Saturday, November 22, 2014

On Countering The Ukip Cri-de-Colon

This ludicrous nonsense - a Labour MP forced to resign after tweeting a photo of a van and a flag - has been in the post for a long, long time.

It's been closing in with every chin-stroking pronouncement that we must all respect the Very Real Concerns of people who just plain don't like foreigners.  It's been coming with every instance of the party responding to attacks from the Mail with apologetic press releases, rather than just telling the paper to fuck right off.

Every unchallenged Question Time assertion that people aren't allowed to talk about the topics that they are themselves talking about on national television at that very moment. Every word from the party's self-appointed detectors of the legitimate feelings of thick-headed bellends. 

All of it has been leading to precisely this point, at which politicians explicitly talking about sending them back are seen as engaging in respectable conjecture, and posting a picture on the internet is a sackable offence.

The current hard-right insurgency, confected storm of slapstick idiocy as it is, poses a genuinely urgent question for the UK.  That question is:

Are we a nation of self-pitying, cowardly, bullying, whining little bigots?

By pandering in the manner that they have this last decade, the Labour Party is answering - Yes. Yes we are.

I can't stress enough how insane and counterproductive this position is.  The political calculus here isn't difficult or controversial.  There's far more at stake than just the next election result, however big a stinker it could be. 

Bluntly, Ukip are going to fail, and fail catastrophically.  It's inevitable - failure is baked into the party's pastry as surely as malevolent eccentricity is.  Maybe Britain will leave the EU and maybe it won't; maybe we'll close the borders and fence ourselves in with barbed wire, Doberman pinschers and machine gun nests, or maybe we won't.

Whatever happens, we're still going to be the imperfect and resentful multicultural society that we are.  There are still going to be lots of people speaking funny languages on the buses and we're still going to be bedevilled by crime and antisocial teenagers.  The UK is not going to sit still and behave, just because e.g. a Kipper-Tory coalition tells it to.

When that realisation dawns on the nation's permanently pissed-off fruitcakes, they're going to demand a new set of even crazier policies and, thanks to the way our political class and our press operates, they'll get it.  And that movement will be much, much worse than this one. 

Ukip is a by-product of Britain's toxic media culture, which is itself an outrage-fed conveyor belt of utterly meaningless, inane wank, existing solely to convert public credulity into cash.  It'll have no trouble assimilating the total failure of this particular uprising and welding together a bandwagon of even nastier nutters whenever the mood takes it.

The people who joyfully consume this churning slurry of celebrity tits and fake victimhood can't be bought off with meaner, more small-minded politics.  Labour's current strategy of appeasing indignant ignorance with nods and smiles won't work, simply because you can't outflank mad xenophobic cranks to the right, ever.  The type of person who finds e.g. Farage appealing isn't going to be swayed by a series of PR men feeding them weak versions of the hardcore substances that they can get elsewhere.  

Here's a basic and inconvenient truth for you - people who like Ukip are telling you, as loud as they can, that they are very impressed by vicious ignorance.  People who are wowed by viciousness aren't ever going to be amenable to Labour's obsequious pandering.  They find it revolting, and rightly so.  There's a reason why Smithers is nobody's favourite Simpsons character.

And even if this tactic did work, it'd still be a terrible idea.  You're not helping people by encouraging them to have confidence in demonstrably wrong and insane beliefs.

You're not respecting them if you're pretending not to find them and their views repellent, when you do.  You show people respect through honesty, not indulgence.  It's vastly more respectful to Ukip voters to call them a shower of deranged fuckwits to their faces, than it is to pretend that they aren't deranged fuckwits. 

Encouraging idiots isn't good for the rest of us either.  Even if pandering to viciousness worked, you'd be actively inflicting the psychoses and neuroses of a minority on the rest of us, regardless of who we vote for.

I'm not a Labour party member and I'm unsure how many times I've ticked the box for them over the years.  I'm not really the joining type, if you catch my drift.

But if the party has any attachment to its founding principles, now is the time to cut out the simpering, bum-licking attitude toward the witless hysteria that's stinking up entire tracts of the country.  It can't work, it's insulting to everyone and it's guaranteed to leave Britain significantly worse off than just telling Ukip voters to stick their Very Real Concerns up their Very Ignorant Arses would.

It is, in short, time to send a message to people who are considering voting for Farage's clown-car full of zoomers, and that message should be - fuck you.

And I know there are plenty of people reading this who will say, but FR, if we do that, then we'll lose the election.  

