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Party loyalty and other matters April 10, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Useful couple of podcasts in relation to the UK and political parties and who supports them from Analysis by the BBC. How Voters Decide comes in two parts. What is clear is that there has been a slow decline in party loyalty, though arguably this has had a greater impact on the BLP than the Tories – and one of the most depressing aspects of it is how Brexit has essentially cut across class, even residual class, patterns. Quote after quote from people who were supporting the Tories after a lifetime of voting Labour due to Brexit.

I’ve mentioned it before – and the programme supports this contention, the referendum on that issue has in a sense injected the sort of culture wars we’ve long seen in the US, totally diverting people from class politics towards a sort of identity politics. The complaints about nationalisms being given a fillip by Brexit is true but the primary nationalism is a British/English nationalism in stark antagonism to the EU – and this comes with enormous baggage in relation to immigration and other problematic issues.

What is most striking is how those pursuing a Lexit functionally ran against their own political interests – and indeed those of the working class (which may or may not be synonymous) by reifying exit from the EU over the actual objective political terrain extant in the UK. Their voices were marginal but more broadly the fact of the referendum result by reinforcing the primacy of Brexit has seen a corralling of voters not on left/right issues but on leave/remain, or rather leave/what the hell do we do next? The latter position is so inchoate, so difficult to represent when one does not have state power (and so obvious that many of us were raising warning flags well in advance of the referendum), that it has gifted those who do have state power an enormous, perhaps generational, advantage politically.

I guess I can make a case that the independence referendum in Scotland presaged this, but my own supposition is that a leftish LP government might have come to power – unwillingly no doubt, but eventually, with the SNP either in coalition or supporting it externally had the Remain position won out.

It didn’t. We are where we are.

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1. Jolly Red Giant - April 10, 2017
2. thetheroo - April 10, 2017

I agree brexit has been nothing but trouble for the left. It’s destroyed the UK Labour party it’s crippled PBP in the north. What’s more is it’s completely taken away from the fact that a crazy right-wing government is in charge of domestic policy in the UK because no one is paying attention to domestic policy. The recent attempt to raise the NIC and the attempt to reintroduce grammar schools are perfect examples of things that most people are against but which are barely blips on the radar.

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WorldbyStorm - April 10, 2017

To me what you describe and in particular the way the left and LP is now hobbled is the saddest aspect and I’m genuinely pessimistic re the future. I feel it is like the role culture wars play in the US, a massive distraction from class and economic policies , and taking the piece JRG links to above it is not that I disagree with it, indeed there are some great points in it but how one can actually implement any if it is the problem.

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3. Jim Monaghan - April 10, 2017

Saw this on my facebook page. The analysis is very depressing.
“Richard Seymour:A few things from these polls:
1.) The decline for Labour is horrendous.
2.) That decline starts, in this chart, in 2012 — which I think has a lot to do with the England riots, the collapse of the fragile 2010-11 movements, and Labour’s adoption of austerity lite. But that is merely a nodal point in a wider process of decline.
3.) The very mild, slow reversal begun in Corbyn’s first eight months stopped dead with Brexit/chicken coup (I think Brexit more decisive) and the slump has accelerated.
4.) Regionally, on a uniform swing, Labour will be wiped out in Scotland, and lose seats hand over first in the Midlands and the North. The losses would be milder in London and the South (in part because Labour doesn’t have much in the South).
5.) It’s hard to see this being reversed, because the problem is structural and contextual. Even a more ‘media savvy’ leadership will face these same limits. They will struggle for coherence because, as Blair recently argued (in different terms), Labour is far too politically and ideologically broad to be viable in the long-term. They will struggle because even the mildest reformist impulse will result in any leadership being ritually waterboarded in the mass media. They will struggle because on the big question of the day, Brexit, there isn’t any unanimity on left-of-centre forces about what to do.
6.) Since Labour is an electoralist party first and foremost and ongoing electoral setbacks would seriously damage the legitimacy and cohesion of the Corbyn/McDonnell leadership. That means that the Right will come back at some point and, when that happens, unless they have radically changed Labour, the Corbynistas will be slaughtered. Labour HQ will look like Pol Pot’s house. The simmering resentment already exposed during the last year will come back in waves: branches, committees and conferences will be ferocious battle grounds, and the old managerial machinery will spring back into action, far more ruthlessly than before. And as the job is done, the joyous grave-dancing that the Blairites engaged in back in the day, will be outmatched. Labour will lose members, en bloc, but the right-wing of the party is intellectually and emotionally well prepared for that. All the forces will favour a propulsion of Labour back toward a centre-right position, which of course locks it into another dynamic of decline.
7.) Given which, Corbyn/McDonnell and their supporters have a desperately urgent situation on their hands. It is *highly* unlikely that they can turn their agenda into an agenda of government; it always was, but now it is more so. And besides, while their policy platform is on the whole decent, it isn’t exactly going to shake up British capitalism. It’s a mild, modernising social-democratic programme. The radical thrust of Corbynism was always what it implied about the kind of party Labour should be. Blair himself put it like this: should it be a party of the ‘bastards’ or of the people protesting the bastards? Another way to put this would be, should Labour be first and foremost an electoralist party, integrated into the state and organised by a well-connected managerial stratum? Or should it be first and foremost a mass campaigning party which happens to have contesting and winning elections as one of its goals? If it’s to be the former, perhaps government is more likely, although Pasokification/Hollandisation is a distinct probability. If it’s to be the former, then it’s going to be a party of a big radical minority in a first past the post system which is not able to form a government in the short-run, but which might be the driver of major changes enabling a fundamental realignment of politics. There doesn’t seem to be any way to triangulate those scenarios.” https://marriott-stats.com/nigels-blog/uk-opinion-poll-tracker-latest/

