Why hasn’t Labour had a female leader?

As of yesterday, it is certain that, for the second time in history, the next Prime Minister of the United Kingdom will be a woman. What’s more, it is certain that, for the second time in history, the woman in question will be a Conservative. It is true that having a female Prime Minister is not in and of itself beneficial to women: Andrea Leadsom wants to scrap maternity pay for employees of the smallest businesses and Theresa May has been criticised for ‘allowing state-sanctioned abuse of women‘ at a detention centre. However, those of us on the left must ask why the Labour Party has been unable to elect a female leader in over 100 years of its history.

The most obvious reason for this is in the origins of the party. Labour grew out of industrial trade unionism and remained largely wedded to this until the 1980s. Granted, the party’s leaders were rarely drawn from this stock, but it cannot be denied that working-class industrial communities made up the primary constituency of the party during this period, and this was reflected in the policy priorities and internal demographics of the Labour Party. Startlingly, it was not until 1987 that Labour managed to elect over 20 female MPs – up from a low of 10 in 1983. It is undeniable that the culture of industrial trade unionism was inherently patriarchal and conservative in its nature, as was the makeup of many of the communities represented by this movement.

This is not to say that everyone who was part of the labour movement before the 90s was some kind of sexist brute, or that Labour didn’t achieve some great things for women – such as the Equal Pay Act. However, it is true that this masculine atmosphere both deterred and impeded women in seeking to rise up higher in the party. It is one of the most established social facts that people are more likely to choose someone who is similar to them when hiring or picking successors, so it is no surprise that male-dominated CLPs returned a male-dominated selection of MPs, who in turn choose a male-dominated top team.

However, there is a second, more subtle reason for Labour’s historical inability to elect a female leader. We are collectivists and idealists, whereas the Tories are individualists and pragmatists. In themselves, there is nothing wrong with collectivism or idealism, but they have the downside of creating a cultish tribalism. Desires for innovation and concerns about how the party operates are often brushed aside with calls for ‘solidarity’ and ‘unity’. This has become very apparent in recent weeks with the so-called ‘Labour Coup’, but any feminist. LGBT or race activist on the left will be able to recount how they have been told how their concerns are secondary to ‘the struggle’ and raising them is at best divisive and at worst subversive. This is the stifling conservatism that so often comes out of collectivism.

The reason this makes it even harder for a woman to be elected leader of Labour is that collective movements always need a strong central figure to unify around. You don’t need me to tell you that the attributes people desire in a strong leader – determined, authoritative, rational – are seen as masculine whereas ‘weak’ traits are seen as feminine. Because of these deeply ingrained attitudes, men have a huge headstart when it comes to being elected to represent the aims of a collective, and then the tribal mindset makes it even more difficult for a woman to challenge them – as we have seen with the torrents of violent and misogynistic verbal abuse directed at female MPs.

In contrast, the Tories worship the individual, and therefore when someone appears who has the ruthlessness and will to force their ideas through, they get to the top. There’s no question that misogynistic attitudes are more prevalent on the right than the left, but when a Thatcher or a May comes along, the Tories know who’s going to best prosecute their interests.

There will always be excuses for why Labour has not elected a woman, but excuses is all they are. You cannot seriously look at our most recent three leaders and conclude that they were all ‘the best person for the job’ at the time. Likewise, you cannot pretend that someone with the moral and intellectual weight of Yvette Cooper was a weaker candidate than Andy Burnham and deserved to come third. The fact is Labour is built on a masculine culture, and our collectivist methods in pursuing dogmatic idealism lend themselves to a tribal politics where who can shout the loudest and impose themselves upon others wins.

