When former British Labour Party Leader Neil Kinnock recently joked that an overweight Conservative minister should be encouraged to run the London marathon, because he’d probably die, you might think it a mere blemish on the Left’s impeccable record of common decency.
But you’d be wrong. Too many of Britain’s Left – politicians, journalists and voters – are unremittingly nasty. And angry. And this year, as they lick their wounds after defeat to David Cameron’s Conservatives in the general election, and as they prepare to elect extreme left-winger Jeremy Corbyn as their leader, they are lashing out like never before.
No sooner had the result of the general election been declared than a war memorial, honoring the women of the Second World War, had “F*** tory scum” scrawled across it.On social media, left-wingers piled into to anyone who had voted Conservative. “To the selfish morons who voted for Cameron et al: I hope you are proud of yourselves,” was one comment picked up by the newspapers. “Iam f***** furious, Tory voters are nothing but selfish and inconsiderate,” wrote another.“Who are these ***** who voted Tory?” asked yet another, bewildered and appalled in equal measure.
You would have thought that Conservatives suffer from a disgusting and immoral perversion. No wonder “The Labour Campaign for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Trans Rights” does such a roaring trade selling Never kissed a Tory T-shirts, available for £10. You don’t know what you might catch.
And no wonder when the archenemy of the Left, Margaret Thatcher, died, many left-wingers reacted not with dignified silence, as one might have hoped, but by tweeting “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” after the famous song in The Wizard of Oz. It reached number two in the charts. What about Thatcher’s grieving son and daughter? Oh, sod ‘em.
Left-wing media commentators can’t get away with quite that level of vitriol, but they make up for it by disparaging people’s motives for voting Conservative. Mark Steel, for example, oozed in the Independent: “Voting Conservative appeals to self-interest rather than communal interest, so some of its supporters feel ashamed to admit it.” (Ahh, so that’s why they voted Tory! I was wondering.) And Giles Fraser surmised in The Guardian that there are too many people who “want to present to the nice polling man as socially inclusive, but who, in the privacy of the booth, tick the box of our own self-interest.”
The other favoured tactic is to wade in self-righteousness.Writing in Guardian shortly after the election Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett wrote: “I finally broke down properly at around 6pm on Friday, when I allowed myself, finally, to think about my little brother, who is severely disabled, and what might happen to him. Whether I should grab him and run for the hills so that we could camp down together under warm, soft blankets and not come down again until the bad people have gone.” The bad people? Or right, that’ll be the Conservatives of course, led by a Prime Minister whose own severely disabled son died at the age of six.
Are these nasty, conniving left-wingers merely doing the bidding of the left-wing party establishments? That’s almost certainly the intention. After all, these parties seem intent on demonising right-wing parties and right-wing voters,to make out that they’re self-interested charlatans who don’t care about the poor and disadvantaged.
Yet if that’s the strategy, I’m not at all sure it’s working. In fact, I suspectcits sheer hateful expression, far from attracting people, has the opposite effect. It might actually encourage otherwise undecided voters, quietly and undemonstratively, to give more consideration to the Conservatives and to the other main right-wing party, the UK Independence Party. After all, are angry hate-filled people attractive? Are we drawn to them and their cause? Britain’s recent election result would suggest not.
Until the Left stops demonising and condemning people, and starts empathising and understanding why about half of Britain’s electorate voted for right-wing parties, its future will look even bleaker than it is now. After all, if it is to win power in 2020 it will have to convince many right-wingers to change sides and follow the path of goodness and charity.
Calling them “f…..g Tory Scum” is not a great start.