Michael Rosen’s 10-point Guide to Labour Leadership Candidates

JVL Introduction

Michael Rosen offers advice to some of the candidates we are likely to see emerging from the woodwork.

Concede everything, blame Corbyn, blame the policies, support war, blame the socialists, blame the antisemites in the Labour party, keep the education system as it is. Above all, don’t say anything that might suggest you believe in anything that differentiates you from the Tories.

This article was originally published by michaelrosenblog on Tue 17 Dec 2019. Read the original here.

My 10-point Guide to Labour Leadership Candidates

1. The Economy: if you’re asked about why ‘Labour crashed the economy’ – concede everything. Apologise profusely. Say, ‘Yes we did.’ Smile weakly. Agree if the interviewer makes out ‘there was no money left.’ Agree that it was ‘necessary’ to ‘get things right’ and ‘tough decisions had to be made’ and perhaps ‘we were in the wrong place to put them right at the time.’

Don’t ever point out that in fact it wasn’t the ‘economy’ (in the sense  of the government’s finances) that had ‘crashed’. It was the bankers’ who wouldn’t or couldn’t lend money any more. Never point out that the UK is a currency-issuing economy. Never point out that the government has been issuing billions of what they call ‘quantitative easing’ which has the net effect of making the super-rich richer by increasing the value of their assets.

Don’t make a big deal out of ‘inequality’. Instead, cite the misleading statistics on the inequality of pay. These ignore the inequality of wealth which factors in ‘assets’ e.g. property.

Never mention trade unions. It has been shown that a unionised workforce is able to squeeze a little bit more wages out of the system, alongside better work safety, guaranteed breaks, improvements of working conditions. Never ever mention this. Let interviewers talk about ‘union barons’ and smile weakly.

Never mention ‘nationalisation’. Give that up. All of it. Right away. If power firms, railway companies, water companies, the postal service or any other part of the economy is doing a rubbish job and ripping off people, on no account suggest that nationalisation might be a possible solution. Keep talking about ‘responsible business’ or some cack about ‘a new kind of capitalist’.

The amount of national debt in proportion to the GDP is worrying some economists. You can mention this but if anyone says that you talking about this is ‘damaging confidence’, clam up and smile weakly.  The amount of private debt created by the Tories in order to make up for weak demand is getting to a point where some in the financial community are getting a teensy bit worried that the old domino effect could strike again: a bank in some part of the world system might shut its doors and then another and another and we’re back in 2008. The fact that this is finance capitalism being finance capitalism must never be mentioned by you. You must keep up the pretence that this is some kind of present difficulty in what is really a perfect system. Talk about ‘regulation’ and ‘responsible banking’ as if that could or would solve anything.

If the whole financial system collapses, blame Russia, China, Iran and Jeremy Corbyn.

2. Foreign policy. You are just allowed to say that perhaps the Iraq War was not ideal (don’t mention the millions of deaths, rise and rise of terrorist groups)  but there are no other wars that you can say were wrong. You should talk as if ‘Britain’ (never say ‘UK’) has to ‘help sort out’ anything going on anywhere so long as the US thinks it’s right to do so. Clearly, Iran needs to be ‘sorted out’ next,  so say so. Never question the right of ‘Britain’ to do so. When the media machine gets going explaining why some country (any country) is the greatest threat the world has ever known, agree with this. Smile weakly. Point out that this is ‘patriotic’. Talk about something called ‘Britain’s standing in the world’ as if you’re talking about Queen Victoria being crowned Empress of India.  Talking of Queens, always say the Queen is wonderful. And so is the Royal Family. Nick Boris Johnson’s phrase ‘beyond reproach’. Mention that your mother loves Prince William.

3. The Election defeat. Make absolutely clear that there was only one cause for this: Corbyn. Never admit that any move over Brexit that he put forward came as a result of something your group pushed him into. On no account let anyone make comparisons of the popular vote: Brown (less than Corbyn), Miliband (less than Corbyn). Never make the point that the Labour Party hasn’t actually disappeared and that 10 million people voted for a Corbyn-led Labour Party this time and 12 million last time.