To which I can only say, if you're not prepared to defend what are supposedly your defining principles for fear of losing just one election, you might as well pack up the whole party and leave politics to the bigots.  It'd be a sad day but by God, it'd be an eye-opener for everyone.   

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

"And I know there are plenty of people reading this who will say, but FR, if we do that, then we'll lose the election. .......... To which I can only say, if you're not prepared to defend what are supposedly your defining principles for fear of losing just one election, you might as well pack up the whole party and leave politics to the bigots."

Indeed. And why allow the agenda to be set by media layabouts who think that they could read the mind of Emily Thornberry when she tweeted a photo?

Guano

Naaaysmith said...

I now recognise how important wet Tories are to the political ecosystem and that without them, ragers and swivel eyed loons take over.

It would be good to know what caused the demise of the wet Tory. I feel that somehow, it's all Tony Blair's fault.

Simon Fawthrop said...

While I agree with most of what you say I still think she should have been sacked. Its one thing for a politician to tell people you disagree or even that there views are half-baked, its not OK for them to sneer at anyone.

But that's not the main point I wanted to make. This is the stupidity of the immigration race to the bottom. From the Bagehot column of this week's Economist:

"THE campus of the Department of Management Studies (DMS) is a vision of India’s future disguised as the past. Shoeless gardeners sprawl on dusty grass or haul ancient mowers. Yet the business school, a faculty of the elite Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi, is one of India’s best and its students among India’s—which means the world’s—brightest and most driven.

Oxford and Cambridge accept one in five of their applicants. The DMS interviews 3,000 candidates for 65 places. All computer aces—the school specialises in data analytics—its students are typically in their mid-twenties and have spent a couple of years with a top Indian technology company. After their MBA, they go on to global IT or consulting firms, such as Accenture or KPMG. They are the sort of high-flying Indians who helped build Silicon Valley,

...

Yet there was a cloud on their western horizon, in the form of Mr Cameron’s immigration policy. As Britain’s visa regime has tightened on his watch, the number of Indians studying in British universities has more than halved. Rahul was offered a place by the London School of Economics, but denied a visa to take it up—“because they didn’t think I would leave, even though I go to one of the best business schools in India,” he said crossly"

What do the anit immigration lot think he and his chums are going to do, run away and start a business? FFS, these are exactly the people we want coming here, fling the doors open, pay for their flights the more of them the merrier. Does anyone with more than half a brain cell really think they're going to "steal our jobs and live off our benefits"?

Anonymous said...

I have difficulty in seeing how somebody can have been sneering by sending a photo on Twitter, but I agree with your main point. Every University now has a team of people tracking the latest changes in visa regulations and how they affect each potential student. What a waste!

Guano

Martin Wisse said...

oh come on, anybody who's ever lived next to or near a nutter like this flying the st George when there wasn't football on knew he would be a prize cunt and that Thornberry was right to sneer at him.

dsquared said...

I kind of disagree. Or at least, I agree with your general view, but I don't think that this latest media furphy is a good example of the sort of thing we're talking about and I don't think she was treated particularly unfairly.

Emily Thornberry first crossed my radar when she claimed (I forget the context) that half the children in Islington had been mugged, a claim that's pretty ludicrous as a fact, and altogether revealing as a window into her world view. When she showed up doing this, I was neither surprised not inclined to listen to all the people trying to claim "oh god its just a picture of a white van and some flags not necessarily insulting".

Quite a lot of problems today seem to spring from the fact that "actively fearing or hating the voters" is no longer seen as the sort of thing that should be a barrier to a career in politics. And where you're very right is that when politicians don't even bother with elementary courtesies like not calling the voters to their faces, they can't make up for it by pandering extra hard.

Thing is, the majority of the world doesn't live in the Special AKA song "Racist Friend". White Van Dan might be a total bollock in political terms, but he likely has mates who aren't. And those mates are, in my view rightly, going to presume that someone who sees WVD's home d├ęcor as a punchline is unlikely to think any more highly of them.

I'm totally against pandering in policy terms, because it doesn't work. But I don't think that means that it's OK to insult people with fairly obvious class slurs (even if you do then bleat on about your childhood on a council estate, as if you were thereby inoculated for life). In very similar terms, while I'm very much against pandering to the Muslim community's desires for all sorts of opt outs from equal opportunities law, I think this policy aim can be achieved without even once mentioning the age of the prophet's wife.

ejh said...

