The Labour party has, from the beginning, been made up of diverse factions; that’s its beauty – asking it to become cohesive is like trying to find one shampoo that will care for the hair of everybody in Angelina Jolie’s house.
A certain nostalgia in the parliamentary party is inevitable: it’s hard to deny Blair helped to create a powerful movement. Unfortunately that movement was Islamic State.
Then there’s the overwhelming lack of context in our news coverage. How many stories about the US’s recent deal with Iran mention that the US overthrew the Iranian government in a 1953 CIA-backed coup? There’s bias there – no doubt if Russia had sponsored a coup in Iran it would have made it into the coverage – but there’s another reason this happens. Removing context makes it much easier to engage readers with emotions such as surprise, or outrage. Our news media instinctively removes context, because “look at this inexplicable shit that just happened” sells more papers than the more depressing “look at this inevitable shit that will no doubt keep happening”.
In any case, I’ve always found the idea of “speaking truth to power” faintly ridiculous. Powerful people are generally quite well aware of what they are doing and – should you ever make it past their security – will respond to your truth-speaking with a look that says: “you don’t know the half of it”. The thing you can rely on about self-interested people is that they won’t really be interested in you. They don’t care, and you’re not going to find the right form of words that suddenly makes them care.
Another failure in leftwing rhetoric is that it imagines that decades of cultural programming can be undone by retweeting an empowering slogan. And there’s a misunderstanding of the nature of the mainstream media: a stubborn belief among activists that something that serves a fairly rigid set of fixed interests might somehow be co-opted to serve their cause. There was a nice example of this in the referendum campaign when yes campaigners staged a protest outside BBC Scotland’s headquarters about BBC bias, then complained when it wasn’t shown on the news.
One thing Corbyn’s election showed is that there are a lot of people out there with hope. I very much doubt that it can survive the draughty meeting halls, cherished hatreds and bureaucracy of the Labour party.
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