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sonofstan - April 10, 2017

“Labour is far too politically and ideologically broad to be viable in the long-term.”

True. But FPTP as in many other respects stiffles the ability of political parties to reflect actual politics. As we have seen, in most of the rest of Europe, traditional labourism is in decline, often terminal, as it would appear to be in Ireland. Equally, in most areas, it has been partially at any rate, replaced by a new left of one sort or another. This can’t happen in England, meaning that the sinking ship takes the lifeboat down with it.

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WorldbyStorm - April 10, 2017

5 in particular re the lack of left unanimity. Again it’s the identity politics/culture wars issue

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4. Jim Monaghan - April 10, 2017

On an aside “slow decline in party loyalty”. Here this is a huge factor. Outside SF, the main parties are basically coalitions of very individualistic, patronage and clientilistic TDs. Their election machines are very personal and not that much party oriented.
Back to the UK. Perhaps the control by party hq of the selection process has alienated the rank and file. How to you get enthused by an imposed candidate.

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sonofstan - April 10, 2017

Exactly. The labour candidate here in the last GE was a city barrister with no connection to the town- and ‘strong’ on immigration in an area where the labour vote is substantially BME.

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WorldbyStorm - April 10, 2017

+1 re increasingly individualistic – how this pans out I do not know.

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5. roddy - April 10, 2017

I see the neo unionist SP now find PBP “too green”!

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Jolly Red Giant - April 11, 2017

Wrong roddy – the SP has always considered PBP in the North as bending to nationalist rhetoric – there is nothing new in it.

As an aside – how are SF’s negotiations going to get back into coalition government with a bunch of reactionary loyalist bigots?

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6. roddy - April 11, 2017

Are you assembling a task force to “save” Gibralter like you advocated for the Malvinas.Will the free state be dragged into it if they become part of your “federation of the British isles”?

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Jolly Red Giant - April 11, 2017

In all seriousness – is that the best you can do.

Would you like me to recount the dalliance of republicans wth the Nazis and other assorted creeps.

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7. ivorthorne - April 11, 2017

“What is clear is that there has been a slow decline in party loyalty, though arguably this has had a greater impact on the BLP than the Tories”

Well that makes sense. The Tories are still the Tories. There’s not been that much of a change in them except in the increase in the number of euroskeptic MPs etc over the past few decades. If the Tories have not changed much over the past few decades, Labour has been changing – and usually not in a good way. If you supported Labour in the 80’s, you’d have lost faith during the times of Blair and Brown.

The Tories may be bastards but they’re consistent bastards.

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WorldbyStorm - April 11, 2017

I’ve said it before IT, I sometimes think my hostility to the Tories is the constant in my political life.

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8. roddy - April 11, 2017

See the sticks about the Nazi thing .They would be closer in time to it!

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Jolly Red Giant - April 11, 2017

Don’t tell me you are denying the roots of SF.

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9. roddy - April 11, 2017

Just saying those who led the sticks throughout the troubles would have had intimate knowledge of the WW2 twists and turns whilst Adams and McGuinness were’nt even born.The likes of Goulding and Smullen no doubt left plenty of historical detail in their memoirs! However their conversion to neo unionism like the SP probably meant that they were immune from all that kind of talk.

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Jolly Red Giant - April 11, 2017

Scraping the bottom of the barrel now roddy – there were many in the Provos who long pre-date Goulding and Smullen.

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