Left Wing Hate Watch, Part Five – Jeremy Corbyn Victory Edition

Jeremy Corbyn Q&A, Luton, Britain - 28 Jul 2015

Jeremy Corbyn has largely stayed above the fray, but the anti-Tory hysteria coursing through the Labour Party from the grassroots urgently needs to be tackled

Tim Montgomerie does my work for me in this edition, writing in CapX yesterday in anticipation of a Jeremy Corbyn victory:

There’s always been a nastiness on the Left. The Guardian is currently selling T-shirts (inspired by Bevan) that describe the Tories as lower than vermin. Harry Leslie Smith – who is now a regular turn at Labour Party events – compares Rebekah Brooks of News UK to Joseph Goebbels. An effigy of Margaret Thatcher in a coffin is paraded at the Durham Miners’ Gala – with a “rest in hell” message daubed upon it. At that Gala Len McCluskey attacks Tory ministers as “thieving bastards”.

Throughout the Labour leadership campaign the Twitter accounts of too many Corbyn supporters have routinely been vile, anti-Semitic and misogynistic. There’s nastiness on the Right too, of course but the Right has rarely enjoyed the moral high ground. Because many on the Left feel they are doing the work of God (or Marx) they feel even the worst of behaviour is ultimately in service of a good cause.

This is very true. There is a nastiness among the broadly mainstream Left toward their political opponents and certain segments of society (the Evil Tories, the “bankers”) which is just not present on the Right.

That’s not to say that newspaper comments sections and Facebook discussion groups are not full of semi-literate rants against asylum seekers, benefit scroungers or Muslims – they are. But they are not picked up in rhetoric or deed by the Conservative Party in the same way that some Labour MPs and officials are willing to publicly talk about the Right.

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Tim Montgomerie, The Good Right And The Battle For British Conservatism

David Cameron - Conservative Party - Tory Compassion - General Election 2015

 

With the opinion polls still neck-and-neck, David Cameron and the Conservative Party have good grounds to worry that they are not pulling ahead of Labour in the final month of the 2015 general election campaign.

The BBC’s poll of polls puts Labour and the Conservatives on 33% each, which, when constituency boundaries which favour the Labour Party are factored in, means that Ed Miliband’s party are potentially on course to win more seats than the Conservatives, throwing several highly unwelcome left-wing coalition scenarios into play.

Naturally, this is causing much hand-wringing both within the Conservative Party and the Tory-friendly press. But interestingly, much of the free advice being bandied about is encouraging the Conservatives to try to fight the election on Labour’s natural turf (such as emphasising the importance of public services), or to tack even further to the centre, in spite of UKIP’s challenge from the right.

The chief proponent of this strategy is Tim Montgomerie, who uses his most recent Times column (+) to argue that “a show of compassion” (whatever that means) from the Conservative Party could help to “swing the vote” in their favour. Montgomerie is absolutely correct in his diagnosis of the situation – an increasingly coddled, government-dependent British population representing unfertile electoral ground for the politics of individualism and self sufficiency – but hazy on his proposed remedy.

First, the good analysis:

The centre right has to worry that while Tony Blair was wooing Middle England it was really Gordon Brown who was running Britain. Blair was at the front of the shop but Brown was in the control room, overseeing the huge expansion in the number of people who received part or all of their income from the state. Even now, with austerity under way, 52 per cent of Britons receive more from the state than they pay in taxes. There are, to echo Mitt Romney’s infamous and ham-fisted description, more takers than makers. People who are dependent upon the state have every incentive to vote for bigger and bigger government and to get someone else to pay for it — especially, of course, “the rich”.

A redistributive, bash-the-rich message was exactly what helped Barack Obama defeat Governor Romney. If America, land of the free and home of the brave, was willing to choose big state interventionism over small state individualism then it’s hardly impossible that Britain might do the same in a few weeks’ time.

If ever there was a statistic to shock and shame British conservatives, it should be the fact that 52 percent of Britons are net financial beneficiaries from the state. In the conservative model society, there should be generous welfare support available for those suffering true hardship or disadvantage, but a level playing field and light-touch government regulations freeing everyone else to succeed to their potential.

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Lords Reform – Actions Have Consequences

Not so fast. First we need to preserve democracy by translating the referendum question into Cornish.

 

Tim Montgomerie, writing at Conservative Home, believes that the decision by the Liberal Democrats to renege on their support for electoral constituency boundary reform in retaliation for Prime Minister David Cameron’s inability to win Conservative backbench support for House of Lords reform represents the Conservative’s “worst single electoral setback since Black Wednesday”, when Britain was forced to quit the ERM, torpedoeing the Torie’s reputation for economic competence:

When the Parliamentary and Voting Constituencies Bill was passed I celebrated the moment, noting that the introduction of fair-sized seats of equal population could boost the number of Tory MPs at the next election by up to twenty. That was certainly Conservative HQ’s view. This morning the hope of boundaries fairness** is close to death, if not dead. After having explicitly said there that there was no connection between Lords reform and equal-sized seats Nick Clegg has u-turned and claimed there needs to be a connection.

** Boundaries “unfairness” is one of the explanations for why Labour get a majority with a 3% lead in the popular vote while Conservatives need an 11% lead for the same result. Or to put it another way John Major got a majority of 21 in 1992 with an 8% lead and a 42% share of the vote while, in 2005, Tony Blair got a 66 majority with just 36% of the vote and a 3% lead.

There has been much outrage from Conservative MPs and political commentators about the decision, but most of it seems to be directed toward the Liberal Democrats – “how dare they do this to us?!” – than inward at their own political strategy and leadership.

If, indeed, boundary review is so crucial to the Conservative Party’s hopes of winning an outright majority at the next general election (and if this is the case, when Conservatives have managed to win elections under similar circumstances in the past, it is a pretty damning indictment of the current party’s policy positions and campaigning ability), perhaps David Cameron should not have played chicken with Nick Clegg on such an important matter.

Tim Montgomerie pretty much agrees in his article:

The only advantage of the likely defeat of boundary changes is that a central plank of the Cameron/Osborne battleplan has gone. Any residual complacency must have gone. They can’t carry on as they were. They need a game changer and, preferably, soon.

And perhaps, instead of venting their anger at Nick Clegg when said strategy blows up in their faces, Conservatives with an eye on the next election would do well to remember that because they sadly, miraculously failed to win the 2010 election outright, as a consequence they govern in partnership with the Liberal Democrats, and that if they screw over their coalition partners on a policy point close to their heart, they are quite likely to get screwed in return.

I don’t care what Nick Clegg said about whether Lords Reform and Electoral Boundary Changes were linked or not back in April of this year, as Guido Fawkes appears to do:

The Boundary Review had nothing to do with House of Lords reform. It was linked to the AV referendum which the LibDems secured.

Clegg accusing others of breaking promises beggars belief. The LibDems are desperately trying to spin this, but in reality the backbench Tories are the ones to sacrifice political gain for sticking to their principles – however wrong they are to defend the current upper chamber.

Waah waah waah. The Conservatives are supposed to be the more mature, politically experienced political party and they got played by the LibDems. Now people like me have lost two policy proposals that were dear to our hearts – democratic reform of the House of Lords, and reform of the UK’s constituency sizes and boundaries to make them more equal. I have no sympathy for them.

The Conservatives are the senior party in the coalition government. They should try acting like it.