Wednesday, 22 June 2022

Wakefield and political options

With the Wakefield by-election looming, it may be interesting to go back to February 2021 and a piece by Nigel Jones in the Critic.

If the Labour Party didn’t already exist, who would invent it today?

If Keir Hardie were still around, he might ask himself why he bothered to create a political party that has now lost its purpose

The whole piece is worth reading as a reminder of how dire our political options have become. A reminder that not so long ago, the Labour Party elected Jeremy Corbyn as its leader.

It took a while before the wider public became aware of just how poisonous Corbyn’s politics were. Once they realised that the man did not possess an iota of the patriotism of a Foot or Benn and was a Britain-hating pal of terrorists and anti-Semites, their verdict was Labour’s most crushing defeat since 1935. To take Corbyn’s place, however, Labour have chosen another dud.

Instead of an Islington-dwelling middle-class politician with no knowledge or empathy with those on the wrong side of the M25, they have chosen – ahem – an Islington-dwelling middle-class politician with no knowledge or empathy with those on the wrong side of the M25. Sir Keir may be a smoothie lawyer who dresses more smartly than his predecessor (admittedly not a high bar), but his political instincts show the same unerring habit of hitting the wrong button, and he has all the charisma and popular appeal of a plank.

Who would invent the Labour Party today? It's an interesting if somewhat depressing question.


dearieme said...

The space available in current politics lies to the right of the Conservatives. If Sir Kneel would only adopt an Alf Garnett persona he'd romp home at the next election.

Woodsy42 said...

Dearieme is probably correct. The practical distance between the Tories and Labour is now minimal (except for the Corbynite group within Labour) while Greens and Lib Dems qualify as loony leftists, so the obvious gap is on the right - round about where Boris promised to be to get elected? Trouble is the electorate are so entrenched in the 2 party system and forced to vote negatively for the best option to keep their personal opponents out that there is no easy way into the field (even assuming the education system and green propaganda haven't brainwashed all the youngsters into being woke, Co2 phobic lefties).
I think back to my grandfather, he retired in the 1950s having been an engine driver and a lifelong Labour supporter all his life. It made sense then, he retired on a tiny pension and died of a lifetime spent inhaling coal dust and smoke. Labour really were working towards better conditions for working people. Completely gone now.

Sam Vega said...

Who would invent the Labour Party today?

Any number of small groups who oppose the Conservatives, but who are not electorally strong enough to get elected under the present system. Students, benefit claimants, recent immigrants, Europhiliac ideologues, Muslims, sexual minorities, criminals, and the mentally ill. And those who have jobs dependent on any of the above categories. It's probably in the interests of all these groups to pool their votes and support a sort of place-holding exercise until something better turns up. Boris is never going to deliver for them - he can't even deliver for middle-class professionals - so rather than maintain Boris in power or abstain, their vote has some utility as a means of potentially scaring him into changing his policies.

Ed P said...

What's in a name? Labour have not represented the views or needs of working people for a very long time. The 'permanently aggrieved' party should adopt a new name, more in keeping with their core support. Just replacing one vacuous personality with another will not work.

I suggest one of these would be an accurate description:
The Muslim Party
The Couch-Potato Party
The 'Although I hold mainly conservative views, I couldn't vote for that lot' Party
The NHS Party (Not Help the Sick Party)
The 'Not Corbyn' Party

Fixed it!

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, in Honiton, the Labour candidate couldn't even be bothered to give 200 words to the local paper explaining what they stood for and why we should vote for them.

A K Haart said...

dearieme - Sir Kneel must surely look at Labour MPs and wonder why he bothered. Or maybe they look at him and wonder why they bothered.

Woodsy - yes, there is nothing left of traditional Labour. It seems to be dominated by middle class people who cannot leave their student days behind them.

Sam - I'd add the public sector to your list too. Labour doesn't scare public sector folk in the way the Tories do. Many probably find Boris scary in that he could suddenly decide to do something to their disadvantage where Sir Keir never would.

Ed - or just The Grievance Party. Grievance seems to cover most of it, although there is no longer a name which fits well. "Labour" doesn't fit at all because they don't labour or represent those who do.

Anon - maybe he or she totted up the official slogans and couldn't get it up to 200 words.