The day after protests in London took place, several young people came to clean off the graffiti that had been put onto the Earl Haig memorial. While they were doing this, a young woman approached and berated them. “Couldn’t even wait a day. Not one day, because of their precious memorial,” she said to them as they scrubbed “ACAB” (All Cops Are Bastards) off of the WW1 statue. She then gave them hell for putting signs left as litter into bins.
The young woman who berated the group from the Household Cavalry for cleaning off the statue was captured on video. Her face and her name (which I won’t place here but it is very easy to find on Twitter) have been splattered everywhere. Her moment of stupidity will live eternally. I feel very bad for her. She has been ensconced in a culture that made her think she was in the right when she said what she said and now she has had her moment of silliness broadcast to the world.
When Keir Starmer was elected leader of the Labour Party, I took that as being more of a symbol of the left smartening up than now feels like was the case. I figured they were finally going to halt the behaviours that have cut them off from much of Labour’s former voting base. Yet it seems like some of this stuff is so entrenched within the culture of the left that it cannot be excised simply because the man at the top knows how to wear a suit and avoids endlessly spouting bullshit about Gaza.
The problem comes back to the kids. Not young people in and of themselves, but the fact that the grown ups have by and large vacated the debate on the left and the kids have filled the vacuum with ideas and concepts that are severely unripe. You can point to the rise of Momentum but this goes further back, like most problems on the British left, to Ed Miliband. I know long time readers of this site will roll their eyes at me for bringing this up again, but I return to 2010 and Miliband comparing the cuts marchers to Suffragettes. It was a powerful line that still resonates across the British left, one that decoded meant: we have thrown in the towel on trying to be grownups. The language of the left from here on will be that of a 15-year-old who has just read Sartre for the first time and gets most of their politics from 80s punk rock records and their descendants. If you are not under 21 and very left-wing, look away now, there will be nothing of interest here for you.
I feel sorry for young people on the left today. They have been left essentially leaderless, their older generals simply trying to mimic the language of youth. Then they wonder why older Labour voters went for the Tories in droves. There is only so long you can blast student politics at people until they finally get the point that you aren’t serious. How does this get fixed? I don’t know. Starmer is a strong, intelligent man and perhaps he can massage it out of the system somehow over the next three years. If he can’t, I don’t know if anyone can. As ever, the long term fate of the British Left rests on Keir Starmer’s shoulders. Good luck to him.
I have a new book out now. It’s called “Politics is Murder” and follows the tale of a woman named Charlotte working at a failing think tank who has got ahead in her career in a novel way – she is a serial killer. One day, the police turn up at her door and tell her she is a suspect in a murder – only thing is, it is one she had nothing to do with. The plot takes in Conservative Party conference, a plot against the Foreign Secretary and some gangsters while Charlotte tries to find out who is trying to frame her for a murder she didn’t commit.
It’s available here: