The anti-climactic reveal of the Labour manifesto last confirmed to many of us a suspicion that we would see Corbyn’s Labour party return to the economic tribalism that forced Britain to its knees in the late 1970s. It appears that, with their latest tax-and-spend manifesto, Jeremy Corbyn and his self-confessed Marxist partner-in-crime, John McDonnell, have sought to challenge Marty McFly and Doc Brown for the title of ‘most famous time travelling duo’ with a nationalisation fetish that would cause the public balance sheet to rival that of wartime Britain.
In short, their policies are both uncosted and totally unnecessary – hurting taxpayers both short and long-term. Strangely, however, the policies of the manifesto have been received relatively well by voters. So why the poor national polling? The easy answer is, of course, Corbyn’s leadership which superficially seems to be the primary source of their woes. If only… Corbyn has proven himself a convenient straw-man of Labour’s electoral failure, but the party’s problems run far deeper and will take much more than a ‘changing of the guard’ to alleviate.
The current plight of Labour can be correlated with the flatlining of its (now) historic core vote – the hard working and patriotic working-classes who now – according to polls – support by a significant majority, Theresa May and the Conservatives. By all accounts, these people stand to gain the most on strictly economic terms from the Corbynite pledge – however, polls tell us an entirely different story. Could it be that we now live in a post-class society defined more by cultural and social issues as opposed to the historically dominant left/right economic paradigm? The Conservatives seem to think so and as such, have successfully moulded their once-Thatcherite platform to the light of the now dominant Nationalism/Globalism political continuum.
Labour have utterly miscalculated this political shift, and it shows. The traditional Labour working-class vote has been on a sharp downward trajectory ever since the quasi-religious ascendency of a one Anthony Charles Lynton Blair, or Tony Blair to those who consider him sufficiently in-touch enough for a normal name. It puzzles me that the Church of Blairism continues to enjoy an enthusiastic congregation despite the great damage he did to the party’s reputation.
Labour must deal with two distinct problems if it values its future existence. Firstly, they must recognise the problem of historically being the party that through the Blairite infatuation with mass-immigration, has irreversibly transformed those working-class communities that have been haemorrhaging support to UKIP over the last 15 years. The valid concerns that working people have towards high levels of immigration has too long been ignored by a snobbish orthodoxy within the party that immigration can only be a good thing because it makes a net economic contribution.
Secondly, they must move away from the snobbish, anti-patriotic sentiments of many of their spokespeople. Whether it be Emily Thornberry turning up her nose at the patriotism of the English working-class, John McDonnel’s ‘honouring’ of Republican terrorists or Diane Abbot’s remark that ‘white people love playing divide and rule’, the Labour party has an undeniable image problem, and one that will not go so easily ignored in an increasingly aesthetically focused political world.
The great tragedy is that these things should be an easy fix, yet Labour refuses to register them as a problem. Sadly, for Labour, this election will not be decided on a faceless contest of policy against policy. It’s efforts to divert the public consciousness away from the real issues in this election – leadership, Brexit and immigration – will ultimately prove futile on June 8th. Never have the Conservative Party been such the obvious choice for all Britain.