This is not to say that the Labour Party has not achieved excellent things for men and women, nor that its roots somehow invalidate them. Likewise, it is not saying that we are the only political party with a ‘woman problem’. What it is saying, though, is that it’s time we recognise the obstacles that hold us back from being a party where women have as good a shot as reaching the time as men. I’m damned if I know quite how we do this, but I do know that, out of the 5 people who I think could lead us to victory at the next election, 3 of them are women, and we have a better array of female talent on our benches than ever before. Electing a female leader won’t end our problems, but it would give the signal to our members that it is possible, and that there is another way of doing politics. It’s high time we did so.



Ignore those saying otherwise, Britain will vote Remain

‘Brexit’ and Cameron’s renegotiation of Britain’s  deal with the EU have dominated the news cycle for a good week now, and this has been accompanied by plenty of chatter in the commentariat about the prospects for the ‘remain’ and ‘leave’ sides. If you are keeping track of this – believe me, there are better things to do – you would be forgiven for thinking this referendum is genuinely up-in-the-air. Ignore them. It isn’t.

To start with, Cameron’s so-called ‘renegotiation’ is an utter farce. All it addresses is the largely invented problem of migrants draining the welfare state. Countless studies have shown that it is not our welfare state which draws migrants to the UK, but instead our relative wealth, opportunities and, crucially, English being our first language. While I have no problem with British natives being first-in-line to receive welfare, the renegotiation does nothing to address the real problems of the EU. From the left, it doesn’t tackle the institution’s consistent bias towards privatisation and austerity, as we have seen in Greece, Italy and Portugal. From the right, it doesn’t repatriate powers over much of our law-making ability, and, in general, it does nothing to address the lack of proper democracy, accountability, the power of lobbyists or increasing federalism. But none of this matters, and here are the reasons why:

  1. The Leave Campaign:                                                                                       The main risk for the leave campaign was that they were always going to perceived as a lunatic fringe full of ‘little-Englanders’ and conspiracists. The Brexit campaign has responded to this with a spectacular lack of self-awareness, and filled the movement with just that. Prominent figureheads are Nigel Farage, the climate-change denying Nigel Lawson and, as of yesterday, George Galloway. The only credible and fairly well-known names backing the campaign are Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith,  Kate Hoey and Frank Field, but even the latter two aren’t major enough to carry real clout and are seen as on the fringe of their respective parties. Perception matters hugely, and no one wants to be seen as a narrow-minded, slightly weird racist due to their stance on the EU. This is made even more pertinent by the relative strength of the In campaign. They can pick up plenty of votes simply by saying, ‘Do you want to be here with all the major party leaders, business people and celebrities, or over there with George Galloway lapping milk from your hands?’
  2. It’s about loss aversion, stupid:                                                                 Even if the Leave campaign weren’t a bit of a mess, I would have no doubt that we would vote to remain. If there is one thing that decides elections, it is uncertainty and the fear it causes. So often in politics, people lose sight of this simple fact and start analysing every facet of the opposing sides’ arguments, but this is nearly always a waste of time. It was obvious to any serious observer of the Scottish referendum Better Together would win as soon as it became clear the Yes campaign didn’t have a plan for an alternative currency. People hold what they know dear to them, especially in a modern world gripped by uncertainty.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   This observation was clearly documented by Kahneman & Tversky with their 1979 theory of loss aversion. Put simply, Kahneman and Tversky argued that people feel twice as much psychological hurt in losing something than they do pleasure in gaining something. When looked at through this prism, it is obvious that we will vote to stay, especially because the gains of leaving are speculative. Possible losses are trade, economic security and influence and national security. All of these are concrete, and translate into people’s fears for their jobs and lives. Possible gains, on the other hand, are speculative trade agreements with ‘the rest of the world’ and repatriating legal powers which few people understand anyway. Control over borders will be the only thing seen as a gain by many, but this will not be enough to trump the fears of the majority concerning economic well-being.
A cartoon mocking the ‘Out’ campaign in 1975. Little has changed today. (Credit to @Jacob4MK for the find)

