The Labour Purge…. and social media privacy.

Food for thought.

Paul Bernal's Blog

The so-called ‘Labour Purge’ has many disturbing elements – from the motivations behind those who might ‘need’ to be purged to the motivations of those who want to purge them – but there is one aspect that appeared yesterday that seems to have been largely ignored: the attitude to people’s privacy. There was one particular statement, reported in the Guardian, that I found particularly disturbing:

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There are many different elements to this statement that should bother us, but two linked point are particularly disturbing. Firstly, it suggests that the party has been scouring the internet to find social media profiles of people who have registered. Secondly, it seems to suggest that for people not to have clearly identifiable social media profiles is suspicious.

Privacy in public

The first idea, that it’s ‘OK’ to scour the net for social media profiles, then analyse them in detail is one that is…

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From compassionate and aspirational to radical but credible

Before Jeremy Corbyn entered the race for the Labour leadership, all candidates agreed for the need for Labour to be both compassionate and aspirational. Post Corbyn Mania however, the three ABC (Anyone but Corbyn) candidates have really stepped it up a gear (/s). Each has a whole new message for voters.

Here’s Andy Burnham:

What this contest has shown is that the Labour Party is crying out for change. Members are sick of standing on doorsteps with little to offer voters. They want a radical vision that can inspire and excite, but also one with credibility at its heart. That is what I am offering.

Yvette Cooper:

We need to be confident enough not to swallow the Tory myths and to set out a strong, radical alternative instead. But it also has to be credible – credible enough to be delivered, and to build public confidence in Labour’s economic approach so we can win, and change Britain’s economic policy in practice.

Liz Kendall:

The most radical political ideas often begin with the simplest of beliefs. I believe that every single person in our society has potential and should be given the opportunity and power to realise their potential, and live the life they choose.

…And giving young people, who’ve been hit so hard since the global crash, credible hope for the future – by working with businesses to revolutionise skills and lead the world in new clean energy jobs.

This is the conversation I imagine they might have had:

AB: “Jeremy is winning because he’s radical. We need to be radical”.

YC: “Jeremy is not credible though. We must be”.

LK: “How?”

YC: “Just say we are radical and credible but importantly, we must never spell out what that means.”

LK: “Genius”.

AB: “But surely if we all say that, no one will be able to tell us apart?”

YC: “Well you say you are radical and credible, I’ll say I am credible but radical, and you say you want a radical vision that offers credibility.”

LK: “Great idea.”

AB: “I can see no flaws in this plan.”

Is it any wonder Corbyn is wiping the floor with all of them?

That joke isn’t funny anymore: from #Tories4Corbyn to a Very British Coup

The World Turned Upside Down

corbyn2One day, someone like the Glasgow Media Group, will do an analysis of this leadership election and how the attitude of the right-wing press has changed towards Jeremy Corbyn. It will be fascinating. 

Stage 1: Laughter

It seems like an age ago when it was all jolly larks and #Tories4Corbyn. Smugly and patronisingly, they laughed into their sleeves, safe in the knowledge that Corbyn even being on the ballot would show that the loony left (guffaw) was very much alive and kicking and the Labour Party at large hadn’t changed. By not having changed, of course, they mean not accepting all the tenets of the disgustingly unequal and brutal society that their chums in the city had created. That self-satisfied superiority complex, which seemingly couldn’t be shifted, had been aided and abetted by the Labour Party in Parliament, filled with New Labourites who did just that – who had “changed”…

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What do the public think of Jeremy Corbyn?

If you are on social media, then it’s clear, Jeremy Corbyn will win the Labour leadership in a landslide and then go on to win the keys to Downing Street in 2020. On social media though, it was also clear that in May, Ed Miliband would be entering Downing Street after Labour became the largest party in Parliament. It didn’t quite work out that way. So away from Twitter, what do people actually think of the man?

In the run-up to the last election, there were numerous polls each week on where the parties stood. They didn’t turn out to be very accurate, but millions of words were written about what the polls said. Given that, there have been surprisingly few polls done about how the Labour leadership contenders are viewed among the wider public. The ones that have been done have shown mixed results for Corbyn fans.

First there was a poll carried out by Survation which showed that Corbyn was most popular of the four leadership contenders amongst those polled and scored highest when asked which candidate would make them more likely to vote Labour. This poll was released just after a string of New Labour’s men of yesterday lined up to warn of Corbyn’s ‘unelectability’.

The Survation poll was follwed up a day later by a Comres poll that contradicted the first. In this one, respondents were asked if Corbyn would worsen or improve Labour’s chances. 31% said worsen vs 21% improve. Less positive then.

How much weight should we place on these polls however. My personal experience of people ‘offline’ is that the majority of people I interact with on a day to day basis have either never or only vaguely heard of any of the Labour leadership candidates, and those that do don’t really care enough to have a firm view. Amongst my friends and colleagues I am a bit of an oddity, the sort of person who would pick three pointless answers on politics in the final round of Pointless. My experience is that most people just aren’t paying attention. From this I conclude that the 2020 election is still very much up for grabs, but Corbyn (or another candidate if he doesn’t win) will need to grab people early and hang onto them with a consistent message.

What do people in your circles think of Corbyn. Is it the same as mine or have your detected a more widespread whiff of Corbyn-mania then me?

