« Ideology vs the triple lock | Main | What football teaches us »

June 28, 2020



"Lewis Baston argues that many "red wall" seats (a phrase unheard before 2019) are "in fact nothing more than traditional marginal seats.""

Yeah, right. Seats that have been Labour since the year dot are in fact 'marginals'. Thats just trying to explain away that you have abandoned your traditional voters and they have finally cottoned on. Does a marginal not have to change hands on a reasonably regular basis? Flop with the flow of the country as a whole? If seats that have been Tory for ever had suddenly gone Labour would you be explaining that as 'just some marginal seats changing hands' or as a seismic change in the political tectonic plates?


Looks to me like Lewis Baston has a point.
But he doesn't claim it for all those northern seats that changed hands, but around half of them.
"The anomaly in these seats was less the Conservative win this time, and rather more the failure to switch to the Tories in 2010 and 2015 as they had done on most previous occasions when there had been a change of government. ...

...Places such as Bury South, Bolton North East, Colne Valley, High Peak, Vale of Clwyd, Keighley, Lincoln and Stockton South were all Conservative seats in 1992 and most of them were in 2015 as well. Darlington and Hyndburn, which were last Tory in 1987, the last time that the party won a double-digit victory, belong in this company. Although there are a couple of arguable cases, I reckon 20 of the Conservative gains in the imaginary wall were in the ‘perennial marginal’ or ‘marginal disguised by the fact that the Tories haven’t won an election comfortably since 1987’ category."


Have you ever considered that the left's obsession with identity politics and grievance narratives without reconciling the obvious inherent contradictions of those positions effectively tee'd up those culture wars? The 'nationalists' are hideously racist, reactionary and unwelcoming, but for some incredulous reason the UK still managed to attract unprecedented levels of net immigration in last 50 years!


"But on the other hand, it refutes the optimism of some earlier Marxists who thought that class consciousness would grow endogenously. It doesn't."

I strongly disagree - in fact it strikes me as imminent. However since the "left" offers nothing but further globalisation and various dubious insistences that the punters Have Too Much this is seeking alternative outlets - it's notable that US right pundit Tucker Carlson resembles in tone Tony Benn more than Ronald Reagan.

I suspect the only things standing between a united working class are - from the right a belief that hyperauthoritarian corporate hegemony is compelled of them by the "woke" rather than an innate and accurate recognition of their class interests and the fervent misapprehension that the above reactionaries constitute a "left" rather than something akin to neofascism and - from the left a residual decency that prevents us from appreciating the fundamentally bourgeois nature of identitarian neoliberalism and the ways in which it seeks to delegitimise us and the gains of the democratic age.


"The 'nationalists' are hideously racist, reactionary and unwelcoming"

One might further note that this apparent slide into "reaction" has occurred across the developed world - which suggests either that discrete proletariats universally decided for reasons of spite or whatever to turn "reactionary" or that the globalised bourgeoisie, with the explicit support of mainstream (and otherwise) left currents, have been correctly identified by the punters as being up to no good.

Andrew Curry

@perplexed. The “culture wars” are the outcome of a long slow secular shift in values that’s been going on since the 1970s at least and is now about half way through. They’ve almost certainly been reinforced by the nature of our economy, now dominated by services and knowledge businesses. It’s also worth noting that the places that were most hostile to incomers were also the places where fewest incomers settled, which likely increased the polarisation around attitudes to migration.


I think that the distinction is that the socially-conservative attitude has been there much longer than generally recognised. Before YouGov there was much less polling and in particular there weren't the number of polls asking detailed questions about people's social views (as opposed to which party they would vote for); here is Francis Irving from 2016, referencing work by Chris Lightfoot and Tom Steinberg in 2005:


Here, what they call the axis of UKIP is exactly what we recognise as social conservatism. It is quite possible that it was there in 1990 (newspapers tend to have a good sense of the social positioning of their readers even if they cannot quantify it).

So, why has it taken 30 years for it to become apparent, I think there are several reasons:

1) The 1990s trashed the tradition that the Tories could be relied on to run the economy well.

2) 1997 was a victory for a very moderate (in economic terms) Labour party which gave them such a large majority that even errors like Iraq were non-fatal.

3) The Tories elected the socially liberal David Cameron as Leader.

4) 2010 was affected by the Crash which reduced the Labour party's reputation for running the economy, but even then Cameron could not gain an overall majority.

5) 2015 was all about the voters punishing the Lib Dems for Coalition, which gave Cameron an overall majority without a significant increase in support.

6) 2017 was mainly about two leaders May and Corbyn, neither of whom inspired, and the hangover of the Brexit vote.

7) 2019 was back to politics as usual, a popular* (and populist) leader of the Tories thrashing the worst Labour leader of modern times. As frequently happens FPTP exaggerates the difference.

I see the politics of the last thirty years as being the pendulum swinging to the socially liberal end. What we have seen in 2019 is it swinging back towards the social conservatives without any mitigating factors to affect it.

*Popular does not mean competent

Ralph Musgrave

I'm much amused by the claim by Perplexed that "nationalists are hideously racist".