On Brocialism

One of the most unsightly sights on Twitter is also one of the most frequent. What I speak of, of course, is mobs of keyboard warriors descending on individuals for committing some imagined transgression. Whether it be Cybernats attacking ‘traitorous unionists’, UKIP voters abusing ‘liebour pedos’ or Corbynistas berating ‘neoliberal, blairite warmongers blood on your hands!’, the Twitter keyboard warrior rarely fails to conform to a very specific set of characteristics. Namely, adopting a pseudonym, not having their face in their profile picture and overuse of the crying laughing face emoji. They will also either have dreadful spelling and grammar or use lots of complex lexis – which would make them appear intelligent if it weren’t so apparent that they had no idea of its meaning. However, recently it has become more and more apparent that there is another key characteristic of such people.

When I first saw the term ‘brocialism’ about two years ago, I was skeptical. Plenty of buzzwords get bandied around on Twitter, and as a general rule you should ignore 80% of them. Similarly, I am always wary of any catch-all generalisations, due to their tendency to homogenize people and obscure nuance. However, when you look at where the abuse on Twitter comes from and the way in which it manifests, it is quite obvious that there is a pattern. Almost without fail, the abuse comes from men who then retweet any responses they get to call down ‘the boys’ to attack the offender. Furthermore, this abuse is disproportionately directed at women – especially young women. Finally, the dynamic between these ‘brocialists’ is resplendent with the awkward, feverish homoeroticism that is always present in groups of straight men who are insecure in their masculinity.

The reality of this is self-evident, but why should this pattern manifest? In my view, it is mostly down to two factors: a) the cultish mentality of these groups and b) the ultimate weakness of their positions. Earlier, I mentioned Cybernats  and Corbynistas. They are both cultists. They have a fanatical devotion to an abstract concept – nationalism or ‘real’ socialism – and their dear leaders. They are also on the fringes of political thought, and as such any perceived slight towards them is magnified a thousand fold. It is in this tribalism that we find the reason for the makeup of these Twitter abusers being largely male. They view their spokespersons as something of ‘pack leaders’, and as such rally to defend them whenever they are threatened. These leaders tend to be male, such is the makeup of our society, and even when they are not – in the case of Nicola Sturgeon – the most vocal supporters online – such as WingsOverScotland – always are.

Tribalism isn’t only observed in men by any means, but it does manifest in a specific way with males. One only has to observe football fans to see how quickly affronts to the chosen tribe of men can incite violence. On the internet, as there are no bottles or traffic cones to be thrown, this takes the form of abuse. The reason this abuse is disproportionately directed towards young women is that these men want to prove their worth to their fellow ‘soldiers’ by winning battles, and sexist assumptions tell them that young women are stupid, out-of-their depth and weak, therefore making them easy scalps. If you want evidence of this, just observe how quickly brocialists resort to using patronising terms like ‘love’ and ‘dear’. I guarantee you it will be within 8 tweets.

As I mentioned, the other reason for this abuse is the inherent weakness of the above parties’ positions. It is a truism that when people realise their argument is bankrupt, they resort to violence. The fascists knew their ideas of racial purity had no basis in science, the Church knew they had no answer to the first rationalists, so rather than argue with their opponents, they killed them. In the modern world, when you have no faith in your argument, you no-platform your opponent, deselect them, or abuse them online. The arguments of the SNP are based on a nationalistic pipe dream, and the idea that Corbyn would ever get elected or has any semblance of a coherent policy platform which would benefit the nation is so laughable I won’t even address it. But the faithful also know this, and rather than face the horrible knowledge that they are wrong, they group together, howl, beat their chests and throw excrement. This is the face of modern brocialism, and Christ, is it ugly to behold.

No, Stephen Crabb, Secularism is not to blame for ISIS

In a recent speech to the Conservative Christian Fellowship, the Secretary of State for Wales, Stephen Crabb, asserted that ‘hard-edged’ secularism in the UK was partly to blame for ‘aiding and abetting’ extremism. His reasoning is that this secularism ‘delegitimises’ religious faith through ‘suspicion, fear and ridicule’, pushing this faith to the fringes of society. According to Crabb, it therefore follows that, ‘if you push faith to the margins, then to the margins and into the shadows faith will be outworked’.

