@RColvile on Kier Starmer, and the problematic ‘Corbyn Loyalists’ in Labour Party. Old Socialist comments

Read Mr. Colvile’s C.V. as posted at the Center for Policy Studies web site:

Robert Colvile is Director of the CPS and Editor-in-Chief of CapX, as well as a columnist for The Sunday Times. In December 2019 he took a leave of absence to work as one of the authors of the Conservative Party’s election manifesto, which also contained a range of policies advocated by the CPS. He was previously head of comment at the Daily and Sunday Telegraph and news director at BuzzFeed UK, as well as an editor, columnist and leader writer with the Telegraph. His critically acclaimed book ‘The Great Acceleration: How the World is Getting Faster, Faster’ was published by Bloomsbury in 2016, and he was for many years a Research Fellow at the CPS alongside his journalism work.


This, just prologue to my comment to his latest essay at The Times of February 21, 2021:

Headline: Keir Starmer has every chance of becoming PM. There’s just one obstacle — the Labour Party

Mr. Colvile in given to self-congratulatory Oxbridger-isms. The first two paragraphs awash in that very patois, garnished with a miniscule witticism-he knows his readership!

When I was just starting out in Fleet Street, a veteran journalist explained how to write political analysis. Spend most of your word count on the government (usually, in those days, the exhaustingly pointless rows between Blair and Brown). Throw in a few hundred words on the opposition. And if you were running short, add a couple of paragraphs starting: “And what of the Lib Dems?”

Today, the priority list looks rather different. The pandemic is utterly dominant, and the government’s response to it crucial. The wider Tory party is newsworthy because its internal arguments feed into ministers’ decisions on the virus. Labour maybe gets those two final paragraphs. And the Lib Dems are completely off the page. (Pop quiz: name the party’s new leader. If you got that, name a single thing he’s said since being elected. I’ll wait.)


The political thickets of Mr. Colvile’s essay begin here:

Which brings us to Keir Starmer. Last week he delivered a keynote speech on his vision for the economy, amid widespread criticism that his leadership had failed to cut through.

The point, of course, is that his leadership was never going to cut through. It’s not just that Starmer can’t do all the things a politician wants to: hold rallies, meet voters, be in the same room as his MPs. It’s that voters don’t care about politics in the pandemic, don’t see the pandemic as a party political issue and don’t like people who try to make it one.

Even when the virus recedes, getting a hearing will be hard. Outside elections, voters rarely notice the opposition. That gets worse when the government has a big majority — because, as the Blair-Brown years showed, what happens inside the ruling party matters far more.

This perhaps explains why, in an attempt to draw attention to his speech, Starmer’s team wildly oversold it. We were promised a “policy blitz”, even a “Beveridge moment”. As it was, an address entitled A New Chapter for Britain was barely a footnote. There were a couple of solid policy ideas — one, pleasingly, filched from the think tank I run. Yet even without Starmer’s adenoidal monotone, the contents would have rapidly drifted from the memory.

And the point of arrival for the reader, after the above, is this paragraph:

But then the boring truth is that Starmer is actually doing fine, especially given the depths to which Labour had sunk. There is a concept in sport called “value over replacement player”, to measure the worth of, say, Lionel Messi against that of a perfectly average striker. Starmer is the replacement politician, the perfectly generic leader. He thrills no one, and repels no one.

In short, Starmer’s problem is not that he is lacking in charisma — after all, John Major won more votes in 1992 than any British politician before or since. It is the party he leads.

The reader can quite easily identify ‘the depths that Labour had sunk’ as the leadership of Corbyn. Under attack from with the ranks of New Labour, by political fiction writer Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian. Aided by another Zionist Anthony Julius and a cast dominated by Labour Friends of Israel. Not to forget the Anti-Corbyn campaigns in The Financial Times, The Economist and The Times. An image from The Economist is illustrative of the nature of the campaign of defamation:

Just as the reader escapes from one rhetorical thicket, she enters into the one that tells the tale of one David Shor. The proqunquity of one Political Technocrat for another? Here is a link and a excerpt from an interview with Mr. Shor of the July 17, 2020 issue of New York Magazine by Eric Levitz. That offers some valuable insights as to who Mr. Shor is, and what he believes. That might just offer some clues as to his theory and practice of politics.

David Shor got famous by getting fired. In late May, amid widespread protests over George Floyd’s murder, the 28-year-old data scientist tweeted out a study that found nonviolent demonstrations were more effective than “riots” at pushing public opinion and voter behavior leftward in 1968. Many Twitter users — and (reportedly) some of Shor’s colleagues and clients at the data firm Civis Analytics — found this post insensitive. A day later, Shor publicly apologized for his tweet. Two weeks after that, he’d lost his job as Civis’s head of political data science — and become a byword for the excesses of so-called cancel culture. (Shor has not discussed his firing publicly due to a nondisclosure agreement, and the details of his termination remain undisclosed).

But before Shor’s improbable transformation into a cause célèbre, he was among the most influential data gurus in Democratic politics — a whiz kid who, at age 20, served as the 2012 Obama campaign’s in-house Nate Silver, authoring the forecasting model that the White House used to determine where the race really stood.

This idiosyncratic combination of ideological background, employment experience, and expertise has lent Shor a unique perspective on American politics. He is a self-avowed socialist who insists that big-dollar donors pull the Democratic Party left. He is an adherent of Leninist vanguardism and the median voter theorem. And in the three years I’ve known him, I don’t think I’ve found a single question about U.S. politics that he could not answer with reference to at least three peer-reviewed studies.

Shor is still consulting in Democratic politics, but he is no longer working for a firm that restricts his freedom to publicly opine. Intelligencer recently spoke with him about how the Democratic Party really operates, why the coming decade could be a great one for the American right, how protests shape public opinion, what the left gets wrong about electoral politics, and whether Donald Trump will be reelected, among other things.


What is a Second Generation Thatcherite doing consorting with a fellow Technocrat, who is a ‘an adherent of Leninist vanguardism‘? How is it that such a canny Oxbridger made such a blunder, after demonstrating his political savvy, with almost clever rhetorical questions? Mr. Colvile offers the wan ‘insight’ that the problem with Labour is with the ‘Corbyn Loyalists’.

Tony Blair makes a strategic walk-on, and so does the mythical, or should the reader call it fictional, or just a lie? : ‘Starmer has indeed accepted that the public were right to reject Corbyn and his poisonous dalliance with antisemitism.’ Mr. Colvile has ignored the fact that Jeremy Corbyn has launched his ‘Project for Peace and Justice’ . Corbyn plans to be a force in British Politics for some time, in or out of office. He managed to inspire hope in a generation tired of failed Neo-Liberalism, and its coterie of political zombies. Those Corbyn loyalists now have somewhere to go. Here is a link to a Jacobin interview with Jeremy Corbyn:


Old Socialist

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.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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