Sunday, 15 December 2019
I am northern and working class but, thankfully, not from one of those tribal Labour cities. I grew up in rural North Yorkshire where the farming community ensured the Conservatives were the natural party of choice. Although politics was never really discussed at home, my dad being Labour by sheer obstinacy, my mother flirting with whichever party might best benefit the family, I became aware of dad’s refusal to countenance any other option whenever the subject did arise.
He was a labourer, he asserted and therefore he must vote Labour, as his dad had done before him. As a teenager I began to see how ridiculous that made him. When my mother voted to install Margaret Thatcher in Downing Street I was away at university but I can well imagine my father’s disgust. He hated the woman for no other reason than he knew he must. Even today, having benefitted from her right to buy policy, he refuses to engage in any conversation about Mrs T, while mum, emboldened in her advancing years takes delight in occasionally poking the bear.
So, I think I understand how hard it must have been for died-in-the-wool Labour supporters in towns which until this election would have been proud to declare themselves red forever. An unthinking blind adherence to doctrine with no understanding of the harm that doctrine does has propped up Labour over and over again. But in 1979 it was workers, fed up to the back teeth with the unremitting mediocrity of their party who revolted and turned to Thatcher. I like to imagine it was the working wives, like my mother, who were largely responsible for that victory.
Now, forty years later, something very similar has happened. But has the Labour Party acknowledged it? Not one bit, for to listen to some of their commentary it appears that they are blaming the voters themselves. Too selfish, too racist, too stupid, too gullible; how dare they decide for themselves which way to vote? Emily Thornberry has been reported as saying to a colleague that she was glad her voters weren’t ‘as stupid as yours’. Yours? This proprietorial attitude towards ‘their’ voters says so much about how far Labour has strayed from the path it originally set out on.
No doubt Thornberry and Co welcome the protests that have broken out in London and Glasgow as the brownshirts of Antifa likewise refuse to accept the result. But the verdict is very much in and lost they most certainly have. They have lost authority, credibility and dignity and the longer they hold onto their belief that those votes belong to them the longer it will take them to realise that they are the architects of their own, crushing defeat.
This is no horror story...
Meanwhile the mood in the rest of the country is one of relief. And of hope. And if Boris Johnson goes forward with half the resolve that won him this election the celebrations will take a long time to fade. A happy new year is in prospect for all and no matter how much they hate him, that includes the petulant children of the hard left. I still don’t fully trust him on Brexit, but I hope to be proved wrong. But anyway, the deed is done the battle won and the war is ours for the winning. So let’s crack on.