Crabb is a committed and conservative Christian, being one of the Tory MPs who voted against gay marriage two years ago. It is therefore not surprising that he would seek to pin religious fundamentalism on anything but religion. Yet it is still worth looking at his arguments, if only to show how flawed and groundless they really are.

To start with, Crabb makes the assertion that Islam, is ‘ridiculed’ and ‘delegitimised’. But where is the evidence for this? I would suggest that Islam, as a system of a beliefs, is far more insulated from criticism than Christianity, with scrutiny being written off as ‘Islamophobic’. Obviously, it is true that Muslims themselves face racism and suspicion which Christians do not have to face, but this is an entirely different issue to ‘hard-edged secularism’. Loud-mouthed racists and far-right groups such as the EDL and Britain First are hardly the inheritors of Spinoza and Hume, and in fact frequently proclaim that Britain is a ‘Christian country’, and that we should defend Christianity against Islam.

Such racism is grotesque, moronic and completely unacceptable, but it bears no relation to the criticism of Islam as a set of beliefs. Indeed, criticism of Islam as a religion is rarely tolerated. We do not need to cast our minds back far to remember how many made apologies for the murderers of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, declaring that the cartoons were ‘offensive’, ‘Islamophobic’ and should not have been published, yet the cartoons mocking the Papacy and Christianity came under no such attack. Christianity is ruthlessly parodied, mocked and criticised by comedians, television and film and by wide swathes of authors and intellectuals. It is absolutely correct that it should be, but can you imagine Islam being treated in the same way? Of course you can’t.

Similarly, excuses are made for radical and conservative Islam that would never be made for Christianity. When the Iranian ex-Muslim and secularist, Maryam Namazie, attempted to give a talk at Goldsmiths University, members of its Islamic Society attempted to use tactics of intimidation to shut the talk down. Far from condemning this naked intimidation of a woman, Goldsmiths Feminist Society ‘stood in solidarity‘ with those attempting to shut down the talk. Warwick University banned Maryam from speaking altogether until pressure forced them to back down. Sharia courts which ‘lock married women into captivity‘, face little-to-no criticism from the left or the feminist movement. In contrast, LGBT+ rights group Stonewall frequently hand out the ‘bigot of the year’ award to prominent Christians in the Church and in politics, and criticism of Christianity by secular speakers is never censored by universities.

Based on this, I would suggest that Islam is rarely subjected to ‘hard-edged secularism’ and ridicule, whereas Christianity is. However, we do not see a rise in Christian extremism or young Christians leaving the UK to fight for a new Christendom. This alone is almost enough to show that secularisation has no bearing on radicalisation.

We do not know enough about the causes of radicalisation yet, but it seems fairly clear that they usually stem from material conditions of social exclusion coupled with the allure of ideology. The racism from individuals and groups I mentioned earlier, coupled with disgusting, dog-whistle sensationalism from the right-wing press, such as the Sun‘s awful ‘1 in 5 British Muslims support ISIS’ claim’, are almost wholly responsible for the climate of fear and racism that many Muslims have to experience, not secularists who seek to challenge dogma and the hold it has over institutions. If Christians faced the same level of contempt and scaremongering from our society, I would suggest we would indeed see the rise of radical Christian groups.