Keep saying the manifesto was a mistake. Don’t go into details. Begin sentences with, ‘I just think that…’

43 out of the 59 constituencies that went from Labour to Tory were in Leave seats. On no account mention this. Don’t mention the fact that probably, once Johnson came back with a deal, the game was up for Labour.

What you have to keep saying is ‘we’re listening to people’s concerns’. Be very clear that this isn’t anything to do with poverty caused deliberately by the Tories. That’s much too confrontational. ‘Listening to people’s concerns’ means you visiting somewhere for the TV and  letting people on camera or on the radio ramble on at you for hours about how they aren’t racist but the trouble is that immigrants have cut their wages, getting council houses, putting pressure on the national health and talking loudly on buses. On no account point out that poverty, housing shortage and an under-funded NHS were created by the Tory government through austerity as a deliberate part of cutting the role of the state and them (not immigrants) trying to create a cheaper labour force. You must never ever say this.

4. Antisemitism. You will be asked about ‘antisemitism in the Labour Party’. This is good. You will not be asked about ‘antisemitism in society’, or ‘antisemitism in the Tory Party’, so you must not mention these either. There is only ‘antisemitism in the Labour Party’. Concede everything. On no account question whether any report or account was in any way exaggerated, distorted. You must not mention the fact that when Johnson was elected as leader of the Tory Party, every journalist in every newspaper knew that he had been editor of the Spectator and had edited ‘Taki’ who regularly poured out antisemitic jibes in his column for Johnson or on his own blog or other publications. Don’t mention that not a single one of these journalists mentioned this. Don’t say that  you are in any way concerned by Rees-Mogg and his antisemitic jibes about ‘illuminati’ and Soros, his retweeting of a tweet from the Alternativ für Deutschland or that he has hung out with far right groups. Don’t on any account mention the links between the Tory MEPs and far-right groups in Europe. Don’t mention that Boris and Orban (antisemite) appear to get along very nicely. On no account dig up anything on the way that Dominic Cummings talks about Goldman Sachs – it’s almost identical to the way antisemites used to talk about Rothschild. Just keep saying sorry for ‘antisemitism in the Labour Party’ as if it’s the first, last and only presence of antisemitism in the UK today. Always refer to ‘the Jewish community’ as if it is one monolithic entity all thinking and living in more or less the same way, even though it’s a teeny bit antisemitic to say so. It’s the kind of antisemitism that no one notices so it doesn’t matter.

5. Israel.  Remember Ed Miliband – he suggested that one way to get the ‘Peace Process’ going again was for the UK to recognise a Palestinian state before negations. He was immediately vilified, Maureen Lipman left the Labour Party and, apparently, thousands of Jews followed her. Miliband was, according to the Jewish Chronicle ‘toxic’. On no account repeat Ed’s proposal. Talk about the ‘peace process’ as if it’s a real thing. You can frown in a caring sort of a way about the West Bank and Gaza but on no account propose anything concrete or useful. Accept that all problems in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza are caused by Palestinians.

6. Brexit. You’re stuffed. There will either be a very hard Brexit or a very very hard no-deal Brexit. Remember, no one understands trade deals, nor do you. Keep saying phrases like ‘the very best for Britain’. It doesn’t mean anything because something can be, say, the very best for bankers and it’s absolutely no good for working people. The advantage of keeping going on about ‘Britain’ is that it feeds into people’s sense of entitlement and special status as Brits in the world.

7. Education. Don’t disagree with the academy and free schools programme. Don’t make a fuss about unaccountable academy management siphoning off millions. On no account oppose grammar schools. These offer the illusion that they are good for the poor because a tiny percentage of poor people go to them. Never describe the schools that are not grammar schools as  ‘Sec Mods’. Keep calling them High Schools and do the ‘progressive’ bit by saying that there are teachers in High Schools who are doing a fantastic job. This has the advantage of being both patronising and unnecessary and completely misses the point that the people you will call the ‘disadvantaged’ are disadvantaged by grammar schools.

8 Social mobility. This is going to be one of your big ones. Keep going on about social mobility. On no account mention the fact that there are 3 key motors that prevent social mobility: inherited wealth, private education and inherited wealth. To mention these is class war. Don’t do it.  In fact, social mobility also accepts the idea that there must be and will always have to be the very poor, not quite so poor, the fairly poor, the not poor, the quite well off, the very well off and the eyewatering obscenely super-rich. All we can hope for, you point out, is that a few people might move up from one of these layers to another. On no account mention that someone must move down for someone else to move up – assuming the numbers stay the same. In other words, social mobility means society immobility. No change. Keep going on about social mobility as if it’s a really progressive alternative radical idea. Mention the fact that your grandfather was poor, you are not and it’s all down to ‘social mobility’. Never mention the role of the expansion of the economy over the last 100 years as a factor.

9. Immigration.  The best plan here is to agree with everything that the Tories do. They will probably fill the airwaves with anti-immigrant rhetoric mixed with how wonderful certain individual migrants have been. Just copy this. They will say that they’re going to follow the Australian system, so you should either agree or find another country – Canada or New Zealand (somewhere with a largely white government and English-speaking) – and say that we could follow what they do. The election has shown that not challenging anti-immigrant rhetoric leads many people to think that immigrants have caused their poverty which then in turn leads them to vote for the very people who have made them poor.  You must not make this point.

10. Housing. The last Labour Governments could have created a fantastic legacy of social housing. Gordon Brown muttered as much himself as he was leaving office. You could try to say one or two things about social housing but it generally reeks of ‘old socialism’, so avoid it.  In order to sound modern and forward looking, you need to say things like ‘we’re looking into exciting forms of shared partnerships’ or ‘we’re talking with business about how to get more affordable homes on to the market’. The great thing about the word ‘affordable’ is that it sounds like anyone and everyone can ‘afford’ the housing that’s ‘affordable’. They can’t. It’s complete nonsense but you must go on using the word anyway.

PS That’s all for now. Come back to me for more in a few days time.

Comments (22)

  • Jaye says:

    Just when I’d concluded that JVL is totally humourless, Michael Rosen saves the day. Kol Hakavod.

  • Jim KABLE says:

    Hi, Michael: I’ve just been forwarded this by a friend In Melbourne. Your sense of irony is so refreshing – it almost (almost, I say) makes one forget the ugliness meted out to Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party and thus for the citizens and the frightful days ahead for the UK (oops! Britain) under the Brexiteer Boris. Long may you keep up your guidance.

  • Mary Davies says:

    Thank you Michael Rosen for this brilliant satire. You have your finger on the pulse.

  • Robert Bleeker says:

    1. Marvellous – and I hope through the chosen format of obliterating satire, even more effective to stick in the minds of the audience – and all-inclusive analyses of the main factors that led to the dramatic electoral loss of UK Labour at the hands of the many omnipresent dark forces, mentioned in the contribution above.

    2. Dark forces from within and from outside the party (including even individuals from the UK security and military institutions, and even including the usual powerful, covertly and ingeniously operating dark forces from outside the UK, as Rosen rightfully identified), that wanted to prevent at all cost (because of a range of dark multi-political motives) that Corbyn – or someone of his specific political persuasion, if you look for example at the tragic political fate, that his predecessor Miliband struck at the 2015 campaign – to become the next prime minister.

    3. The net result of course being that another western country has fallen prey to the cynical anti-democratic forces of racism and fascism, that are flushing all over our so-called free world, like an all-consuming tsunami.

    4. No doubt, many champagne corks will have been filling the airspace of certain government buildings in cities like Washington, Budapest, Warsaw and Tel Aviv last Thursday night (not to speak of all those buildings that do harbour those many sinister Extreme Right organisations, that have not yet been officially established and installed).

    5. Furthermore, we simply have to conclude now, that ultimately both our political and the ecological climate(s) are at stake these days, and the progressive forces of our world will have to fight on both fronts simultaneously and fight with (at least) the same rigor and determination as the extreme right, that is trying to slowly but certainly conquer their destructive power over our future.

    6. More in particular : The constructive and assertive left will have to adopt a (considerably) more aggressive approach (both politically, intellectually, ideologically and tactically) in this vital encounter than ever before, for this time the fight is about our very mental, spiritual, as well as about our very physical well-being.

    7. In fact this dual fight – climate denying ‘Judeo-Christian’ white-supremacists more specifically do most literally speak of an all decisive (race) war – will appear to be an existential matter of mere survival, so in the end this fight – apart from the ongoing struggles about our political culture and ditto national and international orientation – will be a matter of to-be-or-not-to-be for mankind (and for many more living beings in our vulnerable earthly biosphere).

    8. Be prepared and vigilant, for If there has been one thing, that we will have to be learning from the recent highly divisive election campaigns in the UK, the USA and other countries, it will be, that we shall not make any mistake this time, about (under-estimating) the very preparedness, tactics and radius of our opponents.

    9. Make no mistake, for the extreme right – world-wide handsomely financed and broadly facilitated otherwise by big economic, ideological and political special interest groups, like the Koch Brothers, the Murdoch and Adelson/Mercer/Singer imperia for example – is more motivated and better equipped than ever before.

    10. Better motivated and better equipped, to finally and fundamentally demolish the precious contemporary democratic experiments – based as they (still) are, on Universal / Equal Human Rights, rather than on highly selective and discriminatory ethnically and/or physically originated criteria – that we have been pursuing in the west over the last century or so (and possibly even demolishing our human habitat in the process).

    11. As we might have noticed in recent times : The neo-totalitarians (not unlike their predecessors) will show no mercy whatsoever to – dissent from their own ranks, let alone from the ranks of – their ideological advisories.

    12. Many thanks again to Michael Rosen, and I suspect, that his next contribution – “Come back to me for more in a few days time“ – will be another piece of literary art, like a poem on the subject of political warfare (culminating into war-poetry even, to keep it all in style).

  • Patricia Grimes says:

    I love the format. Each point clearly describes what we have been hearing in the media. Robotic comments designed to brainwash the public. So sad. Love your poetry.

  • Stephen Rice says:

    11. Never digest a sentence with more than three words in it.

  • Perfect! Thanks for cheering me up on a dismal morning in dark times.

  • Sarah T says:

    Bravo! I applaud you. Sharing far and wide

  • Akilah Akinola says:

    Absolutely brilliant 👏🏾👏🏾

  • Wenonah Lyon says:

    Yes, it’s funny. Except I’ve heard some candidates for the leadership making similar statements.

  • G M says:

    Michael … why aren’t you PM, you’d be fantastic.

  • Jaey says:

    Heart wrenchingly true Michael. We need more of you to even begin to cope now.

  • Thank you Michael for telling the truth. A rare commodity.

  • Suzy Croft says:

    Thank you so much. This really cheered me up. I feel there are such dark days ahead. Yours is a voice of sanity.

  • Val says:

    Painfully brilliant

  • Sarah Glynn says:

    Nail on head. But I’m worried some people will take at face value…

  • Joseph says:

    Tatiana McGrath has _so much_ to learn from your writing.

  • Barry Connolly says:

    Thank you so much for this, Mr Rosen. It’s wonderful.

  • michael coughtrey says:

    Missng a reference to the 50,000 mentally ill in prison instead of hospital.

  • angharad joseph says:

    Thank you Michael; really clear and perceptive piece that’s both hilarious and depressing!

  • Leslie Dawes says:

    Nicely put Michael. I will try and remember all these points while canvassing for the Labour Party at the next election.

  • Phil Gray says:

    Wonderfully and hilariously put, as ever. As things currently stand, vis-a-vis MSM and the party currently in office, Labour will need to follow Michael’s ten-point plan to the letter if they are ever to regain power. Thank you!

Comments are now closed.