Benjamin Studebaker

Yet Another Attempt to Make the World a Better Place by Writing Things

Tag: Tony Blair

The Left in Britain: Debating the Merits of Corbyn and Smith

The British Labour Party is having another leadership contest, just one year after current leader Jeremy Corbyn defeated three rivals, 59.5% of the vote. Corbyn’s opponents have rallied behind a single challenger, Owen Smith. Smith’s supporters claim that Labour cannot win an election under Corbyn while Corbyn’s supporters claim that Smith is a Trojan horse for a Tory-lite party establishment. As the campaign has unfolded, Corbyn has sought to reassure supporters that he has a credible electoral strategy while Smith has sought to persuade Labour voters that he is a strong advocate for the left. Who is right and what is going on? Let’s have a think.

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Blair vs. Corbyn: How to Think About Where You Should Stand

Yesterday, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote an op-ed for The Guardian arguing that Labour voters should reject Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign for Labour leader on the grounds that Corbyn is unlikely to win a general election in 2020. Corbyn replied that he does not do personal or abusive politics. This got me thinking–what are the primary differences in thinking between a Corbynite (someone who supports Corbyn) and a Blairite (someone who supports Burnham, Cooper, or Kendall)? Read the rest of this entry »

The 4 Strategies Available to the British Left

After getting thrashed in the election, Britain’s Labour Party is gearing up for a leadership contest. This provides us with an opportunity to talk about the different strategies open to the left and the potential consequences of each. There are four that stick out to me:

  1. The Miliband Strategy–concede that the Tories are right that austerity is needed, but accuse the Tories of being too cruel and indifferent to the welfare state to be trusted with it.
  2. The Blair Strategy–enthusiastically embrace the Tory position on economic issues to demonstrate economic competence and political seriousness to voters.
  3. The Corbyn Strategy–mount a vigorous intellectual attack on austerity presenting a clear ideological alternative to the Tories.
  4. The Brand Strategy–attack the structure of the political system itself for being unable to produce good political outcomes.

Let’s talk about each one.

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Robert Webb vs. Russell Brand

The other day, I wrote a piece commentating on British comedian Russell Brand’s argument against voting. Now another British comedian, Robert Webb (of Peep Show fame) has written an opinion piece for New Statesman criticizing Brand’s position. The irony that a critical issue in political theory is being debated in front of a wide audience for the first time in years by two comedians is not lost on me. All irony aside, as a serious political theory person whose interest is the political system and what’s wrong with it, so I want to have a look at Webb’s argument.

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Abraham Lincoln is Killing His Own People

The way the administration has been swinging coverage of the recent chemical attack in Syria and surrounding fallout has gradually sickened me severely. In the interests of levity and biting satire, I thought of an interesting notion–what if, in European countries, politicians and journalists had discussed the American Civil War within the same ideological framework that is presently used when discussing the Syrian case? Elites in the British Empire actually did seriously consider intervening in that war on behalf of the confederacy in order to secure their cotton supply, which was endangered by the union blockade. Thankfully, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the 1860’s did not share John Kerry’s temperament. But what if he did?

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