Monday, 24 May 2010

Remaining Free

I am utterly baffled that people who left the Labour Party under Blair are now rejoining it. What on earth for? To demand identity cards, and very prolonged detention without charge (not trial, charge), after all? To fight for the retention of giant DNA databases of the innocent, of CCTV cameras all over the place, and of all the other paraphernalia of New Labour's surveillance state? Certainly no candidate whom the media might allow to win the Labour Leadership, and probably none who could garner 33 nominations, is anything less than fully signed up to all of this and more.

However, those candidates are interesting as part of a very particular Americanisation of British politics. On one side are the Jews, the blacks, and the Irish Catholics (who are not necessarily very Catholic, although some of them are), with the Asians in Britain where the Hispanics are in America, including that many of them would be on the other side if it did not have the same tribal aversion to them that they have to it. On that other side are the elite WASPs, although they are not usually very P beyond "not Catholic" in general and "not Irish Catholic" in particular.

In America, the non-elite WASPs and those who take the P seriously vote for the distantly related upper-class relativists and antinomians, although they have not always done so and they get absolutely nothing out of it. Whereas in Britain, the non-elite WASPs and those who take the P seriously might as well stay at home on polling day, so they very largely do. As, for much the same reasons, do the more serious Catholics these days. Alike, they are as completely unreachable by any of these candidates as they are by David Cameron or Nick Clegg.

But those candidates actively want that to be the case, while Cameron and Clegg know that they can rely on the Wannabe Vote, the support of those who will vote for any old stuffed shirt if it emits a plummy accent, in the ludicrous, utterly forlorn hope that one day they might be let into the club. It worked for Blair, above all in 2001, when he cruised to a completely undeserved second landslide on the back of the merciless ridicule of a man who, whatever one might say about his specific principles and policies, was vastly brighter and more accomplished as well as impeccably middle-class, but who spoke as impeccably middle-class Yorkshiremen do, with a regional accent. Andy Burnham, take note.

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