Labour’s latest PPB – Infantile policy-light stupidity that should have Nigel Farage sniggering into his beer3
May 9, 2014 by Paul Goldsmith
There’s many things I could say about the latest Labour Party Political broadcast. I could say that it is just a bit of ‘banter’ within the Westminster political village. I could say that it attempts to honestly differentiate between the approaches of the Labour party in opposition and the Conservative-led coalition. I could say that it reminds voters of some of the more controversial policies the Coalition has pushed through. I could say that it reminds voters of the differing backgrounds of the leadership teams of the two main parties. Or I could say that it is infantile ‘dog-whistle’ politics that consists of no policy suggestions from the Labour Party apart from the normal insistence that someone should be blamed and ostracized for the circumstances in which they were born in a craven attempt to remind the 35% of the electorate that is all they need for a majority that ‘One-nation Labour’ doesn’t include anyone who has been, is, or ever wants to be successful.
I imagine Nigel Farage must be chuckling once again into his beer as the main political parties completely ignore those people who have little reason to vote for them but plenty of reasons to vote for a protest party such as his. There is a connection here to Farage. Instead of challenging him on policies, the mainstream parties have resorted to trying to shut him up by shouting ‘racism’ at him. This video shows that Labour doesn’t feel the need to campaign on policies – merely sling silly mud on the basis of the circumstances of other people’s birth.
The Labour party at the moment has two sides to it. The one side of it is genuinely starting to come forward with policies that can help the ‘hardworking people’ they mention at the end of this video. I have talked about one of them this week. Then there is the other side, which wants to punish hardworking people if they happen to have a posh accent or if they have been a little bit too successful. It is infantile and divisive and in the end, possibly, economically self-defeating.
I happen to like Ed Miliband’s distinction between predators and producers in capitalism. It happens to be ideologically consistent (for those of you who like a bit of political ideology), with the social democratic ideal that capitalism is the best way to create wealth but it should be accommodated without excessive exploitation of workers and consumers. But how Ed Miliband can claim, as he did the other day, that he has more ‘intellectual self-confidence’ than David Cameron, yet allow himself to be associated with stuff like this party political broadcast, is beyond me.
At the moment, I feel it is evidence once again that they are aiming purely at the possibility of a “core vote” electorate. The people who voted for them at the last election + those who didn’t as they were so alienated by Gordon Brown + disillusioned left-win Lib Dem voters = 35% which could even be enough of a majority.
But here’s my question – to govern with a majority based upon 35% of the vote of the electorate whilst calling yourself a “One-Nation Party”? Does that strike anyone else as contradictory?
Well yes – I hadn’t seen this clip before and actually I quite enjoyed it. It’s a bit of fun really – but with a serious and worthwhile reminder to people about the nature of the current government.
There’s no legal, or any other kind of requirement that every party political broadcast should contain serious and positive policy suggestions – making fun of your opponents and using satire (albeit pretty unsubtle) is a perfectly legitimate campaigning method. Obviously there is also a time and a place when political parties should make their actual proposals.
What you seem to really object to is the return to the ‘politics of envy’ that Tony Blair rejected in his drive towards ‘middle’ England that won him landslide victories. You suggest with great indignation that Labour are ‘insisting’ in some way that “someone should be blamed and ostracized for the circumstances in which they were born” – so let’s de-code that a little. The “circumstances in which they were born” is a coy way of saying inheriting a multi-million pound fortune/an aristocratic title – or perhaps just having parents that could and wanted to afford to pay for you to be educated privately among the most privileged 5% of the population. “BLAMED AND OSTRACIZED”!? is that a joke? It’s about as absurd as the headmaster of Wellington College moaning that the top universities are discriminating against students from private schools – lets look at the stats shall we? I went to a supposedly ‘progressive university (UCL) and in both social situations and in seminars I was frequently the only person who had been to a state school – never mind a comprehensive. How much more true is this of Oxford and Cambridge, Durham and Bristol? It’s a fairly banal but factual point that there are more old Etonians in the current cabinet than there are women – more multi-millionaires and more heirs to a baronetcy than there are women. The current government looks more aristocratic than some from the 19th Century. Even the Labour party have plenty of privately educated people at the top (and always have for that matter) – for example Tristram Hunt is not exactly being ‘blamed and ostracised’. The new Labour candidate for Finchley and Golders Green is young, female, (that’s two ticks from me), and privately educated at South Hampstead School for Girls (oh well – I’ll still vote for her at the next general election).
