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Corbyn and the Overton Window

Written By: - Date published: 4:09 am, August 13th, 2015 - 100 comments
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A recent YouGov poll in the Times predicts Jeremy Corbyn will win the UK Labour leadership on first preferences alone.  If he does win, Corbyn will shift the “Overton Window” of acceptable ideas leftward but will face formidable opposition.

We went to hear Jeremy Corbyn in Camden last week, along with 1500 others. Owen Jones also spoke at the rally, as did Ken Livingstone and about 20 young people who were working full time for Corbyn. Livingstone had the best lines: “Labour, the party that gives ordinary people the chance to bring about change” and “Tony Blair said at Thatcher’s funeral he saw himself as carrying on her legacy: I wish the bugger had told us that when he stood for the leadership.” Corbyn spoke quietly, simply and directly – his message was one of hope.

Jones is a Guardian columnist and author of Chavs and The Establishment. He sums up the issues in this article titled ‘if Jeremy Corbyn wins, prepare for a firestorm” in the New Statesman. The original title of his Guardian article was “The right are mocking Jeremy Corbyn because they fear him.”

Jones quotes an article by Allister Heath, deputy political editor of the Telegraph titled “A Corbyn victory in the Labour leadership battle would be a disaster.” Heath says

If Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the Labour Party, it would become acceptable again to call for nationalising vast swathes of industry, for massively hiking tax and for demonising business.

The battle of ideas is never won: it turns out that the 1990s were the years of peak capitalism in the West, and Left-wing ideas have since made a return, to the great regret of commentators such as myself.

Jones comments:

What Heath is alluding to here is the ‘Overton Window’, an invention of the US conservative right. The ‘Overton Window’ refers to the political ideas that are seen as politically acceptable, palatable, mainstream, centre-ground, and so on, at any given time. The ideas outside the Window are seen as extreme, fringe, deluded, ridiculous. This Window is not static: it shifts.

The advocates of privatisation, deregulation, lower taxes on the rich and anti-trade unionism have dramatically shifted the Window in their direction over the last generation or so. Heath’s fear is that Corbynism will send that process hurtling into reverse. He knows that, in the decades following World War II, those with his political opinions were once seen as ridiculous as the Corbynites are today. The illusion of any given era is that it is permanent; Heath knows that this is not true.

Behind all the demonisation and exaggerated language, many of Corbyn’s ideas are popular with the wider electorate, and his straight talking and quietly inclusive manner refreshing. He has been a consistent campaigner for justice issues for twenty years in Parliament –see him here taking on Thatcher on housing. Three of the four candidates abstained from voting against Osborne’s swingeing cuts to benefits in his post-election budget. Only Corbyn voted against. Respected economic commentators like Krugman and Stiglitz say it is not surprising that austerity politics are rejected, because they are wrong.

I think what we are seeing in this leadership election is a clash between movement politics and machine politics. Corbyn has been a movement politician all his life – he has now brought movement politics into the heart of the Labour Party, and given the contradictions of the age of finance capitalism, the response has lit a fire. The main argument used against Corbyn is that he cannot win, but the objective conditions have changed from the late 1970’s as inequalities grow. Also he is doing as well as he is in part because even his critics such as Alastair Campbell don’t think the other contenders can win either.

This saga has a long way to go before it is finally played out in five years’ time. But Corbyn’s unexpected rise has thrown the window for debate wide open, and as the contradictions become clearer, the alternatives become broader, and the possibilities better able to provide some hope.

100 comments on “Corbyn and the Overton Window”

  1. Ad 1

    That “clash between movement politics and machine politics” is the best chance for the revival of democratic participation in many countries, including ours.

    Your point on the “Overton Window” was well illustrated last night by Jane Kelsey at the Auckland Fabians. Professor Kelsey emphasized how important changing the Reserve Bank Act and Public Finance Act were to a 2017 progressive government to tilt the entire economy away from its current fragile, risky, life-destructive direction.

    NZ may not get its own Corbyn, so I sincerely hope Little is enough.
    Little’s test for today will be to show there is an alternative life for that bedrock of Labour support, Solid Energy’s coal miners, while at the same time appeasing the Climate Change green left.

  2. Charles 2

    Short of actually being there, it’s dificult to say what’s going on. Those articles linked to earlier, even from Jones (and he’s there), are arguing vague concepts, not specifics; and the idea that the Left in the UK now is the Left in the USA or anywhere else is absurd. Similarly, the article linked to, explaining what Corbyn stands for, presents a picture that sounds completely abstract: Nuclear Weapons disarmament, Talking with “terrorists”, Open Immigration, Free Education, End of monarchy/beginning of republic… it has no specifics, no context, unless you were involved in the pointy end already, as a diplomat, and knew where the wriggle-room was and what those things really mean.