I would to like conclude with a quick history lesson for Mr Crabb. At no point in human existence has the rise of secularism been met with a rise in religious violence. On the contrary, it is only secularism which has reigned in the awful tendency of religions to murder, torture and repress all those who oppose them. The Peace of Westphalia in 1648 saw an end to the bloody Wars of Religion which saw 1/3 of the population of Central Europe lie dead, and was a secular treaty, granting the right of nations and their citizens to follow whichever religion they chose. The period of free, secular inquiry which followed cemented reason and human rights above dogma and despotism for the first time in European history. Since then, we have never seen European states go to war over who has the correct interpretation of the Bible, or launch crusades to recapture supposedly sites, or kill scientists and philosophers who questioned religious supremacy. It is not through protecting our views from criticism that we make progress towards human freedom and rights, but through submitting them to reason, enquiry and debate. So sorry, Stephen Crabb, but the UK does not need less secularism, it needs more.

The Left is deluded: it is not a majority

If your life has reached the same low point as mine – which it must have if you’re reading this – you will no doubt have heard about the protests outside the Conservative Party Conference. You will have seen plenty of disgust at protesters spitting on journalists, shouting threats and abuse at, well, anyone, and egging Tory delegates. Needless to say, this disgust is justified, but what is more interesting is the mentality behind so much of the protests and the wider left in general. This being that they genuinely seem to believe that the country is brimming full of left-wingers, who are only being kept out of power by a conspiracy of the media, the electoral system or Labour ‘not being left wing enough’.

The evidence for this mentality existing is everywhere. You can see it in the ‘We are the 76%’ Twibbons in Twitter profiles, in the Socialist Worker’s ‘Defy Tory Rule’ banners and Natalie Bennett stating ‘We are the many, they are the few’. The cognitive dissonance exhibited by the above is quite startling. The incredibly tiresome ‘76%’ meme not only ignores that votes not cast do not count towards the overall result (who’d have thought?) but also that if 76% didn’t vote for the Tories, 82% didn’t vote for Labour and 96% didn’t vote for the Greens. Natalie Bennett’s laughable intervention also handily ignores the fact that the Green vote would not have been enough to even win back a deposit deposit if the nationwide share had been replicated in a single seat.

It is this bizarre sense of entitlement that hamstrings the left. Its acolytes feel they have the right to call those who oppose them scum and talk about their moral degeneracy as if centre-right views were only held by a small and contemptible number of the electorate. Nothing is more emblematic of this disease than the 99% vs the 1% narrative. It would seem many genuinely believe that the only people who actually can hold right-wing views are members of this elite, and anyone not inside it must have been conned by media narratives etc.

Essentially, the biggest problem with this view is that it imagines people view themselves as either the ruling class or those pitted against them; they don’t. To put it bluntly, the vast majority of people do not think in terms of class anymore, and certainly not in the traditional Marxian sense. Even most of the left no longer care care about it, hence its increasing emphasis on race, sexuality and gender as being the main areas of inequality. An owner of small business taking in £25K a year is far more likely to believe themselves a struggling entrepreneur who deserves to be rewarded more than ‘lazy public sector workers’ than they are to identify as a member of a lower-income bracket being oppressed by wealthy corporate managers. Likewise, the majority of hatred towards immigrants I have witnessed has come from working class people, although they almost always are in the same income band. On the other end of the scale, we are all familiar with the much-maligned stereotype of well-off bien pensants who subsist on vegetarian diets, shop locally and vote left. Class is simply not an adequate predictor of voting patterns or self-identification.

The left has to face facts. Right-wing parties received over 50% of the national vote in 2015. In contrast, parties that were identifiably ‘left-wing’ received just about 40%. TUC research shows us that fears that Labour will tax too much, spend too much and be too generous with welfare are still some of the main reasons people give for not voting for us. The British public do not much like redistribution, they really don’t like immigration and EU laws and they hate anything that sounds ‘PC’. Far from acknowledging this, the left has retreated into a wholesale ‘no-cuts’ narrative, professing unconditional support for Europe, dismissing immigration as a non-issue that only bothers racists and condemning people for ever-more esoteric breaches of speech codes. We then cheer as Jeremy Corbyn fills another echo-chamber with acolytes and we declare the government are scared. They’re not.

