What’s needed now are real left-wing radicals

Nick Cohen writes in The Spectator about how the left’s problem with anti-Semitism is a symptom of a deeper problem and suggests what Labour needs now is a takeover by real left-wing radicals.

Perhaps anti-Semitism is not taken as seriously here because the Nazis stopped at the Channel and we never had to live through our own version of Vichy. But there is a more contemporary reason for the failure to tackle it, or even admit its existence, that could unravel social-democratic politics.

Most Jews are white. And across the middle-class left, it is held that racism is not racism when it is directed against whites in general and that entitled aristocrat of our age, the straight white male, in particular. The dangers for centre-left parties should be obvious. In Europe and in Donald Trump’s America, the white-working-class base of social-democratic parties is falling away. Voters will carry on leaving if they keep hearing expensively educated voices tell them in perfectly constructed sentences that they are the oppressors who must be overthrown. Why should a white man with miserable job and no prospects tolerate a left-wing elite that casts him as an overprivileged villain? If I were in his shoes, I would loathe the lies and point-scoring and want nothing to do with such politicians.

A ‘left-wing’ egalitarianism that takes so little notice of class is fake. Like a ‘left-wing’ foreign policy that is on the side of the reactionary and obscurantist, it will first infuriate and then fail.

But he fears that when the left abandons the currently-fashionable middle-class identity politics, what will replace it won’t be the genuine radicalism that the centre-left needs, but a timid acceptance of a consensus set by the Tories

Like a case of dysentery, the Corbyn moment will pass. My fear is that it will be replaced not with a serious commitment to reform, but with the terrified conformism that characterised the Labour party after Tony Blair became leader. Labour will be so desperate to prove it is strong on national security that it will agree with whatever the generals and security services propose. It will be so desperate to appear economically reputable that it will endorse rather than oppose the stagnant system the Cameron government has presided over.

Nick Cohen is sounding more and more like a stuck record on this issue. But it doesn’t mean he isn’t right.

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2 Responses to What’s needed now are real left-wing radicals

  1. Synthetase says:

    That last quote rings true of Australian politics at least. There’s now about one atom’s difference between our Labor party (yes, it is spelled the American way…) and the conservatives.

  2. PaulE says:

    So, the first electoral test of Mr Corbyn.

    The country went to the polls and the electorate said ….

    “Go away. I’m enjoying the sunny weather” :-)