Anger is an energy in politics and football

by Jonathan Todd

Anger is an energy, John Lydon told us. I hope so after Saturday. IKEA is blood pressure raising, especially when your visit coincides with Jeremy Corbyn winning big. Liverpool’s tame defeat at Old Trafford later in the day did not reduce the steam bellowing from my ears.

Labour have elected a leader that even his supporters do not see as prime minister, which runs contrary to the basic function of opposition. We have, therefore, abdicated the status of an aspirant party of government, rendering us pretty pointless.

Ed Miliband sometimes ran the party as if it were a pressure group. Corbyn completes that journey. Labour should always believe in itself enough to be more than that.

Liverpool players should always believe in themselves enough to play on the front foot. To aggressively dominate with and without the ball. Give the opponents the run around when in possession. Press high and hard when not. Particularly against a team as poor as the current Manchester United.

David Cameron and Louis Van Gaal, the United manager, are paper tigers. Yes, Cameron recently won a general election and holds formidable advantages. Yes, Van Gaal’s team has had many millions spent on it and trips to Old Trafford are invariably challenging.

But both Cameron and Van Gaal preside over unhappy camps. Cameron is in constant conflict with his backbenches over Europe. Van Gaal imposes training methods on unwilling players who often reward him with stifled performances. The weaknesses of Cameron and Van Gaal would be exploited by a Labour and a Liverpool with the confidence that should come as standard.

As Europe should be pulling together to tackle its biggest refugee crisis since World War II, we have a prime minister pulling it apart with narrowly self-interested demands. Instead of setting out why this is wrong and how we’d do things differently, Corbyn equivocated over Europe, even absorbing the erroneous criticisms of the EU that Putin has made on the Ukrainian calamity.

As United moved the ball ponderously, Liverpool continued to play cautiously. Rather than deploying tactics and style bold enough to require United to try to adapt themselves to a contest on Liverpool’s terms, Liverpool meekly conceded the ball and territory to a United team that had much less idea what to do with either than previous vintages.

David Cameron isn’t gripped by a sense of mission like Margaret Thatcher, blessed with the poise of Harold Macmillian, or – while his chancellor might fancy himself as such – the audacity of Benjamin Disraeli. But by choosing to be a protest movement, not a party of government, Labour threatens to make Cameron a historical figure of comparable stature.

Nor is Ashley Young a Ryan Giggs, Marouane Fellaini an Eric Cantona, Anthony Martial – pace the Sky Sports hype machine that cranked into action after Martin Srktel gifted him a debut goal on Saturday – a Thierry Henry. But the callowness of Liverpool allowed United’s small fry to strut like past giants.

Liverpool’s next league fixture is Norwich at home. Labour’s is PMQs. In a parallel universe, Liverpool host Norwich in front of a crowd large enough to fill Borussia Dortmund’s 80,000 stadium, paying the much lower ticket price norm that pervades in Germany, creating the more raucous atmosphere that fills Turkish grounds. In another parallel universe, Labour answer, not ask, questions at midday on Wednesday.

Demand for Anfield tickets has long far outstripped supply. With greater ambition and better strategy, Liverpool would have ridden these market dynamics to the parallel universe. If over the past five years, Labour had done more to demonstrate our grasp of markets, the party too would exist in our parallel universe of government.

In reality, the Anfield atmosphere will create as many opportunities for Norwich as PMQs does for Cameron, who will pick at the divisions that exist between MPs that want Labour to remain a party of government and the protest movement figurehead putting the questions to Cameron. Anfield too will be divided. Between home supporters who back their team no matter what and those that currently see nothing worth backing. Norwich will know that the more they frustrate Liverpool, the more fans will transfer from the former to the latter, as Cameron is aware that the more errors he can extract from Corbyn, the more fractious the PLP will become.

None of this had to be this way. Labour made many unforced mistakes in the last parliament but none as calamitous as electing Corbyn. Liverpool might long ago have summoned the ambition for a Dortmund scale stadium but off the field actions count for little if conviction is lacking on it, which – like having a potential PM as leader of a major political party – is a de minimis requirement.

It is the avoidable nature of these diminishments that makes them so anger inducing. The energy that derives, which surely courses through the PLP and the Liverpool dressing room, must be harnessed, whether to a tactical formation that makes the most of the talents of the likes of Phil Coutinho and Christian Benteke or a vehicle for the abilities and hopes of those that remain in the PLP still determined that Labour be a party of government.

Jonathan Todd is Deputy Editor of Labour Uncut    

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32 Responses to “Anger is an energy in politics and football”

  1. Forlornehope says:

    In danger of making the same mistake about Cameron and Osborne that many Tories are making about Corbyn.

  2. Mr Akira Origami says:

    Jeremy Corbyn can do for England what Kevin Keegan did for England as a manager.

