Life and War with Mikey Fatboy Delgado
Monday, May 15, 2017
The Standard

The readers of the Boston Evening Transcript
Sway in the wind like a field of ripe corn.  - TS Eliot

Lucky them. My daughter’s madeleine
will be the smell of fine dust in the long tunnels,
and the perching seats in the bright carriages
where readers of newspapers stumble
like thrown sheep as the brakes are applied
in a flourish of stopping, and the train slows
into the thin tube of yellow platform light.

The doors slide and people tumble like bruised fruit
from burst boxes. Others take their places,
bewildered and dumb, done with duty, sleepwalking
to their stables and pens and batteries.
Cables are pulling us to pay-day,
to the early darkness of the suburbs,
to the dormitories above the paved over fields.

from Last Night's Dream Corrected

Monday, March 20, 2017
In Spring

Luciano has passed away – sign on the café door.

Don’t close your eyes in Spring, even for a second.
So much happens. Just for a day I missed
the ornamental cherry where the paths meet
and now the fat baubles of blossom are gone,
laying as petals at the crosspath like pink-tinged snow
on the long-trumpet daffodils.

In the café the gardeners have made a gift of primroses.
Every table has one. They are for Luciano.
At the Gaggia machine which makes too-strong coffee
Lydia sees primroses everywhere she looks.
Her sadness is unrelenting. The counter
is a barrier to holding her.
It makes me ashamed to be happy
in front of her and the primroses
when I remember that Luciano has gone.

At the table I am composing a letter
to Ali in Mosul. I am saying Yes. Spring.
The lesser celandine, now it’s everywhere,
the big-starred and the little-starred.
While I walked in the woods today
I sent thoughts to you of blackbirds and robins.
As they flitted from tree to tree I imagined
orange and yellow tracer fire across the path.
But it was quiet there, not like war at all, just as loud
as the fluttering wings of  birds on branches.

I am writing at the café table. In my arms
is my sweet baby who took her first steps
when I was looking the other way. I missed them.
She has soft brown hair and the sweetest nature.
People looking at her almond eyes
ask if there is any Chinese in the family.
They crowd around us, cooing about life
in the shadow of Lydia’s grief. Oh Lydia,
keep your sweet faith. Don’t die inside.


Saturday, February 04, 2017
Diagnosis / Prognosis


These things grind us to such a sharpened point -
the brightly-lit room, the gaunt sick faces,
the corridor and our feet constantly
shifting to give way, the recesses called
bays as if the grey men there have at last
a view of the sea, and where with stumbling
dread we feel sure the tips of our horror’s
honed blades will catch against the curtain and
cut it open to a vista of dread
and oblivion that will not be like
going to sleep – there will not be postponed
things to complete upon rising, or a
breaking of the fast, or rain, or sun or
a knock on the door and a returning
love, but in so bright a place memories
come flooding in – a man interrupting
an embrace says ‘you dropped your ticket, you
must be in love,’ – how true, the broken bed,
the stained sheet, the passionate protesting,
two arched backs and bodies fused at the hips
making a wishbone on its side, testing
its own strength – where is she now all these years
later? Has she gone on ahead herself?
Will word get to her that I’ve gone? These things
in the rain after diagnosis bring
such pain, such a flood of knowledge of what
a look may mean – in every face already
the November weather, the damp-filled air,
the terror, the fixed masks of a planet
of walking dead, the queued traffic as it
crawls up Pond Street, exhausting grey,
screaming to you 'accept no leaders, not
one of them, friend, is worthier than you'.



