charismatic leaders + charismatic leadership = ?

OK.  Am sophisticated enough to know events and personalities are just as important as the long sweep of history; but …

At one time we were just as overwhelmed with Blair as we are now with Corbyn.

It’s cool when a leader with the political empathy people like both the aforementioned have shown catalyse moribund societies into action: provide the much-needed bridges against the walls the bad and sad always build; say what we are unable to verbalise; capture our thoughts and display them before we even knew we ever had them.

And I am not proposing we compare the politics of Corbyn and Blair at all here.

But when charismatic leaders and charismatic leadership (see Weber for the latter – and Harold Evans!) come together, the power to act becomes almost Harry Potter-like!  Mean it, honest …

Magically explosive, just about almost.

Am not putting a dampener on the proceedings; not my intention at all.  But I would like the future to be good, not dark.  We’re too accustomed to dark of late.  We don’t deserve to be any more.

It’s OK to star; more than OK.  But we should star to make space for others to do more, not star to push the envelope of our own belief systems around these others, who in principle have every right to co-exist on equal terms.

on keeping in touch vs spamming us senseless – a solution to #labour’s comms challenges?

A Twitter observation on the need to keep in touch …

… coupled with a fairly measured retort (in the circumstances) – on the senseless spamming of political-party members, supporters and suchlike – brought the following response from yours truly:

It’s an idea worth pursuing surely.  This, for example, would be for a traditional political-party structure:

  1. Unsubscribe from everything except news about leadership changes
  2. Unsubscribe from everything except 1. and national Party events
  3. Unsubscribe from everything except 1., 2. and local Party events
  4. Unsubscribe from everything except 1., 2., 3. and surveys
  5. Unsubscribe from requests for donations

The below, meanwhile, would cover it for truly 21st century parties, looking to make a difference in a world of painful voter austerity:

  1. Subscribe to everything except that which contains requests for donations

So what do you think?  Should we?


Or would it be one step too far in handing control over to the supporters?

why we need jc to want bc more than tb did #labourleadership

Jeremy Corbyn has won the Labour leadership election.  That we know.

Labour leadership election results

Tom Watson, who I’d’ve preferred as leader, but who stood for deputy, has won the latter election.  In the end, I wavered between him, my original first choice, and Stella Creasy, who ended up first on my ballot paper with Tom second.

Both Stella and Tom were – and are – extremely capable, what’s more moral but not moralising, politicians.  I’ve been searching for quite a while for candidates and representatives who can take the moral high ground without their declarations sticking in my craw.  They fit the bill in this respect.  I hope Tom will see his way – hierarchically, I mean – to taking onboard the manifest strengths of Stella’s “judge me by what I do” political activism.

Actually, he, himself, over the past few years (re the Murdochs, phone-hacking, VIP paedophilia etc), is – clearly I feel – an active, a proactive, citizen made in a similarly admirable mould to Stella.

Two to continue watching for a long time to come – to continue watching but, more importantly, to continue drawing example from.

Some thoughts, then, on Jeremy Corbyn, about whom I have reservations.

I retweeted this earlier in the day from Paul Mason:

I sincerely wonder whether the left, trampled on for so long by the mix and match-ism of Blair’s Third Way, is capable of being coherent with its obviously sincere long-held tenets and – at the same time – sufficiently creative for a 21st century which demands of us creativity above all to face its many dreadful challenges.

The problem with creativity is that it continually asks you to surprise yourself.  It is not easily pursued by those who demand consistency and resilience in politicking.  How, then, can the left now in ascendancy disentangle properly the desire to be creative from the danger and risk of being perceived as exhibiting disloyalty to a heritage of (truly, frankly, clearly honestly) sustained allegiances to multiple concepts such as community, decency, humanity, kindness etc?

How can you be clever, quick-footed, quick of concept and politically witty without ignoring that which underpins attention to long-running details and commitments?

Will the terms “values”, “missions” and “strategies versus tactics” return to the fold of acceptable Labour-talk I wonder?

Can Labour win the next general election under JC without employing the verbal and conceptual paraphernalia and fireworks of TB’s New Labour?


I don’t mean the policies, which – in any case – TB et al sometimes seemed to end up inventing, as is the ultimate wont of the powerful, on the back of sofa-located envelopes and notepads.

And whether these sofas are champagned or couch-potatoed really makes no odds.  The issue is, rather, whether JC is to abandon any pretence that Labour is to remain a BC – no, not as in “Before Corbyn” but as per all those good intentions to being a “Broad Church” – or, on the other hand, if he is to use his moral charisma (should we call it that?) to make the Party fairly uniquely in his own image, in much the same way as TB once used – all those years ago now – his own very social charisma to do much the same.

For TB saw “inclusion” as meaning making everyone so excited about Labour’s potential to generate change that the absolute trust gained might give absolute freedoms for the very clever and generously far-sighted.  (When in truth, it corrupted – eventually – just about as absolutely.)

It’s here I wonder if, deep down, JC is of similar attitudes and assumptions – perhaps quite despite himself.

It’s why I wanted Tom Watson to be leader, to be honest.  I wanted someone who’s in politics to do stuff with stuff that understands ideology as a tool to be learned, played with and fashioned, not a coherence of a straitjacket to be imposed for the wider good, and limitlessly justified with a medicinal fervour only the neo-liberals themselves would care to count themselves as proud of.

I hope JC wishes to do the former; that his instincts in this still hugely hierarchical body politic that is the United Kingdom will lead him to do what I am convinced Tom, given the chance, would have both intuitively and consciously striven to achieve.

But I’m afraid I fear that the suffering, both physical and intellectual, which the years since both TB’s Iraq and David Cameron/Nick Clegg’s awful awful Coalition have engendered in so many of our working-poor, unemployed, disabled, elderly, youthful and youthful in spirit will make it all too easy for the all-too-easy route of politics by numbers to become par for the course.

I don’t think JC will want Labour to remain that Broad Church I mention – probably because (hardly surprisingly) he will judge that, in truth, in reality, in practice, it generally never has been one.  More a Church of the Resignedly Tolerant than a Broad Church maybe?

When Blair took over Labour, he did so with our blessing: a saviour, himself, of the cruellest moments of Thatcherism.

Saviours are dangerous things, though.

Messy things.

The trust they demand creates expectations which can never, finally, be fulfilled.

The only real solid goal they can ever have is to keep the ball rolling for long enough for some decent good to come of the juggernaut set in motion.

But in the end such rocks, such movements, meet their hard places.  Let’s hope Mr Corbyn knows better how to negotiate Labour and the country’s needs than I expect him to.

I don’t ever like being in the smug position of an “I told you so …”.

It’s not creative in the least.

And I’m, first and foremost, above all, more than anything else, in love with the creative.  Not just in politics, of course.  But not least in politics.

It is – don’t you think? – where creativity could absolutely do the most good of all.  No?