    The right-wing commentators are behaving bizarrely detached from understanding their own style of politics, in reply. Perhaps it’s just the pagentry of politics: an entertianing sales pitch to people who have been comfortable long enough to barely care, who’d never vote Labour anyway, or that the media hope people won’t notice what’s really happening around them. There is no doubt that there is now a workingman/underclass street-level movement in politics that wasn’t there twenty years ago, but it hasn’t yet jumped into Downing Street. With Blair, his aspirational aspects created a divide that couldn’t include those not already on the cusp of “success”. He asked those people to send go-betweens, he didn’t include them directly.

    From here, something’s up with Corbyn: his noises sound like a presentation of everything that was lost during Thatcherism, but he’s selling something quite different. Corbyn has taken Blairist style further into Left populism – like an idealistic internet forum discussion brought to life. Can you imagine the population of the UK dropping their historical identity within a few years to become an barely-armed America circa 1800’s? He sells a kind of part nostalgic, part post-Climate Change, post-apocalyptic, hope. I wouldn’t say I don’t trust him (any more than anyone else in politics), I’m more interested in what will actually materialise from the smoke. The fact is, realities have shifted and developed. Some conditions aren’t coming back.

    The comments further into some articles say that Corbyn represents the future of the Left all over the World, that he shifts the discussion to the Left (with various degrees of hyperbole). I don’t agree. If Corbyn’s talk is the Left of the future, we’ll be needing another option. What we know now as the traditional ideas of the Left didn’t build off an existing leftist movement that had died out owing to the increasing comforts offered to it’s followers; it was starving peasents reacting violently against the sudden destruction and inequalities of the Industrial Revolution. It co-incided with an expected period of warring and ruling-class instability, which increased exponentially and unexpectedly, and made everything worse.

    Those conditions no longer exist – there is no violent clash of old world meets new technology, happening. No old-world social orders are crumbling faster than the people can bear. There is nothing now to compare. No level of suffering we currently have, however painful, compares to the upheavals and responses of that time. Now it’s people reacting against the excesses of the Industrialised World, but if they can keep their comforts, and their social roles and thinking of the last sixty years that was part of a commercially constructed advertisement, that’d be just fine thanks. Most of our problems are immediately (via existing resources and systems) fixable.

    Perhaps thinking of politics in Left vs Right, has had it’s day. The Left as we traditionally think of it – as an identity or label or style – has had it’s day. It’s the wrong tool for today’s job. Just look at NZ Labour – how are they in any way traditionally left? Whatever is emerging now, perhaps with Corbyn as a prototype (we’ll have to see what actually happens), needs a new name and an acceptance that it has nothing to do with the past, or that it is currently a static state.

    • Sanctuary 2.1

      Dude, the “wrong tool” of the ‘traditional” left has been the only consistent, unrelenting and tireless opposition that the steamroller of neo-liberal globalisation has faced. The soft identity liberals have pretty much surrendered, either choosing not to debate economics at all or simply changing sides. Without a left wing class analysis it is impossible to make sense of the world. Every time someone declares the left to be dead or irrelevant, a Bernie Saunders or a Jeremy Corbyn or a Pablo Iglesias comes along and proves them wrong.

      Please, take your garbled nonsense somewhere else.

      • Charles 2.1.1

        The left has had its day doesn’t mean the right must win as a default. What I’m saying is the idea that there are two choices in politics: Left, and if it isn’t left, then it must be right; or right, and if it isn’t right it must be left is, that thinking is old, worn out, probably never true, and superficial. And god knows it isn’t that conservative NZ First type stuff either, which depends on existing within a stable framework with either left or right (mainly right) having ascendency. Conditions now are specific and unique, even though people need housing, food, safety, income, something to do etc. like they always did. The present environment and thinking is unique to our time/era and demands an equally specific response.

        When I was there in 1995-1996, I worked in retail, lived in a flat that had a squat downstairs, my flatmates and their friends were “colourful” to put it mildly, and the last thing on any of our minds was voting or politics – life was a full-on affair. It was as unlike NZ as you could get. If I take some of that reality, update it a bit for today, re-imagine it, I probably wouldn’t vote or if I did, I wouldn’t likely vote Corbyn except as a lesser of the weevils, because the reality I saw was quite clear that the old days weren’t coming back and people weren’t the same and didn’t want to be. It just wouldn’t be possible to be sucked in no matter how good it sounded.

        In amongst all the crap of everyday life, people moved forward into their lives (though not necessarily to “success”), so I don’t know what the political commentary from UK Labour saying “we must move forward not back, Corbyn moves backwards…” is about, except maybe to appropriate that collective predispostion and misapply it. Despite their conservative stereotype, Brits move forward all the time. Political flavour doesn’t aid or stop them.

