And the majority of the British public are on the side of the Daily Mail.

The by-election win is a heartening counterpoint to that cynicism, but I’m not inclined to be positive about the future…


chris y 12.05.15 at 3:42 pm

engels, harry b:

For many observers, narcissism in politicians has become so much the norm that it passes unnoticed and its absence can only be understood as deliberate posturing. Reason #397 why I am glad that I am old and will die soon.


Dipper 12.05.15 at 7:51 pm

ah yes, the evil Daily Mail casting its spell over a supine British electorate with articles such as this:

Fortunately the Guardian/Observer is here to provide political balance


Dipper 12.05.15 at 8:03 pm

The pig fucker general knows exactly what needs to be done to get ahead

indeed he does, and Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell don’t. Even Charles Moore in the Telegraph thinks this is a problem.


engels 12.05.15 at 9:02 pm


harry b 12.05.15 at 10:21 pm

Praising the Mail for publishing Oborne, is like praising Hitler for liking cats. The Mail, of course, found Hitler’s liking for cats to be merely one of his lesser virtues.

(Just to be clear, I like cats, and I like Oborne even more — he’s a very good thing, a journalist who can not only write, but also think.)


faustusnotes 12.06.15 at 3:28 am

Dipper, if Corbyn doesn’t know what to do to get ahead, how come he managed to win the leadership election so convincingly, despite all the negative press he was getting?

Has it ever occurred to you that you don’t know what’s needed …?


engels 12.06.15 at 3:35 am

I also would have thought holding Islington North for 32 years might count for something, though it doubtless pales in comparison to Dipper’s political career


kidneystones 12.06.15 at 6:48 am

@69 I was/am very pleased Corbyn is the leader, to the degree that he has exhibited ‘leadership.’ I find little to object to in your comment other than to say that it seems a little early to consign Corbyn to the bin-heap.

Corbyn may yet be elected prime minister. Stranger things have happened. Nobody could have predicted that Corbyn would be nominated and win the leadership, even 12 months ago. I especially like your observation on policies, the lack there of. My only quibble being that Cameron and all cynical politicians pick-up and dispose of politicians as easily as they do people and their concerns. The constant, of course, is the love of lucre expressed and manifest in the front benches of both parties for the last 2 decades at the very least.

Corbyn’s leadership style may simply be sticking to his principles. What a horror! The war-mongers on Labour’s front bench and their imminent demise may soon provide us all with Corwyn’s political skills.


david morris 12.06.15 at 5:22 pm

Chris & MPA Victoria :

Jim McMahon has been pocketing a tidy £81,598 in allowances when a mere local councillor in Oldham. McMahon, (now MP), received a basic allowance of £9,239. He was also paid an additional £27,717 for being council leader and another £5,543 as a “combined authority payment”. On top of all this he took home a further allowance of £39,099 for chairing the Labour Group on the Local Government Association.

Those postal votes obviously don’t come cheap……….

Kind regards


Sasha Clarkson 12.06.15 at 5:45 pm

There is undoubtedly a lot of abuse on twitter, and undoubtedly some from those who claim to be Corbyn supporters. But most Corbyn supporters take their cue from the man himself:

It is quite disturbing that it’s women who are targeted for the most vile abuse, usually but not always from those hiding behind pseudonyms. Although strangely enough, one of the most unpleasant to Abby Tomlinson on a regular basis is Louise Mensch.


Dipper 12.06.15 at 6:02 pm

faustusnotes – 78

Has it ever occurred to you that you don’t know what’s needed …?

well yes, obviously. Most thinking people, I would assume, keep testing their views against reality and adjust accordingly. As has been said elsewhere, most models of how votes take place did not predict Corbyn winning the Labour leadership, so the same models predicting he cannot become PM are not telling anything useful. We are in a learning phase to understand how strong the support is and whether Corbyn can organise to capitalise on this. Personally I still think he will max out at 20-25% of the electorate.

