The right looks for converts, the left for traitors. So runs the famous saying and it’s true, but feels incomplete. The modern left sniffs around obsessively for racists, homophobes, pronoun-skeptics, Islam-doubters, and any other kind of careless bigot you can imagine, with the possible exception of anti-Semites, to whom the hard left is more likely to give a free pass and an inclusive wink.
Losing sight of its founding principles, the left has largely given itself up to identity politics and grievance representation. It has defined itself by what it’s opposed to—discrimination and inequality—so when it turns out that what it’s opposed to is in increasingly short supply, the left has no choice but to invent it, which is how it winds up turning on its own one-time members.
The current generation of haughty leftists flounces round the political scene like a wheat intolerant Spanish Inquisition. They combust, mortally wounded, at the slightest digression from their peculiar brand of moral commandment, weaponising their own emotional delicacy to justify the abuse of anyone who breaches their anti-intellectual safe space. People who at one time supported the left, but who now hold proscribed opinions, are directly in their line of fire.
So contrary to Theresa May’s matter-of-fact statement, Brexit does not mean Brexit. It means a Tory deception now, a way for the hard-right to refashion Britain as a predatory economic dystopia, in which children will be sent to the workhouse, hospitals demolished, and forests burned down for fun. Never mind that many Leave backers are people who’d usually vote Labour. And never mind that Brexit is not, and never was, a left/right issue. If you’re in favour of leaving the EU, then the new left-wing purity police will put you on their watchlist.
But as hard Remainers continue their public breakdown over the imagined consequences of Brexit, they fail to recognise that they chose, by themselves, to relinquish their own influence over the process of leaving the EU. They did this when, rather than immediately accepting the result in an adult manner, and getting on with the task at hand, they chose instead to throw an almighty tantrum.
It’s the new left that lost emotional control and tried, with pathological selfishness, to subvert democracy. They misrepresented Leavers and their reasons for voting out. They cast around for heretics to throw stones at, repelled former Labour voters, and in the end did nothing other than remove themselves, in a fit of ridiculous, misplaced indignation, from the real debate.
Still they don’t see their own role in driving people away from the left, but why would any Leave voter go within a million miles of the Labour Party now? The Labour Party whose media cheerleaders have made it clear that they viscerally despise Leave voters, and would dismiss the referendum result if only they had the power to do so.
And how about another pressing national concern, immigration? The most common opinion is that it should be lowered. After all, what reason is there to think that the current rate is perfect, or that it’s always too low, and must only ever go up? Surely there’s nothing wrong with simply presenting for discussion the idea that immigration could be set lower.
But these normal opinions are abhorrent to the Islington Left, who’ve been conditioned to reject such thinking without consideration. Talk to them like this and you’ll be regarded with suspicion. You will become, of course, a racist. A word which, when uttered by a millennial leftist, simply serves as an indicator that your opinion is beyond the limits of what they’ve been enabled to process.
And then there’s the small matter of Islam. Perhaps this is the issue around which Labour have destroyed themselves the most comprehensively. There are so many problems that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Maybe with Sharia Law’s incompatibility with secular values. Or with attitudes to homosexuality, and apostasy. Or with women’s rights, and the burka. Or with enabling cohesive integration. Or with violent extremism, and how to defend against the bloody wave of terror attacks breaking across Europe.
This is a defining issue of our time, by which Europe is being reshaped. So what do those on the left, who are always so assured of their own intellectual and moral capacity, have to say? What is their expert input to this profoundly significant debate?
Well, as it happens, their contribution is to cancel the debate.
They not only refuse to engage with the issue, but they actively, aggressively work to prevent anyone else from talking about it either. Even in the immediate wake of an Islamist terror attack, they will move quickly to discredit anyone who criticises Islam, defaming them with Islamophobic motives. Or alternatively they’ll wrench the discussion over to some weird, out-of-place discourse on the workings of the ‘far-right’.
And as with ‘racist’, ‘far-right’ now has a new meaning. It’s anyone who doesn’t go unquestioningly along with the progressive agenda, no matter how irrational and out-of-touch that agenda becomes. Far right means dissenter. Far right means traitor.
So on three of the big issues of the moment, Brexit, mass immigration, and Islam, the left have removed themselves entirely from the conversation. In fact, worse than that, they’ve huddled on the sidelines, from where they pelt everyone else with insults, bang pots and pans, and moronically attempt to derail the normal conventions of civil discourse. The left doesn’t present its case anymore, it simply tries to stop anyone else from presenting theirs.
The Labour Party now is a weird amalgamation of two of the most voter repellent groups in politics. On one side is the hard-left faction, which has at various times shown support for Hamas and Hezbollah, the IRA, and North Korea. It’s Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell, and Andrew Murray. These are real-life political extremists, who have nothing good to say about the West. They’re the kind of people who address Stalinists under a hammer and sickle, or who were members of the Communist Party of Britain just five months ago.
And on the other is the creepy, Guardian-fed, millennial faction. Thin-skinned Marie Antoinettes who can do little more than berate and belittle anyone who happens to hold a differing opinion, while ignoring entirely the atrocious beliefs of those in charge of their party.
Both groups have worked ceaselessly to root out nonconformity. They’ve alienated and abused people who spent a lifetime supporting Labour, while leaving moderates who feel naturally at home on the centre left in a state of perplexed despair.
So it’s truer now than it’s ever been. The right looks for converts, while the left hunts traitors. And the left has done a sterling job of it. These days, the traitors outnumber the true believers.
This article was first posted at Country Squire Magazine