Notes from the deathbed of British democracy


The past two years have seen not one, not two, but three seismic upheavals in British politics. They are separate and distinct, but have a powerful common feature.

The first earthquake was the near-total annihilation of the Labour party in Scotland. The Scottish people might have rejected independence in 2014, but they simultaneously rejected Westminster and the political traditions to which they had offered decades of devotion.

The second earthquake was the election of Jeremy Corbyn to the Labour leadership. Hundreds of thousands of members and affiliates sent a clear message to the party: sacrificing principles to attain electability is precisely what has made you unelectable, and the time has come for a profound change of direction. It’s easy to forget just how overwhelmingly strong that message was. Corbyn didn’t just win, he destroyed his opponents. He won 50% more votes than the other four candidates put together, and won clear majorities among all sections of the party electorate, old members, new members, affiliates, unions and of course the ‘three quidders’ who signed up to vote for him in their droves.

Finally, the third and most devastating earthquake has of course been the EU referendum result which has plunged Britain into an unfathomable clusterfuck, a monstrous medusa of crises.

The common factor shared by all three of these political convulsions is the disintegration of the relationship between the political establishment and large swathes of the population. Everything necessary to keep such a relationship intact– faith, trust, confidence, respect – is degraded or destroyed. The story of contemporary British politics is that when the people are given a choice between the Westminster parties, they will reluctantly choose one of them. But when given the choice of the Westminster parties or something else – anything else – they will choose something else. Anything else.

All of the above has been spectacular, profound, unsettling for the established order. What we are seeing this week is absolutely terrifying. With scarcely a blink, the political establishment is preparing to abandon any pretence of respecting the will of the people.

The chaos in the Labour party is bad. Very bad. As I write it seems inevitable that there will be a vote of no confidence from the PLP, triggering a leadership election. Corbyn will certainly feel mandated, almost certainly obliged to stand again and represent the wishes of those who chose him less than a year ago. It is highly likely he will win again. The only possible scenario after that would be that virtually the entire parliamentary Labour party resigns the party whip, presumably forming a new independent party. We will then have a parliamentary party with no support base or funding (excepting the generosity of a few billionaires who might fancy buying themselves a new political party) and a grassroots Labour party with numbers, anger, energy, union affiliations, but hardly any MPs at least this side of an election. All this will make the political catastrophe of the SDP’s Gang of Four look like an OAPs sewing circle.

The travails of Labour and the left, however are rendered near irrelevant by what is happening to the referendum result. Almost as soon as the results were announced we began to see petitions calling for a second referendum, and blogs by constitutional or legal experts explaining that the result might not be binding, it was only ‘advisory’ we are told. Four days later, we are being told that there might not be a single elected politician, even within the Tory party, willing to sign Article 50 and take Britain out of the EU. We hear there might have to be a devil’s compromise which involves Britain formally leaving the EU’s democratic structures while retaining the EU’s free trade agreement and accompanying free movement of people. Both Labour and Conservative voices are saying that a general election could now be fought and won on a campaign to disregard the referendum result and stay in the EU.

The vote to leave the EU was a calamitous mistake by the British people which is likely to cause economic havoc and disasters for social policy and quality of life in this country. However, the decision has been made. If the Westminster parliament fails to properly implement its outcome then it will be (rightly) seen as the most almighty Fuck You from the political establishment to the electorate ever seen, certainly in this country and quite possibly anywhere in the nominally democratic world. It would be the kind of thing that we expect to see in Pinochet’s Chile or Zimbabwe under Mugabe.  It would be a betrayal of a democratic process exactly akin to a government losing an election but refusing to leave office.

For a few weeks now I have been muttering to friends that Britain stands closer to a collapse into neo-fascism than we have at any time since Mosley marched in the 1930s. Today I think it is worse than that, these are quite treacherously dangerous times. For many years, Labour apparatchiks told themselves they could comfortably ignore the needs and wishes of their traditional working class base because their votes were secure and those people had nowhere else to go. The past couple of years have confirmed how spectacularly wrong they were.

Now the Tory party threatens to make the precise same mistake. Nearly 70 percent of Tory voters ignored the wishes of their leadership and voted to leave the EU. Where do we think they will go next? Sure, a few million of them might have sober regrets and be happy to relent on the EU but many millions more will feel entirely disenfranchised, utterly betrayed and livid with fury. Honestly, where does anyone think they will turn?

All of these current woes are a direct or indirect consequence of the alienation of people from politicians. Much of that can be blamed upon New Labour and the Mandelsonian triangulation that left so many working class people behind, but in truth it goes deeper, to the cultural impacts of neoliberalism and globalised corporate power (there are undoubtedly similar processes happening with the US primaries and the rise of the new left and the old right in Europe). This, however, is on a different order of magnitude altogether. The political establishment is like a cirrhotic alcoholic dying in the gutter while insisting that just one more bottle of whisky and everything will be OK again.

Perhaps the worst bit of all this is that I, as one unaligned British citizen, simply do not know what to do about it but sit and gawp at the sudden fatal car crash of British democracy. There will of course be better days, brighter prospects for our children but for now it feels as if all we can do is watch as our parliamentarians sow, water and harvest the seeds of fascism.

Comments

  1. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    If the Westminster parliament fails to properly implement its outcome then it will be (rightly) seen as the most almighty Fuck You from the political establishment to the electorate ever seen

    To be fair, if parliament does properly implement its outcome, then it will also been seen as the most almighty Fuck You from the political establishment to the electorate. They backed themselves into a corner, and then bricked themselves in… which would be fine by me – so long as we didn’t end up with violence on the streets, I think the country desperately needed an outright rejection of the political establishment – but they brought us in there with them.

  2. says

    Great piece (little typo in the 8th para “take Britain out of the UK” should be EU…though maybe not???? 🙂 )

    The thing that amazes me is that they didn’t provide for the possibility of a close win. I mean if 60% or more voted for or against that’s one thing, but a close call is just asking for trouble.

  3. AndrewD says

    As I see it, if the scenerio in Para 6- comes to pass, the Former PLP will proberbly join their soul mates in the Lib. Dem party(if the lib dems have them). The Labour party can then select socialists as candidates.
    I my opinion, and I have said this else where, if you abandon your principles for Power, you are not fit to hold power. I would rather see my party in principled opposition than cynical power.
    If the labour party dies, I see the left being represented by two factions, The Green part and the streetfighters of the far left.

  4. says

    I’ve been worried for years that the desire of the wealthy to accumulate ever more wealth at the expense of the poor and middle class was going to result in a backlash.

    Now that backlash is starting to happen and… crap. Fascism. It’ s worse than I thought.

    Are things going to change? Not yet. There will still be cries from the rich that we need even more austerity that will only hurt their lessers. There will be more and more trade deals made that will result in fewer well-paying jobs because the investor class won’t be happy until they can bring the $0.50/hr jobs west to save on transportation.

    Of course when the talking heads keep telling the people who are losing their livelihoods that the blame for their pain rests on the shoulders of those others who are coming in and stealing their jobs to deflect from the corrosive effects of corporate greed, the result is going to be a rise in fascism. I shouldn’t have been worried, I should have been terrified.

  5. Marduk says

    5.
    There won’t be any trade deals that will help anyone. The Germans and the French typically out-export us already to China etc., they’ve had no problems so I don’t see what brake is currently going to released from a UK that hasn’t had an industrial policy in donkey’s years. We don’t have anything China or India wants or needs anymore. The level of knowledge around this is pitiful, we seem to want to believe that countries whose economic security is based on trade tariffs are as bigger lovers of Adam Smith as the Tory right. In truth they are about as impressed with Smith’s “self-evidently correct” revolution in thinking as the USA is with Marx’s. Not only will they not be negotiated into a change of national policy over decades or even centuries by a small island that used to oppress them, they are going to find the very idea highly offensive.

    4.
    Labour MPs have a lifeboat and it isn’t the LibDems, its the fourth largest party in Parliament, has representation in the assemblies and its the party I’ve always wanted to be able to join as well without joining Labour.

  6. Marduk says

    I don’t believe a decision has been made, that is just the promise of a PM who said he would enforce the outcome and has now resigned and stated he will not enforce the outcome. What we’ve got left is a glorified opinion poll too close to 50:50 to be sacred, nobody in the world makes referendum decisions like this on straight majorities, it was just Cameron’s failed brinkmanship. I really don’t see why one without any constitutional status for referenda and a sovereign parliament should. If people don’t like what MPs are doing, this includes Momentum, they should have voted for someone else at the last election.

    Nobody was offered a vote against immigration, take it up with Farage if he told you otherwise, anyone who can read knows it wasn’t the case.

    PS. I saw your Tweeting. Suggest LK got her “inside knowledge” from an article that was published in The Telegraph earlier this month. Can’t search for it now (FTB has a horrid affect on browsers, something to do with ads).

  7. Marduk says

    Am grimly amused that Game Of Thrones is the trending UK topic today. Assume people wanted something lighter than the back-stabbings, betrayals, civil wars, improbably odious villains and threatened apocalypses in the news.

  8. Henry says

    “Nearly 70 percent of Tory voters ignored the wishes of their leadership and voted to leave the EU.”

    Unless you’re looking at a different poll to me, I’m not sure you can quite describe it as their ‘leadership’ – wasn’t this 70% of people who said they’d voted Tory in ’15 GE? ie these are just ordinary members of the electorate who happen to have voted Tory once? If it’s 70% of Tory *members* then apols, but it’s an important distinction, especially at a time when certain quarters of our body politic are in open dispute re their duty to members vs wider public…

  9. Holms says

    I’m actually on board with the idea that a 52-48 split is far too narrow for such a vote; certain large changes are often reserved for only a supermajority of some sort, 2/3-1/3 being common.

  10. Dunc says

    Well, the rights and wrongs of supermajority rules are debatable, but the time for that debate is before the vote, not after.

