Last week saw Jeremy Corbyn lead Labour into its first serious electoral challenges since his landslide victory in the party’s leadership race – and the results weren’t good.
Despite Sadiq Khan becoming London Mayor (via a poor turnout in a dull political race) with a paltry twenty percent of the votes, Labour ended the night with fewer councillors than it started with, and more significantly, ended third place in Scotland behind Ruth Davidson’s Tories.
There are many factors which will have contributed to this poor showing, but the freshest wound Labour bore going into Thursday was the allegations of anti-Semitism riddling the party and the wider movement like a cancer. But look a little closer and you’ll see that anti-Semitism isn’t the only casually accepted prejudice many on the Left have.
It’s not difficult to find something about the US that you dislike: interventionist foreign policy, fast food, omnipresent Hollywood, bastardisation of our language, historic revisionism, Justin Bieber fans, or American’s incessant bloody cheerfulness…
For most of us however, it’s not hatred but a cheerful ribbing. We poke fun at the ‘Yanks’ in the same way we do with our friends. Even if we do roll our eyes at their excesses, we admire their confidence, their technological achievements and yes, even their sunny disposition. In reality we can’t get enough of their food, their films, their TV shows and their celebrities. And it goes both ways. We take a certain guilty pleasure that Americans get a little giddy over British accents, as well as our ability to drink and swear them back to the colonies.
But for many on the Left, there’s a nastier, more spiteful anti-Americanism. Political anti-Americanism is in part born out of frustration. It must be a constant source of irritation that the most powerful nation on earth is unashamedly capitalist, patriotic, gun-loving, militaristically well endowed, religious, socially conservative and individualistic. That America triumphed and the Soviet Union collapsed was unforgivable. Worse still, it is the country with the most people trying to get into it.
Criticism of American politics is transferred to its citizens. All of them are to blame. Borderline racism of the Left against Americans is so common it goes unnoticed. Americans are caricatured as being universally fat, lazy and ignorant. This is the same America that pastes everybody at the Olympics and sends robots to Mars. It’s a lazy stereotyping that skinheads and Little Englanders revel in, and that would never be tolerated of any other country’s citizens.
It manifests itself in global politics too. Any murderous, brutal tyrant is given the slavish support of the British Left provided they are also anti-American with it. Chavez and Castro are lionised in spite of human rights abuses. British Leftists even bussed themselves over to Iraq to act as human shields to defend the blood-soaked regime of Saddam Hussein, simply to spite the US.
There is a huge double standard in the way the British Left views religions and their followers in Britain, and it seems to be born out of a patronising, almost colonial era view of other cultures.
Religion is a quaint superstition, their theory goes. Believers wear silly clothes, pray to sky fairies and blindly follow magic books. It’s little better than role play or witchcraft – something less advanced cultures do. However being the tolerant champions of diversity that they are, they keep quiet. Oh, they might stifle a snigger behind closed doors, or suppress a smirk when nobody is looking, but they’ll show respect.
But British Christians – especially white British Christians – are another matter. Respect and tolerance? Forget it. Left leaning types will happily make jokes about inappropriate priests they wouldn’t dream of making about a rabbi or an imam. The reason; Brits should have ‘grown out’ of religion by now. Religion, remember, is for other, primitive cultures to cling to. These cultures will of course ‘catch up’ one day and grow out of it too, but we should know better by now.
Hostility towards Christianity is acceptable because it’s seen as a white, Western religion, and therefore not deserving of the respect afforded to other faiths which are invariably associated with brown people in the developing world.
White Van Man
It is a central tenant of Leftist thought that they and they alone represent the little man which is why working class conservatism is an idea that too many on the Left have simply never gotten their head around. After all, the working class are meant to be on ‘their’ side. Isn’t it the Left who champion the rights of the poor and underprivileged? Isn’t it the Left that speak for the masses? Well no. Whilst most working class Brits are fairly centrist on issues like the NHS and schools, they are more likely to be small c conservative on immigration, crime, political correctness, benefits, and international aid. To make matters worse, they are more likely to be patriotic in a way too many on the Left balk at.
And it is because of these that the most visible manifestation of working class conservatism, the White Van Man, comes in for criticism. Despite his views being rather representative of a great many voters, White Van Man is vilified. His concerns about the pace of immigration are scornfully shouted down as bigotry. Wanting tougher jail sentences is dismissed as regressive or downright fascist. There is a quiet snobbery about White Van Man; a sneering elitist attitude that he ‘just doesn’t get it’. One can almost sense an exasperated sentiment that ‘they don’t know what’s good for them, but we do’. Little wonder that UKIP are gleefully reaping their grim harvest in traditional Welsh Labour areas.
A condescending, paternalistic attitude towards the lower orders used to be the preserve of the aristocracy. Today it is the default setting of middle class humanities graduates increasingly out of touch with the values of a country they don’t really understand and don’t particularly like.
Political movements, like all tribal groups and collectives, need an ‘other’, an outsider to serve a totem for all that they believe to be bad and wrong with the world. It therefore shouldn’t be a surprise that the Labour movement and the Left in general have their own guilty prejudices and bigotries. The difference stems from a deeply ingrained dogma that the Left don’t do prejudices, it’s simply not possible, like a bad piece of code in the start-up script. And it’s this belief that causes the gaping blind spot of the Left Wing intolerance.