A Week of Shame for the Left

14/05/2015 15:31 BST | Updated 13/05/2016 10:59 BST

A week has passed since the day of the General Election, and while we are surely used to bad losers (and winners) after any democratic event in the country, the tone of the Far (and increasingly non-Far) Left in this case is in many ways terrifying, but ultimately shows the true colours of certain sections of the Left today: namely blind hatred; classist contempt; and fervent anti-democracy.

The first point, blind hatred, should require little explanation. Even before the election, a significant strand of Labour campaigning seemed focussed on portraying the Conservatives as only interested in protecting the interests of 'the rich' against those of 'the poor', a point exacerbated by the comparisons of the two leaders while they were students at Oxford. We have heard for five years how apparently welfare reform can be analogised to murder, and from Charlie Brooker how, in order to vote Tory, you must have been born with a part of your soul missing. The dehumanisation apparent here is no more manifest than the 'anti-Tory manifesto' posted to an event organised by the far-left 'London Black Revs', a document of unbridled hate speech - nay, direct incitement to violence - calling for the denial of basic civil and political rights for, and the compulsory identification for the purposes of violence to, Conservatives, and indeed Liberal Democrats. This is rhetoric which already led to the attacking of right-wing voters before the election and which, were it directed at any other group, would surely send you to prison for hate crimes.


The second point is perhaps more of a surprise, given that it conveniently did not occur in 1997, 2001, 2005 nor indeed 2010, when the working classes reacted in a way considered more 'acceptable' by their self-appointed guardians and community leaders on the Far Left. The taking of seats by the Conservatives in working class areas of Middle England, on the other hand, has meant that the Far Left has needed to adapt its Class War politics accordingly, and has done so by belittling and patronise those who they claim to look out for. This has taken the form both of implying that said voters are mentally ill and voted for their own suicide - again grounded in hyperbolic appeals to emotion - or, more sinisterly, that their feeble minds were brainwashed by Murdoch-owned papers. This ignores several facts: firstly, that the 'Murdoch Empire' is not party-partisan, with the Sun backing Blair in 1997, for instance; secondly that Sun readers are not a homogenous bloc, with more than a quarter voting Labour this election; and thirdly that this ignores the (far more likely) possibility that the Sun readers are able to make up their own minds about an election! It is deeply ironic to see the classism of well-educated 'class warriors' come to the fore when the class they claim to represent decides democratically to disagree with them.

And thirdly, most disturbingly of all, we see rabid anti-democracy appearing to enter mainstream discourse through social media. Only days after the election, before a government had even been formed, we were treated to riots in London and demands that the new government resign or be kicked out of Downing Street merely because the Far Left didn't like it. Obviously, these people have little understanding of the idea of democracy. The Greek 'demos' and 'kratos' do not translate to 'I lost' and 'the people are stupid; let's riot', but to 'people' and 'power'; it is about giving the people the power to choose a government even if you personally disagree with that choice. Then again, it also seems clear that these sections of the Left do not respect democracy either, an impression reinforced not only by the predictable display of communist iconography but even an op-ed in the Guardian attacking the idea of democracy itself from the same patronising position that the poor simply don't know what's in their own interests. Demands for voting reform after this election are similarly disingenuous, given that a decisive majority of people who voted in the AV referendum rejected it; to ignore this as soon as next Parliament would be an insult to the idea of commitment by referendum.

To conclude, it is too easy to shrug and say that we cannot tell people how to react to an election result. Put simply: we can. We can condemn people who deface war memorials, destroy property and attack ordinary voters, as this is not an acceptable reaction to a free and fair election simply because you didn't get the result you wanted, a statement which really should be uncontroversial. Frankly, you didn't see Conservatives rioting in 2001 and 2005 while calling for the civil (and sometimes actual) deaths of rival voters when Blair was returned with increasingly small majorities, so why should we accept such behaviour when a Conservative Prime Minister is returned with an increased majority and vote share?

Perhaps one reason why the mainstream media is not blue with condemnation as it would be if Conservatives rioted against Labour is that they are no longer surprised; the reactions to this election, and to the very concept of democracy, have had another effect than bringing shame and embarrassment upon the nation and the Left, and that is exposing an attitude among certain sections of the Left that they were once too afraid to openly display, namely their perverse agreement with Napoleon in Animal Farm:

"No one believes more firmly than Comrade Napoleon that all animals are equal. He would be only too happy to let you make your decisions for yourselves. But sometimes you might make the wrong decisions, comrades, and then where should we be?"