by James Tweedie, Plymouth, May 6th 2020
The one-word answer is: “Brexit.”
The Labour Party backed the losing side in the 2016 UK referendum on leaving the EU, despite then-leader Jeremy Corbyn’s 40 years of opposition to British membership of the trade bloc-turned superstate.
Labour came within a hair’s breadth of winning the snap general election in 2017, when it campaigned on a promise to respect the will of the people on Brexit.
But at its 2018 and 2019 conferences, branch and trade union delegates voted explicitly to disrespect the result by forcing the people to vote again – and presumably over and over until they ‘got it right’. There is no greater sin in party politics than being at odds with the majority.
Corbyn cited party democracy and unity as his reasons for going along with this betrayal of the very people Labour was founded to represent, the working class. But those excuses rang hollow. Labour MPs, including the party leader, are not bound by conference resolutions. ‘Unity’ with those, such as shadow Brexit secretary (and now leader) Sir Keir Starmer, who’d stabbed him in the back over and over was a joke.
There is no greater sin in party politics than being at odds with the majority.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, the Conservative Party dumped Remainer PM Theresa May as soon as they saw the newly-formed Brexit Party was going to win the EU Parliament elections last spring. There was never any doubt that Brexiteer Boris Johnson would succeed May as Tory leader.
Labour immediately switched tactics from demanding an election once a week to colluding with the other opposition parties, Tory Europhile rebels, partisan Parliamentary speaker John Bercow and the megalomaniac law lords of the abomination of a supreme court in an attempt to create political anarchy and engineer a return to the disastrous National Government of 1931.
But Johnson outmaneuvered them all, first peeling off Labour MPs in Leave-voting seats to support his Brexit deal with Brussels, thus forcing the Scottish Nationalists and Liberal Democrats to vote for another snap election in a last-ditch bid to stay in the EU.
Johnson’s election strategy was to turn every speech and journalist’s question back to Brexit. It worked. On election night last December 12th, shadow chancellor John McDonnell, an ultra-leftist who’d also sold out his Euro-sceptic principals when leadership beckoned, admitted to the BBC that maybe the electorate wanted to ‘get Brexit done’ after all.
If Labour’s stance on EU membership was its only problem, it would have a fighting chance of winning the first post-Brexit election. But the rot runs much deeper than that. Quite simply, the Labour Party is no longer a party of labour. Even under Jeremy Corbyn, the great white hope of the Left, it drifted further away from its core constituency.
Labour has a long history of abject class betrayal. The party was founded in 1906, and eight years later supported the bloodbath of the First World War, sending the flower of Britain’s working class to be killed and maimed in the trenches to defend the spoils of colonialism.
What did Labour’s election manifesto last year offer the workers? After losing their jobs in a environmentalist fire-sale…
Ramsay McDonald made his bed with the Tories and Liberals in his National Government. Clement Attlee’s 1945 government turned its back on our wartime ally the Soviet Union to join NATO and send troops to fight in the Korean War, when such things still mattered to a more class-conscious electorate. Neil Kinnock betrayed the striking miners in 1984, while Tony Blair realigned Labour with ‘Middle England’ and the City of London.
Labour’s membership has become overwhelmingly metropolitan, university-educated, middle-class, ‘woke’, Guardian-reading liberals. Most leaders of the Labour-affiliated trade unions are the same, and have never had a job outside the labour movement or been on the front line of a strike.
What did Labour’s election manifesto last year offer the workers? After losing their jobs in a environmentalist fire-sale, they’d get a bit more in benefit payments, paid for out of the remaining workers’ taxes. Oh, and free home internet in ten years’ time.
As someone who was excited by Corbyn winning the leadership in 2015, four years on I was disgusted to see him become another soft-left Judas goat like Bernie Sanders or Elizabeth Warren. I’d rather have an honest enemy than a false friend.
The same Labour members who elected Corbyn as leader twice have now chosen his nemesis Starmer, a knight of the realm and the arch-Remainiac, as his replacement. It’s like they want to stay in opposition forever.
Labour long ago abandoned class politics for identity politics, taking the workers’ support for granted while they focus on winning the female, black and LGBT vote. And it’s the self-styled ‘socialists’ and ‘Marxists’ on the Left of the party are most guilty of this.
This has become a feedback loop: the more Labour’s northern and Scottish heartlands slip through its fingers, the more the party falls back on the inner-city seats where its most reliable voters are Afro-Caribbeans and poor Asians.
This explains the rage provoked among Labour MPs when Johnson named the most racially-diverse cabinet Britain has ever had. Shadow defence secretary Clive Lewis told fellow Afro-Caribbean and Tory party chairman James Cleverly that ‘black members of the cabinet had to sell your souls & self-respect to get there’.
It’s worth noting that three of the top government jobs are held by MPs of African-Indian descent – Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Attorney-General Suella Braverman. Whether or not you like their politics, they are members of a diaspora of a diaspora, which was central to the anti-Apartheid struggle in South Africa, who were oppressed under colonialism then too often despised for their supposed ‘privileges’ by some misguided African nationalists since independence.
After accusing every black Tory of being an Uncle Tom, Lewis abandoned all sense of irony by calling Johnson, a foreign-born citizen with Turkish and Russian Jewish ancestors, ‘racist’.
Working-class white Tory voters and the ‘Blue Labour’ faction trying to win them back are derided as right-wing, racist or even closet fascists by this politically-correct clique, echoing Hillary Clinton’s 2016 election-losing ‘basket of deplorables’ speech. Labour MPs and councillors helped the police cover up Asian paedophile grooming gangs, and called the whistle-blowers racist too.
The danger of populists is not that they might be demagogues, but funnily enough that they’re popular with the masses.
In the end though, ‘intersectional’ ID politics devours itself. In Birmingham, Muslim parents were told their children had to learn about same-sex relationships in reception year to stop them growing up to be religious extremists. Every woman running for Labour leader or deputy leader this year signed a pledge to expel thousands of feminists and gay rights campaigners from the party for being ‘transphobic’.
Those leaders who used to be called ‘dictators’ and ‘autocrats’ are nowadays dubbed ‘populists’ instead, a subtle but ultimately meaningless change of language. The danger of populists is not that they might be demagogues, but funnily enough that they’re popular with the masses.
Johnson is neither blind nor stupid. After snaffling Labour’s lunch and smashing its ‘red wall’, he acknowledged that the workers had ‘lent him their votes’ and promised to do right by them. If the Tories can do social democracy better than Labour – like paying everyone’s wages during the lockdown – and speak the language of the people better to boot, they could stay in government for decades to come.
James Tweedie was born in Hammersmith, West London, in 1975. He grew up in the shadow of the mushroom cloud in the time of colonial liberation, being taken to Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and Anti-Apartheid Movement events by his mother and father respectfully.
James has lived and worked in South Africa and Spain. He has worked as a reporter and the international editor of the Morning Star newspaper, a foreign reporter for the Mail Online and an online journalist for RT.com. He has appeared as a commentator on BBC Radio 4, RT’s Crosstalk, Turkey’s TRT World and Iran’s Press TV.
He maintains an occasional blog (http://ositorojo.blogspot.com/), describing himself as “one of the most deplorable purveyors of fake news about populist strongmen (and women) around the post-truth world.”