How to share your work and grow an online presence.
🔍 Key Takeaways
Don’t worry about career/money. Share what you love, you have nothing to lose.
People enjoy seeing creative processes. Share your work rather than just the finished product.
Share something about your each day that someone could find helpful, interesting or entertaining. Create a personal website to store your work.
Share influences, and always give proper credit.
Become a better storyteller, think about structure.
Share your knowledge and tips. It will generate interest in your work and feedback.
Take an active interest in other people’s work. Don’t become human spam. Decide what is worth interacting with using the Vampire Test.
React positively to constructive criticism, but don’t engage with trolls.
Don’t let lack of progress dissuade you from working. Success is often gained only by sticking things out in the long run.
What I Liked About It
Clear, often practical instructions on how best to share your work.
What I Didn’t Like About It
Book is short and could be seen to lack depth. Make up with supplementary reading.
Who Should Read This Book?
Anyone who wants to grow their online presence and for their work to reach a larger audience. I think it would be especially useful to people who have a lot of work in progress, perhaps lacking finished products they’re completely satisfied with.
Concept of Scenius: Great things, even if usually attributed to one person, are often the result of group effort (can be interpreted as wide as simply being influenced by another’s work). Think of contributing in terms of a community. Internet makes it easy to contribute to scenius.
Be An Amateur: Amateurs create out of passion, have little to lose. Not afraid to make mistakes.
“The Best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others… Don’t worry, for now, about how you’ll make money or a career off it… Share what you love, and the people who love the same things will find you.”
“The only way to find your voice is to use it.”
Quote from Steve jobs: Remembering I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked.
2: Think Process, Not Product
Due to the internet/social media, you can show your work (or rather, lack of) at any stage in the process. People like seeing creative processes. Become a documentarian of what you do.
“How can you share your work even if you have nothing to show? The first step is to scoop up the scraps and residue of your process and shape them into some interesting bit of media you can share.”
3: Share Something Small Every Day
“Once a day… find one little piece of your process that you can share. Where you are in that process will determine what that piece is. If you’re in the very early stages, share your influences and what’s inspiring you. If you’re in the middle of executing a project, write about your methods or share works in progress. If you’ve just completed a project, show the final product, share scraps from the cutting-room floor, or write about what you learned.” You can always find time for this if you look for it.
Can be in the form, of tweet, blog posts, YouTube clip etc etc. Don’t worry about it being perfect, learn from it.
Don’t be afraid to jump onto a new platform to see if you can use it to your advantage.
“The act of sharing is one of generosity – you’re putting something out there because you think it might be helpful or entertaining to someone on the other side of the screen”
Test: If unsure about post, put it away for 24 hours and look again. Could someone find it helpful, or entertaining?
Create stock, content that will still be useful to someone in a couple months for instance.
Create personal website. A location where people can always find you or your work.
4: Open Up Your Cabinet of Curiosities
Influences are always worth sharing. They help tell people who you are.
“If you share the work of others, it’s your duty to ensure that the creators of that work get proper credit.”
Always link to creator’s website. Don’t share things you can’t properly credit.
5: Tell Good Stories
“Human beings want to know where things came from, how they were made, and who made them. The stories you tell about the work you do have a huge effect on how people feel what they understand about your work, and how people feel and what they understand about your work affects how they value.”
“Personal stories can make the the complex more tangible, spark associations, and offer entry into things that otherwise might leave one cold.”
“If you want to be more effective when sharing yourself and your work, you need to become a better storyteller. You need to know what a good story is and how to tell one.”
Structure: First act is past, second is present, third is future.
Bios: Around two sentences, short and sweet. Don’t use adjectives, stick to facts.
6: Teach What You Know (Share Your Trade Secrets)
What have you learned in your process than could be shared with the people you’re trying to reach?
“The minute you learn something, turn around and teach it to others. Share your reading list. Point to helpful reference materials. Create some tutorials and post them online. Use pictures, words, and video. Take people step-by-step through part of your process.”
“When you teach someone how to do your work, you are, in effect, generating more interest in your work.”
When you share your work/knowledge, you receive an education in return through feedback.
7: Don’t Turn Into Human Spam
You have to take an active interest in other’s work in the field. E.g. writers who want to get published in journals they don’t bother to read are disadvantaged.
Don’t be human spam: people who only want to be heard, and don’t listen. Interested only in their own work, they just want fans, not collaborators.
Good work isn’t created in a vacuum, and creating art is a two-way experience incomplete without feedback.
Creators can hang out online and answer questions, ask for reading recommendations, or simply chat about stuff they love.
“If you want fans, you have to be a fan first. If you want to be accepted by a community, you first have to be a good citizen of that community. If you’re only pointing to your own stuff online, you’re doing it wrong.”