Darren Johnson put it rather well here:

What commentators don't grasp is that taking the piss out of tacky displays on neighbours' houses is [an] essential part of working class culture

Yes indeed, she was taking the piss. And "taking the piss", in English culture, is a good thing or a bad thing depending very much who's doing it. "We were only taking the piss." "After Chelsea went three up they started taking the piss." "The Asians in Oldham are really taking the piss." The first two of these are good: the last is bad.

The reason for this is that the very culture which mocks speech codes, political correctness and what you will is, itself, ultra-sensitive and self-pitying. It has any number of totems which are not to be criticised, these including the poppy, the Royal Family and the flag. And genuflecting to these totems, pretending to hold them in the same esteem as their worshippers, is stupid, It convinces nobody while preventing you from holding conversations which you are absolutely going to have to have.

Thornberry's tweet wasn't a particularly bright thing to do, if the art of politics is not making unnecessary enemies. But nor was it remotely a sacking offence unless people really want this kind of hue and cry all the fucking time.

And in fact there's a good discussion, that needs to be held, about this flag-flying business. It's not some traditional, intrinsic part of British or even English culture. My childhood was spent in and around London and the Home Counties without, I think, my ever seeing a flag flown from somebody's house. It would have been considered a most eccentric thing to do. So why are people doing it now when they didn't need to do it a generation ago? What message are they trying to get across and to whom? To what are they responding? What impression do they give to other people? Most people do not in fact do it, so what makes the people who do, untouchable in their feelings? We can ask questions about it. Or we can ludicrously sack somebody for mentioning it. But not both.

flyingrodent said...

Dan: I don't think that this latest media furphy is a good example of the sort of thing we're talking about and I don't think she was treated particularly unfairly.

I'm not even going to disagree with this, as I don't really care much whether Emily Thornberry, who I've never heard of prior to this incident, keeps her job or not.

The problem isn't some MP having to resign for posting a picture of a house and basically saying, check the state of this fucker. It's that this is plainly regarded as a greater and more terrible sin than e.g. openly speculating on sending them all back.

Much of this is self-inflicted from a Labour standpoint. We couldn't have got to the point where a bunch of crazed Thatcherites can claim to represent working class people without the nation collapsing in hilarity, if our theoretically socialist party was any good.

Nonetheless, the Thornberry thing really isn't all that important. What is, is that open xenophobia is once respectable in public life, and not just in the tabloids, but in Parliament itself.

Quite a lot of problems today seem to spring from the fact that "actively fearing or hating the voters" is no longer seen as the sort of thing that should be a barrier to a career in politics.

I'm not wholly convinced that this is a new problem, to be honest.

Justin: The reason for this is that the very culture which mocks speech codes, political correctness and what you will is, itself, ultra-sensitive and self-pitying.

Well, yes. I've gone on about this at length elsewhere and won't get back into it here, but the bottom line is - this whiny, woe-is-us getting-angry-about-nothing culture is just another consumer product, as surely as designer handbags or Kit-Kats are.

there's a good discussion, that needs to be held, about this flag-flying business.

I don't think that would be very productive. As a Scot and a Celtic supporter, I come across lots of confected outrages about flags and can offer the following piece of advice: Any British person you meet who has strong opinions on flags is almost certainly a godawful boring arse, and not worth getting into an argument with about it.

Alex said...

Eric Pickles, for what it's worth, is apparently a flag "enthusiast".

ejh said...


I don't think that would be very productive. As a Scot and a Celtic supporter, I come across lots of confected outrages about flags and can offer the following piece of advice: Any British person you meet who has strong opinions on flags is almost certainly a godawful boring arse, and not worth getting into an argument with about it.


For sure. But if you're going to argue that the Labour Party shouldn't be falling to its knees at the sight of the Holy Flag, then that public conversation is going to have to happen, and it's in the nature of a public conversation that it is not hermetic.

(Besides, on occasion it can be helpful to encourage the clowns to talk.)

flyingrodent said...

...if you're going to argue that the Labour Party shouldn't be falling to its knees at the sight of the Holy Flag, then that public conversation is going to have to happen.

If I thought we were capable of having that public conversation in a vaguely sane fashion, I'd welcome it.

What we'd get instead, the second that somebody vaguely famous said something along the lines of "Well, it's just a bit of cloth, isn't it" would be politicians and hacks from left and right falling to their knees in fake terror, demanding satisfaction for the hurt feelings of, like, working class patriots and so on.

Not that we'd actually hear from said patriots. They'd be utterly drowned out squeals of horror from people who are not actually at all offended, but are very willing to pretend that they are.