Who knows what happens in the lives of people
glimpsed from a train? As a train crosses
a viaduct, and far below one sees two cars
embraced in their splintered collision
and the lovers' arms gesticulate
towards each other and to heaven
and then are gone, and the train comes
to the kind of city where for minutes on end
it rolls through townscapes of shops
and vehicles queued at crossings,
and if not a man there restraining his sheep
from suicide then a man gone down
in the middle of the day, and around him
people have parted like the sea around a rock,
a circle of living coalesced around him,
observing the struggle they’ll all come to,
seeing that something about him is like a man
on a rope at the base of a tree in autumn,
frayed rope, weak hands, tired heart. An
ambulance arrives and no-one cries,
or cries aloud I have seen a man die
but inside, for the rest of the day, and now
and then for evermore when at the end
of another November leaves start to fall too early
or floodwater parts around a pile of leaves
or the book opens by chance at the page upon which
a poem struggles to talk about us,
some of us hear a voice calling ‘stand clear
and see a body jolt, and the crossing gate opens
and we are past and the scene is gone
and has no prologue and no end like a page
of a story in an open magazine
in the doctor’s waiting room
to which one has returned
to hear what comes next.


Sunday, January 22, 2017
Queen and Country / Letter

text from Last Night's Dream Corrected


Monday, January 02, 2017
At the teaching hospital

At the teaching hospital

(from November the
Psych ward poetry circle
meets at 4 pm.
This week please bring a haiku,
or tanka, if you prefer.)

At the teaching hospital, he says,
in the late afternoon
the light has almost
but not quite gone. It isn’t now
that most people draw their curtains
but it’s time here to not see
any more people passing the window,
or hear the thoughts they have,
or see them going wherever they are going to,
to do whatever it is they are going to do.
It’s too much.

And the bird on the ledge on the other side of the curtain –
there is a life in that too.He says he doesn’t want
to always be thinking why that is a bird
and why he is what he is
and how easily he might have been a starling,
or some other thing that lives outside
with no-one to medicate his pain.
He has wondered these last few minutes
if it can be time yet.

Does he hear voices?

Only when he notices himself
saying to himself
“oh fuck off”
as he shuts the day out,
or when the hemiplegic tries to rise,
asking, “Did Mallarmé ever say
ça suffit?”

Is he frightened? Now?
Only when he notices
that he can see himself from above
like a camera
or when the camera sees him in the dark
illuminated by blue screenlight in the still house.
Or in bed, when he will be asleep
and helpless,
when nothing is moving but the dust and the house itself,
and him laid out with everything that is him
departed from its case.

“I am afraid,” he says,
“that there are not-quite-people
gathered around the bed,
observing my sleep,
watching the blankets rise and fall.
They never speak.
They listen, gasp, shudder.”

“The collective is drawn to purpose
like the atoms of a shoelace
through an eyelet,” he says.
“These rooms are groups of lines we hide among.”

A female student, he thinks,
knows she can’t do this work.
She goes home each evening smelling of hospitals.
She sees the emptied dead wheeled past the ward.
She fears to think of herself as a cabinet of bric-a-brac.

The sociopath with vertigo is the first to rise.
“You man! Beans? Si, Art, grassy arse.
Pay Li-wee, con template, says the O.”

What is this? Pay him with a template?
You speak Italian? Chinese?

“Adore. No.”
He is besieged.

“My walls may fall.”
We can help. If you co-operate. You must.

“I can’t. I will lose myself.”
Saturday, December 10, 2016
Riot Felice (evidence store)

southbound, king's cross

justin dandy, pj courchemeyer, and unknown conspirator en route
to the extraordinary plenum of the Riot Felice AgitProp Commando

Friday, December 09, 2016
a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork


Jonathan Lethem

I write out of disarray, from a field of compatriots in disarray. We’re drifting like astronauts,
distantly tethered by emails like the one I just got from a friend: ‘i feel like he is making
everyone sick, and bipolar./i feel like I am so incredibly ill-equipped to deal with any of
this./i’m taking blind advice from all comers without feeling like anything is remotely
adequate./ i feel nostalgic for all of life before Nov 8, 2016.’ Music helps and hurts. In a
college classroom I played Gil Scott-Heron’s ‘Winter in America’, stirring up my old
Nixon-era sense of abjection, and cried in front of my students.