  3. Landless Peasant says:

    Oh but I DO see Corbyn as Prime Minister!

  4. Yep, there’s no reason that Corbyn can’t be PM or maybe a younger successor will emerge in the next few years to carry on where Jeremy leaves off.

    We’re all been in a strange world where what we’re told is respectable, good, and realistic doesn’t stack up with peoples’ own personal experiences. In other words, the system isn’t working for them.

    We’re bogged down in neo-liberal economics. These don’t really make much sense when we think about them. For example, “living within our means” must be not consuming more goods and services than we, as workers, are capable of providing from the natural resources that are available to us at the time.

    When we see supermarkets replace checkout staff which automatic readers, and bank tellers by ATMs etc we should all think – Good! That’s one boring job which doesn’t need doing and it will free up someone to do something else which is maybe not so boring and more useful.But of course we don’t. We (or at least I do) think that those ex-checkout staff and ex-tellers are probably now in the unemployment queues or working in a ZHC lowly paid job somewhere. Some, even in the Labour Party, think that’s “normal”! Some think that anyone who dares question this kind of “normality” is somehow “unelectable”!

    Our economy still isn’t run on sensible lines and for the benefit of all. ie including supermarket check-out workers. Hopefully Mr Corbyn, and his successors, can help fix that.

  5. Ex Labour says:

    Oh Johnny boy, you do make me laugh at times with your obsession of Cameron.

    Your articles never fail to have a swipe at Cameron, even though Labour have just committed suicide by appointing a terrorist supporting Marxist posh boy having just been trounced by your nemesis at the GE. The media and sensible Labour is already ripping into Jerry due to his shadow appointments. A shadow chancellor who admits he does not understand or has any experience of economics….FFS priceless !

    Your analogy of Liverpool and Labour in disarray is spot on thought. Rodgers should go and the public will make sure Corbyn goes. However I think Liverpool will recover faster than Labour.

  6. paul barker says:

    Like other Labour centrists Jonathon Todd is yet to grasp the scale of the Left,s victory. Most of those who voted for Corbyn see winning Elections as secondary to building a Mass Movement, not yet a Revolutionary one but opinion is shifting ever farther that way.
    As of yesterday, 30,000 new members had joined Labour since voting closed, the vast majority will be Corbyn supporters, shifting the Labour centre of gravity still farther Left. Soon moderates will get demoralised & start drifting away unless the leaders do something. Waiting for Corbyn to fail will not work, his position will only stregthen.

  7. Mark says:

    I really can’t see the point in yet another article expressing these sentiments, but here the article is, so let me ask its author a question: What was the alternative, compelling Labour vision that the Labour party membership rejected in voting for Corbynism? Seriously, I would love to know. It seems to me the membership have voted for SOMETHING over NOTHING. I speak as someone who voted for Corbyn, but with did so with misgivings. I would almost certainly have gone for another candidate had there been one with fresh ideas, energy and convictions that were both socially democratic and electable – no such candidate existed. I really wanted that candidate to be there – but they were absent, as was an alternative to Corbynism. The cupboard of the “moderates” was bare – no ideas left, no new thinking available.

    There is no straight path (back) to power, especially when a political party has been in government for three successive terms. Corbyn will rebuild the party’s base and perhaps force the centrists to come up with something new, instead of just robotically mouthing platitudes and trying to be slightly nicer than the Tories. What is required is patience and a deeper historical and philosophical perspective. If your wing of the party is to survive it will have to respond creatively to Corbyn – assuming, that is, he fails as a leader. But then again, perhaps he won’t fail – no one really knows for sure, do they?

  8. Madasafish says:

    I see the children who support mass politics are in evidence again.

    Voters don’t like angry screechy shouty politics. Most voters are not activists. Most voters look at the two main characters in a Party and ask themselves : Do I like the look of them? Will I trust them with my money?

    Any Party whose Shadow Chancellor was sacked by Ken Livingstone (yes – check it out) has zero financial credibility.

    And anyone woo builds a movement on youth and shouty politics fails in a mature democracy. See George McGovern in 1972.

    But then I don’t expect any supporter of Corbyn to know anything at all about the above two paragraphs.. (I remember student protest and Vietrnam and mass rallies etc which achieved – nothing).

    Mass movements scare off most elderly voters – who just happen to turn out more than any other voters and just happen to vote Tory..

  9. thomaspottere2014 says:

    Labour are pretty pointless as they’re only tories in labour garb.

  10. Lewis says:

    “..which runs contrary to the basis function of opposition…”

    And here was me thinking that the function of the opposition was to provide an alternative to the government of the day.

    Fortunately, Labour may now present an alternative.