“If you want followers, be someone worth following”. What makes you interesting?
“Make stuff you love and talk about stuff you love and you’ll attract people who love that sort of stuff. It’s that simple”
On who you interact with
The Vampire Test:“If, after hanging out with someone you feel worn out and depleted, that person is a vampire. If, after hanging out with someone you still feel full of energy, that person is not a vampire.” Allow people to be parts of your life accordingly. The same test can be applied to jobs, hobbies, places etc.
8: Learn to Take a Punch
How to take punches:
Relax and breathe. Fear is often the imagination taking a bad turn. Bad criticism is not the end of the world. Recommends meditation.
Strengthen your neck. The more punches you take, the better you’ll be at taking them.
Roll with the punches. Good criticism is an opportunity for growth. You can’t control what criticism you receive, but you can control how you react.
Protect your vulnerable areas. If you have work that is too sensitive to you to be exposed to criticism, keep it hidden. But remember – “Compulsive avoidance of embarrassment is a form of suicide” – Colin Marshall
Keep your balance. Your work is something you do, not who you are. Good criticism of it is not a critique of yourself.
Don’t feed the trolls. Be wary of feedback from people who care neither about you, nor your work/field. **”A troll is a person who isn’t interested in improving your work, only provoking you with hateful, aggressive, or upsetting talk. You will gain nothing by engaging with these people. Don’t feed them, and they’ll usually go away.” Block trolls and delete their comments.
9: Sell Out
When an audience gathers for your work, consider turning them into patrons. Add links, donate buttons. Human copy does well here, “buy me a coffee”.
Only do this when you truly believe your work is worth something monetary.
Make and keep adding to a mailing list. An email cuts to people better than hoping they see your posts.
10: Stick Around
Often succeeding in a field is due to sticking it out long enough. Don’t let lack of progress make you give up.
Successful creators are usually always working, using their past projects as inspiration and learning from them.
“Just do the work that’s in front of you, and when it’s finished, ask yourself what you missed, what you could’ve done better, or what you couldn’t get to, and jump right into the next project.”
However, always take ‘sabbaticals’, time off work to let your mind wander. For instance, when commuting, exercising, or in nature.
“Look for something new to learn, and when you find it, dedicate yourself to learning it out in the open. Document your progress and share as you go so others can learn along with you. Show your work, and when the right people show up, pay close attention to them, because they’ll have lot to show you.”
With their debut mixtape, Sad Night Dynamite have carved their own space in the upcoming British musical sphere. Hailing from Glasgow, the duo of Josh Greacen and Archie Blagden grew up together, and continued making music despite their separation when they went to different universities. Thankfully, this long-running chemistry shines through.
The opening track Icy Violence is a promising start to the album, with its chilled synths and reggae-tinged vocals transporting you to environment where discussion of violence seems almost casual. The duo’s clever wordplay is also on full display here, and clever lyrics; such as referring to a “handsome man with ugly features”, are wry and charming. Such interesting wordplay often falls apart in other places. The track Krunk, and its continuous references to a “famous titty”, can grow stale fast. It is truly in their production where the boys shine. Krunk, despite its lyrics uses a compelling distorted vocal sample in its beat which gives the track significantly more drive and personality.
A downside to the album however is the songs, bar Skully, (a depressing homage to the boy’s hometown), don’t tell a coherent story. This is disappointing, as Skully proves the boys have a knack for gritty, gripping storytelling. Additionally, wearing their influences so abundantly on their sleeve gives the project too many clear moments of derision. The most notable of this being the Gorillaz tinged flair of the synths and distorted vocal delivery. It’s a criticism the duo take in stride, in an interview referring to some of their songs as “Gorillaz-y stuff”, however this doesn’t prevent the tracks feeling familiar. Ultimately though, the duo’s often stellar production and vibrant instrumentation mean this is a very promising start for artists with the potential to make waves. They just have to emphasise their own identity first.
Interview with a Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles (try saying that quickly), received a lukewarm reception upon its release in 1994. The gothic sets, period costumes, and ghoulish makeup may fool viewer’s into believing the film is a typical, gothic-horror thriller, and it’s more literal implications can be smothered behind the beauty of the design. However, this a story of domestic abuse, told from the perspective of the survivor. A man coerced into a relationship, victimised for years, before finding the inner strength to to move on from their trauma and avoid the trappings of abuse in the future.
When we first meet Louis, he is a broken man. Suffering from the death of his wife and child, Louis gives into vice, viewing death as a relief from his current existence. It is in this despair that Lestat (the abuser) first recognises Louis as something he can make his own, and mould in his image. While never explicit or directly referenced, the companionship between Louis and Lestat is undoubtedly homoerotic in nature. Their dialogue refers to them as a couple, Lestat refers to them as ‘parents’ later in the film, and if you still don’t believe me:
So, they’re in a relationship and should be considered as such. If you want to believe they’re just two really close dudes who happen to live together, and adopt a daughter together because they’re just such good mates…. ok.
Abusers often target people they see as vulnerable. It is notable that the first time Lestat bites Louis, it’s presented romantically with Lestat as Louis’s saviour. Lestat saves Louis from a mugger, before lifting him in his arms into the sky, the score swelling as Louis gazes at the sky, his face relaxed in ecstasy. This fits into the theme of domestic abuse, as victims are often lulled into a false sense of security by the perpetrators. The second bite, where Lestat turns Louis into a vampire, is filmed far differently. The mise-en-scene is dark and gritty in comparison to the warm lighting of their first encounter. When Louis gives Lestat consent, the eroticism of the previous scene is gone. Lestat, no longer needing to win over Louis with promises of a better life, changes. Rather than lift Louis into the air, Lestat strikes Louis and forcibly pins him to the ground, Louis yelling in pain as opposed to pleasure. The visual symbolism for what is happening is obvious. Abuse done under the guise of previously attained consent is something some victims will sadly be aware of as a justification by perpetrators for their behaviour.
As the film continues, the symptoms of coercion and abuse are magnified. At first, Louis describes his rejuvenation and newfound strength following his turning, and the start of his journey with Lestat. This is relatable to many who experience feelings of elation when beginning a new relationship. However, Lestat’s view of who Louis should be starts to erase his identity. When Lestat imposes his lifestyle of killing innocents onto Louis, Louis resists, yet doesn’t have the internal conviction to leave the relationship. Later, when he gives into Lestat’s berating and bites a young woman, Louis sets fire to his home in a fit of loathing, for both Lestat and himself. Louis collapses in the fire, accepting death, before Lestat returns to drag him out of the flames. It is clear that Louis would rather destroy himself than leave Lestat.
The conflict between theme comes to a head in the film’s most harrowing scene. In a hotel room, Lestat mutilates two prostitutes while Louis stands on the balcony, back turned to the crime as he tries to focus the city skyline. It’s clear he has become numb to his partner’s abhorrent actions, and allows them to happen, even if without his partaking. When Lestat tortures one of the prostitutes, and encourages Louis to finish her, Louis questions why he does such callous acts. Lestat replies “because I enjoy it”, before stating “do not doubt, you are a killer, Louis”. Lestat then gives an ultimatum, if Louis cannot kill her, he should turn her into one of them. Louis’ adamant refusal is very revealing – he deems being turned into a vampire, as what Lestat has did to him, as a fate worse than death. In the context of the film being an allegory for domestic abuse, Louis is aware of his mistreatment by his partner.
It is notable that Lestat refers to his turning of Louis into a vampire as a ‘dark gift’, on multiple occasions. Through the metaphor of Lestat’s turning actual being his consolidation of dominance over Louis, it is a key indicator of psychological abuse. Often abusers manipulate their victims into believing that the abuser’s attention and mistreatment is for their own good. For instance, when Louis first lashes out at Lestat for pushing him to kill humans, Lestat mocks him, and states “remember, life without me would be even more unbearable”.
It is only with the intervention by an external force, their adopted daughter, Claudia, that Louis is able to break free of his abuser’s control. Claudia recognises Lestat’s domineering behaviour and seemingly kills him in order to gain independence for both herself and Louis. Lestat survives however, and returns to murder Claudia, his body and looks rotted and deformed from being thrown in a swamp. It is in this scene that Louis finally acts against his abuser, and Lestat’s awful appearance represents Louis seeing his partner for his true self, a monstrous dominator. Louis’ use of fire throughout the film represents his growth away from Lestat. In the first instance, Louis burned down his surroundings, and ultimately himself gave himself to the fire as a futile act of defiance against his misery. Here instead, he has now fully understood the root cause of his suffering. He sets Lestat, his abuser, alight. The trigger for this being the protection of his daughter demonstrates that Louis now has a support system, and responsibilities, aside from his relationship, a key help for a victim distancing themselves from an abusive partnership.
The remainder of the film demonstrates Louis’ growth and unwillingness to yet again become a victim of abuse, in the face of vampires with similar motivations as Lestat. For instance, the character of Armand (Antonio Banderas) allows Claudia to be killed, in part to make Louis more vulnerable to his seduction, but also to have sole control over his prospective partner. He then offers companionship to Louis, who refuses, being able to recognise the symptoms of abuse. Following this, Louis visits a decaying, weakened Lestat, who asks Louis to become his partner again. Louis, again, says no.
