[Marxism] Tweets from Luigi Pagarini on Corbyn
lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Dec 15 09:42:57 MST 2019
I did around 120 hours of canvassing in London, Bedford and Milton
Keynes. I didn’t expect this result but here’s how I can make sense of
it from what I encountered on the doorstep.
The age differential was stark. Of course many of the older people I
spoke to were polite and pleasant but 100% of the people who were rude
and hostile were 50-80 years old. All of the oldest (>80) and younger
(<40) voters were polite, whomever they were voting for.
There was a visceral hatred of Corbyn (sometimes combined with Diane
Abbott) from a section of voters outside inner London, primarily older
white voters, both middle and working class. So far, so obvious. How did
the demonization of Corbyn have such a strong effect in 2019 but not in
Although on the face of it that demonization has been raw and
relentless, actually it has only circled around the key charge, never
making it explicit,... ... so it has taken four years for low engagement
voters to absorb it fully. The real charge against Corbyn is that he
fundamentally believes that British/white lives are of equal value with
the lives of others.
Our opponents wouldn’t put it so bluntly but that is what it has always
been about. That prioritisation of British lives must always be assumed,
never justified, taken for granted as the ground the state is built on,
never officially avowed except through ritual. The cenotaph. Gerry
Adams. Prosecutions of historic crimes in N.I. Laying wreaths in foreign
cemeteries. Poppies. Diane Abbott. Pushing the button. Watching the
Queen at Christmas.
It is impossible to defend Corbyn against this unspoken charge because
it is clearly true. When these voters talk about having paid into the
system all their lives, they’re not just talking about literal national
insurance payments and the financial benefits they’re entitled to in
They’re talking about a life of loyalty and deference to the state they
expected to be their exclusive patron; and now they see a Labour leader
who seems to invite the whole world to his allotment, to offer his
homemade jam to anyone who needs it,... ... no matter which flags their
ancestors have spilt their blood for. I think this is also how the
anti-semitism scandal had such a big effect on people who don’t really
care about anti-semitism itself.
Leaving aside all the people who do care about anti-semitism for its own
sake,... ... for a lot of people Corbyn’s association with anti-semitism
seems to represent his association with Islam, where Islam in turn comes
to stand for the undifferentiated mass of humanity making a claim for
What is particularly strange about all this is how it has moved away
from primarily a concern about immigration itself, to a broader set of
questions of patriotism, fiscal constraint, Brexit for its own sake
rather than to end free movement, and deference to authority. With such
voters, already retired or coming towards the end of their careers, talk
of what we can build together leaves them sceptical and uncomprehending.
It seems more zero sum to them.
We have salvaged a small horde from the imperial wreck and only those
whose fealty is proven can claim their share. I have absolutely no idea
how we can appeal to such people. The idea of taxing the rich didn’t
seem persuasive as these people just think it is impossible.
They want the patronage of the powerful, not to challenge their power. I
also canvassed a lot of young (18-35) working class people who had very
little engagement with politics. Many had voted in the referendum (leave
or remain but with much less conviction than the older voters) but only
occasionally vote otherwise. Many had never heard about class politics
The idea of working class people voting for a party to tax the rich to
pay for redistribution and public services was completely novel, and
generally immediately attractive. It was amazing to see how quickly and
instinctively they grasped a left-wing agenda while saying they had
never thought about it before. There seems like a huge opportunity there
for the left to make inroads with younger non-graduates in towns but how
do we reach them? Organising and social media I guess?
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