We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Never has a reshuffle been so aptly named

The daft old beardy has been at it a day and a half now and the only person he’s managed to actually eject is the shadow Culture Secretary. No, wait, I’m wrong – news just coming in – Pat McFadden is also out!

Who?

Never mind. Some poor schmuck dim enough to once think a career in politics would be a good idea, sacked by a man who looks as if he would be happier if their roles were reversed. OK, Jeremy Corbyn will eventually finish reshuffling. It may happen while I am writing this post. I do hope it is soon. Much longer and he will be in danger of shuffling off this mortal coil himself. The results of the reshuffle will not rejuvenate either Mr Corbyn or the Labour party.

In one of the science fiction author Larry Niven‘s short stories it is mentioned that when teleportation booths were still very new, some naive people put the booths inside their houses. It didn’t take that many house clearances by teleporting burglars before people realised that might not be wise. I thought of that story when I first heard that Jeremy Corbyn was likely to be elected leader of the Labour party. Some have attributed his success to an imprudent decision by Ed Miliband to lower the cost of becoming a supporter of the Labour party to a paltry £3, which encouraged far-left entryists and not a few malicious Tories to vote for Corbyn. However that was only part of it – Corbyn also won among longstanding party members. The main factor in his victory was, as in Niven’s story, a technology whose consequences were not yet properly understood. That technology was social media. Facebook and Twitter were where the idea of joining the party as a supporter and voting for Corbyn, the outsider, the joke candidate, the perennial loser given a chance out of pity, went from snowball to avalanche. When the existing members saw the avalanche building they, too, were caught up in the excitement. Suddenly the quasi-revolutionary hopes of their younger days seemed possible once more.

I don’t think this conjunction of factors will ever happen again. Political parties the world over are quietly upping their membership fees, instituting probationary periods before a new member gets to vote on the leader, and deciding against open primaries. The example of the UK Labour Party has shown them the need for a wall between your house and the teleportation booth.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VKEmail this to someone

21 comments to Never has a reshuffle been so aptly named

  • Paul Marks

    Quite so Natalie.

  • Alsadius

    The example of the Progressive Conservatives in the Canadian province of Alberta is also instructive. They were a de-facto one-party state for 40 years, winning a healthy majority every time – not so many years ago, I remember hearing that the voters had given them a stern rebuke by dropping them to only having 2/3 of the seats. Populism being popular in Alberta, and the impression being that the leadership of the party was the real election, they dropped the barrier to entry to vote down to a $5 membership fee with no cutoff.

    When their long-time leader Ralph Klein retired, the open membership attracted a bunch of entryists to elect a squishy fellow leader of a formerly right-wing(by reputation, at least) party. He wasn’t terribly well-liked among the fiscally prudent sorts, so they grumbled and formed a couple minor parties to protest it, which got nowhere. He ran the province for a few years and quit, and the party(now shorn of a lot of its right-wing elements) elected an even squishier lady Premier. She drove up membership of the protest parties further, then her administration collapsed in a wonderful pile of scandals and another centrist got elected. This drove the protest parties(since merged into one) into a majority position in the polls, until their leader made a rather bizarre decision to cross the floor to the party hers existed to oppose, and her party actually went *up* in the polls as a result(she was popular until then, but the sheer opportunism of it pissed absolutely everyone off). In the election, the most right-wing province in the country actually elected a left-wing government, because the right was absolutely shattered by all those years of infighting, scandal, and stupidity. And it probably wouldn’t have happened if they’d let the leader get picked by actual members.

  • Laird

    Progressive Conservatives“?!? Someone was having a little fun with the dimwit electorate, right?

  • mike

    The Zoolanders aren’t exactly known for being “right wing” to begin with, so “progressive conservative” sounds about right.

  • In the election, the most right-wing province in the country actually elected a left-wing government, because the right was absolutely shattered by all those years of infighting, scandal, and stupidity.

    And boy, isn’t the oil industry going to be feeling that for years to come.

