Post-Election Left Wing Hate Watch, Part Two

Bankers Toffs And Tory Scum - General Election 2015 - London Protests - Downing Street

 

Long before the first votes were cast in the 2015 general election, this blog was warning that Labour’s arrogance and sanctimonious moralising was likely to cost them any chance of forming a new government.

One can almost forgive them their arrogance. After all, so commonly heard is the left wing worldview and so widespread is the belief that right wing ideas are inherently selfish and lacking compassion that many Conservatives – including some very prominent figures – have been forced to radically adapt their messaging to this most inhospitable of climates, sounding more like Diet Labour than the Conservative Party of old.

Even in the aftermath of David Cameron’s victory, many members of the public are still too afraid to openly admit that they voted Conservative or UKIP, for fear of the inevitable social backlash that would result: painful real world consequences for holding perfectly normal, middle-of-the-road political opinions.

But it isn’t just young and intemperate activists – the kind who scrawl obscene graffiti on a war memorial during the VE Day celebrations – who are now giving Labour a reputation as a party of sore losers. Take the case of Matt Woodruff, the mild-mannered owner of a garden centre in East Sussex, whose smarmy anti-Tory message, scrawled on his shop’s blackboard, was posted on Twitter and quickly went viral.

The Guardian reports:

The owner of a small garden centre in East Sussex whose anti-Tory blackboard went viral on social media says he has no regrets, despite admitting it could put him out of business.

Matt Woodruff, the owner of Woodruffs Yard in Lewes, said he was moved to vent his political views on his shop’s blackboard after the Conservatives took the local seat that had been occupied by the Lib Dem former Home Office minister Norman Baker.

The sign proposes a “Tory tax” of 10% on any customer who voted Conservative as one of the “‘tough’ decisions I need to make to ‘balance the books’ under your preferred government”.

The sign also says Ukip voters should “shop elsewhere”.

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Westminster Must Brace Itself For The Arrival Of The Tartan Tea Party

2- SNP - Scottish National Party - General Election 2015 - Tartan Tea Party - Nicola Sturgeon

 

When parliament reconvenes, an astonishing fifty-six Scottish National Party MPs will take their seats in the House of Commons.

Despite having gained their 56 MPs on a vanishingly small 4.7 per cent of the national vote (as compared to UKIP, who achieved 12.6 per cent of the national vote but only 1 MP), Nicola Sturgeon is claiming some kind of mandate to influence government and oppose Evil Tory austerity.

This is mostly hubris. The SNP will be sitting on the opposition benches, which means that they actually get to sit things out for the next five years, spectating rather than playing some kind of deep and meaningful role in government – that particular dream died the moment that Ed Miliband’s Labour Party self destructed north and south of the border.

But though the SNP landslide is largely thanks to irrational voting by Scotland – a collective hissy fit from a nation who increasingly consider themselves more enlightened and progressive than their southern neighbours, demanding higher government spending paid for by anyone but themselves – there will naturally be an impact on the way that Westminster operates.

In terms of accepting the new reality, this piece from Alex Massie in The Spectator is right on the money:

The referendum taught us that Scotland is a place beginning to dream bigger things; yesterday’s results confirmed that. The SNP’s victory is a reminder that trust is the most valuable commodity in politics. Because the SNP are trusted – rightly or not – to put Scotland’s interests first they are forgiven their sins, contradictions and inconsistencies. They are held – fairly or not – to a different standard than that applied to other parties. There is little point in whining about this; it is just the way it is.

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Post-Election Left Wing Hate Watch

Tory Protests

 

I am angry. So angry. And I will take that anger to the streets when I can. I promise this. Because I’ll be mostly okay under a Tory government; I have a job, a home and a wonderful network of family and friends around as support. But I didn’t vote for me. I voted for society. Tory voters did not. Tory voters could not give a shit about anyone but themselves and their wallets. And I hate each and every one of you for this.

– Gareth Bundy, blogger and moralist

 

As this blog has noted, furious rants like this are not unusual among left wing activists. They were frequent before the election, and they have only increased in tone and volume as the Left lick their collective wounds after an unexpectedly heavy defeat.

So long as they remain the preserve of crusading online moralists such as Gareth Bundy – or the people who, in their sickness, deface a London war memorial – this is not really noteworthy. The problem is that many non-activist Labour supporters, normal people who have marinated in the same left wing groupthink since at least 2010, quietly concur with the anti-Tory hysteria currently consuming the Left.

Used to hearing anti-austerity arguments and accepting them uncritically, it is taken for granted by many people that conservative ideas are inherently selfish and evil, and that people who vote Conservative (or, god forbid, UKIP) are heartless monsters, idiotic dupes at best and eager participants in a genocide of the poor and disabled at worst.

This is not to say that left wing ideas are not misrepresented, attacked or ridiculed by those on the right – they often are, and one certainly finds comments section bores and internet trolls of all political stripes. But at the moment, it is a particularly acute problem for the British left, because so much of the angry, activist hyperbole is accepted as truth by society and the popular culture. Of course Labour want to help the poor. Of course the Conservatives only govern in the interest of their rich friends.

The truth is never that simple. There is good and bad in everyone, and in most political parties – but many on the left do not want to see this. While those on the right tend to see their left-leaning fellow citizens as misguided or naive, the Left are increasingly inclined to view conservative ideas as inherently evil.

According to this blinkered mindset, someone can only possibly support the Tories out of a selfish concern for their own wallet or business prospects, certainly not because they believe conservative policies might actually do the most good for the most people. This is particularly ironic given the fact that many Labour policies consist of nothing more than conscience-soothing exercises in money-bombing intractable social problems, failing to tackle the root causes and trapping millions of people in lifelong dependency.

