The left of UK politics has a lot of anger and nowhere to put it, so they’ve turned on themselves. Just look at the Labour Party – the UK’s finest self-loathing political movement. The schism since the 2016 Labour Leadership Election has seen ‘Blairite scum, dirty trot, evil Tory’ aimed at anyone who doesn’t fit this week’s idea of what ‘left’ or ‘Labour’ means.
Labour and the left have turned inwards because they have lost their soul and purpose. Only now are the newest generation starting to experience the same pain that my parents felt when Kinnock lost the 1992 election. The pain of having everything you believe in rejected utterly by the electorate.
‘The echo-chamber of the left’ is a great Orwellian soundbite, but it doesn’t fully grasp the issue at the core of the movement of the left.
The left has become a movement built on self-interest and shame, where every member believes their opinion is the bastion of truth.
When you deviate from the herd you will be attacked. The reason is irrelevant: age, gender, religion, wealth. Take the cap on earnings proposed by Jeremy Corbyn – the politics of envy in a nutshell. If you want to be in the lefty-gang, you’re not allowed to be a big earner, regardless of how you spend it.
This has been on my mind for a while but what prompted me to write this was the reaction towards a young female journalist protesting the Queen Mary University boycott of tabloids such as The Sun. As soon as a young woman says people should have given choice on what they think is worthy of reading, angry old liberal men descend to put her in her place.
The torrid stream of abuse, some of it misogynist, all of it intolerant, exemplifies everything which is wrong with the left in the UK at the moment. We talk of freedom and liberty – but only the freedom to do the things we like to do.
Constant attacks on Laura Kuenssberg, such as calls on left wing social media pages to ‘sack the cow’, are exactly the kind of derogatory treatment of women that the left gets so high and mighty about. Trump’s words are disgusting but those aimed at Angela Eagle, Diane Abbot, Jess Philips seem to be permissible. It’s tough being a woman on the left and even harder if you’re Jewish woman like Luciana Berger.
The left and Labour have a big issue with women. A movement so obsessed with itself that it cannot see its own flaws. How many Labour Prime Ministers have been women? None. How many elected leaders of the party? None. This speaks volumes. It’s nearly 20 years since Blair won a landslide with 101 female Labour MPs and yet none of them have been elected leader.
Somehow people still say the left is the natural home of the young – why on earth should it be? People get enough abuse online for the way they look without being called an ugly virgin for promoting press freedom. The left takes young people for granted, just as it does with ethnic minorities, women and those who are LBGT+ - because they ‘couldn’t possibly vote Conservative’.
Being a lefty is a tough gig. Stick with it, listen, debate, change – but be under no illusion that nobody is welcome in the left’s ranks.
If you’re on the left I warn you not to be a woman, I warn you not to be Jewish, I warn you not to have aspiration, I warn you not to be patriotic, I warn you not to read tabloids, and I warn you not to be young.
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