Does any of this matter? Is it wrong for Labour to remind people about Cameron/Osborne/Johnson in their Bullingdon club days? No – I don’t think so. All this rubbish about the super rich being ‘wealth creators’ who will leave in their droves if they get taxed a little bit more, or are forced to pay and treat their employees properly, is a successful way of justifying ever more astonishing redistributions of wealth towards the top few who run the system. The gap between the richest and poorest is still growing (as it did under the last Labour govt) as you well know – and so is the differential between the lowest paid and the highest paid in many organisations. And as for people being “blamed and ostracised” let’s talk about benefit scroungers, immigrants (i.e.health tourists and terrorists) – the idle poor and brown skinned people who wear funny clothes. The right wing press (i.e. over 80% of newspaper sales) certainly know how to keep the focus of the population on the real villains.
I would like to see Labour campaigning on more positive issues and promoting more state school educated people and women – but in the mean time the people of this country need to wake up. There are way more than 35% of the electorate who are voting against their own interests if they vote Tory. How any woman could want to vote for them just leaves me in a state of disbelief and despair! If you don’t like the idea of Labour forming a majority with a core vote of 35% then we need some sort of proportional representation element mixed in with a system that still allows an MP to represent a local constituency. Obviously the situation will change again if Scotland goes it’s own way.
By the way – I’ll be voting Green in the elections next week
You’re right about the election system being a cause of the some of the problems of UK politics at the moment. I would also add that all of the mainstream parties have a problem with being led by groups of people who have done little or nothing outside politics. I wish there were a wider variety of people who had worked in the real world – teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs etc – people who had “lived the pain” of the life that the politicos can only say they “feel”. There are one or two in the current cabinet who have actually started businesses, creating jobs and taking risks, which I think is helpful, and then there are people like Sarah Woolaston, who was a Doctor and is now a voluble back-bencher who will probably never get a ministerial appointment because she won’t toe the political line.
In the States there is a furore over an article written by Tal Fortgang of Princeton who was fed up of being asked to ‘check his privilege’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-echochambers-27287402) and I write on my about page about the need for me to be constantly checking mine, but the real point I wanted to make with my blog was about the paucity of political debate. Too many people telling others they shouldn’t be allowed to speak as they are racist, or that they shouldn’t be allowed to run the country as they were born in lucky circumstances – when I would like a proper debate on policy. It’s the laziness of the “Tories are toffs” strategy I don’t like, plus the lack of intellectual coherence of “One Nation Labour” being so happy to create divisions in society.
I’m certainly not saying that anyone should have their freedom of speech curtailed – even paranoid racists should probably be allowed to spout their rubbish – but it’s important that they are opposed and argued against. It’s a bit of a problem that the vast majority of the press in this country is waging a covert, and sometimes overt, campaign to whip up moral panic about immigrants, muslims and lazy poor people in general.
Neither do I think that anyone “shouldn’t be allowed to run the country as they were born in lucky circumstances” – but clearly I am saying that I would prefer it if practically every walk of life (except football) wasn’t dominated by such people. The people who govern us should be more like the people they govern – 95% of us went to state schools – 50% of us are female – what percentage of the current government fall into either of these categories?
The world of classical music is less critical than who represents us and governs us perhaps, but it still worries me that Gove has cut funding for local music education projects and subsidised instrumental lessons. Is it any wonder that since the BBC Young Musician of the Year competition began 36 years ago (in 1978) there has only been 1 (one!) winner who attended a state school?
I want to live in a country which is moving closer towards being some form of meritocracy rather than moving ever further away from it – as we so obviously are. You can make a contribution to that ever dwindling ambition no matter what background you were born into – but the idea that the current crop of aristocratic public schoolboy Tories wants to reduce the gap between rich and poor and create a genuine meritocracy is utterly laughable – they want to preserve the privileges enjoyed by themselves and their friends – and in this sense then, their background is absolutely relevant to making the case that people shouldn’t vote for them.