Wednesday 30 June 2021

The deeply "problematic" spectacle of Batley & Spen (2)

Following on my first set of observations from the ever-worsening disgrace that is the Batley & Spen by-election, Kev suggested BTL: "... the Labour movement (and nearly all left wing institutions) control the agenda..." and I replied that it could be argued differently.  That's very specifically as regards Labour qua political party, but more widely as well.  Let's take the first of these, and start with ...

Caution: pick your words carefully when commenting on this BTL - particularly to the extent you agree with Kev's point above - because (consistent with what he says) Social Meejah are wont to close accounts down these days.

In fact, this is a post I could have written more than a year ago, but have held back from doing so for that very reason.  Why has my "discretion" been shaken off now?  Because B&S provides at least some topcover.

*   *   *   *   *

After their 2019 GE debacle there were several post mortems coming out of Labour, some of them lengthy and produced after much deliberation.  They mostly all said this was no time for taboos / sacred cows / mincing words etc; and they fearlessly (more or less) debated the impact both the personality of Corbyn and the shifting Brexit stances with which they'd tied themselves up in knots.  Antisemitism came up a bit too - although at the time they they were fairly hamstrung by the pending EHRC thing and legal considerations around that.  They even touched on some culture-war aspects, although that wasn't quite the term of art it's become over the past 12 months.

But there was one aspect potentially having some explanatory value, that I didn't see any of them daring to broach (just like me, in fact).  It's been well and truly aired now, however.  How might a party fare with the electorate as a whole, if it was perceived to be The Party of The Muslim Vote? 

Now because the ranks of the Voluble Left are stuffed with very clever, analytic people, it's inconceivable they hadn't mulled this one over: they must therefore have decided it was off-limits.  In many respects it's the same issue as the one that had everyone running for cover when the paramilitary uniforms came out in Brixton last summer, which we discussed along similar lines at the time.  The Labour leadership knows it cannot be even loosely associated with that stuff in the public's mind and will take pains to put great distance between themselves and whatever is out there: an absolute strategic imperative.   

But Batley & Spen has unleashed every sordid aspect of this in 3D technicolour, complete with highly plausible accusations that "Labour is ashamed of these voters": and (from Li'l Owen Jones) that the Labour leadership is willing to "throw [the Muslim community] under a bus" (sic).

Problematic, or what?  And the consequences have also now been explicated by the Left.  In sum: Labour needs the Muslim block vote in seat after seat: but it just can't be seen doing what might be needed in order to retain it.  A dilemma for Labour as acute and as existential as (with different dynamics) Scotland is for them.  I can't imagine the LibDems or the Greens are exactly comfortable right now, either.  

And they're all faced with an opponent - the Tory Party - that needs do nothing but remain silent which, in the rancid circumstances of B&S, looks like the dignified position anyhow.  When they've finished shedding each other's blood (and that might not be for a good while yet) the Left won't be slow to complain loudly about that, too.  Look look: the Tories are not saying anything!

This is an issue of far more import than just the tactical party politics of 2021. Also, to my mind, none of it speaks to the Left having a particularly firm grip on The Agenda, even if there's a strong argument to say they once did - at least up until 2016-ish.  Looks more to me like the bar of soap is squirming in their unsteady hands, fit to shoot out of their grasp.  There's another hot example offering more evidence for this, which I'll float in the next few days.  

Having said that, B&S might continue to be a wholly diverting spectacle for some time to come - for those who don't stay with the altogether healthier option of the footy ...


Footnote after polling day: 

Labour Batley campaign source says: “Basically built a new electoral coalition in six weeks. Lost the conservative Muslim vote over gay rights and Palestine, and won back a lot of 2019 Tory voters” “This result shows we’re reconnecting with the wider electorate again” 


PS: this is a great essay on the overall mess Labour is in.  Some very well-crafted writing within.


dearieme said...

Tell me, Sir Kneel, is Islam right about women?

dearieme said...

Starmer should have opposed lockdown. (i) Moslems and other BAMEs would have approved, judging by their vaccination behaviour. (ii) He could have Stood Up For Freedom, a pose much-loved on the left. (iii) It would have been good for The Workers, also a pose much-loved on the left.

Instead he stood up for the Ocado-using classes, which doubtless included lots of Labour voters but not the ones it likes to wax sentimental about. He stood up for the oppressive power of the state, again a Labour reality but not the pose it usually likes to strike. He denied himself the chance to make substantial criticism of the government, instead coming across as a mere whiney lawyer.

His judgement was lousy. Oot the windae, as SNP people probably like to say.

Matt said...

The agenda the Left is in control of is that of the clerisy and technocrats (aka the elites) who directly control all aspects of our lives.

The politicians only have indirect control as the Civil (sic) Service takes no notice of them.

Graeme said...

