One of the things I am supposed to do as a strategist is to try and see what has happened, analyse, interpret and identify what is coming next.
As many of you know, I was a member of the UK Labour Party for many years. A number of my friends who are not as political as I am (or was) have asked me to try and give a summary of what is going on in UK politics. Now living in the USA, I am not in touch with the people directly or have any particular insights, but can take a strategic overview knowing some of the people from the past and their characteristics.
Other than declaring everyone in the UK has gone mad, I have kept my political thoughts mainly to myself, since Corbyn’s election victory.
So, as an outsider, this is my analysis of what has gone– and will happen next.
It started with Ed Miliband – elect an unelectable candidate, get an appropriate legacy. As well as being seen as incompetent in hindsight, (a charge leveled at the time) Ed played the role of‘ ‘useful idiot’ to his supporters and changed the rules of the Labour Party, allowing some self-serving trots, radicals and militants that had been outcast from grown up debate back into the Party under the banner of democracy. These people had zero affinity to the Labour Party and mainly contempt since their expulsion three decades ago.
During Miliband’s tenure, traditional members had either left the Party as they couldn’t justify supporting the unelectable and completely wrong-headed Miliband as leader, which was compounded by him resigning mere hours after defeat. Our Ed left a leadership election to be conducted by people who knew he was unelectable and completely wrong on a host of matters, but couldn’t say so as they had advocated those same positions only weeks previously!
From a strategic view the issue was brand failure: “Labour” was tarnished under Miliband, and the only candidate in the election who had an visible alternative to the failed brand was Corbyn. He was the ideological differentiator. He brought loyal customers and members to vote for him, through his decades of campaigning with the same bunch of trots, communists, radicals and militants that he had befriended over decades.
“Corbynistas” are the“Paperback radicals” who thanks to the internet, now have a voice. These people are committed to radical societal change and have a sense of self-righteousness that others do not possess.
Not all have malice. Many are honest do-gooders who are bound by joining a campaign in good faith, such as Stop the War or the ANL before they were hijacked. These campaigners, guided by professional agitators and organisers, rallied together to elect Jeremy Corbyn – perhaps the most disloyal Labour MP in Parliament, supporting ideological Stalinst/ Lenninist/ Trotskyist and anti-western groups wherever they rise – who has run nothing in his life and achieved nothing of note in 30+ years in Parliament.
The ability to use these supporters to act as product advocates is a tool of modern marketing – and this campaign used it very well. Like Donald Trump, they harnessed non-traditional media to influence circles of people to join and share in the movement, and once they have chosen a brand or ideal (and NOT a candidate) they are aligned to that.
With comrade Jeremy elected at leader, he appoints
- A cadre of old political lefties, left over from Michael Foot’s 1983 campaign to his cabinet,
- The political infrastructure booted out of City Hall by the electorate along with Ken Livingstone,
- A bunch of former student radicals – that have either been “organisers” for leftist groups and who were generally unemployable in the real world.
Immediately post election, we see talk of “open conversation” and “new politics”, which state their brand to the general populace. To those who know these guys, this can only be described as Orwellian.
This clique has views completely at odds with the country, Parliament and the traditional Labour Party membership, and between them have done or achieved very little of meaningful value, yet they are united as they know that they have a mission and a common purpose. This was true for NASA landing a man on the moon, or Steve Jobs building Apple. This group have waited and plotted for the opportunity to capture the Labour party, this is their life mission and they have been handed the keys to the car.
Their brand message has to be inclusive and open to demonstrate validity and opportunity. In reality it is nothing like that.
As I write, I consider this to be the beginning of Phase IV, which may last 2-4 years. A period of definition and consolidation of brand, and control of message. Within weeks, after securing control of the Labour Party apparatus and message, they will start to proclaim and denounce.
After a short period, Corbyn will appoint a second group of loyalists from the left (maybe Ken himself) to key, visible, public and political positions and to organise within the campaign group, Momentum. This group will act like a support group throughout the UK, building membership and acting as a national campaign, outside the Labour Party, like the SWP, Stop The War or any other such campaigning group – but the single issue is keeping control of the Labour Party. They will demonstrate and agitate.
Next, this core group consolidates locally and selects Labour candidates – possibly deselecting MPs, with Momentum acting as the independent, anonymous attack dogs, restating ideological purity alongside the improvement of roads, streets and boycotting Israel, The USA and any country that does not fit into the global ideological view of the group.
Momentum on the outside and Corbyn’s cadre on inside change the rules of the organisation and forcibly exile the non-believers, not forgetting, those non-believers on the “Labour inside” are more dangerous than the enemy!
We can see this already – if people as talented, decent and wholeheartedly Labour as Mike Dugher, Pat McFadden and Yvette Cooper are seen as “disloyal and incompetent” and ostracised from the core. The Labour party will become an ugly, horrible, sectarian place to be, unfit to oppose, never mind govern.
Think Stalin’s purges, Mao’s Cultural Revolution and for those without the detailed history of Leftist dictatorships – Animal Farm – however in this analogy, there is a case that Corbyn is “Snowball”; and the worse “Napoleon” is yet to come!
We have seen a successful brand shift – From a tiny start, this small group of ideological extremists have taken over one of the great parties of UK politics. Some say that there is a small window left at time of writing for Labour parliamentarians to stop this coup, however, I do not think they can. As the core customer will have changed and the brand and identity of The Labour Party has been repositioned.
“Shit Happens!” as they say over here in the USA.
Maybe a NO vote on the European referendum leading to Brexit, maybe a second Chinese financial crash or US driven economic shock that ripples to the UK. Maybe it is a financial or sex scandal in the Conservative party that brings the party crashing down. Perhaps maybe an ideological fracture of the Conservative Party itself over a new leader, but whatever this exogenous shock may be, under a certain set of conditions THIS Labour Party, led by Corbyn, or Ken Livingstone or another revolutionary leftist could become a Government, and with control of Parliament, can make radical change – which is their agenda!
We have seen a “Shock and Awe”, strategic masterclass from the Leninist school of revolutions; the once unthinkable takeover of the Labour Party by the “loonies” is complete.
A combination of the unseen geniuses sitting in the backrooms of Westminster, who have honed their skills in NUS, in hijacking campaigns for the SWP, Left Unity or Socialist Organiser /Action/whatever trade union, and the Jar-Jar Binks levels of incompetence and naiveté of Ed Miliband in have allowed this takeover of the Labour Party.
The Unions and campaigning groups that support and organise around Corbyn have built a diverse and well resourced campaigning body that can build a presence in every constituency – by using both positive and negative campaigning methods – as we have seen by the intimidation tactics schooled in the coal face.
It is brilliant. It is fascinating. It is terrifying.