    At this stage, I think we have to accept that we have collectively shat the bed, and now we have to lie in it*. While I think Brexit is an absolutely terrible idea, I think that ignoring the result on a technicality (or inventing a post-hoc technicality expressly for the purpose) would be even worse. There are no good solutions to the predicament we now find ourselves in.

    (*Except maybe Scotland.)

  11. Holms says

    There’s hardly a reason to resort to post-hoc technicalities, when you already have something perfectly valid: it was always non-binding. Political careers will be / are already in tatters, but sod them.

  12. Marduk says

    11.

    How can you ‘debate’ something for which there were no rules?
    The only person defining (in fact, making up) anything here is David Cameron on a personal, day-to-day basis.
    And when I say David Cameron, I mean David Cameron, not really even No.10.

    Farage said a simple majority shouldn’t be enough (he said this consistently including after the polls had closed), Cameron said it was in comments to journalists.
    Johnson said the outcome shouldn’t be binding, Cameron said he would make sure it was enforced.

    None of this has any reality to it, its like a family selling their house because they owe their 5 year old daughter a million pounds in a Monopoly game.

  13. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    I think you might mean the SNP rather than the DUP?!

    @ Ally Fogg

    “It would be a betrayal of a democratic process exactly akin to a government losing an election but refusing to leave office.”

    I don’t think that this is the case at all, though I understand and respect where you are coming from. Yes, a majority voted a certain way in the referendum, but it makes political sense to then put to parliament exactly what this reality means, and for the representatives of constituencies to vote. I don’t think that’s a betrayal, it’s basically just what happens. I don’t think it’s akin to a government losing an election and refusing to leave office, more the government never restoring the death penalty when it’s clear a majority want it in the country, or, for that matter, dramatically curbing immigration, when it’s obvious a majority want that too.

    This was a protest vote, now widely regretted.

    And, again against my better instincts, and whilst understanding and respecting where you are coming from, Corbyn failed miserably in the remain campaign (probably because he didn’t really want to Remain) and isn’t up to the gargantuan task ahead of the Labour party.

    The crisis we are in now is far greater than the recession/depression of 2007/8 and I agree and accept that the mood is ripe for a break to the extreme right.

    Somewhat paradoxically, in the circumstances that we are in vis-à-vis concerns about fascism, I am happy to see democratic loopholes used to replace Corbyn, ignore the Brexit referendum decision and try to at least get to a centrist political stage before anything more daring from the left.

    I agree with virtually everything that you’ve written Ally, but in the name of the Goddess, extraordinary times requires suspending one’s better judgements at times.

  14. Marduk says

    But these are debating points from me to you Dunc. It is true that I’m increasingly worried about the Guardian’s attempts to make “Remain” a post-hoc political identity that they can market to. This is the last thing we need as a country. If there is strife, we should blame Cameron, but Katherine Viner will certainly be added to the list if they keep this up. Horrendous comments about older people, poor people, northerners etc. in their 10s of 1000s and very, very little moderation. So it turns out all that “community standards” never mind the “#thewebwewant” stuff wasn’t worth much in the end.

  15. Marduk says

    16.

    Its a wacky idea but I was referring to the forgotten sleeping giant of British politics, not those minnows!
    https://party.coop/

    Admittedly it would be ironic for the Co-op party to end co-operation with Labour but their non-leader in the House hates Corbyn. The 24 MPs they have stay, everyone else defects over.

  16. WineEM says

    ‘Y know it’s strange, you would have thought Chris Grayling would be as chirpy and confident as ever, given the result, but even since it was called, and it has dawned on him what has happened, unflushable’s face has looked just like Private Pile’s just before he makes his full metal jacket pronouncement.

    Tell you what though, these two maps are perhaps worth a comparison:

    a) petition for a 2nd referendum

    http://petitionmap.unboxedconsulting.com/?petition=131215

    b) the referendum maps and stats from the BBC:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-36616028

    Amusingly, they do appear to be almost the exact opposite of each other! 🙂

  17. WineE.M. says

    @18. Whoops, actually submitted that before I’d finished the post: wanted to also point out that there are subtle differences as well, and that leads into the point about democracy, since a recent Survation poll has apparently flagged up at least 1 million Bregretters too (plus I’d actually be surprised if there weren’t more, and my own gf has been in this category.)

    I think we’ve got to ask whether democracy is either an absolute thing, or rather a fallible, human system, which on many levels is open to interpretation and criticism. After all there are so many ways in which democracy can fail, other than just looking at absolute numbers. What happens when the media tell people terrible lies, so that they are given a false prospectus and false information? What happens when politicians promise things they know perfectly well they cannot deliver?

    Further, if we are to define democracy as a form of informed consent (or at least, something that should be like this), what happens
    when a set of lies and dubious statistics contrast with a clearer view of the actual consequences?

    I mean, now that it is becoming apparent that Brexit will almost certainly have a lot of adverse and severe economic effects, there are probably only a small amount of people who would want to put abstract ideas about sovereignty and national pride over and above screwing over everybody’s longer-term life chances. If we take that model of ‘informed consent’, then, the argument for a second referendum becomes a lot stronger.

  18. says

    Sure, a few million of them might have sober regrets…

    Given the vote margin was only a million and change, this seems like ample justification for calling another plebiscite, in and of itself.

  19. Lucythoughts says

    Firstly, yes, we have a parliamentary democracy and no, technically a referendum result isn’t binding, but in UK history we have only ever held referenda on constitutional changes such as devolution, changes to the voting system and independence and a straightforward majority has always been accepted as a binding outcome. That is the precedent and although it is plain that everyone in Westminster (except that UKIP bloke of course) is desperate to find a way of wriggling out of this, the argument that the referendum is only advisory just doesn’t fly. Also, there is a principle here: I voted to remain but it isn’t for me, or anyone else, to say “Fuck you electorate, you’re clearly too stupid to be allowed to decide!” because I didn’t get the result I wanted. This referendum was a manifesto promise leveraged in the last general election, vast amounts of public money was spent on it; it was the height of arrogance and complaisance to treat it as a vote-winning bone to be thrown to the Euro-sceptics but it would be beyond anything to turn around now and say, “Only Kidding!” because the gamble was lost. As for all the “Bregreters”, well, the same would be true if the result had gone the other way; instead of a lot of people waking up and thinking “everything is horrible and different, I wish I hadn’t…” there would be a lot of people thinking “everything is horrible and the same, I wish I had…” That is what happened after the Scottish referendum and few people here would have argued that it should have been re-run so they could change their minds.

    The referendum was won on a pack of lies and they weren’t all told by the Leave campaign. The Government has always been quite happy to talk down the EU and appear “tough on immigration”. That drip-feed has been going on for years and years and it has hollowed out a cave in public opinion which they could never have filled back up in a couple of months even if they had tried much harder than they did. Instead they relied on the basic principle that people will vote with their wallets, but that didn’t work this time, largely because people have either stopped listening to them or stopped trusting anything they say. And that is the greatest tragedy here; the quality of political debate in this country is utterly debased. It was painfully obvious from both the Leave and Remain campaigns that they would genuinely rather persuade you with a lie than convince you with the truth. An honest argument might convince some people but a bare-faced lie or some hollow rhetoric will dupe a far larger number. That is the state of politics in this country, and it doesn’t just lead to disillusionment and disengagement, it sabotages the very function of democracy, which is to empower the people to make decisions in their collective interest.

  20. Lucythoughts says

    #16
    I thought you must mean the cooperative party and it’s an interesting idea, but I’m not sure it would work. As it happens I’m a massive fan of the cooperative movement but the Labour Party is a broad church, as we keep hearing, and the Cooperative Party is quite specific in it’s agenda. Do you think they’d want to be subsumed by a broad base of Labour MPs, most of whom probably don’t share their model of public services or the economy?

  21. Marduk says

    22.

    Never thought it was entirely realistic but then again, compared to this?: http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/29/anti-corbyn-labour-mps-plan-breakaway-group-in-parliament

    You’re right about divergent interests, but it does strike me that if you took the referendum as a statement on globalisation and its discontents, well, no Labour politician can complain there isn’t a ready-made, off the shelf intellectual tradition and policy agenda they couldn’t draw on. Its internationalist but it doesn’t turn its back on the dispossessed (Labour has a serious problem bridging both these things in the long-term). At the present rate of progress it could be the only way they could get a manifesto that had much to say on anything out for the Autumn if nothing else.

    The additional irony that Labour turning itself into Co-Op is suspiciously close to an EU member turning itself into Norway does weight on it a bit though.

  22. Adiabat says

    Lucythoughts (21): Good post. I’d just like to add to this:

    As for all the “Bregreters”, well, the same would be true if the result had gone the other way

    The same is largely true now: the poll that found 1 million leave voters would change their vote also found that 700,000 remain voters now wish they voted leave. The “Bregreter effect” is negligible.

    The reason the 700,000 number isn’t being spread as hard as the 1m number is because, as you said, “everyone in Westminster (except that UKIP bloke of course) is desperate to find a way of wriggling out of this”.

  23. Lucy. says

    “For a few weeks now I have been muttering to friends that Britain stands closer to a collapse into neo-fascism than we have at any time since Mosley marched in the 1930s”

    Not very then.

    Were ones grandparents and great grandparents, the ones who actually fought real live Nazis, generally (pious illiberal) Guardian-readers or flag waving, last night of the proms, Daily Mail commemorative plates types?

    Stop with the hyperbole, hysteria and Pavlovian anti-patriotism. It’s that and that alone that caused this result. The giant ‘fuck you”‘ wasn’t to Westminster; the out voters had a choice between the EU governance and the Westminster one and they chose the latter. It was to the liberal London meedja class that has been undemocratically shaping this country and the conversation for the past few decades.

  24. MrNostalgia says

    @ Adiabat, Lucythoughts

    The leave campaign exploited the fears and frustrations of people who were not prepared to research anything, preferring, as right-wingers tend to, sound-bites that assuage their hurt feels.

    Immigration – BoJo and Gove both said they’re pro immigration. No change there

    £350M – this total lie has been compounded with economic forecasts that show the UK will lose more than that every few days as the economy contracts

    Single market – the EU has basically closed the UK government down on any half-baked notions of special snowflake status.