The one group who never seem to change their minds are the Corbynist left. They have created a Safe Space for their collection of conflicting ideas and championing of dubious groups. All criticism or evidence that is contrary to their views is discredited; its a plot, its people who are in the pay of evil capitalists, its a biased press being unfair, its vested interests making up facts.


engels 12.06.15 at 6:03 pm

Another case of online ‘abuse’ that was completely fabricated:


Dipper 12.06.15 at 6:06 pm

Say what you like about Corbyn, at least he is a man of principle. His stance against cronyism and jobs for your mates is admirable. A fair chance for everyone! No more children of labour politicians being fast-tracked through the party to create an hereditary elite!

Oh hang on


Chris Bertram 12.06.15 at 6:19 pm

@david_morris Rather disappointing that you’re recycling these UKIP talking points. AFAICS, McMahon has simply been promoted into jobs with those allowances, and there’s just no evidence to support the alleged fraud in postal voting. On the other hand, as Mike Smithson points out

“Since 1999 more people elected as UKIP MEPs have been jailed for expenses fraud than the number of MPs the party has at Westminster”


novakant 12.06.15 at 6:24 pm

The most fascinating – and annoying – thing about British politics is how parochial it is – it’s still a nation of shopkeepers. Maybe that’s not a bad thing in the great scheme of things, just slightly embarrassing as when someone farts at a party.


js. 12.06.15 at 6:57 pm

What’s wrong with “postal votes” (assuming we’re talking about mailing in ballots or absentee ballots or some such). This seems like a good thing, no?


Dipper 12.06.15 at 7:10 pm

js – 88 you will wish you hadn’t asked.

The Blair government massively increased the scope of postal voting, and subsequent to that there have been a couple of court cases centred around communities of south Asian origin abusing the system.


Richard Cottrell 12.06.15 at 7:22 pm

MPA Victoria

How about including Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock, ‘Farmer Jim’ Callaghan and Gordon Brown in your photo call of media-rated Labour non-electables…….


engels 12.06.15 at 7:24 pm

From nutty but seemingly harmless conspiracy theory to racial fear-mongering in a couple dozen posts – well done Dipper


Dipper 12.06.15 at 7:34 pm

what’s your point engels? which conspiracy theory? I didn’t make up those court cases.


Chris Bertram 12.06.15 at 8:12 pm

Interesting point about postal voting: many of the same people who want to insist on its intrinsic evilness re Parliamentary elections also want to prevent trade unions from conducting ballots any other way. In the first case, because they claim postal voting is intrinsically vulnerable to fraud, in the second because they claim it is a valuable protection against fraud. Go figure.


engels 12.06.15 at 8:14 pm

Postal vote obsession = nutty
South Asian obsession = creepy
Bye now!


engels 12.06.15 at 8:18 pm

Last comment was to Dipper. I’m done.


js. 12.06.15 at 8:26 pm

Actually, I’m glad I asked. My opinion of the merits of allowing postal voting hasn’t changed, but I have learnt to ignore your comments in the future.


Dipper 12.06.15 at 8:50 pm

I’m genuinely confused. I didn’t mention postal votes until js’s question. The answer to the question is those two scandals round postal voting to which I referred. What is the problem?

anyway, for amusement, I thought I’d post an extract from Guardian article of the judges comments:

“Anybody who has sat through the case and listened to evidence of electoral fraud that would disgrace a banana republic would find this surprising,” Mr Mawrey said.

“[It] indicates a state not simply of complacency, but of denial. The systems to deal with fraud are not working well. They are not working badly. The fact is that there are no systems to deal realistically with fraud.”

In a damning judgment which ran to 192 pages, he said the system for registering postal vote applications was “hopelessly insecure”. There was no way of checking whether the person who had applied for the vote was the legitimate voter.

Postal ballots were sent out in ordinary mail and were clearly identifiable. “Short of writing “STEAL ME” on the envelopes, it is hard to see what more could be done to ensure their coming into the wrong hands,” he said.