  • James Strong

    The reporting of Corbyn’s leadership is, frankly, a load of bollocks.
    Corbyn won and got the votes of long-standing Labour Party members as well as £3 supporters.
    Many people have joined the Labour Party SINCE his election.
    The alleged shambles of his reshuffle is nothing of the sort.
    It is largely made up by journalists who have become accustomed to getting easily digested hand-outs which they then present as ‘news’. Another factor is briefings from opponents worried about their position. Few journalists nowadays seem to do any digging to get a story.
    The front page of the Telegraph website today, Wednesday 6th, has a story about the shambles of Corbyn’s re-shuffle, the same story they have been running for days.
    They also have a story that Cameron has had to concede free campaigning on the EU referendum because he faced resignations from his cabinet.
    Now, it would be very easy to slant that story to make Cameron look weak and incompetent, with a split party that doesn’t trust him as has been done with Corbyn.
    There are lots of reasons to oppose Corbyn’s policies, but when you obviously distort the events, or ignore other events of similar type on the other side, you risk people dismissing more important points because of suspicion of vitriolic bias.
    To oppose an argument it’s better to go at the opponents’ strongest argument, not the weakest. And it’s better to do it with as little distortion as possible.

  • James Strong

    Now, how about an article on Obama weeping when talking about gun control? Emotive nonsense that has no place in policy-making.
    I heard a report on the radio that he was talking about a massacre at a primary school.
    The obvious point is that the massacre took place where the attacker knew that nobody would shoot back, because they didn’t have guns.
    Guns, in the hands of law-abiding citizens, are good.

  • James,
    Yesterday, whilst flicking, I watched a bit of Masterchef USA. Bringing on the waterworks and sob stories got at least two candidates through despite their very poor cooking. What has happened to the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave? One of them had a cute kid but unless that was on the menu then so what?

    It is way unlike the UK original where Monica Galetti would have torn them a new one. Having said that. At least one did present what looked like the contents of a used colostomy bag.

    My point is Masterchef USA used tears as lubricant to the next round and who can blame them when the President does the same.

  • Mr Ed

    Has anyone ever noticed government services improve as the result of a reshuffle? We are accustomed to some grinning faces emerging from Downing Street after some politician has been ‘promoted’ (Note that appointment to government is not a ‘promotion’ for an MP, appointed from one level of Minister to a higher level is a ‘promotion’). The job of a government minister and an MP are quite different, and how is an MP who is also a Minister expected to hold the government to account? Nothing ever changes with ministerial promotions, how many purges have there been of incompetents in the Home Office? None. Nothing ever happens, nothing changes with a reshuffle, except that for a day or two the media blather about it.

    When we move on to ‘Shadow’ appointments, the whole nonsense becomes writ large, as the ‘job’ is to stand up in Parliament and before the media and bleat about your hatred and loathing of your opponent, and the opponent’s ‘incompetence’ as you lust for the power denied to you by your opponent holding office.

    Can we not ask for the appointment to the Cabinet of a ‘White Yezhov‘ who would simply hand out P45s (pink slips, iirc, to our American friends) to the bulk of truly harmful or redundant public sector workers who are costing the country so much, and perhaps with the generous redundancy terms having been amended (or made liable to 105% income tax at source)?

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    James, I partly agree. I did note in my post that Corbyn didn’t just win by the votes of the £3 supporters but also won among longstanding party members, and in a minute I will edit the post to make that clearer. However for Corbyn to take as long as he did over the reshuffle was incompetent. You rightly say that “The front page of the Telegraph website today, Wednesday 6th, has a story about the shambles of Corbyn’s re-shuffle, the same story they have been running for days.” (and the same is true of the Guardian front page) – but for him to act so as to allow that story to sit on the front pages for days on end is incompetent. The perception that having started his reshuffle he lacked the support or the resolution to force it through in a timely manner will have taken root in the public mind. I think that perception is probably true, but it will be believed even if it is not true.

    In contrast I think Obama’s waterworks were extremely effective politics, unfortunately.

