The traditional wisdom about the left-right axis in western politics is that people feel that the Left’s heart is in the right place, but that they often lack the competence to govern effectively; while the Right are grumpy bastards who may have impure intent, but at least they know how to keep things running properly. One of the unspoken reasons for why we’re about to witness a Tory landslide is that the British Left is very quickly losing its “heart in the right place” USP – all while being incredibly incompetent at the same time.
This has mostly happened since Jeremy Corbyn became leader of the opposition. Many have commented on John McDonnell standing at a rally last week under a Stalinist banner; fewer people have made note of the fact that there was also a flag of the Syrian regime nearby as well. Opposing western military intervention in the Middle East is one thing – how did we get to a point where the Left lionises the Assad regime? When did this become a thing? Parallel to that is the support or at least apologising for Putin – why does the British Left feel the need to stick up for a man who runs an incredibly unequal society that is run as a kleptocracy, all while being explicitly anti-gay?
Then there is the anti-Semitism, which doesn’t need more expanding on (as it so deeply unpleasant) other than to say no, it hasn’t been overplayed by the “MSM”, it is a real thing, and yes, the Labour leadership should have done a lot more about it.
I bring all this up not to give the Left a further hard time, but to point to a lesser remarked upon dynamic that is at play in this general election. If people look at the Labour leadership and see incompetence, all while doubting any longer if they at the very least represent the “good guys”, then what is the point in voting for them? What is the point indeed.
I think this is one of the biggest problems the Left needs to overcome post-election. Beyond Corbyn’s leadership, someone needs to work out that being anti-west, anti-British, pro-Assad, pro-Putin, anti-Semitic at times even pro-Islamist is a really, really bad look. The Left relies on the feeling enough people have that lefties are better motivated to do good than the Right; that’s why, generally speaking, if the Left can convince people of its competence, it can win elections. If the Left loses its good guy status, then it really has nothing left.
Paul W says
“How did we get to a point where the Left lionises the Assad regime? When did this become a thing?”
I think you will find the answer set out in gruesome detail in journalist Nick Cohen’s 2007 publication: “What’s Left? How the Left Lost Its Way” . Still available from all good bookshops.
Its clear Corbyn like May is pitching to elderly and middle aged. Young people don’t want to work in a factory, don’t want Len as a shop steward don’t want state-run companies.
They want to work for google, they want to travel and work abroad, they want wifi…and flexibility. Labour make scant reference to Brexit – to keeping what business we have here as we leave the single market, aside from promising to tax them more and impose a whole heap of non EU regulations on them.
His manifesto is not a call to the country, but a call to members to vote for him post the election and to keep Len’s (union members wages) coming in. Not sure what the answer is aside from a split. How can the majority labour MP’s stand on a dishonest manifesto and how can they deal with whatever the very nasty battle and recriminations post the election.