17 December 2019

Aditya Chakrabortty: “Corbynism began with promises of democracy, but ended up as bunkerised as all other Labour leaderships. What started as anti-austerity movement is now a melange of ideas, most of which look and sound utterly absurd on a doorstep on a rainy morning. … In the era of taking back control, Corbyn offered yet more direction from Westminster… In the 2017 election I wrote that a party that grew out of social institutions needed to turn itself into a social institution in precisely those areas it historically took for granted. That remains the key task: providing advice to those whose benefits are being slashed, legal support to tenants under the cosh from their landlords, haggling with the utilities to provide cheaper and better deals. Add to that: teaching political and economic literacy to voters, not just activists, and consulting constituents on what issues Labour should be battling on. None of this is as easy as getting the woman with the great backstory to run No 11, or some GCSE marketing talk about finding new ‘narratives’. It’s hard graft, and it won’t make good copy. But Labour has no God-given right to expect votes, let alone to govern. It needs to renew its contract with its base. The big question is whether it wants to.”