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24 Sep, 82 tweets, 11 min read
Pay day tomorra so look what I just bought.

Should be an interesting read. But to the extent I’m going to tweet about it, it’ll be with a critical eye (although as always with Owen Jones, I’ll no doubt agree with about 85% of it): Image
The first mention of Corbyn is when he’s described as a ‘scruffy, amiable backbencher’.

If Corbyn - often besuited even as back bencher - is scruffy then the vast majority of us are positively unkempt.

Just plays into superficial nonsense about ‘looking Prime Ministerial’ IMO.
Goes on to give a brief history of the new left in Labour.

Then describes Len McClusky as ‘a thick-set Scouser whose rectangular spectacles give him the air of an intellectual bouncer’.

While Corbyn is now ‘unkempt’ rather than ‘scruffy’.

Hmm.
Talks about the atomisation of the working-class as old industries died and trade union membership declined. How the move to service industry employment and zero hours contracts created widespread precarity.
John McDonnell is described as ‘Grey-haired, besuited, softly spoken, slightly built, with the whiff of the avuncular bank manager about him’.

A much more flattering description then Corbyn got.
Not really arsed about Jones’ analysis at this point.

I just want to hear his thoughts on the sartorial choices of various labour movement luminaries.
Says that during the Blair years, the Socialist Campaign Group was ‘riven with ideological, strategic and personal divisions: proper People’s Front of Judaea against the Judean People’s Front’.

Basically that the Labour left was tiny and moribund in this period.
Recalls how he and Andrew Fisher ran McDonnell’s leadership bid in 2007. And how Gordon Brown’s aides warned MPs their careers would be damaged if they associated with McDonnell.

Nice that Brown and McDonnell have since become comrades (and not because Brown’s moved left?).
Jeremy Corbyn is described as ‘a bearded Labour backbencher who carried his socialist principles with an air of dishevelled good humour’.
Talks about the anti-capitalist protests of the early 00s and how they soon fizzled out. Then comes 9/11 and the growth of the anti-war movement. At whose protests Jeremy Corbyn - now described as a ‘scruffy, passionate figure’ - often spoke.
Owen Jones shut the fuck up about Jeremy Corbyn being a meff challenge.
Moves onto the late 00s and the emergence of new forms of activism in the shape of Climate Camp and Occupy.

Jeremy Corbyn is described as ‘wearing shit stained underpants and a frayed string vest like the massive fucking ragger he is’.

(Okay I may have made that one up)
Talks about how, even if all these movements didn’t necessarily achieve their aims, it was the taking part that counted. People became radicalised by them, developed a sense that the various things they were protesting about were all linked and that systemic change was required.
CHAPTER TWO: CORBYN’S SHELLSUIT SHAME
Describes Ed Miliband as ‘a genuine, well-motivated politician with sincere progressive instincts’.

The usual left washing of Miliband. I just remember the immigration mugs, the attacks on benefit claimants and whipping to bomb Libya and Iraq. Not arsed what his ‘instincts’ are.
Jon Trickett is described as a ‘gruff northern shadow minister’.

Is there a pattern here of Owen Jones unconsciously giving much more flattering descriptions of younger soft leftists than old school socialist leftists?
Me: *Kicks an immigrant in the face and shoots a Libyan child*

You: Oh, come on! Stop being so timid and let your true progressive instincts shine through!
Relays how Miliband and Balls went along with a low fat version of austerity but did propose some economically interventionist measures. This served as a bridge of sorts between New Labour and Corbynism.
Reminds everyone that he was touting Lisa Nandy for Labour leader in 2015, but she didn’t want to stand. Not sure what he makes of her current ‘Britain First’ stylings.
Says that the left eventually settled on Jeremy Corbyn as the candidate. Corbyn is described as ‘Gently spoken, unkempt, profoundly unconventional’.
Reports that John McDonnell thought Corbyn running for leader in 2015 was a ‘profound mistake’ on the grounds he’d be ‘annihilated’.

(The ‘Left Out’ book suggests there may have been a degree of professional jealousy on McDonnell’s part at Corbyn’s success)
Lists the younger MPs who supported Corbyn in 2015.

