Brexit’s happened and there’s nothing that you and I can do about it.
That was the same uneasy sinking-in-my-stomach feeling that I had gotten only just a few years ago. I first felt it when I had stayed up all night in London to monitor the progress of the US elections. It was also the same feeling when I woke up to find that the Leave vote for the Brexit referendum had won — and only marginally.
Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, that the events of the last couple of years have created seismic shifts in our landscape — speaking for London in particular I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a time in my life where things were so clearly polarised.
Nowadays the word “polarised” I feel is being used in a pejorative way in order to encapsulate the manner in which both Left and Right are locked into a deep and bitter struggle.
What this struggle has revealed are the inner mechanisms of how both political ends of the spectrum operate — and what I want to focus on is how the Left has failed itself spectacularly.
This is not an opinion-bashing or political rant type of article. To tell you the truth, I had been sitting on these thoughts for at least 4–5 months now, and with the December elections in the UK now concluded, the dust has (partially) settled and it’s time to take a cold and hard look at the truth.
Playing The Trump Card
Rewind back to that moment when Trump won the US elections.
I fucking hated him, but I didn’t approve of Hillary either and that made me feel uneasy.
Surely, with someone like Trump, someone who had such a flagrant disregard for the truth and who seemed to be so inherently stupid — this election would be in the bag, no?
So I wake up that morning to check my newsfeed on my lock screen, and see the headlines that Trump had won.
I slump back onto my bed and I want to wake up again because I genuinely think I’m dreaming. I check my phone later only to see Twitter and quite frankly the whole world blowing up.
Before Trump won the election, I thought of the idea of Trump sitting in the White House as this comical yet nightmarish worst-case-scenario type of situation, like some sort of garish killer clown.
Sharing the news with everyone else had the similar kind of emotional response — shock, hurt, depression, cynicism, apathy.
With plenty of time and plenty of context to now look back on the event of Trump’s appointment to office, my thoughts on it are as follows:
Trump being elected caused a rupture in the very fabric of our relationship to politics and society. Before Trump, our faith in politics was already low — this was the soil that allowed Trump to win — his everyday “relatable” persona and common-speak contrasted perfectly against Hillary’s educated law-student answers. Thus in the macro-political game, whatever the “Left” was offering was both secular and bourgeois — and the Right was the everyday Christian.
Mistake 1 : The Left sold substance instead of charisma.
The opponent went on the offensive — lies and hyperbole were thrown and Hillary had to either address it, or change the subject. Both of which, politically speaking, look like losses.
The Left have always been accused of being unrealistic, and this to me, was a smoking gun to prove that fact. Because you see, in a democracy (or corporate autocracy, your choice) you need to give the people what they want.
People wanted charisma, Trump gave that. People wanted drama, Trump fired on all cylinders on Twitter. The famous “lock her up” moment was the cherry on top which showed how much of a bloodsport politics has turned into.
That may indeed, be the rub.
The Emergency Brexit
So I wake up to that similar sinking-in-my-stomach feeling when Brexit was official a couple of years back with the referendum. Instead I didn’t check in to see if I was dreaming because I had already become somewhat familiar with this feeling of dread in my lower intestine.
“Why is this happening?” I asked myself.
Again similar emotions but with a slightly melancholy twist, as everything is happening here at home — denial, fear, disappointment, anger.
If you’re not from the UK, then essentially what has happened over the last two or so years is the text-book definition of political paralysis.
To put a long story very short, the government lacked the political power to win any votes in Parliament, and so it had to win not just one, but two elections in order to secure the power it needed in order to definitively leave the EU.
The Left (in the form of the Labour party) suffered one of the worst defeats it has ever seen, giving the Right in Britain an uncontested majority allowing it to leave the EU on its own terms and also full reign on home affairs with a very strong hand in Parliament.
