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Is Labour dead? It's not just in Britain — centre-left parties are collapsing across their European heartlands

Sadness in his eyes. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Sadness in his eyes. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images


May 7, 2021   6 mins

It is the great political conundrum of our age. Why are the parties of social democracy performing so poorly in many Western democracies at a time when the free-spending policies of their creed, boosted by the pandemic, are in the ascendancy?

We have a government in Westminster that is conservative in name, after all, but look at its abandonment of restraint on financial matters and gung-ho enthusiasm for statist intervention.

No doubt much of the frenzied political debate over the next few days will focus on Boris Johnson’s bizarre appeal to northern voters and Sir Keir Starmer’s failure to win back traditional supporters in his party’s former heartlands. The results look dreadful for Labour if the by-election humiliation in Hartlepool, a constituency it has held for half a century, is reflected around the country — and early council election results from places as different as Dudley, Harlow and Nuneaton suggest the worst for the party. No amount of spin can hide the forlorn sight of a declining party drifting pathetically in the doldrums.

There are many reasons for this latest Labour setback. The Government’s vaccine success shored up support for Brexit and sabotaged Starmer’s strategy of looking steady in contrast to the cronyism and chaotic style of the Prime Minister. Focus groups suggest Labour’s leader is seen as inauthentic and ill-defined; there’s lingering distrust of his party on the economy and immigration at a time of concern over jobs. “People in their heartlands feel they voted for Labour over many years but were forgotten, so the Tories are seen as the party of change despite being in power for 11 years,” said former Downing Street pollster James Johnson.

While Boris Johnson has seized the flag of English nationalism, few people could tell you what Labour stands for today beyond vague slogans on fairness and social justice. Its hapless leaders, hostages of their Victorian trade union heritage despite its total irrelevance to many modern voters, forlornly try to bind together a broad coalition that was brutally exposed for its internal conflicts by Jeremy Corbyn and then shattered by Brexit. Yet behind the inevitable froth today about leadership, despite the solidity of Starmer and dearth of credible alternative candidates, lies a far more profound question for the Labour Party: is it simply an outdated entity?

Labour’s plight is similar to other traditional centre-left parties on our continent. Once their leaders could rely on a powerful alliance of middle-class progressives backed by the massed ranks of working-class voters to win elections. Their parties should have been boosted by the flaws of neo-liberalism that were exposed first in the financial crisis of 2008 and now in the pandemic. Instead, as the United States veers towards social democracy under its latest president and even Johnson turns into a cheerleader for the nanny state, the brothers and sisters of socialism find themselves rebuffed, rejected and sliding into irrelevance across their European heartlands.

Look across the Channel and you can see many members of the centre-left family are struggling to balance the interests of progressive people in thriving cities and university centres with working class voters in communities that used to be their bedrock but now often feel abandoned and resentful. These are parties that were firmly-established political forces in their countries and shaped their societies. But in this age of anger, insecurity, social media and populism they find themselves assailed from all sides, soiled brands weighed down by their past and hesitant over their future. They end up looking like lumbering dinosaurs from another age as they struggle to evolve fast enough to traverse the drastically-altered political terrain.

In the first decade of this century, these centre-left parties won national elections in Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Portugal and the United Kingdom while they were the main opposition force in Denmark, France and Holland. Today their politicians lead just five governments in the European Union while these parties have collapsed in some of their important homelands, including our own. This phenomenon of decline even has a name — “Pasokification” — after the Greek party Pasok’s vote share crashed from 44% in 2000 to less than 5% the last time it stood alone in 2015, falling in three years from 160 seats in parliament to 13.

This was seen as something unique, a left-leaning party crushed by imposition of extreme austerity, yet there are other examples to instil fear in Labour strategists. In France the socialists took the presidency with Francois Hollande in 2012, only to be squeezed into fifth place in 2017 with a crushing 6% of the vote leaving them far behind the centrist winner Emmanuel Macron, the far-right Marine Le Pen and even trounced by veteran leftist Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

The party slipped even further into sixth place two years later in voting for the European Parliament as the Greens surged into third. Meanwhile in the Netherlands the Labour Party — beset by internal divisions and challenged by insurgent greens, liberals, hard-left and populist right — lost three-quarters of their MPs in the 2017 election and then failed to regain any ground in this year’s contest two months ago.

The traditional socialist parties remain players in Scandinavia, Malta and the Iberian peninsular, where they govern in uncomfortable alliance with hard-left challengers. In Denmark, the “red block” led by the Social Democrats won a tight election in 2019 and now runs the country with a combination of left-wing economic policies and a horribly tough stance on immigration, sparking justified outrage by stripping even Syrian refugees of residency rights and telling them to go back to Damascus.

This won back some supporters from the far-right, but many liberals defected. Their sister party also scraped back into power through coalition in Sweden, the bastion of European social democracy, despite a steadily declining share of the vote that has fallen consistently to its lowest level for more than a century.

Labour needs to take a long, hard look at this data after its thrashing in Hartlepool. The sharp declines across Europe show their plight could grow much worse if they muddle along in vague hope of Tory collapse. Starmer will also be acutely aware of latest German polling ahead of the election in September, which sees the charismatic Greens, luring voters from across the political and social spectrums, vying with the ruling conservative CDU/CSU to succeed Angela Merkel as chancellor. The once-mighty Social Democrats are ten points behind this pair in distant third, narrowly ahead of the liberals and populist right.

Yes, the British electoral system is different when first past the post offers protection for big parties against disruptive forces. But Joe Biden only just beat the dreadful Donald Trump in another two-party system, even amid disastrous handling of the pandemic. Meanwhile the erosion of Labour representatives in local and regional politics reduces their visible protagonists outside Westminster, which will further accentuate the slide in their heartlands. Labour looks cautious, defensive and still searching for some kind of magical glue to stick together students, professionals, shop staff and factory workers who hold conflicting views on many key issues from the culture wars to migration.

One shadow cabinet member, fresh from the campaign trail, was perspicacious about the party’s plight when we discussed the election results. “This was the day that should be imprinted on all our eyeballs showing we have lost the white working class,” I was told: “We have to change or die. We are staring at extinction.” It is risky to predict doom given the unpredictability of politics and volatility of voters, as any Tory active during the peak years of New Labour could attest, but he could be correct. Although a moderate, this person believes the party must shift left economically with revived talk of nationalisation while breaking the union stranglehold that shored up Jeremy Corbyn despite the damaging anti-semitism furore.

The Tories have proved they can build a new coalition, bringing together working and middle class supporters under a post-Brexit banner of English nationalism, cultural conservatism and levelling up the North while jettisoning some centrists and liberals. The big question for Labour is whether there is a progressive banner that can stretch across regions and classes, binding sufficient number of voters from their metropolitan and other areas to wrest back control of the country. Their leaders say at least people are listening to them again after the 2019 catastrophe, but that is not enough. Voters need to believe, not simply listen.

Labour is a badly wounded beast. It needs to find fast a survival strategy based on reinvention rather than rebuilding. This must then be pushed with every comment, every image and every speech — as I know from my days advising David Cameron during his initial modernisation of the Conservatives when they were flying high in the polls. My preference would be for Labour to turn deep green in hope of emulating events in Germany. But it could follow the Danish model at risk of outrage on the Left — or alternatively, forget about the red wall with an updated version of Corbynism but shorn of bigotry and distaste for the flag. For all his personal flaws and manifesto absurdities, after all, Corbyn did give the Tories a fright in 2017.

These disastrous results demonstrate the scale and urgency of the task before Starmer and his dwindling band of fellow travellers in their search for a path back to power. They need to offer aspiration, inspiration and cohesive vision for the future. Attacking the Tories for sleaze, shuffling the lacklustre shadow cabinet, flying the flag, taking the knee and tinkering with a few policies is not enough to defeat the Tories — especially in a nation that has only seen two elected Labour prime ministers in my lifetime of almost six decades, both from a time before Scotland was seduced by nationalism. If Labour wants to survive, let alone thrive, the lesson from Europe is that it needs major surgery rather than simply a cosmetic makeover.


Ian Birrell is an award-winning foreign reporter and columnist. He is also the founder, with Damon Albarn, of Africa Express.

ianbirrell

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Vinnie J
VJ
Vinnie J
2 years ago

The reason Labour lost is because they have a Sir as a leader who failed to prosecute Saville and allegedly failed to prosecute the Rochdale grooming gangs and couldn’t wait to take the knee for a career black criminal in USA who was resisting arrest and was killed, unfortunately by a police officer even tho’ hundreds of blacks kill other blacks in America and nothing is said about that of course. He is a London lawyer and has no connection with the British working/middle classes he’s supposed to represent. He wants to re-join the EU even tho’ the people voted out. He has to go.

Last edited 2 years ago by Vinnie J
JR Stoker
JR Stoker
2 years ago
Reply to  Vinnie J

So it is Jimmy Saville that has brought down the Labour Party? I don’t think so. The average potential Labour voter neither knows or cares about that. They just want a patriotic working class party who will restore standards in schools, sort out the NHS mess, and generally have a social conscience. And lower tax on the lower paid.

Jon Redman
HJ
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Do the lower paid pay any tax?

Harry Bo
Harry Bo
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Yes

mike otter
MO
mike otter
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Proportionally they pay the most tax. VAT, compulsory council tax, TV tax, fuel etc on say 20k net to spend takes you into precariat territory, on 40k it affects your life quality and on 100k or 500k its just an irritant.