And then, nothing would change, except maybe the Labour Party would get even more jumpy and terrified about standing up for itself.

This is a shite state of affairs, but it's exactly what would happen, no matter how hard sane people argued. We've seen a thousand variations on the theme already.

ejh said...

That might be true, but if it is, isn't that just a longwinded way of saying "we're fucked"?

(That's not a conclusion with which I'd quarrel, but it does seem to me to be an inevitable consequence of any state in which we're unable to say the bleedin' obvious in circumstances where the bleedin' obvious needs saying.)

ejh said...

(It's a slightly different debate, I suppose, but this chap has been one of my heroes for around thirty years. As I recall he was prosecuted for making a T-shirt out of the flag, an act of demystification which it very badly needed.)

flyingrodent said...

isn't that just a longwinded way of saying "we're fucked"?

It sure is. I often arse on about how important it is to choose your battles wisely and as stated, I think a row about flags etc. is probably going to end in ignominious failure. That's not to say that people shouldn't give it a bash, if they want to.

I think drawing a line re: Ukip and xenophobia is very winnable, however.

Igor Belanov said...

I'd just like to thank ejh for reading my mind and saving me the hassle of writing more than this!

neverfadingwood said...

Very bloody well said.

organic cheeseboard said...

I'm really not sure this is about 'flag-flying' per se. Thornberry wasn't making fun of the flags as flags, she was pointing out this house as fulfilling a certain stereotype - white van, England flags flying. And it does - but it's surely a bad idea for a politician from a party who are already struggling to get their message across to actively mock this kind of stereotype. A stereotype which people obviously self-identify with in a non-ironic way - just listen to the adverts on Talksport, which are invariably aimed at self-employed men who drive vans, if you doubt this. Yes, it's important not to genuflect to their totems in an insincere manner, but it's another to mock them for no real reason. If a UKIP member had tweeted a photo of, say, Ghana fans celebrating on the Walworth Road, flags a-flying, after a World cup win with the caption 'Photo from London.' the implications would be clear.

This White Van Dan might well be a Tory (if he's anything), but people who self-identify as that kind of stereotype, hang England flags in their windows, and live in the north (and a lot of those who live in inner-city London, and presumably Birmingham too among other places) generally vote Labour. As Dsquared says, he might be a total nobhead who didn't know there was an election on, but he'll know people who aren't nobheads, and they might well have voted.

Rodent is right that it's absurd that this is garnering more column inches than yer actual racism from Reckless (who, lest we forget, was a Tory til very recently). But given how difficult Labour are finding it to get a positive message out there, this is the last kind of thing its MPs should be doing, especially on a night which was in fact a total, unmitigated disaster for the Tories - a byelection they threw the kitchen sink at and still lost pitifully. People have apparently been lambasting Ed Miliband for being too controlling, but who can blame him when his MPs are such a gaggle of dickheads when allowed even onto social media? It's obvious that Tories and the right-wing press have Twitter feeds solely consisting of Labour MPs - doing this probably wasn't a sacking offence in the grand scheme of things, but he really didn't have much choice. I'm more impressed by Miliband doing this than with Cameron's perverse 'displays of loyalty' which invariably end up with sackings anyway.

We couldn't have got to the point where a bunch of crazed Thatcherites can claim to represent working class people without the nation collapsing in hilarity, if our theoretically socialist party was any good.

That was also the situation in the 1980s, no? and in fact the 1990s and 2000s with New Labour.

While i'm here I might as well do my now weekly Howard Jaobson-watch. This week, Jacobson (he of the columns bemoaning everyone else for being 'unintelligent', lest we forget), controversially and intelligently berates Ed Miliband for - oh yes - failing to be able to eat a bacon sandwich 'with relish'. In no way is HJ recycling tired old bullshit, oh no. And this in the services of claiming that Miliband 'abandoned loyalty' to Jewishness by eating said sandwich. But Miliband is an Atheist, and seemingly has been at least since he hit adulthood. Surely that's widely known, and means he can eat bacon whenever he wants (and wasn't HJ complaining just two weeks ago about Miriam Margolyes recycling tired old stereotypes about Jewishness?).

But, you know, Jacobson is a really funny writer, and also so insightful and... intelligent?

Anonymous said...

"Farage's clown-car full of zoomers"

That is utterly brilliant :D Hahaha! If that was their official name I might even have to vote for them ;)

ejh said...

this is the last kind of thing its MPs should be doing

Really? The last? Isn't saying so quite as absurd as Miliband saying (or letting it be know that he's said) that nothing had made him angrier?

