What’s the point of Rebecca Long-Bailey?

To press ahead with ‘continuity Corbynism’ after Labour’s historic defeat would be delusional.

Fraser Myers
Topics Politics UK

So Labour’s post-election ‘period of reflection’ is going well, then. A stunning ‘10 out of 10’ is how Labour leadership contender Rebecca Long-Bailey rated the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. The leadership that delivered Labour’s worst election defeat since 1935. The leadership that decisively, perhaps irreversibly, severed Labour’s (admittedly already strained) connection to working-class voters – the very people the party was founded to represent. Ten out of 10. Gold stars all round.

And it wasn’t just Labour’s leadership that did brilliantly in Long-Bailey’s view – the policies were brilliant, too. ‘I don’t just agree with the policies, I’ve spent the last four years writing them’, she wrote, in her opening pitch for the leadership in Tribune magazine. According to her, the only problem with these policies, which were decisively rejected by the electorate, was that they were ‘tragically undersold’.

Perhaps Long-Bailey’s ‘continuity Corbyn’ campaign will play well to a party membership that backed Corbyn decisively in 2015 and 2016. Her unapologetic support for Corbynism’s strange and contradictory mess of mild social-democratic reforms, identity politics and radical environmentalism, repackaged as ‘socialism’, will certainly excite the base. Her strategy is clearly to position herself as the sole ‘left’ candidate in the race.

But although Long-Bailey’s unbridled enthusiasm for Corbynism marks her out, her assessment of Labour’s failure is essentially the same as the other leading leadership candidates. For Long-Bailey, what Labour got wrong was not the message, but the messaging. ‘Labour’s campaign lacked a coherent narrative. But this was a failure of campaign strategy, not of our socialist programme’, she wrote in Tribune. ‘We struggled to marry our ambitious programme with voters’ fundamental lack of trust in politicians.’

Indeed though someone like Jess Phillips may differ with Long-Bailey on policy (the Corbynites have lots of policies, Phillips has no policies whatsoever), they seem to agree that Labour’s success or failure hinges on strategy and the right narrative. ‘We need to tell a story about our country that connects us to people… to speak in a language that shows our lost voters that we get it, that we care’, Phillips wrote in her opening bid for the leadership in the Guardian.

The other ‘moderate’ to beat, Keir Starmer, also put ‘restoring trust’ at the centre of his campaign. But he clearly isn’t intending to make a major shift on policy. Starmer has promised not to ‘lose sight of our values or retreat from the radicalism of the past few years’. He also vowed to push for a ‘Green New Deal’ – one of the 10-out-of-10 Corbyn policies for which Long-Bailey takes credit.

Much like the moderates, Long-Bailey reduces politics to a question of marketing. The Corbyn project wasn’t intellectually incoherent, it was just poorly packaged. Labour’s Brexit betrayal was apparently just framed in the wrong way. Beneath all the talk about regaining voters’ trust lies the view that voters got it wrong again and Labour just needs the right messaging and narrative to persuade them to get it right next time around. This is a recipe for disaster.

Fraser Myers is a staff writer at spiked and host of the spiked podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @FraserMyers.

Picture by: Getty

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Jack Enright

10th January 2020 at 9:48 pm

“Beneath all the talk about regaining voters’ trust lies the view that voters got it wrong again and Labour just needs the right messaging and narrative to persuade them to get it right next time around. This is a recipe for disaster . . . ”
. . . disaster for the Labour Party, and deliverance for the rest of us.

Ven Oods

9th January 2020 at 9:07 am

Whereas, Starmer always reminds me of an extremely boring estate agent, which, given his love of property ownership, should come as no surprise.

Stephen J

9th January 2020 at 8:48 am

I wish we could try something really radical like….

When the f*** will politicians and governments defend our property interests, no matter our colour, creed or sex, and then leave us to decide on the micromanagement?

Phil Ford

9th January 2020 at 11:49 am

Because socialism. It’s ‘cool’ again. Somehow – I have no idea how. I dunno, despite its appalling historic record, ‘da kidz’ think it’s happenin’, innit.

So, back to the crass politics of malevolent envy and class resentment. It’s as if the 20th-century never happened. No surprise, really, as it would appear modern universities have either re-written, revised or simply abolished history.

Marvin Jones

9th January 2020 at 3:28 pm

How about them protecting us from terrorism, gang violence, knife crimes, illegal migrants and sleeper cells that they have welcomed back with open arms, because of THEIR human rights.
These are politically impossible for cowards to achieve.

Aloysia Allheart

9th January 2020 at 4:57 am

This woman is completely nuts.


9th January 2020 at 1:45 am

Michael Foot’s corpse would be a more effective leader of the Labour Party than this shower.

Walter Sobchak

9th January 2020 at 12:28 am

They (or is she her pronoun of choice?) was bellyaching about the behaviour of the media towards Corbyn, the fact that he was not universally ranked as a 10 out of 10 political operator understandably rankles this impetuous clone.

