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UK Politics: And Brexit came swirling down

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10 hours ago, Platypus Rex said:

Having browsed through the last thread, I was struck, as I frequently am when browsing the political threads on this forum, on how one-sided the discussion is.    I am curious as to why this would be.  This is a forum in theory open to any poster who has a taste or interest in medieval-themed fantasy.   Why would the opinions of the posters on this forum be so radically unrepresentative of people who actually vote?

I can think of a number of possible answers, but I don't want to speculate.  I'm just interested in such thoughts as the regulars here might have.

The same reason my brainwashed Mum doesn't discuss her politics with the ladies she lunches with. She's ashamed. 

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51 minutes ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

I know the Corbynista Momentum, who have gifted UK politics with Corbyn (and by extension this Johnson GE victory) want Long-Bailey to take over, but surely there must be some sort of self-correction mechanism in place, that makes them take a step back. Their messias produced Labour's worst post war election result afterall.

No, there's no self-correction mechanism for Momentum, any more than there is for the Brexiteers. To the ideologically committed, you only lose because you weren't committed enough. That's true in any party. You can see it even in Corbyn's own statements: he's maintaining that he 'won the argument' and that his manifesto will be seen as historically important (it will, but not in the way he means). 

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7 minutes ago, mormont said:

No, there's no self-correction mechanism for Momentum, any more than there is for the Brexiteers. To the ideologically committed, you only lose because you weren't committed enough. That's true in any party. You can see it even in Corbyn's own statements: he's maintaining that he 'won the argument' and that his manifesto will be seen as historically important (it will, but not in the way he means). 

This. And all those grassroots supporters who became members so they could vote for Corbyn last time are still there to vote for the next leadership candidate, and they're likely to double down. There's a point at which the far left and the far right become echo chambers.

That being said, Labor don't necessarily have to "get it right" the first time. Depressing as it is for them, five years is long enough to discard and find another leader if the next one isn't working out.

Edited by Jeor

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1 hour ago, Jeor said:

The Labor leadership is still elected by general party members though, right? (after the shortlist is culled by the MPs)

From memory, Corbyn had an extremely strong base from the general membership, though lukewarm support from his own caucus members. But presumably all those new Labor members who signed up to vote for Corbyn are still there, so Long-Bailey might still have a chance. Corbyn's anointing a successor will probably still have a lot of sway with those members who might want to double down.

 

It depends how willing they are to compromise with the electorate/

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1 hour ago, mormont said:

No, there's no self-correction mechanism for Momentum, any more than there is for the Brexiteers. To the ideologically committed, you only lose because you weren't committed enough. That's true in any party. You can see it even in Corbyn's own statements: he's maintaining that he 'won the argument' and that his manifesto will be seen as historically important (it will, but not in the way he means). 

Hmmm... I always wonder how far the ideologically committed are willing to go to get what they want?  At what point is democracy outmoded in their view because it doesn't produce the desired results.  We see that with Republicans suppressing votes in the US.  Ideology (or supporting Trump) matters more to them than giving people a voice in how their government is lead.  Could the same become true for the die hard's in Labour?

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Just now, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Hmmm... I always wonder how far the ideologically committed are willing to go to get what they want?  At what point is democracy outmoded in their view because it doesn't produce the desired results.  We see that with Republicans suppressing votes in the US.  Ideology (or supporting Trump) matters more to them than giving people a voice in how their government is lead.  Could the same become true for the die hard's in Labour?

Simple answer: yes.

Just as the right believes that their nation's culture and identity is under an existential threat, the left believes that the attacks on social justice and global warming are existential threats for their survival.

This is why our age is so complicated politically speaking: both sides believe their very existence is at stake, and there is a significant proportion of people on both sides who are considering going to any lengths to get what they perceive as necessary. Our current form of democracy is incapable of solving such a polarized situation: whoever loses an election will threaten agitation. And in all fairness, though I am personally inclined to see the neo-fascist minority as the greater threat, I expect eco-radicalism to fuel radical forms of anti-capitalism in the near future.

