The left needs to drop the woke nonsense

2019 showed us yet again that wokeness loses elections.

Andrew Doyle

Andrew Doyle
columnist

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Topics Politics UK

Woke politics has been a disaster for the left. For all Jeremy Corbyn’s emphasis on economic inequality, his continual appeasement of the woke middle-class has alienated Labour’s traditional support base. His most raucous cheerleaders have been those committed to a divisive form of identity politics, in which race, gender and sexuality supersede issues of class. In the run-up to the General Election, Corbyn even publicly announced his pronouns at an LGBT event, a gesture guaranteed to please the few and baffle the many.

Why is it that there seems to be such a close correlation between those who champion identitarian grievances and those who mistrust democracy? I suspect it comes down to a sense of entitlement, one that for obvious reasons is likely to be more common among the more privileged in society. We have seen this on university campuses where, as studies repeatedly show, the universities with the most affluent students are those most likely to have issues with censorship. Anyone who has attended a gathering of woke activists will be aware that the loudest tend to have cut-glass accents.

This General Election was a revolt in which the working class mobilised against the elites who had decreed that their votes should count for nothing. It was also a rejection of the woke ideology that has infected the left. Jo Swinson, who had pledged in the Liberal Democrat manifesto to ‘recognise non-binary gender identities’, and was nonplussed when asked whether or not she considered biological sex a reality, failed to galvanise even the necessary support to hold on to her seat. Get woke, go broke, as the adage has it.

In Brexit, the woke left found a cause around which they could cluster. It confirmed their collective fantasy of a far-right Britain, which is why they applauded John Bercow as he vandalised our constitution during the late stages of his tenure as speaker of the House of Commons, and why they tried their utmost to resist a General Election that might return power back to a population that could not be trusted to vote the ‘right’ way.

Many of us have experienced first-hand the hostility of woke activists who viciously attack and bully anyone who challenges their intersectional creed. A similar mindset can be found among the kind of Corbynistas and pro-EU fanatics who consider dissent to be a form of malevolence. A recent YouGov survey found that 41 per cent of Labour voters and 40 per cent of Remain voters judge those who vote differently in a negative light, as compared to 19 per cent of Conservative voters and 13 per cent of Leave voters. The left has always prided itself on a commitment to tolerance, and yet it would appear that those on the right are generally more open-minded.

The overt bigotry of prominent Labour voters since the General Election has done little to remedy the problem. ‘Turns out we’re a country of racists’, wrote the actor John Hannah after the results of the exit poll were announced. ‘The masses will soon realise that they’ve been manipulated’, sneered the activist Munroe Bergdorf. This was ‘a victory of the old over the young, racists over people of colour’, tweeted journalist Paul Mason. Subliterate TV presenter Terry Christian took to Twitter to ask which area was ‘the biggest poorest shithole in the north that has made itself look the stupidest by voting for the tories and brexit’ (sic). Singer Lily Allen said the Tory triumph was evidence of ‘this country’s deep-rooted racism and misogyny’. There was even a comedy club in London that posted a statement that the UK is ‘literally Hitler now’ and that Tory voters were no longer welcome at their shows.

Then there were the anti-democracy protests in London, where one plummy-voiced young woman wished Boris Johnson ‘a horrible death’ before suggesting that it was ‘disgusting’ to see working-class people support him. Many of her associates carried ‘Not My Prime Minister’ placards, which again illustrates perfectly the woke tendency to favour wishful thinking over material reality. These people were entitled to vote just like everyone else, and so their protests were little more than redundant acts of petulance.

We have been here before. In the wake of Donald Trump’s election, protesters took to the streets to repudiate his presidency and to condemn his supporters as Nazis. Such mischaracterisations and ad hominem tactics might provide balm for the wounds of defeat, but they are only likely to exacerbate the very resentment that led to Trump’s election in the first place. Similarly, those closer to home who are determined to double down on their contempt for the working class, and to persist with their hallucinations of a country populated by crypto-fascists, will only buttress Boris Johnson’s popularity in the long run.