    The Brexit campaign was basically the marginalised, the weak and the “have-nots” pulling the temple down on the heads of those whom they perceive “have” – one only has to look at the privileged nature of the cities and regions that voted Remain and compare and contrast with the economically depressed areas that voted Leave.

    Turkeys voting for Christmas doesn’t accurately describe this imbecilic phenomena of self-harm.

  25. Marduk says

    Whats nastier than a Guardian journalist attacking a Tory politician?
    A Guardian journalist with enough justification to pull on knuckledusters and go after a Daily Mail columnist and “Tory wife” on a personal basis.

    Apparently all feminism goes out of the window when a streetfight starts. I hope Private Eye has left enough column inches to cover this.

  26. WineEM says

    @24. This point about the Bregretters being offset by others changing their minds is definitely an interesting one, but I think I’d still stick by my idea of ‘informed consent’ as a good model of democracy – if this is indeed possible.

    I think those of us who voted Remain have to accept that, as ordinary citizens, we don’t necessarily have expert knowledge in economics, and that these are still early days, with lots of conflicting signals and signs coming out (though economists might perhaps suggest that some of these are more telling than others).

    If however, in a few months time, it emerges – unequivocally – that Brexit is indeed going to cause serious adverse economic effects, and a substantial long-term degradation of living standards, then I think it’s quite possible that most people may well want to think again.
    I mean, even on a basic level, if the pound starts sinking in the longer term, then people may not like immigration, but they will like even less having to pay far more for imported goods.

    Again, extremes of national pride are surely quite rare, beyond the deranged crazies on the backbenches of the Tory party.

    So let’s not completely rule out the possibility of giving people the chance to choose again (even it it’s through an election with a pro EU Labour party offering some way back in).

    ‘Rule Brittania’ may sound attractive in itself, but ruling over a broken wasteland perhaps less so.

  27. WineEM says

    But you know, there’s a concept which seems to match the Brexit phenomenon, and it’s that powerful line from the Janis Joplin song that “freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose”. Personally, I wouldn’t have chosen a Brexit vote as a form of protest myself, but what I do feel I share with many of the Brexiters is what has right now become a deep, visceral loathing of the political and media representatives of the so called ‘progressive left’ (those correctly recognised as being the ‘regressive left’ online.)

    I mean, you just have to take one look at this nasty, idiotic, f*cking sh*t, which far from being unusual, is
    completely inline with much of their standard thinking:

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jul/02/twin-curse-masculinity-male-dominated-politics-brexit

    To which the best response by far was this comment, here:

    iupinrut , 1d ago
    ” And thus does the Brexit mythologising conclude; with all the progressives saying that of course it wasn’t their group, it was those evil white men that did it.”

    The sad truth, of course, is that if the left had not gratuitously alienated large swathes of people (who ought to be on their side) in this kind of manner, they could have mustered the extra 2 or 3 per cent to win the referendum hands down, but they simply don’t care – nor would they want to know.

    For don’t worry, winding up and casting aspersions at those thought of as ‘white men’ is just fun and games to the UK’s regressive left – it is merely an integral part of their culture. Ideas along these lines are part of the ‘cultural currency’ which oils their every day interactions, and propagating these ideas tends to give them a frisson, which feels exciting, sexy and cool.

    For this reason, they will give indulgence, for example, to the Grayson Perry meme that being a white male is like having ‘life set on easy’, making out that this is some sort of radically innovative and intellectually daring idea. Seriously, how daring and innovative can it truly be when we’ve heard the same mantra from the progressive left, over and over agin, for the last 30 f*cking years? How anti-establishment can it be, when our multi-billion pound state monopoly broadcaster repeats that line about ‘ set on easy’ day after day, between prime-time programmes, just to try and rub this in, as far and wide as possible?

    You know what? Life in this country can be brutally, brutally, difficult for some people, because of socio-economic circumstances, because of disabilities, or whatever. The last thing that people in such circumstances need is some aspect of their identity to be picked up and constantly used against them all the f*cking damn time. No wonder some will rebel.

    Well, I’ll tell you something, I will do anything I can from now on to cause harm to the progressive left and their prominent representatives on a political level – and on a level of ideas as well (or, as MRAs will often put it, “to fuck their sh*t up”.)

    For right now, I’m thinking that they deserve all the contempt and derision they can be served up (within the bounds of the law, naturally, that goes without saying ).

    Even attempts to be friendly towards prominent representatives of the regressive left online I’ve found has met with reactions of rudeness and hostility, which have been completely unnecessary and uncalled for, and at this point I have really absolutely had enough with these nasty, smug, self-satisfied c*nts .

    I will use the democratic means of free speech to show just how hypocritical & sh*tty they and their politics are, but any attempts to be friendly are now completely over as far as I’m concerned.

    Te left need to be made to suffer, to really, really, suffer, until they are able to confess to their sins, and until they are made to think again about all of this. For as it stands, even if you dare suggest that Milo might have a point in saying the ‘progressive left’ have a problem, you will be met with a complete wall of resentment and incomprehension. Well, seriously, f*ck them, the stupid, nasty, miserable f*cking assholes that they are.

  28. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    Sometimes I wonder if there’s any possible way of criticising society’s weird relationship with masculinity without somebody exploding as if it’s a vicious assault on all men everywhere, that we must stand up against, lest we face annihilation… I’m sure that day is coming. It’s not today, though.

    WineEM, could you maybe explain what it is that is “nasty, idiotic,” or “f*cking sh*t” about the linked article? I’m just a little curious, because the comment you quoted doesn’t seem to bear any relation to the article I just read… almost as if the commenter simply saw masculinity referenced as something which is flawed and responded to that horrific injustice rather than actually reading the content of the article.

  29. Marduk says

    30.

    It is rubbish though.

    1. It is dishonest writing. If you have to discount the next Prime Minister of Great Britain, the Chancellor of Germany and the next President of United States from your argument about what politics is like, you either need to explain yourself properly or think about it a bit more. That is just one example, every paragraph has a bit of wriggling and “begging the question”. This, more than anything, is going to enrage readers of just about any orientation and sensibility.

    2. It is really, hand-waving aside, an attempt at a reflection on the word “control” used by the Leave campaign. Although never stated directly, it is implied that owner-operators of penises are driven to ‘control’. Her counter-argument to this is a lady who was so not into controlling anything she was an advisor to an MEP, the policy director of an international charity and a member of parliament (i.e., she strived night and day to occupy jobs where you control the fates of millions of people). That is not a slight on her, it describes someone who wants to change the world, presumably for the better, after all. Hold on to this fact, it is important below.

    3. There is presumably some sort of essentialist woo-woo ying-yang ideal of passivity and violent uncertainty that a putative female-centred politics would espouse. I have no idea what that would look like but the received view is that life would be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. Or to put it another way, if you’re going to insert yourself into the space between Hobbes and Mill (a rock and a hard place when it comes to modern western thought), come prepared with something other than platitudes.

    4. For all this gender nonsense, the real reason politicians (male and female) are obsessed with control is because uncertainty poisons financial markets and causes social unrest. “allowing space for the complexity of who you are” is not part of the job description, preventing market collapse and the rise of fascism kind of is, so get up off your yoga mat and do something about it. We are not at this time in British history, suffering from a deficit in uncertainty.

    5. If all this sounds a bit familiar, its because the author is a ring-leader of the campaign to have Ted Hughes sent to a lower circle of hell than where he presumably currently resides (yes, really, still going on). She is trying to make Jo Cox is the new Sylvia Plath by, apparently, ignoring everything about what she actually did in life in favour of a reading what isn’t there into a single piece of writing she left. Which, come to think of it, is how they made Sylvia Plath into Sylvia Plath in the first place.

  30. Ally Fogg says

    WineEM (29)

    I liked the comment that just said

    And I voted Leave using my female muscles. This piece is a new level of nonsense.

    But the problem with your comment, and the problem with Milo’s entire fucking career, is that there are undoubtedly complete fucking idiots on the progressive left just as there are complete fucking idiots on the regressive right, the difference is the complete fucking idiots on the regressive right are running entire media empires and political campaigns.

    Whoever Jacqueline Rose might be when she’s at home, she’s a fuck of a lot less dangerous than Farage or Paul Dacre.

  31. WineEM says

    @30 “… almost as if the commenter simply saw masculinity referenced as something which is flawed and responded to that horrific injustice rather than actually reading the content of the article.”

    Perhaps because the concept of masculinity being flawed or unwholesome was actually a substantial part of the content of the piece (whether as stated directly, or by hints and insinuations as well). And we’re well familiar by now with this ploy of the ‘regressive left’ speaking in pejorative terms about masculinity, and then trying to partially cover themselves by adding ‘oh yes, but men are hurt by their own flawed and undesirable masculinity as well, so don’t think I mean anything by it.’ It is truly pathetic.

    32.

    “Whoever Jacqueline Rose might be when she’s at home, she’s a fuck of a lot less dangerous than Farage or Paul Dacre.”

    Oh yes, the behaviour of the UK’s so-called progressive left is completely inconsequential and innocuous isn’t it? (Somebody somewhere may detect a note of sarcasm here, who knows). Having a billion pound media organisation propagating a meme about being a ‘straight, white male’ meaning your life is ‘set on easy’ day after day between programming is just fine and dandy. What harm could it possibly, ever, do? Traditionally, working class men were the mainstay of the UK’s left, particularly linked with skilled, productive labour, but now many of them are turning to UKIP and this is not happening arbitrarily. It is said that there was no gendered effect in the referendum because women and men voted in similar numbers for out (though men slightly more), but this does not discount that gendered effects have been having profound consequences for working class communities as a whole, who have been shot to pieces by the gradual undermining of male wager earners, making it incredibly hard to keep families and communities together.

