In recent weeks, I predicted (based on the polls available) pretty much the same as everyone else: a dead heat. I posted first thing yesterday as to why everyone got it wrong. But as for the reasons why Labour lost, I think The Slog’s earlier predictions about what was going to happen “in May 2015” were pretty much on the money, viz:
1. Voting one way or another is a waste of time because the Conservative Party – and to a lesser extent the LibDems and Labour – are in debt to, and thus serving, interest groups that are wholly unrepresentative of Britain.
2. Miliband and Balls are useless and should be fired. Britain was in danger because a controlling, corporatist government did not face an effective Opposition.
3. On May 7th 2015, a Labour majority without firm allies would be mathematically impossible.
4. Labour would lose because the Left won’t engage and is becoming increasingly Stalinist.
5. UKip would get 4 or less seats.
6. The SNP would wipe Labour out in Scotland.
Even as it was, the ‘dead heat’ scenario wasn’t that far out: the Tories got 36% of the popular vote, and Labour 31%. In a proper grown-up electoral system wearing long trousers, neither Party could’ve ruled on its own.
But aside from the anti-democratic insanity of FPTP, three major statistical factors screwed Labour, and all of these I did post about long before the election. First off, Ukip was (a researcher had told me) pulling as many if not more Labour voters over to the cause than Tory. In fact, at the Bercow by-election, Farage himself told me that his best polls were in the council estates. And second, Labour bodged the Scottish issue – and then risibly tried to make things better at the end – but the Party in general and Miliband in particular sounded like the classic Sassenach absentee landlords. And the Scots took their revenge.
Finally, one might have expected a lot of LibDem votes to go to Labour….after the Coalition was formed in 2010, this is exactly what both Parties claimed. But somehow, it didn’t happen. Or at least, it’s hard to figure out why Clegg the Napper lost 47 seats but the Conservatives still won. My own hunch is that LibDem voters stayed away in droves, but I don’t have any data to prove it.
However statistical these explanations might claim to be, we can no longer see them as anomalous. As I predicted last year, Scottish nationalism isn’t going to go away, dislike of Europe isn’t going to go away (I think it’ll get much worse) and whereas it once had natural allies, Labour now faces only enemies. Why have so many folks suspicious of the Tories turned their backs on the Labour Party? This question immediately dictates a more major rethink about what the Party is since 1932; indeed, it raises doubts in many minds about whether Labour can ever again be what it once once: the shield defending the vulnerable from the Nasty Meanies.
As to the why of lost support, top of the list for me by a metroland kilometre is the espousal by Labour of minority causes, and an insidiously ideological rejection of anyone questioning them. Labour is far too middle class, precious, pc, feminist, radical chic and bubble-fluffy for the vast majority of its audience. Above all else, the Party’s supporters – and several of its leaders – have become downright rude.
Ed Balls is a silly victim of overthink who made a catastrophic mistake five years ago by being unpleasant to the point of childishness when he met the LibDem negotiators. He was also a controlling man in many ways (getting me banned from Twitter for a perfectly polite question about his responsibilities as Minister for Families), a bloke parachuted into Morley by Gordon Brown, and an overeducated Ivy League scholar who came to the Shadow Chancellorship with no commercial experience whatsoever. Now, you could say that the same is true of Osborne, to which my answer would be “Exactly”. He worked very hard to look like a man of the People, but he never will be: and most importantly, he lacks the presence or sagacity to come across well when simplifying the technical. Like his mentor, he thinks complex equals clever. Quite the opposite is true.
For eighteen months from late 2012, I tried patiently to explain in these columns and through social network sites why the two Eds were a waste of space: not connecting with their voters, and not scoring wide-open goals against a highly vulnerable Camerlot. Miliband’s PMQs preps were even more sloppy than Cameron’s when in Opposition. The response I got in almost 100% of cases was virulent, dictatorial and Leninist constipated drivel about being an agent for the Boss Class. As Martin Daubney (a lifelong Labour voter) tweeted on Friday morning, “They told me to f**k off, so I did”. Quite so: and they alienated millions of potential anti-Tories by so doing.
Last night on the BBCNews Channel, yet another gaggle of Leftist yobs outside the Westminster studio drowned out pundits, MPs and voters being interviewed on the BBC. They may have their grievances with the BBC (I think myself they’re misplaced) but one doesn’t look attractive by shouting people down: censoring the censors is counter-productive and infantile.
It was 2012 when I first posted to say engagement in a common front against the global threat of neoliberal social destruction was something that was no longer just desirable – it was a mathematical imperative. I spoke to several MPs (from all Parties as it happens, except Ukip because they didn’t have any), wrote to a number of activist organisers and ‘decency’-sounding websites, and tried to cultivate those with apparent common sense on Twitter. The general response was “we have the right policies”, “we’re going to win on our own so we don’t need you” and ribald ridicule. (I realised early on, by the way, that even approaching a radical feminist website as a bloke is to be treated to a diatribe of fantasies about misogynist male fifth columnists and other assorted bollocks.)
