Where do Labour Go From Here?

Posted on December 18, 2019

After a period of reflection, I thought I might be able to work out why Labour’s election defeat had been so catastrophic. I also thought that I might be able to understand how the party can re-emerge as a viable opposition.

The fact is I can’t. I can see how Labour lost, but I can’t figure out how the north turned conservative in such high numbers. It’s not like Boris Johnson offered a masterplan to make the Conservatives the party of the working man, is it?

I also can’t figure out how Labour are going to heal themselves when they are so bitterly divided within. Centrists are blaming the left, whilst there is nothing but disdain for the so-called Blairites in the centre.

The Better Liars!

All I can fathom so far, is that you can lie to the electorate and to swathes of them, it doesn’t matter. The lie can be exposed the next day but the day after that, the original lie would still be in the mind and its latter exposure is old news.

What is intriguing, is that whilst Tory policies that looked fanciful (50,000 nurses etc) were accepted, Labour ones (free Broadband etc) were laughed out of the room. It must be something in the deliverance of the messages that makes one grandiose policy look more plausible than the other.

It was the same result with regards to the parroting of statements in a bid to entrench them in the minds of the electorate. ‘Get Brexit Done’ was, without doubt, more effective to the average proletarian than ‘For the Many not the Few’.

Time to Reach Out?

I have seen various people saying that now is the time to reach out to the people who voted Conservative in traditional Labour areas. I am told it is time for healing and to not label people as dumb. The idea being that the Labour Party were paying the price for ignoring voters in poor areas and we must understand that.

That is all very well, but when you look who has inflicted misery on these people in the last nine years, it was not the Labour Party. It is argued that before 2010 ‘New Labour’ neglected these voters. This may well be true, but the Labour Party who fought last week’s election hated Blairites more than they hated Tories. Square that circle if you can?

The Labour 2019 manifesto was all about rebuilding communities and ending austerity, so I don’t understand the voting patterns. In time I might be able to, but I don’t think Tony Blair ‘think tanks’ are going to cure the Labour Party of its woes.

Elephant in the Room

Ultimately, I guess, it must have predominantly come down to the elephant in the room that is Brexit. Brexit, it seems, is the golden opportunity for a renaissance in these areas that turned from red to blue. It appears that something in the message has given these voters hope that leaving an economic union is going to reinvigorate poor towns and bring an end to austerity and poverty.

Maybe I have suffered from doubling down in a state of Remain bias and I can’t see the wood through the trees? Perhaps I don’t understand the benefits and regeneration that a Johnson government will bring to these regions? We are all susceptible to losing flexibility of thought when we have invested so much of our emotions in a cause, so maybe I am brainwashed? It is a question I genuinely ask myself.

However, when I look back to 2016, all I really knew about the EU was what I had to adhere to with regards to engagement of temporary workers. Nothing else really bothered me if I am honest but the referendum spiked my interest. Nothing I have learnt since has made me think we would prosper from jacking it all in.

I have tried to understand what would be better, but I have found nothing really. Unless of course you believe in the prospect of ripping up regulations with regards to civil, workers and environmental rights to be more competitive on a global stage?  I can’t comprehend how that might end economic inequality.

Doubling Down

The Leavers I know who have doubled down over this, don’t want to debate it and often get narked when questioned about what it is they are afraid of. They appear trapped in a psychological condition where it is better to keep the fantasy going rather than accept that they might have invested in bullshit.

It feels a bit like those people who invested in the BIT currency, OneCoin. The ones who choose to believe they have a pile of money despite the owner of the company disappearing off the face of the earth. Better to keep the fantasy rather than deal with reality.

As humans, we all think we are good judges of character and are nobody’s fool. It is only when we get caught out by our own failings it becomes problematic. It becomes easier to deny the truth when we have invested heavily in the lie. I am something expert as I once did it when I embarked on a relationship with a raging narcissist.

So, either I have invested too much emotional energy in believing that leaving the EU is a damaging thing to do, or Leavers have. There is a difference in that I believe I have invested a lot of time in fact checking. No leavers I know, appear to have done the same but they can shout a lot.

Posting memes from Leave. EU and sharing Breitbart videos is just engaging in meaningless nonsense and is not a serious argument.

In Summary

So, in summary, I don’t have the answers to the woes of the Labour Party and how they can start finding round pegs for round holes. What I do think I know is that if you pummel the masses with incendiary messages and create fear, they are like putty in your hands.

It is not new, Goebbels utilised it 90 odd years ago. The methods have been fine-tuned of course but Dominic Cummings and his team have used the same methods since 2016.

I am not sure how you counter something so successful without beating them at their own game?

2 Replies to "Where do Labour Go From Here?"

  • Trevor
    December 18, 2019 (11:09 pm)

    I think your conclusion is right Bob, the only way out is to play them at their own game. Would labour have done better just repeating parrot fashion something like ‘Brexit will be a disaster’ or something? They couldn’t have done much worse.

    Like you, I’ve read a number of commentaries as to where it all went wrong for Labour. Obviously lots of fingers pointed at JC. Their overly complex manifesto was another thing. People don’t have the time to imagine what a re-nationalised rail service would be like and (as you say) bizarrely they just didn’t want to contemplate the selling off of the NHS. (even though that’s what’s going to happen) albeit most likely by stealth bit by bit.

    To me the main issue seems to be that Labour were unclear about their position on Brexit. Personally, I bought the re-negotiate then have another referendum gig but it’s nothing like as catchy as ‘Get Brexit Done’, even Labour’s position took a long time to reach and clearly our friends in the north saw it more as a Brexit referendum than an election.

    In that respect the Tory’s played it well. They split the Remain vote just nicely and also cornered the Labour party. Two birds with one stone. I remember at one point arguments being put for a second referendum that broke down the different ‘Leave’ positions and had a clear ‘Remain’ option (thereby splitting the leave vote). Alas it never came to pass. The fact that a brexit agenda obtained less than 50% this time around suggests that a straightforward brexit referendum would have seen the UK remain.

    Sadly I do think parliament was ever so close to a second referendum and I wonder what would have happened if Labour had approved one of May’s deals (with conditions, or pushed stronger for the a referendum to sanction it). Things would have still gone belly up and Labour could have ridden in one a white horse. Now we’ll never have that option. The UK will most likely leave with a no deal, bringing disadvantage and unemployment in huge swathes all across the UK, but extreme wealth to those at the top who can cream off the cash.

    I was trying to play out scenarios where when this happens, whether those who voted Tory then feel ripped off/conned and rebel. In reality though that’ll never happen as the media will always be able to demonise the Labour leadership and even people on zero hour contracts living in cardboard boxes and eating old pizza out of a bin will still vote conservative as they perceive themselves as being in the Bullingdon club. Strange times.

  • Bob
    December 19, 2019 (7:39 am)

    Great comments Trev, I agree wholeheartedly.

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