The rest is here

Tuesday, November 29, 2016
The Sidekick Woman -- part 2 of Prison: a monologue and lament

Wednesday, November 23, 2016
The woman skating - Somerset House

The woman skating reminds us of the white dust
somehow, of the powdered bones in the rutted field.

When the trainee dentists practise on dead heads
from the morgue they release gas from the gaping
dead mouths’ sockets. This corpse is in a suit,
his head is clamped; the black hole of his quiet mouth
is caged open. The boy’s mirror glitters inside it.

It is her studied grace perhaps. Her graceful turns
spray showers of powdered water, like the moment
the road-builder’s hammer splinters the bones of skeletons.
Dust flies up, less frozen, almost warm, white.

The drilled dust of teeth is grey like the road
home from Waterloo. The pure new snow decays
 under the first tyres as it would have
under the wagons of 1917 when the bones
were pushed into the rutted tracks under the new road.

She looks as if she may have skated everywhere,
been admired everywhere. Her flights launch flights
in the viewer. Someone must be kissing her.
She launches, twists, lands, slides away in reverse.
On the terrace by the river, on the bridge over the river,
in suburban homes, it is her rising from the ice
with frost on her breath, and men and women
wanting her, that helps us love the vast lit-up city.

The vast lit-up city, seen from Waterloo Bridge:
if that was my camera flashing in the London Eye
my photograph from there looking towards St Mary Axe
would have her in it, and soldiers on the bridge.

Friday, November 11, 2016
True Love Leaves No Traces / Leonard Cohen

A true gentleman and scholar, a fine poet, an unmet friend, a comfort, a very funny man,
a lover not a fighter. Song from the oft-slated, Phil Spector-produced Death of A Ladies'
Man album which nevertheless had several great moments, including this song. At one
of the three concerts I saw him in (all joyous, all full of love from the audience for the
man, and from the man for his audience) Leonard said he'd wanted Spector "in his Debussy
period, but I got him in his Wagner period", but this track for me is sublime.
Sail on. Love you, man.
Wednesday, November 09, 2016
The Pure Products of America Go Crazy (To Elsie) - 5 am UK Election Morning mix

Late night / early morning remix

Text: To Elsie - William Carlos Williams

Reading: Mikey Delgado ---
Tuesday, November 08, 2016
Election Day B-Movie -- Gil Scott-Heron (1981)

"someone always came to save America..."

Saturday, November 05, 2016
the pure products of america (To Elsie) - -

 reading MFD, text William Carlos Williams

To Elsie

The pure products of America
go crazy—
mountain folk from Kentucky

or the ribbed north end of
with its isolate lakes and

valleys, its deaf-mutes, thieves
old names
and promiscuity between

devil-may-care men who have taken
to railroading
out of sheer lust of adventure—

and young slatterns, bathed
in filth
from Monday to Saturday

to be tricked out that night
with gauds
from imaginations which have no

peasant traditions to give them
but flutter and flaunt

sheer rags—succumbing without
save numbed terror

under some hedge of choke-cherry
or viburnum—
which they cannot express—

Unless it be that marriage
with a dash of Indian blood

will throw up a girl so desolate
so hemmed round
with disease or murder

that she'll be rescued by an
reared by the state and

sent out at fifteen to work in
some hard-pressed
house in the suburbs—

some doctor's family, some Elsie—
voluptuous water
expressing with broken

brain the truth about us—
her great
ungainly hips and flopping breasts

addressed to cheap
and rich young men with fine eyes

as if the earth under our feet
an excrement of some sky

and we degraded prisoners
to hunger until we eat filth

while the imagination strains
after deer
going by fields of goldenrod in

the stifling heat of September
it seems to destroy us

It is only in isolate flecks that
is given off

No one
to witness
and adjust, no one to drive the car

Monday, October 31, 2016
In this

In this house you would come to believe
in ghosts and lives beyond the grave. Here
noises configure themselves into the voices
of those who’ve gone. “Cyril!” calls a wife
lost to cancer; a dead dog’s nametag chinks
against the brass of her collar; the creak
of an opening door, a footstep
on a warped floorboard, and someone
you’ve loved comes to breathe your name
once again,  and now in Autumn the wind
moans beneath the eaves, and the small tornadoes
of leaves lifted in frenzied gusts
scratch against the window late at night
like the feeble clawing of all our loves
wanting to come back, wanting to make us
believe that we can ever be reunited.