Ultimately, Louis’ intention in giving the interview is clear, he wants to prevent others from embarking on his path, choosing a life that while exciting and fulfilling on the surface, leads to the erosion of one’s identity, and a dependency that can take great strength to break free from. Being turned into a vampire is largely used as a metaphor for entering an abusive relationship. As a result, at the film’s conclusion it is easy to understand Louis’ disappointment when his interviewer asks to become a vampire, “I’ve failed, haven’t I?”.
The rise and fall of Corbynism. From around 2015 – 2019.
🔍 Key Takeaways
Party had shifted away from socialist policies due to Blairism
Corbyn elected by membership to show support for further Left ideals
Corbynism gave fragmented activist groups a common cause
Miliband wanted more social change but confined by Blairite faction. However, bridged gap to Corbyn
Labour being against Scottish independence caused mass defection of Scottish voters to SNP
Poor management in leadership office. No plan upon appointment. Director of Strategy and Communications Seumas Milne didn’t conduct proper media schedule/plan. Executive Director Karie Murphy, while effective, allegedly created toxic workplace. Corbyn avoided conflict
PLP and Labour HQ largely opposed to Corbyn, harmed party effectiveness. Did not support his policies, alienating pro-Corbyn membership
Brexit: Leave victory based on emotional argument opposed to Remain’s cold economic one. No plan meant it was harder to critique “Trying to scrutinise Brexit was like nailing jelly to a wall”
Vague position harmed public perception. Post-referendum Corbyn could not decisively support either Leave or Remain. Party membership pro-Remain but need to win Leave-supporting constituencies. In end pushed for 2nd referendum with a credible Leave option
Anti-Semitism by some MPs, particularly Ken Livingstone. Party disorganisation meant complaints not handled properly. Corbyn fumbling on issues. Lack of media strategy meant void filled by media pointing out issues
Mismanagement, division over Brexit, and missing the opportunity to criticise Johnson’s appointment led to 2019 election defeat
Ultimately, Corbyn’s legacy is that more left ideals are in the mainstream. Starmer said policies going forward would be based on 2017 manifesto
“Brexit underscores that culture wars are poison to political causes focused on redistributing wealth and power, rather than on cultural identity.”
“The left’s central dilemma is this: how to win the support of older citizens without betraying the hopes and dreams of their children and grandchildren.”
What I Liked About It
Coherently explains the impact, and goals of Corbyn’s movement. Is also completely honest about its shortcomings.
What I Didn’t Like About It
It could have gone into more detail about Blair’s polices, why were they more right wing?
Who Should Read This Book?
Anyone interested in Labour’s history for the last 5 years. People curious about why Corbyn rose to power, why he was supported, and why he ultimately lost. I think anyone involved in Left wing politics could learn a lot as its important to learn from the party’s mistakes.
Labour had seen a shift from left to right within the part. Due to era of Tony Blair, who said of Thatcher
“I always thought my job was to build on some of the things she had done rather than reverse them.
“Many of the things she said, even though they pained people like me on the left… had a certain creditability.”
Left of party in despair. John McDonnell led a small group of MPs who were dedicated to bringing the party back left. Not much action due to fear of party leadership.
Corbyn’s entire career had been devoted to foreign affairs: Opposition to 2003 Iraq invasion, campaigns for oppressed people (Kurdish, Palestinian, Chagos Islanders). Long-standing MP for Islington North.
In the wake of Blairism and the 2008 crash, new left-wing movements arose. Anti-Gov cuts, anti-capitalism, anti-war. However, frayed and disconnected. Not a challenging unified movement.
Prior to crash, Tories had backed Labour’s spending plans. Post, they framed crash as being a result of Labour’s spending. Labour and LibDems also committed to spending cuts.
Many people alienated by Labour turned to Lib Dems. They promised abolishment of tuition fees and pledged not to increase VAT. Coalition gov elected. Conservative chancellor George Osbourne unveiled £7 billion slash from welfare state. Increase in tuition fees radicalised many young people.
Protest against Vodafone (£6 billion unpaid tax) brought tax evasion to national attention, created new activists.
“The prospects for millennials appeared especially rocky: punished on one hand by the slashing of social provisions and services, and on the other hand by a job market increasingly dominated by low-paid and insecure work, which they would enter saddled with debt from increasingly expensive university courses. Given that, by the end of the 2010s, over half of school leavers were enrolling at universities, this scenario played a major role in shifting their generation leftwards.”
Huge student protests inspired unions like Unite, to strike. Built up network of activists.
2: From the Ashes
In 2010, Ed Miliband, son of Marxist/Jewish Refugee, became leader.
Ed declared New Labour “dead” due to failure to address inequality. Won support of major trade unions. He had noble aims but trapped in Blair-leaning party. ‘Austerity-lite’ became party mantra. Conflict with shadow chancellor Ed Balls. Party lacked coherent vision. Crucified by press. However, his tenor served as bridge between NL and radical change. Suggestions such as freezes on energy bills scared Tories.