Dominic S
DS
Dominic S
2 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

Yes. Although I pay a chunk of direct tax (on 21kpa) the effect of the cost of teeth, glasses, and prescriptions (no longer free on this income), as well as those you mention, are quite deadening.

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
2 years ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Social democracy or the Welfare state, i.e. Labour in the case of the UK, was a proposal to mitigate some of the problems of liberalism-capitalism through payoffs to select dissidents while maintaining the essential features of capitalism unchanged. This doesn’t seem to work any more, if it ever did. The desire for freedom and equality among the proles will have to take another route. Meanwhile expect the politics of tribalism to continue and increase.

kathleen carr
KC
kathleen carr
2 years ago
Reply to  Starry Gordon

Though the route that the Conservative government decided to take to deal with covid favoured the public sector-who are assumed to be more likely to vote Labour over the private sector who favour Conservative. The public sector could then urge caution while sabotaging the government policy.So to some extent who you vote for doesn’t matter if they are not in charge.

kathleen carr
KC
kathleen carr
2 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

So for example we have a home secretary who can only say how appalled she is-but does nothing about it-so ‘souind and fury signifying nothing’ wheras the voters thought they might get a return to Thatcher, and will soon be disappointed if Tories carry on like Labour-Lite

Stu White
Stu White
2 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

I assure you that on £100k plus as sole earner it is far from just an irritant

Gavin Stewart-Mills
Gavin Stewart-Mills
2 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

You make a good point about the burden of non-progressive taxes lower down the pay scale, but you’d be surprised to learn how painful is the income tax burden for someone on 100k; proportionately way higher than the comfortable middle classes (40-60k) and definitely more than an “irritation”.

Geraint Williams
Geraint Williams
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Yes

Dawne Swift
DS
Dawne Swift
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

They pay tax but they get most of it back via in-work benefits. However that does not mean that they don’t care about standards in schools and the NHS.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

The idea that Labour is capable of restoring standards in any area of life, or of sorting out the NHS or anything else, is patently absurd. The same applies to the Tories.

Tom Graham
TG
Tom Graham
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

Ex-Labour voters in the North care vary much about Rochdale, and Rotherham, and the part that the Labour party and a certain former DPP played in trying to cover them up.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom Graham

Yes, that rings true. Labour is associated – rightly or wrongly – with a tendency to tolerate, for the sake of keeping the peace, that which the majority find unspeakably foul.

The Tories are often accused of Islamaphobia. I have a hunch that every time that accusation is made it causes a vote to leave Labour and migrate to the Tories.
Labour are associated – again, rightly or wrongly – with a tendency to want to shut people’s mouths, and keep them shut, when it comes to any discussion of the incompatibility of values that have caused such division in this country, and which are probably endemic to a much larger undercurrent than is acknowledged.

Neil John
NJ
Neil John
2 years ago

Dominic Sandbrook places this problem as starting in1968, with Labour’s response the the ‘ROB’ speech by Powell, each step since then has been further and further away from the working class and their concerns.

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

I think the average Brit whose daughter was raped by a bunch of pedophile Pakistani and Bangladeshi Muslims do care but get no help from the authorities and are told to shut up by Labour MPs for the sake of community cohesion.
Their only push back is at the ballot box.

Last edited 2 years ago by Clem Alford
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

When I mentioned KS to my mother earlier this week, and also on previous occasions, her immediate response was first Saville and then Rochdale.
Also the lower paid do not pay any taxes in any material sense
It seems that KS is not the only one out of touch.

William Murphy
William Murphy
2 years ago
Reply to  Vinnie J

Eh?? Labour is to blame for Sir Jimmy?? Did not the Blessed Margaret entertain the old molester several times at Chequers and get him his secular knighthood, in the teeth of opposition from the Civil Service? Sir Jimmy was a rare showbusiness Thatcher fan. And it was Pope St John Paul who gave him his Papal Knighthood, so there are more than enough paedo enablers to go round.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

And did she know he was a paedophile rapist at the time?

William Murphy
William Murphy
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Probably not enough to go to court on, though rumours had been around for years. But Savile’s own 1970s autobiography boasted that he had slept with 2,500 women….which might have convinced any reputable politician, especially an allegedly “Conservative” prime minister, to keep her distance.

Giulia Khawaja
Giulia Khawaja
2 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

It’s also should have warned off the Pope assuming he knew.

Stuart Y
Stuart Y
2 years ago
Reply to  Giulia Khawaja

Why would it?????

jim payne
jim payne
2 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

Don’t we all wish that? 2,500 eh!

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

Savile Probably had Matthew harding Killed 1996 Helicopter crash ,He was A friend of Jill Dando &was going to go live with A BBC Paedophile list,Same for Jill dando in April 1999, A Serbian assassin, ,i dont think so..?

Geraint Williams
Geraint Williams
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

She turned a blind eye to so many perversions and corruptions during her time that the answer is, probably yes.

jim payne
JP
jim payne
2 years ago
Reply to  William Murphy

There we go again. Blame those long dead and long long dead, for the actions they took. Saville was feted throughout the country for his good works. England did more than any country to stop the slave trade. So blame all our ills on them then.

Chris Hopwood
CH
Chris Hopwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Vinnie J

Maggie pushed for savile’s knighthood!

Stuart Y
Stuart Y
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Hopwood

And did you push for honours for CFC or their boys club who apparently are a “separate entity ” or just brush it under the carpet as “enablers” do the world over but especially in the Church of Rome.

Clem Alford
CA
Clem Alford
2 years ago
Reply to  Vinnie J

Absolutely. What are Labour thinking?
He has banned any discussion in his own CLP meetings that he doesn’t approve of.

Gavin Stewart-Mills
Gavin Stewart-Mills
2 years ago
Reply to  Vinnie J

Case in point – will be interesting to observe the Batley & Spen by-election, where the utterly dismal MP (Tracy Brabin – now the newly elected W Yorks Mayor) is savagely unpopular with constituents for her total lack of support for the teacher on the receiving end of the ‘blasphemous’ lessons protest.

Albireo Double
AD
Albireo Double
2 years ago

I agree with much of the analysis, but the preferences of this “Cameron-former-speechwriter” are very clear, and his distaste for the new zeitgeist pulsates like a distress flare throughout, as he clutches to a few planks of wood in the stormy sea, hoping that the twisted bits of sinking wreckage will somehow metamorphose into a shiny new ship called “HMS Centre Left”, and carry him back to his safe life.
Ian. All of this is happening because the people (the vast majority of the people – let’s not label them as particular party voters or by class) have had enough.
They (we) have spent 3 decades being patronised, insulted, condescended to, and talked down to, by a cross-party political grouping, (styled as “elite” only by itself), but clearly identifiable as metropolitan, liberal, wealthy, and finally now, no-longer-complacent. (you).
It is you lot, not “Labour” or “The Left” against whom the current revolt is happening, and will continue to rage. You should expect at least another 30 years of this. As long as it takes for you all to stop describing us as racist, populist, gullible, “right wing”, xenophobic, or any other “phobic” – and then some.
Yes, Labour is almost certainly a deserving early casualty, hopefully dead for good – with its original purpose (honourably) fulfilled, but now completely surplus to requirements. – the “dinosaur” that you mention.
We need an opposition. But it will need to be something completely new. and probably (to your horror) from the political right of Boris and Co. with their easy-going social liberalism.
We also need a new realisation from our self-regarding, self-absorbed, complacent, stuck-in-a-rut journalists. They (you) need to join us in the 2020’s, and completely re-boot your entire worldview and thought process. It’s going to be hard for you all. But we don’t care, because you all richly deserve the ongoing hard boot up the backside that you are receiving.
Journos and Politicos, We bid you welcome to your (self-imposed) future. Say hello to the rest of your life. We hope that you will enjoy it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Albireo Double
Peter Scott
PS
Peter Scott
2 years ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

PERFECT! MOST TONIC!
As for your predictions, “Amen, amen, to that fair prayer say I” (Shakespeare).

garethhcoombs
garethhcoombs
2 years ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Wow……..thumbs up to that!

Starry Gordon
SG
Starry Gordon
2 years ago
Reply to  garethhcoombs

That is sort of what happened in the US to produce Trump. There were revolts on the Left and the Right, but only the one on the Right was effective. There will be other, more competent and focused Trumps along, and I am doubtful whether you will all be as pleased as you seem to be now.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Starry Gordon

Trump Was NOT left or Right,he annoyed The Globalists,Greens, career politicians, built A wall, helped black,hispanic, Blue collar workers..No wonder you keep losing,Also mainstream Media hated lied about him..Trump is primarily A 3 times,maybe soon 4, divorced business man

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Excellent post

Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
2 years ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Bravo Sir.

Colin Reeves
Colin Reeves
2 years ago
Reply to  Albireo Double

Well said. Nothing shows better how out-of-touch IB is than this line: “as the United States veers towards social democracy under its latest president.” The Democrats are going for full-on Marxism, which is where “social democracy” will always end up if unchecked at the ballot box. (And they know how to “win” elections now, without winning voters.)

Andy Yorks
AY
Andy Yorks
2 years ago

Maybe Labour’s problem is two fold. First, as Shirley Williams once observed, today the ‘haves outweigh the havenots’. And secondly Labour has been taken over by middle class professionals.
There is that lovely line in Brideshead Revisited where Bridie is describing his future wife, Mrs Musprate, describing her ‘as a woman of high moral principle, fortified by all the prejudice of the middle classes’. In a way that describes Starmer. He bends the knee to Marxists but wouldn’t respect the Referendum result, no matter how he wanted to dress it up. He thinks people in Hartlepool and all points North are stupid, xenophobic bigots etc, etc, etc and then he wonders why we wont vote for him and his ilk. A bit of selfawareness would go a long way.
But unless Labour acts fast and reconnects with ordinary people and THEIR concerns it will find its vote will collapse just like it did in Scotland and just like PASOK’s did in Greece. So beware Starmer.