    All in all, the stupidity of the progressive left takes some beating: they treat groups of people with outright contempt, then take for granted that they can rely on their good will and support. So not only are they a bunch of nasty, high-handed imbeciles, but they are completely self-defeating in whatever it is they are trying to accomplish.

  32. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    @WineEM
    Are you claiming that it’s impossible for somebody to be a member of both an oppressed class and an oppressive class at the same time, or just that we shouldn’t ever criticise any oppressive class which also has some kind of intersection with an oppressed class (which is to say that we shouldn’t ever criticise any oppressive class)?

    I am kind of sorry if I’m strawmanning you, but I’m tired and you’re incoherent.

  33. Marduk says

    I don’t agree with everything WineEM has said but he has a point somewhere in there.
    A large part of the population has been demonised and ignored. You’ve heard from them lately.

    What you should consider is what social conditions a hopeless spiv like Nigel Farage could actually be dangerous under. Probably the same ones that allow a public intellectual to write that as a response to our current societal crisis. The truth is that the right is always opportunistic, and if it isn’t Nigel with his pints and his fags, it will probably be someone much worse next time who, Athywren, isn’t going to wring their hands over intesectional identities of oppression because you are either on their list or you aren’t and that isn’t up for debate or a cunning take-down article on Gawker.

    Seems to me this is a watershed for the left. There is a choice here, don’t ignore the lessons of history. I had hopes a few days ago, there was actually a bit of (overdue) fear being expressed, but it seems to have faded now and things seem very, very bleak. If this won’t wake people up, whats it going to take, Brownshirts marching down Whitehall?

    I saw an article in the Guardian today, it said because Labour and the Tories were in disarray there was a chance for UKIP. It made me want to weep that people could miss the point so completely. You better fucking pray the state of Labour and the Tories has any affect on UKIP whatsoever, we would be extremely fortunate if that were the case and I’m fearful it genuinely isn’t.

  34. WineEM says

    @34 You’re seriously proposing that men are an ‘oppressive class?’ If so, I’m sorry that is a suggestion so obtuse that I don’t think it’s really worth entering into a discussion over.

    @35 good points; as you say, we won’t agree on all of this, but for the prog. left to even try and deny that there is a serious and deep-seated problem in their collective culture (rather than it just being a handful of unrepresentative ‘idiotic’ individuals) means that they might not be in a position to start to change, even if they wanted to. Dare I say it, perhaps a little less derision and bit more humility may be required of them at some point in the future.

  35. Carnation says

    I have been reading these comments with utter dismay, and a degree of disdain.

    Highly intelligent, privileged ideologues, backed by a a larger number of racist obsessives used every false consciousness trick in the book to convince a disturbingly high number of people to in effect opt for an economic scorched earth policy.

    A privileged, right-wing elite convinced a disillusioned body of people that an entity that redistributed wealth (albeit crudely and continentally) and guaranteed rights for workers (albeit for everyone regardless of nationality) was what was oppressing them.

    Gender had nothing to do with it. Clever manipulative politicians and a supine media did.

    WineEM is perpetually outraged. The Milo fan-boys will see this as a victory because “SJWs” correctly see Brexit as an absolute disaster for the vast majority of people in the UK. WineEM/Milo Fan-Boys are incapable/unwilling to actually grasp the enormity of what just happened, they’ll just attempt to Lulz their way through the forthcoming recession, at least until it devastates the IT sector and they see their livelihoods collapse.

  36. Holms says

    Carnation, the way it works is SJWs are generally Remainers, Remainers lost, therefore all SJW talking points have been debunked.

  37. Carnation says

    @ Holms

    Yup, and since Milo fan-boys aren’t exactly intellectuals, they will see any SJW “loss” as a “gain” for whatever they’re pretending to be politically interested in that day on Reddit.

  38. WineEM says

    Carnation, I’ve already made perfectly plain upthread that I didn’t/don’t favour Brexit, and that it might even be desirable to have a second referendum to give Brexiters with buyer’s remorse another opportunity to change their mind at some point in the future.

    It is true that gender was not really a conscious part of the narrative during the Brexit debate, but that wasn’t the argument I was making; rather, that it is clear that some gendered effects have clearly shaped the social circumstances in which the Brexit vote was made possible. Nobody denies, for instance, that those areas which voted for Brexit were overwhelmingly those which had suffered from deindustrialisation. So is somebody going to argue, then, that there is no gendered masculine dimension to the phenomenon of deindustrialisation? That would be utterly absurd.

    The left should be able to present something desirable and optimistic for these people, but with the ideas that the ‘regressive’ (SJW-type) parts of it are putting out all the time, who would trust them to do so? If I was an ex steel worker in somewhere like Merthyr Tydfil, and I saw Harriet Harman as one of the main figureheads for the remain campaign, alongside Cameron, on the final day just before the vote, I suspect I would have been slightly unconvinced.

    Similarly, on the eve of the referendum, Corbyn was sending out Tweets from his account insisting that engineering jobs and engineering apprenticeship should be 50% female. Working class men and working class areas are probably right to think that big parts of the left simply don’t care all that much about the emasculation of their communities, and the cultural changes which have been inflicted upon them by a more metropolitan and globalised culture.

  39. Marduk says

    37.

    Making this Manichean is no more “intelligent” Carnation.

    EU tariff on imported cocoa: 30%
    EU tariff on imported coffee: 7.5%

    Would you like to know what tariffs the World Bank, lobbied by the EU, demands of African nations as a pre-qualification for aid?

    African tariff on imported cocoa products from EU: 0%
    African tariff on important coffee products from EU: 0%

    I was in favour of Remaining, there are good self-interested reasons for it. But seriously, cut your bullshit. The EU has done more damage to worker’s rights in Africa than a million dictators. Or is that you only think white people have nationalities?

  40. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    Bit of a strawman and a misnomer there dude, but I’ll play along. So, post-Brexit, are African workers in a stronger or weaker position? And is the EU more, or less, likely to give them a fair deal?

    @ WineEM

    Well, shine a light, the makings of a decent point, albeit unnecessarily tainted with your gendered lens.

    “So is somebody going to argue, then, that there is no gendered masculine dimension to the phenomenon of deindustrialisation? That would be utterly absurd. ”

    It is gendered in that traditionally male industries were completely gutted. Not that there was any explicit anti-male agenda. It was class war.

    “The left should be able to present something desirable and optimistic for these people, but with the ideas that the ‘regressive’ (SJW-type) parts of it are putting out all the time, who would trust them to do so?”

    Seriously, it’s that kind of comment that makes you look blinkered, stupid and deranged. Nobody outside of sadsack gender war blogs has even heard of the term SJW. Grow up.

  41. WineEM says

    Carnation, people like Corbyn, Harman and Kate Green don’t actually need to go around with T-Shirts saying “I’m a proud SJW” or “I Am a Proud member of the Regressive Left” (nor, a bit like Guardian journalists, do they need to be aware of these terms or expressions) in order for them to propagate identity politics memes which match that sort of thinking. So it’s neither here or there whether the general public knows what SJW means or not.

    As for the implication that there was no awareness of the impact of deindustrialisation on working-class men under, say, New Labour, this is simply preposterous. That grim history has been raked over many times, and it is not pretty.

    I’ve often made the point myself that the very first year New Labour was in power was the same year that “The Full Monty” was showing in cinemas. So were anyone to suggest these problems were not on the radar or in the public consciousness that, I’m afraid, is simply not true.

    Further, we know that New Labour (which many of its cabinet MPs proudly bleated was “the most feminist government in history”) went on to run down British industry at twice the rate as under Thatcher. They knew precisely the gendered effects of letting all the money run into finance and the public sector, they simply did not care.

    Tony Blair said of the Full Monty that it offered inspiration to working class men, because finding their dignity through being strippers was exactly the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that was required (a bit like Nick Clegg saying men could find the 2008 recession positive, as it might enable them to explore a role as housewives).

    Seriously, f*ck these people, if the contemporary left think they can still wind men up by playing around with SJW type memes and win people’s confidence, they’ve got another thing coming. Rather, contrition, clear expressions of guilt, and a desire to make amends should be the order of the day. (That goes, too, actually, for the sanctimonious Owen Jones of this world, I’m going to be gunning in my writing for you too from now on, you nasty bunch of arrogant sh*ts)

  42. Carnation says

    @ WineEm

    It’s actually pathetic watching you scrabble around trying to blame the process of deindustrialisation on feminists. You’re like the George W Bush administration trying to pin 9/11 on Iraq. Seriously, grow up. The all powerful enemy in your head doesn’t exist.

    New Labour didn’t throw the industrial heartlands a lifeline because of an aversion to nationalisation, pure & simple. Ideological reasons, nothing less, nothing more, and absolutely Jack to do with feminism.

    As an aside, do you reckon the women in these areas are happy?

  43. 123454321 says

    “As an aside, do you reckon the women in these areas are happy?”

    Hahahaha, that’s absolutely hilarious. Besides, who said all women are feminists or all feminists are women? Feminists are feminists; they can be men too, get it? Doh!

    In any case, if women aren’t happy then it kinda shows that you’re proving against your own point, does it not? Thanks for contributing towards your own decline, dude. You (and feminism) these days reminds me of the Western Hognose (great tag, I reckon, for every self-destructing, deluded feminist out there, don’t you think! :

  44. Marduk says

    Carnation.

    Well, either the same or better if they negotiate a better trade deal (for themselves) with the UK.

    Point is turning this into EU good, any other perspective bad on moral grounds doesn’t make any sense, a common European market is hardly a moral undertaking. Whatever nature it has or appears to have in 2016 could be quite different in 2026. Although unlikely, for all we know we’ve cut ourselves loose from an organisation about to be stuffed to the gills with fascists in a couple of cycles. Do you feel comfortable giving a blank cheque of moral support that kind of situation?

    Seems to me it comes down to who you like and don’t like which, with respect, isn’t the same thing. Its that line in the West Wing “Its not that you don’t like guns, its that you don’t like the people who like guns”. You’re expressing your dislike of Leavers more than Leaving itself here.