Of course, Britons tend to be slightly more moderate than others, so I wouldn't dramatize in this particular thread. The situation is far more likely to deteriorate in other Western countries first. How Brexit and its potential economic consequences will affect Britons is an open question though. While Britons -imho- traditionally tend to look down on radical forms of political activism, this could change almost overnight if BoJo screws up badly.
Which is hardly out of the realm of possibility...

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7 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Hmmm... I always wonder how far the ideologically committed are willing to go to get what they want?  At what point is democracy outmoded in their view because it doesn't produce the desired results.  We see that with Republicans suppressing votes in the US.  Ideology (or supporting Trump) matters more to them than giving people a voice in how their government is lead.  Could the same become true for the die hard's in Labour?

There are many reasonable criticisms to be made of Corbyn as an individual and Momentum as a movement. However, Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour party by an overwhelming majority of the party membership, twice. The second time came about after many members of the party establishment tried to have him removed. Pretty much every piece of analysis I've read from the Labour left so far has been of the form, "we failed to appeal to the people we needed to. Why? And how do we rectify it next time?" Most of them have come to different conclusions, but the fundamental question is still, "How do we appeal to the voters?" I've read multiple takes from Labour centrists asking, in effect, "How do we prevent the Labour party membership from voting for a leftist?" I'm not sure it's the left of the Labour party that consider democracy outmoded.

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23 minutes ago, Liffguard said:

There are many reasonable criticisms to be made of Corbyn as an individual and Momentum as a movement. However, Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour party by an overwhelming majority of the party membership, twice. The second time came about after many members of the party establishment tried to have him removed. Pretty much every piece of analysis I've read from the Labour left so far has been of the form, "we failed to appeal to the people we needed to. Why? And how do we rectify it next time?" Most of them have come to different conclusions, but the fundamental question is still, "How do we appeal to the voters?" I've read multiple takes from Labour centrists asking, in effect, "How do we prevent the Labour party membership from voting for a leftist?" I'm not sure it's the left of the Labour party that consider democracy outmoded.

This doesn't resonate with me at all: not dismissing your experience, but what I've seen on social media is the left of the Labour party blaming the loss entirely on the media and Brexit (in particular, some really scathing stuff about how Remain supporters were entirely to blame for the loss) and no introspection at all about how to win voters over better in future. Meanwhile, the more moderate people are dismissive of electing another leftist, yes, but not in a 'how-do-we-fix-the-election' way if only because, well, they don't have their hands on those levers at the moment anyway. Corbyn and his allies do. 

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13 hours ago, Triskele said:

Is this an intentional Bakker-inspired thread title?  

Yep.

I was going to go for some extended Bakker/Brexit crossover where the Tory triumph is equated to the activation of the No-God and Cummings has reduced the party to a kind of Dunsult aminated by his spirit (like Shae) but in the end I thought nah, can't be bothered, let's just stick with the old trustworthy 'came swirling down.'

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2 hours ago, mormont said:

This doesn't resonate with me at all: not dismissing your experience, but what I've seen on social media is the left of the Labour party blaming the loss entirely on the media and Brexit (in particular, some really scathing stuff about how Remain supporters were entirely to blame for the loss) and no introspection at all about how to win voters over better in future. Meanwhile, the more moderate people are dismissive of electing another leftist, yes, but not in a 'how-do-we-fix-the-election' way if only because, well, they don't have their hands on those levers at the moment anyway. Corbyn and his allies do. 

Do you think Labour should move toward the center?

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6 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Do you think Labour should move toward the center?

If they want to win an election they should.

They also need to find a way to win their old Scottish heartlands back from the SNP but I don’t really think that’s about how left wing or centrist they are.

Edited by ljkeane

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4 minutes ago, ljkeane said:

If they want to win an election they should.

They also need to find a way to win their old Scottish heartlands back from the SNP but I don’t really think that’s about how left wing or centrist they are.

I simultaneously admire and fear political groups who value their beliefs over winning elections.  I admire them for sticking to their beliefs.  I fear what they are willing to do to further those beliefs when the general population isn’t going their way.

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3 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Of course, Britons tend to be slightly more moderate than others, so I wouldn't dramatize in this particular thread.

Well I hope so, but I am concerned.