Bizarrely, I found that ‘wet’ Conservatives, some Ukippers, a few LibDems and current abstainers were by far the most willing to give it a go. The Left was (and is) paralysed by tribal ideology. And that is, I’m afraid, at the core of Labour’s problem.
Well, now we have five more years of Friedmanite nutters and fraudulent sheisters. So I hope the liberal-Left is pleased with itself this weekend. While I sympathise utterly with the many people on short hours, low pay and benefits who have been let down by the Ed Miller Band, I’ve no tears for the band at all: it needs new tunes, less cacophony, better lyrics…and fast.
There seems to be an idea inside Labour that is ineradicable….that changing one’s mind in the light of empirical evidence is somehow to abandon one’s principles. They point to the Blairites as classic examples of Why We Won’t Budge from Socialism. I suppose my response here would be to say Blair never had any principles to abandon (nor did his eminence grises Alistair Campbell and Peter Mandelson) but that above all – and this is where the trouble starts – full-on socialism is (like laissez faire neoliberalism) a totally busted flush.
Hardly anyone in Britain beyond the politically wonkish thinks the future lies in a return to the bad old days of undemocratic trade unions and nationalised industries – beyond essential services. But the Hard Left, Occupy, the SWP or whatever they’re called now….indeed, a bewildering array of other purist placard-carriers all the way down to Russell Brand continue to yell, immolate, sloganise and generally demand that a severe Left-turn towards the Workers’ Paradise is the only way.
For those still living in 1917, let me point the following out based on the 2015 General Election statistics:
The Monster Raving Looney Party polled more votes than the Socialist Labour Party
The Yorkshire First Party polled three times as many votes as the Workers Party
The English Democrats polled seven times more than Class War
The Respect Party polled more votes than the SLP, WP & Class War put together
But here’s an interesting thought: move away from polemic ideology into a more practical approach to the endangered, and everything changes.
A one-issue Party – National Health Action – attracted twice as many votes as the Socialist Workers Class War Smash Tory Scum tendency put together….over 20,000 votes.
Still small potatoes, but from then on it’s up-up-up: Green Party 1.2 million, SNP 1.5 million, Ukip 3.9 million…..their aims respectively being protection of the Planet, Scottish rights, and an end to unelected dictatorship from Brussels-am-Berlin.
Have these Parties compromised their principles in identifying what they see as an important issue? I would submit no, they haven’t.
Judging from the brand name, the Labour Party stands for the survival of the working wage-slave – at every level – against the massive shift in power to capital that has typified the World since the Big Bangs of the mid 1980s.
To dump the ‘creed’ part of Socialism in order to become more focused on arguing for the rights of the vulnerable and the creative against the social vandalism of economic colonialism seems to me to be a return to first principles…of abandoning discredited principles. But such thought won’t get a hearing on the Left, because it represents bourgeois lackey revisionism…or whatever sub-Galloway syntax is in vogue this week.
Of all the principles held by those high-polling Parties, the one in relation to EU membership has had by far the most influence on the British public in recent years. This influence has, of course, been given a massive boost by the bullying, bombastic, illegal, corrupt and anti-democratic nature of the European Commission (and more latterly the eurogroupe) egged on by specious accounts of reality emanating from Berlin.
Millions of workers dear Labour Party – that’s right workers – are being crushed in Spain, Portugal and Greece by an unpleasant axis of anal German politicians, NATO, unelected Brussels Sprouts and traitors like Mariano Rajoy…a Spaniard himself neck-deep in quite remarkably amoral levels of backhander and offshore riches.
In Greece – where a workers’ Party called Syriza, dear Labour Party has at last rebelled based on elective democracy – said legally elected government is being undermined by the very banking, multinational and political fascists to whom you, dear Labour Party, are supposed to be implacably opposed.
But the unswerving and total support for this Gangster Boss Class remains a given on the British Left: every opponent of the EU Goliath is dismissed as a Little Englander racist pissing incontinently against the tide of history.
Yes, dear Labour Party, you’d rather sell out your comrades in arms than admit that the European Ideal has been replaced by a fiscal nightmare produced, devised, scripted and acted by capital. That’s not so much selling out your principles as selling your children into slavery.
Let me spell out the bottom line to Labour members, organisers and reformers today: recognise the muddle, avoid the metropolitan, engage with the decency demographic, fire the spin doctors, sideline the extremist minorities, radicalise your aims, and dump socialism.
In a nutshell, stop being correct….and get back to looking after majority rights.
The Slogology of this post: