Anger when it emanates from someone we’re not used to seeing express it can be a remarkable spectacle. Accustomed to former Labour Cabinet Minister Alan Johnson playing the avuncular sidekick to Michael Portillo on ‘This Week’, it was wonderfully unexpected during ITV’s General Election coverage last night to witness Johnson erupt as he was sat next to Jon Lansman, founder of Momentum. ‘The working-classes have always been a big disappointment to Jon and his cult,’ said Johnson. ‘Corbyn was a disaster on the doorstep. Everyone knew he couldn’t lead the working-class out of a paper bag.’ Johnson kept his composure, but his fury was unmistakable. ‘I want them out of the party,’ he said. ‘I want Momentum gone. Go back to your student politics.’ Words well and truly un-minced, Johnson added – ‘The most disastrous result for the Labour Party, the worst result since 1935 – people like Jon and his pals will never admit this, but they have messed-up completely; and it’s our communities that are going to pay for that. I feel really angry about this – that we persevered with Corbyn for this experiment of back-to-the-future.’
During the darkest days of Theresa May’s premiership, it seemed Brexit was destined to destroy the Conservative Party, yet it is now clear that it has contributed more towards the destruction of the Labour Party. The result of the 2016 EU Referendum was the worst thing that could have happened to Corbyn’s Labour; the fact that so many diehard Labour areas of the country voted Leave completely contradicted the stance of Jezza and his London-based team, highlighting an uncomfortable truth Labour had turned a blind eye to even before Corbyn seized control – that the PLP and the old Labour heartlands had become completely incompatible. This was a divide that widened even further once the Labour Party fell under the control of middle-class revolutionaries, or what the Guardian (no less) has labelled ‘the sectarian left’.
Not only did the Referendum result further alienate the provincial party faithful from the Corbynistas; it exposed the ‘Champagne Socialism’ of the anti-Corbyn faction within Labour ranks as equally detached from the concerns of traditional Labour voters – none more so than the opportunistic, party-hopping Chuka Umunna, whose eviction from the political landscape was one of the undoubted highlights of the evening. Smarmy Umunna was perhaps the ultimate embodiment of the arrogance and sneering contempt for the electorate that has been displayed at Westminster over the last couple of years.
For Umunna and his allies, the result of the 2016 EU Referendum was such a seismic shock to their unchallenged righteousness and superior sense of entitlement that their only way of dealing with it was to pretend it never happened. How many times have we been told of late that the electorate – including ‘many of those who voted Leave’ – were ‘coming round to our way of thinking’? Umunna, Soubry and the rest reacted to Brexit like a tone-deaf contestant on a talent show being told he cannot hold a note; a shake of the head, a refusal to accept the facts. ‘No,’ says the man confronted by Cowell. ‘You’re wrong. I’ll have a million-selling record to my name one day – or maybe I’ll become Prime Minister.’
And on and on they went – throwing down obstacle after obstacle in the way of May and Boris after promising to honour the referendum result on re-election in 2017, recruiting the wealthy businesswoman Gina Miller to try and thwart the Brexit process in the courts, proposing a People’s Vote, crossing the floor of the House to form a Remoaner alliance and eventually announcing their aim to scrap Brexit altogether. Those who suspected not all Leave voters might have changed their minds and fallen into line with the Remainer consensus didn’t want a General Election because they had an inkling of what could happen; most of those promptly declared their decision to stand down once the Election was announced.
Those unable to see beyond their unshakable, delusional, narcissistic egos fought on, somehow imagining the proles would by now have seen the error of their ways and would reject Brexit altogether. Jo Swinson seemed to epitomise this attitude better (or worse) than anyone else, and now she has paid the price for her blinkered refusal to accept not everyone thinks overturning a mandate delivered by 17.4 million members of the electorate is fair play. At least when Nick Clegg lost his seat in 2017, he’d already quit as leader; Swinson didn’t even have that option, becoming the first sitting leader of a major party to lose her seat at a General Election since the Liberals’ Archibald Sinclair in 1945; and now her party is only three seats better off than after the wipeout of 2015. The heady days of Charles Kennedy seem a very long time ago indeed.
Swinson’s ousting is as emblematic of the gaping chasm between how Westminster Village sees the rest of the country and how that perspective works the other way round as Labour’s decimation. The result of this General Election is also a comprehensive rejection of the Woke/Identity Politics agenda propagated by both Labour and the Lib Dems. Because the majority of its promoters are encased in a London bubble and are over-represented in media circles, they cannot comprehend it means Jack Shit outside the more privileged corners of the capital. Even when venturing beyond its London comfort zone, Corbyn’s Labour focused exclusively on the big ‘metropolitan’ cities made in London’s image and utterly ignored the former industrial towns that had loyally seen the party through many a lean decade. Hiring Hugh Grant and Steve Coogan to further remind the plebs that they didn’t know what they were doing in 2016 was a suicidal move that nevertheless reiterated the regressive left’s utter inability to understand the mood of the nation as a whole.
Yes, there are many millions in the country who have suffered under a decade of Tory rule – and I’ve no doubt their suffering will be extended as a consequence of this General Election; but whose fault is that? Is the fact that the Conservative Party have just scored their biggest victory since 1987 a vote of confidence in Tory policies or a wholesale rejection of a pitiful opposition that had dozens of open goals to capitalise on yet shot the ball over the bar or hit the post on every f***ing occasion? Labour’s better-than-expected 2017 campaign was achieved on the back of promises to implement the decision of 2016; and Labour Leavers have spent the last two years watching their party wilfully prevent that decision being implemented.
The collapse of the so-called ‘Red Wall’ in the Midlands and the North wasn’t remotely surprising; seats it was once unimaginable ever turning blue, such as Sedgefield, Bolsover, Workington, Blyth Valley et al, have all fallen into Tory hands, yet they’ve been Labour in name only for a long time. If the US Democrats are responsible for Donald Trump, responsibility for the man who can now look forward to at least four more years as the tenant of No.10 lies with the Labour Party, the Lib Dems, Change UK, and all the independents who failed to win back seats they held before reneging on their promises and quitting their parties. But hey, if you sow it, you reap it.
© The Editor