Two tribes go to war: making sense of the battle for Labour
Steve Akehurst
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My comment yesterday was curt as I was busy with something else. I apologise for that. I usually agree with what Steve writes and I respect his views, so I owe him a fuller explanation. First of all, a lot of what Steve says about winning electuons and what one needs to do in order to win elections is absolutely right. In fact it is pretty well known and understood by anyone who has been in politics for some time. Of course it may not be known and understood by many of the brand new Labour Party members, and they need to learn from the older hands.

Unlike Steve, who has worked in the USA during one if not two presidential elections, I know little about the Grand Old Party, but my knowledge of the Labour Party goes back to 1948, when Attlee was its leader. And I suggest that Steve is quite wrong when he tries to describe ‘the influx of new members’ as ‘priests’ and ‘the party apparatus and longer-standing members’ as ‘mathematicians.’ I suggest that the political attitudes of the half a million Labour Party members are extremely diverse and that there are many so-called ‘mathematicians’ and many so-called ‘priests’ and many more with a mixture of mathematical and priestly views.

I have voted for Corbyn twice. Does that make me a ‘priest’? I don’t think so. I used to work as a volunteer at Westminster Abbey but that did not even make me believe in a god, although some of my best friends are priests. And I have played an active part in political elections since 1950, so I am well aware of the importance of what Steve says about elections. And I agree that many of the new young members probably have a lot to learn. And it may well be that we older members may have things to learn from them.

Steve says: “It’s really a fight between two different modes of activism” and between “two different and largely incompatible theories of persuasion.” No it is not. They are not incompatible, and there need not and should not be a fight.

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