        • halfcrown

          ”old days weren’t coming back”

          Well have a look at this pal how the neo’s have gone backwards,

          • Charles

            The “neo’s going backward” and the British people wanting to be the past aren’t the same thing. If the Corbyn issue for NZders is just one of hope projection, this isn’t about politics, is it. Dream your dreams. Dreams are free.

            • half crown

              You did not watch the video did you?

              Dreams! what dreams?
              “…..this isn’t about politics, is it.”

              You tell me. After crowing about your London “experience” you appear to be suffering from overseizure and have all the answers. Of course it’s about bloody politics and class. The current system started when Thatcher came in which has created big class divisions. Corbyn is trying to re establish the Labour party as a party of the left not a Blaire type Tory look a like.
              Whether the Brits or us are “wanting the past” or not, we have now got it, with diseases like Rickets, a disease of poverty and the scourge of the 1800’s returning to Northen England. As Glenda Jackson said “Hogarth would recognise London with all the homeless sleeping in the doorways” When was Hogarth around? 1700’s I think. We also did not see people begging on the streets of Auckland 40 years ago, nor did we have the high level of child poverty. If that is moving forward, I would sooner move backwards. We have to have a better fairer system than what we have now, be it left right or straight down the middle, and the Neo Liberal economics is not the answer and there are “alternative” narratives that are not looking backwards. These will give a fairer and more just society. If that is dreaming so be it.

              • Colonial Viper

                I find it odd when progressives view as being obsolete and unreachable the idea that every person is valuable and should be allowed to live in dignity and productivity.

      • The soft identity liberals have pretty much surrendered, either choosing not to debate economics at all or simply changing sides.

        That’s a bizarre statement. Most of the ~identity liberals~ I see in politics are quite firm on the need for economic change.

        The artificial distinction between “identity politics” and “class politics” has been wholly created by people who don’t like identity politics, and thus allowed identity issues to be co-opted by the right.

        • Sanctuary

          Really? Go to public address and add up the number of columns about unemployment and/or the economy. Then add up the number of columns about identity issues or matters pertaining to an intense, almost libertarian, obsession with individualism.

          The primary tension in the left is exactly the tension between middle class individualists who insist that their libertarian impulses be given equal status to the collective class struggle.

          Identity is important, but only if it is clearly a subservient component of the left and not an equal with the class struggle against capitalism. To steal a metaphor of the capitalists, a fairer society raises all boats without regard to the nature of it’s crew, whereas isolated victories on a ever-expanding definition of “rights” (until actual rights are rendered meaningless and vulnerable in a miasma of frivolities) does not. In other words, being a woman is important, but being a poor and oppressed person is more important. Winning the right to gay marriage is important, but not as important as ensuring children have the right to go to school well fed and receive an education as a good as any other child. To my mind, the middle class obsession with identity issues is rooted in a libertarian obsession with the difference of the individual, and as such has no place in the collective ideals that are the bedrock of left wing ideology. If you sign up for the collective struggle, then you must subsume your ego to the wider cause.

          The self-obsessed liberal middle class by definition is a class that has done well out of the prevailing economic order. It’s only use in a left wing struggle is to provide by virtue of its privilege a potential Gramscian vanguard leadership cadre. If it fails in even that task, then it’s only remain function is to only serve as useful idiots for the left. Harsh perhaps, but a view supported by history.

          • Stephanie Rodgers

            Class identity is just as much an identity as anything else. This “identity must be subservient to the ~real struggle~” attitude is pretty much the entire reason some people choose to focus on ensuring that their specific concerns get airtime in a discourse dominated by assumptions that “workers” only means whatever “Waitakere Man” myth Chris Trotter is selling at the moment.

            Why don’t you go take a look at Public Address, where the front page stories right now are:

            – the Saudi sheep deal – i.e. trade and economic priorities
            – a discussion of the history of polio
            – apparent judicial overreach in a minor drug prosecution – i.e. basic principles of governance and power
            – promoting a musical gig
            – a post on how to frame the inequality which uses examples from terrible, nasty identity politics to address an economic issue

            God, you’re right, literally no one at Public Address is talking about serious class issues, it’s wall-to-wall lady-problems and ~special rights~.

            The ultimate irony is that I *agree* PA has an issue with representing a very narrow range of middle-class perspectives. But your apparent objection to anyone pointing out that there are other identities, beyond class, which affect people’s lives in a capitalist society is just misguided.

            • rhinocrates

              I’m impressed by the stance of Left Unity in the UK which is explicitly composed of Green and LGBT “identity politics” groups, shows that they can work together and has thrown its full support behind Jeremy Corbyn


              The party logo is good too – a bold triangle of red, black and green, no focus-grouped wilting weed.

