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Corbyn vs Eagle

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Jul. 10th, 2016 | 11:44 pm

I've been weighing up the Corbyn vs Eagle Labour leadership thing.

It has turned into a lengthy ramble so I decided to post here instead of Facebook. Maybe it's time for Livejournal to make a comeback.

There's a nice summary of Corbyn's positions on various things on Wikipedia. Some of it contains things I know to be inaccurate or misleading (e.g. "he has advocated the re-opening of some of Britain's coal mines" misses some VERY important caveats he attached to his answer when he was asked the question "would you re-open South Wales coal mines?" which actually makes it practically immpossible that they ever would be reopened). There are other misleading bits, but I won't list them all. Anyway, it's not bad as a general summary and probably less partisan than any newspaper article.


Corbyn's described as a 'Democratic Socialist' as opposed to 'Social Democrat'. The latter advocates a primarily capitalist economy that's made more 'human' by democratic intervention. Conversely, 'Democratic Socialism' apparently advocates social ownership of the 'means of production' (that can include employee ownership and cooperative ownership as well as state ownership, but excludes private share capitalisation) accompanied by democratic decision making on other areas of policy. However it's worth noting that Tony Blair has described himself as a 'Democratic Socialist'; and that this is still the official position of the Labour Party (though you wouldn't know it). It's also worth noting that Corbyn hasn't expressed desire to renationalise anything more than the Rail industry and Utilities, both of which are positions with a high level of popular support.

Angela Eagle's wikipedia write-up is a discussion of her career and a such is less accessible as a list of her policy positions.


There is an Independent article that summarises her positions on many key issues which doesn't seem to be too partisan in tone either way.


She's not actually fantastically that far removed from Corbyn on a number of key issues like Health and Education and it would be wrong, I think, to describe her as a 'Red Tory'. She did follow Harman's whipped line in supporting the Welfare Reform bill in 2015 but has more generally opposed welfare cuts. Some obvious differences - she voted for the Iraq War and air strikes in Syria and that seems to be a red line for many Corbyn supporters. She also supports retention of Trident. She voted for student tuition fees, which is rather unfortunate, though voted against the latest increase.

There are some areas where I disagree with Corbyn and agree with her. E.g. I don't think Homeopathy has any place in public health policy (Corbyn supported a Conservative pro-Homeopathy bill). I'm in favour of ID cards which to me are a no-brainer - Eagle favours, Corbyn opposes (according to his voting record). I think Corbyn & McDonnell have thrown in the towel on EU membership too early because 'democracy, innit' (though they do appear to be pushing for 'Minimum Brexit' with full single-market access and all that that entails). Corbyn is a hostage here to his own justification for hanging on to the party leadership - he can hardly drape himself in the mantle of a Labour grassroots democratic mandate while rejecting the mandate of the EU referendum (in fact, there are important differences between those, but they're not headline-friendly).

I'm a bit sick of being told that I'm a 'Corbyn cultist', or that I'm an otherwise clever person who's been duped into supporting Corbyn by far-left Jedi mind-control tricks (yeah, thanks Neil Kinnock). I'm fed up with being told Corbyn's not a 'natural leader' or 'lacks charisma' - those are highly subjective judgements that should be left to us as individuals to make. I don't want someone telling me what I should think about someone. When I see Corbyn up against Eagle, I don't see that either has much more 'star quality' than the other - if anything, Corbyn edges that contest, but it's very far from my primary consideration anyway.

What I really want to hear from both these politicians - apart from the obvious stuff about Welfare, Health, Education etc - are their plans for the transition to a more automated economy. The Conservatives - aside from perhaps a handful of less ideological ones like Heseltine - will leave it all to 'the market'. We all know what that means. Initiatives to deal with this issue and ensure a fairer less unequal transition to the economy of the future need to span all European nations to prevent corporate blackmail of governments into a race to the bottom on social protection against the negative impacts (that's one of the reasons we needed to stay in the EU; dim bulbs who think 'immigrants are taking our jobs' have no idea what's on the horizon....). McDonnell and a couple of other Labour voices - including Prescott if I recall rightly - have said things that suggest they are thinking about the problem, at least.

Thre are many other important policy areas I want to see discussion of - especially, environment, political reform and media regulation.

Do I think Eagle will 'heal the party', as she claims? Probably not, in fact probably, the complete opposite. I've followed Labour's polling and it has picked up faster than I expected; late last year I predicted crossover with Labour taking the lead in 2017 but we already saw hints of crossover in the first half of this year, which suggested a strong possiblity that Labour could have taken a lead big enough to survive the usual swingback to the status quo come the time of the next election. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that if the PLP had worked with rather than against Corbyn for the past 9 months, and if they'd shown a strong unified face after the EUref instead of the ridiculous infighting they'd be doing very well by now in the public eye. Anyone who imagines that the various manufactured smears against Corbyn from within his own party haven't had a negative impact, and that any disappointment in Labour's showing so far shouldn't be laid at the door of those who created those smears rather than on Corbyn himself, is profoundly lacking in judgement. The PLP themselves, surely know this, too; as I see it, their motives for wanting to oust Corbyn are not what they claim ("unelectability") but rooted more in (a) snobbery (Corbyn isn't a graduate); (b) the threat of strong action against Blair and others who made the case for the Iraq War if Corbyn becomes PM; (c) anxiety over his Trident stance.

If Eagle ousts Corbyn, I will be surprised if Labour's support doesn't take an irrecoverable nose dive. The 'Corbynariat' are more than just the party membership, though people like Kinnock and Lord Puttnam have deluded themselves that this is so. And remember, the media have already unleashed everything they've got against Corbyn; they have yet to do so against Eagle. And believe me, they will.

Could I bring myself to vote for Labour under Eagle? I know many will reflexively knee-jerk against that notion, but I always like to think things through carefully. On the face of it, I still prefer Corbyn on policy, but Eagle's politics are not so disastrously different to Corbyn's that I would automatically reject the idea. I need to weigh up the following; what's the lesser of two evils - Labour Eagle vs Tory May or Leadsom?

Can I hold my nose and vote for a party composed of MPs that treated Corbyn, and well myself actually, with total contempt? They could have mounted a civilised leadership challenge, but instead tried to avoid it by bullying Corbyn out of office in a way that makes Tory backstabbing look relatively civilised. Should I reward such behaviour? How can I signal my displeasure towards the PLP in a way that doesn't say:

"Screw all you poor and disabled people, all you homeless beggars newly returned to the streets in some kind of horrible re-enactment of the Thatcher years; all you hollow-eyed, broken looking people queuing at the food bank; all you refugees from the middle-east instability we created; all you people whose benefits are being sanctioned on trivial pretexts; all you EU nationals facing an uncertain future in post-Brexit Britain; instead of considering what's best for the most vulnerable members of society and voting for the party with the best chance of removing the Tories from power, I'm going to throw my vote away on a protest against the people who insulted my judgement and heaped disrespect on the person I felt was the best choice to lead the Labour party! Because the need to do something about my feelings of pissed-off indignation come before the needs of the country and those to whom it owes a duty of care!"

It's a horrible choice, and I hate the people who stand ready to force it on me. Can I have a third option?

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