Mark Gourley
MG
Mark Gourley
2 years ago
Reply to  Andy Yorks

Well said. However, I think one should not point the finger too much at Starmer personally as he is in an impossible position. As Ian Birrell rightly says, parties of the traditional centre-left all across Europe are struggling – and failing – to keep their historical support.

George Glashan
GG
George Glashan
2 years ago

let the Labour Party die, the battles it was created to fight are long gone. The future is about democracy versus technocracy, immigration, unstable employment, declining populations. It has nothing to say on these, at least nothing the voting public wants to hear. Let it die so that something appropriate for our times can take its place. Like Fraser Bailey says, its now a bloated cash cow for parasitic middle managers to leech from.

mike otter
mike otter
2 years ago
Reply to  George Glashan

I agree Labour is finished but the natural successors of blind political hate, color prejudice and envy are the greenies. Once we see what they are like (Think the Black Hundreds or Bolshiviks) we’ll be begging for cuddly old Labour with its racism and grooming gangs.

Peter Jackson
PJ
Peter Jackson
2 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

exactly…bolsheviks with smiley face emoticons…

Starry Gordon
Starry Gordon
2 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

If you think those who will take advantage of racism and envy and other destructive forms of tribalism are all in one party, group, region, or class, I think you’re going to be unpleasantly surprised.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  mike otter

Our Labour County Councillors bragged they took briefings from extinction rebellion, Now today they Are Ex County Councillors!

Janice Mermikli
JM
Janice Mermikli
2 years ago
Reply to  George Glashan

Agreed. It (Labour) is an ex-parrot!

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago

Eating a big slice of humble pie would be job 1, following by a sustained programme of not making it obvious you despise great portions of your own voters while expecting them to place their crosses next to your candidate when next at the ballot box.
When it comes to cottoning onto the very simple idea of insulting your voters not being the best electoral strategy – honestly – pigeons learn faster.
Even if Labour does have a good think and comes back with a coherent vision and a decent programme, it is going to take a very long time for people to trust again.

Last Jacobin
LJ
Last Jacobin
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I think that makes sense. Though I think most of the insults attributed to Labour are perceived rather than actual.
But insulting your voters sometimes works. After all who could win the Red Wall after saying:
If he is blue collar, he is likely to be drunk, criminal, aimless, feckless and hopeless, and perhaps claiming to suffer from low self-esteem brought on by unemployment?
Families on lower incomes the women have absolutely no choice but to work, often with adverse consequences for family life and society as a whole – in that unloved and undisciplined children are more likely to become hoodies, NEETS, and mug you on the street corner?
Children of working mothers are ill-raised, ignorant, aggressive and illegitimate children who in theory will be paying for our pensions?
Mr Johnson.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

As we’ve learned from the past few weeks, trying to use anything that Johnson has (or may have) said to discredit him works about as well as a chocolate fireguard. Voters price in his flippancy and don’t hold it against him – especially since he is delivering on other policies which are important to them like Brexit and the vaccine rollout. He is the Mr. Teflon of UK politics.

alan mahon
alan mahon
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

“Price in”…. thats a great phrase/metaphor.
It makes me think of the Democrats constantly trying to raise the issue of Trump’s personality failings, as if his voters had not already noticed, and discounted them.

Katharine Eyre
KE
Katharine Eyre
2 years ago
Reply to  alan mahon

Thanks! Alas, I can’t claim credit for it, as I picked the phrase up from somewhere else. But I like it, as choosing who to vote for really is like going to market and weighing all the options to try and get yourself the best deal. Perhaps this is a perspective Labour should try and take to heart instead of taking their voters/buyers for granted.

Peter Kriens
Peter Kriens
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

So that is your impression of a description ex-labor voter?

Peter Dunn
PD
Peter Dunn
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

In MANY instances,he’s not actually wrong.

Peter Dunn
PD
Peter Dunn
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

This bunch will never be trusted again..if they re-package it will be rightly seen as a con.

JohnW
J
JohnW
2 years ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

As an active member of the London Labour Party through the 1980s and 1990s, I’m afraid the only part of “not making it obvious you despise great portions of your own voters” they ever managed was “not making it obvious”. The Blair Babes and the hereditory Labour bigwigs (Mandelson, Toynbee) despised most of the other members of the party, never mind the voters.

Andy Paul
Andy Paul
2 years ago

The Labour Party is now the party of the social liberals who regard the attachment to nation as xenophobic, who want to erase its culture and traditions and despise all those such as the voters of Hartlepool who stand against them and their year zero approach. The Labour Party is a victim of its own loathing of people and nation.

George Bruce
GB
George Bruce
2 years ago

 a horribly tough stance on immigration, sparking justified outrage by stripping even Syrian refugees of residency rights and telling them to go back to Damascus.

Do not worry, Ian, it is one thing to tell an illegal immigrant or an asylum-seeker to go home, it is quite another to get them to go!
As has been said, it is not over until the illegal immigrant or asylum-seeker wins.
I am sure some of those told to go home will be around to make appearances in the less politically correct news sources in future for their unorthodox contributions to Denmark.

Fraser Bailey
FB
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  George Bruce

If Denmark ceases to be tough on immigration it will no longer be Denmark. It’s as simple as that. The population is only about 5 million, and it already has a few hundred thousand who have been living off welfare for years, with no intention of integrating.

Jake C
JC
Jake C
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Exactly,
And its already seen such hostility, In Sweden welfare cosseted migrant kids go round in gangs and pick single younger Swedes to rob, and even urinate on and film at promote on social media.

Vikram Sharma
Vikram Sharma
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

When the left applaud the welfare model of Scandinavia, they forget to mention the homogeneity of the population. Denmark has woken up, watching Sweden commit slow suicide.

John Smith
John Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Vikram Sharma

Indeed. And if you wish to see what that suicide will look like take a glance at Pew Research’s analysis of Islam in Europe and its projections to 2050. Sobering stuff.

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

All thanks to Denmarks version of Labour.

Peter Scott
PS
Peter Scott
2 years ago

This writer of this essay speaks of the Danish Social Democrats’ success ‘in spite of’ their ‘horribly tough stance on immigration’.
That is exactly the stance desired by a large majority in most European countries and certainly in the United Kingdom.
As long as (a) the Labour Party, (b) most media commentators and (c) the Conservative Party perceive matters in the way this author does, the Labour Party is dead and shortly will be buried, then it will be followed by the Tories, who talk tough on immigation and crime but don’t deliver, who govern in the interests of big money (not true free enterprise); and at last the media folk may begin to have a glimmering of just how out of touch THEY TOO are with the public they address.

Jake C
Jake C
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Well said

Steve Moxon
SM
Steve Moxon
2 years ago

Labour is not only a 50-years-out-of-date dinosaur but is going nowhere but backwards in its beyond-the-pale vehement hatred towards the mass of ordinary people, having completely adopted the Left backlash of ‘identity politics’, that began about a century ago with deeming ‘the workers’ supposedly ‘repressed’ by ‘capitalism’. This utter bunkum was a dumb plot to try to explain away why Marxist prediction was hopelessly awry — the workers in ‘advanced capitalist’ countries didn’t revolt yet feudal Ruskies did. This has developed into man-hating extreme feminism, and (through the Left in the USA co-opting the civil rights and Stonewall movements), white-hating and heterosexual-hating. ‘The worker’ has been ludicrously retrospectively stereotyped as having three dimensions of oppressiveness (sexism, racism and homophobia), to make them a replacement for ‘the boiss’ as the new hate target of the Left, which has also completely changed its notion of the state from ‘the boss’ friend’ to ‘agent of social change’. It’s the biggest political fraud in history. Labour is going to die, along with the also ‘identity politics’ totalitarian Lib Dems and the hardly less ‘woke’ Conservatives. A massive political realignment is occurring and this has to be reflected in political parties sooner or later, rather than political parties being a drag on political realignment.

Last edited 2 years ago by Steve Moxon
Jon Redman
HJ
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Moxon

IIRC Marx thought Russia would never have a Communist revolution because it didn’t have a middle class.
Shows who the real hate target always was.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Moxon

I agree in general with your view but I cannot see political realignment as the answer. It will bring more of the same. We need a state that has limited power over us that it should not matter who we vote for. Before that will happen we need to learn how to think and considering how many think we can control the climate with carbon dioxide we going in the wrong direction. Imbecility rules.

Steve Moxon
Steve Moxon
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

It’s imbecility indeed. The nonsense notion of man-made climate change is the apotheosis of ‘identity politics’ hatred towards the masses. The degree of state power is of course a key political question and part of the realignment. A Main Reform platform is massive simplification of tax & regulations and abolishing quangos.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

I agree with you that we need a smaller state , but obviously all those people employed by it aren’t going to say ‘you’re so right-give me my P45’ are they?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Steve Moxon

See my numerous posts,I mostly Agree ..Although Taking An East German term ”We need to change the electorate?” to get results we want..

