Happy New Year!!!! we said at the start of 2016, we were wrong. In fact I don’t think I’ve been right about a single thing this year and I know I’m not alone.
While far from being the only things that have happened this year, Brexit and Trumps victory are landmark events and are going to change politics. There appears to be shift in what people are willing and looking to vote for. Gone are the days where we will quibble over which of two leaders has the most electable personality. That sort of thing seems so small fry now, we are dealing with an electorate that votes with a loud voice, that is willing to either ignore or embrace that which the establishment find unpalatable perhaps because the establishment finds it unpalatable.
We must all look at ourselves and reflect on how we may have contributed to this situation, if we don’t we only invite more. I myself voted remain and would have voted for Clinton had I been a US citizen. I joined in the mockery, the angry pillory, the shaming and the hate that followed when time and again the results went against me. I never stopped to wonder what the people who voted the other way might see when they bore the brunt of my leftist ire.
Now, I wont go as far to say that some of my criticism wasn’t justified, or even unnecessary. We must still fight for what we believe and call out those who muddy the intellectual waters with ill-thought out ideas and lazy rhetoric. It is not ok however, to mix in hate, insults, and consistently talk down to your opponents as if their opinions have simply no value. Like a baying mob the left has fallen in love with its identity so much we are guilty of ego centric hate as much as anyone.
We on the left are looking to win people over are we not? Its simple maths, whether its those who voted for the Conservatives or the Republicans the left is going to have to convert some of those voters next time. Do we really think we are going about it the right way at the moment?
“The left won the cultural war” I heard that said the other day and certainly it could seem that way. Thats easily misinterpreted by a certain type of voter as proof that the left shapes the establishment. This accusation of the establishment can then drag nearly anyone in to its wake should they be seen to attack ‘down’. When the right wing media feels in serious threat from social media its easy to see why the BBC gets dragged in to arguments such as these. When we on the left complain about how people voted without seeking to understand why and instead dismiss them all as either bigots or uneducated we too are attacking down and they feel it.
The centre remains a political no mans land in the UK, Blairs legacy as toxic as it is has taken on an almost pantomime villain level of absurdity with the major parties all a bit too insecure in their masculinity to don that frock and tread the boards. Labour and the Conservatives have clear sky between them at the moment which pushes the fringe parties slighter further out still. This in the case of Labour has brought out the more politically ideological of their membership, again something that will prove a tough sell to those who voted tory last year.
This dedication to a political ideology or identity is part of the problem. Politics should be about making decisions based on the facts and that is harder when loyalty comes in to it. Loyalty used to be a valuable thing in politics, do you think Trump won because of loyalty? or Brexit? We should quit being so scared of upsetting those who think they define what ‘the left’ means or represents. For me this means ridding myself of all political identity. I need to take another look at my own preconceptions which previously I was so sure of, I need to be willing to adjust and see where that leads me, and I need to do this with an ambition of finding common ground rather than contributing to the divisive politics of today. If that makes me “less left” then so be it, but I for one wont be interested in labels. I will look, listen and think and make up my own damn mind.