The Centre Ground Cannot Hold

In this essay we will explore the notion of ‘centre-ground’ politics, why this ideology is coming to an end, and the part it plays in the 2016 American presidential election. We’ll do so by looking at the reasons for Bill Clinton’s successes; take an unsentimental look at which of Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump would be less terrible; try to explain why so many people are attracted to Donald Trump; and we’ll look at the performances of America’s ‘third party’ candidates in this election cycle. We’ll then make the case that electing Hillary Clinton would not be a pragmatic necessity, but the start of a bright dawn for the American left.

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Do You Support the Aims and Values of the Labour Party?

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.

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The Importance of Political Narrative

Telling stories is an important part of who we are, as a nation and as a species. There’s a huge amount of data thrust at us by the world, and, given that we can’t be experts in everything, the stories we tell ourselves and others are a very useful short-hand to help us make sense of the chaos around us.
By failing to realise the importance of storytelling, politicians and voters underestimate the ability of influential leaders to shape public opinion, rather than just chasing it.

In this essay we’ll begin by examining two the standard narratives that have been constructed around the 1983 and 1997 general elections; we’ll look at the part the idea of ‘economic competence’ played in returning the Tory Party to power in 2015; we’ll examine the way people latch onto tangible details over more important but more abstract details; move on to look at Labour’s messaging in the 2015 general election and the question of whether Miliband’s Labour or the SNP were more left-wing; examine debates around the minimum wage and the living wage; look at contemporary failures of political journalism; and then ask whether Jeremy Corbyn is electable.

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