Sarah Palin for president? The evidence builds

Speculation surrounding Palin's possible bid in 2012 builds, as she prepares to give a speech in Iow

It's long been speculated that Sarah Palin, doyenne of the Tea Party movement, could be gearing up to announce a presidential bid for 2012.

Further evidence that this could be the case emerged today, with the news that Palin will be the main speaker at a $100-a-seat Republican dinner in Iowa on Friday. Iowa, the state that traditionally kicks off the presidential race, is considered politically crucial. A visit to the small state is essential for anyone considering a bid for the White House.

Palin herself is well aware of the conjecture, and teased supporters (not very subtley) at a rally over the weekend, with Fox News anchor Glenn Beck:

Evidently, I'm supposed to make a big announcement here, Glenn and I together, make some big announcement, maybe about the 2012 election or something.

The former vice-presidential candidate already has a formidable fundraising machine, which raised $865,815 in spring alone. She has kept a high-profile with speaking engagements and a regular slot on Fox News, and has retained political influence by voicing support for various anti-establishment Republican candidates and speaking at Tea Party rallies. She has also assembled a team of staff who some have described as a campaign team: these include speechwriters and consultants on domestic and foreign policy. The "Mama Grizzlies" video she released in July was touted by some as the launch of her presidential bid.

But we need not panic too much. While Palin is popular enough among party activists to potentially secure a nomination, she remains a divisive figure -- not only in the country as a whole but in her own party, with the Republican establishment unlikely to support her bid.

It's likely that Palin herself has yet to decide whether she will run as she feels out potential support. However, this visit to Iowa shows that she is very much keeping her options open.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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At last, Jeremy Corbyn gets the biography he deserves

Liam Young reviews Richard Seymour's Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics.

Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics is the fullest and fairest account of Jeremy Corbyn’s rise released to date. In avoiding much of the rhetoric espoused in similar accounts focusing on Corbyn’s early career this book provides a frank account of how the unlikely leader took charge of the Labour party. It is a very readable account too. Richard Seymour writes plainly but effectively and his writing is both accessible and incredibly informative.

Seymour attempts two monumental tasks in this piece: first he attempts to account for Corbyn’s rise and then he attempts to predict where such a rise will take him, the Labour party and the wider left. Zoe Williams wrote that Rosa Prince’s Comrade Corbyn was an account of “ex-girlfriends, the state of his flat” and featured “very little ideological insight”. Seymour does the opposite. In simultaneously engaging with Marxist and Gramscian theory, Seymour provides readers with something of academic value in the place of such gossip.

For any supporter of Corbyn, the first few chapters are a trip down Memroy Lane. Reading of the last minute rush to get Corbyn on the ballot paper sends the heart beating once more. While perhaps a niche political event, supporters know where they were the minute Corbyn’s place on the ballot was confirmed. The fact that we know the outcome of the uncertainty that surrounded the leadership election makes for palpable reading.

Seymour’s work is not simply the polar-opposite of Prince’s hit-job though. It would be wrong to suggest that it is a positive, self-fulfilling account of Corbyn’s rise. In many ways it is a hard hitting and realistic look at what lies ahead. For supporters of the Labour leader much of Seymour’s analysis will be discomforting; indeed the writer concludes that it is likely “labourism” will outlive “Corbynism”.

Such a view is hardly surprising though. Seymour’s repertoire of anti-establishment work suggests that it was always unlikely he would find a comfortable home in an establishment party. In this sense it suffers from being an account written by an outsider looking in. While the Marxist analysis of the Labour party is thought-provoking it seems too lengthy and seems to fit with an orthodox view surrounding the inevitable death of the Labour party.

Seymour’s concentration on “movement-building” is pertinent though. Utilising Jeremy’s own words on such a phenomenon is an effective tool. In drawing this distinction Seymour pokes at an open wound on the left asking exactly where all of this fits. It is about time that frank discussion on this topic was had. While there is a range of different opinions on the matter, Seymour’s intervention is an important initial step. It is an awkward conversation that the left can put off no longer.

The criticism levelled at the media is also well founded and long overdue. Seymour’s take on long established journalists who refused to accept Corbynmania makes for entertaining reading. On a more important note the fact that he credits social media as a central part of Corbyn’s campaign is interesting. The importance of this often overlooked element has been a point of debate within “Team Corbyn” and Seymour is right to poke at it.

Seymour’s work is, on the whole, a refreshing take on the events of last summer and a thought-provoking piece on the future of the Labour party. It is important to note that rather than viewing this book as an account of Corbyn’s campaign it should be seen as a review of the context surrounding Corbyn’s victory. Given that context is open to interpretation it is only fair to add the caveat that it should be read with an understanding of Seymour’s ideological foundation. Though I disagree with his conclusion concerning the Labour party’s future, I found it an important read. With an accessible yet authoritative tone Seymour manages the task of providing an academic insight into Corbyn’s election. Such analysis is far more valuable than words wasted on rumour and gossip – Seymour does well to avoid this and should be proud to have done so.

Liam Young is a commentator for the IndependentNew Statesman, Mirror and others.