Representatives of the UK’s Opposition parties are helping Boris Johnson’s fascist version of the Conservatives to stay in power beyond the next election because they are saying the wrong things.
The controversy over violent protests is just one such matter. Labour representatives have been queuing up on both the mass and social media to condemn members of the public who were involving in violence in Bristol on March 21 – buying into the fascist narrative pushed by Priti Patel.
Why aren’t they pointing out that there wouldn’t be any violence at all if the government hadn’t given them a very good reason to protest?
It’s a really simple point but it is far too intelligent a strategy for a nincompoop like Keir Starmer, of course.
I’m saying this in response to the latest Mainly Macro blog piece by Simon Wren-Lewis, who is been providing useful thinking-points for many years.
He’s currently saying Johnson’s fascists are going to win the next election because people have accepted that he had the right strategy for distributing the Covid-19 vaccine and will be happy to believe anything he says about the economic bounce that is certain to happen as most people go back to work.
It won’t matter that economic conditions will not improve to its position before Covid (let alone before the crisis of 2008); people will believe the hype because they want to – and because they don’t know any better.
So Johnson will probably call an election for late 2022 or early 2023, having repealed the Fixed Term Parliaments Act in order to do so. This was a manifesto promise so we know it’s coming anyway.
Professor Wren-Lewis doesn’t want the fascists to win. In fact, he says it is vital that Boris Johnson’s government be removed as soon as possible:
It is an authoritarian government with immense power because of its solid majority, and the longer it stays in power the more difficult it will make the life of any opposition.
And, indeed, the life of ordinary citizens.
But his main idea about how to defeat Johnson is hopeless: he wants “socially liberal” political parties to team up, so that only one candidate is fielded against Johson’s fascists in any constituency. It simply won’t work.
Firstly, Labour voters are still too angry at the Liberal Democrats over that party supporting the Tories into power in 2010. Yes, the Lib Dems have had their arses kicked as a result and are now a minority party in Westminster, but they haven’t “suffered enough”, as the phrase goes, and should be left in the wasteland.
So the two main parties aren’t going to ally, and without that, there’s no point in the others coming in.
Professor Wren-Lewis also makes another grave error of judgement, which is that, under Keir Starmer, Labour is not a “socially liberal” political party. It is strongly right-wing.
On the political compass, Labour would currently appear in the right wing/authoritarian quadrant, slightly to the left of Boris Johnson’s Conservatives. Starmer has spent the last year dragging it there, from its previous position near to the centre but on the left wing/socially liberal side, where Jeremy Corbyn had put it.
Oh, you thought Corbyn had sent Labour to the far left? Go to the back of the class.
The final idea in the Mainly Macro piece is that Opposition parties should be more careful about what they choose to talk about, and how they address those subjects.
Activists are bad judges of what will win an election, he says, and he’s right on this. They want to talk about their pet issues, which are unlikely to be what will win over the left wing authoritarians that Labour needs or the left wing social liberals that the party is currently haemorrhaging.
Professor Wren-Lewis puts forward the very sensible view that Labour – and indeed the Opposition parties as a whole – should remember that winning parties can avoid talking about subjects in an election campaign and still act on them in power:
This point is so obvious to Conservatives that it is second nature. A Conservative party will not campaign on privatising the NHS but that does not stop them doing it when in office.
Election campaigns, which for oppositions last five years, involve promoting your most popular policies. For successful Labour oppositions that is going to involve left wing economics policies but not socially liberal policies.
Again, for Labour, the problem is that the party no longer has any popular policies – or any policies at all; Starmer threw them all out after he got himself elected leader.
Like a proverbial headless chicken, he chases whatever seems to be popular at the moment in a blind panic to find something that will reflect well on him.
And he is plummeting in the polls because he is trying to be too much like the Tories when he finds such an issue.
Look at Covid-19 – he became ridiculed as the Tories’ yes-man.
On the right to protest, his party has made itself vulnerable to accusations of supporting violent lawbreakers when Labour representatives could have avoided the claim simply by pointing out that the Tories have incited violent protest by introducing draconian new criminal laws alongside legislation to ban protest altogether, in any meaningful way.
So Johnson is winning because Starmer is simply too stupid to govern.
That will remain the situation until Labour gets a new leader – of the left – who does what needs to be done, rather than what they want to do.
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