Here's a much better take from Jim Jepps.

Ed Miliband was not angry because he saw this tweet and thought it offensive, there’s nothing to be offended by, Miliband was angry because it had made The Sun angry – and that way lies madness.

You can either wet your pants and abase yourself, if you can stand up for yourself. That's often a false choice, but there are times when it isn't, when that choice is real, and those times can be defined as times of hue and cry.

ejh said...

Or. Not if. Or. Mea culpa.

flyingrodent said...

Rodent is right that it's absurd that this is garnering more column inches than yer actual racism from Reckless...

This is the crux of the matter, really. As I say, it seems pretty clear to me that the Tweet in question was saying - Check the state of this fucker.

This is a daft thing to do politically and TBH I couldn't care less whether it earns the author the boot.

But this kind of thing only becomes a big problem if you've utterly ceded all ground to your political opponents before the fight - if you're willing to join in the pretence that the entire country can be broadly represented by just one geezer with hang 'em and flog 'em and send 'em all back politics; if you aren't ever prepared to stand up and say that you're opposed to HE&FE&SEAB politics in the strongest terms.

Labour does have serious problems connecting with its constituency*, but so do all the other major parties. It's just easier to troll Labour about it, because of their spineless pandering.

AFAICS it really is the spineless pandering that's causing most of Labour's problems. They've lost huge areas of Scotland to the SNP for instance, specifically because it's easy for chancers to move to the left of the Party and portray Labour as being much like the Tories. It's not easy to do this just because the Nats are opportunists - it's easy because Labour's pronouncements on key issues are so very similar.

Like I say, I'm not a member, but a situation whereby the leftmost option on my ballot paper is the bloody nationalists doesn't bode well for anyone, I think.

The point Justin made above about terror of angering the Sun is about right. Sooner or later, it's going to be necessary to say, fuck the Sun and to stop cuddling up to the parts of the press which hate Labour in the first place and want it to fail. Whether there'll be much of a party left by the point they decide to do it is another question.


*Mostly because the movement is now a bunch of lawyers and professional politicians grafted onto a broader union/activist base but again, this type of disconnect between party and grassroots isn't exactly unique at the moment.

Igor Belanov said...

I think what people often forget is that there have always been racists and nationalists who have voted Labour. These people might have thought that Powell was right, or just had their own bigoted stance on racial issues but, when it came to voting, economic issues and/or class identity took precedence. Now it would be nicer if voters were all anti-racist, but it does show that electoral success does not necessarily depend upon pandering to prejudice, as long as you give people some other positive reasons for casting their vote. This latter issue is clearly the problem.

organic cheeseboard said...

Yes, sorry my phrasing wasn't weell chosen there EJH. All the same I don't think she should have done this. What was it for? Publicly mocking someone's house because it conforms to a caricature of 'working-class Englishman', while including that person's licence plate, seems a totally stupid thing to do for any politician let alone a Labour one. There was no apology she could give that doesn't make her look like a fucking nobhead.

I agree that Miliband shouldn't have said that this makes him more angry than eg Ebola btw - I can just see why he had to sack her. And yes, he shouldn't pander to the Sun etc, fully agreed, but compared to almost any other politician in recent history he's an anti-Sun activist - and they, along with the Mail, really fucking hate him for it. (This notwithstanding his and his party's desire to pander in general which I agree on - but one of the few things he's done that's been genuinely brave was to take on the Mail and the Sun - compare this with Gordon Brown's repeated humliation by Richard Desmond).

I'm sure Labour have had their racists voting for them in the past. And like I said, white van men (tm) up north are likely to be Labour voters. Doesn't mean they should pander or ignore their overall beliefs, but still.

Rodent is right to say that Labour aren't especially unusual in the disconnect between the professional politicians and the typical voter/member, but it's a prty whose main aim is to represent and help the working classes. that's why it's all the more important that its MPs shouldn't publicly mock working class people for no good reason - or mock anyone, really, except activists for other political parties. Not least because politicians don't do funny.

gregorach said...

"if the party has any attachment to its founding principles"

You're having a laugh, right? These fuckers could find the founding principles of the Labour party with a torch, a map, and a seance with Keir Hardie.

The only "principle" the party has any attachment too these days is "win the next election" - and they're fucking shite at that. The party does not exist to defend any kind of principles, it exists solely to preserve its own existence as a comfy home and route to peerage for a bunch of spineless, talentless, lickspittles. End of fucking story.

gregorach said...

