Tuesday, 28 February 2017
Labour: The Woolworths of British Politics
The fallout from last week's by-elections has been wonderfully entertaining hasn't it. You take your pick of which of the smorgasbord of statistics and nerdy facts best illustrate how unprecedented this result was, but suffice to say that this sort of result only usually happens once in a couple of generations and then only to people who look like Michael Foot or Chauncey. Even Wallace never faced this kind of humiliation and, to be fair to him, would likely have resigned had he done so. He did after all resign after suffering a humiliating election defeat, even though he should actually have clung on and saved his party from itself. Instead he threw it to the left wing hordes of fantasists. Now they are in control, albeit giving a more than decent impression of being in chaos.
Labour are not so much in denial as now reduced to arguing that gravity is only a theory and that hirsute, scruffy old gentlemen wearing nasty brown geography teacher style jackets are the new cool. There were very many reasons given for the loss of Copeland. Chauncey said that it was disappointing but that it has been going this way for decades. He claimed that the Stoke result was a brilliant vindication of him and a rejection of Ukip and ignored Copeland completely as inconvenient to his special brand of idiotic delusion. But then compared to some of his colleagues he sounded almost reasonable.
Cat Smith (who isn't a cat but clearly has the mental faculties of one) said it had been a brilliant result because the party had only lost by a couple of thousand votes when the national opinion polls suggested worse. John - I love the IRA - McDonnell said that they lost because of Tony Blair. Yes the party of the people is so fragile that it is rendered a loser just because the man who quit the top job a decade ago saw fit to opine on Europe a few days before Copeland voted.
But the best of the lot was Shami - I see no anti-Semitism, now give me a peerage - Chakrabarti. The recently ennobled shadow attorney general and consumer of private education told Andrew Marr that the reason Labour lost in Copeland was because lots of working class people don't own cars. Whatever happened to Mondeo man eh?
It is, as this blog has pointed out more than once, so very typical of the sort of people who now make up the Labour Party, the smug, university educated, public sector employed, metropolitan Labour Party that knows nothing whatever about the modern labour force. Chauncey lives in a world in which coalminers are the salt of the earth, cloth cap wearing earthy folk he imagines still require people like him to patronise. He imagines that they would still exist had it not been for Thatcher and conveniently ignores the fact that those hellish, dangerous jobs had been dying out for decades. He is against nuclear power but for reopening the mines and sending men back down them.
McDonnell is a class warrior who hates Tories for their own sake but has no more idea of who or what he fighting for. He hates the British state, hates our history, loves out enemies just because they are our enemies. He sees cuts, all cuts, as indefensible, whatever he pays lip service to now. Point out to him that public spending has not actually been cut in any year since 2010 and he will probably call this an alternative fact. McDonnell wants to be a class warrior in the same way that little boys want to run around and kick footballs.
And then there is Shami. Shami, for whom I always used to have some respect even when I profoundly disagreed with her has exposed herself in recent months as being a typical unthinking left wing zealot who looks for victims to sympathise with and feel sorry for rather than people to represent, although as an unelected peer she need not worry about representing anyone or anything other than her own prejudices.
In short this is the modern stuck in the past Labour Party, a party that has lost its way even more than it has haemorrhaged voters. This has been happening for many years, in that Chauncey is quite right. But he doesn't seem to ask himself why. He prefers to talk of the struggle without pausing to ask for whom he is struggling. In truth he is only struggling for his fellow travellers, his fellow bourgeois petty revolutionaries who are so disappointed in the working class that they have abandoned their roots, become bourgeois themselves and bought themselves cars, flat screen TVs and foreign holidays. They don't aspire to class war they aspire to nice homes, comfort, decent schools for their kids. They don't buy silly scare stories that the Tories will kill babies. They no longer feel the need to thank the Labour Party endlessly for creating the NHS, because it happened 60 years ago and it doesn't seem to work terribly well. So why preserve it in aspic?
And so they are reduced to making excuses for their losses. I want a general election for many reasons, but would be genuinely fascinated by what excuses Chauncey and co dreamt up to explain away the kind of devastating loss suggested by the opinion polls and last week's results. Would Chauncey even resign then? You can be damned sure he would do his best to hand over to one of his proteges without pausing to wonder if that might simply make matters even worse and consign his party to much deserved doom.
Ukip have correctly identified that Labour is ripe for the taking, that it no longer talks to or for the people who vote for it and still regards them as this homogenous class in need of a party named after them. But Ukip has no chance of replacing Labour any time soon. The Lib Dems are just Labour but with whiter skin. And so this vast chasm has opened up in British politics, or rather English politics. Labour are unelectable, but still too big to completely die. They are like one of those old high street companies we like to see still existing but never actually frequent. They are like Woolworths. But then we all know what happened eventually to Woolworths.