Having been thoroughly embarrassed in the recent general election—the shadow foreign secretary lost to a 20 year old from the Scottish National Party who will be the youngest member of parliament since the 17th century—Britain’s Labour Party is attempting to diagnose what went wrong.
Everyone has a preferred way of explaining or dealing with the results. If you’re Russell Brand, Britain’s Che Guevara in leather pants, you run away like a dejected teenager once you discover how many of “the people” disagree with you. If you’re former Labour leader Neil Kinnock, you mutter haughtily about “self-deluded” voters.
And that’s part of the problem, if not the entire thing. Left-wing parties slice up the population, appoint themselves surrogates of certain segments of it, and, without consulting anybody, convince themselves they know what’s best for every member of the coalition. Then, when people don’t vote the way they want, or say the things they’re supposed to say, the party denigrates the population as dupes and bigots and turncoats.
One left-leaning blogger, Ben Cobley, thinks Labour’s problem is the identity politics on which the party has based its entire strategy:
You might see what is happening here: that for a strong tendency within Labour (in London in particular) ethnic minority voters count as ‘us’ while white people are regarded with suspicion as a latent, potential UKIP-supporting ‘them’. We draw ourselves around our core, and this creates our opposition. Labour’s tendency to associate itself with ethnic minorities and others as separate groupings which it specifically claims to represent (for example through ethnic minority, women’s and ‘LGBT’ Manifestos – while the Conservatives produced an ‘English Manifesto’) sends messages not just to those groups but to those who don’t qualify. Those messages say “we represent these people” but not you.
This is why UKIP has been able to draw votes away from the mainstream parties. They appeal both to disaffected Tories and white working-class leftists who feel Labour has disowned them. Cobley thinks the SNP is popular because its identity politics is national rather than racial. In other words, it’s inclusive of all its citizens:
We need to get rid of some sacred cows – open up the party, stop offering favouritism to certain groups and start to embrace equality rather than its opposite. […] I seriously doubt if the party is even ready to start questioning these things, let alone embarking on such changes, but this is the challenge in my view.
I know many young, left-leaning Britons who agree. Alas, they still appear hopelessly outnumbered by their side’s radical social-justice wing. But now, especially given the open lunacy in our universities, I’m finally seeing pushback against identity politics in both the U.S. and UK.