Such is the self-perpetuating cycle of the woke left. Having decided that anyone who votes Conservative must be a closet racist, they now perceive Johnson’s victory as proof of widespread racism. Rather than give them pause to reconsider their flawed proposition, they assume that it must mean they were right all along. Through this circular reasoning, the delusions of the woke are nourished, and the outcomes that they fear the most are doomed to recur. This is the ouroboros that cannibalises itself and complains about the taste.

It should go without saying that true leftists oppose genuine racists, not the racists of their imagination. Throwing insults is rarely an effective method of persuasion. It is far better to be open-minded and willing to be challenged, even when it comes to one’s most cherished beliefs. Sneering at the working class and seeking to undermine their vote might go down well in the fleshpots of Islington, but it will never translate into national electoral success. The left needs to get its own house in order, and the first step should be to rid itself of the toxic brand of woke politics that has ensured its ongoing failure.

Andrew Doyle is a stand-up comedian and spiked columnist. He is doing a live tour with Douglas Murray in the spring, called ‘Resisting Wokeness’. Get tickets here.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Comments

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Robin Lillian

28th December 2019 at 5:31 am

What the author neglects to mention is that the difference between the 2016 American election of Donald Trump and the British 2019 vote re-affirming Brexit is that Hillary Clinton actually WON the popular vote, but the second Brexit had a large majority.

Furthermore, the reason Trump was called a Nazi is that he had his supporters giving him the Nazi salute. There is a video of actual American Nazis yelling, “Hail, Trump!” He has also, unfortunately, put the children of illegal immigrants in the equivalent of concentration camps. Then, there is his first ex-wife’s testimony that he keeps a book of Hitler’s speeches by his bed to read at night. The present British PM has no equivalency to this.

Frank Smith

30th December 2019 at 7:04 pm

Your post is quite humorous. Five ignoramuses salute Trump – once, and he’s a Nazi? Grasping at straws. Hitler speeches at the bedside, now you are just being silly.
As for popular vote – Hillary only won the popular vote in only two states, and is one reason we have the Electoral College here (which Trump won). I’m sorry, you need a bit of an education, unless you were just taking the opportunity to scribble some left-leaning vitriol (we all know that’s the reasoning behind your post).

John Marks

27th December 2019 at 5:01 pm

Corbyn very nearly won in 2017.
From then on he was undermined by the Blairites in the PLP and capitulated on everything from Brexit to the ‘Woke’ cult – which lost him the 2019 election he would otherwise have won.

Michael Prior

26th December 2019 at 10:49 pm

I’m reporting you to Titania McGrath. She will have you for breakfast and have her boys (sorrie multi-binary thugs) arund in the morning to sort out you errors.

David McAdam

26th December 2019 at 6:41 pm

Whenever I doubted a proposition I was always reminded by my leftist superiors that I was ‘naive.’

Tim Wheeler

26th December 2019 at 1:23 pm

Refusal to abide with the result of an election or referendum is NOT compatible with claiming superior virtue & understanding. Refusal to accept democratic outcomes you dislike makes you a and advocate for dictatorship.

Brandy Cluster

25th December 2019 at 10:03 pm

@Michael Gilday. You’ve nailed it. The Spiked commentariate (BTL) are generally far smarter and less abusive than their “Guardian” counterparts – I use that latter word advisedly and not comparatively!! Guardianistas always see the glass half empty. Always.

John Little

25th December 2019 at 8:58 pm

All the Woke bigots and luvvies who impertinently accused the working classes of racism in the aftermath of the election, know full well that it isn’t true. But the thing is, they use the slur of racism because it makes them look morally superior. In reality the charge of racism is code for lower class scum. They use the charge of racism as a fig leaf because they haven’t got the guts or moral honesty to say what they really think because they know it will immediately show them up for what that they really are. Good old fashioned upper and middle class snobs and hypocrites of a kind who’ve looked down their noses at the working classes and oppressed them for centuries. The Woke bit is just a veneer, and a thin one; which hides something very old and very nasty, just beneath the surface. It merely took Brexit and a well deserved electoral kick in the teeth from the unfashionable masses to crack it open. And what fun it’s been. Let’s keep doing it at every opportunity.