Anthony Lewis
AL
Anthony Lewis
2 years ago

Delicious watching Naga squirm on BBC News this morning – taking the knee clearly loses you votes – go woke go broke. It’s astounding how the media are not asking the right questions – the focus of the cognitive educated urban elite on woke issues does not have any traction with normal voters – how many times do the voters have to provide shock results like this for the commentariat to ‘get it’

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
2 years ago
Reply to  Anthony Lewis

The voters have to ‘disappear’ the legacy parties. Then the commentariat will ‘get it’; for THEY TOO are so out of touch with ordinary citizens’ concerns that nothing less than that biggest electric cattle-prod shock will induce connection with the thinking of the human majority.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Scott

Both legacy media and legacy parties need to die. I gave up on them both long ago.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

How do you remain so well informed?

Clem Alford
Clem Alford
2 years ago

Labour’s problem is it hates the working class but needs them to get them voted into power.
What Blair did was cunning. He presided over the post Thatcher years and took over where Kinnock had left off preparing the ground for his 3rd way champaign socialism and increasing immigration where the owners of the means of production could get weak, non unionised cheap compliant immigrant labour and who were prepared to live 6 or 7 to a room and keep the landlord petty burgoise happy so they could charge higher rents. Remember he got rid of Clause 4.
The interview with Lord Green exposed it all and where no one was asked about a radical change of the UK demographic make up in British society.
Labour’s loyal working class support was being overlooked and under represented in favour of a bunch of illegal immigrants with demands that their religion and culture get preference over the indigenous working class. Too much, hence the push back at the ballot box. Starmer is another Blair, even a lawyer who did nothing for the working class and their kids when they were groomed by Muslim grooming gangs and even looked the other way over the Savile case when he was Director of Public Prosecution Service.

Last edited 2 years ago by Clem Alford
Nick Taylor
Nick Taylor
2 years ago

I live in the northern towns and I have many friends who fit the category of working class and traditional Labour voters but who now vote Tory. Whenever I have challenged them in the last few weeks about them still voting Tory – they mention one name Corbyn – like Banquo’s ghost his name resides top of their memories. They have no interest in public ownership, when questioned about sleaze will cite the debacle at Liverpool city council and say they are just as bad as each other (in fact note why Hartlepool is a vacancy), are more interested in immigration and ascribe the covid recovery to a man who they use the first name of Boris – they trust him for some weird reason and see him as one of us – remarkable I know but Johnson does binary and simplicity well and the law specialist (they call him Starmer not Sir Keir not Keir Starmer but Starmer) on the other side does not. So, yes I am sorry to say Labour is dead as it is too divided, too complex, cannot take feedback and act on it. It is clueless and goodness help us all – there is one person they do respect from the Labour side and they use his name with respect – Andy Burnham. Good guy, one of us etc.

Last edited 2 years ago by Nick Taylor
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
ER
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Taylor

Labour’s biggest problem is that many of its MPs and most of its supporters are deeply unpleasant people.

Robin Lambert
RL
Robin Lambert
2 years ago

Yes,Also most other Parties,especially Green fascists like ”Extinction rebellion”

Peter Dunn
Peter Dunn
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Taylor

Remind your friends that Burnham presided over MidStaffs as Health Minister.
And he also wants to dismantle PREVENT.

Chris Wheatley
Chris Wheatley
2 years ago

As everyone got to have a vote and there was a need to represent the working man, the Labour Party came along to do just that. Then came unions and the NHS (a fabulous creation designed to allow everyone equal right to good health) as well as an increase in the standard of living of working people.
Now, the NHS is a failure because people have abused their own bodies, creating an impossible health situation. Unions only really exist for government employees. Genuinely poor people have almost ceased to exist although there will be many who have caused their own poverty by not being able to handle the incoming benefits (buying a new smartphone before food for the children, for example).
So, who should Labour represent? The answer is that the drive to equality has led to many highly educated people who still cling onto the belief that they are working class. They believe they can help poor people by applying outdated theories, like Socialism or Communism, by making everybody so equal that no-one takes responsibility – except themselves because only their view is clear and correct. Sound familiar?.
Behind all of this, the true aim and method of creating total equality is decarbonisation. When there is no carbon, travel will be difficult, commuting from the city chaos to nice houses in the country will be awkward. Why is decarbonisation so clever when Greece and Turkey are fighting over natural gas rights which will make them rich for 100 years?

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Wheatley

The NHS illustrates why socialism will always fail. It replaces personal responsibility and freedom with government support and control. The Labour Party might be seen as failing to deliver on socialist policies but after Blair the Conservatives adopted New Labour policies and the voters have put their faith in them and now Boris to make socialism work. Socialism never worked anywhere.

Jake C
Jake C
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

What are you talking about,the NHS is fine.what Britain needs is an industrial policy to catch up with the rest of the world.
As for socialism and labour,renationalising our water and rail utilities makes 100% sense.
Our much vaunted private sector banking system failed in 2008.
Surely that’s pretty indicative that neoliberal financial capitalism doesn’t work.

James Newman
JN
James Newman
2 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

Yours is a pretty superficial analysis. Yes, banks were clearly to blame but they were regulated by the FSA, who were aware of the issues but, fatally, took no action. Had they done so when the problems surrounding AIG first appeared, the damage to UK banking could have been substantially mitigated.

Andrew McDonald
AM
Andrew McDonald
2 years ago
Reply to  James Newman

Er – that’s doubly superficial, surely? The banks were very very bad but it’s not their fault, the teacher should have told them off sooner…..in reality, the banks were completely focused on their own profits at the expense of even their own best customers, knew exactly what they were doing (although, hilariously, not how they were doing it), and then got away with it pretty well scot free. There was no lasting ‘damage to UK banking’ – ask G Osborne, or check out the 2018/9 bonus rounds. The damage was to their customers.

Saul D
SD
Saul D
2 years ago

A current learning example would be the Madrid elections, also this week. On the leftwing side, PSOE (ruling Spanish Labour party) was pipped by Mas Madrid (a local and practically focused leftwing party), with Podemos (now drifting into theoretical politics) itself running way back.
Three leftwing parties. But the one that came out strongest was the one that has a reputation of being more practical on the ground – more worried and more responsive to local issues.
The part of modern leftwing parties that seems to be missing is the old sense of mutualism – doing things for each other, pride in local community and achievements. Togetherness for mutual benefit. Divisiveness, labelling, segregating, placing theory over practice is killing leftwing movements.
So if there was an idea, it would be stop demanding and starting doing. For example, don’t just demand more childcare, but actually create a volunteer-led playgroup. Don’t waste effort trying to rename a park to make it more politically correct, use that effort to update the children’s play area. From the doing comes respect and trust, and from trust will come votes.

Last edited 2 years ago by Saul D
Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
2 years ago

How am I supposed to take a supposedly dispassionate analysis seriously when elected governments whose policies the writer does not favour are described as “horrible” and “dreadful”?
There is far too much of this on Unherd.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

Yes, the article was very disputing in that respect.

Mike Boosh
MB
Mike Boosh
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

Noticeable too that anybody the MSM doesn’t like is labelled “far right”. Pretty much anybody who doesn’t fully subscribe to the PRO-EU, SJW, unlimited immigration agenda is basically classified as a brownshirt.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

True, but Unherd isn’t supposed to be MSM.

john dann
john dann
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

I supported U because Freddie Sayers had done some excellent interviews on Covid, not seen elsewhere. He is a very good interviewer. Unfortunately the tenor of the site as a whole is most definitely British Establishment: Royalty, COE, the good the English have done the world, etc. I do not find in the writers the ability to question, be skeptical and try to understand the other side… Giles was blathering on yesterday about Moses, not in terms of a myth, but as though he were a bloke you might meet at the pub… blinkers! Good journalism is good skepticism, even about one’s own ideas.

Last edited 2 years ago by john dann
Claire Lac
Claire Lac
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

I was quite invested in this article until I came across the ‘dreadful Trump’ comment, and after that couldn’t bring myself to read any more of what the writer was selling.

jimewson
jimewson
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire Lac

Yeah! I also felt a jolt of conscience when the writer masquerading as a new radical journalist lazily repeats the elitist denigration of a genuinely radical President……….

David Owsley
David Owsley
2 years ago

In Spain they actually have parties that could correctly be called ‘right wing’. In the UK this isn’t the case: the current Conservative Party is further left than Callaghan before Saint Margaret so no need for a wimpy woke centre left coloured red.

barbara neil
BN
barbara neil
2 years ago
Reply to  David Owsley

Don’t be fooled by MSM propaganda.The only party that could rightly be called “right” in Spain is a small party, relatively recent, whose numbers remained much the same in the Madrid elections. The equivalent of the Conservatives (Tories) in Spain (PP) are also a centre/liberal party. I suspect that this is the crux of the problem for the left in general. Conservative parties have moved into what was once their turf and in response they have moved further out on a limb, leaving their electorate behind. Moral posturing and lazy ideology will no longer cut it. The people of the region of Madrid have overwhelmingly voted for a hard-working, effective, efficient, daring Presidenta. Her own party (PP) didn’t fully appreciate what they had in her until quite recently! She is not an ideologue. I see a small – tiny – light at the end of a very long dark tunnel, worldwide, starting in Madrid.

sprog99
SR
sprog99
2 years ago

The most oppressive government since Oliver Cromwell, worldwide attacks on free speech, a crazed billionaire threatening to block out the sun and the answer to Labour’s relevance problem is to Go Green?

Joff Brown
Joff Brown
2 years ago
Reply to  sprog99

Yes, that was rather bizarre.

Jake C
Jake C
2 years ago

Sigh eye roll,
Danish immigration policies aren’t outrageous but entirely appropriate when you look at the complete breakdown of society in Sweden and their high crime rate.
Ian birrell is Pathetic.