Faustusnotes 12.07.15 at 3:16 am

Given elections in the uk are usually held on weekdays I would take the large number of postal votes as strong evidence Corbyn has engaged working people. I would be worried about that if I was a blairite or a Tory…


Daragh 12.07.15 at 1:25 pm

While it’s pretty clear that the postal vote issue simply isn’t a factor in Oldham, it is a system vulnerable to electoral chicanery as currently administered – as seems clear happened in Tower Hamlets with some alarming regularity – and doesn’t quite merit the cavalier accusations of racism Engels is using to avoid actually having a discussion.

Oh and Chris – while I don’t have a strong brief for or against postal voting in either parliamentary or union elections, I’m guessing that there are substantial differences in the administration and organisation of an election to a private body with a known and discrete selectorate which belongs to that body, rather than an election to a public office run by universal suffrage, and that this, rather than inherent bad faith is the cause of the discrepancy.


Dipper 12.07.15 at 2:32 pm

the BBC story implies that the mechanics of postal voting were better at this election than previous. And as Mrs Dipper likes to say, if they all want to vote one way with postal votes that is their right.


Stephen D. 12.07.15 at 8:03 pm

28 – Good point, Liz Kendall ostentatiously stayed away from Oldham during the campaign… Oh, hang on, no she didn’t. She went up there to campaign for a Labour victory. A good local candidate from the *ahem* wing of the party versus UKIP. You’d have to be a muppet to think that a little local embarrassment for Corbyn was worth a UKIP victory. As one of the 4.5% I was delighted. In the current climate there is no danger of Corbyn being defenestrated and anything that gets rid of the stupid “the white working class are the natural supporters of Farage” nonsense, beloved of certain sections of the commentariat is all right by me.

On the other hand, Corbyn was persuaded to keep clear and the Labour campaign literature was markedly silent about the merits of his leadership. I can’t think why. The real test will be – those of us of a certain age will recall the 1987 Greenwich bye-election – when a card carrying member of Momentum, with all the baggage that implies, contests a bye-election that an average Labour candidate ought to comfortably win, and doesn’t.


engels 12.07.15 at 10:56 pm

Daragh, if you want to have a discussion, on a thread about Oldham, of Dipper’s theories about the South Asians rigging elections using forged postal votes no-one’s stopping you but I have other things to do (mostly reading about the French regional elections and Donald Trump’s latest bold policy proposal, as it happens). Have a lovely evening


Ecrasez l'Infame 12.07.15 at 11:26 pm

the BBC story implies that the mechanics of postal voting were better at this election than previous. And as Mrs Dipper likes to say, if they all want to vote one way with postal votes that is their right.

Really? Have you heard the one that goes “Boy, the food at this place is really terrible.” “Yeah, I know, and such small portions”? Well…

Oldham Asians dismiss UKIP’s claim of election fraud

However, a number of female voters, who did not want to be identified, told the BBC they had not heard of any undue influence ahead of the election.

One woman complained that although her family applied for a postal ballot for her father, since he was in hospital, they never received it.


Daragh 12.08.15 at 10:24 am

@engels – the discussion was about the importance of the postal vote in Oldham, which as I’ve happily pointed out wasn’t a factor. You, OTOH, have responded to someone pointing out that postal vote fraud has in fact occurred in the UK, and has been particularly large scale in non-white communities such as Tower Hamlets. This isn’t disputed by anyone, at least not seriously, nor is it necessarily ipso facto about race. But that hasn’t stopped you from immediately smearing someone as a racist to delegitimise any contribution they might have to make (before declaring that you are forced to withdraw due to the higher purpose of demonstrating how concerned you are about Donald Trump’s latest outburst of belligerence).


kidneystones 12.08.15 at 11:41 am

@102 Front nationale parti chez les jeunes. The demographics should make your hair stand on end:

The socialists are in full-scale retreat hoping to head off an FN victory and a possible Le Pen presidency by pulling candidates out of a number of key seats. Hollande and company are all out of answers.

