The Stephens essay is the perfect opportunity to re-post the Barber/Ganesh video, the title of which features the ‘soft left’, when what is at issue is the ‘hard left’ and the utter importance of the ‘centrists’ , which is, in fact, a defense of a center thoroughly colonized by the political contagion of Neo-Liberalism. But Owen Jones in the New Statesman, a source uncongenial to the FT readership, quotes BBC journalist Mark Mardell on the journalists who celebrate the ‘soft center’, represented here by Stephens, Barber and Ganesh: presenting themselves and their political allies as the only rational political actors:
Assessing the Corbyn campaign, the BBC journalist Mark Mardell was intriguingly candid. “It is hardly surprising that Westminster journalists crave the ideologically soft centre,” he writes. “None is on the minimum wage, let alone tax credits, nor are any, to my knowledge, owners of third homes on the Cayman Islands, or running big corporations. They are nearly all university educated and live in London or the South East of England (Yes, all that goes for me, too). There is group-think in the muddled middle, a fear of thinking outside a comfortable box.” Whatever their pretences, the BBC and many of its journalists will be among those attempting to undermine a Corbyn leadership.
Mr. Stephens’ agitprop is long on the mendacity, policy failures not to speak of the virulent political ugliness of the ‘left’ hard or soft:
The choice of Mr Corbyn as leader undoubtedly would be a startlingly self-destructive act for Labour. The veteran MP hails from a segment of the self-indulgent left that has always preferred to rail against US imperialism than to consider how to improve the life chances of ordinary folk. Never troubled by the choices of office, his frame is them versus us — the “them” being the rich, the powerful and, above all, the Americans, the “us” the oppressed peoples of Latin America or the Middle East.
More of the same:
His domestic policy platform consists of Venezuelan-style state direction of the economy: big tax hikes, nationalisations and more spending on everything except defence. Abroad, he would advocate withdrawal from Nato and, possibly, from the EU. Mr Corbyn’s visceral anti-Americanism is of the type that makes a hero of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.
The political breadth of Mr. Corbyn’s mendacity, according to the narrative confected by Stephens, wedded to a ruthless political ambition, elides all political categories. Yet for Tony Blair to represent what Labour might stand for takes an act of political amnesia, that is the legacy of Mrs. Thatcher: Another revelatory quote from the Jones essay:
But the troll right has been eclipsed by a far more savvy – and nervous – right. “Socialism represents an enduring temptation,” warned Margaret Thatcher in her memoirs. “No one should underestimate Labour’s potential appeal.” As her former chancellor, Geoffrey Howe, put it on her 80th birthday: “The real triumph was to have transformed not just one party, but two.” This was the sincerely held belief of the right’s iconic leader herself. As her close personal friend, Tory MP Conor Burns, told me, Thatcher once declared to a crowd of her supporters: “Our greatest achievement was Tony Blair. We forced our opponents to change.” New Labour’s acceptance of many of the underlying assumptions of Thatcherism was, in the view of Thatcher and her supporters, the crowning glory of their great crusade. Their project was safe, unchallenged, a new political consensus.
“Our greatest achievement was Tony Blair. We forced our opponents to change.”