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Post-Politics: A Failed Mystification of Sound Bite and Cliche, Its Time Is at an End

31/07/2015 10:46 BST | Updated 30/07/2016 10:59 BST

Only a couple of months after the unexpected Tory election victory, the renewed assault on the country is already underway, the 'opposition' embodied by the Labour Party amounting to different career politicians competing for the leadership in the upcoming leadership election, the party opposing nothing and offering nothing besides a copy of the Conservative Party.

By 'post-politics' is meant largely indistinguishable political parties competing to best 'deliver' policies that are apparently 'realistic' and 'common sense', such as internal markets in public services and restructuring the welfare state into a 'workfare state'. The completely unexpected emergence of Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn as favourate to win and by some way, can certainly be seen as part of the frustration with 'post-political' professional politicians and teams of policy hacks assembled as focus groups to 'deliver' power - at any cost.

The shift or realignment precipitated by the SNP landslide in May, the Greens' electoral showing but frustration by first past the post, and Ed Miliband's tentative efforts to move away from New Labour will likely be opened up further by the left wing outsider securing leadership of the Labour Party. However there is also the possibility that it will lead to a post-New Labour, 'Blue Labour' or 'Red Tory' policy clique mounting a coup against him.

What Corbyn's rivals for the Labour top job seem incapable of grasping is that the strength of his showing is not merely a nostalgic left wanting to 'return to core Labour values' and content to be in opposition, anymore than it is 'just party activists', but rather a definite part of a wholesale electoral discontent with electoral party politics. Such discontent is well distilled in the 'opposition' Labour has offered under Harriet Harman as acting leader which has consisted of voting with the government and in support of its policies, most jaw-droppingly the recent Welfare Bill.

All at sea, none of the other competing would-be party leadership factions have managed to understand the fact that the party didn't lose May's general election because it was 'too left wing' anymore than it stands a chance of winning again by simply copying whatever is done by Cameron and co. That section of the electorate which voted in May in marginal seats in 'middle England' which decided the election and elected Tory candidates amounts to a fraction of the Tory vote, itself representing all of 37% of those eligible to vote who did, diminishing to 24% if is taken into account all those who didn't.

Labour's vote was sapped and indeed fatally weakened in enough marginal seats by the Little Englanders of UKIP, who gained roughly 2/3 of their 4 million votes from formerly Labour voters. Of that 2/3 besides the element seemingly obsessed with 'immigration' many believed they were striking a blow against Westminster and the political class including the PPE policy hacks formerly in control of the Labour party, offering only Tory Lite.

As such, the tentative efforts of Miliband in 2015's general election campaign to try to move away from and beyond New Labour - which finally died a death 5 years earlier - was just that, tentative and unsure of what it believed and where it was coming from, but did at least have some sort of partial understanding of the exasperation and fatigue of the electorate with sound bite and cliché, the absolute watchwords of career politicians and policy hacks.

What then of the three other leadership contenders, all seeking to lead Labour alongside - not opposed to of course - Cameron's Tory government? Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper's half-hearted efforts seem very much in keeping with their faded New Labour origins, and based on the simplistic view that the electoral demographic which voted Tory, will vote Labour again by preferring Pepsi to Coke, if the taste is very slightly modified.

Meanwhile Liz Kendall makes Tony Blair sound like the late Tony Benn and is apparently unable or unwilling to see that New Labour is dead and elections are not won by trying to exhume its corpse, nor by mouthing platitudes written by Lynton Crosby for Cameron such as 'hardworking families' and 'people who want to get on'.

Party politics in the contemporary UK is in serious and likely terminal crisis. It is seen as existing primarily to serve established and entrenched vested interests and to uphold a form of society in hock to those same interests. Career politicians personify the way parliament itself seeks to reproduce itself at any cost with little regard for the electorate, or the actual politics involved in people trying to survive in a dog-eat-dog 'winner loser' form of society, in which the majority are losers and continue to play a game that is rigged, but are nonetheless obliged to play.

The fact that Corbyn is so far ahead and looks set to actually win, is very in keeping with what happened in Scotland in May, along with the Greens own 1 million+ votes: the fact that politics must be about contestation and ideas not 'delivery' of a copy of a copy of sound bite and cliché: the time of 'post politics' is at an end.