*couldn't. God damn it.

ejh said...



Although he did actually have himself photographed with the paper. God knows what tool advised him that that was a clever idea (or what safe seat they'll be parachiuted into shortly).

organic cheeseboard said...

Ah yes, I forgot that photo op. Ridiculous, especially after his previous suspicion of the paper.

In fact one of the most tedious aspects of contemporary British politics for me is the near-constant attempts by various businesses and charities to get party leaders to hold/wear their products, whether it be a help for heroes wristband, fawcett society t-shirt or copy of the sun. The only reason it's done is so people can make a song and dance if people don't agree to it.

dsquared said...

I think it's pretty weird to claim that Ed Miliband's most likely motivation is fear of News International. He's a smart bloke, he must be aware that those chips were pissed on the moment he decided to destroy one of their most popular newspapers.

I think it's more likely that his anger was genuine, and it's entirely understandable; I felt a version of the same emotion on hearing about the LIBOR scandal. It's simply the feeling of "how could you do something that plays so much into a stereotype that I've been trying to live down?". Shanda fer die goyim, I think the Yiddish expression is.

Ed is a Hampstead academic born and bred. He's spent a lot of time trying to deal with the image that creates for him and to try, generally not very successfully, to bridge the gap between him and normal people and reassure them that he's not looking down on them from his Oxford-and-Harvard perch in North London.

And then along comes one of his closest allies in the party to a big byelection campaign where for once the spotlight is of Ed, and posts on Twitter a picture that basically goes "Check out the state of this fucker, white van man lol". Yeah, I can see why he was pissed off and rightly so.

flyingrodent said...

Ed is a Hampstead academic born and bred...

I hadn't thought of it like this and that does make it more apparent why Ed personally was pissed off about this. I'd also say I've failed to credit him for going head-to-head with News International over Leveson, so mea culpa there.

That said, it's not the fact that an MP got fired over this that I find outrageous. Fire her or don't, I am not much arsed.

flyingrodent said...

To add: Although the first sentence of the post itself does state the precise opposite, which was something of a schoolboy error.

Anonymous said...

The newspapers and commentators who are most angry about Thornberry's tweet are exactly the people that wanted Labour to be less of a working-class party. They only want Labour to be "in touch with working-class" when the issues are crime or immigration, not pay or job security or the NHS.

Labour no longer has a structure that allows its base to be part of policy-making. Policy is made at the top (partly on the basis of what will appeal to the media). That is the important dimension of "not being in touch with the working class". Labour has allowed the media to be its intermediary between it and its base, so The Sun is allowed to determine what the working-class is angry about.

Guano

Ken Eadie, the Prince of Strikers said...

R.H. Tawney said this. In 1931:

"To kick over an idol you must first get up off your knees. Either the Labour Party intends to end the tyranny of money, or it does not. If it does, it must not fawn on the owners and symbols of money. If there are members of it - a small minority no doubt, but even one would be too many – who angle for notice in the capitalist press; accept, or even beg for, "honours"; are flattered by invitations from fashionable hostesses; suppose that their financial betters are endowed with intellects more dazzling and characters more sublime than those of common men; and succumb to convivial sociabilities, like Red Indians to firewater, they have missed their vocation."

ejh said...

The newspapers and commentators who are most angry about Thornberry's tweet are exactly the people that wanted Labour to be less of a working-class party.

Quite.

They only want Labour to be "in touch with working-class" when the issues are crime or immigration, not pay or job security or the NHS.

Quite.

A couple of days ago, Hazel Blears got up on her hind legs and told Ed Miliband to get rid of his middle-class Islington friends. The proper answer to that was "Fuck off Hazel, and remind me when you're due to leave Westminster". But no. No Thornberry-style smackdown for Haze.

Thornberry's sacking wasn't about anger, or condescension, or anything like that. It was about appeasing the unappeasables who must always be appeased. It was a great deal more stupid than the Tweet could ever have been.

ejh said...

(Incidentally, anybody who can think about this circus without having the "nobody can survive this" sequence from In The Loop come to mind is doing better than I am.)

dsquared said...

If it does, it must not fawn on the owners and symbols of money.

A white van and a West Ham flag aren't usually seen as symbols of money, are they?

Igor Belanov said...

As far as I can tell, it is the media that are whipping up rage over this case, not White Van Man himself.

organic cheeseboard said...

