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If it is to succeed, the Left must be more opportunistic

An unruly troop of aggressive backbenchers, baying for the next political development which will force their master into an ideologically equivalent position. A leadership devoid of intellectual strength, grappling for any token idea to add to their non-existent manifesto for the future. A party membership tearing into the political extremities, demanding doses of authoritarianism as the solutions to the problems we face.

Sound familiar? It is likely that the image of the Labour Party, with all its present day crises, would have sprung to mind. Surely I couldn’t be referring to that beacon of stability and certainty that is the Conservative Government? Yet, as the EU Referendum becomes as distant a memory as George Osborne actually having credibility, it is clear that Theresa May is dragging the country into a crevice of continual uncertainty. The escape route of a Brexit plan is an aspiration we are unlikely ever to see.

Nevertheless, the electorate seem to be delighted with this new type of politics. According to an Opium/Observer poll, Theresa May is trusted by more than twice as many voters as Jeremy Corbyn on the economy and delivering Brexit. Indeed, her approval ratings have risen to 46% since her coronation as Britain’s second female Prime Minister. Given she is at the helm of a party tearing itself apart over Brexit, surely the question must be; why is the Labour Party in such a dire condition?

The answer cannot be attributed fully to Jeremy Corbyn. Indeed, from an international perspective, the Left are on the brink of ideological extinction across the Western World, with electorates turning against the establishment parties of socialism and social democracy.

However, this pattern does not fully equate with the public feeling prevalent in the West. It would suggest that capitalism is now the accepted societal system and the vast majority of us are willing to defend globalisation with vigour. Is that the feeling that we can infer from the Brexit decision or the rise of Donald Trump or the speedy advancement of far-right parties across the continent? The public mood is clearly one that detests this new form of free-market economics and increasing globalisation. The issue for the Labour Party is that voters are unwilling to use it as a vehicle for expressing their opposition to the established way.

The reason for this can be neatly summarised by a quote from George Orwell, a stringent democratic socialist himself: “One cannot see the modern world as it is unless one recognises the overwhelming strength of patriotism and national loyalty”. Jeremy Corbyn has failed to grasp this patriotic uprising in working-class communities across the country, in a similar fashion as to when the Scottish Labour Party failed to appreciate that national identity meant more to their voters than mere economics. Left wing economics has now become intertwined with traditional right-wing nationalistic populism; a sensible merger given both require state intervention. The Labour Party are continuing to defend a socialist programme, backed up by a socially liberal outlook; an ideology which fails to connect with their traditional voter base.

In a post-Brexit world, the Left should be the dominant force in British politics. Voters have rejected globalisation and the free market. The challenge for Labour is whether they are willing to appease to the socially conservative right. Sadly, it is one in which they are bound to fail. 

Image credit: Policy Exchange

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