Sunday, 12 January 2020

Rebuilding a coherent Labour party is impossible

I went into Ely the other day to buy a few bits. I felt a bit peckish so I went in the fish and chip shop. I asked for a fish butty. The very obviously foreign owner stared at me like I was from Mars. So I explained in more basic terms - a bun with a fish in it. No joy. He told me he only sells fish and chips. I couldn't be arsed to argue. I thanked him and left without buying anything. This is where I feel my inner Daily Mail gammonista coming out. What's the world coming to when you can't even buy a goddamn fish butty from a fish and chip shop?

Since I was in town I figured I might as well go and get my hair cut. That was a bit more successful but not at all easy since nobody in the barber shop spoke a word of English. Course, this is nothing new under the sun but as I get older it becomes more tiresome. It's one thing to expect a rainbow of languages and cultures in the capital but can a society function at all when this is also the case in a sleepy fenland market town?

But here I'm committing the great sin of preferring to live in a country where I have a few basic things in common with my fellow citizens apart from limbs and a basic need for oxygen. That's out of keeping with the leftist orthodoxy of "enriching our culture". This partly explains why Labour is struggling in the polls.

If there's one thing about Brits, they will do virtually anything for a quiet life. It's why councils feel they can heap ever more burdens on us, knowing that we will simply do as we're told to avoid fines and bureaucratic harassment. It's just our nature. And as people get older they don't want to be disturbed by noisy neighbours, loud music, smelly takeaways and crowded pubs. There's a reason rural regions are creeping upwards in average ages.

And of course young families want that same peace and security. They don't want their kids mixing with the kids nobody cares about who'll end up using or selling drugs. Since most suburbs are now crowded and the housing overpriced, people are now extending their commutes looking for cheaper houses - usually anywhere within an hour's drive of a city.

Over Christmas I've done a lot of miles going up and down the A1 and one thing you notice is just how many new housing developments there are, from Huntingdon all the way up through the mining regions and into the Vale of York. They're all boxy and raw but actually a million times better than the two-tone pebble dashed huts they built in the 60's.

Essentially these are the "socially conservative, culturally and racially homogeneous" working class places the Guardian speaks of which now replaces the traditional Labour caricature of working class people working in mines and steel mills.

For those people, people like me in fact, life is a bit of a squeeze. Aside from the long miserable commutes and parking charges and balls-aching congestion, if there's one thing all these new builds have in common is that they're all far too small, have no storage and inadequate parking. Planning is such that the roads connecting these new build estates are antiquated and in a state of decay. For all that we have an onerous planning system you do have to wonder if any serious infrastructure planning happens at all.

The only way to find houses with adequate space is to look further out, so while house hunting yesterday we found ourselves driving round the boondocks of East Yorkshire, which as a WWII aviation geek I could live with, but you're then heading into League of Gentleman territory culture wise.

As yet I don't know what the local politics looks like. There seems to be an active campaign against the building of a new mega prison at Full Sutton. The one thing I'm pretty sure doesn't feature in voting estimations is what the local candidate's views on Palestine or Kashmir are. And I'm pretty sure if I'm commuting from Holme on Spalding Moor to a data centre in Pontefract then I'm not going to give a tinker's shit who owns the railways. Trains is for Londoners and Bradfordians who haven't found a way to avoid Leeds.

Ultimately, Labour's squabbles have nothing to say to the north of England. Even the antisemitism row is largely a London thing. You're not likely to consciously see a Jew outside Manchester or London. But despite Labour's inherent racism toward Jews, it still finds time to lecture the rest of us about race and diversity. As it happens northerners know all too well what diversity looks like and it's not the bewildering array of different foods and cultures Cambridge academics think it is. It means dirty and dangerous slums that make living in Selby sound like a viable idea.

What's happening politically is summed up by a tweet today from Dr Lee Jones. "Surely the problem with identity politics is that when you split everyone up into minority groups, you're left with a rump residuum often called the "white working class", which is then interpolated as an "identity" itself? This is the right-wing telos of contemporary "leftism".

When you constantly have the state broadcaster embedding diversity messages on everything from Eastenders to Radio 4 afternoon plays it largely reminds us that the media and political class view the plebs as bigoted idiots whose neanderthal values are in need of reprogramming. Ultimately we're not going to vote for people who think they know better than us and think they can disregard our votes at a referendum while still feeling entitled to our votes come election time.

Now that Labour have been pummelled in a general election they're now taking their best guesses as to why northern neanderthal is not voting Labour. They'll get it wrong of course because they don't know anything about governing. All the electoral bribes in the world aren't going to make Labour any more likeable. They'll conclude that they need to send out messages northerners can relate to which leads to them to appeal to a cartoonish notion of northerners which is wholly lacking in authenticity. They think acting the part is sufficient.

Ultimately you can't fake authenticity. You can't preach the same old dogma just with a northern accent. The national politics has to in some way reflect the lived experiences of real people. Labour, though, is just a clan of London progressives who not only don't care about anything beyond the M25, they're simply unaware that any other politics than their own exists. Labour can't forge an alliance with a northern working class stereotype that no longer exists and it can't forge a coalition with people whose values they loathe.

Labour has an impossible task. This week Brendan Cox popped up on Twitter to suggest that immigration control policies aren't racist. Big mistake. He spent the whole day fending off the accusation that he is now enabling the far right to set the agenda. Anyone wishing to salvage anything from the wreckage of Labour is wasting their time. It can't be done. If immigration can't be debated then Labour has nothing to say to the north. The left is maintaining the position that there are no downsides to immigration and anyone who thinks otherwise is a nazi. It's now at the point where the only reason a leftist hasn't called you a nazi is if you haven't voiced an opinion at all - which is what they want.

The problem is now that in order to have a conversation about the north we have to have a conversation about all the things that the left would rather hide from. Most of what they seek to avoid can be swept away with a single grunt of "Islamophobia". But of course this is less to do with Islam and everything to do with Pakistani men and a corrupt and broken visa system. The left will keep hiding from it for as long as they prefer the votes of inner city ethnics to white working class people - and hide from it they will. For as long as they do, politics will increasingly be drawn on racial divides. Our politics is now defacto racist because the left have made it about race. Some might say deliberately.

Britain has seen enormous change in recent years and it has fundamentally changed the make up of our country, where ordinary people now have to struggle to get what was once just a basic expectation of life. These changes have undermined social cohesion and baked in resentment between age groups, class and race. Instead of seeking to bridge the divides the left continues to pour petrol on the bonfire, attacking all the basic norms, hoping to dismantle everything that sustains a viable society. Ultimately the left can't govern something they effectively want to destroy. If they don't even believe in the nation state how can they ever hope to heal it? 

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