The bitterness that will linger for Labour

I’ve written a four-part short essay with a personal view on why Labour got itself into its current difficulties, how it could have avoided it, and why this is a big issue either way (because this is very bad time to be complacent about democracy). They essay finishes with a look at what the opportunity is for Labour along with a contrast between the success of Bernie Sanders and the backward-steps of Corbynism

Comments welcome, as always.

Labour, Syria and the problem with mandates…

I posted this over on Slugger O’Toole earlier.

Here’s a pull-quote:

When some of us, back in August, said “putting Corbyn in charge of the Labour Party is like filling an ‘unleaded’ car with diesel”, this is what we meant. It actually won’t work. We weren’t trying to talk those voters out of something sensible. We were saying “this is bound to end in tears.”

Labour’s choice of its enemies

labour logoI wrote this over at Slugger a few days ago. On reflection, its too long, but without a lot of editing, I don’t know what to leave out.

It’s about how political parties are largely defined by what constrains them. I don’t think this is understood widely enough.

In Labour’s case, we have the handicap of being a fairly democratic party that has, as a main rival, a party that is more capable of opportunism and pragmatism (i.e. The Conservatives).

The post repeats a lot of themes that run through recent posts here – that good democratic collective action is a great deal harder than most people think.

To defeat the Conservatives, it’s a massive hill to climb, and it gets bigger when you factor in the problems caused by its openness towards the hard left.

‘Democracy’ is not the same thing as ‘politics’ – a digression

Because this is the early part of an experiment with long-form writing broken down into blog-posts, at the end of the last post, I thought I needed to digress a bit into the question of how politics and democracy isn’t the same thing. I’ve tried out for this and here are the posts.

  1. Democracy rather than politics?
  2. If you can’t beat ’em, should you join ’em?
  3. Challenging ‘political’ rule – why now?

I hope they’re worth a look – I don’t want to break the flow (!) here…..

Democracy as a political objective

French Women's Suffrage poster

Democracy – a political end in itself.

In my last couple of posts, I’ve summed up what I think is a reasonably logical argument in favour of the politics of compromise, and limited expectations, at least when it applies to citizens who are dealing with political parties or politicians.

To add an important caveat, this is not the same thing as having limited expectations or a lack of radical political ambition. I would argue that it is the opposite.

I’ve argued that limiting our expectations when dealing politicians achieves a great deal more than standing on principle and being reluctant to compromise, and that people who may not be inclined to compromise (because they see themselves as being very principled) are actually being very self-defeating in doing so.

I can think of one very obvious objection to my position. It’s one that I’d call a political, rather than a democratic objection. Politically, there’s an obvious case to make: Other parties win elections and then impose their programmes on us. Why shouldn’t we?

It’s an argument for soft-pedaling your principles before an election and then implementing your programme in the hope that the voters will realise your wisdom, or that you will get away with it and avoid any kind of repeal (or worse, a backlash). Continue reading

Principled politics: a paradox

If you are voting out of principle, you may, paradoxically, find that you have a greater duty to be pragmatic.

Let’s imagine (for the sake of argument) that all voters only voted out of self-interest. If that were the case, the government they elect should end up offering a compromise package that does enough to offer the largest electoral minority (depending on the electoral system) the least-worst electoral option.

It should be a much bigger deal, though, if you say that your personal views are largely driven by altruism and you (and lots of other voters that share your views) believe that your votes are being cast in the interests of the less-fortunate-than-you. In that case, you also have quite a strong moral duty to accept something instead of nothing.

A lot more of a moral duty than the purely self-interested voter. Continue reading