I spend a few hours in the aftermath of the FN victory watching Marine Le Pen debate commentators and politicians of the left and right. She’s a formidable force. I also watched her niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen who is positively frightening: young, attractive, Catholic, married with a child and wholly willing to stake out territory well to the right of anything her aunt might envision.


Chris Bertram 12.08.15 at 12:10 pm

Indeed @kidneystones, though it is worth noticing that only 12/100 voters in the youngest category voted for the FN (65 just didn’t vote). There’s a very different picture in France (and Austria) than in most other European states. Still, MLP has done a good job of detoxifying the FN with the young and one wonders what UKIP could achieve if they didn’t have a leader who is so repulsive to them.


TM 12.08.15 at 12:28 pm

Does anybody have in depth knowledge of where FN now actually stands with respect to questions such as:
– gay rights
– reproductiv rights
– climate change
– taxing the rich
– deregulation
– austerity


Daragh 12.08.15 at 1:12 pm


Marion Marechal Le Pen (MLP’s nice) is very socially conservative and was at the forefront of the anti-gay marriage protests. FN policy is apparently to overturn the legalisation of gay marriage.

On economic policies the party is fairly dirigiste and statist, and wants to roll back globalisation. A big part of it’s move beyond it’s traditional base of out and out racists has been emphasising its support for protectionism and a strong welfare state (for ‘the right kind’ of people of course). In this sense it’s more similar to Orban’s Fidesz or Law and Justice in Poland than the traditional European right. Having said that Jean Marie Le Pen likes to brag that the party’s ultra-liberal economic platform during the 1970s was his idea, and set the stage for Reaganism and Thatcherism. The party currently has a lot of ‘small business’ tax cuts and wants a ‘tax ceiling’ of 46%.

On abortion they don’t really have a policy as far as I can see, and aren’t likely to adopt one soon as it has the potential to divide their current support, alienate potential future support, and not much else. The FN has come out strongly for some environmental causes, particularly anti-fracking, and has a vague ‘new ecology’ ideology that opposes international climate talks but likes nuclear.

Basically FN has been about hating immigrants and non-white French since it’s inception, and that remains the core of the party, but it’s been pretty successful at growing it’s support through targeted bits of populism aimed both leftwards and rightwards.


engels 12.08.15 at 2:01 pm

I’m sure Hillary Benn’s organising international brigades to fight the fascists as we speak


david morris 12.08.15 at 3:28 pm

Chris – 86 (just getting the hang of the comments thread now !)

Shame you felt you had to blow the UKIP dogwhistle. In respect of my voting record, I refer you to the late great Brian Redhead – (secs 0.19-0.25).

Kind regards


Chris Bertram 12.08.15 at 3:37 pm

@david I wasn’t suggesting that you vote for them, just that you were recycling their talking points. Guido Fawkes and Steerpike are poor sources of information. I’m sorry to have given you that impression, anyway.


kidneystones 12.09.15 at 11:52 am

@ 106. You might be right re: Farage. I was curious, however, to see how young people in the UK voted. Among 18-24 year olds, UKIP and the Greens (your party, I believe) ran even, according to the poll. That’s a real surprise, frankly.

In the 25 – 34 category UKIP is ahead by a significant margin. UKIP enjoys better than twice as much support as the Greens. Much higher still among 45-54s, with support for Greens all but disappearing for those 55 and above.

We disagree (again) I expect on the impact of the leaders. Voters who support the Greens, the SNP for the most part, and UIKP are issues voters. They may well have extremely strong feelings about leaders, even negative ones. But they support these smaller parties precisely because the policies of larger parties and perhaps their leaders are so repellent.


kidneystones 12.09.15 at 12:03 pm

Here’s the original poll.

Interesting breakdown along gender lines.
Women between 18-24 – UKIP 10% and Greens 9%. And that gap only widens.
Women voted more frequently for UKIP than the Greens among all ages.

