Friday, July 1, 2016
The ineptitude of the failed Corbyn coup
The most interesting thing about the failed anti-democratic attempt to bully Jeremy Corbyn into resigning as Labour leader (just 10 months after he was elected with the biggest democratic mandate of any UK party leader in history) is the sheer ineptitude of it.
If there was anything that the Blairite New Labour movement was undeniably good at in its heyday, it was stage managing the news agenda. They were masters at it. The glib soundbites, the cultivation of links between the party top brass and the press pack, the schmoozing with Rupert Murdoch, the pre-written editorials fed to the hacks to be lazily churnalised into newspaper column inches, the showy and modernistic presentation. In fact I'd say that stage management of the news agenda was the single most significant hallmark of the Blair years.
Damn, they were so persuasive that they even managed to convince about half the country that the invasion and occupation of Iraq was going to be a great idea!*
The remarkable thing about the pre-planned anti-democratic coup against Jeremy Corbyn was the sheer ineptitude of it. Not only did the Blairites carefully pre-planned operation leave their target still standing after they threw everything they had at him in a 24 hour "blitz", their explanatory narratives made no sense whatever and they left a trail of incriminating evidence all over the place.
The coup was pre-planned. There is absolutely no doubt about that. The people who were planning it were so confident of success that they even briefed the Daily Telegraph about their plot to overthrow Corbyn ten days before the referendum result was even announced!
The fact the coup was pre-planned blew a large hole in the narrative that Corbyn had to be ousted because of his supposedly weak EU referendum arguments ruining the Remain campaign. In order for that narrative to make sense, the plotters would have had to have known the result of the referendum in advance, which they couldn't have done.
The Canary have done some sterling investigative work into the shady network of dodgy PR companies stuffed full of Blairites, shell companies, BBC collusion and so forth who are implicated in the coup attempt. It was inept enough to leave such a trail of evidence to follow up on, but the sheer hubris of telling the newspapers what they were going to do ten days before they did it looks like the kind of PR cock-up that Blair, Mandelson, Campbell and the like worked strenuously to avoid during their time at the top.
Apparently the methods are pretty much the same as classic Blairism, but the execution has become sloppy, over-confident and bizarrely incompetent.
A big misjudgement
Whatever the reason they decided to gamble on Corbyn caving in and resigning, it backfired terribly when he refused to go and defiantly challenged them to put up a candidate in a democratic election.
Perhaps the people who orchestrated this anti-democratic coup attempt believed their own propaganda a little too much? They'd spent the last 10 months, ever since Corbyn was elected as leader, briefing the press that he's a such weak leader, so maybe they thought he'd just meekly capitulate to their stage managed coup attempt?
Whatever the reason for this over-confident assumption that Jeremy Corbyn would simply roll over and resign (betraying the 250,000 Labour members who voted for him just ten months previously as a consequence), they got it badly wrong and put themselves in a terrible bind.
They've been scrabbling around looking for for their ideal "Anyone But Corbyn" candidate to stand in an election that Corbyn is almost certain to win, especially given the way he's attracted so many new people to the party that it's literally doubled in membership since he became the star of the Labour leadership election last summer.
An additional problem for them is the fact that 60,000 people have joined the Labour Party in the week since the attempted coup plot was launched. Anyone imagining that the majority of them are people enthused about voting for the as-yet-unnamed ABC candidate must be as delusional as the bunch of Labour MPs who actually seem to consider a low-profile, strategically inept, gaffe prone, insincere, iraq war approving political water carrier like Angela Eagle to be more electable than Jeremy Corbyn.
By putting themselves in a position where Jeremy Corbyn can take them on in re-election which he will almost certainly win with an even bigger mandate, they've clearly endangered themselves dramatically. Corbyn had demonstrated that he was willing to work with them and allow them to survive within the party, but by trying to stab him in the back and missing, they've now given him the chance to run a leadership election based on giving constituencies the right to deselect corrupt/right-wing/venal/self-serving/party damaging MPs and replacing them with people who might do a better job of actually representing their constituents interests rather than their own.
Just like David Cameron's EU referendum gamble, the Blairite coup gamble has backfired spectacularly too.
The bigger picture
The Labour MPs who were planning this post-Brexit coup obviously got so giddy with excitement, and so locked into the mindset of putting their narrow party political plot into action, that they completely lost sight of the bigger picture.
The aftermath of the biggest Tory cock-up in decades and the resignation of the Prime Minister was the least opportune moment to kick off an internal party political spat imaginable.
Just look at it from their strategic perspective for a moment. They claim to care about the Labour Party (so much so that they shed crocodile tears on the telly over it) and they claim that Corbyn doesn't do enough to hold the Tories to account.
