The Uncuts: 2016 political awards (part II)

Labour politician of the year – Sadiq Khan

Jeremy Corbyn has had an unprecedented 2016. No one has ever been twice elected Labour party leader – with impressive margins on both occasions. He is entitled to feel tremendous pride. The chord that he has struck is undeniable.

It remains to be seen, though, whether this chord resonates with the wider public. This requires validation in a general election. While Sadiq Khan has not won a general election as Labour leader, his election as Labour Mayor in London is as near as a non-leader can get to these giddy heights.

Belief in clause one socialism, incrementally securing the common good via the tools that elected office affords, demands that Sadiq Khan be recognised as Labour politician of the year.

Khan’s campaign brilliantly weaved biography with policy – the son of a bus driver to fix the buses; the boy from the council estate to sort the houses – and has won a massive mandate for the implementation of progressive politics. At a time when, with Hillary Clinton defeated and Brexit happening, such politics is thought to be in reverse. That Khan made this happen with his status as a Muslim barely commented upon – except, sadly, by his Conservative opponent – is testament not only to his talents but also to the open and tolerant instincts of London, which, with Mayor Khan, London will preserve in the Brexit era.

In a bleak year, Khan’s victory was a beacon of light. For sake of Labour, progressives more generally, and all that is best about London, it is vital that he does not squander the bright future that he has managed to craft for himself.

Contribution to post-truth politics – Jeremy Corbyn

The exponential growth of fact-free politics during 2016 has led the judges to create this new award, and it is an already-crowded field. Clearly Donald Trump’s chutzpah in creating an entire campaign based on manipulating information obtained by Russian hacking, not to mention a swathe of old-fashioned untruths, put him clearly in the running. Then the Brexit campaign’s celebrated “£350m savings for the NHS”, later proven to be utter tosh, brought the whole thing to a new level.

However, the jury felt that it should not just be the degree of economy with the actualité, but also the length of time that the nominee had been involved in the politics of post-truth. And here there was one candidate who was felt to have started long before the others. the Contribution To Post Truth Politics Award for 2016 therefore goes to…Jeremy Corbyn.

It is not just the disappearance of large parts of Corbyn’s previous life from his website, which has helped him win this award, or his denials in cases where photographic evidence roundly disproves his position (such as his attendance at a convention led by a Holocaust-denier in 2013). Or his claim that terrorist organisation Hamas is “dedicated…to bringing about long-term peace and social justice” in Palestine.

No, it is his true dedication to the post-truth cause right back to the 1980s which has earned him the award. For example, his presenting of the IRA as peace-loving underdogs; his portrayal of anti-Semite hate preacher Raed Salah as non-racist; or his support of a motion denying that genocide in Kosovo ever happened. To substantiate the rationale for their decision, the judges refer readers to a handy summary here.

Finally, we should point out that there was one other nominee who ran Corbyn close on both degree and length of time of their use of post-truth, coincidentally also a long-time member of the Labour Party, from the same wing as Corbyn. Sadly, it was felt that that other nominee would not be able to make it through the award ceremony without mentioning Hitler.

Comeback of the year: Tony Blair

At the start of 2016 of was generally assumed Tony Blair’s reputation wouldn’t survive the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry.

Indeed, the report, published last July, did have some heavy criticisms about the case made for the 2003 invasion of Iraq and Britain’s part in it.

But it hasn’t had the direct impact his detractors expected.

Perhaps because the criticisms – serious though they were – have been levelled against Blair for a decade or more.

The passage of time and the long delays to the report have dulled the impact of their potency.

‘Blair’s illegal war’ has been priced into the political narrative for years. So when Chilcot didn’t say that, it amounted to a reprieve, of sorts.

And, bluntly, if you didn’t like Tony Blair before Chilcot, you don’t like him after it. That said, most people do not have visceral opinions of him.

There is no more talk of Blair being dragged off to The Hague.

In, fact there’s no more talk of Iraq at all.

So much so, that Blair announced last month that he is rematerializing into British politics to make the case for a second referendum on the decision to quit the EU, decrying, through intermediaries, the qualities of Theresa May (‘a lightweight’) and Jeremy Corbyn (‘a nutter’).

It’s quite a turnaround from where Blair found himself 12 months ago.

Special prize for political rehabilitation through the medium of dance – Ed Balls

As part of the judging of the Comeback of the year award, the judges decided to create a one-off award for one other outstanding entry. As a result, Uncut’s Special prize for political rehabilitation through the medium of dance goes to, somewhat inevitably, Ed Balls.