Clive Lewis is described as ‘a telegenic former soldier turned BBC journalist’.

Cat Smith is ‘Corbyn’s youthful former long-standing parliamentary researcher’.

Meanwhile big Dickie Burgon is just ‘Richard Burgon’.
Says that Corbyn’s supporters started sounding out other MPs for nominations. Some were receptive because Corbyn was well liked in the PLP, thought he’d widen the debate and had no chance of winning (the implication being they didn’t see him as a threat at that point).
Others on the right of the Labour Party were keen for Corbyn to run because they thought it’d show just how weak and unpopular the left was.
Tells us that, when Corbyn’s nominations had stalled 48 hours before the deadline, ‘Corbyn had what one senior ally recalls as ‘what I can only describe as what I thought was a nervous breakdown’: friends found him extremely agitated and speaking incoherently’.
Seeing this, John McDonnell - feeling protective towards his old comrade - announced that it was time for Corbyn to throw in the towel. His campaign should be called off.
Jon Lansman is described as ‘a silver-haired, goateed, bespectacled man with a penchant for colourful shirts’.

Lansman, after meeting with Corbyn, also thought he should pull out of the leadership contest.
However, Corbyn eventually emerged from his funk, and just about scraped onto the ballot after McDonnell had literally got onto his hands and knees to beg other MPs for nominations.
Trade Union organiser Alex Hannigan is described as ‘northerner Alex Halligan, a burly young trade union official’.
The northern men in this book so far have been described as ‘thickset’, ‘gruff, ‘burly’ and ‘Richard Burgon’.
Anyway, Corbyn wins the leadership election by a landslide, as we all know.

CHAPTER 3: GET A WASH YOU SMELLY BASTARD
Jones describes the Labour staffers who were trying to undermine Corbyn as a ‘cabal’.

Which, er, could be construed as a bit tropey. That is, if you use the ludicrous standards that many Corbyn critics did.
Andy McDonald is described as ‘a gently spoken man’ with a ‘strong north eastern lilt’.

Finally a description of a northern man that doesn’t make them sound like a brute.

Even so, his northernness is emphasised in a way the the ‘southernness’ of e.g. Lewis or Lansman isn’t.
Doesn’t this suggest that - again perhaps unconsciously - Jones sees southerners as normative and northerners as an aberration whose northernness is therefore remarkable?
(Perhaps it’s the fact McDonald is not, as Jones says, a ‘dyed in the wool Corbynite’ that spares him from being described as something like ‘a sturdy bruiser from the wilds of Parmo country’).
McDonald tells how the regular meetings of the PLP had a ‘vile’ atmosphere with Corbyn being traduced and attacked. McDonald himself was called a ‘thicko’ for trying to prevent one of Corbyn’s aides being ejected. Another MP screamed in Richard Burgon’s face that he was a ‘cunt’.
Says that in 2016, Corbyn wanted to call for the Tata steel plant in Port Talbot to be nationalised. But Angela Eagle resisted this as shadow BIS secretary - at least until Anna Soubry suggested it, at which point it apparently became a-okay for Eagle.
Corbyn’s anti-war views were the main schism between him and the PLP and they saw the 2015 vote on bombing Syria as a chance to relitigate Iraq.

‘Liberal interventionism’ was basically Homer Simpson’s airborne pig for them.

‘It’s just a little mass death! It’s still good!’.
Jones argues that the so-called Chicken Coup in 2016 actuality helped Corbyn because it ‘galvanized Corbyn’s base and fired up his increasingly disillusioned supporters’.

Hmm. Didn’t it also tank Labour in the polls for a year, after they’d been level or slightly ahead?
Jones says it was understood that winning the 2016 leadership election was ‘a second chance, that things at the top really did have to change. The problem was, they didn’t’.
CHAPTER 4: FUCKING STATE OF THEM SHOES
Jones criticises the quality of Corbyn’s speeches calling them ‘rambling’, ‘sprawling’ and ‘digressive’.
If I was an anti-imperialist socialist that the corporate media were fully intent on destroying as they chased me down the street, I simply would have disarmed them with ‘cheerful patter or banter’.
Jones decries Corbyn’s ‘transparent impatience with the media, combined with a dysfunctional communications operation’.