          • Bill

            This is really wrong headed –

            Identity is important, but only if it is clearly a subservient component of the left and not an equal with the class struggle against capitalism

            A clear echo of the old authoritarian left that told women and un-whites to hold their tongue and wait until after the glorious revolution when they (the new overlords) would set everything to right.

            There is no and can be no natural or permanent dominant component – not if you want something worthwhile to transpire from struggle.

            You want economic equity in a world that’s preserved or ignored discriminations around gender and/or ethnicity? How does that work? Straight off the bat, the implication is that in this brave new world, both women and ‘un-whites’ will, alongside the other preserved systemic and cultural discriminations, be economically disadvantaged too.

            • weka

              I gather the theory is that most gender/race issues are economic ones and when you solve those, everything else just works out somehow.

              It is of course worth remembering that in English speaking countries at least, second wave feminism in part grew out of women who could no longer stomach being in the parts of the class focused movements of the 60s and early 70s where they were still being expected to make the cups of tea (when they weren’t on their backs). So the only way I can see class trumping everything else being a functional model is for women to stfu and get back to their proper place.

              I see two problems here. One is the valid concerns of people who were well represented under class focussed politics, some of whom have lost significantly under neolliberalism (mostly working class white men). How can those people’s needs be addressed in a political climate that falsely pits their politics against the politics of everyone else? The conversations get complex.

              The other problem is the remants within the political left who still believe class trumps all and that identity politics are evil, and who in the process are undermining their natural allies. Would be interested to know how big an overlap there is between that group and the authoritarians in the left.

              • Bill

                Hmm. I’d suggest that ‘dick waving males’ are present in politics, in life in general, and in many places way beyond the boundaries the old authoritarian left. Big problem.

                But I’d say that working class males have a genuine cause to gripe insofar as the social democratic left has abandoned class in favour of elevating other sectional interests.

                I’d qualify that by contending that the left should have integrated race and gender and class into a single homogenous package instead of seeking to elevate this or that sectional interest at the expense of others.

                The result would have been a temporary elevation of one or another of those sectional interests depending on the issue at hand, and that elevated interest always focused by considerations of the other, temporarily ‘relegated’ sectional interests.

                That make sense?

          • weka

            Really? Go to public address and add up the number of columns about unemployment and/or the economy. Then add up the number of columns about identity issues or matters pertaining to an intense, almost libertarian, obsession with individualism.

            That’s not a description of identity politics, it’s a description of middle class politics. That you conflate identity politics, middle class politics, and the individualist ethic that’s arisen from neoliberalism is just insulting all round. I can’t tell if that’s ignorance (you don’t strike me as such) or self-serving misconstruction. You don’t for instance get to decide that feminist concerns are middle class or libertarian. I’m pretty sure that every other identity could point out something similar (I’ll speak up for parts of the disability sector too).

            The primary tension in the left is exactly the tension between middle class individualists who insist that their libertarian impulses be given equal status to the collective class struggle.

            My experience with the middle classes, including the liberal ones, is that they are largely unaware of the class struggle. I certainly had no idea about it growing up and it was only going and working alongside working class feminists that woke me up.

            That was in the early 90s, and no-one used the term identity politics. I’d love to know where it came from, and how much if its use in NZ is a consequence of the betrayal of the Lange Labour govt.

  3. Sanctuary 3

    The astonishing hubris of the Blair and the rightwing Blairites in the UK has to be seen (and read) to be believed. Not for them the possibility times have changed! I wondered if Corbyn was the right man, but now I am sure he is – if only to re-capture the UK Labour party from a cosy Tory fifth column that sees power as an end unto itself, and holds itself in higher regard than it does the people who elected them. I doubt Corbyn will actually lead Labour at the next election, and he may preside over a palace revolt from the PLP, but it is necessary.

    From Greece to Spain and via messengers as varied as the tea party, UKIP, Podemos, Syriza, Donald Trump and Jeremy Corban western voters are demonstrating they have grown tired of politics as a club of scripted, sleek professional politicians who main job is to act as enablers of neo-liberal globalisation. They are crying out for genuine choices, from people who believe what they say, and wish to be led by people who are there for more than just their own sake.

    • Paul 3.1

      This level of hubris.
      “We’ll oust him if he gets elected.”

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        It’s the Labour version of the Born to Rule class.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Actually, it’s probably an invasion of Labour by the Born to Rule class.

          • greywarshark

            “Actually, it’s probably an invasion of Labour by the Born to Rule class.”
            Actually I wonder if it is a subversion of Labour by the children of old Labour who reject their parents’ acceptance of collective identity, and use the business practices taught in their various professional courses to be efficient and effective in using old Labour as a vehicle for their elevation to sit with the Born to Rule class.