The Tories perfectly understand the fragility of politics, and as such are pitching to the centre-ground, putting on a humble face and trying to cement themselves as the natural party of government. George Osborne even conceded that the party hasn’t done enough to win over Labour voters, and has to listen to them. Can you imagine the left saying the same of Tory voters? We are in more danger than ever of becoming a movement convinced of our own superiority and purity, but with no regard for the electorate and the facts of democracy. If we do not change, our future will be full of sound and fury, but one which will signify nothing but defeat.

The Lib Dems need Labour’s right to win – here’s why:

With reports of Jeremy Corbyn’s runaway success – don’t buy them – in the Labour leadership referendum, some have begun to speculate that the victory of the ‘veteran left-winger’ would be the best outcome for the Liberal Democrats. They argue that his election would place Labour in the unelectable wilderness of the hard left and the Lib Dems would fill the centre-left void as a reasonable, more palatable alternative – well, if Farron can stop implying homosexuals are sinners anyway.

Now, this resurgence could be a real possibility if Labour’s right decided to go all retro and break away and merge with the Liberals again, but my instinct is they wouldn’t. They would instead wait for Corbyn to tank in the polls – which he would – and then mount a coup, which should be fairly easy and bloodless seeing as Jeremy doesn’t want the job anyway. But all this is irrelevant seeing as Corbyn won’t win. The charge I want to deal with, however, is that a left-wing Labour party provides the best electoral opening for the Lib Dems. It does not.

While it may sound rational that if there is a wide divide between the two main parties, a largely centrist public will vote for the party that has the best of both without the unpalatable extremes, First Past the Post actually means the Lib Dems get squeezed sharply in such a scenario. Their decision in the 2015 to go with the ‘split-the-difference‘ approach was catastrophic. All it actually did was reinforce in voters’ minds the image that Labour really were spendthrift, socialist maniacs while the Tories were sadistic elitists who revelled in hurting the poor. This meant that anyone who leant left or right were terrified of the opposite party getting into power on such an extreme agenda and as such voted for the major party closest to their views. This was made even worse by the spectre of the SNP dragging Labour leftwards. People were too afraid to risk ‘wasting their vote’ on the Lib Dems when so much was at stake.

No, the ideal electoral space for the party is when Labour and the Tories converge on many issues. Don’t believe me? From 1983-1997 the SDP-Liberal Alliance lost 8.3% of the public vote. From 1997-2010 they gained 6.2%. The 1983 election itself was of course the exception, but this was an exceptional circumstance where Labour and Tory MPs and large numbers of councillors and members had defected to the SDP, already giving them a base, credibility and momentum. Throughout the Blair years, centrist voters were less worried about extremes getting in, and those who weren’t centrists saw the Lib Dems as the ideal protest vote, particularly after the Iraq war.

This is why the Lib Dems need either Liz Kendall to win, or Yvette Cooper to head right when elected. A Corbyn victory would throw the political scene into turmoil, and we cannot be sure what would come out of it, but be assured that the biggest threat to the party is Andy Burnham triumphing. The prospect of a Labour leader who speaks roughly the same language as Ed Miliband but with more populist rhetoric and in a northern accent would be anathema to the centre/liberal centre-right voters the Lib Dems need to pick up in the south and London, and we should expect their fortunes to fall even further in favour of the Conservatives.

It’s the in-out mentality, stupid

Any student of Sociology or Psychology will doubtless be familiar with Henri Tafjel’s work in-groups and out-groups. Briefly, an in-group is a collection of individuals who self-identify with a given denomination whereas an out-group are those excluded by the in-group by virtue of their not fitting the requirements to be part of it. The idea is basically the same as Max Weber’s status groups, and examples can be found all over society. For example, Arsenal fans are one big in-group, and if you happen to support Tottenham Hotspur, you are the epitome of an out-group to them, representing everything to be loathed about opposition clubs. I am sure you will be able to pick your own favourite examples from Protestants/Catholics to trad/modern jazz lovers etc.