One can detect the seed she was attemting to sow, the brazen disrespect of her dear leader and fellow comrades by members of the fourth estate in her eyes should in future be toned down, restricted and who knows perhaps one day eventually outlawed. Why are these journalists allowed to get away with using such corrosive and vitriolic language? Anti Labour polemics will in future be perceived akin to hate speech and should be prosecuted under the wise jurispudence of the supreme court.

Politicians should be free to indulge in the demagoguery of false promises, or promises that if upheld would no doubt bankrupt the country, without the fear of their ideologically driven crackpot rhetoric coming under the scrutiny of a well argued rebuke. Safe spaces for politicians i can already hear the cry…

It would be funny if this lot were a fringe party, hopefully that is the way they will go.

Phil Ford

9th January 2020 at 11:52 am

I agree, the subtext of her responses was actually quite chilling. Anyone with a passing familiarity of 20th-century history will have recognised the implications (aspirations?) of what she was saying. I thought we buried this nonsense 40 years ago. Some bad ideas just hang around like a malignant growth.


8th January 2020 at 8:45 pm

What’s the point of Fraser Myers?

Ven Oods

9th January 2020 at 8:48 am

Good point. It was a stupid headline.

David McAdam

8th January 2020 at 8:15 pm

No wonder John Knox was moved to write with uncanny foresight his Monstrous Regiment of Women Rulers polemic.


8th January 2020 at 8:47 pm

Good, so you agree we should get rid of that sponging billionaire hypocrite in Buck Palace and that Patel Medusa entity in the Home Office. Thatch and May both did significant damage while in office.

Ven Oods

9th January 2020 at 8:49 am

One assumes he had a very strict mother and was bullied by his older sisters.

Femxle Penis

8th January 2020 at 5:51 pm

I know looks shouldn’t matter…..however, Rebecca does look like she could be the sister of Bubbles from ‘Trailer Park Boys’….

Femxle Penis

8th January 2020 at 5:45 pm

Do you know what Bailey-Long, Rayner, and Phillips have in common?
Nope, not chromosomes,
They’re all thick as bricks. Don’t be mad at me, It’s not my fault.
Then there is Kier, lackluster nasally voice, flaky skin, ugh, and if you stood him next to a stick of celery you’d be hard pushed to tell them apart.

Ven Oods

9th January 2020 at 8:51 am

But why stop there? Most of those in Parliament couldn’t get a job paying anything like that salary if they hadn’t been elected as party apparatchiks.

Leon Kershaw

8th January 2020 at 5:29 pm

She should stick to plying the Banjo.

steve moxon

8th January 2020 at 5:14 pm

Her nose. It seems to be the only point you can attribute to her.
She certainly never gets to one.
She’s nothing more than another Liebore ‘this TORY government’ mantra merchants.
She used to cute as recently as five years ago: what happened?
Apparently her facial expression of chewing a wasp and her chainsaw-sounding voice have rewired our neural facial recognition system to reflect our negative impressions!

George Orwell

8th January 2020 at 3:28 pm

The best description of her that I’ve seen so far is that she is a cross between a Roswell alien and Mrs Merton.


8th January 2020 at 7:05 pm

Hilarious and true

Michael Lynch

8th January 2020 at 3:20 pm

Tut, tut, Rebecca WRONG-Bailey. Please!

steve moxon

8th January 2020 at 5:09 pm

Wrong-Daily, her fellow MPs call her.

Michael Lynch

8th January 2020 at 8:46 pm


K Tojo

8th January 2020 at 2:24 pm

And so, on with the socialist delusion. No matter what happens the Left will continue “the great march forward” – as Jim Callahan said after Labour’s defeat in 1979. As ever with socialists denial is the name of the game.

Melissa Jackson

8th January 2020 at 2:51 pm

To the modern left, there is only one direction of travel. They have absolutely no idea where they are actually trying to get to, but they sure as hell are in a hurry to get there.

This is, fundamentally, why the modern left have become more authoritarian. Because they do not have a vision of what they want, only of what they don’t want. They don’t want sexism and racism and transphobia, and they will support anything to that end incluing destroying freedom of speech and any other rights they fancy.

nick hunt

9th January 2020 at 9:47 pm

Religious devotees can’t really change or modify the opinions which have become the dogmas that found and fuel their ‘thinking’. They transform opinion into truth, feeling into fact. Followers of the Prophet Karl are no different: Leftists good, non-leftists bad. Multiculturalism good, (UK) culturalism bad. Baaa

Ian Davies

8th January 2020 at 1:07 pm

For God’s sake Spiked (and all other publications), quit the constant reminders about Labour’s leadership choices. Out here in the real world we do not need article after article explaining the absense of intelligence on display. We understand it perfectly and are rolling in the aisles with laughter and we most certainly do not want them disuaded from this course at all. Please, glowing reports on all these duffers.

Michael Lynch

8th January 2020 at 3:18 pm

I would agree but it’s too much fun for the moment!

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