At The Economist: Bagehot on Political Apostate Jeremy Corbyn, a comment by Political Reporter

Before reading Bagehot’s utterly predictable attack on Political Apostate Jeremy Corbyn, read his, at times, illuminating essay here on the by-election in question, as political litmus test for Mr. Corbyn:

A few highlights,like this bit of manufactured political nostalgia for 1899:

FEW places, in 1899, better encapsulated Britain’s industrial pomp than Oldham. Its skyline was the Manhattan of its day: a forest of smoke stacks emanating from the cotton mills, the Pennine hillsides freckled with mansions housing the country’s largest concentration of millionaires.

Or this bit of Oxbridger casual snobbery :

A party once confined to the comfortable gin-and-jag belt around London is now a serious presence in the bitter-and-bus-pass belts around Manchester, Sheffield and Newcastle.

This is surprisingly insightful:

Excessive this may be, but playing out on the streets of Oldham is a story repeated across Europe; a suspicion of political elites borne of stagnant living standards, doubts about globalisation borne of deindustrialisation and in particular hostility to immigration borne of shifting demographics and pressures (however unrelated) on housing, wages and services. Support for nativist parties, ranging from Britain’s blokeish UKIP to France’s hard-right National Front and Hungary’s overtly racist Jobbik, is squeezing traditional social democratic parties more comfortable discussing redistributive social policies than flags, nationhood and identity. UKIP plans to squeeze Labour hard on this in Oldham, concentrating its campaign on immigration, defence and Mr Corbyn’s obvious ambivalence towards patriotic symbols from the armed forces to the royals.

But in ‘Labour’s sensibles are starting to push back—but they should push harder’ Bagehot presents an estimation of the political character, or lack thereof, of Mr. Corbyn. Note the the rhetorical frame of ‘ugly blend of sanctimony and moral relativism’ in sum he is not one of us! The ‘Political Other’ in our midst.

Jeremy Corbyn’s response to the ensuing debates has cemented the impression—as if any cement were needed—that Labour’s newish leader is out of his depth, ambivalent about things that should be clear and craven to the ugly blend of sanctimony and moral relativism whose sudden metastasis through his party propelled him to its leadership in September.

The Failure of Thatcherism/Blairism as the twin harbingers of economic/political catastrophe is well established, except for the apologists for that ignominious failure. For an informative discussion of Hayek,  his epigones and the mirage of a particular form of regressive economic/political utopianism, see this issue of  Critical Review  titled Hayek : The Good, the Bad, the Ugly:


Political Reporter




About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.'
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