Where is the Opposition?

Where is the Opposition?

By David Runciman and Catherine Carr

We look past Covid and Brexit to ask where the long-term opposition to Johnson's government is going to come from. Can Corbynism remain a force in British politics, even without Corbyn? Is there room for a challenge to the Conservatives from the right? Will climate politics drive street protest politics or can it help the Greens? Plus we consider whether Nicola Sturgeon is really the leader of the opposition. With Helen Thompson and Chris Brooke.

Talking Points:

Corbynist energy levels are low these days.

There is a strong Corbynist presence on Twitter and in certain media institutions, but it’s not clear that it extends far beyond those bubbles.Much of the radical left politics in the near future will be defensive.

When Starmer ran for leader, he essentially offered Corbynism without Corbyn.

The manifestos of 2017 and 2019 were popular inside the Labour Party and reasonably popular with the public. Corbyn did move the party out of New Labour’s shadow. Starmer has inherited a party that is firmly outside the New Labour mainstream.Although some Corbynists fear a return to New Labour-esque politics, Labour now seems to be a social democratic party in the European mold. 

Will the Green Party benefit from these developments?

Helen thinks that we are more likely to see increased green activism than a resurgence in Green Party politics.Many on the left are disenchanted with parliamentary politics.And over the last couple of years, the major parties have shifted on climate. 

If Johnson is really committed to greener politics, does that open space on the right?

Farage is positioning himself in this gap.This could intersect with a rebellion against lockdown.

What should Starmer do about Scotland?

Could Starmer make a case that the democratic voice of the people of Scotland must be heard, and then make a social democratic case for the Union?A more federal union is going to require stronger institutions in England, which is probably to Labour’s disadvantage. Time for the SNP to weaken is probably the best way forward for both unionist parties.

Mentioned in this Episode:

This Land by Owen Jones

Further Learning: 

James Butler on the Corbyn project for the LRBMore on Macron, the constitution, and climate politicsFrom our archives… Labour’s Fault LinesA profile of Andy Burnham from The Guardian

And as ever, recommended reading curated by our friends at the LRB can be found here: lrb.co.uk/talking

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