Robin Lillian

28th December 2019 at 5:36 am

The Far Left’s main motivation is to somehow prove and maintain their moral superiority. They don’t really care whether they win or lose elections as long as they can claim victimhood and moral superiority.

Patricia McQuarrie

18th January 2020 at 10:57 am

That’s the best “in a nutshell”critique I’ve seen of wokeness. I couldn’t understand why they were so clueless about the EU being corrupt and undemocratic, which they obviously are and your comment explains why: they haven’t even bothered to investigate the EU for themselves; they’ve just jumped to the conclusion that it’s wrong to leave and anyone who wants to leave is an uneducated moron.

Peter Abraham

25th December 2019 at 12:23 pm

I’ve said it for many years: there’s nobody as illiberal as the ‘liberal left’.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

8th January 2020 at 8:37 pm

Do you often talk to yourself?

Christopher Tyson

24th December 2019 at 8:03 pm

The woke have been indulged and flattered by the media and by the political establishment, they expect to be heard and they become indignant when they are challenged or don’t get their way. One man at a football match makes a monkey noise, the British state is rocked to its foundations, black people throughout the world are reduced to nervous wrecks, 200 million Nigerians quake in their boots. There is a call for a government enquiry, that will occupy and pay the bills of the anti-racism industry for a while. Racist abuse is no joke, it can ruin your day, but we need a sense of proportion. It you have mindset that is predisposed to see racism everywhere, you will see the monkey man as an ‘everyman’, you will think that there are millions more like him, who really want to do what he does. But why a government enquiry? The club has the power to ban him, they could even give him a warning, I don’t suppose our zero tolerance types would stand for that. There are people in the media and politics and to some extent in the law, who derives status and employment from ‘fighting’ racism. It concerns me that they are sending a message to young black people that they are perpetually under siege and threatened, they are encouraging a siege mentality and a defensive, fighting mentality. A kind of mentality that will make their lives harder. These identitarian activists already have jobs quite well paid jobs and they are provoking confrontations from which they have social and financial protections, they are not manning the barricades. They love Stormzy because he is big an tough and raps, for the identitarians Stormzy is authentic. But Stormzy also passed his exams and loves his mum. Those of us on the left recognise that identity politics grew out of genuine injustice, we support anti-racism and gay rights and feminism. But identity politics has become pernicious and self defeating, worse than this it has become a tool of the state for managing conflict and created an anti -democratic bureaucracy to police it. We now have a government that needs to look at this and stand up to the identitarians, to look at their claims in a proportionate way and to say ‘no’ if needs be. Without the unquestioning support of government, these identity groups can operate like any other pressure groups or interest groups, and they are fully entitled to do this in a liberal society. They are not entitled to run the country or to speak for minority groups, or to oppress (ironically) the minorities within the minorities, black Tory votes or brexiteers for example. Let’s liberate black people from the dead hand of the left.

H McLean

25th December 2019 at 12:29 am

Anti-racism and gay rights and feminism ARE identity politics. If identity politics is pernicious and self-defeating, it is because the feminists and ‘rights’ campaigners made it so.

To be relevant again the left needs to reaffirm a commitment to Dr King’s aim of treating people according to the content of their character and not the colour of their skin. Essentially, the only way to not be racist is to not see race – which is the polar opposite of the bad-faith, postmodern, critical theory, twisted academic thinking which currently holds the left in a vice-like grip.

Even if Labour willingly frees itself of identitarian politics the feminist and rights activist will simply continue to undermine all attempts to regain the centre. The purge needs to be long and merciless.

Cedar Grove

28th December 2019 at 2:38 pm

Such liberation can only be led by people from the relevant categories.

White women banged on about FGM for decades, but it wasn’t until women of African and Middle Eastern descent started to campaign that the anti-FGM movement got off the ground. The best non-members can do is to try to create a space inside which such activism can arise.

Cultural roots go deep.

jessica christon

24th December 2019 at 7:57 pm

The LP needs to just go right back to it’s basics of standing up for working people. All the woke identity stuff – dropped, and whoever let it escape from academia – shot.