What’s the best electoral strategy for Labour?

I thought this might be a good topic for discussion. To me, there are three possible strategies Labour could adopt in an attempt to win the next election:

  1. Try and say as little as possible, but make noises about credibility and stability with a healthy dose of fiscal responsibility, to ‘win trust’, then if and when you win, implement your programme without much regard to what you said before.
  2. Lay out a long shopping list of policies you and your supporters want to see implemented and make you case for them to the electorate over the course of the Parliament.
  3. Offer new ideas, but try and sell them in the language of your opponents.

It seems to me 1 has been done rather successfully by George Osborne and the Tories at the last election. They made rather vague promises, then when they one, promptly nicked some of Labour’s manifesto and whacked a couple of million people with previously unmentioned tax credit cuts. The ABC (Anyone but Corbyn) candidates also seem to want to be as vague as possible, using words like aspiration and compassion without ever explaining what that means. They also drop in the word ‘radical’ every now and again as if to try and convince us they have big plans should they win.

Strategy 2 seems to be being adopted by the Corbyn campaign. It has been incredibly successful in firing up the left and looks likely to take him over the line to become Labour leader. Can this same strategy continue to work after the leadership election though.

Strategy 3 would involve taking concepts like ‘fiscal responsibility’, ‘personal responsibility’ and ‘something for nothing culture’ and reframing them to fit the vision you want to present. I think Corbyn has weakly tried this already on the deficit, but rather unsuccessfully.

What do you think? Which strategy is best, or is there another strategy that could work?

God forbid that bearded fella gets elected as Labour leader and the party starts to actually represent working people, y’know, the labour of the country. 


Thanks to @mikeypie12(M) for this wonderfully witty piece!

I have been trying to work my way through the policies that have been put forward by the candidates for the Labour leadership. I’ve no doubt I would’ve achieved this much sooner if I had actually been able to find Yvette, and Liz’s… Not to mention that I have been distracted on multiple occasions by Alastair Campbell, John McTernan and other morally bankrupt figures who cropped up between 1997 and 2010, telling me that I shouldn’t vote for that bearded fella. However, I’m awaiting the intervention of Geoff Hoon before I make my final decision. No matter, a minor inconvenience.

Then there’s Andy from Liverpool. Andy differs from Yvette and Liz in that he has presented some policies. Although most of them appear to be a rehash of the last Conservative/Labour General Election manifesto (I’m assuming they were wrote by the…

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The 101st day

Jules Birch

The Conservatives must be pinching themselves after 100 days in government. What can possibly go wrong?

For three months they’ve been able to do pretty much as they like. The Liberal Democrats are humiliated, Labour is demoralised and distracted and the opposition that has come from the SNP is a comforting reminder of the Scottish card that won the election. Thanks to all of that, plus expectations formed by inaccurate opinion polls, a government with a tiny majority elected with just over a third of the vote can behave as though it’s won a victory on a par with 1945, 1979 and 1997.

Yet the Tory luck cannot hold for ever. The obvious cloud on the horizon is Europe, with no sign that Brussels will hand David Cameron concessions meaningful enough to sell to his sceptical party ahead of the election. Economically, it’s far easier to start with a recession…

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Why a vote for Corbyn is a vote for electability

Notes from a Broken Society

Three days before the 1983 election, I attended a rally in Oxford Town Hall. It was in the days when it was still possible to come in off the street to a Labour leader’s rally, and the speaker was Michael Foot. The atmosphere was revivalist, a packed hall cheering on their much-loved leader.  How could Labour possibly lose in the face of such enthusiasm?  But of course the result is history.

More than thirty years on, I found myself attending Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign rally in Cardiff – according to media coverage one of the largest political gatherings in Wales since the Miners’ Strike.  The atmosphere was incredible – more than a thousand people crowded into the hall, standing room only, people with decades of Labour activism behind them, others coming to politics for the first time.  At its heart, a speech by Jeremy Corbyn that was passionate and…

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Corbyn needs to find new ways to frame the economic debate

I had thought about writing something in response to this article by Labour MP and Corbyn supporter John McDonnell about Corbyn’s economic plans. I was going to disagree with the way he felt the need to talk about how Corbyn would aim to “clear the deficit”. I was going to do that, but then someone else did the job for me and much better than I could. Economist Bill Mitchell wrote this blog yesterday. Here is Bill’s conclusion with which I wholeheartedly agree:

I am very excited about the Corbyn challenge. There is a chance to clear out the New Labour crust that has welded neo-liberal narratives onto the Party and restricted its capacity to offer a progressive alternative to Britain.

But, increasingly, the attempts by his support base to appear to be ‘fiscally responsible’ tells me that he will not succeed in altering the debate if he continues to promote ideas that equate fiscal responsibility with deficit elimination.

Fiscal responsibility is equated with achieving full employment with price stability – and in the current climate that would require a fiscal deficit some percent of GDP larger than what it is at present.

Corbyn’s camp should be talking about that rather than deficit elimination, which is a ridiculous policy target to aspire to.

Excitingly, Bill is speaking at a free event in London on 27th August alongside Richard Murphy and Ann Pettifor. Here are the details. Annoyingly, I can’t make it, but if you can, I think it would be well worth it. If any of you do go, do let me know what you thought.