Thursday, September 22, 2016

British political tribes are stabilising

With the anticipated anticlimactic confirmation of 'Jeremy' on Saturday, (the Jeremiad?), it seems that British politics has at last settled into a stable configuration. But what is it?

I wish I could see one of those tribal maps marketeers and demographers like so much, but absent that, here's my common-sense guess as to affiliations and voting numbers for the British electorate. From political left to right:

  1. Left middle-class activists + political far-left, the Corbynistas: (less than a million)
  2. Metropolitan BBC/Guardian Labour, the Tristram Hunt left: (some millions)
  3. Working-class socialists and trades unionists, Daily Mirror readers: (some millions)
  4. Metropolitan liberal Conservatives, Cameron/Osborne types: (some millions)
  5. 'Provincial middle-class' and working-class Conservatives: (many millions)
  6. Working-class socially-conservative 'Old' Labour: (many millions)
  7. Right wing fundamentalists such as hard-core UKIP: (less than a million).

The two mass-blocs are emboldened - notice they are both centre-right.

Labour Party capture by the Corbynistas has left both group 2, the Labour metro-liberals and groups 3 and 6, old-school working-class Labour voters, adrift and partyless.

I'm not sure any political tendency properly addresses the concerns of the old-school socialist and trades-unionist working-class Labour voters, (group 3), who have tended to tribally vote Labour, come what may. But this bloc is in any case in terminal decline.

On the liberal centre/centre-left, who now speaks for groups 2 and 4, the Guardian/BBC Labour left and the liberal, public school wing of the Conservatives? Institutional and tribal inertia makes it extremely difficult to establish a unitary party to address this bloc, despite much press speculation. The Liberal-Democrats are too despised, and projects outside the big two of Labour and Conservative have historically been doomed.

Meanwhile on the socially-conservative right, UKIP had a real chance to expand out from group 7, the 'right wing fundamentalists', to go after sections of the ex-Labour working class, but they have been way too disorganised. Instead, Theresa May moved adroitly to position the Tories towards conservative sections of that electorate. UKIP has thus been neatly marginalised.

Since we seem to have arrived at some measure of voting bloc stability, it seems inevitable that after some period - despite the difficulties - a new centre-left party will emerge (2, 3, 4) to confront Theresa May's forthcoming centre-right coalition (5, 6), with both UKIP and the Corbynistas marginalised.


Some Corbynista fellow-travellers believe that Momentum movement politics will 're-found' the Labour Party - a dynamic new membership allowing the Labour Party to reclaim those centre-left millions. Dr Phil Burton-Cartledge is a case in point.

However, Corbynism seems almost designed to make that impossible through its obsessional focus on SJW-style activism, lack of interest in parliamentarism, obscure to non-existent political programme, unpopular pacifism, anti-westernism .. and so on.


  1. "... some measure of voting block stability..."
    I am not sure why you claim that this structure is stable, surely it could be unstable, since now a new (2,3,(and maybe 4) party needs to emerge. The growing pains of this will emerge during the coming weeks and months - potentially giving the electorate something else to vote for in any longer term General Election?

    Incidentally I have just seen the "1983 Labour Election Manifesto" (the year JC entered parliament) [also known as "the longest suicide note in history"]- surely this (exit EEC, nationalise BT, etc) is closest to the new JC Labour philosophy than anything since?

    1. Yes, I meant electorate structural stability, not party structure stability - the latter is of course highly unstable!

      We don't know the go-forwards Labour political programme but I'm sure you're right. They would say, no doubt, you can be wrong by being right too soon!


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