    • save NZ 3.2

      +1 Sanctuary – well said.

  4. whateva next? 4

    By crikey, I hope he can awaken sleeping Beauty from the reverie, not having the marshmallow Prince Charming looks that seem to appeal these days….Right will out.

  5. DH 5

    I have to ask…. what’s with the regular posts about UK politics? Is this a conversation between expats on the site or do people think what happens in the UK is somehow relevant to politics in NZ?

    • stever 5.1

      Well our right-wing politics has been imported from the UK…so it’s not irrelevant I’d say.

      • DH 5.1.1

        Has it? I’d think much of existing National Party politics at least has been influenced more by the USA.

        My own feeling is we don’t have so much in common with the UK any more, not politically anyway. They’re heavily influenced by the EU now and we’re not, our priorities have changed.

        • Colonial Viper

          UK Labour and NZ Labour are in parallel predicaments. Both believe that going to the economic Left is unelectable.

        • Draco T Bastard

          Has it? I’d think much of existing National Party politics at least has been influenced more by the USA.

          Actually, it’s obvious that the right-wing are in collusion globally. Left wing parties also talk but, as per normal, the Left tend to have more disagreements than the right-wing.

        • greywarshark

          Various Labour parties round the world have been captured by the right with a neo liberal economic bias. Every change in the political scenes of such countries in our global economic situation, is of interest to political thinkers in other countries.

        • Anne

          Margaret Thatcher began the neo liberalisation of the Commonwealth countries. She sent her emissary to NZ to sort out David Lange (Baroness somebody or another) and he sent her packing with a flea in her ear and called out to her as she fled down a Beehive corridor… “you’ve left your broomstick behind”.

          I would have paid a thousand bucks to witness that incident.

    • swordfish 5.2

      And, on top of what others have said here about the relevance, I’d also point out that many of us are simply interested in UK politics in general and UK Labour politics in particular. We don’t need to apologise for that.

      “Is this a conversation between expats” ?

      Speaking as a fifth-generation NZer (descended from a top try-scoring All Black no less – you can’t get any more Kiwi than that !) I’ve never had much time for the traditional Kiwi penchant for indulging in a suffocating insularity or self-righteous Pom-bashing.
      UK (and European) politics and culture (and, of course, football) are fascinating as far as I’m concerned.

      • DH 5.2.1

        You’re whipping yourself into a froth over nothing there. No-one has asked you to apologise for anything and no-one is indulging in any Pom-bashing…

  6. JanMeyer 6

    Is this the same Jeremy Corbyn who wants to reopen coal mines in South Wales? (Carbon filters will apparently deal with any troublesome emissions so that’s good). Go Jez!

    • Colonial Viper 6.1

      Corbyn wants to bring some economic life back to the middle of England, after Thatcher destroyed it, and both Blair and the Tories decided that the City of London ponzi scheme was the centre of the British economy.

      • JanMeyer 6.1.1

        By re-commissioning opencast coal mines? Sounds progressive 😀

        • Colonial Viper

          The fucking Tories and Tory Labour have gutted out UK industry like a fish so there are few options left.

    • dukeofurl 6.2

      Isnt that better than importing coal from Overseas.

      Look at the figures : in 2015 UK imported 41MT, thats million tons of coal.
      Its falling , mainly because of reduced power station demand.

      • Gosman 6.2.1

        Not if they are unproductive and unprofitable. A few overseas coal mines supplying most of the UK’s coal needs versus many smaller ones within the UK is likely to be both more efficient and better for the environment.

    • Bill 6.3

      – yawn – I see you’re repeating lines across threads. Corbyn said ‘if ifs and ands…’ then there may be an argument for reopening the deep pit mines in South Wales that contain the worlds’ highest grade of coal.

  7. Olwyn 7

    While it has quietened down here since Andrew Little became leader, we too have been having our own movement versus the machine battles. And in Australia, there is a lot of ambivalence over Bill Shorten’s leadership. Meanwhile, overseas, the list of dissenters from the status quo is growing.

    I don’t think the Labour MP’s who are part of the machine have ever fully grasped the significance of the 2008 crisis. Before then, Blair etc. could speak convincingly of a maturing market economy without wholly extinguishing hope. Since 2008, the vice has tightened and squeezed hope out for much of Labour’s traditional constituency. But rather than picking up that challenge, UK Labour has supported the continuation of austerity measures. And it is particularly degrading to be forced to suffer privation for no higher purpose than to allow others to freely wallow in luxury. Moreover, these wallowers should be relieved that opposition has come in the forms of Corbyn and Sanders – privation and bitterness can deliver much more dangerous outcomes.

    • Draco T Bastard 7.1


      • Anne 7.1.1

        Me too. Wow, Olwyn you know how to express an issue so well.