Book giveaway
I have twenty or so copies of Life and War with Mikey Fatboy Delgado to give
away (or swap, if you have a copy of your own book that you'd like to go to a good
Email your address to fatboydelgado at hotmail dot com and you can soon be taking
it to bed with you or propping up your wonky fireside chair with it. If you wouldn't
touch it with a bargepole but know someone who might, let them know.

Before Hutton, before Butler, before Chilcot,
Mikey Fatboy Delgado was looking into the matter...
In the spring of 2003 the Iraq war is underway and
Mikey is almost all in favour of it. It makes for good
television and is improving his sex life. If only the BBC
would sort out those green pictures of fighting in the
dark he might even be prepared to cough up for a licence.
And if only corrupt policing and the amount that Blair grins
weren't so unsettling he would be able to relax and enjoy
watching the highlights of the fighting more.

“Saddam has bitten the kids and pissed on
the mat and eaten our ganja and he won’t
stop fucking barking, so bosh, ta-ta, thanks
for all the fish, and fucking goodnight Irene.
Your services are no longer required, Saddam.
You are going up the motorway, pal.”


A Companion Reader to the Chilcot Report
Can't wait to reckon the price of blood?
Read the Unofficial Appendix while you wait.
A snapshot of the state of the nation back then.

"The story of a boy who wanted to wear Levi jeans
and a cowboy hat and to be taken seriously by

the big boys. The story of the Famous Five
and the Arab boy." ---- Blyton's Believe it or Not


Thursday, October 13, 2016
(Vote for) Knock 'em out and Fuck 'em Eddie (Live at the Town Hall)


(Vote for) Knock-em-out-and-Fuck-em Eddie


Knock-em-out-and-Fuck-em Eddie wasn’t an anti-semite.
Knock-em-out-and-Fuck-em Eddie didn’t know Jews from juice.
Knock-em-out-and-Fuck-em Eddie never questioned the right
of a man to turn up at another man’s door to prove
(by pointing at the pages of a Bible) that that guy’s home
was now this guy’s home because this book said that God
had made a pact with some donkey-nomad called Avram
who had met God on the way down from Ur of the Chaldees.
Knock-em-out-and-Fuck-em Eddie couldn’t care less about God.
God never hung around the bus station toilets
in the tight blue jeans which Eddie liked to see on boys and girls.
Knock-em-out-and-Fuck-em Eddie would invite
nice looking boys and girls of the age of consent
back to his house to party and if it just so happened
that they didn’t drink he’d knock ‘em out and fuck ‘em anyway.
And Knock-em-out-and-Fuck-em Eddie would get sent down
for it and if he was lucky they’d put him in with a nice looking boy
and then sometime after the lights went out for the night
Knock-em-out-and-Fuck-em Eddie would invade the boy
whatever the UN or the Fourth Geneva Convention said.

He’d get sent to solitary confinement so he couldn’t
knock anyone else out and fuck them and then the day
would come and Knock-em-out-and-Fuck-em Eddie
would have paid his debt and he would be back out on the street again
inviting nice looking girls and boys back to his place
where he had all that was needed for parties.
He wouldn’t sit watching the news with them and showing
his caring side by saying “those fucking Jews” or “those
fucking Arabs” or “war is bad, it kills babies”,
he’d stick a video on instead and stick a triple vodka
into the orange juice and turn up the heating
and wait and see what he was going to have to do to this one.