  11. Richard says:

    I see Corbyn supporters are seen as children by madasafish. Well, have your views, but it’s the ‘centrist’s’ who are closing their eyes, sticking their fivers in their ears and pretending that the landslide hasn’t happened. If it didn’t have the potential to be so decisive when the will of the party is so profoundly against them it would be funny.

  12. Madasafish,

    Are you sure you’re a Labour supporter? I must say that if I heard comments, like you’re making, on the doorstep, even in Blair’s time, I’d mark you down as a Tory!

    You might like to know that mass rallies were very significant in ending the Vietnam war. Nixon may have been a crook but he wasn’t stupid. He knew that it was impossible to continue a military struggle in the face of such strong opposition at home.

  13. Fred says:

    Another analogy is we have a leader who has spent his career on the bench or wandering around doing what he thinks will win a match, with the principle he knows better than the rest of the team or the team manager. Happy to take the money of course and status of being in said premier league club/party.

    Then he ends up as captain and manager rolled into one and expects everyone to play
    a disciplined game to his strategy and tactics. Hopefully he will understand in due course what he has been like in the past, if members of the team and club don’t feel he is winning anything in the season ahead and do as he has done in past perhaps ?

  14. David Walker says:

    Just one day in the job and Labour MPs are unhappy, while media obligations are not being fulfilled.

    It’s a good job that Corbyn’s mandate is from the people and not from the MPs who are pretending it doesn’t exist and reporters who treated his entire campaign as a joke.

    The majority of current Labour MPs need kicking out, so let’s get on with it.

  15. Tafia says:

    Interesting comments by what are obviously Labourrightists and Labour centrists.

    Yet they fail to grasp neither the reality of the situation notr the utter scale of their defeat.

    By the time Corbyn steps down, the Labour Party will have been re-organised from top to bottom and there are Labour MPs currently sitting in safe who will face de-selection by their Constituency parties and replacement by left wingers. The likes of Umanna, Cooper Kendall etc etc stand a very real chance of de-selection and replacement.

    At the same time, the left will – because the majority of the membershiop are left wing, take over the standing committees, NEC and all the ‘back office’ stuff etc etc etc at national level.

    Post GE 2020, win or lose, even the PLP will be far more left dominated than it presently is.

    So what are you going to do then? Vote for a near equally left wing Liberal Democrat? Vote Tory? Or not vote at all – bearing in mind that if Corbyn loses in 2020 then the new left wing Labour Party will blame you.

  16. Helen says:

    Funny how in a democracy everyone is upset when a majority choose someone the minority don’t like. I didn’t vote for JC but only because I believed the propaganda that the left wing is history. I think it will be brilliant if the majority spreads and we get a left wing government again. Just look at how the capitalists have ripped us off. Profits on rail travel, electricity, gas, water and health, for example. I just hope the message can get past the fat cats in the media and establishment. When John Mcdonnell said yesterday that the top jobs are health and education my heart leapt. I didn’t think I would ever hear a politician say something that as a feminist I have believed for years. I just hope they don’t get ground down by the venom of the minority! They have my full support.

  17. Mike Stallard says:

    The sheer contempt with which Mr Miliband and the three failed candidates treated their electors – with pseudo answers, photo shoots and an agenda that seemed to say that they had nothing to offer but their own pathetic little ambition to “get to the top” meant that Mr Corbyn was almost bound to succeed as the antidote.
    The Conservatives have a similar problem with Nigel Farage who is speaking a lot of sense at the moment. They, too, should have listened more carefully to what their voters were saying instead of just play acting on tv. George Osborne in a factory looks about as happy as the new DEFRA shadow did when faced with a beef burger!
    Now what?

  18. John P Reid says:

    Paul barker, 2 things

    some of the lefties who join ,will get disillusioned when Corbyn is pro the EU, not against trident

    When labour lose massively in the local elections over the next 3 years,those who voted Corbyn who aren’t that left wing, just like to say ,renationlaise the trains sounds cool ,then theyll twig hat a stupid thing they’ve done,

    Peter Martin the protest over Vietnam were nothing to do with its end, it was the fact Nixon never really supported it LBJ didn’t understand foreign policy, and the fact thee ole didn’t want to be liberated, meant, to quote those who leaked pentagon finding, this war is unwinnable

  19. John. Preid says:

    Mike Stallard pathetic ambition to get to the top, isn’t that what Corbyn has dine, photo opportunities, how do you expect people to get their message across
    And what of Corbyn selling out then halls, if only we can get the 60million ,people who didn’t already go to them to go hear Corbyn.

  20. John. Preid says:

    Helen OK but after immigration,welfare the economy, EU,Transport housing, Defence and crime are the most important issues with the public, saying we’ve appointed women to education,and dint think the economy or Crime is as important,won’t make the public think that.

  21. Madasafish says:

    I see some people appear to think 422,871 voters can eject Labour MPs. elected by 9,347,304 voters at the 2015 General Election. And then call it democracy.