Even Blair stated NL spending was a mistake. Party failure to refute claims led to election defeat. Austerity justified as cleaning up Labour’s mess, “welfare state was generously handing out hard-earned tax-payers money to the idle”. “For fully five years, polls showed the public blamed Labour for the cuts more than the subsequent coalition government that had implemented them. This was a tragic case study of what happens when a social-democratic party surrenders to the narrative crafted by the right.”
Labour allying with Tories and supporting Remain Scottish referendum cost them a huge bulk of Scottish supporters who went to the SNP.
New leadership contest. Supported by McDonnell, Corbyn put on ballot as principle showing Left presence in party. Corbyn impressed crowds with off-the-cuff speeches on housing and privatisation, won large support. People joining party to vote for Corbyn, activists. Brought together Left factions.
3: ‘It’s Gonna Be Brutal’: The War Within
Corbyn had never had any kind of ministerial role.
“There are three key windows for an opposition leader to make an impression: when they assume the leadership, at their annual party conferences and at general elections”
Right wing press came for him. Stats show 57% of news articles had antagonistic tone. Over half of all articles failed to include his views. Another 22% showed them without context or distorted them.
Vast majority of Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) did not support him. Labour Party HQ had alleged toxic culture which sought to undermine leadership, hurt party performance. Leaking/briefing. The Party’s Government and Legal Unit searched social media for abuse against Labour MPs, excluding Corbyn-supporters. MPs briefed The Guardian that as soon as Corbyn assumed leadership 12 MPs would resign, and a coup would follow.
Corbyn actually appointed many right of the party into top positions. Only key allies were John McDonnell (shadow chancellor), Diane Abbott, Jon Trickett. Yet almost entire shadow cabinet has campaigned against his election as leader. Corbyn project stymied in infancy, policies supported by Corbyn/membership not pushed through. Instead, they supported more Tory policy such as being against nationalisation of steelworks, anti-junior doctors strike, pro-bombing in Syria (directly defying their leader). Alienated membership. Corbyn could not count on his party for support.
Brexit result: Corbyn: Article 50 must now be invoked. Que resignations from Remain supporting MPs including shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn. Vote of no confidence, Corbyn loses 40-172. Pressure even from Labour-backing Daily Mirror “GO NOW”. He does not resign because of mass membership backing. New Leadership contest, Corbyn wins by landslide.
Upon victory, Corbyn project (conceived 3 months prior) had no plan for leadership. Settled upon rail nationalisation. First speech rambling, poor media experience. Having worked in background, Corbyn resented new rules he had to play by for media and tradition. E.g. Roasted for not singing national anthem at memorial service.
Media and political bombardment made Corbyn and higher ups ‘anti-social’, barring out both enemies and potentially sympathetic voices.
Disorganisation. Lack of resources. Labour HQ provided insufficient funds, less than Miliband. Job roles unclear. Staff opposed to Corbyn’s views/politically inexperienced. Corbyn averse to conflict. With decisions, would want it to be unanimous, if not he would put it off. Struggled chairing meetings, turn up late, clam up. Didn’t do media training, failed to reiterate party points in interviews.
Seamus Milne (Guardian Journalist) made Director of Strategy and Communications (Labour leader’s brain). Inexperienced for the job. Poor management of strategy. Staff found him hard to contact to sign off on press releases. There should have been a calendar for press events.
Double-standards. Slated for suggesting Putin could have been unaware of Salisbury attack, when May made same suggestion two days prior. Regardless, poor handling by Corbyn, he asked May about working with Putin to figure things out, why?
Karie Murphy made Executive Director of Leader’s Office. Reorganised office to be more effective, cracked down on internal enemies. However, atmosphere of fear, allegedly loyalty more important than job performance.
5: How to Run a Campaign
May calls general election for June 8 2017. Done so Tories could have greater majority to negotiate Brexit. Labour 24 points behind in polling. Labour had to support GE or risk appearing weak. Had to shift narrative away from Brexit.
Play into societal dissatisfaction. “Since the financial crash, living standards for Britain’s workers had been squeezed for the longest period since perhaps the 1750s”. Anger over austerity. “For the many, not the few” slogan established.
Poor performance in local elections.
Corbyn targeted young people and non-voters (only 44% of 18-24 year olds voted in 2015). Set up outreach programmes, minority focused. In contrast to coalition voter suppression (they had introduced new form of voter registration which meant less young people.
Undermining in HQ, lack of work, prioritised safe Labour seats rather than winnable marginals. Failed to target non-voters. Secret project ‘Ergon House’ saw resources diverted to MPs right of the party.
Campaign policy led, well organised by Jon Trickett, Milne, Fischer, Murphy. Election campaign put Corbyn in spotlight, became well-liked for calm, affable demeanour. A seasoned campaigner. Mass rallies. May however, controlled meetings, questions vetted, unlikable.