It was a similar story here — a bumbling buffoon of an opponent, a mini-Trump in the form of Boris Johnson, and his opponent, Jeremy Corbyn. A similar parallel emerged to the US — namely that Corbyn relied on good old-fashioned substance and Johnson took a couple of plays out of the Trump book.
Why is it that the Left has fundamentally failed to provide strong and charismatic leaders? Obama in the US and Tony Blair in the UK were examples of excellent leadership with clear and proven results, and yet nothing of the sort has emerged since then. Here are my thoughts below:
The Left in Britain has been failed by one overriding principle — complacency. The idea that policy-driven political campaigns somehow resonate with people is like thinking extra homework is going to make children happy. Except we’re not in school, we’re on the battleground.
Mistake 2: Being out of touch with what people are actually asking from you.
Let’s take a look at the two slogans from the Left and the Right from recent times.
Left: “For The Many Not The Few”
Right: “Get Brexit Done”
One of them is terrible. Can you guess which one?
First off, who is the “Many?” this is the exact kind of trite language you want to avoid. Am I supposed to just facelessly slot myself into the collective crowd? A word like the “Many” is too ambigious and too broad to have any concise, cutting strength that you want a campaign slogan to have.
It also ends on a negative which is “Not the few”— so your lasting impression is of something being subtracted and taken away, rather than something being added. And yet technically speaking, it is still correct. It does clearly define what the party stands for. It’s just worded poorly.
Contrast that to the Conservative party’s slogan a few years ago of “We’re All In This Together” which essentially gives the same vibes, but so much more effectively.
And as far as “Get Brexit Done” is concerned, that is exactly what the public was asking for. Infact, it caused many people to defect to the Conservatives, because guess what, they listened.
Loads of people on the Left were okay with saying the same old shit again and again, “the system is broken” or “we need to fund public services” or “it’s time for change” but by spreading themselves so large and so idealistically, and ironically with such good faith, that they lost touch with what people on the ground actually wanted. They didn’t listen.
Hubris Heel [Freestyle]
I firmly believe that the reason why people are now turning to the new populism or why such leaders are gaining traction is because of a philosophical defect within Leftist ideology.
And that defect comes down to one thing: Hubris.
You see growing up liberally educated, in a liberal household, with liberal friends, it became so easy to become arrogant.
Remember when I was speaking about my initial shock of Trump being elected? I thought how could someone so stupid be elected as President?
That was my own mistake.
People on the Left understimate those in the Centre or Right because they assume that people arrive to those views out of ignorance. When maybe they might have a legitimate point, have come to it legitimately, or have the sheer marketing power to push that view onto people even if it’s not going to be the truth anyway.
In the case of current circumstances, the will of the people has changed.
Appearances and presentation matter so much now than they used to.
People on the Left might cry foul and argue why presentation shouldn’t matter because at the end of the day, politics is serious business and isn’t exactly a matter of entertainment.
But maybe it is a matter of (partial) entertainment because this high brow, academic, policy-driven nonsense has disabled the Left entirely.
The Left has been characterised as out-of-touch, bourgeois and naive all at the same time and it’s true.
The fatal flaw is believing that you are so correct and so righteous that no one else can touch you.
Eating Is Survival And Art At The Same Time
I would like to end with an analogy.
You’re going to a restauraunt. The chef slaps on the food into the plate crudely and asks you to eat it properly. You bite in, the food is delicious, but you can’t help thinking the chef had an attitude problem.
This is essentially what is happening on the Left. The substance and the arguments may perhaps be there, but the presentation is non-existent, the service is lacking and the atmosphere relies on nostalgia.
Contrast to a restauraunt where the food may not be so good, but it’s served in a clean, pleasing atmosphere, with excellent service and top-notch presentation. You might be eating something okay, but at least you remember it afterwards. You might even share the experience with someone else.
The Left (particularly in the UK) needs to begin to take a cold hard look at the mirror in order to change.
I just hope they remember to take their headphones out.