  • CaptDMO

    J. Strong- “Now, how about an article on Obama weeping when talking about gun control?”
    HEY! It was good enough to get Ms. Clinton a brief consolation prize as U.S. Secretary of State, once it became obvious that “FIRST NEGRO(ish) President” was deemed cooler than “FIRST unindicted WOMAN President”! (“competence, qualifications and experience” for EITHER, be DAMNED back then!)

    Let me just say THIS about politics, and politicians, outside the US!…
    OK, I got nothin’.

  • bob sykes

    Niven is also the inventor of “leading from behind,” which references the extreme cowardice of the Puppeteers (“Ringworld’) and their supreme leader “The Hindmost.”

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Obama’s tears were real enough, unless he is such a good actor as to be very evil indeed. Funnily enough, in the list of shootings he gave, he included the “workplace violence” case of Fort Hood, involving the shooting by an Islamist fanatic of fellow Army colleagues. Quite how the sort of controls Obama is looking for apply to this is beyond me.

    On topic: I am not sure to what extent changing membership rules and rights will improve things, at least not in the short run. A large chunk of people in the UK are, in my gentle view, raving mad, and think that the bearded one is just what the country needs. Almost a third of people polled say they’d vote for a Corbyn-led LP. That is, frankly, fucking terrifying.

  • PeterT

    Sad thing is though, the UK remains one of the relatively more sane places in the world. In France, their own version of Corbyn is President. Germany and Sweden are inviting disaster with their foolish immigration policy. And the US continues on its path towards becoming Brazil.

    The British just aren’t generally very good at extremism. Even Corbyn looks like he’d prefer a cup of tea to being at a rally.

  • Mr Ed

    To those who fear that all the Commies on Earth are working in unison against the West, I would like to point out that on the day that Mr Corbyn appoints as his Shadow Defence Secretary an anti-Trident former Trotskyite sister-in-law of a serving British Army Major-General, Lady Nugee (wife of a High court judge) aka Emily Thornberry, a barrister with an apparent aversion to white van men and the flag of St George, North Korea seems not to have got the memo about disarmament being in vogue, as it claims to have tested a Hydrogen bomb, although it might be merely a boosted fission weapon.

    Or don’t the Lefties care any more?

  • Runcie Balspune

    I swear I saw Jez and Di whizz by on a bike during the first episode of Deutschland 83.

  • In contrast I think Obama’s waterworks were extremely effective politics, unfortunately.

    Oh, Obama knows all about effective politics. What he doesn’t know the first thing about is governance. Politics is what gets you elected, governance is what you are supposed to do once elected.

  • Obama’s tears were real enough, unless he is such a good actor as to be very evil indeed.

    Men should not cry unless they witness the extreme suffering of somebody they hold very dear, or somebody very close and dear to them dies. Then they are permitted to shed one tear, two at the most, in private. Obama’s tears were real enough, they were just of the crocodile variety.

  • PeterT

    Misjudged your limits
    Pushed you too far
    Took you for granted
    I thought that you needed me more

    Now I would do most anything
    To get you back by my side
    But I just
    Keep on crying
    showing the tears in my eyes

    Prize for identifying the song (slightly amended) and context appropriateness.

  • lucklucky

    “Sad thing is though, the UK remains one of the relatively more sane places in the world. In France, their own version of Corbyn is President. ”

    You are wrong. No England is not one of the relatively sane places in the world.
    There is no comparison of a Communist like Corbyn with a petulant champagne Socialist like Holland. With the first you get the Gulag and empty stores if he gets the power.

    “To those who fear that all the Commies on Earth are working in unison against the West, I would like to point out…”
    Did you not notice the commies defending Cuba poverty at same time they criticize it in west? did you not notice they praise Soviet/Russia wars while the condemn those of West? did you didn’t notice…

  • Mr Ed

    Did you not notice the commies defending Cuba poverty at same time they criticize it in west? did you not notice they praise Soviet/Russia wars while the condemn those of West? did you didn’t notice…

    I have noticed both. It’s just that the Norks seem not to care if they make it too obvious what they are up to and are about.