That’s it. There. Sorted. And no need for Ed Milliband.

Geoff Cox

24th December 2019 at 5:32 pm

Conservatives hate socialism – Socialists hate Conservatives. This old motto has never been truer.

Mike Stallard

25th December 2019 at 8:33 am

The Labour Party is elitist and arrogant. It looks round at the inner city where it lives and sees hopelessness and despair and different races that loathe each other. It sees squalor and filth.

But the English people and the people with flair left the inner city ages ago. Now we live in the suburbs and commute into work by train or (sometimes) car or bus. We are just the same as we have always been. In no way are we “woke”. And we mean what we say.
So Boris is all we have got.

John Marks

24th December 2019 at 4:16 pm

Thank goodness the ‘woke’ teens (2010-2019) will soon be in the past!

Mike Stallard

25th December 2019 at 8:35 am

…or running the government and professions!

John Marks

25th December 2019 at 7:14 pm

‘Woke’ government and ‘woke’ professionalism are oxymorons.

Jonathan Yonge

24th December 2019 at 2:59 pm

Excuse me.
But is it still useful to analyse issues like politics, voting trends etc in terms of ‘class’.

Do most people still identify with a ‘class’ ?
I know many vocal, journo, politico types do… but does Jo Public ?

I propose that the ‘class system’ in the UK is dead outside of the chatter-sphere
Our influences come from far and wide now over the interweb. Why confine your world-view to a narrow and boring game of ‘class’ ?

Steve Roberts

24th December 2019 at 3:54 pm

Jonathon Yonge, you make an important point, i would suggest watching this short video which may answer some of your considerations, particularly relevant are comments from the floor with regards to the role class may play in the future or otherwise, it was a short session but a pertinent one which opens up an old debate yet unanswered. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQzgSHfXRdk

John Marks

24th December 2019 at 4:33 pm

I think you’re right.
Attlee’s Labour government and its policies basically ended the class system: that was its intent.
Admittedly, it has taken a generation for the effects of that ‘revolution’ to work itself through.
And we have Attlee to thank for it.
Blair sold the ‘revolution’ down the river to the spivs.
Corbyn tried to update, with “For the Many not the Few” but in some respects was fighting battles Attlee had already won. Nevertheless, Corbyn came within an ace of government in 2017.
Unfortunately, Corbyn was then undermined by the ‘woke’ Blairites in parliament. They’ve never been interested in furthering Attlee’s revolution and pandered to the spivs and ephemeral fashions (like the ‘woke’ cult) for their own power and greed, led by the Teflon B’liar.

Hugh Bryant

24th December 2019 at 1:03 pm

Anyone can see that identity politics is what you get when lefties get rich and no longer want to talk about the redistribution of (their) wealth.

James Knight

24th December 2019 at 12:53 pm

Idi Amin believed in self identification. He identified himself as:

“His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular”.

No doubt people were obliged to address him as such.

Neil McCaughan

24th December 2019 at 2:26 pm

He was provoked. He had the obnoxious Alibhai Clown in Uganda at the time.

steven brook

24th December 2019 at 5:58 pm

Hasn’t Alibhai Clown left the country in protest, I swear she said she would.

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 7:30 pm

Ali Baba, if not her 40 or 4 million thieves, is still here, sad to say.
She might cry herself to an early grave in post-election deep mourning for Liebore, though.

Modern Money

24th December 2019 at 12:39 pm

That is why they are now known as the M&M party.

Metropolitan & Minorities party.

James Knight

24th December 2019 at 12:13 pm

This is not “circular reasoning” it is part of the MO for identity politics.

Most trans people just want to live their life but trans ideologues WANT to provoke a backlash against trans people. More hate crime against trans people is good for them, it is necessary to affirm their victim status and reinforce their world view that society is engaged in some genocidal conspiracy against trans people. And by “genocidal conspiracy” I mean things like pronouns which are are now seen as an existential threat to identity.

Jonnie Henly

24th December 2019 at 11:08 am

“We have seen this on university campuses where, as studies repeatedly show, the universities with the most affluent students are those most likely to have issues with censorship.”