There is an old saying that the UK follows the US twenty years later, and it seems to me that everything is in place for the Tories to go full on US Republican party. They have just made a big lurch to the right and have discarded all ideas of telling the truth or playing by the rules. Neutralising the courts, gerrymandering the parliamentary constituencies, voter suppression id, aggressive assaults on all non-rightwing news media, etc, etc are all on their radar. It is easy to see them trying to create a base of support conditioned with lying memes to ignore all points of view other than the ones they push.

 

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And so it begins

https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/damian-green-social-care-insurance-lbc-1-6425258
Tory MP calls for social care insurance for 'those who can afford it'

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/boris-johnson-brexit-workers-rights-environment-climate-change-election-a9248611.html
Boris Johnson could ditch promise to protect workers' rights and environmental protections after Brexit, No 10 suggests

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4 hours ago, A wilding said:

Well I hope so, but I am concerned.

There is an old saying that the UK follows the US twenty years later, and it seems to me that everything is in place for the Tories to go full on US Republican party. They have just made a big lurch to the right and have discarded all ideas of telling the truth or playing by the rules. Neutralising the courts, gerrymandering the parliamentary constituencies, voter suppression id, aggressive assaults on all non-rightwing news media, etc, etc are all on their radar. It is easy to see them trying to create a base of support conditioned with lying memes to ignore all points of view other than the ones they push.

It's an interesting one. The Tories did not win over vast swathes of traditional northern Labour voters as the popular narrative has it, but they certainly won over a few thousand, enough to help carry them over the line in a few constituencies. In other places Labour voters flocking to the Greens and LibDems handed the Tories victory, or staying home. The Tories know that this could very easily turn into a massive backlash after another 5 years of austerity, failing services etc.

In the hands of a more hardline Tory, they wouldn't give a shit and set about Britain with a wrecking ball. But Johnson is a simplistic populist and I think he will really want to be trying to deliver better NHS services and better infrastructure in the north because he said he would. If his focus for the next five years is on that, Brexit trade deals and not handing over the NHS on a platter to Trump, I think the Tories' capacity for damage will be limited, particularly as the Tories know they have a massive charisma gap: below Boris, there's almost no-one of note coming up through the ranks who could win an election (Labour may have a similar issue, but they have at least a few maybe candidates; the Tories aren't going to win with fucking Raab or Patel in charge).

Also worth noting that Boris's relatively big majority can turn into a poisoned chalice: in 2010-15 the Tories could blame the LibDems for their own actions, and that worked out splendidly (for them). Since 2017 they've been able to blame Brexit, Remoaners and their minority government for everything. 2015-16 was taken up by planning for the election and they didn't really have enough time to cause a lot of damage. But now Johnson doesn't have an excuse: if he doesn't deliver on his promises despite a substantial majority, and if there are still huge numbers of food banks and NHS queues in 2024, again the backlash could be considerable.

There's also been very strong resistance from the Conservatives about going after social issues: abortion, gay rights, gender issues etc as hot button issues are simply not on the horizon at all and the Tories can rightly claim to have a much superior record on progressing those rights than Labour. The Tories have always had reasonable support from the gay community and from the Muslim community (especially the business owners) and going full Trump on them would cost them dearly.

That's not to say those things aren't still issues in the UK (they are), and Brexit and the latest Tory victory has triggered some rather horrendous Islamophobic eruptions in from some Tory supporters, but official Conservative policy has not been to weaponise those things in the way the Republicans have, and apparently even this relatively right-wing Tory Party shot down several attempts to do so during the campaign planning stages.

The caveat to that is that if Trump wins next year and Boris decides he needs to kowtow to him for Britain's interests, then all bets are off.

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9 hours ago, Rippounet said:

Simple answer: yes.

Just as the right believes that their nation's culture and identity is under an existential threat, the left believes that the attacks on social justice and global warming are existential threats for their survival.

This is why our age is so complicated politically speaking: both sides believe their very existence is at stake, and there is a significant proportion of people on both sides who are considering going to any lengths to get what they perceive as necessary. Our current form of democracy is incapable of solving such a polarized situation: whoever loses an election will threaten agitation. And in all fairness, though I am personally inclined to see the neo-fascist minority as the greater threat, I expect eco-radicalism to fuel radical forms of anti-capitalism in the near future.

