How the Left Lost Its Mind | Dr. Rakib Ehsan

Even though I traditionally identify with the Left, I cannot say I have time for the excesses of contemporary British leftism.

The obsession with racial identity politics; a contemptuous attitude towards working-class voters in the provinces; tendencies to express sympathy with authoritarian regimes whilst talking down the UK at any given opportunity; endless virtue-signalling on important cultural matters such as immigration, crime, and terrorism. Like many other patriotic, communitarian voters who traditionally vote for the Labour Party, I simply cannot relate to this kind of infantile, student-activist approach to conventional politics.

Following the electoral catastrophe suffered last December 2019, where Labour experienced its worst General Election defeat in terms of seats since 1935, a period of serious introspection was required. Instead, there has been a level of denialism which would be laughable if it was not so tragic. This has included Jeremy Corbyn’s idiotic line of “we won the argument”, with the likes of the incredibly witless Richard Burgon and sensationally boring Rebecca Long-Bailey arguing that it was Labour’s manifesto which was not the issue, but rather the ‘messaging’.

Labour has its fair share of issues – one being that too many in influential positions are unable to grasp the severity of the problem at hand. The Labour leadership contest descended into a farcical virtue-signalling competition over transgender rights and gender self-identification. While such topics of debate may go down an absolute treat in the chattering-class Guardianista circles of North London, they are unlikely to regain the trust and attention of traditional blue-collar voters in Bassetlaw, Bolsover, and Blyth Valley. Demonstrating the extent to which the party is divorced from many voters in former coal and steel territory, the frontrunner for the party leadership, Sir Keir Starmer, has suggested that Labour should continue to present a positive case for freedom of movement.

There has also been an absence of leadership when it comes to condemning the reaction of the nastier elements of the British left to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Far-left ideologues have peddled the anti-government conspiracy theory that the Johnson administration was exploiting the coronavirus outbreak in order to ‘get rid’ of Britain’s elderly, disabled, and immunocompromised. Others rejoiced as PM Johnson announced that he had tested positive for COVID-19 – with some wishing death upon him. It is worth remembering that the PM is a man who is currently expecting a child with his fiancée. Following the news that the PM’s Chief Adviser Dominic Cummings was self-isolating with symptoms in keeping with a COVID-19 infection, Novara Media’s Ash Sarkar took to Twitter to make a snide comment. Whether it is the peddling of outrageous anti-government conspiracy theories or wishing harm on those who hold different political beliefs, there are notable elements of the British left which approach politics in a mean-spirited manner. So much for a kinder, gentler politics.

The mentality that the Conservative Party is inherently evil, and by default all those who offer it their electoral support are so too, is doing Labour no favours at all. And it is a genuine problem when the Tories are registering a vote share of 54% in the polls – in the middle of a national health crisis brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic. Of course, there is the possibility that the public is rallying around the ruling party, under these troubling and challenging circumstances. But the reality of the matter is, we have witnessed major forms of state intervention over the coronavirus outbreak – including the introduction of a comprehensive wage aid regime. Upon announcing £330 billion worth of state-backed loans to help prevent a national economic collapse, Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged to “do whatever it takes” to keep British businesses and households solvent. Sunak also thanked the trade union movement for its co-operation in helping with the design of the coronavirus financial response. The ‘nasty party’ tag traditionally attached to the Tories is rapidly losing its potency – especially when one considers the growing forms of nastiness which are becoming an established feature of the contemporary British left.

If recent electoral performances and post-election polling is anything to go by, the political Left is increasingly bereft of any real understanding of the priorities of the average British voter; with Labour increasingly providing the impression of being utterly detached from reality. The political psychosis lies in the fact that too many within the Labour Party are beyond convinced that their policy ideas and vision for the country are bang on the money – and are losing their mind over the fact that they are not in power.

The contemporary British Left is drowning fast in the pool of irrelevance. Ideological purity is one hell of a drug, and the side effects are being laid bare for all to see.

Dr. Rakib Ehsan is a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. Follow him on Twitter: @rakibehsan

Photo by Andy Worthington on Flickr.

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