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Again. Unlike America, where the courts and RepubliCAN’Ts collude with Democrats to corrupt our elections, with the intent of keeping the wrong kind of voters from actually imposing accountability on the political class, the United Kingdom has well-run honest elections. Their off-year elections, after the 2019 general election that shocked the world, were supposed to be in 2020, but were postponed because of “COVID.” As a result, this years elections plus 2020 contests came together in an unusual confluence that looks closer to a U.S. midterm election. It became the first change for the whole voting public to render judgment about all that has happened over the past year. It turns out that Labour is still found badly wanting and Boris Johnson has not been deemed worthy of reproach for his handling of the pandemic. The votes are not all counted, and the full results will not be known until some point on Sunday, yet the rough outlines are clear.
Yes, Labour managed to hang onto power in the Welsh legislature, and Sadiq Khan hung onto the mayoralty of London against a dynamic younger black Conservative man, Shaun Bailey. That, however, was a disaster for a party thrown out of so many seats about 18 months ago. Changing the face of the party fooled no one. The great British public was having none of it. Yes, the Scots may make a play for some sort of independence, most likely to extort England against defending national sovereignty against Eurocrats. Yet the SNP’s ambitions must be checked by the cold reality of a British public that is rejecting the leftist elites.
While Brendan O’Neill of Spiked and Melanie Phillips could be counted on to hammer home what they believe to be Labour and the cultural elite’s obstinate tone-deafness, it was a Labour MP, Khalid Mahmood, who offered the hardest, clearest condemnation of the Labour Party.
Mr. Mahmood hopes Labour responds to the wake-up call of this election:
My view is simple: in the past decade, Labour has lost touch with ordinary British people. A London-based bourgeoisie, with the support of brigades of woke social media warriors, has effectively captured the party. They mean well, of course, but their politics – obsessed with identity, division and even tech utopianism – have more in common with those of Californian high society than the kind of people who voted in Hartlepool yesterday. The loudest voices in the Labour movement over the past year in particular have focused more on pulling down Churchill’s statue than they have on helping people pull themselves up in the world. No wonder it is doing better among rich urban liberals and young university graduates than it is amongst the most important part of its traditional electoral coalition, the working-class.
A bit of superficial flag-waving – reinforced by urgent memos from party HQ – isn’t going to fix that. We have to recognise that the patriotism of these voters runs much deeper than that. They are more alert to rebranding exercises than spin doctors give them credit for. Their patriotism is about historic pride in their places, the heritage and stories of those places, and the Britishness and Englishness of the people and families that call them home.
I think of my own constituency in Birmingham and the city’s proud car-making history. There is a loss here that inspires the small-c conservatism of the working class: we know something has vanished and it hasn’t been replaced. This is what Jon Cruddas, speaking to Lisa Nandy this week at a Policy Exchange event, meant when he talked about the “dignity of labour” and how Labour must not lose sight of its historic roots. As he puts it: “Parties are not just machines to chase votes and demographic flows. They are built out of ideas, traditions and memories and speak on behalf of certain communities. You cannot just jettison that.”
These words could as easily be written about the two wings of the Swamp party, the Democrats and the RepubliCAN’Ts. Yet, we are less likely to see clear national results match the trend of UK elections because of our deeply corrupted ballot box processes, continuously shifted in the direction of easier ballot box stuffing.
Brendan O’Neill largely affirms Khalid Mahmood’s assessment in “The Working Class Revolt Against Labour.”
A key lesson of the local elections – as with the 2019 General Election – is that working-class people take their vote seriously. They do not take kindly to the elite’s bigoted efforts to undermine their right to vote. Many working-class voters look at Labour and see a party of over-educated operators and activists who shamelessly devoted much of the past five years to frustrating the vote for Brexit. This is why they revolted against Labour in 2019, and why they revolted yesterday too – because democracy is important to working-class voters. They don’t have newspaper columns or a seat in the Lords or thousands of Twitter followers or some other means to make their voices heard. They only have the right to vote. You mess with that right at your peril, as Starmer and Williams surely now know.
Another problem is Labour’s embrace of identitarianism and its shamefacedness about Britain. From Emily Thornberry’s haughty sneer at a working-class household that was flying the English flag to Starmer’s taking of the knee to the regressive politics of Black Lives Matter, from Corbynistas’ claim that British history is one horrendous crime after another to Labour politicians’ rage against the Sewell reportfor daring to suggest the UK is not actually a racist hellhole – working-class voters clock all of this. Not surprisingly they do not feel enthused by the ideology of national shame now promoted by many in Labour, or by the snotty suggestion that loads of Brits are racist. A cartoon in Private Eye captured it well – it featured a Labour candidate doorstepping two working-class voters and asking: ‘Why won’t you racist fascists vote Labour?’
Melanie Phillips thinks that Labour cannot respond to the wake-up call.
The Labour party leadership cannot face the fact that it can’t play to both camps in the culture war. But what makes this so agonising is that it’s not just a matter of choosing which constituency it must now decide to represent — working class or upper middle-class — which is difficult enough. The choice is between the people who it tells itself it has been put on earth to represent — the working-class — and the belief system which defines leading Labourites’ entire political and moral personality.
For if they choose the agenda of social conservatism that characterises the working-class, they will go against everything that those who run not just the Labour party but the entire culture — the universities, the media, the arts, the NGOs, the professions — believe defines themselves as good and virtuous and progressive people. It means acknowledging that those whom they damn as“right-wing” and racist and bigoted are actually decent, grounded and admirable.
The same forces likely operate in our Democratic Party and some significant portion of the current congressional Republican leadership.Published in