Daily catch-up: a fortnight in the history of the Labour Party

Our chief political commentator returns with some of the things worth reading over the past two weeks

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The Independent Online

A lot has happened since I went away two weeks ago. The main thing in British politics being that the Labour Party has in effect ceased to exist.

We should have realised this when YouGov published what has been so far the only public opinion poll of Labour members and registered and affiliated supporters, on 22 July. It showed Jeremy Corbyn ahead of Andy Burnham after transfers by 53 to 47 per cent. That lead is within the margin of error, and within the margin of differential enthusiasm: Corbyn supporters being, I assume, more likely to be on YouGov’s panel and to take part in surveys.

Since then, however, the recruitment of £3 supporters has probably been overwhelmingly in Corbyn’s favour.

But it takes time to adjust to such a momentous change. It wasn’t until I read Stephen Bush’s article in the New Statesman two weeks ago that I realised Corbyn’s victory was likely.

So there I was on holiday, reading Nick Thomas-Symonds’s biography of Clement Attlee (photo of him as Prime Minister in 1946, above: Getty) and contemplating an indefinite future without an electorally competitive Labour Party.

Corbyn’s supporters accuse centrist Labour sympathisers of sneering, patronising or worse when they suggest that their candidate would lead the party to almost certain defeat at the next election, but that may be because they fear that we are right.

As for their hero Attlee, as Nick Bew says, he would have detested Corbyn.

• While I was away, my interview with Paul Mason appeared in The Independent on Sunday magazine, The New Review. Mason, economics editor of Channel 4 News, has just published Postcapitalism, which might set out some of the ideology of the Corbyn campaign. A second part of the interview is here, and Mason’s response to my scepticism about his use of the term neoliberalism is here and here.

• Finally, thanks to Moose Allain for this from a while ago and for this, yesterday:

“Just won an award for being taciturn. I know that’s not saying much.”