        From my perspective, it looks like UK Labour may be going to save Democratic Socialism (with a small ‘s’) from total extinction. It’s going to be a long, hard battle… but the over-all outcome is just so worth it.

        • Olwyn

          Thanks Anne 🙂 And I agree that if the UK Labour movement do manage to save democratic socialism, it will be brilliant!

    • Stuart Munro 7.2

      That too may be necessary.

      One does not imagine capitalists of the likes of Talley or Bob Jones spontaneously reforming absent a significant threat.

  8. Tory 8

    Sounds more like the left “hankering over the glorious past..”, after all commentators on this site 6 months ago were extolling the virtues of the communists in Greece. They seem to have gone quiet just as of late as the glorious leader of the Greece Commies have sold the country down shit creek without a paddle. Corbyn is attracting the communist vote within the UK left, let’s see that translate into an election win in which he holds his position. I am picking the UK Labour wankers will eventually oust him before he totally fragments the vote. As for NZ, Hone, Minto and the other oddballs did well didn’t they? Just shows the public essentially are centralist voters, as we have seen in NZ for decades.

    • DoublePlusGood 8.1

      So let’s see:
      – You understand nothing of the situation in Greece
      – Most notably you think it is communists in Greece that fucked the country, and not the EU
      – You don’t understand what communist actually means
      – You obviously have paid no attention to the vote counts of Mana
      – You draw illogical conclusions from your hysterical assertions.
      Overall, I’ll have to give you a 1/10 for that effort. Please try harder with your trolling, because that effort was sad.

      • Gosman 8.1.1

        What fucked the Greeks was big government spending and corruption. The EU’s mistake was in letting them in to the Eurozone in the first place.

        • Stuart Munro

          Who sold them the submarines Gosman?

          • Gosman

            You really think the Sovereign Debt situation is caused by the purchase of a few dodgy submarines do you?

            The Greeks were spending money on far costlier items than that. The majority of spending was on themselves.

            • Colonial Viper

              Yep. The elites of Greece signed up on loans to benefit the elites of Greece.

              Germany also benefitted significantly by continuing to export arms and other manufactured goods to Greece, paid for by those loans.

              The money merry go round kept going quite happily for a while, until Germany decided that financially waterboarding Greece was very helpful to its own finances.

              • Gosman

                Simply question for you C.V. If the billion of dollars of loans went to benefit the elites of Greece why doesn’t Syriza just take it back by confiscating their property?

                • Colonial Viper

                  Syriza has no way to confiscate bank accounts and share portfolios in London, New York, Geneva, Monaco or the Caymans.

            • joe90

              The majority of spending was on themselves.

              Around a fourth of their spending, $90B, was on arms.

              “Since the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus, Greece has spent an estimated €216bn on armaments, although I am 100% certain that in absolute terms its defence expenditure is much greater than official documents would show due to the so-called secret funds the state has access to,” said Katerina Tsoukala, a Brussels-based security expert.

              “The problem is that unlike Britain, for example, Greece has never had a transparent and democratic defence procurement strategy. Instead, everything is veiled in secrecy and people like me have to go to Sipri to find out information that in other countries would be readily available.



      • greywarshark 8.1.2

        Double plus good
        I give you 9/10 for succinctly putting the Tory diatribe to rest. Bye bye.

    • Colonial Viper 8.2

      Tory: did you not notice that Syriza was a pro-capitalist, pro-Eurozone political party?

      You need to pay more attention.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.3

      Just shows the public essentially are centralist voters, as we have seen in NZ for decades.

      No, actually it means that NZers have been well trained and manipulated to believe things that are against their well being are good for them.

      We’re starting to wake up to the fraud that the RWNJs have perpetrated against us though.

      • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell 8.3.1

        When did you wake up, Draco?

        • Draco T Bastard

          September 21 2001 between 15:00 and 18:00.

          • The Gormless Fool formerly known as Oleolebiscuitbarrell

            You don’t think it’s a but…arrogant… to think that anyone who disagrees with you has allowed him or herself to be manipulated like some imbecile?

            I think this is the left’s biggest problem. You’re all just so sneery.

  9. Sanctuary 9

    “… Just shows the public essentially are centralist voters…”

    And we plan to redefine the centre. You see, only the left understands the unremitting nature of the war capital wages against ordinary human beings, and only the left has the ideological toolbox to fight the unending war against the capitalists. Hence, only the left can drag the Overton window back to the left. No victory is forever, Tory.

  10. Draco T Bastard 10

    The battle of ideas is never won: it turns out that the 1990s were the years of peak capitalism in the West, and Left-wing ideas have since made a return, to the great regret of commentators such as myself.

    Yeah, they’re making a comeback because the RWNJ ideas have proven themselves a failure – as they always do.