Studies that Spiked themselves carried out, something they try and hide here, and so ones that we can take with a fairly large pinch of salt.

Neil McCaughan

24th December 2019 at 2:30 pm

Judging by the number of incoherent rants you have posted here, this article seems to have rattled you more than usual.

Brandy Cluster

24th December 2019 at 3:36 pm

By their fruits shall ye know them.

Jonnie Henly

25th December 2019 at 9:52 am

Neil, if anyone goes round posting incoherent rants here it’s you.

bf bf

24th December 2019 at 7:03 pm

Triggered

Jonnie Henly

25th December 2019 at 9:53 am

Are you? Cheer up, it’s Christmas

Puddy Cat

24th December 2019 at 11:01 am

There is something more at play. Within minutes of a statement or ruling protesters appear on the streets with placards in mint condition that could only derive from a printer and an account.

The organised face of what is apparently random is a non-dedicated interruption that could have any contrivance behind it. People say that the working class vote held up because they were not party to chat being aired on the internet. The much vaunted Twittersphere, long occupied by the woke, is wholly owned but increasingly shunned by anyone wanting to be informed.

Since the election the quality of TV news presentations looks threadbare. Even the Labour Party, even the Guardian, is inventing scenarios as to why the Conservatives will crash and burn already in the absence of rumour and innuendo.

The awful side of wokeness is that is had scared a whole generation to death. The concerns of the twenty somethings are not the availability of work or the attachment to qualification but whether or not they are going to be alive in a world that barely persists.

We are still looking at the NHS as an emotional issue. Stories emanate about rough treatment in hospitals where the milk of human kindness is definitely not flowing. Once, nursing was a calling and now it is foisted onto the aridity of qualification. The Left can have no solution currently because their intentions are the collaring of industry and depriving it of its lifeblood, energy. Whereas the Conservative, I would venture, is to do with the growing of the economy to make money a non-issue in care circles. Pragmatism of contrivance.

There is a gulf opening in our society. It is an wholly new view of society. It is a form of lottery where the underprivileged have bought tickets in the game of rising above their expectations. They do not believe that socialism will care for them. They have seen the intrusion of the woke in its proscription, its po-faced daily round of finding something else to invent as impending tragedy and the control they can exercise using such superstition. take your pick, food banks or the price of fuel, that is the choice of some.

It is the Puritan era re-visited. When fame was obtained by becoming grooming religiosity, that so much like ISIS imposition of punishment for non-observance. Under Charles II courts were held to punish the regicides. one priest under sentence addressed the court: “I became so popular I became unknown even unto myself”. The tolerance of fanaticism can do that to a person. The urge to outdo and become to be seen as the most representative or most powerful voice, the most inventive, leads small celebrity to some awful places.

Then it was the Parliamentarians trying to find a new way. Having to re-conceptualise all the laws, associations, mores and getting into a stew. Change is a modest thing that gently shapes, is enacted by something not dissimilar to Aardman animations. It is not the stuff for the flighty or those without stamina. A small move here a tiny alteration there.

Everyone is inherently conservative. The man on the golf course had three dogs which he tethered together while he was playing. At any one time one of the three would want to return to his master and in this way the troupe maintained a straight course. The British are such as they can be relied upon instinctively to come to a universal truth and the last election proved it.

We have picked-up the Pilot rather than dropping him off, as John Tenniel depicted.

Jonnie Henly

24th December 2019 at 10:59 am

“Why is it that there seems to be such a close correlation between those who champion identitarian grievances and those who mistrust democracy”

There isn’t, that’s just your own biases clouding your view of the world.

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 11:23 am

Guffaw! Jon Hen embodies woky kooky dumping it’s nonsense on to everyone else.
It’s abundantly plain for all to see that ‘identity politics’ is fervently anti-democratic.

Jonnie Henly

24th December 2019 at 11:54 am

Steve Moron is back with more RWNJ nonsense. Of course, RWNJ’s are the only ones who actually agree with the “identity politics is anti democratic” line. Which is hypocritical on at least 2 different levels.