Of course, Britons tend to be slightly more moderate than others, so I wouldn't dramatize in this particular thread. The situation is far more likely to deteriorate in other Western countries first. How Brexit and its potential economic consequences will affect Britons is an open question though. While Britons -imho- traditionally tend to look down on radical forms of political activism, this could change almost overnight if BoJo screws up badly.
Which is hardly out of the realm of possibility...

Very good post.

The sense that all you hold dear is at stake every time there is an election seems heightened in recent times. For both sides. The win at all costs mentality is the result. And the associated vitriol and anger.

But maybe our parents felt the same in their day, but these feelings were not as widely shared in an era without social media.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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2 hours ago, Free Northman Reborn said:

But maybe our parents felt the same in their day, but these feelings were not as widely shared in an era without social media.

Yes, I think the Internet and social media has amplified and fed the sense that the world is ending etc. Online is an easy outlet for anger, and the ease with which you can go online and find other people who share your views (and start amplifying everything in an echo chamber) pushes people to the extremes.

I know some people believe that in previous eras, everything was more civil and people were more moderate. But I think it's likely they held similar views to now but were just more careful about doing it in private. I've just been reading some books about the Watergate tapes, and the way that Nixon so casually swore, lied and directed things that were illegal and immoral - and the way that no one in those meetings seemed to really challenge him on any of it - makes me think that politics back then was just as vicious as now, it just wasn't as known by the public.

Nixon's behaviour wouldn't be out of place in this era. It's just that it was largely conducted behind closed doors (i.e. without the Internet and 24/7 news cycle) and it shocked people when the tapes were released. If there was a secret recording system in every country's political offices, I'm sure we'd find out that Western politics has been a brutal bloodsport all the way through.

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17 hours ago, Rippounet said:

I find this habit of conservatives calling themselves "the people" a bit baffling.

Honoring the "will of the people" is a shorthand for honoring the results of a vote in a democracy.  The general principle is really not difficult to understand, for those who see any value at all in democratic institutions, however imperfect they may be

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Brexit was voted by 51,9% with a high proportion of remainers abstainingThe 

Yeah, and "the people" voted to leave.   That was the result of the vote.  Many people, including many people who voted to remain, expected the Britain to leave the EU.  Because otherwise, the referendum was a fraud upon the public.

If the Brexit victory did not come from "the people", in some meaningful sense, where did it come from?  Putin?  Almost the entire establishment class was against it.  The Tories were largely against it.  Labor, when push came to shove was largely against it.  The BBC and the media and the elite class were against it.

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Even the recent smashing Conservative victory in the UK was obtained with 43,6% of the vote.

Well, you don't HAVE to vote.  You can choose not to vote, and when make that choice you effectively defer to those who have actual opinions.  It does not surprise me a bit that a good many of those who chose not to vote were superficially in the "remain" camp.   If they are not looking for trouble, then it is expected that they will believe what they are being told they SHOULD believe.  The downside is that they won't believe it particularly strongly.

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Let's not even begin to look at other countries...
The idea that 17,4 million people should ignore the will of 16,1 million is not just ridiculous, it's also dangerous.

What are you arguing for?  Minority rule?

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Basically these are no "good results" for democracy because populations are actually very close to a 50-50 split which, in an age of increased polarization, leads to many political crises.

As far as I can tell, these "political crises" consist of the people failing to vote the way the established class thinks they should vote … often, admittedly, by narrow margins.   

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The smaller the victory margins and the less legitimacy the overall system has. 

Why?  I don't necessarily want any one party to gain too much power.  I just want things to be sufficiently balanced that the elite power brokers and party bigshots have to care just a little bit about what the people think, and make some semi-meaningful pretense of being public servants, when they compete for public votes.

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Quite frankly, anyone saying they are "the people" after an electoral victory is just a godamn troll.

It's just the general idea, that the outcome of the vote represents the "will of the people" which must be honored.  The winners like to crow about it, but the losers also recognize it have some legitimacy.  That's why we don't have civil war every time there's a close vote.

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I happen to believe that socialism is by definition democratic, ….