Well nationalists (whoever they are) can’t hold a candle to Labour when it comes to racism. Labour’s founder, Keir Hardy, had views on immigration that make UKIP look like pro-immigration enthusiasts. Second, Labour is riddled with anti-semitism.

Third, Labour helped kill a million Muslims in Iraq for no good reason (in contrast to which the BNP opposed that war from day one).

Perhaps the left keeps accusing the right of racism precisely because of the left’s guilty conscience in this connection.

George Carty

Chris: "On top of this, there is the fact that the right (and centre) have no answer to capitalist stagnation. In the 80s, Thatcherites could plausibly tell a large client base 'vote for us and you'll get rich'. Today's Tories can't say that."

If the problem was with the right and centre only, wouldn't Corbyn's Labour have won at least one of the last two elections?

As far as the Red Wall (really the former coal country of England) is concerned it seems like the real issue is that there is no economic solution available. It is cursed by being on the periphery of Europe, while lacking the countervailing advantages found in Europe's other peripheral regions: the oil of Scotland, the timber and hydroelectric resources of Scandinavia, the tourism-attracting climate of southern Europe, or the very low living costs of eastern Europe.

The only thing that Northern England _did_ have going for it was coal, and not only is it now largely exhausted, but it has also fallen out of favour for environmental reasons, blamed first for acid rain and then for climate change.


@ Ralph Musgrave
Modern day is one thing. Plenty of racism amongst the working classes.

However if you're going all the way back to Keir Hardy let's get some perspective? The whole of the political establishment was racist from Churchill all the way down and so as to avoid anachronistic observations there were hardly any Asian or Black population in the UK pre war.
There were rather a lot of Jews though and it was the Tory right and the blackshirts that owned antisemitism not Labour or the left.


"Labour is riddled with anti-semitism."

This is crazed lying that actually is anti-Semetic and meant to foster anti-Semitism. This was the degenerate lie used to ruin Jeremy Corbyn.

Bert Schlitz

Sorry, but their is nothing nationalist about "the right." Most of it is whiny elitist who whore to the global elite, sadly remembering the days of empire, when after Jewish banks printed money to the aristocracy, to find slaves and push science driven products, they could thumb their noses at darkies. That party was going to come to a end as both Marxist and Thule led proto Nazis knew by the end of WWI.

Identity politics is a bourgeoisie creation. They have the liberal capitalism mindset. Conservatives don't want to admit that. Business expansion is numero uno. Selling to darkies and darkies buying is the future.

I hate Cosmo capitalism much like many a leftist before him and it's Jewish debt based ponzi. Ecological and economic will not always get along. Capitalism sold its soul in 1932-33. It stopped playing fair.

Follow the black sun, socialists need to do.

George Carty

Is it me, or does Bert Schlitz sound like a Nazi?

His arguments sound a lot like those Hitler might have used in the 1920s against Gustav Stresemann: that economic progress under capitalism is nothing more than a cruel joke pushed by Jewish propagandists (and that the only true route to prosperity is genocidal expansionist war, although Bert isn't cocky enough to mention that bit).

Robert Mitchell

The plug for Ben Friedman's book keeps getting cited. But Friedman exempts the New Deal, when swing music was king. And in these hard economic times empathy for George Floyd nonetheless found expression. Friedman's rule seems to have large glaring exceptions.


I think there is too much of a tendency by the economics establishment to blame things on austerity - including Brexit. Craft is not really an historian, but an economist that uses long term time series data. An historian would identify deeper and more complex contributing factors, of which austerity and immigration would be two that exacerbated deeper long term trends. More than austerity, I would look at deindustrialisation, a lack of trust in the elite due to perceived repeated failures and broken promises, inequality, and a feeling they are out of touch. Even without austerity, the so-called red wall have watched a long term decline in relative living standards, often as other parts of the country grow ever wealthier- ,or, appear to. They did not feel represented. None of this can be sensibly discussed with rational choice models or econometric time series analysis. You need to go to primary documentation, including unquantifiable evidence.


" . . . the years of economic stagnation caused by the financial crisis and austerity."

Maybe not?

'The first principle is that all forms of economic output – literally all of the goods and services which comprise the ‘real’ economy – are products of energy.
Nothing of any economic value or utility can be supplied without using energy. . . .

If you want a succinct answer to this question, it is that ECoE (the Energy Cost of Energy) is rising, relentlessly and exponentially. The exponential rate of increase in ECoE means that this cannot be cancelled out by linear increases in the aggregate amount of total or gross (pre-ECoE) energy that we can access. The resultant squeeze on surplus energy has been compounded by increasing numbers of people seeking to share the prosperity that this surplus provides.
As a result, prior growth in prosperity per person has gone into reverse. People have been getting poorer in most Western advanced economies (AEs) since the early 2000s. With the same fate now starting to overtake emerging market (EM) countries too, global prosperity has turned down. One way of describing this process is “de-growth”. '

The comments to this entry are closed.

blogs I like

Blog powered by Typepad