The Left must progress past sanctimony or lose its working-class support

28 Feb 2017

 A rather distasteful factor endemic to modern left-wing elites is the fallacious assumption of a monopoly on morality; a state of mind that asserts that the Left being morally superior is beyond doubt and not even up for discussion. The result? Dogmatic defence of poor policy and dishonest narratives. This poses an existential threat to the forces of the Left in Europe and America- if this condition persists, they could find the working class completely disillusioned and their traditional electoral strongholds falling to the ever-growing Right.

 

As in many cases, this is a result of misguided self-interest. If the Left can be all but codified as the permanent moral high ground, then all counterarguments can be shut down purely on the basis that they are counter-Left. The University of Surrey was recently exposed for passing out leaflets advertising a meeting to give advice on how to “deal with the right wing in the classroom”. Yep. If you are at Surrey University, and you’re not left wing, your professors see you as a problem by virtue of not being left wing. This is bigotry, plain and simple. It is a contempt and intolerance of an entire half of the political spectrum with the aim of converting young students, and none of us should be content with it.

 

Arguably the most prevalent manifestation of this baseless sanctimony is the establishment of a progressive narrative and a dogmatic loyalty to it even if it comes at the expense of the people you represent, necessitating dishonesty. Take the issue of free movement. The Left has argued that immigration and multiculturalism is a morally good thing, from Democrats in the US calling for illegal immigrants to be naturalised to Merkel’s open-door policy for refugees. This is the narrative. When Diane Abbott was asked to show if mass immigration was good for Britain, she deflected, saying that mass immigration is intrinsically linked to being in the single market, which is good for the economy and therefore vital. She cannot say that open door immigration by itself is good for her constituents, because she knows it isn’t, so her enormous reaching to defend it betrays her motivations as being for anti-border-control virtue signalling. She is dogmatically and ideologically committed to mass immigration as a form of aggressive tolerance (and because the Right typically takes the opposite position), as is the entirety of Momentum, but must defend it covertly as she is aware that it does not benefit her country.

 

Establishment of narrative, dishonest defence thereof and a disregard for the damage the narrative does to constituents. An easier example is perhaps found in the refugee crisis. The Left sees the moral duty to all refuges as paramount, not least because to not aid them could be perceived as racist, and so critics are shouted down as xenophobic: for example, the Germans did not report on the coordinated strings of sexual assaults on the eve of 2015.

 

Why does this lead to the Left losing vast swathes of support? Because it’s the working class that loses out the most when the Left makes sacrifices to virtue-signalling narratives. Amidst similarly minded protests, Corbyn demanded May refuse Donald Trump a state visit on the basis that his “Muslim ban” was racist. Trump has a strange affinity with Brexit Britain, and it appears he’s going to offer the UK an enticing trade deal. Trump is very tough to predict, but he’s made efforts to do everything he said he would, however distasteful. This would obviously be fantastic for the UK economy, and even the proposal alone is putting more pressure on the EU to play ball. Insulting Trump would put all of this in jeopardy, leaving Britain isolated and suffering harsh economic penalties for daring to leave the EU; the brunt of which would be felt mostly, as always, by the working class. The Left is more interested in virtue signalling by opposing Trump than swallowing pride and doing what’s best for their country. May couldn’t have summed it up better by saying “He (Corbyn) can lead a protest, I’m leading the country”. Pragmatism versus dogmatic narratives.

 

What these examples show is that the working class cannot trust the Left to govern in their interest, and that the Left would rather defend points of dubious moral purity than legislate responsibly. This is seen in Labour haemorrhaging support to UKIP over their refusal to admit to the negative effects of mass immigration and the continuing rise of le Pen in France.

 

An additional factor is the disconnection between the working class and the Left-Liberal elite. Imagine that you are living under the poverty line with a family depending on you. From the right, you hear UKIP braying about how the EU is contributing to your hardships through the depression of wages resulting from mass immigration or some other avenue. From the Left, you have university students protesting about staying in the EU to keep their Erasmus programmes or Eddie Izzard claiming we have a duty to remain for the global good. Which side would you give your vote to if you could not afford to buy your children shoes?

Not only does this behaviour from the Left drive people away, it pushes people directly to the right wing: it becomes the only place where opposing mass immigration is even tolerated, the EU can be criticised and political correctness circumvented. The problem of Momentum within Labour is perhaps reflected in academia: a deafeningly loud minority of the electorate forms a chauvinistic majority within universities. They display the lowest election turnout, and drive older people towards the right (who have the highest election turnout) with often violent protesting and demands for free speech to be bent to allow for their feelings.

 

All of this leaves the Left in a spiral. The current system is that if they lose (which they have been across the board since the decimation of Labour UK in 2015) then it’s not a problem with the message or the ideology, but the people being wrong. This is shown by Labour in the aftermath of 2015 saying they clearly didn't reach enough people, Juncker saying the problem is not with the elites it's with the people or Hilary calling the people who disagreed with her a basket of deplorables. The left must move from lofty rhetoric to pragmatic action and return to its core values of defending the working class of the country it represents first and foremost or risk even more dramatic loss.

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