Labour manifesto, most radical programme since 1983. More investment created by hiked takes on rich, tuition fee abolition, living wage, public ownership on utilities. Manifesto leaked, liked by voters. Union financial support, grassroots army. Mass canvasing. Social media content by Momentum. However, Tories had £25 million in donations (more than twice of Labour), and right wing press. Corbyn’s commentary on terrorist attacks, that they were partly due to Tory police setbacks and foreign policy, struck a chord.
Election: May lost majority (“Dead woman walking” – George Osbourne), Labour gained 30 seats, some losses though. “The election result proved that when radical policies were spelled out without apology, but defiantly and in primary colours, people were hungry for them.”
6: The Brexit Bandersnatch
Any decision Labour would make regarding Brexit had negative outcome. Brexit an issue that cut across class politics, which Labour depended on. Pulled focus away from domestic policies, Labour defined by one issue.
Post-war, L divided by Europe while Tories in support. Throughout 80s, Thatcherite free marketeers embraced EU (less restrictions). 1988 – President of EC Jacques Delors gives speech to Britain’s Trade Union Congress, “social Europe”, greater worker and social protections. Thatcher pissed, Eurosceptism became associated with right. Corbyn had voted no against EU in 1975 and voted down legislature granting them power. However, come 2016 he had little interest in EU matter.
Upon becoming leader, issued statement committing to campaigning for Remain. Support for Leave very low for party members and unions.
Official Remain Campaign – Britain Stronger in Europe. Corporate sponsors and decisions made by Cameron/Osbourne. Labour campaign headed by Alan Johnson, Blairite who hated Corbyn, didn’t organise campaign well. Corbyn believed in ‘remain and reform’.
Brexit fought on issue of immigration. Cameron had repeatedly said it was too high, threatening way of life. Set impossible targets for reducing it, that when missed, undermined faith in democracy.
Corbyn appeared at Remain rallies, but like of media strategy by Milne meant little exposure. Staff unmotivated, supporting a Tory-backed campaign. Didn’t realise Leave support in de-industrialised North.
“Where the Remain side concentrated simply on a cold economic argument lacking any soul, Vote Leave focused on emotion, deploying the devastatingly effective ‘Take Back Control’ and scaremongering about migrants, concocting the false claim that Turkey would join the EU, and distributing lists of EU rapists and murderers in Britain.”
“The Leave Campaign, accordingly, didn’t define its plan for Brexit at all: with no plan, there could be no risk. They portrayed the referendum as simply a vote to leave the EU, with no sense of how close of distant the ensuing relationship would be. Trying to scrutinise Brexit was like nailing jelly to a wall.“
Two thirds of L voters went Remain, only 40% of C voters. Majority of working class under age 35 voted Remain.
In response to result, Article 50 “must be invoked now” – Corbyn. Angered largely Remain supporting party. Split in party. Still Corbyn had mass support post 2017 election. Author argues that following this, Corbyn should have (while acknowledging hurt) dismissed another referendum, on point they couldn’t win election with that stance. He could have then presented Brexit plan that protected jobs, workers, environment.
L didn’t display its stance clearly. Top team wanted to keep things vague and avoid party talking about it.
2018: pro-Remain movement gathered pace. People’s Vote campaign evolved out of Britain Stronger in Europe. Made up of Labour MPs increasingly hostile to Corbyn (convenient wedge issue between membership and leadership, trying to mobilise breakaway party).
Paradox for Corbyn. Sought to democratise party, but vague stance didn’t align with pro-Remain members. Blairite faction Remain.
May’s deal butchered, both L and C MPs. Some saw it as too hard, other too soft.
Change UK formed, eight L MPs, three T. Suspiciously almost all went on to corporate positions. Soon tanked.
Labour MPs ordered against voting for 2nd referendum. 17 rebelled.
With Brexit in spotlight, L’s domestic policies could not get hearing. Polling tanked. Without media strategy, C could shape the narrative.
Supported another referendum to not lose membership.
7: The Antisemitism Crisis
In 2012, Corbyn defends artist who’s graffiti critiquing capitalism was covered on grounds of it being anti-Semitic. Head of Comms issued statement without apology, gave out one too late. Corbyn criticised for writing forward to 2011 edition of 1901 book by liberal historian, contained passage claiming European finance controlled by a ‘single and perculiar race’.
Jones argues a blind spot can emerge since Jewish people are often defined as white. Makes it seem like anti-Semitism less abhorrent than other forms of racism.
Torchbearers of Labour left such as Tony Benn supporters of early Israeli State. However, Israel’s war with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation and its 1982 invasion of Lebanon, massacre of civilians in Palestinian refugee camps by Israel allies. Eroded Left sympathy for project.