  11. Stuart Munro 11

    The rise of Corbyn relates in part to the poverty created by the failure of neoliberal policies. Even the rather identity sensitive precariat are increasingly conscious of the economic constraints on their ever owning a home or raising a family. Here in NZ as our economy crashes, and the quisling government prepares to enhance the devastation by signing what is essentially a deed of cession these issues are going to be increasingly relevant. Expect Qship ‘social’ policies from Key to try contain his losses. I suspect the ACT beer ACT was one.

    • Draco T Bastard 11.1


      The continued failure of RWNJ policies to actually bring about prosperity while obviously enriching a few is starting to tell.

    • maui 11.2

      What a legacy for the PM to have. The Key who killed the Economy. Maybe not exactly the legacy he was after, they’ll always be a scapegoat though I spose.

  12. Ad 12

    A constricting political force like New Zealand Labour inevitably recourses to rules and processes. Their politicians survive on “machine politics”. Just try renewing an LEC, or indeed a sitting MP past their prime!

    But just to dust off my Max Weber for a moment, leaders can rarely rely on “machine politics” to gain the legitimacy to operate the violent instruments of state coercive power.

    They need charisma.

    Weber’s essay “Politics as a Vocation” tells us that “politics is made with the head, not with the other parts of body, nor the soul”. The most effective politician is one who can excite the emotions of the people who follow, while governing strictly with a cold hard reason from the head.

    We can look at Corbyn, Sanders, or Trump as historical renewals against tired and publicly distrusted political machines. Maybe. But it’s more than a momentary historic renewal process. We can also look at them as the charisma needed to gain democratic legitimacy. (Argue the Trump later).

    I see the public ache for Little to throw off his shackles and have half the bon mots of Peters, half the beer-swilling charm of Key.

    But we need to accept Little’s limits. He comes straight out of the labour machine. He has organisational grease under his fingernails. He has enough campaign experience to win through grunt, reasoning, and as the Denim Everyman. Little will win because people can see that he never reaches outside or beyond himself; it’s called authenticity.

    What Little and Corbyn don’t have in common is charisma.

    What is really resonating, is even deeper than what Weber concluded: authenticity.

    • Colonial Viper 12.1

      A constricting political force like New Zealand Labour inevitably recourses to rules and processes. Their politicians survive on “machine politics”. Just try renewing an LEC, or indeed a sitting MP past their prime!


      it doesn’t happen, the entire party establishment rallies to protect the status quo.

    • dukeofurl 12.2

      Hardly, charisma is the exception rather than the rule.

      Think Merkel, Hollande, Cameron, Abbott etc.

      Media Charisma is perhaps the term you are looking at. The media are fascinated with it because it magnifies their own claims to celebrity

      • Ad 12.2.1

        Charisma as image formation – photoshopping Helen Clark’s teeth for example – is a very small part of media as amplifier. Whereas the definition of charisma is: people are following you so strongly that they are willing to give you some of their autonomy.

        Clark is certainly an example of a restrained charisma who nevertheless held an aura of competence, cohesion, inclusiveness and principle. She remains in my book the first full package since Lange.

        And of course, charisma itself is not enough to wield successful power. Norman Kirk had it by the bucketload. Charisma was pretty much all that brief government had, and the weight of it significantly damaged his health. Gough Whitlam, similar.

        Mike Smith is being coy about it, but he is alluding to this: the Labour movement will not exist unless there is a charismatic renewal of democracy, and in particular Labour’s democracy.

        Once in a generation or a decade, a couple of individuals will seek to break out. Those who operate by either suppressing their charisma or being held by the rules of political machinery will find that they have turned into conservatives.

        The progressive instinct requires charisma to succeed in politics.

  13. hoom 13

    I have to suspect that Corbyn will shortly wind up in a mysterious fatal car crash, be poisoned ‘by Russian spies under direct orders from Putin’ or commit suicide in rather murky circumstances -> a Blairite will win/takeover leadership & lead them to a historic low in the next Election.

    • dukeofurl 13.1

      Thats not the british way!
      It will be a rent boy or high class madam or an antique dealer with ancient books laced with cyanide.
      Since hes not a churchgoer it cant be some stone corbels falling from a great height, but perhaps a love child from his protest days, whos now a day trader in the City.

      My favourite will be ‘letters discovered suddenly’ which reveal communications in the 70s with IRA about bomb ingredients!. Two birds with one MI5 stone.

    • Stuart Munro 13.2

      While there is a distinct possibility of this it won’t be Putin. RT loves Corbyn.

      • Colonial Viper 13.2.1

        RT does love needling the western establishment, yes.

        • Stuart Munro

          There are some good breaking stories on RT – but the party line stories are there too. RT won’t be breaking the definitive story on the Nemtsov assassination anytime soon – or come clean on MH17.