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 11:59 am

Ah, anything and everything is hypocritical in the heroically hypocritical mindset!

Jonnie Henly

24th December 2019 at 12:29 pm

You would know Steve!

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 2:31 pm

Parroting is in the end the refuge for hate-mongering malicious scum and their apologists.

Jonnie Henly

24th December 2019 at 5:55 pm

I believe hypocrisy is common amongst such people also.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

24th December 2019 at 1:55 pm

Well said, Jon.

Jonnie Henly

24th December 2019 at 10:57 am

“Sneering at the working class……..but it will never translate into national electoral success.”

Well it worked out pretty well for Boris Johnson. No left wing politician sneered at the working class as openly as he did, but for some reason Spiked did their best to ignore that episode.

Jonnie Henly

24th December 2019 at 10:54 am

I’m willing to be none of Spiked’s columnists could accurately define “wokeness” if their livelihoods depended on it.

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 3:30 pm

Well that would be because they are in denial of its origins owing to being in the end apologists for the Left. It’s easy to define if you don’t have or hang on to that baggage.

Jonnie Henly

24th December 2019 at 5:57 pm

Go ahead then Steve.

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 8:16 pm

‘Identity politics’ (often or even usually dubbed ‘political correctness’) is the result of a political-Left major backlash against the mass of ordinary people (in Europe and ‘the West’), beginning in the 1920s/30s, in the wake of the persistent failure of Marxist theory to be realised in European ‘revolution’ or any real change through democracy. In shifting the blame away from Marxist theory and its adherents, and on to those the theory had prescribed and predicted would have been the beneficiaries — the workers — if only they had responded accordingly; then the cognitive-dissonance within the political-left mindset caused by this crisis to an extent was salved. [It is NOT at all the same as what the Left mistakenly term ‘the politics of identity’ to tag the new movements against the elite, on the false assumption that they are essentially nationalistic and ‘white backlash’. Trump and Brexit triumphed because the general populace have come to realise that the government-media-education uber-class has an unwarranted profound contempt for and visceral hatred towards them; and, therefore hardly is liable to act in their interests.]
The intellectual rationalisation was first by invoking Freud’s now comprehensively discredited notion of ‘repression’ to attempt to explain a supposed impact on ‘the workers’ of ‘capitalism’ acting within the context of the family. With most workers (the group considered the principal ‘agents of social change’ in a ‘revolution’) being male, then the theoreticians had in mind the male as ‘head’ of the family. It was a simple extension in political-Left imagination for ‘the worker’ to change from being the putative conduit of the impact of ‘capitalism’ to its embodiment, leaving women to be deemed a replacement supposed ‘oppressed’ and ‘disadvantaged’ ‘group’.
This implausible and unfalsifiable non-scientific nonsense mainly festered within academia until the co-option after 1968 by the political-Left of a movement which appeared to be akin to the revolutionary activity predicted by Marxism: the US ‘civil rights’ movement. This added to the ‘new oppressed’ the category ‘non-white’, which like that of women could be envisaged as an inversion of a retrospective stereotype of ‘the worker’. In the wake of the similarly seeming revolutionary Stonewall riots of 1969, the ‘gay rights’ lobby was also co-opted to further add to the abstract demonised aspects of ‘the worker’, thereafter retrospectively stereotyped as male plus ‘white’ plus heterosexual.
The strands of the ‘new oppressed’ combined in a new (neo-Marxist) conceptualisation to account for these political shifts after the fact, which came to be termed ‘identity politics’ (or more pejoratively but accurately, ‘cultural Marxism’, and latterly dubbed ‘modernising’ [sic] in political parties). The deemed ‘groups’ replacing ‘the workers’ – subsequently expanded to embrace the disabled, the elderly, trans-sexuals and the obese – are abstractions rather than groups per se, and in any case far too heterogeneous to be in reality ‘oppressed’ or ‘disadvantaged’; providing a window on the sophistry and origin of this politics as other than it purports.
This absurd situation arose through the political-Left’s forcing of specific conflicts to be considered as emblematic of Marxist struggle, rendering them as generalisable, with their participants abstractions. US Afro-Americans became generic ‘ethnic minorities’, and ‘gays’ became ‘homosexuals’. The history of feminism — not just of the ‘third wave’ — is of upper-class or upper-middle-class women demanding to somehow to be the same as their very high-status husbands and males within their rarefied social milieu; which even if it could make any sense given profound sex difference, hardly was a basis of anything comparable for the great majority of either women or men. The upshot is that ‘identity politics’ is a ‘gravy train’ for the already privileged. Worse, it is an instrument of oppression against the very ‘group’ perennially disadvantaged and the victim of prejudice, which formerly had been identified as worthy of the liberation Marxism promised: the vast majority of (necessarily lower-status) men.
The pretence to egalitarianism is perfect cover for what ‘identity politics’ actually is: the very perennial and ubiquitous elitist-separatism the political-Left ethos attacks and denies; rendered a quasi-religion, being an ideology in the wake of the Christian notion of ‘the promised land’ in the utopia/dystopia of equality-of-outcome.