If they had any strategic nous, and if these clims were true, instead of attempting their coup immediately after Brexit, the plotters (Hillary Benn, Angela Eagle and the like) could have made a huge show of attacking the Tories for Brexit, they could have used their friends in the media to give their criticisms prominence, whilst Corbyn's get ignored, belittled and disparaged.
Instead of helping the Tories out of the Brexit hole they'd dug for themselves and booting the Labour Party down there in their place as they did by launching their coup immediately, the plotters could have won plaudits for their own strong responses in the crisis situation, boosting the Labour Party rather than trashing it, and ensuring their own stars were rising in the process.
Thus, a few weeks, or months after Brexit, when the public narrative was clearly set that Brexit was the fault of the Tories, they could have tried their rebellion, pointing to the fact that they laid all the big hits on the Tories in the wake of Brexit, not Corbyn.
They didn't play it that way because they lost sight of the bigger picture: That some things in life are actually more important than who is the leader of the Labour Party, and the vote for Brexit was undeniably one of those things.
Insincerity, unjustifiable claims and delusional rubbish
The hubris of briefing the Telegraph about what they were planning to do before they did it was bad enough, but some of the dire stuff the plotters came out with after the coup attempt was launched was staggeringly bad. Angela Eagle's resignation letter was catastrophically insincere. Just two weeks after praising Corbyn's determined hard work and blasting the mainstream press for the lack of Labour coverage during the campaign, she bitterly criticised him for conducting the campaign with "half-hearted ambivalence"!
Another example of an utterly appalling resignation letter is that of the Darlington MP Jenny Chapman who joined in the carefully choreographed sequence of resignations desgned to inflict as much damage as possible on Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party. In her letter quitting the shadow education brief she claimed to be speaking on behalf of her constituents in saying that they had lost confidence in Jeremy Corbyn. When she posted this letter on her Facebook page she was inundated with furious comments along the lines of "how dare you presume to speak on my behalf". The overwhelming majority of replies expressed confidence in Corbyn and an extreme lack of confidence in her.
Tristram Hunt probably wins the prize for the worst resignation letter of all though. In it he actually claimed that "Labour urgently needs to play the role of effective opposition" because the current crisis is as bad as Suez in his opinion. Apparently launching a failed coup attempt against your own party leader and completely letting the Tories off the hook for their culpability is his definition of "effective opposition". He then went on to slam Corbyn for making a supposedly poor case for Remain. In Tristram Hunt's constituency of Stoke on Trent 69.4% voted for Leave (in Jeremy Corbyn's Islington constituency 75.2% voted for Remain). Talk about trying to shift the blame! Apparently Hunt's own Constituency Labour Party have already had a vote of confidence supporting Jeremy Corbyn followed by a vote of no confidence in Tristram Hunt.
Making bizarre claims to be speaking on behalf of your constituents when resigning is one thing, but listing 500 local councillors who you claim have signed a letter supporting the coup against Corbyn when the list contains the names of numerous councillors who back Corbyn's leadership and are utterly furious that their name has been added to the letter without their consent.
Claiming that somebody has signed a letter when they haven't is tantamount to forging their signatures. LabourList should be absolutely ashamed of themselves for such deceitful behaviour, but they're not. They're far too concerned with their anti-democratic efforts to force Corbyn's resignation than they are with maintaining anything resembling decent standards of truth and honesty.
Blairism has undeniably lost its shine. Tony Blair was once the golden boy who won landslide after landslide, but he isn't anymore. He's widely reviled, and his sequence of attacks on Jeremy Corbyn during the leadership election in 2015 probably did more to raise Corbyn's profile than any other factor. Blairism lost two General Elections in a row (2010 and 2015) and in electing Corbyn with such a huge mandate the Labour members were crying out for a change of direction,. But Blairites think they know best, so they've been sabotaging Jeremy Corbyn at every turn culminating in their the launch of their inept coup attempt after just ten months.
The failed "chicken coup" demonstrates that the Blairites aren't even good at the stuff they used to be. In the age of social media, their attempts to manage the news agenda have failed spectacularly. They may have the entire press pack on their side supporting their grubby self-serving coup, but social media is alive with criticism of the mainstream narrative, and the more they try to force their version of events down people's throats, the more people are seeing their crude manipulative propaganda for what it is.
Perhaps the most telling thing of all is that the failure of their own coup attempt means they can be hoisted by their own petard. If Jeremy Corbyn is as weak and incompetent as they've always claimed, how incompetent must they be to have failed so spectacularly to overthrow him, despite planning it for weeks and then throwing everything they had at it?