Why “wait and see” is a fool’s strategy

by Rob Marchant

It is now taken as accepted everywhere in British politics, with the exception of some parts of the Labour Party’s rank and file, that Labour cannot win an election with Corbyn at the helm. You can attempt to argue with this premise, but you’ll find few allies outside of the echo chamber of party activists and three-pound associate members who voted for him.

This leaves sensible members with two options: engage and hope things get better, or reject and look for a new plan. Many MPs are, in good faith, choosing the former option.

But as Ben Bradshaw MP must have seen on Tuesday night, any decent attempt to play ball with the new leadership seems doomed to end in the frustrating realisation that it is hopeless. MPs in the Parliamentary Labour Party looked on in dismay, as the party’s flagship economic policy did an unceremonious U-turn.

Within two weeks of its announcement.

And here is the problem with “wait and see”: with every day that passes, the political situation gets progressively worse, not better. It is not enough to merely let Corbynism burn itself out, or let it be comprehensively defeated in five years’ time. Here’s why.

One. The obvious: the general shambles of the party’s policy and appearances on the media is undoubtedly further damaging the party’s image, to the extent that that is still possible. Corbyn has the worst ratings of any incoming leader since such polling began in 1955. This alone is enough to make waiting and seeing untenable.

Two. It will not be long before our local parties are infiltrated by the hard left. Once this happens, it will be hell to get them out, as Labour discovered in the 1980s. A number of members have already reported anecdotally to Uncut that they suddenly don’t recognise their local parties any more.

Three. Once happened, cleaning up the local parties cannot even start while there is not a party HQ carrying out a systematic campaign to do so, as happened with Militant. Shortly the new leadership will be installing their own General Secretary and their people in party HQ, making this kind of campaign impossible for the foreseeable future.

Taken together, it is not difficult to deduce that “wait and see” is not only complacent but dangerous. The party is, by any analysis, in an existential crisis. Those MPs must now consider whether they will live to regret their passiveness, in the face of the combination of incompetent politics and too-competent political organisation.

There are people who will pooh-pooh this as scaremongering. Those people should read their twentieth century history: this is how the far left operates. If you think that “Momentum” will be a benign movement, like David Miliband’s Movement For Change, think again. As the Times’ Oliver Kamm noted yesterday, “Momentum is an entryist organisation that’s parasitic on the Labour host”. Do we really not remember what that did to us and how long it took to recover.

Moreover, there are a great many reasons to think that the situation is considerably worse this time than in Neil Kinnock’s tenure. Not least of these is that Kinnock was not close to Militant, and neither was Foot, an ardent anti-totalitarian. They were on the outside, but Jeremy Corbyn is well to the left of both. On the inside.

No, it is not a case of an attempt by the far left to take over the leadership, it has already been taken over: the lunatics took over the asylum a month ago. The only question is whether the remaining people who care about the Labour Party as an electoral force can manage to wake up, realise what has happened and act.


Rob Marchant is an activist and former Labour Party manager who blogs at The Centre Left

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66 Responses to “Why “wait and see” is a fool’s strategy”

  1. Madasafish says:

    Reading parts of the posts is like going back to the 1970s and just as relevant.

  2. Henrik says:

    @Sean: You mistake my attire, son, they’re not jackboots, they’re NVA surplus Marschstiefel. Or perhaps a ragged pair of Boots, Direct Moulded Sole, which I was issued in 1975 and wore, metaphorically, for the next 25 years while oppressing the working classes, backing up the bosses and annoying the Queen’s enemies.

    I don’t post on Labourlist, I’m afraid, I suspect you’re confusing me with some other debonair, charming, former Labour Party member.

    I note that it was your man’s own fault that he got a concrete block through his windscreen. Interesting perspective, right up there with ‘well, she was asking to be raped, how dare she be female and out on her own at night’. That sort of thinking qualifies as wanting to play a big boys’ game – and that’s a game which has big boys’ rules.

  3. Chris says:


    “But you would think that about any socialist who supports the Corbyn project. So I won’t take it personally. I will continue – with others in my CLP – to continue with what has to be done.”