Sort of on topic, but Murdoch is in a very odd position this time around. He loves to back a winner, but surely can't back Labour given their effective destruction of the NOTW as Rodent says. But Labour are still favourites to get in, and even if they don't get an overall majority they'll probably go into coalition with the Greens and Lib Dems. That might explain the Mellor story...

gregorach said...

"But Labour are still favourites to get in"

They are? As far as I know, no opposition party has ever gone on to win a GE from such a poor polling position a year out. There's always a swing to the incumbent in the run-up to the actual election.

I would also be extremely suspicious of UKIP's rankings. There's a big difference between how people vote in by-elections and how they vote in GEs, and I expect a lot of kippers to scurry back to the Tories rather than risk a Labour victory.

Igor Belanov said...

I would be very surprised if Labour win a majority next year. The main uncertainties revolve around who gets the 15% of the vote that the Lib Dems will lose, how much of their current support UKIP can retain, and whether Scotland will vote the same way at Westminster as it has done at Holyrood. Tactical voting will be almost impossible with the rise of UKIP and other parties. Either way, I expect there to be a small Tory majority on a ridiculously low percentage of the electorate (like 25-30%) or another hung parliament. I sense that there is a resentment against the traditional parties that will not be resolved by the next election.

Igor Belanov said...

I should have said ridiculously low percentage of the vote, not the electorate.

organic cheeesboard said...

Off topic, but I see that Andrew Mithcell has lost his libel case.

Nobody else is likely to remember, but a while back Nick Cohen considered Mitchell 'A Dreyfus For Our Times', parroting the line that Mitchell was the victim of some hideous conspiracy. Rodent did a good post on this.

Am guessing that Cohen might blame this all on our terribly evil libel laws - but it was Mitchell who decided to take it to court and now seems likely to be forced to pay out about 3million in fees.

Seems a fucking stupid decision to have gone to court over it eh. Also stupid of Cohen to pile in on his side, too...

Alex said...

A couple of days ago, Hazel Blears got up on her hind legs and told Ed Miliband to get rid of his middle-class Islington friends. The proper answer to that was "Fuck off Hazel, and remind me when you're due to leave Westminster". But no. No Thornberry-style smackdown for Haze.

I put it to you that Hazel Blears can't be sacked from the shadow cabinet for one very very good reason; she isn't in it.

Anonymous said...

Presumably OC is referring to these columns by our friend Nick Cohen.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/08/police-scrutiny-leveson-andrew-mitchell-plebgate

http://blogs.spectator.co.uk/nick-cohen/2014/02/why-are-rupert-murdochs-men-damning-andrew-mitchell/

With added Leveson.

Guano

Anonymous said...

EJH is not suggesting that Miliband sack Blears from the Shadow Cabinet. He is suggesting an unspecified smackdown for Blears.

Guano

Alex said...

Well, completely ignoring the irrelevant has-been's whining sounds ideal, and avoids another round of disunity headlines.

flyingrodent said...

Nobody else is likely to remember, but a while back Nick Cohen considered Mitchell 'A Dreyfus For Our Times', parroting the line that Mitchell was the victim of some hideous conspiracy.

If I recall correctly, this is the one where Nick had to have been claiming that the Leveson Report actually travelled backwards through time to encourage the cops to persecute random Tories, isn't it? That one was a blast.

You're probably right that Nick might find a way to blame this on libel laws, despite the fact that the courts seem to have acted exactly as Nick has demanded that they act.

More likely though, this is another one going straight down the memory hole to join Ahmad-Chalabi-is-a-great-democrat, Everyone-listen-to-Hassan Butt and Boy-that-Paul-Wolfowitz-sure-is-right-about-things.

organic cheeesboard said...

Cohen also claimed that 'if it could happen to Mitchell, it could happen to anybody', and he was probably right in one sense - if 'anybody' was a belligerent dick who swore at and insulted police officers on a daily basis, demanded preferential treatment, and probably did in fact call them plebs. I'm fairly sure the police engineered this confrontation, but he only has himself to blame for being such a dickhead.

Nick's brushed it off, saying that he owes the Crime editor of the Times a drink (for, iirc, publicly insulting him). It's funny, though - what it demonstrates, I guess, is that cohen doesn't really get as angry about these various Great Intellecual Struggles Of Our Times as he affects in his writing.

I'm still inwardly seething about that piece he did ages ago accusing all lefties of complicity with genocide (or some such) for using Apple products. If you follow him on Twitter he frequently refers to his ownership of various Apple computers. Maybe this is one of those Hypocrite Lecture, mon sembable, mon frere things - but I doubt it.