Needless to say, a great deal of in/out-group conflict is just friendly rivalry. However, it easily has the potential to become bitter. To continue with the above sporting example, football violence is far less common nowadays, but if nationalism or religious sectarianism are thrown into the mix, you get conflicts when English clubs play in Italy or when Rangers play Celtic. It is this bitterness that we are seeing more and more in British politics as the nation becomes increasingly polarised, and the left is being hurt by it the most.

It is obvious to anyone that the aim of any political party should be to cast their net wide enough to maximise their ‘in’ group and get elected. This is where the left have a fundamental problem. Loosely speaking, the left is based on the idea that there are inherent structural inequalities in society caused by capitalism, patriarchy, racism etc. and that these conflicts must be addressed through radical reform. In contrast, the right holds that inequalities are natural, and that society should be conserved more as less at is, based around the values of family, tradition and entrepeneurship. Obviously parties are not as fixed as this, and Labour have dropped their opposition to capitalism while the Conservatives have placed less emphasis on tradition, but these remain the basic ideas behind their ideologies, and certainly many of their activists.

Effectively, this makes the left the architects of their own demise. It can only win on a traditional left platform if either enough people are disadvantaged enough to constitute a majority – such as in the early 20th century – or the plight of those who are is so great and obvious that people cannot help but feel moved to help them. Such obvious inequities as the denial of voting rights to women and segregation were untenable, and liberation movements were able to build up enough resistance to the policies from people who weren’t affected by them as well as those who were. Likewise support for a post-war welfare state was cemented by voters who were appalled by the idea of veterans returning to sub-standard housing and no medical care. In contrast, modern inequalities are not so obvious. A sizeable part of the population believe there is no serious inequality between sexes or races, and that real poverty is a thing of the past. This is partially due to reporting bias, but it is also true that conditions for all are arguably a lot better than they were 100 years ago, and talk of ‘micro-aggressions’ et al will always be written off as ‘PC gawn mad’ whether they are real or not.

Herein lies the left’s problem. As the movement has grown more divided by politics of identity and the absence of class-based politics, the possible in-group has shrunk and shrunk. The left can no longer offer a vision of uplifting a large proletariat against their oppressors, and instead has become focused on minority interest groups – LGBT, BAME, women, migrants etc. James Bloodworth argues that this is because the left has become middle class, and hence has less to say about genuine economic change, and there is a lot of truth in this. Obviously there is nothing wrong with tackling prejudice where it exists, but unfortunately the way the left frequently goes about this has left people feeling that the movement is deeply suspicious, if not openly hostile, to whiteness, maleness and Englishness. Things like the negative reaction to Liz Kendall’s intervention on the need to help failing white working-class schoolchildren only confirm this view. Needless to say, when you are in a country which is predominately white and English, and 48% male, turning this demographic into an out-group isn’t a great electoral strategy.

The biggest beneficiary of this was obviously UKIP, who made their in-group one of the demographic I just mentioned. However, the Conservatives were also able to play the game very well. Despite actually being a vehicle to reinforce economic and social privilege, the Tories were able to make themselves out to be unifiers against the ‘divisive forces’ of the left. They sold a vision of society where anyone can be a part of their in-group as long as they work hard, take risks, want to succeed and live by the rules. In return, those who vote for them and do so can expect rewards in the form of tax cuts and other financial incentives. They sold this offer as being open to all sections of society, and as such saw their highest vote share ever amongst LGBT and BAME individuals, vindicating Cameron’s decision to detoxify the brand as a masterstroke.

All of this has led to a nightmare scenario for not only the left in England, but across much of the western world. Its numerous successes in the 20th century changed society, but these changes mean that it cannot rely on its old hymn sheet. We must recognise that we need to choose our battles and our rhetoric a lot more carefully, that we have only won in the past when we have chimed with the common mood, not thrown ourselves valiantly against it, and that unless we accept this, we will never take power again.