          • Colonial Viper

            This is RT’s style: they will ask questions and show facts and footage that the MSM will omit. People like John Kiriaku and Max Keiser will actually get airtime. And they will critique MSM reporting where the MSM is simply repeating what western governments have told them but without doing any actual follow up investigation to confirm/deny what they have been told.

            • Stuart Munro

              In the case of MH17 the facts do not serve Russia. Nor would they in the Litvinenko polonium poisoning case, or Nemtsov. The pattern is identical – a snowstorm of distractor stories that most folk cannot navigate, and virulent paytrolls flaming thread discussions.

              I don’t want to be too critical of RT – they’re good on international stories that don’t touch Russian interests. And Russia kills non-compliant journalists. Politkovskaya was a friend of some friends of mine. In the circumstances they’re pretty good – often better than NZ MSM. But on some issues their coverage is simply not reliable.

  14. The lost sheep 14

    PQE or ‘Peoples Quantitative Easing’ is a catchy wee phrase that Corbynomics has introduced don’t you think?

    Just wondering if there is a policy idea for the NZ Left in there?
    Take it one step further…

    PPQE – Peoples Personal Quantitative Easing.
    Under this policy, the Labour/Green coalition would ensure that all NZ’ers have personal access to an inkjet printer, Official Legal Tender Photoshop files, and all the Ink they need to print whatever quantity of Money it takes to ease their current state of financial discomfort.

    As electoral inducements go, I reckon that’s an unbeatable proposition!

    • weka 14.1

      Main problem with that is that the next time they’re in power they Nats will ammend the legislation so that it’s only their mates and special people who voted for them that get to have the gear.


      • The lost sheep 14.1.1

        After 3 years of enjoying the fruits of the PPQE policy Weka, why on earth would the people want to turn around and vote to have the greedy Nats restore poverty and inequality?

        • weka

          Probably for the same reasons they’ve voted for them at other times. We seem to handle about 3 terms of a govt and then feel the need for change.

          plus, once the economics are leveled, we’ll still have the ideological divide to fight over.

  15. swordfish 15

    Yep, if Corbyn wins, he can expect both an MSM and Blairite onslaught.

    I’ve just returned from a couple of months in the UK and I have to say the reaction amongst establishment commentators (mainly journos and former politicians) was as deeply irritating as it was eminently predictable. The Labour leadership contest has, of course, regularly featured on BBC / ITV / SKY current affairs and again and again elite-journalists and former Cabinet Ministers and Party Insiders (Labour and Tory alike) have contemptuously dismissed Corbyn and his burgeoning support-base.

    They do, indeed, come across as gatekeepers for the status-quo, enforcing (or desperately trying to enforce) narrowly-defined parameters on political discourse, setting (or patrolling) the boundaries for what is and isn’t acceptable to the Neo-Liberal Establishment.

    I’ll be analysing the poll stats in a post (in the next few days) on sub-zero politics. I’ll separate-out the polls of Labour members (which aim to predict the leadership election race) from the polls asking Labour Voters in general what they think of the leadership aspirants…..and both of those poll types from those of the British Electorate as a whole. And I’ll be analysing some of the demographic breakdown detail as a way of scrutinising various sweeping claims made by Blairites, Tory commentators and the MSM over recent weeks.

    And I’ll be doing all this with a certain amount of swagger and charm. An eyebrow arched with intended irony here, a pretentious little bon mot there…..

    • Karen 15.1

      I am looking forward to reading it …

    • Anne 15.2

      I expect someone has already linked to it but here is Bryan Gould’s take on Jeremy Corbyn:


      What amazes me about the outcry is that it looks to me like what he is espousing is no more nor less what we experienced in NZ for five decades under both Labour and National governments. It astounds me his critics – both inside and outside of UK Labour – are talking and behaving so irrationally. Are they politically insane?

  16. millsy 16

    I would rather print money than take it off poor people sheep.

    I hopr Corbyn wins. One month to go and we will find it. Then we will have a true battle. Prvileged Oxbridge and Eton old boy v grassroots union organiser.

    • Colonial Viper 16.1

      And to imagine, UK Labour used to be a caucus full of those who had actually worked in the pit.

      • DS 16.1.1

        Depends. Tony Benn was an aristocrat (literally). Clement Attlee and Michael Foot came from comfortable upper-middle-class backgrounds.

        Jim Callaghan was Britain’s last working class Prime Minister (John Major was lower middle-class).

        • Colonial Viper

          I’m not talking about the guy at the top of the front bench. I am talking about the type of people who made up the guts of the caucus. IIRC in the early 1970s there were dozens of former coal miners and blue collar workers as UK Labour MPs.

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