Socialism is democratic if the majority of the voters rightly or wrongly want socialism.  And socialism is undemocratic if the majority of the voters rightly or wrongly DON'T want socialism.

Socialism is not "by definition" democratic, except in the communist totalitarian sense of "democracy".

Quote

which means I tend to believe that socialists need crushing electoral victories to have a clear democratic mandate to transform society...

I don't want government to transform society.  I want a strong tradition of respect for the opinions of the people to serve as a check on the corruption and tyranny of raw power.   I want people to have a hand in transforming society and transforming government.  I don't want it to go too much the other way.  

Sorry that things did not go your way, but I think you should just accept that your side lost the vote.  Maybe if your team adjusted your attitude to that of public servant, rather than of master transformers for whom the populace are your clay -- just a bunch of delinquents to be bullied into reformation -- maybe voters will trust you more next time, and will be more inclined to listen to your good ideas, if any.  

Edited by Platypus Rex

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1 hour ago, Platypus Rex said:

 

Yeah, and "the people" voted to leave.   That was the result of the vote.  Many people, including many people who voted to remain, expected the Britain to leave the EU.  Because otherwise, the referendum was a fraud upon the public.

 

It certainly was. 

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1 hour ago, Platypus Rex said:

Honoring the "will of the people" is a shorthand for honoring the results of a vote in a democracy.  The general principle is really not difficult to understand, for those who see any value at all in democratic institutions, however imperfect they may be

Yeah, and "the people" voted to leave.   That was the result of the vote.  Many people, including many people who voted to remain, expected the Britain to leave the EU.  Because otherwise, the referendum was a fraud upon the public.

If the Brexit victory did not come from "the people", in some meaningful sense, where did it come from?  Putin?  Almost the entire establishment class was against it.  The Tories were largely against it.  Labor, when push came to shove was largely against it.  The BBC and the media and the elite class were against it.

Well, you don't HAVE to vote.  You can choose not to vote, and when make that choice you effectively defer to those who have actual opinions.  It does not surprise me a bit that a good many of those who chose not to vote were superficially in the "remain" camp.   If they are not looking for trouble, then it is expected that they will believe what they are being told they SHOULD believe.  The downside is that they won't believe it particularly strongly.

What are you arguing for?  Minority rule?

As far as I can tell, these "political crises" consist of the people failing to vote the way the established class thinks they should vote … often, admittedly, by narrow margins.   

Why?  I don't necessarily want any one party to gain too much power.  I just want things to be sufficiently balanced that the elite power brokers and party bigshots have to care just a little bit about what the people think, and make some semi-meaningful pretense of being public servants, when they compete for public votes.

It's just the general idea, that the outcome of the vote represents the "will of the people" which must be honored.  The winners like to crow about it, but the losers also recognize it have some legitimacy.  That's why we don't have civil war every time there's a close vote.

Socialism is democratic if the majority of the voters rightly or wrongly want socialism.  And socialism is undemocratic if the majority of the voters rightly or wrongly DON'T want socialism.

Socialism is not "by definition" democratic, except in the communist totalitarian sense of "democracy".

I don't want government to transform society.  I want a strong tradition of respect for the opinions of the people to serve as a check on the corruption and tyranny of raw power.   I want people to have a hand in transforming society and transforming government.  I don't want it to go too much the other way.  

Sorry that things did not go your way, but I think you should just accept that your side lost the vote.  Maybe if your team adjusted your attitude to that of public servant, rather than of master transformers for whom the populace are your clay -- just a bunch of delinquents to be bullied into reformation -- maybe voters will trust you more next time, and will be more inclined to listen to your good ideas, if any.  

I actually feel discomfort at the idea of close results enabling major changes as well. Because next time the close result may not go one’s way. And in a polarised society that can have far reaching consequences for the 49% of the population who don’t agree.

This is a major weakness of the modern, integrated world. My answer - significant and radical devolution of power down to local community level to the maximum extent practically possible - runs directly against the modern globalist agenda.

Might be there is no answer, but one thing is for sure, the current system holds major conflict, heartache and division in store for all of us over the decades ahead.

Edited by Free Northman Reborn

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