“Many Jews who are politically hostile both to the occupation of Palestinian territories and to Israel’s depressing right-wing trajectory, nonetheless retain a profoundly emotional connection with Israel; a state which is seen as a refuge – however imperfect – if, once again, the winds shift and the antisemites come back for more.”
2015 survey: 59% of British Jews identify as Zionists, still 90% support Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, the traditional Zionist aspiration. For many Jews, angry denunciations of Zionists mean “a contemporary manifestation of age-old angry tirades against the Jews.”
L relationship with British Jews first disintegrated under Ed Miliband. Prior to him, Jewish vote split, two thirds voting C when in office.
Corbyn committed to Palestinian justice and had good track record in dealing with anti-Semitism. Signed Early Days motions condemning anti-Semitism. Organising mobilisation against fascist National Front. In 2010 called on government to settle Yemeni Jewish refugees.
While Palestinian justice was not anti-Semitic, it attracted anti-Semites. Corbyn criticised for going to events for group Deir Yassin Remembered, who’s founder when onto support Holocaust denial.
AS by MP Naz Shah (2014) and former London mayor Ken Livingstone (2016). Resigned and suspended respectably. Aftermath of Livingstone affair: Shami Chakrabarti asked by Milne to carry out inquiry into AS in L party. Report tried to differentiate between ignorance and racism, suggested reforms of party’s disciplinary/complaints procedures, appointment of counsel to offer legal advice, increased party diversity. At press conference announcing findings MP Marc Wadsworth heckled the report for being anti-Corbyn and called for removal of anti-Corbyn MPs from part. Overshadowed report. Fuelled phenomenon from Left of party who believed crisis was manufactured to destroy Corbyn. Caused ignorance of racism.
Media posted stories of AS circulating in Facebook groups supporting Corbyn.
Corbyn wrote letter to Jewish leaders condemning AS, and noted it was not just a case “of a few bad apples”. Said AS had been interwoven into criticism of Israeli governments. However, jarred with his public dialogue, which was defensive. “Because Corbyn was capable of showing genuine passion and emotion about other forms of injustice, the contrast with his response on anti-Semitism was all the more glaring.” In one case, he decided not to read speech decrying AS, annoyed he had to defend himself on issue after lifetime fighting for oppressed people. Enraged many in L as C was marred in Islamophobia and AS.
Murphy contacted Lord Michael Levy, businessman, prominent Jewish figure. Levy recommended Corbyn work with former chief executive of Jewish Care, Simon Morris. However, Corbyn didn’t seem invested in AS talk, Morris never took up post as advisor. Corbyn refused to meet Daniel Levy, Jewish political scientist, because huge businessman and banker who had worked with Blair.
Conflict between Jewish Voice for Labour (pro-Corbyn group) and Jewish L members, as JVL dismissed AS as small issue in party. Corbyn didn’t engage with Jewish Labour Movement, who while hostile to leadership represented most Jewish L supporters.
In 2016 L adopted definition of AS devised by the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance. Set examples of AS. However, two examples which spoke against criticising Jewish self-determination were disliked by pro-Palestinian’s. In L’s Code of Conduct, they omitted these two. Corbyn later went back on this, but damage done.
Mid-July 2016, Jewish L MP Margaret Hodge yelled that Corbyn was an AS and racist in House of Commons. Corbyn demanded apology, but resignation of Hodge would bring more attention to AS.
Lack of media strategy allowed press to fill void with articles about AS in L.
Labour’s Governance and Legal Unit (worked to purge Corbyn supporting MPs) initiated only 34 investigations into 300 complaints regarding AS. GLU asking leadership staff for their views was reported to press as improper involvement.
New General Secretary Jennie Formby did great work tackling AS. Good complaints system. Better investigations. Cases actually heard by disciplinary panels. Murphy refused to recognise severity of problem. MPs like Chris Williamson still AS. Blairites, Tories, used issue in bad faith to attack Corbyn.
8: ‘A Blizzard of Lies and Excuses’
Tories saw Johnson as leadership material due to populism.
Respecting membership, Corbyn vowed 2nd referendum, but talked down by Milne and pro-Brexit faction, public position seemed incoherent.
European election, only 45% of L members voted for own party. When Alastair Campbell announced he voted Lib Dem, kicked out of party. Angered remain-supporting L members.
