Labour’s latest pre-election gimmick, fired out to everyone on their mailing list this morning, is a customisable, fill-in-the-blanks placard, designed to be shared on social media so that the recipient can quickly and conveniently boast to their friends about just how morally superior they are for voting Team Red.
Click the link and you are taken to a page where you are invited to pick your top reasons for supporting Ed Miliband – “I’m an NHS-loving, inequality-rejecting, fair tax-demanding, Lib Dem-distrusting, Bedroom Tax-scrapping kinda guy” – in order to generate your own personalised pro-Labour profile, like some kind of ghastly political dating app.
You couldn’t ask for a better example of the vacuousness and ideological bankruptcy of the modern Labour Party.
For many activists – the regular folk who chip in small donations, put up posters and share bilge like this on social media – it’s no longer really about helping the poor and disadvantaged, and wanting to improve their lot. That worthy aim has been supplanted by a far more pressing goal: being seen (on social media, most importantly) and recognised by others as a “compassionate” and generous person – albeit generous with other peoples money.
It’s no longer about finding real lasting solutions to the housing crisis or inequality or the education gap or healthcare. It’s about being seen to be saying the “right” thing, whether it represents a coherent, workable policy or not.
Present these superficial left-wingers with solid evidence, say, that higher taxes dampen vital economic growth while failing to bring in anywhere near the expected revenues, and they will support them anyway, loudly, just to give the rich a good kicking – and to show what good, progressive people they must be.
Point out to them that British employment is at record highs, with more jobs created in the UK than the rest of Europe combined (despite the coalition government’s half hearted approach to conservative policies), and what do they do? They attack the news, saying that these are the “wrong kind” of jobs, lambasting low pay and zero hours contracts not as the result of an unskilled workforce and a necessarily flexible labour market but as proof that David Cameron and George Osborne have been personally striking out pay and working conditions clauses from people’s employment contracts, cackling all the while.
We live in a country where nearly half the population – those on the political left – have convinced themselves that everyone who disagrees with them, anyone with a vaguely right wing political stance, is a cruel, heartless monster – or at best, a gullible simpleton easily persuaded by crooks to vote against their supposed self-interest.
This holier-than-thou attitude bubbles up from the grassroots (see popular left wing blogs Another Angry Voice and Vox Political), infects the left wing commentariat in general, and is then gratefully seized on by a Labour Party elite which, having lost all touch with their working class base, are desperate for a narrative to convince themselves that they are still on the side of the poor and the disadvantaged, serving others rather than themselves.
None of this is true – the Labour Party long since stopped serving the interests of people who work for a living, or even those who are sick or unemployed but want to work. Yet thousands of Labour’s Social media followers will doubtless answer the call and festoon their profiles and timelines with Labour’s latest piece of social media propaganda – and millions more across the country do the same whenever they place an “I’m voting labour” placard in their window or on their lawn.
And can you really blame them? It feels good to think you are helping the poor, the sick and the vulnerable in your community and country. Labour knows this, and they tap into it very effectively.
But virtue signalling by ostentatiously supporting the parties of the Left will not fix a crumbling healthcare system designed in the 1940s. It will do nothing to create a British population sufficiently educated and trained that they stand a chance of prospering in a job market wide open to all of Europe. It will not raise chronically low British productivity. And it will not change the shameful fact that more than half of us are net dependants on the state.
Voting Labour on May 7 will change none of these cold, hard facts. In many cases, our problems will actually be exacerbated. But as Britain stagnates and slides back into decline under a future Miliband premiership – inevitably harming the poorest and most vulnerable of our fellow citizens – Labour’s online army of virtue signalling moralisers can at least console themselves with the fact that everyone saw and acknowledged just how progressive, altruistic and well-meaning they were.
If only human lives – and countries – could be turned around solely on the power of good intentions.
Update: Here is my customised “Why I’m Voting Labour” placard. Flip around every statement to make it a positive (while doing the opposite for the NHS) and it’s pretty much spot on: