I’ve been watching the reaction to the Clacton by-election. What started me thinking was a post on Facebook from someone who is otherwise a Labour party supporter. The message was ‘Tory Scumbags take a kicking.’
But one question I’d like to ask the Labour supporter is, “If people so dislike the Tory Scumbags, if the Tory Scumbags are so out of touch and hated, why didn’t the electorate vote for the obvious opposition party, Labour?
I suspect the question could be answered by pointing at this picture.
I’ve seen it posted half a dozen times and the general consensus of the discussion beneath the picture is that the population of Clacton are a bunch of racist fascist whatever.
But the problem is that in the 2010 General election, 10,799 people voted for Labour. In the by-election only 3,957 did.
It’s a fair guess that the majority of those who switched their vote switched to UKIP. So effectively according to the argument of our friend attacking the Scumbag Tories, Labour is a party that relied on the fascist vote to get anywhere.
Now there’s been a lot of talk and accusations about Fascism and I’m grateful to another friend to posted this by Michael Rosen
“I sometimes fear that people think that fascism arrives in fancy dress worn by grotesques and monsters as played out in endless re-runs of the Nazis. Fascism arrives as your friend. It will restore your honour, make you feel proud, protect your house, give you a job, clean up the neighbourhood, remind you of how great you once were, clear out the venal and the corrupt, remove anything you feel is unlike you…It doesn’t walk in saying, “Our programme means militias, mass imprisonments, transportations, war and persecution.”
It is absolutely true. But the real danger of fascism is it arrives when people lose faith in their politicians because they see them as venal and corrupt (normally because they are, people aren’t stupid). It also comes in when people feel the politicians no longer listen to them. Again this is normally because the Politicians are no longer listening to them.
Fascism is fought most efficiently by having open, honest, political discussion when everybody feels their opinions are respected.
So when someone affiliated however loosely to the Labour party starts slagging off the Scumbag Tories as being corrupt and in it only for what they can get for themselves, most normal people just nod quietly and try and remember the names of the five labour MPs jailed for corruption.
There are times when a little humility is called for, just as there are times when a little honesty is called for. Just because you forget to mention the deficit in your speech doesn’t mean that the public are so thick that they’ll not notice.
This is important. A strong, coherent Opposition in parliament that can reach out and listen to all strands of society is important. Indeed it might be more important than the calibre of the government to be honest. The Opposition has to be able to speak for ALL the ignored and marginalised, not merely those whom fit in comfortably with the preconceptions of an isolated liberal elite. (And let’s not forget that this isolated liberal elite is snugly at the top of the heap in all three main parties.)
How did they manage to become so isolated?
I think that previous generations were forced to live more cheek by jowl. Two world wars stirred people up and sent them all over the place alongside people who very much weren’t their type.
But it meant that young men from widely differing backgrounds were properly mixed.
It also meant they were mixed under circumstances where you get to know what people are really like, no matter what drivel they spout in the bar after a couple of drinks.
When some guy picks you out of the mud and slings you over his shoulder and hauls you off to the aid station, you could care less whether he was a Tory Toff or a Maxist troublemaker but only by making the sort of effort you don’t feel up to when you think you’re dying.
But now the right people live in nice areas and make sure their children go to the nice comprehensive schools, so they only make the right friends and go to the right universities before getting a place as an intern in a friend’s office. From there it’s a job as an MP’s research assistant, before they get put forward for a safe seat.
If they’re worried about Fascism then I suggest they get out more. Meet a few ‘bigoted women’ but this time, listen to them.