The Borg loses transmission

Today was an unusual day in British politics, which I would never have foreseen six months ago.

The Labour Party voted in a left wing leader for the first time in 20 years, which is notable for a party which is meant to be the mainstream left wing alternative to the Conservative Party, but has actually been more like the slower, stealthier form of the same animal for many years now. Not only that but Jeremy Corbyn, the leader in question, was voted in by a sizeable majority way ahead of the other contenders, by his party members and supporters, but not by his fellow Labour MPs by and large. That is an interesting split, which also shows a high degree of participation by an interested public, and a disconnect between them and the people in parliament.

I don’t yet know if I would agree with all of Corbyn’s policies and opinions (quite unlikely I imagine), I am liberal but am at the same time profoundly wearied by leftism. But an alternative to the herd lurch to accommodate “austerity”, to the destruction of socialized medicine, to the economic cleansing of our cities, to the killing off of effective social housing, to the sold off degradation of public services, to the hounding of the disabled and sick? Yeah, fergodsake do it.

It’s as if the last twenty years has been a process of reconditioning the ideological slash and burn of Thatcherism into a photogenic, bland form for all parties to aspire to. Never mind that it made no sense and didn’t work, and was not in any sense even vaguely “conservative”. It was “our way, or electoral oblivion” seemingly. I think some people must now be asking themselves, what use is pragmatism, when the price includes your very goals themselves?

Whether this makes any real difference, and whether The Labour Party with an anti-austerity platform is electable, I have to admit it feels good to have the possibility of an opposition that actually opposes on principle, with different ideas and strategies. I don’t like our electoral system, where your vote so often counts for nothing in terms of being counted as an expressed opinion and choice (not a system that makes people feel their wills count, or that they need take responsibility for their choices), but to have the main opposition party form an actual opposition in terms of policies that affect people, well it’s healthy.  Healthier than it’s looked in a long time.

The bland, photogenic Borg didn’t get away with it this time, and a little bit of the advertising executive, smooth political soul seemed to falter and shrink. Fuck yeah.

This wasn’t meant to ever happen again.

That’s a good sort of interesting.

still from video documentary on Star Trek - electronically enhanced

still from video documentary on Star Trek – electronically enhanced



  1. This is all too interesting, but I’m a little more interested in the flip-side of this happenstance. Namely, how Corbyn’s victory has seemingly unveiled a dysfunction within our political culture, or at least that of our Parliament.

  2. I think there is a global panic happening based on such things like public debt and unsustainable demand upon a finite resource of food, water and land, which in turn creates a pendulum swing to extremes of the political spectrum. Corbyn represents an extreme of thinking, just as UKIP is another.

    • I think he also represents what has become a public heresy in the UK, which is to call the bluff on the combination of media and public herding making you unelectable, and therefore not worth even trying. It doesn’t necessarily translate to the population as a whole, but a significant proportion have kinda snapped I think, but snapped into a choice rather than apathy. Corbyn gave that segment a choice that they saw. The same might have fed the Greens and UKIP and (most significantly) the SNP, though they are all in some respects “fuck you” parties with respect to the two party establishment (“fuck you nicely” in the case of the Greens), with the SNP not even wanting to be part of that establishment. The difference with Corbyn is that he heads a mainstream party with a history of exerting power. But he has been put there over the heads of his fellow party MPs, which turns him into a maverick figure, though he is anything but a maverick really. The traditional left is not a maverick force at all in the UK, and has inspired a lot of crazy ass shit in it’s “new left” forms from the 70s, along with older, very useful and solid things. This looks like quite an unstable and unusual situation in that it really can’t be ignored, and is difficult to predict. Corbyn looks old fashioned and different at the same time, and he’s articulating questions which are only really heard from parties with any power in other parts of Europe, plus Scotland from a Party that *wants* to be another part of Europe. He would still have to win a popular mandate outside his party though – this is all relatively internal to the Labour Party at present. I think the global panic has actually got old now, and there is more of a sense that things don’t add up, and making the poor pay for a banking crisis is bullshit, even for someone who doesn’t trust any politics. To some extent the mantra of “have to balance the books” is running out of spell power, because of course it is a false moral story here. That doesn’t mean that people in general are believing anyone really has “the answer” of course. I think they are just sick of the spectacle, and the hypocrisy from any side you look at, depending on the person in question.

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