Bonus points for Dan Hodges's massive hissy fit about this, using the 'won't-someone-think-of-all-the-Africans-he-helped' defence (despite of course Mitchell not actually having that int.dev. job when this happened) and also claiming that unless you know Mitchell personally and understand how 'good' he is, you can't possibly pass judgment on him.

Not sure if this is in any way connected to the fact that Hodges is ghostwriting Mitchell's account of the affair, whose value has now plummeted to more or less zero...

Anonymous said...

Just to return briefly to the topic in hand...

It does seem to me that mass immigration can and does create tensions in a liberal society like the UK, for the simple reason that (generally speaking) we do not require immigrants to abandon their own traditions and indeed like to pride ourselves on our own tolerance.

But too great a diversity of cultural norms weakens the bonds of solidarity which hold a liberal society together, and too great a rate of change can cause many to feel that their very identity is being threatened.

This concern has been evidenced by opinion poll after opinion poll for fifteen years or more, and yet has been disregarded by the ruling establishment. Indeed, those raising such issues have generally been mocked and vilified, not least by the liberal left.

So we shouldn't be too surprised that when open debate is suppressed there will eventually be nutters like UKIP along to pick up the slack. And the tragedy then is that UKIP get to set the agenda simply because the rest of us simply don't have one.

So the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in UKIP but in ourselves.

flyingrodent said...

we shouldn't be too surprised that when open debate is suppressed...

The only way a person could believe that "open debate" has been "Suppressed" in the UK on this topic is if he or she hadn't opened a newspaper, watched or listened to any current affairs shows or seen any parliamentary debates for circa twenty years.

Which would probably disqualify that person from talking about which views are and are not "suppressed".

Anonymous said...

'I think what people often forget is that there have always been racists and nationalists who have voted Labour.'
I'm not a Brit so this is totally irrelevant but I'm a horrible, xenophobic, nationalist, Eurocentric etc man who never checks his privilege but who nevertheless never, ever votes right-wing, because I'm not a complete retard, I can see who my actual enemies are and I don't mind voting for people who are better human beings than I am.
The loony right voters I know are not potential lefties, they are right-wingers who want the right to be more anti-EU and more racist.

Anonymous said...

@ flying rodent: You doubt my assertion that "open debate" on immigration has been "suppressed" on the grounds that immigration has been constantly referenced in the mass media for many years.

Well, it's certainly true that in the past I've come across a great deal of political posturing, a lot of declamation, a lot of punch-ups on Newsnight, a lot of unevidenced assertions, a lot of conflation between immigration and racism, a lot of inflammatory remarks, and a lot of heightened language (including, I'm sorry to say, your original post).

What I haven't seen is open debate, by which I mean free discussion and full consideration of the issued involved. What I've seen is attitudinising and knee jerk reactions, where ranting replaces judgement and nuance is abhorred.

Maybe we should just agree to differ on this one, though you do seem to think that my analysis should be disqualified. Which is as neat an example of "suppression" as I can think of.

Igor Belanov said...

You're setting a pretty high bar there if you're expecting political parties and the media to provide "free discussion and full consideration of the issued involved" rather than "attitudinising and knee jerk reactions, where ranting replaces judgement and nuance is abhorred."

flyingrodent said...

What I haven't seen is open debate, by which I mean free discussion and full consideration of the issued involved. What I've seen is attitudinising and knee jerk reactions, where ranting replaces judgement and nuance is abhorred.

Yes, I've come across this particular point before - okay, so maybe this topic hasn't been suppressed like I said it has, given it's been ubiquitous across all platforms for at least fifteen years.

But! Even though immigration is headline news daily, constantly discussed on all broadcast current affairs channels and regularly the top item at PM's questions, the debate hasn't been held in precisely the manner that I want it to be. Ergo, there is No open debate.

Now, this basically invalidates pretty much every major policy debate in modern UK politics, since there are wild-eyed zoomers banging on about every half-controversial issue under the sun, so your point here already looks a little weak.

And remember, there's already a term for politicised attempts to circumscribe the precise limits of particular debates and to police the language with which they may be discussed. That term is "political correctness".

I'm all for reason and politeness and so on myself, but really. There are some very strong reasons why it's necessary to speak bluntly about the immigration debate generally and Ukip in particular, and I'm not inclined to cut certain people the slack that they habitually refuse to grant to anyone else.