Besides, the Conservative government whose victory plunged the Left into such a deep depression is hardly truly conservative at all, having enthusiastically adopted the language and many of the policies of the left in their desperate bid to stay in power.

Universal benefits and free perks for even wealthy pensioners? Check. Support for nationalised healthcare? Check. Run down national defence to prop up bloated but protected social spending? Check. Support Britain’s continued membership of the EU (as David Cameron does)? Hell yes!

But so common is the perception that the Tories are the “nasty party” – and that conservative policies are inherently regressive, embraced only through personal selfishness – that the Conservatives could only win their election victory by dressing up in Labour Party clothing. And still people who were planning to vote Tory were so hesitant to admit their preference that the polls consistently failed to predict the scale of David Cameron’s eventual victory.

The Labour Party can make a serious, good faith effort to understand the nature and scale of their defeat, or they can retreat into the angry denialism favoured by some of their most ardent supporters – and as they did in 2010 when they chose Ed Miliband as their leader. At present, there are few encouraging signs that the British Left will take the higher road.

Far easier to just keep shouting “Tory scum, off our streets!”

Why Isn’t Labour Working?

Labour Party - General Election 2015 - Ed Miliband Resignation

Why isn’t Labour working? Or more specifically, why did Ed Miliband so utterly and completely fail to make any inroads against what was at best a minimally popular coalition government and Conservative Party after five years of austerity policies?

Everyone seems to have woken up brandishing their own explanation  in the wake of David Cameron’s remarkable victory. Unlike this blog, many of these captains of hindsight could typically found cheering Ed Miliband and eagerly anticipating his victory in the preceding months and years – but some of their arguments are still worth considering.

Jason Cowley, editor of the New Statesman, comes late to the party in his realisation that Ed Miliband’s messianic view of himself as a transformative future leader of Britain masked a gaping chasm where his vision for Britain should have been:

He lost the election and the argument. If Labour doesn’t understand this, and adapt accordingly, it is in deeper trouble than even I believed.

Driven by a kind of messianic self-belief, Miliband was Labour’s most unashamedly Left-wing leader since Michael Foot, whose 1983 election defeat condemned the party to a long, painful period in the wilderness as Margaret Thatcher accelerated her transformation of Britain.

On the occasions when we met, he told me again and again that the financial crisis and the consequent Great Recession had created what he called a moment of great opportunity for the Left.

Absorbed by the work of Left-wing economists and philosophers, Miliband was convinced that the British people yearned for a more egalitarian society and a return to socialism.

Perhaps they did in Scotland, but certainly not in the seats in the Midlands, Home Counties and southern England that Labour must win if it is ever to return to power.

‘Under Miliband, we had nothing to say to the faraway towns of England,’ one senior Labour figure told me.

By which he meant, Miliband’s cerebral socialism might have been popular among metropolitan liberals but it emphatically did not resonate with the skilled working and lower middle classes in small towns in places such as Essex, Bedfordshire, Kent, Hertfordshire …

This is all true. There was a degree of intellectual superiority surround Ed Miliband’s rarefied vision of a post financial crisis Britain. And multiple journalists who have interviewed Miliband attest to this singleness of purpose and vision – albeit a purpose he never successfully explained to the British people.

But it is the misplaced stench of moral superiority, not intellectual superiority, which stands out as the most offensive of Labour’s characteristics as they fought the 2015 general election campaign.

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General Election 2015: The Morning After The Night Before

David Cameron - Conservative Party - General Election 2015 - Tories Win

On the eve of the 2015 general election, this blog complained:

David Cameron, the Prime Minister I supported for much of these past five years – and for whose party I voted in 2010 – spent the last day of the election campaign not making a powerful case for real conservative stewardship of the country, but by indulging in petty scaremongering about a Labour victory and pre-emptive expectation setting around the “legitimacy” of rival claims to power in the certain event of a hung parliament.

Well, inspiring or not, the Prime Minister’s strategy worked magnificently. David Cameron may have failed to inspire the British people with a burning, urgent vision for conservative government, but at least he managed (through endless repetition) to remind us that the economy is growing again under the Tories, and that a Labour-SNP coalition could put it all at risk.

And now, where only hours ago we expected the political parties to be commencing the first of many fraught rounds of coalition negotiations, instead we see David Cameron being driven to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen, while the other parties (save the astonishing SNP) quickly and mercilessly dispatch their failed leaders.

First and foremost, this election result is a resounding defeat for Labour, and the confused non-values it stood for during the 2015 campaign. Having both repudiated the centrism of New Labour and failed to return the party to its ideological roots, putting himself in the ludicrous position of being against the Tories but not for a tangible vision of his own, Ed Miliband has brought Labour to complete and utter electoral ruin.

Ed Miliband went to his political Armageddon today flatly refusing to accept that Labour had made any mistakes during their last thirteen year spell in government, at least as far as the economy and public spending were concerned. The electorate took one look at this outright denial of reality and determined that the Son of Brown could not be trusted to take stewardship of the finances again.

But almost nobody expected the Labour Party to perform this badly against the Conservatives – poll after poll showed the Tories and Labour in a virtual dead heat. So when the exit poll results were announced at ten o’clock last night, people scarcely believed them. Paddy Ashdown confidently remarked that he would eat his hat if the Liberal Democrats were reduced to ten MPs. They currently have just eight. UKIP supporters (including yours truly) were convinced that UKIP would win more than two seats, picking up at least Thanet South or Thurrock. But only Douglas Carswell now remains, cutting a lonely figure.

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