Friday 24 February 2017

Copeland Marks Another Milestone In Labour's Decline

The conclusion that can be drawn from yesterday's by-elections in Stoke and Copeland is that the Labour electoral coalition of bourgeois radicalism and working class labourism has reached the end of the road. It survived for over a century, which is not bad going when you think about it, but it has now run against the buffers.

So long as both sides took something out of the alliance, both were happy with it. The middle class could pontificate about internationalism and they could see their social policies enacted into law, whilst the working class had a party that kept the wages up and the management down. So long as there was a balance of forces both Labour wings kept each other more or less in check,  and the party shuffled on.

That balance has been upset by changes within the party which led to it becoming the voice of the local government employed polyocracy over the past few decades, a trend that accelerated as Labour in government did nothing to ensure that traditional working class jobs were protected.  

What Labour was good at was defending welfare, which is great if you are as disabled and elderly as I am, but most people are neither elderly nor disabled and they will not vote for a one-issue welfare party. Working people want jobs, and they do not want McJobs, either, no matter how well paid those jobs are. That is why McDonald's pays above minimum wage, but still cannot retain workers for very long.

Neither do they want jobs that involve them changing their culture, which is what Labour wants them to do. They want skilled industrial jobs that the wimps in suits cannot do, or unskilled jobs that involve heavy physical effort, which again the wimps in suits cannot do.

Neither wing of today's Labour speaks for the people who want such jobs, as they are both two cheeks of the same middle class arse. The so-called right which we call Blairite for short is the voice of those who are comfortable with the globalised world, but so is the Corbynite left. The difference is that the latter wants to spend more on foreign aid abroad and welfare at home, but neither appeal particularly to the millions who want the well-paid industrial work that they can take pride in doing.

Looking across the Atlantic, Donald Trump has probably set the stage for Britain's future as well as that of his own country. Nobody believed that the old industrial states could ever ever vote anything other than Democrat until Trump scooped them up in November 2016. The Democrats, like Labour in this country, wanted people to change, to become middle class, to get more money. Trump told the industrial working class that they could stay industrial working class and have more jobs to choose from as well as money in their pockets.

His protectionist policies are basically a watered-down version of the Alternative Economic Strategy that Labour's left argued for in the 1970s. Across the English Channel, Marine le Pen is advocating a souped-up version of those same policies: protectionism, an end to free movement of labour and state direction of large parts of the economy. 

Labour could move quickly and reinvent itself as a similar party - when all is said and done, a sizeable chunk of what Trump and le Pen advocate is actually old Labour left policy as well - but they won't. What Labour will do is scream fascist and waycist and do nothing that will get the party out of the hole that it has dig for itself.

The Tories under Theresa May could very well do that, and if that happens then Copeland will be the first of a whole slew of Northern English seats that will fall to the newly reinvented Tory Workers' Party.

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