"The active political left is becoming what Thomas Piketty calls, a Brahmin group. We have no self-perception of what this means. We boast about our virtue. We sneer at covid-idiots. Yet we seem unable to politically reflect on the extent to which privilege moulds our lives too"

You might enjoy this take on the state of the Party

Anonymous said...

Labour under Blair managed to keep the coalition of the fringes pretty well united against straight white gentile males, but there are always a few bumps in the road, and thisn is one of them.

"How might a party fare with the electorate as a whole, if it was perceived to be The Party of The Muslim Vote?"

Labour has been the party of the muslim vote for 60 years now. Roy Hattersley in 2005:

"For more than 30 years, I took the votes of Birmingham Muslims for granted. The Muslims themselves I treated with more respect. But if, at any time between 1964 and 1997 I heard of a Khan, Saleem or Iqbal who did not support Labour I was both outraged and astonished.

My presumption was justified. It was the Muslim vote - increased by an influx of families from Kashmir, the Punjab and other parts of Birmingham - which expanded my majority from barely 1,200 to more than 12,000...

I always assumed that their mothers and aunts (often on instruction) voted the same way as their husbands."

But as long as the media are willing to ignore/play down that fact, it's not a big problem.

Nick Drew said...

Graeme - a neat little piece at that link; thanks

Anon - an excellent quotation: source?

Anonymous said...

Mr Hattersley has now retired, not to the bosom of his Muslim brothers and sisters, but to a charming and very white village in the Peak District. Strange, given how much he loved diversity.

Don Cox said...

The problem the Labour Party has is that it is no longer needed.

All the main aims of the labour movements in Britain in the 19th century were achieved decades ago -- state pensions, sickness and unemployment benefit, a state health service, free schools, universal suffrage, workers' rights, etc.

Blair kept the party alive by sleight of hand, but it really is dead now.

Marxism is a different matter, and a different party -- though with a history of capturing other parties. Islam is different again.

Don Cox

Sobers said...

The problem the Left has is that its favoured groups are getting smaller and smaller, and thus electorally less significant, and are increasingly at odds with each other. It started as the party of the working man, and there were lots of working men, so that was fine. It added the party of feminism in the post war period, and that was fine too, as there's lots of women,so even if the feminists put off some of the dinosaurs it wasn't a problem electorally. But then it started to move towards being the party of immigration and the gays and lesbians, and thus started the process we see the culmination of today. Every group it takes up with is smaller than the last (the trans one has got to be the smallest by miles) and each one is increasingly at odds with all the others. The immigrants were at odds with the working man in general, allowing the capitalists a free run at cheap labour ad infinitum, some of the immigrants are at odds with both women and the gays, and the trans lot are at odds with just about everyone. How can you create a party sized coalition between feminists, Islamists and trans people while also keeping the working man on board? It can't be done, its rats in a sack time.

Nick Drew said...

thanks, anon: cut-out-and-keep, that one

(i have a Hattersley favourite of my own ...

neat analysis, Sobers

Anomalous Cowshed said...

Don Cox has it; once the NUM, and by extension, the rest of the TUC, had been seen off, the state establishment mainly took on the responsibility of that element of the bottom-up Labour movement, the Tolpuddle Martyrs. So, by the time Blair brings in the MW, there is no longer any specific reason to vote Labour if you were part of the unionised working class, it's a state function, and all parties can pitch their own vision. Monopoly destroyed.

All that's left of the wider Labour alliance is effectively the Fabian Society element, which is hideously top down, peasants, where's my champagne.
Just took a while given the electoral cycle.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes, ND, Mr Hattersley defending the Williams sisters. I wonder how many kids they have now? Inshallah they got them out before the two-child benefit policy of Cameron/Osborne 2015, halting 50 years of dysgenic welfare subsidy.

E-K said...

I can think of many reasons why voters from staunch Labour families might have switched to the Tories. There's a clue. Did the Red Wall actually fall or did it stay voting Red ?

I have never seen policies looking so Leftist as they do now. This country has never felt so Stalinist as it does now.

I have 'political correction' lessons at work, a daily misery-stats bulletin at night... I am told that a win in an inconsequential event against old adversaries marks Great Freedom Day as I am expected to wear a mask for no justifiable reason (so I don't.)

We have a political elite (soon to have their own zil lanes and exclusive - electric - transport) who cavort maskless while the plebs stand to attention like automatons with mouths and noses blacked out.

We have the shagger-in-chief who was deliriously happy in lock-down breaking all the rules .... interests woefully conflicted

We have money-splooging beyond Corbyn's wildest dreams, virtually a state income and rampant inflation (the full extent yet to be seen)

We have an immigration taxi service fed by vast come-and-get-us rubber boats manufactured with the approval of the Tories in order to deceive Tory voters.

We have all the inconveniences of a border with none of the protections of it (Indian variant)

Mates of the Tories get freedom - the plebs don't.

Crippling Green adherence

Crippling Woke adherence

Sorry to sound ungrateful but what we're living under now is worse than the Corbyn horrors that I was trying to avoid.