    The left at this point has a choice, there is a clear line in the sand now. Either it engages with the drivers of this result (as WineEM has invited you to more or less) or it continues to sneer at the plebs over its capuccino. That choice will not be available forever and no amount of scathing critique will help at that point either.

  45. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    “Point is turning this into EU good, any other perspective bad on moral grounds doesn’t make any sense”

    Of course not, but then, I didn’t say that, did I?

    “Seems to me it comes down to who you like and don’t like which, with respect, isn’t the same thing… You’re expressing your dislike of Leavers more than Leaving itself here… The left at this point has a choice, there is a clear line in the sand now. Either it engages with the drivers of this result (as WineEM has invited you to more or less) or it continues to sneer at the plebs over its capuccino.”

    Now this is insightful. It is true I don’t respect the reasons most leavers voted leave, but at the same time, they don’t control the forces that led to the disillusionment they feel. Quite frankly, I’m not someone who romanticises the working class, as we have discussed, there are very many idiots and bigots there (as elsewhere in society). Stupidity is impossible to respect, so I don’t (hence my short treatment of MRAs). But to misquote that good ol’ one nation Tory PM, we should understand a little more.

    The regions needs attention, investment and regeneration, meaningful regeneration. The EU could have provided some of that. The Tory/UKIP ideologues won’t.

  46. Lucythoughts says

    Marduk; WineEM

    I don’t think the problem is that the broad left don’t care about these people, it’s that 1) they don’t really get them, and 2) they don’t have a clue what to do for them. I mean really, in the absence of a credible, economically viable plan for rebuilding British industry right across the regions, what is to be done? In Government, New Labour did what a neoliberal, would-be-socialist party would do; it gave us a minimum wage, tax credits to prop up people’s living standards in a low wage economy and more public services. That was their compensation for not providing decent working class jobs. And that, folks, is what happens when a party that was born out of working class people trying to solve the desperate problems that affected them evolves over time into a party of the liberal middle classes: it is more good-natured than the other guy but it still completely misses the point. Now we have a Conservative austerity Government which, predictably, also fails to provide the good jobs but takes away all the compensations. Double whammy.

    So what do we do? You say “engage” with them: well, what does that actually mean? How is it done and how does it help? The working classes don’t own their own politics anymore; the self-created working class intellectuals who led the labour movement, the cooperative movement, the chartist movement, founded the education sector and the health sector… those people just don’t exist anymore. Now, anyone who is a bit cleverer, a bit more careful, a bit more driven, they just get the hell out and don’t look back. Seriously, isn’t that what we did? And you’re frustrated because the “prog left” aren’t coming up to the mark? It seems to me you are asking for a bunch of idealistic, metropolitan, twenty-something middle class graduates to provide answers to problems they have little or no personal knowledge of and no special reason to care about. If that’s the case, we’ll be waiting a long time.

    I’ve kind of said this before but an unhealthy fixation with identity politics isn’t the problem with left wing politics, it’s a symptom of a much bigger problem. The bigger problem is the lack of any cohesive ideology; any glimmer of a formula for shaping an social/economic model which isn’t wholly dependent on human exploitation and ever increasing levels of consumption and debt. That, and the fact that they don’t even know who they represent anymore. And the identity politics? Well, human nature abhors a vacuum; passionate people need something to be passionate about, and it has to be in some way personal and on a scale that feels manageable. That goes for the right wing MRA-type identity politics too. The problem isn’t the existence of the wrong kind of politics, it’s the absence of the right kind to politics, whatever that might look like.

    So yes, there is a huge problem in our society and it has been thrown into relief by the Brexit vote. It isn’t that no one cares; simply, the appropriate ideology is lacking to plug this gap; none of our keys fit this particular lock. There are no credible ideas coming forward from any quarter of society or branch of the political classes to solve the problem. Deindustrialisation happened and the resultant mess just isn’t going away. Constructive solutions would be very much welcome but without them we may as well sit back, with or without a cappuccino Marduk, and scathingly critique the latest irrelevant opinion piece in the Guardian, or whatever takes your fancy. And await a swing to the right and a cry of “I told you so!”

  47. Carnation says

    @ LucyThoughts

    “So what do we do? You say “engage” with them: well, what does that actually mean? How is it done and how does it help? The working classes don’t own their own politics anymore; the self-created working class intellectuals who led the labour movement, the cooperative movement, the chartist movement, founded the education sector and the health sector… those people just don’t exist anymore. Now, anyone who is a bit cleverer, a bit more careful, a bit more driven, they just get the hell out and don’t look back. Seriously, isn’t that what we did? And you’re frustrated because the “prog left” aren’t coming up to the mark? It seems to me you are asking for a bunch of idealistic, metropolitan, twenty-something middle class graduates to provide answers to problems they have little or no personal knowledge of and no special reason to care about. If that’s the case, we’ll be waiting a long time.”

    Possibly the best comment I’ve ever read BTL – it strongly resonated.

  48. Marduk says

    Lucythoughts.

    I don’t especially disagree, I’m just not quite ready to embrace my desapir that comprehensively.

    Actually a theme in your comment is the Americanisation of our politics.
    British people don’t run away from class identity, there has been a lot of work on this (British Social Attitudes last week for example).
    Identity politics has chipped and chipped away at unity and power on the left. It has been utter poison. Again, the Democratic party in the US (the party of organised slavery) can benefit from this, but then they aren’t socialists even a little bit (keep in mind Bernie was only running for the Dem nomination).
    The party of organised Labour has sleep-walked into thinking its the same and is now horrified to find out how many people would vote for someone else on narrow, but unbridgable, differences. I believe they’ve been particularly surprised how many BAME voters went for Leave and have started calling themselves Tory voters.

    Yes, I am angry that those who’ve captured and perverted the left have done this to us.
    I’m also a bit annoyed about all the times I’ve been accused of being paranoid for saying so if you want me to be honest.
    I’m also pissed off (like an awful lot of poeple) at being called names for being worried about this.

    It comes as no comfort to find out I was right so resoundingly.

    I do think its the duty of “journalists”, activists and public intellectuals to at least discuss this stuff even if we don’t have all the answers already.
    Certainly having the wrong questions isn’t much of a starting place.

    PS.
    What browers are you using? I’m using chrome and I write my comments in notepad and it take several goes to get something posted.
    I find this site unusable because of all the “sponsored from around the web” porn ads etc. theat reload themselves every few seconds and the ‘shockwave’ plugins etc.
    It is ironic that HetPat should appear on-screen amidst tits, ass and crotch-shots. Is it worth thinking about alternatives?

  49. Lucythoughts says

    Marduk

    I still use explorer (I’ve resisted windows 10’s attempts to inveigle its way on to my computer because I can’t be bothered with it, so I’m still on vista). I did have an issue uploading comments once a while ago but it went away on its own, so no explanation to offer. On the porn problem, I use Adblock Plus on my laptop, which is free and has worked absolutely fine. Obviously you can switch it off on sites where you need to see ads. I still have to put up with ads on my phone as I can’t find an android adblocker for that doesn’t come with unintended consequences.

    On to other matters… I don’t think I’ve ever said you were paranoid or called you names (it’s the sort of thing I’m sure I’d remember), so I will assume that wasn’t levelled at me but was a general comment on the state of play. 🙂

    I think you have very good reason to worry about the state of left wing politics and I generally don’t disagree with you more than about 20 – 30%. On this, I see the issues differently that’s all; I still think identity politics is a passenger not a driver. We threw out socialism and replaced it with nothing; without a collective goal what is collective action for? Thriving small-scale democracy in unions, leagues and associations existed in the context of fixed communities with common needs. They could effect change on a local level, they had lobbying power which has been completely lost and they could put forward candidates and get them elected. I saw that British Social Attitudes survey; I find it very believable, it tallies pretty well with my observation and experience. However, I would say that the trend towards individualism, the break up of stable communities and a mobile workforce acts against that sense of class identity coalescing into any collective action or meaningful solidarity. And am I the only one who finds the word “aspiration” used as a piece of political jargon makes me squirm? What it means, essentially, is that the solution to working class problems is to stop being working class. Basically, there is a class to be escaped from, a class to be escaped into and a ruling class. How can solidarity survive in a culture of rampant individualism? It has also made it a lot easier for the right wing press, which is infinitely more divisive than the left and much more widely read, to turn poor people in work against poor people out of work, so that the very people who created the welfare state are now cheering to see it dismantled. That pisses me off.

  50. WineEM says

    @49. Thanks for the interesting reply, Lucy. I think there are good models out there for how you can create a more balanced, cohesive and fulfilled society, most obviously Germany, which has not allowed itself to become so thoroughly dominated by services – and especially financial services – in the way that we have. (I suppose if there’s one criticism I’d have, it’s the phenomenon of the ‘Realschule’, which are probably too similar to our old secondary modern system, rightly phased out in my view, since the degree of social stratification it created was far too great).

    It’s true, from what I’ve seen Corbyn offering, that he does look way too much back to the past, wanting to revive occupations like coal-mining and heavy industries, which are largely non-starters.

    So we have this weird double whammy of Old Labour ambitions of trying to re-create a past which is never going to come back, and Islington style identity-politics, which its proponents don’t want to recognise as being deeply and powerfully alienating, because the thrill of being part of a mass, self-congratulatory & virtue-signalling circle jerk is far too great.

    The proponents of the latter are never going to form part of a broader political coalition, since they pursue their ideals with the fervour of an extremist religious sect. True egalitarianism is often deeply threatening to such people (and especially, in the case of some left wing men, their rad-fem partners or wives), and so they will do everything they can do freeze out and ostracise those who do not share their beliefs.

  51. Adiabat says

    Marduk (51):

    Yes, I am angry that those who’ve captured and perverted the left have done this to us.

    I’ve often thought the problem is that the left was right for too long: They used to be the “rational side” for so long and gained so much kudos that they found they could drop the “rational” part and just use the institutional power and popular support it had accrued to shout anyone down who disagreed with them (hence the accusations of paranoia and name-calling you mentioned).