Wednesday, September 07, 2016
Rehearsal - opening section of Prison: a monologue and lament

Saturday, August 27, 2016
The Willesden Herald Short Story Competition -- Deadline 31st August

Buck up, the deadline is approaching. You've got to be in it to win it.
Get your stories in to the most welcoming and encouraging competition
in the country, run not for cheques that flutter from envelopes but for the
sheer love of the form. Submit online. Full submission details are here.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016
The dyspeptic reviewer plays tennis without a net, and follows with poetastry of his own

‘admire me I am a violet! dote upon me I am a primrose!’
---- John Keats

discovers in
it after all, a place for the genuine’

---- Marianne Moore

Here come the twisted spines of lives
we can barely imagine,
stumbling from the mobility buses
and disabled parking bays
for sunny summer days
in the park; the carers comfort
the keening girls
who but for the tortured wombs and genes
of their progenitors
would be hunted by lechers and suitors
in ravening packs; the moaning boys,
spasming stiff-limbed in their wheelchairs -
they would be among those same packs
if it weren't for this … this … this what?
This obscene luck. This whatever it is.
This time them. Next time us.
And hot on their heels comes this,
these slim new volumes, this earnest life,
this lecturing hectoring didactic outpouring,
this humourless, pretentious, useless posturing,
this pseudo faux public caring
for all but the nameless and unconsidered
who live poisoned and crippled
for the relief of the ranters' own appetites,
for their privileges and air miles,
and their burgers and grilled meats,
and comforts and leather goods,
and their diverse unwitting casual cruelties.
The impotent struggle-free ranting and raging,
the artfully managed image staging,
the nuance-free manicheanism,
the look-at-me ‘o me miserum’,
hammered onto pages
with their straight left and ragged right edges,
compounding the fantasy
that the writers are reinventing poetry,
that their arrival on the scene
is somehow making it new.
Other than these delusions of grandeur,
other than those slight reservations,
yeah, I love it, really fresh, really cool.
I exclude myself from none of these charges,
we're prone to it. Networks proliferate it,
the blowing of smoke up backsides,
the quid pro quos, the validations,
the thumbs ups. I don't know what's it's doing,
I know what it's not undoing. Like the shadow boxer
who bobs and weaves and feints
it lands no punches on anything it pretends to be against,
It's pretty harmless, it changes nothing - as Auden said,
it’s consoling pretend activism for the far off dead,
the helpless condition of chittering apes,
passing through briefly, briefly alive.
I suppose it all has a purpose (of sorts).
For all our overwrought and holy thoughts
I award us all 5 shiny and golden stars.


Saturday, August 13, 2016
evidently chickentown --- two versions
Mikey celebrating John Cooper Clarke.

Monday, August 01, 2016

Amsterdam, from Prison: A monologue and lament -- Mikey Delgado

Sunday, July 10, 2016
the word for ball

the afternoon's incessant chatter from mikey delgado on Vimeo.
"In the language of the heavily-armed state, the word for ball is the word for bullet." ---
The wretched of the earth, blithely dismissed. Soundtrack download here

the afternoon's incessant chatter

Fanatics discuss matches in memory
and Marjorie watches the football float slowly
across the pale blue eggshell of sky,
above the straining hearts of the hand-holding lovers,
past the tightened throats of stranded defenders
betrayed and adrift in no man’s land.

Marjorie talks to herself about how the ball
never came down, about how in the time
it takes to light a cigarette it has transmogrified
into a dark bird, with a delta, and swift,
and has ascended above the stadium’s rim,
fleeing the afternoon’s incessant chatter.
Marjorie holds her hand flat across her brow
to block the glare, to see the bird buffeted into tumbling
by the frenzied air, like sweet papers, like a cellophane bird
in the wake of a train. The ball itself, but for its plotted line,
barely registers. It skips the way a flat stone might skim
above a green smooth ocean after leaving the arm
of a boy on the shore. The body of the crowd,
a raucous channel packed with boats bobbing at anchor,
in slow motion twists and gasps to see
the same ball do the same thing again and again .

