Online petitions: vital organ of democratic activism, or the lazy twitch of a population that thinks clicking a link amounts to political engagement? Radio Wales invited me and Harry Phibbs of Conservative Home to thrash it all out on Thursday morning.
Corbyn’s post-victory reshuffle has a distinctly assertive feel, with rewards for supporters and removals for the not-so-supportive. Most notably from the PLP’s point of view, long-serving Chief Whip Rosie Winterton has been replaced by Nick Brown – an old hand who served as Chief Whip under both Blair and Brown (making him a veteran of putting down rebellions), but also an ally of Corbyn’s on Trident. The move was apparently a shock to Winterton, who believed herself to be brokering peace talks between Corbyn and his MPs. The other big story is the appointment of Shami Chakrabarti (above) to Shadow Attorney General. A year ago, this would have been welcomed across the political spectrum; in light of her much-criticised anti-semitism report, it looks unfortunately transactional. You can hear me discuss all this, and the indignities inflicted on sandwich-starved lobby journos by an extended reshuffle, by following the link below.
After an extraordinary summer, it’s back to normal for Labour – a normal that includes a leader the MPs have no confidence in, MPs regarded as traitors by a large mass of the party, and anti-Semitism of the grossest kind voiced by an ally of the leader in one hall while that same leader declared “zero tolerance towards those who whip up hate and division” in another.
Tom Watson delivered a speech the moderates loved urging Labour to own and celebrate its Blair-Brown record, Jeremy Corbyn delivered a speech his supporters loved that included a barely-veiled attacked on Tony Blair, and Clive Lewis delivered a speech that Seamas Milne rewrote seconds before delivery to alter a key section on Labour’s approach to Trident, in a striking illustration of how loyalty to Corbyn is repaid. (If the rumours are true that Milne is about to head back to journalism with his diaries in hand, then the relief of Labour’s front bench could soon be lost in a swell of muckraking.) Owen Smith delivered no speech and is presumably just glad it’s all over.
I was on BBC Radio Wales this morning, talking through what Labour’s new normal means in the second age of Corbyn – follow the link below for the item.
Voting in the Labour leadership election closed at midday yesterday, with it looking very likely that a Corbyn victory on an increased majority will be the result announced at conference this Saturday. I was on BBC Radio Wales yesterday morning to talk about where this leaves Labour. Does it have any prospects as a party of government under Corbyn? Can the soft left and centre hope to regain control of the party? And is Labour ever going to confront the political fragmentation of the Union?
That last is a question I’ve been thinking about a lot, partly because I think Labour’s difficulty with articulating a positive idea of statehood, and consequent vulnerability to to electoral pressure from nationalists, is probably intimately connected to the left’s susceptibility to anti-Semitism (and, given Dworkin’s analysis of the conceptual intimacy between anti-Semitism and misogyny, its sexism too). I haven’t thought this through entirely yet, but since Labour looks in no danger of pulling itself together imminently, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to work on it. Anyway, follow the link below to hear me on Good Morning Wales.