    I do think its the duty of “journalists”, activists and public intellectuals to at least discuss this stuff even if we don’t have all the answers already.

    I think a big part of the problem is that public intellectuals aren’t very intellectual any more. This is partly due to a higher education system which is overflowing with bullshit (bullshit which was largely discredited 20 years ago in the science wars no less), and partly due to how politicised everything is due to mantras like “the personal is political” and “not being political is being political”. This causes people to ‘stick to their side’ even when they are clearly wrong (though it’s likely they can’t see that it’s clearly wrong due to the aforementioned poor education they’ve received at university*).

    I’m hopeful that the situation won’t last forever: the more that they flex their institutional muscles to settle arguments, and the less they are willing to have a rational debate, then the more reasonable their opponents seem. Even ridiculous people adopting the arguments of their opponents can gain a lot of support nowadays, simply because those arguments have never really been dealt with or discussed. This referendum could be an early example that institutional power and shouting people down is no longer going to be enough for the left to win debates anymore; that they’ve lost the ‘kudos’ I mentioned above.

    * We now live in a time where you can go to a mainstream left outlet and find people on the left seriously arguing against democracy and freedom of speech… I wonder just what kind of education these people have had: over and over again I read arguments coming from left “intellectuals” that fall apart at really basic levels, as though they’ve never quite grasped the fundamentals on whatever they are talking about.

  52. Carnation says

    @ Adiabat

    “I think a big part of the problem is that public intellectuals aren’t very intellectual any more. This is partly due to a higher education system which is overflowing with bullshit (bullshit which was largely discredited 20 years ago in the science wars no less), and partly due to how politicised everything is due to mantras like “the personal is political” and “not being political is being political”.”

    This is absolutely true, if you have no idea what an intellectual is, consider the Guardian left-wing and are a rabid anti-feminist delusional.

    Or, say, someone who actually believes what they read on Breitbart and Reddit, and think “conservatism” is what Milo preaches. You and yours literally supported Brexit because of your mass SJW delusion. You’re a collection of buffoons, and your intellectual and political masters don’t know what to do with you or their victory.

    Meanwhile, the anti-feminist just quit the race to be next PM.

    Enjoy your no frills gym, Prince xx

  53. Marduk says

    I really think some sort of collapse is imminent. I know people have been saying this since the world began but I’m getting a real sense that Marx was right and the contradictions in the system are beginning to undermine it. The world over politicians have lost control and can’t admit it, just like the financial system is insolvent and nobody can admit that either (these two things not being unrelated). Nothing works now, nothing responds as it should. The spirit of the age is a politician yanking at a lever and finding its not connected to anything. This is not to say a socialist nirvana is imminent, I’m beginning to think the best we can hope for is something like Children of Men.

    Here is a dark thought. Theresa May’s speech this afternoon spoke to my concerns in a direct way that the Labour party hasn’t in 20 years. It was quite remarkable, she is making a play not to gain voters back from UKIP but to take them from Labour who are in no state to fight back. Look carefully, she is actually the first senior politician now who has ever directly linked monetary policy with the housing market for example. This is a big deal. Labour should have been talking about this but were always compromised by Brown and Balls being architects of it.

    Lets imagine she actually means some of it (even one line in ten would do), what is the point of the current incarnation of the Labour party if that is the case? Labour should be very worried about May, she has always been a little bit dangerous to their interests. If she acts on what she spoke about today, I’ll be voting for her. Can’t believe I’m saying this but its how I feel, we live in strange times.

  54. Marduk says

    And as if by magic, the advertising situation seems to have sorted itself out.
    Thanks to whoever if there was an intervention, otherwise, nice coincidence but it was really getting impossible to use the site.

  55. Carnation says

    @ Marduk

    The problem in England is that no party actually represents the best interests of the majority of people. The Tories are interested in business and capital, not people, Labour is imploding but previously was Tory lite. UKIP are right-wing Tories with a regressive social agenda that appeals to the smallminded and weak, including those who are economically left-wing. The Tories and Labour are staffed by the “metropolitan elite” and/or a few token wannabes. UKIP are generally staffed by Old Empire wannabes or also-rans and this throwback to glory appeals to the those that live in the dilapidated grandeur of Clacton-on-sea, for example.

    The SNP are disciplined, organised and focused. And want the best for the greatest number of their constituents. Scots aren’t naturally obviously more left-wing, they just have decent politicans and a reachable vehicle. UKIP are a symptom of a deep malaise.

    I don’t really know what can be done about it, but the political architecture of England is depressing at the moment. Disgruntled and angry people with nothing to lose, looking for an enemy, have found leadership in egotists, bigots and scum.

  56. Lucy says

    Marduk

    “I really think some sort of collapse is imminent. I know people have been saying this since the world began but I’m getting a real sense that Marx was right and the contradictions in the system are beginning to undermine it. The world over politicians have lost control and can’t admit it, just like the financial system is insolvent and nobody can admit that either (these two things not being unrelated). Nothing works now, nothing responds as it should. The spirit of the age is a politician yanking at a lever and finding its not connected to anything.”

    That’s because governments don’t run things anymore, multinational companies do. Google knows more about you than GCHQ does, Amazon can deliver more of your immediate needs than your council can.

    It’s a period of transition, that’s all. Don’t panic Captain Manwaring. Men will be five as they run them all and are the architects of future technology.

    Much more scary for women, the world’s going to become a smoking husk populated by stupefied men being serviced by stepford wife sex robots while directing drones to pick off biological women living off surplus GM crops.

  57. Lucy says

    “That’s because governments don’t run things anymore, multinational companies do. ”

    The way to tell is that women are being allowed to run governments but not multinational companies. The powerful don’t give up power.

  58. WineEM says

    Of course, there’s another development, which is an incredibly dangerous threat to British democracy, and one which has gone unmentioned here: namely the re-categorisation of free speech as a form of ‘hate crime’ (though in this context, of course, it might as well be called ‘thought crime’.)

    See this BBC news item for example http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-36775398
    where we are told that Nottinghamshire police have started to redefine any acts of unfriendliness towards women as ‘misogynistic hate crime’. Apparently, these will be investigated as vigorously as if they were a form of assault.

    In a similar fashion, Liz Saville Roberts has been pushing a private members bill through parliament which will essentially redefine any expression of gender prejudice against women on social media as a criminal offence as well. She’s got some very high profile backers, like Lammy, Edward Garnier etc., for this, while I haven’t heard anyone speak out against the measure. So who, then, is going to stop it?

    I’ve seen this pattern time and time again in parliament, where MPs egg each other on to create new laws around ‘hurt feelings’, and nobody anywhere brings up the civil liberty implications – or indeed, the effects of overcrowding in the criminal justice system (when this is already bursting at the seems).

    All this ties in with the #ReclaimTheInternet campaign, which is clamouring for new legislation and guidelines to ban and make unlawful criticism of powerful feminists on Twitter and Facebook as well.

    It is just another sign of how useless, complacent and self-congratulatory the ‘progressive left’ has become: they don’t put up any resistance to these changes, despite wanting to call themselves ‘liberal’ . The writing on the wall is there for everyone to see, and all the time we are sleepwalking into a police state, where ruffling someone’s delicate sensibilities can put citizens in handcuffs.

    What’s plainly going to happen is we’re gong to get dozens of cases like that of Greg Elliott in Toronto, where ordinary people are put through the mill by state authorities for saying quite ordinary things. The problem is, of course, that just as with turning around an oil tanker, once these things have been enacted, it will take much more time and effort to put them right (while all the time people are getting hurt).

    Honestly, wake the f*ck up, people, is this really the kind of world that we want to blindly stumble into ?

  59. 123454321 says

    #55 Carnation – all in your opinion, which considering you’re part of the contemptuous, fast-withering feminist brigade, means precisely fuck all to us and our future. But thanks for sharing, dude!

    WineEM, I too am confused as to why Nottinghamshire Police would combat hate crime and sexism by only extending their definitions to include offences of harassment based on male against female – effectively typically completely ignoring misandric harassment, which also exists but is rarely reported on. This is their definition:

    “The force defines misogyny hate crime as: “Incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman.”

    So what about harassment of women by women because they are women? Or what about harassment of men by men because they are men? That happens a lot. I could rewrite their definition such that it fully inclusive and not sexist:

    “The force defines gender-based hate crime as: “Incidents against a victim that are motivated by an attitude of a person towards a another person and includes behaviour targeted towards someone of a specific, recognisable gender identity simply because of their gender identity.”

    There you go, sorted. Now where do I send the invoice?

  60. Lucythoughts says

    Back on the subject of the death of democracy, the Labour party have announced that they are sick and tired of democracy and it had been nothing but trouble. First, the NEC quietly ruled that party members can’t possibly vote in the leadership election unless they joined before an arbitrary date seven months in the past, and registered supports can’t vote at all unless they drop £25 quid, and do it at precisely 2.56am on date-to-be-announced-oh-what-do-you-mean-the-website-crashed-sorry-not-our-problem, or something very similar. Then they find, oh crap, they left a loophole whereby newly registered affiliated members can vote… phew, closed it just in time. Now, I don’t care whether you love or loath Jeremy Corbyn or couldn’t care less, this has been a master class in electoral fraud. Really, this is how all the top crooks do it, forget your false identities and your pay-for-votes and your phoney ballot boxes, that’s just a mugs game; the real magicians of electoral fraud do it with demographics. Ask Dame Shirley Porter if you don’t believe me. It’s just a bit staggering how blatant Labour have been about it this time. They really don’t think it matters a damn whether they even give the appearance of valuing their own democratic processes anymore, and yet evidently they don’t see why that might raise questions about their suitability for governing the country. For that, even if for nothing else, they really do now deserve their fate of sinking with all hands in the Sea of Lost Political Parties. Unfortunately, when they do they will take meaningful democracy in the wider country down with them.

