“Working class voters want more than economic security; they want cultural security too.”
The UK Election and Its Portent for America
By: George Noga – December 20, 2019
This special posting was necessitated by the stunning results of the UK election. Most polls and pundits projected a hung Parliament; none foresaw the electoral tsunami that resulted in an 80-seat Conservative majority, the revolt of the working class, the crumbling of Labour’s “red wall” in northern England or the collapse of the Liberal Party. Seats that Labour had held for over 100 years were lost to the Tories. It is impossible to overstate the consequences of the UK election to our own in 2020.
The June 23, 2016 UK Brexit vote (see our post of 6/28/16 on our website: www.mllg.us) heralded the seismic electoral shift that elected Trump later that year. Bill Clinton, one of the savviest politicians of our era, said he foresaw Hillary’s loss upon seeing the Brexit results. Afterward, he attributed Hillary’s loss to the same forces that drove Brexit and said he had felt apprehensive ever since the Brexit vote.
A key MLLG political principle is that real people voting in real elections count much more than polls or pundits – even in elections held in foreign countries. Recent votes in France, Australia, Germany and elsewhere foretold the UK vote. But what is most critical to our own election are the reasons Brits voted as they did. No one has explained these electoral forces better than Paul Embery, a Labour Party activist, who wrote an incisive analysis immediately after the election. It is excerpted below.
Is This the End for Labour? by Paul Embery (lightly edited)
“The British working class was not, in the end, willing to vote for a London-centric, youth-obsessed party that preached the gospels of liberal cosmopolitanism and class warfare. For the red wall to have crumbled so spectacularly underlines the sheer scale of the failure. Labour’s meltdown comes as no surprise to anyone paying attention who wasn’t blinded by ideology or fanaticism. We sounded alarm bells earlier this year following local elections when Labour hemorrhaged support in working class communities across the north and Midlands. But the woke liberals didn’t listen.
They believed constant hammering about economic inequality would get Labour over the line. They failed to grasp working class voters desire something more than economic security; they want cultural security too. They want politicians to respect their way of life and their sense of place; to elevate real world concepts like work, family and community over nebulous constructs like diversity, equality and inclusivity. By immersing itself in the destructive creed of identity politics and championing policies such as open borders, Labour alienated millions across provincial Britain. In the end, Labour lost a culture war that it didn’t even know it was fighting.
So where now? Labour must marry demands for economic justice with those of cultural stability. It must reconnect with voters in post-industrial towns who believe Labour indifferent to their plight. It must rekindle belonging built on shared values and common cultural bonds. It must respect those who oppose large-scale immigration, want a tough justice system, feel proud to be British, support the role of the family at the center of society, prefer a welfare system based on reciprocity rather than entitlements and who do not obsess about multiculturalism and transgender rights.”
What This Means for the US 2020 Election
The parallels between the UK Labour Party and the US Democratic Party are incandescently obvious. Without question, the revolt of the working class that rocked the UK election will play an outsized role in ours. If culturally disaffected Americans in the Rust Belt turn out in force, Trump could win big. The UK election was real people casting real votes in a real election and they made quite a loud statement! People everywhere have similar desires and voters in northern England are no different than voters in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and throughout the Rust Belt.
The electoral sentiments revealed by UK voters confer a huge, but not dispositive, advantage to Trump and create a presumption, ceteris paribus, he will win. However, there also are other powerful electoral forces at work and the election is over 10 months away. We will write in depth about the 2020 election in February or March.
Of course, the Democrats also have seen the results of the UK election and it should have scared the bejesus out of them. It is an open question how they respond. Will they cling to the phantasm that working Americans are eager for revolutionary social change, or will they take to heart the analysis of Paul Embery? Working class British voters categorically rejected the woke liberal agenda; so will American voters.