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
2 years ago
Reply to  Jake C

Agreed. Add to that the fact that the native population in Denmark is only 5.8 million. They could quickly be overwhelmed by what seems to be a never-ending stream of migrants from e.g. the Middle East.

Julian Rigg
Julian Rigg
2 years ago

Is Labour dead? YES. Labour has no idea how this came to be or how to fix it. Or it refuses to acknowledge the fact. Focusing on London centric minority issues will not get you elected.

Chris Hopwood
Chris Hopwood
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Rigg

But despite a year long campaign against him in the Tory press Sadiq Khan is projected to comfortably win in London which will maintain life in the Labour party.

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Hopwood

Of course Khan will win. The secret is in the name.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Hopwood

Khan or ”The hood” is damaged goods,Only loonies rate him, after yet another London bridge Terrorist attack,his response Was ”Its part &parcel of living in a capital city” The invisible man will surely get his comeuppance .Saying dopey flannel after Knife crime soar 65% London Is Safer than at anytime for 20 years,sheer bilge…

Robin Lambert
RL
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Julian Rigg

They are ”Sleeping’having fallen off their perch?…polly toynbee..polly?..

Johannes Kreisler
JK
Johannes Kreisler
2 years ago

the far-right Marine Le Pen

???
What tosh. Marine Le Pen and the RN is the textbook centrist party, strongly socialistic on economy matters. Birrell must be mistaking her with her father, whom Marin explicitly distanced herself / her party a long time ago.
Lazy journalism.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago

She has Moved to Right of centre, Unfortunately she gets beaten by establishment parties,this time ”Fishing” Frexit could swing it in remarkable times ..Macron is the Moron,despite Mainstream Worship…

AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

The Conservatives, and the Tories before them, switch major polices every now and again to remain relevant. Boris and Brexit is the most recent example.
Labour switch client groups every now and again to remain relevant, but fail.
Labour is now a Zombie party, stumbling around but gradually decaying. It will take more than a new leader and a fresh motto to revivify the Party. Perhaps it would be kinder to end the Party and start again. Democracy needs a good opposition.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

Unfortunately, the party system ensures that democracy does not work. It gives power to the politicians over us. Democracy needs independent politicians who work for those who elected them.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

I have stood as Independent in last 3 General elections &4 Local elections,The Voters didn’t elect me,although (i thrashed the Labour candidate in 2019 local election) The Electorate like Safety! As HL.Menckhen stated in Roosevelts America ”The Prime purpose of ALL political parties,is to create imaginary,hobgoblins ,which ONLY they can lead us to safety”! ..prescient….

Janusz Przeniczny
JP
Janusz Przeniczny
2 years ago

Communism/Socialism killed 100 million people, and still killing people in Venezuela Cuba N Korea, and China. And yet nobody says sorry or is even asked why they are following a system that has blood on its hands and has devastated and blighted so many economies.
I mean, are 1- East European all stupid fools to have dumped “Socialist Paradise” or 2 Do they know something that Western Socialist and Communists will not admit to, and dumped it as soon as possible? Hmmmm tricky one eh.
Oh, and have you noticed that these Socialist Warriors are all over here, living off Capitalists. No Bread queues for them.

If I was in charge, I would have all Communists and Socialist explain themselves why they follow this Cult/Creed/Dogma that’s harmed people all over the world, before they are allowed to work with Kids Government or Media.
Extreme? Really? I think a few older East Europeans will tell you what its like to stand in a 24 hr bread queue whilst TV Radio Newspaper all told you that it was paradise, and your kids were indoctrinated to hate the West. You rebelled and the Midnight knock on the door happened.

info.luckie
info.luckie
2 years ago

This is spot on. I visited DDR and Poland a number of times in the mid-80s. The pollution, shortages, drunkenness, poor clothing, grey faces and drabness shocked me. I was able to describe these when I returned to the West.
But far worse were the lies, corruption, mistrust, cynicism, a constant feeling of oppression and being watched. This I found much harder to explain. The only people in the West who got what I said were Vietnamese boat people I met in Sydney.

Lance Milburn
Lance Milburn
2 years ago

Where does this Idea come room that Jeremy Corbyn nearly won the 2017 election? The truth is May nearly lost. If Corbynite policies were indeed so incredibly popular, why didn’t they win? After another two years of Corbyn and the true colours of his version of Labour began to show, they were soundly trounced in 2019. I have heard many left wing commentators today extolling a further leftward turn after much of the populace of this country seem to prefer a more right wing point of view.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

More gems from the Guardian’s comments:
What kind of moron walks to the ballot box thinking they want to vote Tory after the past 12 months?
Brexiteers, they’re not very intelligent.
the continued popularity of this government is astonishing and is in my opinion, a stain on the nation that reflects badly on the electorate. I don’t think ‘moron” is that wide of the mark.
They are beyond help. Gleefully voting to be downtrodden by people that clearly despise you is not rational behaviour. Better to abandon them to their racist Brexit fantasies and focus attention on seats where the people aren’t quite so dense.
People keep commenting that the problem is the left calling the electorate morons. No one would be calling them morons if they didn’t make moronic choices. The reason they vote Tory/Brexit is because they are small minded, xenophobic bigots and the tories have twigged on to this. They made their moronic choices before being labelled morons.
Isn’t the time to stop calling people stupid the time just after they’ve stopped doing stupid stuff?
If someone votes Tory because someone calls them stupid then they are stupid.
English morons. More deadly than a virus
2029 and 2034 nailed on for the Tories like Jesus at Easter, I’d say.

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Are those BTL comments, or quotes from the latest Polly Toynbee column?

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Do you think the people in Hartlepool who voted Brexit and then Tory read the Guardian comments, though? I don’t even think the ex-Labour voters who didn’t vote at Hartlepool read the Guardian comments.
I agree those comments are appalling and self defeating.

Jon Redman
HJ
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

They may not read the Grauniad comments, but somehow they are getting the message that Labour hates them.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

They are not self defeating they are illuminating

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Sounds like hate speech to me. Has Plod been informed?

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
2 years ago

Piketty describes the wider arc (Labour in the UK; Democrats in the US; social democratic parties on the continent) of this electoral shift in his “Capital and Ideology.” The basic narrative is that these parties have all abandoned their former core electorate among the working classes for educated urban elites that represent their “donor class.” As currently constituted they are unelectable — a conclusion drawn by observers as various as Mark Blyth and William Mitchell.
The author writes, “Their parties should have been boosted by the flaws of neo-liberalism that were exposed first in the financial crisis of 2008 and now in the pandemic.” He’s missing their fatal flaw — Blairite Labour and Clinton Democrats are themselves hardcore neoliberal projects. They can no more disassociate themselves from the flaws of neoliberalism than Milton’s Satan can escape Hell: “Which way I fly is Hell; myself am Hell.”
Having left working class votes lying on the ground they can hardly be surprised to discover that their political opponents have gone to the trouble to pick them up …

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Haller

Exactly. I am broadly sympathetic to Piketty’s analysis and it is incredible that in an age of rampant greed and banksterism etc the left is in retreat almost everywhere. The problem is, as you say, that those in charge of the so-called left are neoliberals themselves. The last thing they want is to see wealth redistributed, or for the value of their property portfolio to fall.*
*Scratch a leftie and you’ll always find someone with two or three properties.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It is truly amazing how the far left leaning members of my family will go to avoid paying tax (just like certain TV presenters) or how eager they are to explore property development opportunities.

James Chater
JC
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Haller

dltd

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Johannes Kreisler
Johannes Kreisler
2 years ago

My preference would be for Labour to turn deep green in hope of emulating events in Germany.

But the Greens are deep red, here as well as in Germany.

Victor Newman
Victor Newman
2 years ago

This article is like a Rohrshach test, it tells you more about the writer than the topic itself; like when it said: “While Boris Johnson has seized the flag of English nationalism.” No, he has stood for the Union whilst the other parties have stood for atavistic, parasitic micropolitics. Labour has become a fashion-statement for socially-distanced people who think they are posh. What we are witnessing is the collapse of closed “hygiene” politics and its replacement with open democracy.

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
2 years ago
Reply to  Victor Newman

Good post, and interestingly phrased.

Joanna S
JS
Joanna S
2 years ago

‘ dreadful Trump …..disastrous handling of the pandemic …’ Inaccurate. The US produced a vaccine in 5 months under Trump – but the mendacious and corrupt Democrats pretend that this success is down to them. And Trump was correct about the uselessness of masks.

jimewson
jimewson
2 years ago
Reply to  Joanna S

Thanks for correcting the historical record on President Trump……

Graeme Laws
Graeme Laws
2 years ago

This dead party still tracks around 30% support in the national polls. It has been written off before. The membership of the Conservative party could be gathered together in two London football grounds. Both parties are in serious trouble.

Neither party appears to believe in responsibilities to match rights, the importance of law and order, the societal value of family, free speech, or the need for sound money. I would venture to suggest that these and one or two other issues loom large in the minds of a majority of the electorate.

When a party has been in power for a long time, it gets tired, especially if its parliamentary talent pool is shallow. The swing voters then get fed up with it and vote for the other lot.

We need something different, something that at the very least has the testicular resolution to face down the critical race theorists, biology deniers and sundry social media lynch mobs. If it comes from anywhere, it will come from the right. But don’t hold your breath.

Janice Mermikli
JM
Janice Mermikli
2 years ago
Reply to  Graeme Laws

Excellent post.

