Following the first Clinton-Trump Presidential debate this week, Trump supporters were taking to twitter, citing online polls as evidence that their candidate performed more strongly, often under the hashtag #TrumpWon. Trump came out on top in a number online polls – so he won, right?
Not quite. To understand online polls, you have to understand how they work. Most online polls are used as a form of promotion, often with a prize as incentive. As one example, in 2012 school textbook company Chegg ran an online promotional competition, with the prize being $10,000 for the top five schools, and a Taylor Swift concert for the winner. The obvious intent here is for schools to encourage their students and their families to enter the contest in order to get more resources for the school, with the use of a major performer used as a flashy and attention-grabbing gimmick to enthuse students.
The Labour Party is a divided house. Discussion of the issue tends to be emotionally charged, and consist of finger-pointing, half-truths and lack of critical reflection, from all sides of the divide. Political realities mean that the Labour Party are currently the standard-bearers and the loudest political voice for the British left and the working-class. Their conflicts, their dysfunctions, will impact on all of us. In this essay we’ll attempt to form an understanding of what’s happening within Labour, and whether it’s capable of surviving.
We’ll begin by defining the terms we’ll use; discuss the records and reputations of Tony Blair and Jeremy Corbyn; discuss the idea of ‘dissident intellectuals’ within a party and a movement; the tactical failings over the last year; take a look at the theatrical side of politics and the use of the media; look at anti-semitism and sexism within the Labour Party; the culture of brutalism within the Labour Party; ‘post-truth politics’; ask whether Jeremy Corbyn is an extremist and look at the stubborn ideology of centrists like Blair and Balls. We’ll then answer the headline question of whether the co-writers support the ‘aims and values’ of the Labour Party (and whether we think you should) before giving our opinions on what the road ahead should be.
This essay will be a long read, and anyone with an opinion on the current state of the Labour Party will find something to object to. We don’t claim to be providing wisdom from on-high, but consider that we have a series of relevant questions to ask. Questions which will hopefully spark further discussion, and encourage co-operation across divides. As long as this essay is (over 12,000 words) we intend for it to be the starting point of a conversation, not the end. Hopefully, anyone who reads all the way to the end will feel that they have a better framework for discussing Labour’s internal conflicts – whether they agree or disagree with our conclusions.
There are currently two leadership election campaigns being ran by major British political parties. As leftwingers, the co-writers of this blog initially saw wins for Labour’s Owen Smith and UKIP’s Steven Woolfe as the worst possible scenario for the left.
Large proportions of the working class areas which voted to Leave in the June referendum were in safe Labour seats where UKIP have been growing in strength. The working class Leave vote was, in our experience as Remain campaigners, largely an anti-establishment vote. Phrases like ‘something has to change’ came up fairly often. Smith’s suggestion of a second referendum once the terms of Brexit have been made clear (as opposed to the best of all worlds mirage which was offered in June) is sensible. But the prospect of a well-off former drug company executive potentially trying to reverse a working-class rebellion against the establishment would be a dangerous one. To make this work, Smith would need to draw on reserves of charisma, persuasion and clarity of communication that he simply doesn’t have.
Labour’s ability to present themselves as being the party of the working class would be even tougher were UKIP to be led by the highly-regarded working class MEP and barrister Steven Woolfe, born and raised in Manchester’s Moss Side.
However, despite Woolfe being favourite to win, his application was submitted to the party 17 minutes after the deadline closed, leading to UKIP’s National Executive Committee voting to exclude him from the contest. So why did the man many see as Nigel Farage’s most natural successor fall at the first hurdle?
Respect and context.
Those are the two key things to bear in mind on September 11th.
The events of September 11th 2001 were shocking and tragic. Three thousand lives were ended, countless more lost loved ones, and thirty-seven thousand contracted health complications which have defined their lives since. Whatever anyone thinks of the wider context of American foreign policy, those who died were, on an individual level, innocent.
On the fifteenth anniversary of their deaths, it is correct to pay tribute to them.
But it is also an opportunity to draw attention to the wider context.
On September 11th 1973, Chile’s General Pinochet overthrew his nation’s democratically elected government, almost certainly with the support of the CIA. Pinochet’s terrorism did not last just one day, but for decades, killing tens of thousands. It is correct to use the anniversary to pay respect to the victims of 2001, but that is an anniversary few in the US or UK will forget. Many in those countries will not be aware of the actions of 1973, or their consequences. The anniversary of the better known tragedy is an opportunity to provide context.
Idiots are all around us. Idiots are the embodiment of the lowest common denominator. They are the kid at the back of the class who refuses to listen. Who loudly shows off their new smartphone, pog, or electric yoyo. and slows the speed of human progress. The idiots are self-regarding consumer slaves, oblivious to the paradox of their uniform individuality, unaware that they are the rich man’s puppets.
‘Does Ashcroft think I’m an idiot?’ he hears you rage into your smartphone. He hears you and he prepares to deploy the twin weapons of hypophora and basic human empathy to respond across space and time.
The difference between idiots and non-idiots is that the idiots are oblivious. The idiot doesn’t realise that it is trapped. The idiot doesn’t realise that its desires are shaped by the most blatant of corporate manipulations into thinking that the new iPhone s12 will bring it happiness. The idiots believe that getting its hands on the latest piece of materialist twattery a few weeks before Jeremy and Frederick is some kind of victory. That this proves that they are better than their friends. In its tiny little mind this gives the idiot’s life value and meaning.
A version of this post first appeared on our Facebook page last week.
Last week, we ran a poll on our Twitter account in response to the news that the EU had ruled that Ireland had given state aid to Apple, by allowing them to pay a lower rate of tax than other similar corporations.
There’s the obvious disclaimers to start with – the poll was conducted online, which means respondents are more likely to be disproportionately young and left-wing than among the wider population. Also, while we try to be politically balanced, our beliefs are more leftwing than rightwing, which will be reflected in our followers. So the people who see the poll will not completely represent a cross-section of the population for those reasons.