  61. Marduk says

    63.
    The irony is that the only people still interested in the Labour party after they way they’ve behaved are Corbynites.
    All this recent outrage has done is radicalise a lot of people who thought overall he should probably have gone. The feeling is that the democratically elected leader you don’t like is still better than the kind of people who’d try to remove him like this.

    On his Twitter feed Ally has retweeted a thing about Stephen Kinnock berating someone for not canvassing for him. The insinuation is its a Corbyite £3er who isn’t a legit member. All it really does is make you wonder why a Labour member would ever campaign for a Red Prince married to the Prime Minister of Denmark in a plumb safe seat that would elect a sheep if it had a red rosette. Stephen Kinnock’s problem is that he makes David Cameron seem like an outsider. I don’t think he is anyone to question the moral legitimacy of a person active in the labour movement.

    Corbyn is an episode in labour history and like many others could be good or bad, the legacy is yet to be seen. People like Stephen Kinnock are always a cancer.

  62. WineEM says

    @64. Something that seems utterly weird about the Labour leadership contest is that, last time I checked, all the betting shops were offering odds like 11/10 for Smith to win (only slightly worse than Corbyn).
    Yet if you look at social media, there’s overwhelming support for Corbyn, and every effort made to demonise Smith as being some sort of capitalist 5th column extremist. Do the betting shops ever check social media, or do they know something that we don’t? Another thing: in terms of command of argument & language, Smith is one of the best debaters I’ve seen in the UK in recent times. We know from PMQ’s that Corbyn – to put it mildly – is not exactly quick on his feet. Thus in open debate, Smith would probably wipe the floor with Corbyn time after time (unless he’s ultra-timid, for fear of martyring the guy). It would be a bit like putting up Mike Tyson against Frank Spencer. But then, in this context, you can well imagine Corbyn could lose every single hustings really badly , and yet because of his cult following & status, remain completely unaffected in terms of the result. Strange but interesting times.

  63. Marduk says

    #65
    I have no idea but what we learned at the referendum (and the last election I believe) is that City traders deliberately distort betting markets because to them its a very cheap way of provoking a situation of false belief that they can richly benefit from.

    I don’t think Corbyn has to debate with anyone. And its not like he hasn’t already won against the Guardian’s darling, Yvette Cooper, who was in a much better place then than Eagle or Smith are now. People forget that, he has won an election very recently and not by a small margin. I’ll take the challengers seriously when they have that kind of stature and (no pun intended) momentum.

  64. Adiabat says

    The weirdest thing about the Labour leadership contest is that it’s completely unnecessary; no-one outside of established Blairite MPs wanted it. It’s not even the case that any of the candidates that have come forward are Prime Minister material, at least any more than Corbyn is, so the claim that ‘Corbyn can’t win a general election’ doesn’t hold up.

    All they really needed to do after the referendum was release a statement expressing their disappointment, but that they will respect the results of the referendum. Then at the next general election have as their manifesto to match, pound for pound, the EU’s pre-Brexit investment in the UK. They’ll sweep up the science, Arts, and NI votes, as well as the Remainers who are behaving hysterically. They’ll likely also get a fair chunk of the Leavers and the level-headed Remainers.

    Instead, all they’ve done with this infighting and electoral fraud is show that they are unfit to run the country.

  65. Lucy says

    Wine

    “See this BBC news item for example http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-nottinghamshire-36775398
    where we are told that Nottinghamshire police have started to redefine any acts of unfriendliness towards women as ‘misogynistic hate crime’. Apparently, these will be investigated as vigorously as if they were a form of assault.
    In a similar fashion, Liz Saville Roberts has been pushing a private members bill through parliament which will essentially redefine any expression of gender prejudice against women on social media as a criminal offence as well. She’s got some very high profile backers, like Lammy, Edward Garnier etc., for this, while I haven’t heard anyone speak out against the measure. So who, then, is going to stop it?”

    Excellent news. That’s cheered me right up.

    I’ve thought for a long time that it’s a complete anomaly that we protect men from hatred with a whole plethora of rules based on their race, nationality, ethnicity, disability, sexuality, even allegiances to supernatural beliefs, but not women based on their sex. Even though the ex police chief described the number of attacks on women as a national epidemic, women live their lives taking increasingly elaborate “precautions” to avoid them (ie. With fewer civil liberties than men) and there is a thriving hate speech trade in the form of misogynistic pornography, cinema, art and Internet trolling. All the whole there is little recognition of women’s inherent biological vulnerability to men and they are not even afforded the rudimentary protection of their European and A,epicanthic sisters of carrying a protective weapon (despite being vastly less likely to commit a violent act with it).

    Tide is turning chaps.

  66. Lucy says

    “unfriendliness towards women”

    What like being a bit curt when she comments on the weather? That kind of thing?

  67. WineEM says

    @69. The definition is like something out of ‘The Onion’:

    Misogyny hate crime, in addition to the general hate crime definition, may be understood as incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman, and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by men simply because they are a woman. Examples of this may include unwanted or uninvited sexual advances; physical or verbal assault; unwanted or uninvited physical or verbal contact or engagement; use of mobile devices to send unwanted or uninvited messages or take photographs without consent or permission.

    http://www.nottinghamshire.police.uk/news/2016-07-13/police-nottinghamshire-recognise-harassment-women-hate-crime

    This seems dangerous, since the definition of harassment is already incredibly broad in statute, so if the de facto implementation of the law becomes geared towards this type of thinking, it could all get pretty messy. That’s why the members of the prog. left on Twitter, who far from expressing scepticism about such measures, are actually applauding and encouraging such things come across as completely f*cking lobotomised. (Not meaning you, Lucy, as you clearly haven’t looked into the detail as yet ) 😉

  68. 123454321 says

    “Even though the ex police chief described the number of attacks on women as a national epidemic”

    There are more attacks on men.

    “women live their lives taking increasingly elaborate “precautions” to avoid them”

    and so all men don’t take precautionary measures to avoid danger or attack?

    ” (ie. With fewer civil liberties than men)”

    Some examples with clear evidence please?

    “and there is a thriving hate speech trade in the form of misogynistic pornography,”

    Really? Can you give me an example of misogynistic pornography please?

    “cinema,”

    So cinema is a thriving trade of hate speech? Are you serious?

    “art”

    Oh, ok, so art is riddled with misogynistic hate speech as well, but absolutely no misandry, right?

    “and Internet trolling.”

    Who are obviously all male. yes? I mean, women couldn’t possibly troll!

    “All the whole there is little recognition of women’s inherent biological vulnerability to men and they are not even afforded the rudimentary protection of their European and A,epicanthic sisters of carrying a protective weapon (despite being vastly less likely to commit a violent act with it).”

    So you want all women to be grated the right to carry a weapon and use it against men under which circumstances exactly?

    Interesting stuff Lucy, interesting stuff.

  69. Paul says

    I don’t know whether anyone here saw the clip at the end of this post of a recent exchange between former Labour Minister Rachel Reeves and Tory Peer Digby Jones where she resorted to playing ”victim” by accusing him of being a typical middle aged bloke who enjoys interrupting women and talking over them.Now anyone who wants to can easily view the whole conversation on YouTube and they’ll seee that Ms Reeves was every bit as guilty of interrupting Jones and talking over him as vice versa.And anyone who’s familiar with Ms Reeves knows that interrupting other people and talking over them is something she does quite a lot.So why should she be allowed to get away with accusing a man -any man -of being sexist when she’s every bit as guilty of the same behaviour herself ?

    The reason i mention this is because some women from every background are guilty,like Ms Reeves, of playing victim when a man gives them. a taste of their own medicine.Which is why i’m instinctively suspicious of any intitiative from Nottinghamshire Police or anyone else which has the potential of treating all men as though they’re guilty until proven innocent and where hypocritical women are in effect given the power to (mis)use that inititiative and unfairly ruin a man’s reputation in the process.

    Of course women must be protected from men who threaten them in any way.But in any society which is striving for equality between the sexes neither sex has a right to any special treatment.And when we see high profile female politicians like Rachel Reeves and others openly getting away with with making unfounded accusations of sexism we’ve got a problem.So i hope this initiative by Nottinghamshire Police is closely monitored to ensure men are treated as being innocent until proven guilty and that women accused of behaving towards men in the same or similar way are treated exaxctly the same as the men.

  70. Marduk says

    Holy shit, Laurie Penny vs. Milo.

    https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/jul/26/my-night-out-in-cleveland-with-the-worst-men-on-the-internet

    The bad men we all know but what is utterly fascinating about it is that Laurie’s oft-noted lack of self-awareness reaching some sort of artistic peak. It genuinely reads like it was written by a comedic unreliable narrator.

    “We met four years ago when he was just another floppy-haired rightwing pundit and we were guests on a panel show. Afterwards, we got hammered and ran around the BBC talking about boys. Since that day, there is absolutely nothing I have been able to say to Milo to persuade him that we are not friends. The more famous he gets off the back of extravagantly abusing women and minorities, the more I tell him I hate him and everything he stands for, the more he laughs and asks when we’re drinking.”

    This then immediately repeats itself with Roosh (who really is the devil IMHO)
    “I turn to leave, and Roosh suggests that we should start some sort of “fake fight” on the internet, because that’s “part of the game”. “I’m good,” I say, genuinely confused. ”

    She inadvertently sums it up herself, because like Milo and Roosh, she writes what sounds good to her and sometimes doesn’t think through what it might actual mean to the reader:
    “I have seen the death of political discourse reflected in his designer sunglasses”.

    We only see things reflected back at us when we look into mirrors Laurie.

    You go to a meeting of fakes, trolls, phonies and attention seekers and they assume you are one of them.
    Mostly because you are.

  71. WineEM says

    @72. Good points. I’ve also found it completely weird the way that Owen Smith has been using the concept of so-called ‘abuse’ against female Labour MP’s in order to attack Corbyn’s leadership. What on earth is he meant to do about this? I suspect that ‘(in)equalities Minister Kate Green’, his campaign manager, has had a big hand in devising these tactics. It’s almost like women and/or feminists are supposed to be able to shout the word ‘abuse’, and then suddenly get everything they want. So if they write a letter to Jeremy complaining about it, then this is their idea of conducting a coup. Dear oh dear, it’s ludicrous! 🙂

  72. Marduk says

    76.
    Blairite Labour started with this tactic around the time of the Syria vote. Its actually back on-topic because a lot of what they said was “abuse” at that time turned out actually to be fair political comment on closer examination.