I expect support for both parties to be down. Corbyn seems to be a candidate who would attract more Greens than any other. UKIP exists in the minds of most voters, only as an expression of EU exit and English nationalism.


kidneystones 12.09.15 at 12:45 pm

And for the big news: A poll finds that 59% of those surveyed in the California city of Fresno kinda support or strongly support Trump’s call for an all-out ban on you-know-who from entering the US:

Meanwhile, in a classic case of closing the barn door, France and Germany issued a joint statement calling for the number of immigrants to Europe to be significantly reduced, as Martin Schulz warns of the end of EU dream.


Dipper 12.09.15 at 2:27 pm

The major political parties in the UK have abandonded the working class, particularly the white working class. In that context voting UKIP is a form of political attention-seeking self-harm: “See what you’ve made me do!”


kidneystones 12.10.15 at 12:15 pm

@116 Doubtless some are. However, I suspect that many working-class voters have had enough of being told to shut-up and do as they’re told by their intellectual and moral superiors.

Trump-ets: 18 percent of Democrats support Trumps call to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. How many more Dems fudged their answers and claimed to be horrified by Trump’s plan? The media and a great many Republican ‘luminaries’ did the expected and denounced Trump. Turns out they may be looking for work soon as the Republican rank and file are overwhelmingly onboard:

If the 18% number holds, or actually conceals a greater level of support for Trump’s plan among Dem voters, there’s a real chance Trump could take the WH. We expect Republicans to love the idea. The deluded tell themselves Dems are different. They are in some respects, but on this issue not so much. The poll is only just out and is already getting lots of play on Dem meme sites. Trump goes there, and once again drives the debate. Let’s pray there isn’t another major incident/attack. Given that praying won’t make much real difference, the next attack is only likely to see support for Trump’s plan rise on both sides of the political divide.


Dipper 12.10.15 at 1:00 pm


I think we are in agreement here.

I think Trump is trying to exit the race. He has had his fun, had free publicity, but doesn’t really want the WH, so he is saying things that mean he can leave on his terms. But the more outrageous the things he says, the more popular he gets.


kidneystones 12.10.15 at 11:20 pm

@118 Cheers. I watched Trump’s speech and the interviews after. He’s ready to leave, but wants very much to win. He’s rich enough, old enough, etc. that he can pursue the presidency on his terms. If he takes the nomination from the grip of GOP grandees he’ll win almost as many fans among Dems as rank and file Republicans, or at least enough to cut very deep into Dem support. We haven’t seen any major Dem defections. Y.E.T.

One, or two significant Dem cross-overs (self-interest, cash, power) and it’s Trump’s to lose. All indications are he knows a lot more about winning than any candidate in either party. Americans aren’t the only ones who love a winner.

One cautionary word to the wise in Britain and elsewhere. The special relationship is over. America is ready to pull up the drawbridge for real. When Trump says the people turning on him now ” don’t know what they’re getting into, he means it.” A very large segment of US voters is already keen to tell the rest of the world to go to hell. Many are keen to abandon Europe to Putin. Americans do not believe America owes Europe anything, a fact proven twice in the last century.


kidneystones 12.11.15 at 11:11 am

Let the polls begin. The media poll strategy re: Trump is clear.

The NBC/WSJ poll asks the question: “Do you favor or oppose Donald Trump’s proposal to bar Muslims from entering the US?” 57% oppose.

Yet, when Trump is not mentioned and the temporary nature of the ban is made clear, 30% of Dems favor a ban.

Rasmussen simply states the proposal: “Do you favor or oppose a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the Untied States until the federal government improves its ability to screen out potential terrorists from coming here?” 46% favor 40% oppose.

I mentioned before that a Dem could flip. All those who believe HRC has too much integrity to steal Trump’s “temporary ban” idea, if the notion continues to get real traction with voters, please raise your hands.


Layman 12.11.15 at 12:54 pm

Rasmussen forgot to include the pony. Add the pony in, you’re sure to get a majority.

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