This narrative always seemed like bollocks to me. There was no way to get positive media coverage without giving up all the things that caused the hostility.
Jones criticises Corbyn for not singing the national anthem at an RAF memorial event.

I said at the time that this was a conservative argument from Owen Jones, disguised as pragmatism. A loyalty test to the established order and a sign you’ll subordinate yourself to it.
Jones has a habit of making this type of argument.

‘By refusing to behave in the subservient ways that establishment mores demand, you’re damaging the prospects for radical change!’
Jones says that John McDonnell, by contrast, ‘would avoid pointless controversies which delivered no political gains and only damaged the project’.

He denied that Blair was a war criminal while rehabilitating Alastair Campbell. But I guess that’s not ‘pointless controversy’.
Sounds to me like Jones wants socialist Labour leaders to dance to the right’s tune on issues that he doesn’t think are worth fighting over.
I’m stopping there for now because it’s just pissing me off.
Jones says that anti-imperialism can spill over into ‘whitewashing murderous regimes’, in the context of discussing Seamus Milne.

Again, when McDonnell was being criticised for whitewashing Blair’s murderous regime, what did Jones do? Call those critics ‘deranged’.
Jones can never seem to make his mind up whether whitewashing war criminals is disqualifying from the left or basically an irrelevance that distracts from more important things.

It’s another example of him letting the right dictate his moral and political reactions.
Seamus Milne is presented as poor a manager who showed little interest in anything outside of Brexit or international affairs and basically ignored his staff. Unless you were there, how can you really verify this? How do you know whether Jones is just axe grinding or not?
Also says the Corbyn project was ‘glaring in its lack of strategy’ and places the blame squarely at the door of Seamus Milne once again.

Milne is getting a rollicking from Jones here and no mistake.
Jones does concede that Milne had strengths and says there wasn’t anyone ‘obvious who had both the right politics and the right set of skills’ to do the job, because of the lefts years in the wilderness.
Jones calls Milne’s response to Salisbury ‘deeply damaging’ and quotes him as saying:

‘There is a history in relation to weapons of mass destruction and intelligence which is problematic, to put it mildly’.

I’d call that entirely uncontroversial.
The impression, again, is that Jones doesn’t think socialist Labour leaders should say anything on defence issues that might upset the press, no matter how reasonable those comments might be. Don’t try and change the common sense, essentially, because it gives them ‘ammunition’.
As long as people argue ‘Don’t say this true thing because the right will use it against you’ then the left will never secure progressive change on defence issues. And those issues will be used to undermine the left regardless. Conservatism disguised as pragmatism again.
Jones is now sailing close to red baiting, saying Corbyn was always closer to ‘tankies’ and ‘Trotskyists’ with their ‘absolute anti-imperialist politics’ than McDonnell was. And that Salisbury exposed a ‘deepening rift’ between them.
Jones says that McDonnell choosing to accept security service claims re: Salisbury at face value was ‘a clear example’ of his ‘tactical approach’.

Yes, not challenging power on these issues might indeed get you an easier ride. But that’s not tactical nous. It’s dereliction.
Jones is at least proving this tweet of mine correct:
Jones says that in 2016, Jon Lansman approached John McDonnell with a view to McDonnell taking over the leadership from Corbyn, much to McDonnell’s ‘chagrin’.
Jones tells how he himself started to lose faith in Corbyn in 2016, and thought about Clive Lewis taking over. Says that Lewis’ army service would ‘make him better placed to resist media smears about left-wing politicians hating Britain or posing a threat to national security’.
What about the danger that Clive Lewis - who participated in the occupation of Afghanistan and made some troubling remarks about shooting civilians - had presented to Afghans? Jones apparently doesn’t care: Image
Once again Jones betrays the essential superficiality of his analysis in describing one of Lewis’ credentials for the job as his being ‘photogenic, handsome even, someone you could imagine playing a prime minister in a fictional political drama’.
Clive Lewis, having invaded and occupied Afghanistan, wanted to know that he’d be protected if he shot civilians.