Who could have predicted that a senior politician, having lost his seat ignominiously after an unremarkable spell as shadow chancellor in an undistinguished period for the Labour party, would suddenly find himself a national hero of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards” mould, as a “have a go hero” on Strictly Come Dancing. Week after week he was voted to stay, against the wishes of the show’s judges, and as a result has now positive name recognition beyond the wildest dreams of most politicians. Leveraging this support to achieve a political comeback is now clearly a strong possibility, something which would have seemed impossible only a year ago.

Goodness gracious, great balls of fire.

Award for falling on own sword – François Hollande

Politicians tend not to lack for self-confidence, belief that they are the indispensable cog. Those that get to the very top are usually the surest of themselves. Belief in Ken Clarke, for example, drips from every page of Ken Clarke’s memoirs, which revisit the fall of Margaret Thatcher.

“She was the only person,” she insisted to Clarke, “who could lead the successful resolution of the aftermath of the Gulf War, which was liberating Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s invasion, and the recovery of the economy from recession.”

The only person. Tony Blair still thinks he is the only person. Margaret Thatcher – from beyond the grave – probably still thinks she is. Barack Obama shows signs of thinking as much about himself with his claim that he’d have beaten Donald Trump (even if he might well be right).

François Hollande is different. He’s stopped thinking of himself in such terms even before he has left office. He is the first French president in modern history to not seek re-election. While rock bottom approval ratings encouraged him to be self-effacing, his actions are unusually selfless for someone so high up the political tree.

With him at the helm, the Socialist Party stood virtually zero chance of retaining the presidency. With someone else, they have some chance – albeit not a great one. Bravo, François.

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11 Responses to “The Uncuts: 2016 political awards (part II)”

  1. Alf says:

    Let’s face it guys: New Labour is finished. No-one is interested in Tory-lite politics these days.

  2. Tony says:

    “Clearly Donald Trump’s chutzpah in creating an entire campaign based on manipulating information obtained by Russian hacking”

    What actual evidence have you seen that the Russians hacked this?

  3. Martin says:

    Can someone please leave a comment here that doesn’t use the phrase “Tory Lite” ?This is either (i) a new brand of soft drink or (ii) a tedious cliché over-used by those whose political thinking goes no deeper than vacuous slogans. I am very interested in centrist politics, so are most of the people I know in the Labour Party.

  4. Tafia says:

    Labour continues to melt down it seems. Burnham, Miliband and other ‘big-hitters’ outspokenly against freedom of movement and now the new darling of the centrists Keir Starmer has come out against it within days of Corbyn claiming it’s great.

    There are now three very distinct groups within Labour and they have nothing in common.

    A split seems inevitable.

    PS – If any if you whinging liberals who pretend to be of the left want to know what real Labour voters think, pay more attention to regular commenter John P Reid.

  5. Adam says:

    Very interesting thanks. You might also like this piece analysing Len McCluskey Marxist face for reduced immigration

  6. Peter Kenny says:

    ‘I’ll be with you, whatever’. – that seems to be your position regarding Blair!

    You’re like the defeated Jacobites yearning for the King ‘across the water’, keeping a rusty musket hidden for the wondrous day.

    He’s gone and will not return – ‘too much hostility’ he says. Put in plain language he’s too unpopular.

  7. John P Reid says:

    No one is intrested in Tory lite policies, er, the 45% of the public who will currently vote Tory and the 11% currently who say they’ll vote Libdem next time,

  8. Dave Roberts says:

    As to Tory Lite I also wonder why the Corbynistas are obsessed with this phrase. They seem to have more hatred for Blair and that period than they do for the Tories and expend more energy on excoriating the man and his era doing something like getting the party with a leader and policies that can win a general election.

  9. bobby says:

    If Khan is Labour’s beacon of light you are utterly doomed. He’s a shifty liar who leverages identity politics. The idea that the man who led the campaign to have Islamic blasphemy laws implemented in 2004 is your ‘progressive’ icon? You are utterly doomed. Outside London he makes people’s skin crawl.

  10. Rob Marchant says:

    @bobby: You are quite right that Khan’s past is not unblemished, as I wrote here on his election:

    That said, he did a redoubtable job in winning the mayoralty in difficult circumstances nationally, and credit where it’s due, has made rather a good fist of being mayor so far. The key question is now whether his previous courting of “undesirables” was a passing phase which he has now grown out of, or not. At the moment he is clearly Labour’s most sure-footed public figure, although admittedly the bar on that remains pretty low.

  11. Ydoethur says:

    Neil Kinnock was elected Labour leader twice – 1983 and 1988.

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