H McLean

25th December 2019 at 12:58 am

Well done Steve, first class summary. To expand on your point on identity politics being a gravy train for the already privileged, many studies have shown that when affirmative or preferential treatment is given to a minority group the outcome typically results in places being awarded to those within that group who already enjoy a degree of privilege – i.e. people who already had access to the resources and background needed to succeed in the first place – to the detriment of those within the group who might genuinely have benefited from a hand up in the first place.

steve moxon

25th December 2019 at 10:42 pm

Hi H McLean. Thank you, and yes indeed: and a point I might have made if the character limit was more generous.

Mark Houghton

24th December 2019 at 10:50 am

There is clearly a demand to understand just why labour lost the election. However, to publish this kind of interpretation without any supporting evidence whatsoever is hardly useful if we genuinely want to understand what happened. For that to happen we need to ask people precisely why they voted the way that they did – at the moment there seems to be an awful lot being written about how people voted and why but precious little solid information to back up any claim.

Jim Lawrie

24th December 2019 at 10:24 am

I know dozens of guys who have learned to debate and sift the evidence from the dross as a result of taking part in football forums. The left insults these men by screaming that they were manipulated by The Russians, the bogey man from the past. The left further refuses to come up to date with technological change and longs for the good old days when they could dismiss the working class based on the prejudice that their facts and thinking were dictated by the tabloids.
The working class are far more awake than the left themselves, who are a block case of the Dunning-Kruger effect combined with chronic Luddism, both technologically and politically.

The working class have upped their game and the left are floundering in their wake. They are no longer cowed by name calling and whataboutery. They have crossed the line, voted Conservative, and the sky has not fallen in.

In Negative

24th December 2019 at 10:40 am

A vote for the Tories doesn’t seem to me to portray a working class that has upped its game. It looks like a working class that has accepted capitalism as absolute reality and put faith in the party of capitalism to manage that reality in the best way.

It’s exemplary more of a tremendous lack of imagination and vision that runs rampant right through Western culture more than it is a working class with their heads screwed on.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

24th December 2019 at 1:54 pm

Frankly, the working class in this country need to stop blaming foreigners for their own failure.

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 2:46 pm

They do not, and never haved. They blame the failure of the elite to either run the country properly or fairly, and in particular they now blame the Left for hating them, and trying to displace them and reducing their wages by anti-democratic mass importation of workers instead of training people. Ordinary people’s attitude to migrants is “good luck to ’em”: they fully recognise they might well behave similarly if they were in a similar situation themselves.
Do try to get out more: out of your fascist-Left hate-mongering bubble.

