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Capsule Review

Protest and Power: The Battle for the Labour Party

In This Review

Protest and Power: The Battle for the Labour Party
Protest and Power: The Battle for the Labour Party
By David Kogan
Bloomsbury, 2019, 448 pp. Purchase

Two decades after the triumph of “New Labour” under Tony Blair, why is the British Labour Party run by a left-wing radical who favors nationalization, coddles autocrats, flirts with anti-Semitism, and lacks either the will or the ability to oppose Brexit outright? Based on detailed interviews and crammed with juicy anecdotes, this book is in many ways the definitive chronicle of Jeremy Corbyn’s unlikely march from backbench obscurity to party leadership. Like many accounts by insider journalists, however, its underlying explanation rests almost entirely on personalities, accidents, errors, and dumb luck. From this perspective, the reemergence of the Labour left resulted from a backlash against Blair’s involvement in the Iraq war, changes that “democratized” Labour party rules and boosted radicals over moderates, and New Labour’s mismanaged privatization policies. Kogan neglects to trace the larger forces—including globalization, inequality, deindustrialization, and nationalism—that have undermined the political order in every Western democracy, not just in the United Kingdom.

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