At half-time talk is of the shadow of the stadium roof,
of how it leaves one small oval of the crowd golden
in the last light cast at sunset. Marjorie imagines
hearing him speak of how in the language
of the heavily-armed state the word for ball
is the word for bullet, and how the poor deserve
their misery. The striker – “he’s gone down
like Capa’s militiaman for a penalty” -
holds their attention instead. No-one links
the shot of the dead ball specialist rebounding
from the marshalled wall, and the fusillade
which felled the puppet emperor Ferdinand
as he held the hand of his white-shirted general.

spain v spain (Cerro Muriano, Sept 1936)

mexico v mexico (June 1867)
Thursday, July 07, 2016
Wriggle -- from Life and War with Mikey Fatboy Delgado

Available from here

May 2003

Talking of wriggling, I was looking through that BBC
website again and there’s a bit there where if you’ve got
some good ideas for telly programmes you can send them off.

Of course what probably happens is you get a letter back saying
your idea is complete bollocks and then six months later Ulrika
comes on fronting a show at seven o’clock on Saturday night
that looks just like the one you sent the idea in for. But anyway,
I took a chance and sent them this idea. It came to me in the run
up to war, while we were getting ready to transfer Iraq to fellas
more to our liking. I was watching all these politicians being asked
questions and you didn’t have to be too fucking bright in the end to
see that it wouldn’t matter if Hans Blix had been sent up Saddam’s
arse in a fucking submarine and reported back that there was nothing
up there. Old Bush and Blair were going to take a baseball bat to the
geezer anyway. They’d just made sure first that the mug had slung away
anything that might be useful to him in a scrap. “Has he got any weapons,
Hans?” – “No.” – “Good. Let’s bomb the shit out of the fucker.”

So I had this idea for a new show and I suggested old Paxman be the front
man because he’s a bit of a laugh and you can see he doesn’t believe a fucking
word any of these people tell him. The show would be called Wriggle and what
you’d do is you’d get these people on there who you know you aren’t going to
get a straight answer out of, like old Blair and Straw and those others who cut up
nasty when you ask them to drop the bullshit. So you’d have people like that
Mike O’Brien bloke and John Reid, and what you’d do is you’d put them in a
sack and tie it up and lay them on the floor. Then they’d have to wriggle out of
the sack while Paxman asks them just one question and when they get out of the
sack they win and Paxman can’t ask that question anymore ever again. So you
could shove Straw in the sack, tie it up, lie him on the floor and a buzzer would
go and Straw could start wriggling, even before Paxman started asking him the
question. “So, Mr Straw, about all this evidence that turned out to be forged or
copied or out of date or wishful thinking or a, whatchacallit, a pretext. Anyone
going to lose their jobs for taking the piss out of the British public with it all?”
And as soon as Straw has wriggled out of the sack everyone applauds and
that’s the end of that week’s show and Straw could never be asked that question
again. And if anyone did ask him, even in Parliament, all he would have to say
is “I would point out to my Right Honourable friend that that question has been
definitively settled on Wriggle.”

Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Richard Seymour on 'The blame Corbyn for anything you can fucking think of' campaign