But hey, worra good looking fella he is!
Cat Smith also tried to get Corbyn to resign in 2016 while ‘Corbyn sat quietly, saying nothing, withdrawn’.
Jones suggests that Seamus Milne also sounded out Clive Lewis for the leadership in 2016, but that Milne ‘is emphatic that he never even considered Corbyn’s departure. Jones then says that ‘Whatever the case, nothing happened’.

Who to believe? Milne or Jones/Lewis?
Clear picture emerging that it wasn’t just the usual suspects tying to get rid of Corbyn in 2016. It was a number of his supporters and allies as well.
All this backroom cloak and dagger stuff trying to get Corbyn to resign, even while - as Jones admits - he was ‘supported overwhelmingly by the party’s grassroots’.

Doesn’t sound very democratic to me, whatever the rhetoric.
In summer 2016 Jones wrote his ‘Questions all Corbyn supporters must answer’ Medium blog, setting out his concerns about Corbyn’s leadership. He now says that his actions ‘could be construed as naïve – and they were – but were carried out in good faith’.
By 2016, Jones had worked for John McDonnell, helped to organise two Labour leadership campaigns and had been in and around Westminster Labour politics for a decade. So I’m not sure ‘naïveté’ cuts it. More likely he just shares some of the staid assumptions of Corbyn’s critics.
Jones next comments make clear that, rather than just being an observer of and commentator on Corbynism, he was part of the workings of its inner echelons. Says that ‘junior members of Corbyn’s team’ would visit his flat, where they’d argue about how to salvage Corbynism.
In early 2017 Jones was again talking to MPs about replacing Corbyn. This leaked to The Telegraph and ‘Corbyn’s key allies’ - of which we can surmise Jones wasn’t one - ‘were privately incandescent at what they saw as my manoeuvring’.

Lol at ‘what they saw as’.
Karie Murphy, in her ‘Glaswegian tones’, to Clive Lewis in 2017:

‘‘Word of advice . . . Wind Owen’s neck in, wind his fucking neck in, because if he doesn’t stop going on about it, I’m going to have to start believing you’re sanctioning it, OK?’.
Jones says that politics should not be seen as a soap opera, and that it’s about ‘competing social forces and conflicts between groupings in society with fundamentally different interests. But the role of individuals can be consequential, too’.

This is in reference to Murphy.
Jones quotes Andrew Fisher saying that Karie Murphy was ‘an extremely effective organiser’ and writes more generally about how she created and enforced clearly defined structures and roles within Corbyn’s office, which was needed.
On the other hand, he quotes another Corbyn aide comparing Murphy to Stalin:

‘I thought: this is how it happens, how Stalin happens. You start off with a decent vision and then it all ends up about your power. It blew my mind, the whole thing’.
CHAPTER 5: I HOPE HE DIDN’T TAKE MY ATTEMPTS TO DESTROY HIM TOO SERIOUSLY
Jones say that with calling of the 2017 general election ‘Corbynism had found its purpose, as an insurgent, take-on-the-elite populism: the people vs the establishment’.
Jones says that in 2017 the Lib Dems were hoping to win Remainer votes from Labour, but had ‘characteristically misunderstood the mood of the country by pledging a second referendum on Brexit’.

Meanwhile Labour targeted people who’d previously been non-voters.
The 2017 general election campaign saw the leadership team working well together, with ‘Milne refining the messages, Murphy making sure things happened and fighting internal opponents of their strategy, Fisher devising the manifesto’.
Jones tells how, during the 2017 campaign, some Labour MPs didn’t want Corbyn to visit their constituencies. One said that Corbyn visiting would lead to them ‘losing their seat, going bankrupt, and causing their father to die from grief’.

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1 Dec
George Monbiot continues to be an utter disgrace on Syria. Dismissing a story that is sourced to named and known OPCW inspectors as ‘conspiracy theory’ and ‘atrocity denial’ while he himself effectively covers up the atrocities his own government has committed in Syria.
I blogged about Monbiot’s silence on U.K. atrocities in Syria last year.

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interventionswatch.wordpress.com/2019/06/11/geo…
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