John Lamble
John Lamble
2 years ago

Your venomous sort of socialist hates Boris for very simple reasons which go back centuries. Sure, he’s a toff but he’s not the snobbish sort and he understands noblesse oblige. Add to that, he’s a bluff cove and a bit of a lad and therefore just what the English love in a leader.
I latched onto this thinking when my management course invited some TUC talking head to come and tell us what’s what. And you could tell that what he really hated with passion was good employers. Without lots of ‘class struggle’ he had no raison d’etre.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago

dltd

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Alex Lekas
AL
Alex Lekas
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

what value do unions add to the quality of the product/service that is involved or to the end user? Unions are largely self-serving enterprises and that’s okay so far as it goes. But they should be honest about it. The notion that unions are morally righteous “because reasons” does not wash.

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Sure, Alex — “what have the Romans ever done for us?”
Here’s a US list for you (I’m sure someone could give you the UK equivalents):
1. Weekends
2. All Breaks at Work (Lunch)
3. Paid vacations
4. FMLA
5. Sick Leave
6. Social Security
7. Minimum Wage
8. Civil Rights Act/ Title VII (Prohibits Discrimination)
9. 8- Hour work day
10. Overtime Pay
11. Child labor laws
12. Occupational Safety & health Act (OSHA)
13. 40-hour work Week
14. Worker’s compensation (Worker’s Comp)
15. Unemployment Insurance
16. Pensions
17. Workplace Safety standards and Regulations
18. Employer Health Care Insurance
19. Collective Bargaining Rights for Employees
20. Wrongful Termination Laws
21. Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
22. Whistleblower Protection Laws
23. Employee Polygraph Protect Act
24. Veteran’s Employment and Training Services (VETS)
25. Compensation increases and Evaluations (Raises)
26. Sexual Harassment Laws
27. Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA)
28. Holiday Pay
29. Employer Dental, Life, and Vision insurance
30. Privacy Rights
31. Pregnancy and Parental Leave
32. Military Leave
33. The Right to Strike
34. Public Education for Children
35. Equal Pay Acts of 1963 & 2011
36. Laws Ending Sweatshops in the United States

Alex Lekas
AL
Alex Lekas
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Haller

Oh, please. Few of these are accurate and even if they were, you are defending the continued presence of an institution that has long since seen its expiration date. Today, it is no more than a money laundering operation for one political party.
Public education is in virtually every state’s constitution and has nothing to do with organized labor. Same with sexual harassment laws which mostly focus on the non-union white collar world. The ADA was a Bush I creation. Social Security was an FDR idea that was originally a women’s and orphan’s fund since age of eligibility was higher than life expectancy, and the minimum wage was a move to keep blacks out of the labor force.
Repeating what others tell you is not always the best approach.

Last edited 2 years ago by Alex Lekas
Colin Haller
CH
Colin Haller
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

You are welcome to all the concrete, material benefits you can keep, Alex. Good luck to you if you think you can keep them all without any help.

Alex Lekas
AL
Alex Lekas
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Haller

Union membership has been declining for decades. Your perception of organized labor’s popularity might be mistaken.

Robin Lambert
RL
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Zero hour contracts Came about because Gordon Brown embraced EU Part time directive in 2000

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Haller

Yeah, but what else have the unions ever done for us?

Alex Lekas
AL
Alex Lekas
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

thus far, you have both ignored the question in the post: what value do unions add to the quality of the product/service that is involved or to the end user?
Unions work for unions and certain politicians. But much of this laundry list is things that have nothing to do with organized labor.

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Haller

QED!

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

dltd

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

What is the evidence of better products or services? Teachers unions do nothing to improve the quality of education. The heavily unionized domestic auto industry has seen its market share gradually eroded by foreign carmakers who tend to have non-union shops.

James Chater
JC
James Chater
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

dltd

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Jake C
JC
Jake C
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

So what if unions are self serving,so are businesses.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

In the private sector unions have a role to play in ensuring that management make the right decisions.
If the workforce do not have a voice then that is one less impediment to poor decision making

Last edited 2 years ago by Ethniciodo Rodenydo
David Wrathall
David Wrathall
2 years ago

I agree in part. The main achievement of liberal societies has been the diffusion of power. Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely… as somebody famous said.

The key requirement for a decent society is that the primary competing power bases have some parity. Unions were a useful counterweight to the unfettered capitalism of the early 20th century, with a political arm in the Labour Party. At the time it was necessary, but by the 70’s was out of control.

Some counterweight to big corporate power is now very necessary again and probably won’t be found in political parties.

The woke agenda is nonsense but appears to have become a power base in its own right, some counterweight to that is also necessary particularly as the other big power bases – the judiciary and media seem to have fallen under its spell.

As the established order disintegrates my fear is which power bases will emerge.

Janusz Przeniczny
Janusz Przeniczny
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

You’re mixing up Trade Unionism for the good of the workers, and Trade Unionism as a Left Wing enforcer and paymaster. The first is a fair comment, the second is a threat to Democracy.
Why? When Thatcher took on the Miners Union there were two objectives.
1 Coal was expensive (and very polluting) so gas was the “new” clean fuel of the future. “Dash for Gas” was a Labour/Miners Union slogan, and used as an anti-gas slogan.
2 The other (more important issue) was the Scargill (egged on by others and unions) was to use the Miners Union to overthrow a Democratically Elected Government. A coup in any other country.
Unions are blurring (for a long time) the lines of what they are supposed to be and become quasi leftwing paymasters with muscle. Whilst playing games, you’ve taken your eye off the game ball.
The frightening thing is that the Left is so backward in thinking. They are 19 Century mantra chanting, rich people hating Luddites in the 21 st Century.
Artificial Intelligence has arrived. Robotics is serious, not just for working-class hands-on people, ( my son works for a company that has designed a bricklaying machine that is miles faster and better than and bricklaying gang x 3 . That has serious employment issues. It doesn’t require scaffolding either.)
Machines are doing Radiology jobs, open-heart operations (no shaking hands) etc etc etc. And what, your Union is following tired slogans and waving Red Flags led a Woke Kneeler? That’s your future?
Is the cunning plan to smash all robots?
Do get real.

James Chater
James Chater
2 years ago

dltd

Last edited 2 years ago by James Chater
Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
2 years ago

Thatcher replaced British Coal with coal from Eastern Europe – so much for her commitment to Britain and to eliminating pollution.
Thatcher took on the miners as part of her campaign to eliminate collective worker power (or any power source that disagreeed with her eg GLC). She did it in a particularly cruel way by destroying the industries and communities that working people and their families worked and lived in. Not just with the miners – with the destruction of almost all the industries (other than health and education) that had strong Union memberships.
Many on the left, while still supporting Trades Unions, recognise that work is changing and hence the interest in things like universal basic income and shorter working hours.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

GLC was a talking shop same as EU regional assembly, london GLA

Ian Wigg
Ian Wigg
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Wilson wanted to close significantly more pits than Thatcher.

If those pits were still in existence Labour would be demanding they were closed immediately due to Climate Change, lack of diversity in the workforce (not enough gay, trans, non cis), Miners coming to the surface black with coal dust – obviously racist.

Rob Mcneill-wilson
Rob Mcneill-wilson
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

Margaret Thatcher wanted a smaller, more efficient coal industry producing more coal and energy. Sir Iain MacGregor, British Coal’s Chairman shared that goal. If ether of them wanted the industry’s demise they were both the sort of people who would have made that clear.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago

Scargill prediction Coal Would be imported,From Poland Came true, He was Anti-EU so not all bad

Last Jacobin
LJ
Last Jacobin
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Unions are needed as much as ever given the abuses we know about Sports Direct workers, of gig economy workers and Leicester sweatshops.

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

I would note also the ahistorical forgetting of the central role of the Trade Union movement in expanding the franchise.

Robin Lambert
RL
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

People like Len McCluskey living in £600,000+ flat in london’s housing shortage,wasn’t A vote winner…each PM wife,Mistress, has Overspent taxpayers money on furnishings,people weren’t too concerned over that..

Dominic S
Dominic S
2 years ago

Labour is dead. They don’t realise it yet.
The Liberal (Democrats) have taken decades to fully die out, now labour will do the same. A bit like those annoying weeds you spend years killing off in your garden.
Interesting to note that this might also spell the end for the conservatives – given that their modern existence is predicated on opposing Labour.

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
2 years ago
Reply to  Dominic S

I don’t disagree with your argument, but what will there be in place of the two main parties?

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Dominic S

Hope so, My preference for Independents,SDP Left;;; Reform= Right of centre to take over ..but i fear Technocratic Vulture capitalists will destroy the next Generation & democracy,maybe you think ive Watched too much daft Varda?

Last edited 2 years ago by Robin Lambert
Barry Wetherilt
Barry Wetherilt
2 years ago

‘My preference would be for Labour to turn deep green’ yep that’ll fire up the wokeing class, forget the working class though.

Last edited 2 years ago by Barry Wetherilt
George Wells
GW
George Wells
2 years ago

If the Tories put the personal allowance for earned income only up to £20K or £25K (let’s tax flash cars & other fripperies to make up the difference) they might finish the ‘Labour’ party off once and for all.
Let’s treat hard working, but low earning, people better.
(I don’t care which party implements my personal hobby horse, as long as is happens !)