Elby the Beserk said...

@EK. Whoever it is our politicians represent, it sure isn't us. That much has been made VERY clear to us for some time now. We are simply a gape jawed ATM for them to plunder.

By the way, these constant references to But To Let - BTL - have I missed something?

A crumb of comfort would be Hancock being arraigned for the mass slaughter of the elderly.

Thud said...

No Kev, Corby would have been much much worse.

Matt said...

@ Elby

BTL == Below The Line or comments on the main article.

John Miller said...

The Left are searching for a victim they can defend.

They are flailing about without success.

There is one Boss they can take on, but for some reason, they can’t see it.

Big Tech has lumbered the USA with a genuinely senile president. Who is going to defend the Common Man against these monsters? Big Tech obviously think their 5th columnists can extract some valuable advantage form this decrepit old geezer. The Labour Party (Democrats, in this case) could ride to the rescue, and free ordinary folk from the Evil Oppressors. Are they big enough? Do they have the cojones for a genuine grisly fight?

Sobers said...

Big Tech has lumbered the USA with a genuinely senile president. Who is going to defend the Common Man against these monsters? Big Tech obviously think their 5th columnists can extract some valuable advantage form this decrepit old geezer. The Labour Party (Democrats, in this case) could ride to the rescue, and free ordinary folk from the Evil Oppressors. Are they big enough? Do they have the cojones for a genuine grisly fight?"

Don't be daft, Big Tech is the Left's wet dream, control of everyone, forever. They aren't going to destroy what they want to get their hands on themselves. And pretty much have already, from the inside. The Left don't need to legislate to control Big Tech, they have their people running the whole show.

dearieme said...

"the main aims of the labour movements in Britain in the 19th century were achieved decades ago -- ... a state health service ..."

I think you may be wrong there. The idea of the NHS is usually attributed to the Beveridge Report. Be that as it may, it was adopted as policy by the Conservative and Liberal Parties while it was still opposed by the Labour Party.

lilith said...

It is pretty weird standing for the seat your murdered sister held....each to their own.

Elby the Beserk said...

@Matt - thanks!

First of all a great result for the country as it leaves Starmer dangling in the wind performing his now renowned "hole in space" act. The hard Left will rise up, and Dawn Butler and Rayner will vie for the leader's role, and unite the country around their policies. Or not.

More and more like a soap opera, Labour.

Nick Drew said...

@ great result for the country

that has to be right, Elby: a waffer-thin 'victory', just about perfect

I always thought it was poor Jo Cox whose demise made Brexit as narrow as 52:48 - surely it would have been nearer 55:45 otherwise; and it looks like something similar here

Bill Quango MP said...

Best result possible.
After the rise of the libs from the previous by-election, this should focus Tory MPs on their seats.

They cannot take either blue, or red, wall seats for granted. Either could flip.

( btw, our Blogging colleagues at political betting called both results correctly, Amersham and Batley, well before the results. A week before in both cases. The media were very surprised both didn’t go blue. The PBers were not. They actually blame Johnson personal ratings for the loss.
With two results to back up their conclusions.)

dearieme said...

"a waffer-thin 'victory'"

Spelling mistake. Surely a Waffen SS 'victory'.

E-K said...


I was encouraged by your optimism on the vaccines but told you that they would never ever be good enough.

Not even those beyond our wildest dreams. (And beyond our wildest dreams is what one SAGE scientist told us we have achieved this week... so why are we [you] still in masks ?)

Hancock examined the stats microscopically in order to prolong lockdown so he could stay with his mistress knowing that, out of this crisis, he was a chinless none entity.

Prove otherwise.

But... I did tell you so.

Here we are.

Still under restrictions. The next variant is being hunted for.

Anonymous said...

The whiner …. LOL

E-K said...

Not whining.

That is not what I'm doing, in case you hadn't noticed.

Pop your mask back on.

Anonymous said...

"The next variant is being hunted for. "

From Lockdownsceptics this morning:

"Global health officials are warning that an “unusual” mutation in the “Lambda” variant that’s hitting the U.K. could make it resistant to vaccines..."

There you are, ladies and gentlement; that carries us over nicely until the autumn, and then we can pull the "NHS overwhelmed" lever again.

I'm telling you (this is not original I know), this will not end until enough of us understand that it's not meant to end ever, and start to stand up to them.

andrew said...

"!I'm telling you (this is not original I know), this will not end until enough of us understand that it's not meant to end ever, and start to stand up to them."

Translating into my words:
"this will not end until enough of us understand that it's never going to end and consider that letting Darwin take its course with humans as it is with the virus is less unpalatable than cancelling civilisation as we know it"

Currently looking into how to go long Religion.

Thud said...

Kev, I've not worn a mask yet, mind you I've not been out and about much but I do work here and on 2 other places and not a mask to be seen nor has there been. The vaccines are outstanding the pricks on tv less so.