How much further does the left wing have to plummet before that emancipating, rock bottom realization sets in: the depths have been plunged, and there is no further substratum to be drilled into.
It’s a muddied, stickily dragging vortex in which the left now finds itself — sparse of reason or popular support. Its only course of action now might be to fall unconscious and wait for the next generation to revive it. Then perhaps a realigned version will find itself spluttering back to life, ready to steady itself and contribute again to meaningful discussion.
But we are nowhere near that point of rehabilitation yet, so what does the left look like at the moment, as it swashes broken around its sluggish whirlpool?
First, it is censorious. It has painted itself into a corner, from which it can no longer address decisive matters such as immigration, integration and Islam. Having thoughtlessly yelled at all its enemies that they are racists if they dare to pick up on these topics, the left itself has no point of entry into such discussions. This would suit it fine if its smothering tactics worked endlessly on everyone, but they don’t. Since the left got hooked up to life support its opposition seems to care less about arbitrary taboos, so all these issues are now up for grabs. To everyone except the left, that is, whose illiberal shutdowns are now coming back to bite it on the bum. With every exhortation to open borders and promote integration over assimilation (as London mayor Sadiq Khan advocated recently in New York) the left appeases itself, and alienates everyone else. Rigid and inflexible, like the border controls it hates, the left will in the end have censored no-one but its own acolytes.
Witness Barack Obama’s outright refusal to use a term like ‘radical Islamic terrorism’ when talking about that very thing. Obama has stated: “Calling a threat by a different name does not make it go away. This is a political distraction.”
The distraction is all his own though, as he does indeed call a threat by a different, dishonest name. It’s a patronizing attempt at misdirection, and it’s pernicious.
This censoriousness is linked to a second problem: the left has become debased by an extreme form of identity politics. While this way of approaching life might be familiar to millennial gender studies students and those who have to suffer their witless PC claptrap, to the vast majority of right-thinking people identity obsession is an alien way of relating to the world.
In daily life we are no more defined by sexual preferences and ethnicity than we are by what size shoes we wear. In fact, identity political thinking runs counter to most people’s common sense way of approaching others — to judge them on the things they say and do, not on their family tree or who they want to have sex with.
Such peculiar obsessions, which have encroached on the mainstream from the radical left, are a turnoff to voters.
Then there’s the feeling that the left in its modern form is sharply elitist. The arrogant clique at Labour’s helm sneer down at those the party once sought to represent. Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, the shadow attorney general, recently pleaded with dissatisfied Jewish Labour members: “Please don’t go. Don’t leave me here, don’t leave me locked in a room with Essex man.”
When she says “Essex man”, what she means is normal, working class people.
Earlier in the year Andy Burnham, campaigning to become mayor of Manchester, came out with this utter nonsense: “It’s hard growing up in the north: if you say you want to be a doctor, lawyer or MP you get the mickey taken out of you.”
It’s mindblowing bullshit — completely false and just incredibly condescending — a pointless lie that people in the North can’t fathom the idea of being ambitious and getting a good job.
And in the US, Hillary Clinton labels tens of millions of Trump supporters, people who have committed the infra dig violation of choosing her rival in a two horse race, “a basket of deplorables.”
Who are these snobs, disdainfully writing off vast sections of the populations they seek to serve? Weren’t their parties established specifically to unite and empower working communities, who lacked an organized platform from which to stand up for their rights and freedoms? It seems now that there are some postcodes which aren’t good enough for the parties of the left anymore.
This leads to the next point, which is that the left is brazenly hypocritical. The Labour party is currently putting great emphasis on opposing Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to bring back grammar schools, on the grounds that selective schooling is unfair.
Yet senior shadow cabinet members Diane Abbott and Shami Chakrabarti both sent their children to expensive, fee-paying schools, and millionaire Seamus Milne, Labour’s sanctimonious spin doctor, sent his children to grammar schools instead of his nearby comprehensives.
The lack of self awareness in their outright double standards is horribly revealing, while the message is unmistakable: we believe in selective education for our children, but not for yours.
Lastly, one of the most insidious and unpleasant problems the left has is in its use of slurs, gutter tactics and downright nastiness to discredit and attack its opponents.
Go up against the left on matters of immigration and you can expect to be labelled as a bigot and a racist. In fact, just voting to leave the EU was enough for many intolerant left wing commentators to start throwing the slanders around.
Here’s a typical modern leftist publication’s post-Brexit headline, taken from Vox, although there are hundreds like it to choose from:
Brexit was fueled by irrational xenophobia, not real economic grievances https://t.co/5BlUrMOxCA
— Vox (@voxdotcom) June 25, 2016
For Vox staff, and so many other leftists, wanting to have greater control of immigration automatically equates to xenophobia — the two things are directly interchangeable. That’s 52% of the voting population of the UK casually slurred as bigots.
Besides which, the headline, while loftily tossing insults down at the ‘irrational’ masses, actually completely omits the top reason given for voting Leave — to return full democratic control of the UK back to British Parliament. The careless bad mouthing on display here is not just spiteful and inaccurate, it’s clearly done from a position of blithe ignorance.
There is either a lack of decency or an absence of critical thinking in such tactics. Do the name callers know that their opponents aren’t bigots, but despicably employ the slurs anyway? Or do they honestly believe that to even discuss immigration, Islamism, or any of the left’s rigid dogmas, is a sign of racism, small mindedness, or whatever other toxic insult they thoughtlessly cough up?
Put all of the above factors together and we get a regressive left wing option that is simply untenable for voters with a modicum of civility and a grasp of logic.
And this leads to a further problem. By contemptuously alienating its former support base, by slurring anyone who opposes it in the hope of discrediting and shutting them down, by lording it conspicuously over the ‘vulnerable’ that it would like to cosset and pat on the head in return for votes (dream on), it is driving people to reluctantly seek out sometimes questionable alternatives. It’s no coincidence that as the left pulls up its drawbridge and jams open the borders, nationalistic movements such as Marine Le Pen’s Front National, Sweden Democrats, and the AfD in Germany are surging in popularity. When the far-right comes knocking, you can blame our distorted new left — petty, vindictive and irresponsible — if the door has been left unlocked.
Sam White is a freelance writer and journalist. Follow him on Twitter @SamWhiteTky