TIME FOR A FUTURE PLAN
If Labour wants to engage the public, it needs to stop feeding off the Blairite tendency of the 1990s and preaching the PC pieties that enrage left and right (but not the minority liberal left). It needs to be daring and propose a programme of massive public works. We should be planning how to rebuild the UK for the 21st and 22nd centuries.
Germany and Japan – massive losers in the second world war – were forced to rebuild from the ground up. As a result, they came to dominate in the latter part of the last century. Germany even managed unification with the massively impoverished East Germany (another hard-left adventure gone horribly wrong).
In the digital age, we could rebuild Gt Britain with digital superhighways, railways fit for purpose. Futuristic roads would provide power in their areas just from the traffic that runs along them (already reality, see right). We could join north and south and bring jobs to Scotland to replace the fast-disappearing prosperity of North Sea oil.
If we were truly courageous, we would install new conduits from Land’s End to John O’Groats. They would run water, electricity and gas as well as super-broadband lines. Scotland has the resource to provide power from multiple sources. It also has water that could flow through Gt Britain and do away with drought for a very long time.
In this vision, everyone able would have work. New taxes would pay for new borrowing until the dividends from all this investment started to pay out.
So Labour has a choice. It can try to take us back to 1917, and tear itself apart in the process.
Or it can propose a new vision that would transform the country, bringing work and a decent standard of living for all. Here’s your imaginary ballot paper – where will you put your cross?
If you were to draw a diagram to illustrate Labour’s current predicament, these would have to be the anchor points:
- Jeremy Corbyn:
almost totally out of sync with the Parliamentary Labour Party (Labour MPs, the PLP) he is supposed to lead.
- The PLP
(those for whom 9m voters placed their cross in 2015): out of sync with the Labour Party Membership (600,000 who pay a subscription and therefore get to vote on who is Leader).
- The Labour Party membership:
almost completely out of sync with voters in the country.
- Voters in the country:
pretty much out of sync with Jeremy Corbyn.
It is a problem without resolution, a circle that cannot be squared.
Democratically, then, if 250,000 voted for Corbyn to be leader – 100,000 more than voted for David Cameron to be leader of the Conservative Party – surely fairness says he has to stay?
The reality, though, is that Labour is at least six million votes adrift of even giving the Conservatives a proper fight in an election. 600,000 members doesn’t touch the sides of the problem. Not to mention the fact that Labour is utterly failing to do its job as the party of Opposition.
And fairness has no part in what is going on. Those of us with long memories remember the battles Prime Ministers Harold Wilson and James Callaghan had with unions which were instruments of old-style communist infiltrators.
We also remember Militant, a rag-bag of Trotskyist activists who played the old ‘entryist’ game, a Communist Trojan Horse pushed through the gates into Labour’s citadel. Neil Kinnock’s battles with them in the 1980s led to some of his most rousing speeches. By 1992, he looked a shoo-in for PM. But he became so pompously triumphal before polling day that he literally embarrassed the country into voting for John Major.
This left-wing adherence to the discredited ideologies of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin has never gone away. These are, by and large, 100 year old ideas that the British public has never bought into. Wherever they’ve been tried they’ve not worked. In Russia and China alone more than 70 million people died in pursuit of unworkable policies. They are counter-intuitive to the human condition.
The symbolic anorak
What young people don’t know (and why should they?) is that Jeremy Corbyn’s appearance is practically a caricature of the hard-left entryist. Attacks are not personal. They are symbolic.
The beard, the duffle coat or anorak (hence the term ‘anorak’ as a pejorative) and the scruffy clothes are a symbol of something the British public instinctively mistrusts. The last person to give it a go was Michael Foot. Foot was an intellectual giant, authentically from the era of the ideas he espoused. Still, he got the heave-ho. If we think Corbyn’s appearance draws unfair attention, have a look back to Michael Foot and his donkey jacket at the cenotaph. The Lenin look (above and top) that
turns off the British voting public.
The working class
Young people imagine that Corbyn speaks for the working class.
Jeremy Corbyn. Does Not. Speak For. The Working. Class.
Are we clear on that?
Nothing Corbyn talks about today would be recognisable to what used to be the working class. The working class did not think we should unilaterally disarm our nuclear weapons. Nor did it think about social justice in terms of racism, sexism and homophobia.
The working class used to be huge. At one point, thirteen million – mostly men – belonged to a union. One-third of them voted Conservative. The rest were more or less solidly Labour.
But here’s the kick: they were racist, sexist and – above all – homophobic to a degree that would shock today’s snowflake generation.
Today there are fewer than half that number of union members. Mostly they have nice clean jobs that don’t require them to go down mines or smelt huge lumps of iron or operate machinery that might, at any second, swallow them up and pulverise them.
The working class as was no longer exists. It has been subsumed into an underclass, victim of decades and successive generations of long-term unemployment.
Jeremy Corbyn does not talk to people at that end of the spectrum. He does not recognise their concerns. If he did, he would have stuck to his 40-years-held view and campaigned to leave the EU. Instead, he compromised and went along with his PLP to reverse a lifetime of political opposition to the European Union. It is possibly the first instance of hypocrisy that Corbyn could be accused of.
Labour voters north of Islington (but south of Carlisle) voted en masse for Leave. They saw that decades of the EU has resulted in mass unemployment and the destruction of their stake in western society.
This is what the liberal left refuses to acknowledge: that the EU has been a major promoter of the interests of the rich, the banks and the power elite. The workers can go hang. Or they can move from their country to another and take their chances. What kind of a choice is that?
Update, Friday, August 5, 2016
Now that Corbyn has adopted the vision thing – announcing (occasioned by the necessity to campaign again for the leadership of his Party) a plan almost identical to the proposal for the future at the top of this article – maybe he could also drop some of the liberal pieties that drive what’s left of Labour’s core voters crazy. Work, decent pay, a home of their own and food on the table. That’s what people want. The constant mantra of equality and peace on earth come a very poor fifth in the priorities of ordinary people.