L missed opportunity to criticise new C leader appointment. Milne and Corbyn unorganised and didn’t sign off on press statements. No plan, messaging all over place. Policy adviser Andrew Fisher resigns citing Party incompetence/disorganisation. Party a mess over Brexit, disagreements between Trickett/McDonnell, Watson and Starmer forcing party towards Remain. Senior officials supporting Remain on national media against Leadership stance. Deputy leader Tom Watson supported Remain in speech, one week before Corbyn’s plan to endorse future referendum alongside credible leave option announced. Corbyn furious, but couldn’t sack Watson, instead planning to dismiss him as Shadow Minister for culture/media. McDonnell convinces him otherwise, angering Murphy, “we don’t work for John, we work for you.”, attempted to have him fired regardless. Corbyn dodged issue. Watson resigned in Dec 2019.
Corbyn fed up. Some staff allege Murphy made decisions without consulting Corbyn. Corbyn’s private secretary Iram Awan discussed lodging complaint about Murphy, bullying and comments regarding to a miscarriage. Catalyst for seriers of complaints by staff. Anonymous letter, supported by 25 colleagues in office, spoke of bullying, intimidation of staff, toxic workplace that pitted staff against each other. Sexist behaviour. Murphy challenged contents. McDonnell and Abbot urged Corbyn to sack her. Corbyn did disappearing act, Murphy remained for while. Eventually she was moved from leader’s office to HQ. This had little impact on her continuing to fulfil her duties.
Johnson and Cummings seized “people vs parliament” populist narrative, Brexit being prevented by political elite/schemers (Corbyn now portrayed as such). They told C MP’s that if any voted to support a notion taking No Deal off the table they’d be sacked, which became true. Showed public he meant business. However, meant he lost majority. No coherent plan to turn round poor Corbyn polling.
Johnson’s deal shot down by MPs, Leave extended till Jan 2020, but this only added to perception political elite preventing Brexit.
9: Things Fall Apart
Upcoming Dec 2019 election. Lib dems: Jo Swinson wanted to win over Tory voters, made clear they would not prop up L government.
Strategic meetings poor, Corbyn lacked attentiveness and clarity over what he wanted. Milne’s colleagues repeatedly asked for strategy plan, but never received such a document. Not clear which single person was in control. Eventually points drawn out regarding Johnson just in it for the elite, but they were vague. Couldn’t commit to Remain despite membership because of need to win Leave supporting constituencies. Key slogan not agreed upon, while C succeeded with ‘Get Brexit Done’. Corbyn’s appearances were haphazardly organised, thus lacking successful media attention. In 2017, Corbyn gave personal talks to varying social groups, now he read off auto-cues from a podium, didn’t play to his strengths.
Media against him. Errors by BBC (e.g. not showing Johnson’s mishandling of a wreath on memorial day, editing clips of him on question time to only show applause, journalists reading lines written by Cummings). L comms team didn’t correct misinformation. Media highlighted AS in regards to Corbyn but turned blind eye to Johnson’s homophobia, Islamophobia, racism. Team failed to prep him properly, he was disinterested in dealing with media, disastrous Andrew Neil interview.
Grassroots and social media still effectively used, but lacked the coherent messaging of 2017.
Example of poor planning: policy announced supporting free full-fibre broadband. Should have spent months highlighting its importance first. Didn’t hammer enough at green policies, so they weren’t reported. Plan for £400 billion spending seemed far-fetched even to party members.
Brexit Party announces it won’t stand in Tory-held seats to harm L.
Election: 365 seats for C, 202 for L. fewest seats since 1935. Corbyn announces resignation.
Conclusion: The Centre Cannot Hold
Corbyn’s appointment as leader showed Left ideals are strongly desired.
Before Corbyn, little evidence L leadership commitment to progressive principles. After 2015 election, they refused to block welfare bill which imposed cuts to work-in benefits to low wage earners. This is a party founded to protect the working class. Opponents in L party showed their intentions by going on to corporate jobs.
With Corbyn, 21st century version of social democracy brought into mainstream for younger generations. Pensioners continue to vote C because they protect their interests, because they make up the largest voting group. Given their conservatism on LGBTQ groups and other religions, unlikely to vote L. “Corbynism won the support of younger people in unprecedented numbers; but it also repelled older people to an unparalleled degree.” “The left’s central dilemma is this: how to win the support of older citizens without betraying the hopes and dreams of their children and grandchildren.”
“Brexit underscores that culture wars are poison to political causes focused on redistributing wealth and power, rather than on cultural identity. It’s an issue the left must get to grips with.”
Prior to Brexit, L was already losing support to C in ageing, largely in white post-industrial areas in North and Midlands. Brexit accelerated process.
Corbyn’s experience in backbenches left him poorly prepared for arguing with people who disagreed with him, and the media machine.
Following leadership appointment, Starmer declared 2017 manifesto be seen as the backbone of policies going forward. “Perhaps, then, the legacy of Corbynism is to ensure that the new mainstream of the Labour party is one that never again commits to austerity, or the baiting of benefit claimants, or the demonizing of migrants.”
Coronavirus has shown the need for Socialist policies in Britain.