    Nuff said..

  22. TC says:

    I was rather hoping that in the wake of Jeremy’s stunning victory we might see something from the right/centre of the party like ‘Congratulations to Jeremy Corbyn, he ran a great campaign. We lost badly, we didn’t realise that the membership was so left-wing, perhaps we ought to look at ourselves and see where we went wrong. However, that big surge in membership he caused is very welcome, let’s see how we can harness that energy and work together to get the tories out.’

    No a bit of it! Just the same bitter, silly articles saying the same thing. Some of you really need to get a clue.

  23. Landed Peasant says:

    “By the time Corbyn steps down, the Labour Party will have been re-organised from top to bottom and there are Labour MPs currently sitting in safe who will face de-selection by their Constituency parties and replacement by left wingers. The likes of Umanna, Cooper Kendall etc etc stand a very real chance of de-selection and replacement”

    Tafia, do you really think that the runmp of the PLP will sit by as Corbyn has them disposed of? They will either muster enough support to depose him of break away, nobody is going to wait for their P45 in silence and if they do depose him nobody is going to “lend” him their vote to expand the discussion again.

  24. @Tafia

    I hope your right about the possibility of re-selections.

    I was just wondering how it was possible that a candidate who won the support of nearly 50% of the membership (or 60% if we add in the affiliates and supporters) had a such a low level of support from the PLP? Maybe 20 actual votes from them?

    What’s been going on in the selection processes for the last 20 years or so? Why is the PLP so unrepresentative of the wider party?

    Has central office been leaning on CLPs with a “no lefties” decree? Especially when it comes to selecting candidates for winnable seats?

    How do we re-address the balance? That’s going to have to happen. The only way is to have more democratic selection procedures. Sitting MPs are going to have to make their pitch for re-selection like anyone else.

    I know that wont be a popular thing to say but the principle that all MPs should be subject to a democratic re-selection process, freed from too much central office interference, is not at all unreasonable. I’d allow the party a certain number of ‘parachute drops’ (maybe 5% of total seats?) for their favoured candidates but no more than that – even if they might be on the left.

  25. Jeez, Uncut has gone very quiet. Has anyone seen Atul?

  26. David Walker says:

    Helen, I don’t really see why rating health and education as the most important jobs has anything to do with feminism. Men die younger and there is a long-term trend of girls outperforming boys at school.

    With regards to capitalism, I think the key message that Labour needs to get across is that the vast majority of us aren’t very good at it. I think that most of us accept that we could have become wealthy, if we were a lot better at the game.

    Full-blooded capitalism was sold to the public when Thatcher was elected and most people eventually decided that they wanted in on it. The reality is that only those who were very good at full-blooded capitalism did well and it was at the expense of those who lacked the attributes to succeed.

    The skills include understanding markets, the cold analysis of data, risk v reward, correct selection of opponents, bankroll management, etc., etc. Ruthlessness, a thick skin, the ability to make decisions based on hard evidence (rather than emotion) and a complete lack of shame are also required, if you want to be a big winner.

    The big difference between the General Elections of 1983 and 2020 is that now people know that they will consistently be beaten by capitalists that are far more adept than they are. A successful hedge-fund manager is simply a brilliant capitalist.

    It is utterly futile to blame people for being so good at capitalism. Labour can only win if the party can convince people to put the game back in its box and play something else.

  27. Lizzy Salander says:

    Let’s have a purge and” kick all the non lefty Labour MPs out” – The “broadchurch” myth of Corbyn’s Labour is dead already.

    Good point Madasafish.

    Just off to set the series link for PMQ’s, they say this season it’s going to better than Strictly, Bake Off and Big Brother combined!

  28. TC says:

    Madasafish, that’s a ridiculously weak point and you must surely know it. Every Labour MP was elected by votes in his or her constituency; the national vote contains millions who voted Labour but did not get a Labour MP. If any MPs are deselected, then this will be done at constituency level too.

  29. Madasafish says:

    “Madasafish, that’s a ridiculously weak point and you must surely know it. Every Labour MP was elected by votes in his or her constituency; the national vote contains millions who voted Labour but did not get a Labour MP. If any MPs are deselected, then this will be done at constituency level too.”

    Yes that is a valid point..

    So even fewer people at a constituency level – under 100 surely? – will decide to depose their MP who was elected by up to 40,000 people.

    Seems even more democratic to me.

  30. TC says:


    It really depends on the constituency. I certainly support measures to get more people involved in selection and making the process more democratic. Hopefully the influx of new members Labour has seen in recent times will be a step in that direction.

  31. Mike19 says:

    My prediction is that the next Labour Prime Minister has not yet even been elected to the House of Commons!

  32. @Mike19,

    Does that mean you’re tipping Owen Jones?

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