    We since saw the same tactics employed by supporters of Kussenberg. When nobody could find the misogynistic comments in the petition, they changed their story and said it was abusive tweets. Nobody could find those either.

    Its hard to know what is real and what isn’t. I’m sure sometimes its very real but I’ve seen people lying about this now and it does seem to be the new tactic for a powerful class of people to employ when they don’t like criticism.

    I don’t believe any claims made against Corbyn at this point given how ridiculous the numerous attempts to manufacture casus belli have been of late.

  73. WineEM says

    Crikey, some of the imposter tweets still up.

    https://twitter.com/Jermeycorbyn/status/757976431842455552

    Yes, I think obviously the answer to the query I raised in 65. is that the bookies hadn’t thought to check what was going on on social media before they came up with their odds. Stunningly bad campaign by Smith, though, as I do think if he’d gone about things a bit more cleverly he might just have had a chance of turning it around. Right now he’s dead in the water. I mean, just the other day he was banging on about how Corbyn doesn’t get patriotism and ‘small c’ conservatism. Who exactly is advising him on how to win over the Labour selectorate, Lynton Crosby?! 🙂

  74. WineEM says

    @78. ok, parody account, pays for closer reading! 🙂 Did well with the appearance, tho – background and picture just right. 🙂

  75. WineEM says

    @79. Mind you, gotta say, this ‘JermeyCorbyn’ guy, huge improvement on the original: he’s happy to engage with M.H.R.A.’s; he’s down to earth; he doesn’t appear to be part of a big Grayson Perry/Michael Kimmel anti-white male circle jerk – unlike many figures on the liberal left. Ok, his use of emoticons is a bit kitsch, but he does come across as a bit less authoritarian than ‘the messiah’ himself. Yep, all in all, a bit of an enhanced version.

  76. Carnation says

    @ WineEM

    “this ‘JermeyCorbyn’ guy, huge improvement on the original: he’s happy to engage with M.H.R.A.’s”

    It’s rather telling that about the only person willing to engage with (vaingloriously self-styled) “MHRAs” (megalolz) is a troll.

    It’s almost like it takes one to know one…

  77. WineEM says

    @81. Carnation, let me run you through the words in M.H.R.A. It stands for ‘men’s human rights advocate’.
    So what you gotta problem with exactly – men, or human rights?

    Interestingly, it’s a term the progressively regressive left assiduously refuse to make use of – presumably because tacitly acknowledging that the points raised by people like Karen Straughen et al. are actually pressing and legitimate matters might undermine their own claim to the absolute moral superiority they all constantly reassure each other of on Twitter. (Jermey Corbyn, no doubt included).

  78. Athywren - not the moon you're looking for says

    @WineEM, 82
    Word-gaming your group into being a genuine social justice movement is more effective when people aren’t already familiar with it.

  79. Carnation says

    @ WineEM

    “So what you gotta problem with exactly – men, or human rights?”

    I have no problem with either, and in fact I am very (provably) pro both.

    Sadly, the only people who identify as MHRAs are trolls, losers, misogynists and Walter Mitty’s. Theirs is a litany of failure.

    If you can name me five self-identifying MHRAs and detail their achievements for men’s human rights*, I will make a donation of £25 to the charity of your choice.

    * Blogging, Tweeting, Doxxing etc are not included.

  80. Holms says

    “I have seen the death of political discourse reflected in his designer sunglasses”.

    We only see things reflected back at us when we look into mirrors Laurie.

    That is an impressive deepity, I bow to your skill in equivocation.

  81. Paul from Reddish says

    ” For many years, Labour apparatchiks told themselves they could comfortably ignore the needs and wishes of their traditional working class base because their votes were secure and those people had nowhere else to go. The past couple of years have confirmed how spectacularly wrong they were.”

    Very true. Extremely thoughtful piece of writing. Thank you. If I can quote my own constituency, Denton and Reddish , previously known as Stockport north and reorganised two or three times. (demograph: east-south Manchester overlapping Stockport, largely what the market research people call “CDE”). For many years there was an Old Labour MP of the sort Blair and Mandelson did not like and tried to remove from the party. Andrew Bennett regularly got majorities of no less than 20,000. It was one of the safest Labour seats in the country. Then Mr Bennett retired. A new MP candidate was parachuted in from Head Office. A nice guy, a genuinely nice and likeable guy called Andrew Gwynne. There could be worse. But you get a feeling that if there was a clash of interests between what a constituent asked for and what the Party instructed him to do, he’d go with the Party. Every time. Mr Bennett had been something of a free-thinking rebel – anathema to the Blairites. There’s also the uneasy feeling that a party loyalist had been given a very safe seat for “reliabilty” and as a reward for good behaviour. Scroll forward for two or three elections. Andrew Gwynne took that majority of 20,000+ and has struggled to get it above 10,000. Labour has lost at least 10,000 votes in a very safe seat. where have those 10,000 votes gone? You’d expect to see the Libs, UKIP and even the Tories benefiting. But they haven’t. Their share of the vote has barely increased. Turnout has, however, gone down. The inescapable conclusion is that at least 10,000 formerly Labour voters have given up. They cannot bear to bring themselves to vote for any other party. But they can’t force themselves to vote for Labour as it currently is. Or was under Blair/Mandelson. Or will be again if the Blairites win the power struggle. A refusal to vote, with-holding your vote, is the equivalent of a protest vote? Is this universal across the Labout heartlands?

  82. says

    I really appreciate your commentary on British affairs from an insider’s perspective; but I do have a couple of quibbles.

    First, you left out a rather central development — who actually became PM after Cameron buggered off. First she’s portrayed as a quiet and sensible politician who didn’t take sides on Brexit; then we start to hear that she could be as radical as Margaret Thatcher, with a little extra racism thrown in for good measure. I ‘d like to hear what you (and others) have to say about your new PM.

    And second, I think you’re exaggerating when you say that disregarding the results of the Brexit referendum would be “a betrayal of a democratic process exactly akin to a government losing an election but refusing to leave office.” Advocates of republican forms of government (like your still is) understand that it’s not a good idea to make policy by referendum, which is why neither of our countries’ laws establish such a process. Yes, a majority voted to leave the EU, but it was such a slim majority that the PM and Parliament could easily say that it didn’t establish a real mandate for such a radical action, or that the voters were misled by emotion, mob spirit, and blatantly misleading promises.

    And the fact that nearly all the leaders of the Brexit movement started running away from their asinine promises as soon as the votes were counted (including Cameron himself, who promised the referendum and then resigned as soon as he heard the result), could easily be seen as reinforcing this justification for scrapping their handiwork. They didn’t stand by the policy they’d supported, so why should anyone else?

    UK leaders can also cite the blatant racism and nativism that drove the Brexit drive as grounds for disregarding the referendum. And they’d have plenty of support from the obvious spike in harassment of nonwhites that went with the vote.

    There’s no real subversion of democracy here: the Parliament could simply vote not to invoke Article 50, and if the majority of people really wanted to leave the EU, then they could vote themselves a new set of MPs who would do it. That’s how policies are almost always made in republics such as ours.

  83. Carnation says

    @ 86

    I should be a Labour voter. But the first labour leadership that I could vote for was Blair & co, and Iraq, civil liberties and rampant Islamaphobia meant that I never could. So, I voted Lib Dem. And then I could never vote for them because they went into coalition with the Tories. And I’d never vote Tory because they are callous and believe in capital before people.

    So who should get my vote? Who’s earned it?

  84. Paul from Reddish says

    Agreed. The final straw, the real deal-breaker, was my MP’s uncritical support for imposing ID cards. No way was I going to vote for that – but i still couldn’t bring myself to vote for anything other than Labour.

  85. Raymond Cuttill says

    This 52-48 vote seems to be a trend such as the Scottish Referendum and possibly the US Presidential election (currently 47 to 42 although it has been closer) where only extreme choices are offered. Clearly with choices like leaving the UK or the EU you can’t half leave them, but I have to wonder if a better consensus is possible. I’ve been involved in one organisation where 66% majority was used. This means that people had to talk rather than they could win by one vote. Possibly Brexit would have been avoided if the concerns of the leavers had been addressed rather than simply being called xenophobic and racist. In all this the central idea is that you respect the other person’s point of view no matter how much you think they are an idiot or hateful. They’re entitled to their view no matter how wrong you think they are and in turn could lead to compromises which often nobody likes but surely it’s better than saying all or nothing. In some ways the arrogance displayed e.g. to leavers is what gets the vote the remainers don’t want.

  86. secondtofirstworld says

    @Raging Bee: You should open up a clairvoyant service, because you called it 11 weeks in advance, the parliament has to vote. Which is good, because irreverent of which party we like most, it would suck if one single government could decide the fate of any nation for decades or cenTories (pun intended) to come.

    Maybe because I’m not British, I do see things differently. This part is to you all: sure, some parties are more capitalist than others. Yet, your significance always was being a bridge between us and America. Anyone campaigning leave has objectively lied, because financial centers aren’t built on tradition but on favorable regulations. Just like the granddaddies of current House of the Lords members wouldn’t have thought Singapore will become significant beyond being the Gibraltar of the East. It might be Dublin, they’d appreciate the City.

    I’m aware that May wishes to create a free trade agreement if both houses say yes to leave, but CETA is more favorable to us than it is to Canada. There’s no good option, but we still affect each other. Churchill went down as securing Portugal’s neutrality based on a treaty signed in 1373, May will go down reversing a different one signed in 1973. Aluminum Lady more like it.

    Your democracy is not on a deathbed, it had survived fascist and communist conspiracies, you’ll survive this as well.

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