    What has to be done??? Accusing MPs of being tory scabs and arguing over long forgotten episodes from the miners strike isn’t helping Corbyn or Labour. It does play to the stereotype that the hacks on this website (and the tory supporting comments) like to propagate.

    If you aren’t a sock puppet then maybe you would better support Corbyn by reducing the quantity and increasing the quality of your comments.

  4. OllyT says:

    Having read this entire thread I have come to the conclusion that Sean is a spoof probably in the pay of Tory HQ. Sounds like a cross between Wolfie Smith from the Tooting Popular front and Dave Spart from Private Eye. Hilarious. Hello, it’s 2015 Comrade

  5. OllyT says:

    Sean has to be a spoof, for those old enough to remember, he comes over as a cross between Wolfie Smith of the Tooting Popular Front and Dave Spart from Private Eye. Hilarious, it’s 2015 comrade!

  6. Sean says:

    @Henrik Well, I admire your honesty, Sonny (if that is what it is). You, of course, want all striking workers to be condemned for trying to prevent scab labour breaking their strikes. You do post on LL. You are lying. The rest of your post is simply not worth a reply. You actually sound like a fascist troll. So fuck off and die somewhere.

    @Chris. No, we have never forgotten (nor will we) the lessons of the Miners’ strike. If you were a socialist, you would be fraternally supporting the work of all socialists inside and outside the party. Your post simply reveals that you are closer to Blairism than socialism despite the fact that you are trying (without much success) to conceal it with reactionary blather and insult. Are you sufficiently educated to deliver a decent insult? What will be done? Re-selection in every CLP and the re-organisation of the party administration so it falls in line with the broad movement which has now started, especially in the CLPs.

    @Olly T I have come to the conclusion, Olly my old son, that you are a Tory troll. There is absolutely nothing in it which is worth reading. However, your attempt at an insult is itself an insult to the ancient art of the insult. My advice to you : If you are in the LP, you don’t belong in it. And, incidentally, you are not my comrade. By the way, you have more or less repeated your post. And 2.5 hours after the first post. The shrinks call it “echolation”. It is symptomatic of psychiatric illness. Get thee to an A&E, sunshine.

  7. Henrik says:

    @Sean: No, sorry, you are definitely mistaken – I only post here (and have done for a while).

    As regards my condemnation, I do condemn – resolutely – the use of violence in political or labour disputes, whichever side originates it. I do recognise that the direct action alternative is always available, but would stress that taking that option changes the context dramatically.

    As long as you guys are just, you know, having just a wonderful time de-selecting and condemning each other, no big deal, the electorate will just sit and have a good laugh – do try not to let all that bile and bitterness spill over into violence, though. I think Tafia and I can probably explain in some detail where that leads.

  8. Chris says:


    Dude, the “Sean” sock puppet is too much like a stereotype that the Henrik/Walter Mitty poster would come out with, try again with a new name but tone it down a bit. Lull readers into thinking you’re a mild mannered Corbyn supporter then hit them with the David Icke lizard network stuff. That would be far more damaging than the obvious reselection shrieking sock puppet. One that lacks the self-awareness to claim to be part of the kinder, gentler politics then tell another poster to “fuck off and die” and use supposed mental illness in the “ancient art of the insult”.

    Also, do you actually know what CLP means? Why would you want reselection in every one? In most of them where there isn’t a Labour MP there wouldn’t be anyone to deselect. You surely only want the new labour taliban facing deselection not all sitting MPs.

  9. John R says:

    Sean, unfortunately, you typify the worst of the pseudo-left in bolstering illusions in the increasingly right-moving Corbyn and the pro-war, pro-imperialist, pro-capitalist Labour Party. Look how your beloved Jeremy now (critically) supports NATO (“I’d rather not be in it but, hey, I just want a quiet time now and get on with my Comrades, Tom, Hilary and Maria!”) He has just reverted to the programme of the contemptible Itallian Euro-Communists from the 70s! Who knows, maybe he’ll even ask Tom Watson to press the nuclear button in the interests of Party Unity! That won’t be against his fabled “socialist principles”, will it? Eh, Sean!

    Labour has NEVER been a socialist party and to even pretend that it is capable of taking on the capitalist state and SMASHING it is to build illusions so bizarre that it is as though you have never read ANY of the works of Lenin and Trotsky!

    You are worse than even the most right-wing of the Labour MPs that you seek to condemn! They, at least, are honest in their bowing and scraping to the forces of international neo-con ideology. But you, who would seek to lead honest youth and workers THIRSTING for genuine socialist revolutionary theory into the arms of that poseur Corbyn should seek the nearest dustbin of history to see where such ideas have lead the international working class in the past!

    Into the abyss of reaction!

    No, Sean, even if you are honest in your attempts at leading the masses towards the revolution, in reality you are playing the role of someone (possibly, a state-sponsered SPY) who is guiding the forces of anti-austerity into a blind alley! Only the revolutionary socialist programme of B.U.L.S.H.I.T. (Bolshevik Union of the Left Socialist Humanist International Tendency (Posadist)) can lead the masses towards socialism.

    Down with Sean and his pseudo-revolutionary Programme!

    Down with the sell-outs Corbyn and McDonnell!

    No illusions in the Labour Party!

    Long live B.U.L.S.H.I.T.!

  10. John P Reid says:

    RichardT, and Mr Wilkes death, was unlawful,the fact that he was driving someone to work who’d voted to go to work,
    Rolloh ,how about renaming socialist unity, Stalinist disunity,or left futures, loony left, futures.

  11. Tafia says:

    Why would you want reselection in every one? In most of them where there isn’t a Labour MP there wouldn’t be anyone to deselect.

    Selection is for candidates, not MPs. Doesn’t matter whether Labour holds the seat or not, it’s to select the candidate to contest it for a General or By election.

    Corbyn’s revolution will mean that not only are many current sitting Labour MPs staring de-selection in the face of they dobn’t start singing the song the member ship want, but people fancying their chances of fighting a non-Labour seat as the Labour candidate are almost certainly going to fail in the selection phase unless they are seen to be left wing.

    The CLPs will – quite correctly, select the candidates they want and even de-select sitting MPs if they want to, without central interference. That is where Corbyn’s revolution s – where it should be, at the grass roots. And if the Labour right want to fight it, that ios where they are going to have to fight it whether they want to or not.

    The days of the PLP tail wagging the CLP dog are over. And they PLP either accepts that, or stands aside or resistance will be disposed of like yesterdays rubbish, all within the part rules.

  12. Tafia says:

    As long as you guys are just, you know, having just a wonderful time de-selecting and condemning each other, no big deal, the electorate will just sit and have a good laugh – do try not to let all that bile and bitterness spill over into violence, though. I think Tafia and I can probably explain in some detail where that leads.

    Once one side resorts to violence – or even the threat of it, that legitimises the other side to not only retaliate but to raise the game in order to win. That’s the trap the Israelis and the Palestinians have fallen into and the trap that the two sides in Northern Ireland fell into.

  13. Tafia says:

    And that includes the state and it’s apparatus.

  14. Henrik says:

    @Chris: Not me, no sock puppets ever from me. Actually, I don’t mind a Trot or a proper hard-core tankie, at least they’ve got some fire in their bellies and don’t get all pissy when the State suppresses them.

  15. For those of you enjoying arguing with Sean, I’m sure you realize you are arguing with a fake with ideas far closer to yours than you would care to think. Probably works for CCHQ or Guido or similar.

  16. OllyT says:

    @ Sean

    Thanks for your charitable and heartwarming belief that I am psychiatrically ill.

    Reason for the 2 posts is somewhat more prosaic I’m afraid, temporarily abroad and posting via a poor wifi connection. When I checked a couple of hours after my first post it had not appeared so assumed it had failed, hence recomposing a second post. Half an hour later both posts appeared.

    I actually hope you are a spoof poster because if you are genuine then the Labour Party is in for a rougher ride than I expected when I resigned. At least I have the satisfaction of knowing that the chances of your “kinder” political worldview winning a UK GE is approximately zilch.

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