The Corbynite Left have nothing but contempt for voters
BY JAMES BICKERTON
British politics becomes easier to understand once you realise much of the hard-left regard a plurality of the general public as belonging to some species of moron. This, at any rate, is the most plausible explanation for their actions since their December 12 election drumming.
Labour’s crushing defeat, the party’s worse since 1935, has sparked remarkably little soul searching amongst leading Corbynites. They are, for the moment at least, far more interested in scapegoats than solutions. Alas the one many have landed on, explicitly or otherwise, is the general public. When you drill into their core many of the chief Corbynite excuses are based around one theme; the British people being simply too thick to appreciate the benefits of a Jeremy Corbyn led Government.
Some on the left, as the scale of the defeat became clear, said so pretty openly. Writer Aaron Gillies, who tweets to his 172,000 followers as @TechnicallyRon, proclaimed: “Exit polls suggest this country is fucked and full of morons” and “frankly, fuck anyone that voted for these idiots”.
Jolyon Rubinstein, a left-leaning comedian who once had a BBC3 show, added: “Tory & even Trumpian slogans getting tweeted at me by probably exactly the people who will suffer the most…God you idiots. You brought all the lies. Again, after everything. Wake the fuck up. You’ve played yourself”. James Felton, who self-identifies as a comedy writer, concurred stating: “They lied, they called the victims of Grenfell thick, they said some racist stuff, they lied some more, they hid from journalists, they hid in fridges and you still fucking voted for them. Well done, shits.”
On one level of course you could argue these were jokes. But on another I don’t think they were. Certainly if a conservative leaning public figure had made similar comments they would have been eviscerated, quite understandably, as an unrepentant snob. Crucially though this isn’t where the argument ended. Calling the general public “shits” and “morons” is rarely wise, but can perhaps be overlooked as the emotional response to an outright electoral catastrophe. Unfortunately a section of the left has doubled down, condensing the raw passion with something that vaguely approximates arguments, though the underlying meaning is much the same.
The new, slightly more sophisticated, argument is to blame the media. Of course a plurality of the public voted Tory because that’s what The Sun and The Daily Mail told them to. How could anyone expect them to behave differently? There is no way of holding the media primarily responsible for electoral defeat, in a free society, that doesn’t implicitly treat the populous as a collection of fools.
This argument has been pushed right from the top of the Labour Party. Writing in The Guardian following his defenestration Corbyn commented: “The media attacks on the Labour Party for the last four and a half years were more ferocious than ever – and of course that has an impact on the outcome of elections.” Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell agreed accusing the media of “doing a number on Jeremy for four years solid” because “the establishment own the media in this country.”
This isn’t to say the media have no impact on election results, they clearly do, but rather it exists within a spectrum. Newspapers are as much led by their readers as commanding them. Should The Sun, or The Daily Telegraph, decide to become an anti-Brexit Corbynite publication they could, but it would almost certainly lose them readers. The Morning Star fails not over some capitalist plot, but rather because almost nobody wants to buy it.
Working for the website of a tabloid newspaper, as I do for the Daily Express, is an education into audience desires. The political stories that get the most hits are almost invariable Eurosceptic, conservative leaning or hostile to the liberal-left. We could publish left sympathetic content if we wished but very few people would read it, and if we did it consistently our core audience would evaporate. Market forces play a bigger role in the British tabloid media’s lean towards the right than anything their owners might want. It’s noticeable that liberalism tends to be strongest in those media groups, like the BBC, which are at least partially shielded from free market competition.
The recent General Election was a disaster for Labour not just because of its scale but because it was disproportionately delivered by the working-class, the very people the left claim the right to speak for. The Conservatives had a 13 point lead amongst poorer DE voters, and took a higher proportion of their vote from the working-class than the middle-class. Labour’s claim to be the natural party for blue collar Britain, long questionable, now resembles a joke. For Corbynites, who premise their politics around class struggle, this is a disaster. As such their efforts to blame the media for misguiding the proletariat, using celebrate gossip and patriotic populism as a latter day ‘opium of the masses’, has become all the more vitriolic.
The British hard-left, if the past couple of weeks are anything to go by, regards the UK working-class as a collection of fools who can be seduced to vote against their own self-interests by the tabloid media or an eccentric Tory candidate with amusing hair. It’s an attitude far more snobbish than that possessed by all but the most aristocratic Tories. They may want to speak for the working-class, but by God they’ll do just about anything to avoid having to listen to them. Fortunately for us all on December 12 it was the bulk of the British working-class who had the last laugh.
James Bickerton is a writer and journalist. Follow him on twitter: @JBickertonUK