In the weeks before the European Union referendum, Labour Party members and activists told me that they expected the coup against Corbyn to come after the referendum — no matter what the result was.
I dismissed this on the grounds that it would be an idiotic move. Nine months in to Corbyn’s leadership, ratified by an overwhelming majority of Labour’s members, and in the context of a profound existential crisis for the Conservatives, why would the Labour Right choose this moment to go on the offensive? They don’t have an obvious candidate, and they don’t have any apparent solutions, much less do they seem more ‘electable’. And in case the point is missed, this is exactly the problem they had nine months ago, when Corbyn won the leadership. It would make far more sense for them, even cynically, to give the leader enough rope to hang himself with.
Yet here we are, within days of the Brexit result, and Labour MPs led by members of the shadow cabinet are attempting a coup. Hillary Benn fired the first shot, but was soon followed by a staggered series of resignations on the part of people most of whom have never supported the leadership. The coup de grace was supposed to be Tom Watson “telling Corbyn to resign” but — characteristically hedging — Watson stopped short of doing so. Because for all that the coup reeks of cynicism, the strategic logic looks decidedly askew. Those behind it have not stated who they think can take Corbyn’s place, or even what specific policies they disagree with Corbyn on. They have no plan, or at least none that they are prepared to share. They instead offer fantastical musings. Stephen Kinnock MP, a rising anti-Corbyn mouthpiece, went so far as to claim on national television that Corbyn’s pre-referendum support among members no longer holds. Many of the resignation letters have an edge of desperation, urging Corbyn to ‘do the right thing’ 
In reality, Corbyn not only has the support of the overwhelming majority of members, but twelve trade unions have signed a statement in his defence. Only a faction of the parliamentary party, which has never accepted his leadership, wants this coup. There are therefore only two ways in which a leadership election would not be won by Corbyn in these circumstances. Either, the plotters manage to somehow circumvent a new election, or, Labour MPs ensure that Corbyn is not on the ballot — after Collins Review reforms, he needs 15% of Labour MPs to nominate him. Both outcomes would be such a gross affront to the party's democracy that it is difficult to see how they could carry it off. This is clearly a scorched earth strategy, intended to destroy Labour’s electoral chances in the likely event that there is a snap election, by sinking it into a deadly internal battle.
This is not the first time that members of the Labour Right have gone out of their way to sabotage their own party. There were those, like John Mann MP, who tried to get the leadership election cancelled when it was clear that Corbyn might win it. There were others, like Blair’s former speechwriter Peter Hyman, who spoke openly of splitting to form a new SDP when he did win. Even talking like this betrayed a certain panic: one doesn’t, in the context of the Labour Party, lightly invoke the failed experiment that according to party folk memory handed the Tories three election victories. Former deputy leader John Prescott laid into these ‘Bitterites,’ as he called them, for refusing to accept the leadership outcome and running a campaign of sabotage intended to wreck Labour’s chances. And sure enough, in the run up to London’s mayoral contest, MPs were privately briefing that they didn’t want Sadiq Khan — someone very much not from the Corbyn wing of the party — to win, lest it bolster Corbyn’s leadership position. Although they have often claimed to be worried about Corbyn's electability, their behaviour demonstrates that their major worry is that Corbyn might win, rather than that he can’t.
Insofar as they have any excuse, the putschists, descending on news studios now with their very best more-in-sorrow-than-anger expressions on, blame Corbyn for mis-handling the EU referendum campaign. Of course, Labour’s pitiful campaign was actually run by Alan Johnson, alongside Hillary Benn - the first shadow cabinet member to start the coup. Nonetheless, they maintain that Corbyn ‘sabotaged’ the Remain campaign by raising the supposedly obscure issue of TTIP, and being “critical of the EU in tone”.
Yet, Corbyn had campaigned for the leadership and won it on a platform that was critical of the EU. And TTIP is hardly insignificant in its ramifications for public services and parliamentary democracy. Moreover, Labour has just recently had bitter experience of trying to run a referendum campaign in alliance with the Conservative Party, and without raising any major points of differentiation. It was a disaster. It decimated Labour in Scotland and, in a curious irony, contributed to the depletion of the ranks of Labour's Right, which gave Corbyn his way into the leadership job. Had Corbyn repeated the same mistake, he would surely be castigated for the ensuing demolition of Labour across the middle to north of England. As it is, with Corbyn making far more media appearances on this subject than any other Labour MP and touring meetings across the country, while pitching a nuanced argument far closer to where most Labour supporters are at than the cheerleaders, two-thirds of the Labour vote backed Remain. It is tendentious, at the very least, to insist that Corbyn’s approach is responsible for the Brexit. 
The fury of the Labour Right, their willingness to engage in this wrecking mission, even to damage their own electoral prospects, doesn't look like a lucid strategy. Adam Phillips suggests that our rages disclose what it is we think we are entitled to.  We become infuriated when the world doesn’t live up to our largely unconscious assumptions about how it should be for us.  What might the fury of Labour’s right-wingers, as well as their media allies, tell us about their entitlement?  Their denial about the depths of Corbyn’s support among the members, their seeming belief that they have a right to be safeguarded against the critical and sometimes harsh words of activists, all suggests a zealously proprietorial attitude to the party.
And we would be mistaken to dismiss this attitude too quickly. It is based in a certain reality. For most of its existence, Labour has not been run by its members. The usual division of Labour has been that trade union leaders and a leadership chosen from the party’s right or centre, have decided upon policy, while the more left-wing members have been useful for mobilising voters. Lewis Minkin, author of a classic study of the Labour Party’s internal management, describes how over time the locus of governance in the party shifted from the union leadership to the Parliamentary Labour Party and the electoral-professional caste that works alongside the leadership.  But at no point has the membership been anything other than an object for management and discipline, a craft that was raised to an art form under the Blairites. And so, the ability of the members to impose a leadership from the radical left, the first ever in Labour's history, is an immense frustration to the party's traditional management.
But what is being missed in all of this frenzy, what none of Corbyn's oblocutors want to admit, is that Corbyn is not the cause of the party's crisis, but an answer to it. Labour is in dire straits, and would be whoever was in the leadership. In the wake of New Labour, the party’s membership had fallen to its lowest level since 1918, its vote share to its lowest level since 1983. Formerly mountainous majorities had been levelled, great swathes of former 'heartlands' had abandoned the party for the Liberals, the SNP, Plaid Cymru and even the Greens. There are deep sociological roots to this process, having to do with the decomposition of former big battalions of organised labour, the long-term shift in employment structures, and the atomisation of everyday life. 
The idea that the party's problems can be blamed on one leader, one set of policies, or one campaign, is absurd. Nonetheless, if the back bench belligerents do want to look for a leadership and a set of policies that coincided with a dramatic, precipitous collapse in Labour's social base, they need only look to the era of New Labour whose politics they seem so eager to return to. Corbyn's leadership is precisely an attempt to achieve what Milibands couldn’t, reverse those trends, rebuild the membership, reconstitute the core vote, anchor the party in the unions and social movements, and rescue a dying social democracy from the Blairite legacy. 
The odds against success for Corbyn have always been steep, and not only due to the sullen campaign waged against him, first from the back benches and now openly from within his shadow cabinet. Labour is suffering from the same dilemma as other social democratic parties across Europe. The one distinctive social democratic policy mix that has ever enjoyed success, the postwar compromise, depended on unprecedented growth rates and a business class willing to cooperate in corporatist bargaining and state coordination — conditions which are unlikely to return. In this light, Corbyn’s attempt to develop an anti-austerity solution that is intellectually coherent, electorally viable and can actually be implemented once in office, is an incredibly tall order. But the alternative, of accepting the neoliberal settlement and modulating the priorities within that framework, has been tried and led to disaster.
What the coup-mongers, in refusing to let Corbyn even try, are demonstrating is that the idea of a federal party of labour, representing all of its sections in their diversity, may have seen its day. It is increasingly implausible that the Labour Right is willing to exist in a party led from the Left. But if that is the case, the SDP option may be their only honourable way out. The only reason they haven’t taken it, one suspects, is precisely because as both former SDP MP Polly Toynbee and the Blairite journalist Jon Rentoul agree, the conditions for a successful split simply don’t exist. So, they are doing the only thing they can. Without a solution, without a plan, without even a plausible leadership candidate, they are embarking on a campaign of sabotage to bring the party to its knees. And thus, they hope the party will return, duly chastened, to its traditional owners. They want their party back, in other words, and they’ll inflict any cost to get it.


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