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

I would like to make a prediction. I make no claims for my predictions, than that they are, most of them, completely bonkers, so there we have it. Anyway…
There is one more chimera of an escape hatch that Labour will head for next, over the next two to four years, before they stand alone atop a tower of rubble, and are forced to look in the mirror.
Why will they do this? Lots of reasons. Because they can. Because, although they have caught a glimpse of annihilation, they cannot (yet) bring themselves to look in the mirror. Because.
What will they do? Well, the cry will now go up across all of Labourland: PR! Yes, PROPORTIONAL Representation, don’t you know! It’s gotta be proportional, it’s only fair!. Because well, it wasn’t fair before, but it just is, now! If it ain’t Proportional, we don’t wanna know! This will now be the mantra of every two bit prog journo for the foreseeable. Meanwhile, the small parties, LibDems included, will look on in incredulity, that Christmas can in fact come every day of the year. And they will all support it of course – VERY enthusiastically indeed. I mean, if as a species, you were permanently on the verge of extinction, and someone offered you the perma-sanctuary of a couple of acres at Woburn, with the food thrown in, wouldn’t you take it?
Anyway, the assumption will be, we just tot up all the votes across all the left-leaning parties, and Lo! – we have a coalition majority. In which WE will be the big player, who gets to lord it over all the little ‘uns. And they will build a bunch of stories like that, which they will tell themselves, about why PR is RIGHT! …Urm, Left I mean! Well you know what I mean!! I mean, I know Clegg pushed this stuff, but that was Clegg PR! This will be Laybaa PR, which is superior and the *right* kind of PR! And anyway, what is your point about Clegg?
And then, after all that, will they win? Well No, That’s not how it works. They will, in fact, get pasted. Again. With yet more of their estate gone. Or fragmenting. But there will be a (somewhat cracked) mirror handy, for them to look into.

Janice Mermikli
JM
Janice Mermikli
2 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Clegg’s idea in that referendum (2011) was for AV, not PR.

Prashant Kotak
PK
Prashant Kotak
2 years ago

Well yes, Pepsi Max in a plastic cup vs Coke Classic in a fancy glass bottle. But, you know, sugared water.

Mary Elizabeth
Mary Elizabeth
2 years ago

Or maybe, people are simply fed up. Fed up with BLM and its Marxist ideology; with ‘cancel culture; with being lectured to by their moral superiors; with being called anything or everything ending in ‘phobic’ or ‘ist’. Maybe people are just tired…

Ann Ceely
AC
Ann Ceely
2 years ago

Boris’ ‘cronyism’ is simply that when something needs doing, he phones around. Whether oxygen-masks or vaccines, I’m all for it!
His government IS Conservative – of British culture and population …

Last edited 2 years ago by Ann Ceely
Clem Alford
Clem Alford
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

I wish he would do something about immigration and pedophile grooming gangs.

Last Jacobin
LJ
Last Jacobin
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

Johnson certainly does his best to make sure our money is conserved within the circle of his mates and girlfriends.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago

There are some absolutely cracking comments over at the Guardian this morning. Pure comedy gold.
why do those on death row vote for their executioners – it baffles me.”
“leavers will forever be demanding ‘respect’ for the stupid decision they made in 2016”
“Gutter press induced “Stockholm syndrom” (sic)”
“People fall for slogans because they like short sentences.”
“Labour should just give up and divert their efforts elsewhere because gullible voters will be gulled by posh accents and three word slogans which play to base instincts.”
“Labour needs to get the racist vote back on board to win.”
people in Hartlepool blame Labour for the devastation caused by Austerity. If this is so, what chance do they have against such political illiteracy.”
the gullibility, and the downright stupidity of many voters are ably played on by the Tory gutter Press”
if you vote for a party you know are deliberately lying (Tories) then that is stupid.”
“Voting conservative because other labour voters called you stupid does not mean you are not stupid.”
“Dismantling the UK (and thus terminating UK history, which many voters are still irrationally attached to) would be a beginning.”
“I would rather change the electorate.”
“Johnson is a crook of very low moral character. That so many people in Hartlepool could vote for a party led by him is incomprehensible “
the English, or at least a very large section of them , are right wing. They couldn’t care less about Johnson or his party’s, in plain sight, moral depravity, sleaze or corruption”
“the English go everywhere with an obnoxious, look at us vibe combined with that noxious joyless anglo british nationalism, came a bit unstuck though when they were sorted out in Marseilles by the people who really did defeat Hitler.”
When you vote for a well known, incompetent liar and all he stands for – I’m sorry but that puts you in the same bucket.”
Stop pandering to racist, jingoistic Brexit supporters, all those people who go around saying “Boris” is doing his best so why can’t he have fancy wallpaper… f*** them, ignore them. “
“typical of English voters. Corrupt, lazy, jingoistic, arrogant, bullying and incompetent.”

Niobe Hunter
Niobe Hunter
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Yeah, it was great. I often go on there for an incredulous laugh in the morning. I don’t put anything in their begging bowl though.
Al Beeb was pretty amusing as well, shades of the GE, poor old Hugh looked shattered.

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I don’t like Boris Johnson’s character but I hate the Guardian.

Jon Read
Jon Read
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

“Lest we forget these poor northern souls who dare to think for themselves”

Harry Bo
Harry Bo
2 years ago

One shadow cabinet member, fresh from the campaign trail, was perspicacious about the party’s plight when we discussed the election results. “This was the day that should be imprinted on all our eyeballs showing we have lost the white working class,”

The fact that this particular shadow minister felt the need to add the ‘white’ rather than just saying working class is interesting.

Jon Read
JR
Jon Read
2 years ago
Reply to  Harry Bo

Indeed.

Coughs.

Janice Mermikli
JM
Janice Mermikli
2 years ago
Reply to  Harry Bo

Yes, perhaps as in “white van man”, the one that Emily Thornberry poured such withering scorn on. That will not be forgotten, or forgiven.

Geoffrey Simon Hicking
GH
Geoffrey Simon Hicking
2 years ago

Yesterday, Boris beat back the French. HMS Tamar and HMS Severn versus swarms of French fishing boats. Decisive British victory.

Yesterday, Kier Starmer lost a political stronghold.

Compare and contrast.

Chris Hopwood
Chris Hopwood
2 years ago

Jersey is a crown dependency with many tax dodgers as residents. Will Bojo be sending them a bill or will the UK taxpayer have to pick up the tab??

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Chris Hopwood

Yes maybe,why does Labour Party have Offshore accounts cosy up to Bernie ecclestone,Phoney Flat sales managers ?…

CHARLES STANHOPE
CHARLES STANHOPE
2 years ago

Good job the French didn’t have the Jauréguiberry!

royrogers505
royrogers505
2 years ago

Think about it, Everything Went Downhill After Men Stopped Wearing Hats

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  royrogers505

I was bemoaning the fact that men no longer wore hats while watching Talking Pictures the other day. It stopped more recently than you might think

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
2 years ago

It was a bad idea that it did.

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
2 years ago
Reply to  royrogers505

Yes, that is when the rot set in.

R S Foster
RF
R S Foster
2 years ago

…Parties that make no secret of hating their own Country and despising most of the people that live in it rarely prosper. Their problem is that they are so pre-occupied with London (where most of them live, and all of them aspire to)…that they have come to believe it is a British City. In fact, a very large number of the people there are not from Britain and are here only to make use of it to pursue their ambitions…and those who are from places like Hartlepool have come because they hated Hartlepool (which might not have thought much of them)
London is at it’s most British on Remembrance Sunday…which Labour would probably like to ban, prior to repurposing the Cenotaph as a public urinal…RSF

Last edited 2 years ago by R S Foster
Pierre Brute
Pierre Brute
2 years ago

Why did the author feel obliged to say the ‘dreadful’ Donald Trump?

Last edited 2 years ago by Pierre Brute
Eowyn Fellows
Eowyn Fellows
2 years ago

The question that must be asked is why the U.S. is bucking this UK-Europe trend. 2020 election fraud?

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Eowyn Fellows

It’s a bit more complicated than that but yes, essentially, it was a form of fraud on a massive scale.

Colin Haller
Colin Haller
2 years ago
Reply to  Eowyn Fellows

The US isn’t bucking that trend — you need to look past the Presidential election to the composition of Congress (the Democrats LOST seats), the Senate and especially the State Houses.

Robin Lambert
RL
Robin Lambert
2 years ago
Reply to  Colin Haller

We’ll see in November 2022 Mid terms how Senile Corrupt fraud,Biden does….

Sidney Falco
SF
Sidney Falco
2 years ago
Reply to  Eowyn Fellows

The lesson for Labour may be that they need to learn to cheat as well as the Democrats.

Fred Dibnah
Fred Dibnah
2 years ago

Turnout was 42%. Down from 57.9%. So a majority is uninspired by any of the candidates. Fertile area for an inspirational leader/party.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
2 years ago
Reply to  Fred Dibnah

No, 42% is not bad for a by-election.

Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Faulks

Not bad for an uncontroversial by election but most with a bit of risk and media attention have a bigger turnout. I wonder if it turns out less than half the Brexit vote from last time switched to the Conservatives and the rest stayed at home, as did many ex Labour voters. Remember in 2010 the BNP got 2000 votes (5%)

Last edited 2 years ago by Last Jacobin
Last Jacobin
LJ
Last Jacobin
2 years ago
Reply to  Fred Dibnah

I thought that was noticeable, too. And even more striking when you consider the national figure for 2019 of 67%. Even the EU ref turnout in Hartlepool was significantly lower than the National average.
I suppose it could be an indication of just how ‘left behind’ the place feels if so many people don’t see the point in voting.

Nick Faulks
Nick Faulks
2 years ago
Reply to  Last Jacobin

It is true that had either major party chosen to field a candidate with more in common with local people, more might have voted.

jonathan carter-meggs
JC
jonathan carter-meggs
2 years ago

Every article discusses voter cohorts in terms of urban progressives with modern “good” views/opinions that are outvoted by rural outdated voters with “bad” traditional views/opinions. And there lies the problem and the reason why Labour is less than useless. They have to realise that to win they must reflect the majority NOT the righteous minority. The electorate knows what is right and there is no future in trying to educate them out of the wisdom of crowds.

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
2 years ago

Agreed. In any case, it is arrogant for politicians to think that they know better than the electorate.

Kremlington Swan
KS
Kremlington Swan
2 years ago

Political commentators of all stripes are keen on analysis. They pick over the carcass of every election, trying to find the key indicators for what went wrong (and sometimes, when bewildered, as of late, what went right).
The man or woman whose interest is less acute, and whose attention span is of necessity more limited (because life), works more with broad brush strokes. The messages they take over the course of months and years leading to an election are simplified either because they simplify them or because artful politicians do the simplifying for them.

An artful politician knows where to place emphasis, and knows how to get a core message across.

Boris Johnson is not an artful politician, he is a political genius who would have Machiavelli swooning with admiration.

You don’t need to provide evidence for this, because Hartlepool is, or should be, the final proof. For those who are interested it is probably time to stop trying to find a lamppost to hang him from, put all preconceptions aside, and see if it is possible to understand just how these highly improbable victories have been his.

Kier Starmer ought to be looking at this as well. He should now know for certain he can’t beat Johnson. Johnson may beat himself, eventually, and the fall may so bad it allows Starmer to walk over the prone figure of his nemesis and into Number Ten.
I wouldn’t bet on it if I were him. What I would be doing is recognising my inherent political weaknesses and, with a little bit of luck, finding the strength to concede that they make me unfit for the job at hand. Because that verdict has just been passed by the people of Hartlepool.

People don’t want him because they see him as someone who is a clumsy opportunist who lacks a backbone.
Bending the knee was clumsy opportunism. Nobody believed he meant it, everyone believed he did it because he thought it would earn him brownie points. In taking the knee he demonstrated beyond doubt that he was unfit to lead the country. He showed he so lacked proper judgement he was unable to see that the advice to do this thing was advice of the very worst kind. He should have been able to see it, he should have been able to say ‘no’ to it.

The only way forward for him today was to have come out to announce the sacking of every single woke, identity politics obsessed member of his shadow cabinet and every single adviser advancing that cause. He should have come out and said that the time of Labour being host to every grievance-obsessed minority interest was over.

There are other things he should have said, but there is no point listing any of them because he is incapable of saying them.

Until the Labour Party is led by someone with the strength to say ‘enough of this sh9t’, Labour will continue its decline. Because people don’t what what they currently have to sell, and they cannot be convinced to want it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Kremlington Swan
Andrew Thompson
AT
Andrew Thompson
2 years ago

Starmer falling to his knee was quite prophetic for the Labour party itself.

David J
David J
2 years ago

He lost my respect at that moment.

Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson
2 years ago

It’s always interesting reading between the lines on UnHerd. There are an increasing number of “neoliberals” and “neoconservatives” represented on it…must be some money they can smell. The elephant in the room is the “populism” that Trump ran on – economic localism / nationalism, controlled immigration, foreign policy pragmatism. Amazing that people like Birrell get away being commentators without “seeing” this…shape UnHerd gives oxygen to such people.

Janice Mermikli
Janice Mermikli
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Jackson

Should immigration be uncontrolled, then?

Sidney Falco
Sidney Falco
2 years ago

If a dripping wet left wing Tory like Birrell was still putting words in the PM’s mouth (syrians, trump, etc) the ukip would still be winning votes from the conservatives

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
2 years ago

It turns out that telling 52% of the electorate that they’re racist morons for disagreeing with your policies doesn’t win many votes. Whodathunkit?

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
2 years ago

‘We have lost the white working class’. Hardly surprising when the metropolitan wokies who now run the party quite obviously hate them.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
2 years ago

When I joined the Labor Party, it contained the cream of the working class. But as I look about me now, all I see are the dregs of the middle class. When will you middle class perverts stop using the Labor Party as a cultural spittoon?

~~ Kim Beazley Snr to an ALP State Conference, circa 1970.

Looking on from the Antipodes, it feels like Beazley’s comment has landed with even greater vigour in the UK; so much so that Conservative toffs can now be thought of as “one of us” whereas Labour progressives are now thought to “hate us”.

Adam Kennedy
Adam Kennedy
2 years ago

Once their leaders could rely on a powerful alliance of middle-class progressives backed by the massed ranks of working-class voters to win elections.

In the past, these two groups kind of muddled along together because they knew they needed each other to gain power. Since Brexit, the outright hatred they have for each other has been truly exposed. Turning a deep green will not heal those divisions (in fact likely the opposite) and I have no idea what will.

Ann Ceely
AC
Ann Ceely
2 years ago

“Progressive” ideologies are the problem. Humans have thrown out their religious attitudes to be replaced by ‘modern lifestyles’ which don’t satisfy the soul.

George Stone
George Stone
2 years ago
Reply to  Ann Ceely

The ‘soul’ does not exist.

Alex Lekas
AL
Alex Lekas
2 years ago

Why are the parties of social democracy performing so poorly in many Western democracies at a time when the free-spending policies of their creed, boosted by the pandemic, are in the ascendancy?
Maybe people have figured out that ‘free spending’ cannot go on indefinitely. Maybe they’re figured out that the free spending is coming out of their pockets, not those of elected officials. Maybe they’ve noticed that some of this spending — like in the US where people can make more money NOT working than working — is counterproductive.


Jake C
Jake C
2 years ago
Reply to  Alex Lekas

Yeah right,people are in fact realising that government has a far larger fiscal capacity than previously thought.

Tom Krehbiel
Tom Krehbiel
2 years ago

The Israeli philosopher Yuval Noah Harari wrote a short essay in The Atlantic Monthly a couple of years ago, remarking that workers faced the possibility of being rendered economically useless by modern technology. I think that’s the key. As Harari put it, they would find it far more difficult to fight such irrelevance than they did the relatively easy matter of exploitation. I suspect that those voters who feel abandoned by center-left parties aren’t really deserted by them. The parties simply don’t know what to do about the problem (other than UBI), and so concentrate on issues for which they have some solution(s).

Niels Georg Bach
Niels Georg Bach
2 years ago

If you compare Labour with Europe. It’s difficult, because ‘first by the post’ distract the picture. Compared with Denmark. Labour would be split into 3 parties : The existing Socialdemocrats ( meaby a little more to the left ? ) 2) People socialist party a soft left party , and 3) Not the danish left wing party Enhedslisten, but into another party which would look like the german ‘Linke’ a ultra left party, where violent demonstrations is ok.
The danish Socialdemocrats has survived mainly because it has accepted and lead a strong policy against immigration : No more immigrants than we can handle.
The general line is a strong welfare state, with a sound economic policy, which is what the majority of the danish electorate prefer. We are protestants, don’t use money you don’t have.
If you compare with the old communist countries, the danish state redistributes more money than they did.Most UK citizens would hate out tax regime. The highest in Europe.

Last edited 2 years ago by Niels Georg Bach
Frederick B
Frederick B
2 years ago

This moment will pass. I remember when Labour were dead and buried after the Michael Foot disaster in’83. Then a succession of capable leaders – Kinnock, Smith, Blair – brought the Tories to disaster in ‘97 and it was their turn to be dead and buried. So here we are again.
Whatever happens to Labour, that third of the electorate which always thinks to the Left will need representation of some sort.

Last edited 2 years ago by Frederick B
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  Frederick B

I”m not sure about that. Brexit might have created a schism between the two wings of the party that cannot be reconciled. Moreover, and not much remarked over the last day or so, is the extent to which Labour is losing quite a lot of the woke-progessive-urban vote to the Green party.

Athena Jones
AJ
Athena Jones
2 years ago

Liberals have become conservatives and Labor has become radical on many agendas. People are more likely to be conservative than radical and particularly where agendas are fluffy like climate change and transgenderism, to name just two of too many.
In addition, during times of trauma and the days of Covid have been traumatic, not because of the virus which is no threat to the vast majority but because of the reactions to it, which are a threat to everybody, people will lean toward conservatism because it has an old, familiar and more reliable lineage.
So Labor has lost its heart and its heartland through too much ‘do-goodery’ and through circumstance.

michael stanwick
michael stanwick
2 years ago

The label “centre-left” I find rather confusing, given Starmer et al’s performative genuflection to a radical left wing political ideological movement. That one act signalled to me that a cultural critical theory mindset may have parasitised Starmer’s political ideology (whatever that is).

Dawne Swift
DS
Dawne Swift
2 years ago

The Labour party has “lost the white working class” because they have treated us with contempt. The values and aims of the Labour party have changed markedly over the past 4 decades and they no longer reflect those of the majority of voters. Brexit will cast a long shadow for years to come. No Brexit supporter will ever trust the Labour party again, and that’s over 50% of the electorate. It’s in the end-game for the party.

Zach Thornton
ZT
Zach Thornton
2 years ago

Spot on analysis.

Tom Graham
Tom Graham
2 years ago

No dead, but brain-dead.

Jorge Toer
Jorge Toer
2 years ago

Bojo have a good personal image,,the beer at hand in the pub,freedom with woman,,not responsabily in general,,is a clown to copying&brexit and covi19.
Every one want to be like him.