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 10:18 am

But woke IS the Left in its current manifestation; ‘identity politics’ as major backlash against the masses for them not buying Marxism.
The Left is not changing and is going down with their ship.
‘Identity politics’ (often or even usually dubbed ‘political correctness’) is the result of a political-Left major backlash against the mass of ordinary people (in Europe and ‘the West’), beginning in the 1920s/30s, in the wake of the persistent failure of Marxist theory to be realised in European ‘revolution’ or any real change through democracy. In shifting the blame away from Marxist theory and its adherents, and on to those the theory had prescribed and predicted would have been the beneficiaries — the workers — if only they had responded accordingly; then the cognitive-dissonance within the political-left mindset caused by this crisis to an extent was salved. [It is NOT at all the same as what the Left mistakenly term ‘the politics of identity’ to tag the new movements against the elite, on the false assumption that they are essentially nationalistic and ‘white backlash’. Trump and Brexit triumphed because the general populace have come to realise that the government-media-education uber-class has an unwarranted profound contempt for and visceral hatred towards them; and, therefore hardly is liable to act in their interests.]
The intellectual rationalisation was first by invoking Freud’s now comprehensively discredited notion of ‘repression’ to attempt to explain a supposed impact on ‘the workers’ of ‘capitalism’ acting within the context of the family. With most workers (the group considered the principal ‘agents of social change’ in a ‘revolution’) being male, then the theoreticians had in mind the male as ‘head’ of the family. It was a simple extension in political-Left imagination for ‘the worker’ to change from being the putative conduit of the impact of ‘capitalism’ to its embodiment, leaving women to be deemed a replacement supposed ‘oppressed’ and ‘disadvantaged’ ‘group’.
This implausible and unfalsifiable non-scientific nonsense mainly festered within academia until the co-option after 1968 by the political-Left of a movement which appeared to be akin to the revolutionary activity predicted by Marxism: the US ‘civil rights’ movement. This added to the ‘new oppressed’ the category ‘non-white’, which like that of women could be envisaged as an inversion of a retrospective stereotype of ‘the worker’. In the wake of the similarly seeming revolutionary Stonewall riots of 1969, the ‘gay rights’ lobby was also co-opted to further add to the abstract demonised aspects of ‘the worker’, thereafter retrospectively stereotyped as male plus ‘white’ plus heterosexual.
The strands of the ‘new oppressed’ combined in a new (neo-Marxist) conceptualisation to account for these political shifts after the fact, which came to be termed ‘identity politics’ (or more pejoratively but accurately, ‘cultural Marxism’, and latterly dubbed ‘modernising’ [sic] in political parties). The deemed ‘groups’ replacing ‘the workers’ – subsequently expanded to embrace the disabled, the elderly, trans-sexuals and the obese – are abstractions rather than groups per se, and in any case far too heterogeneous to be in reality ‘oppressed’ or ‘disadvantaged’; providing a window on the sophistry and origin of this politics as other than it purports.
This absurd situation arose through the political-Left’s forcing of specific conflicts to be considered as emblematic of Marxist struggle, rendering them as generalisable, with their participants abstractions. US Afro-Americans became generic ‘ethnic minorities’, and ‘gays’ became ‘homosexuals’. The history of feminism — not just of the ‘third wave’ — is of upper-class or upper-middle-class women demanding to somehow to be the same as their very high-status husbands and males within their rarefied social milieu; which even if it could make any sense given profound sex difference, hardly was a basis of anything comparable for the great majority of either women or men. The upshot is that ‘identity politics’ is a ‘gravy train’ for the already privileged. Worse, it is an instrument of oppression against the very ‘group’ perennially disadvantaged and the victim of prejudice, which formerly had been identified as worthy of the liberation Marxism promised: the vast majority of (necessarily lower-status) men.
The pretence to egalitarianism is perfect cover for what ‘identity politics’ actually is: the very perennial and ubiquitous elitist-separatism the political-Left ethos attacks and denies; rendered a quasi-religion, being an ideology in the wake of the Christian notion of ‘the promised land’ in the utopia/dystopia of equality-of-outcome.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

24th December 2019 at 1:39 pm

Yawn. Well, if it makes you feel better…

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 2:37 pm

Hey Xenophobia: at least read up before lamely commenting. Perhaps thgen at least you might have a rejoiner.

H McLean

25th December 2019 at 1:28 am

Also, while the roots of woke politics can be traced back the Frankfurt School the 1930s, things really kicked off in the mid-fifties when Khrushchev denounced Stalin and exposed the truth about his brutal reign.

From that point forward western academics could no longer in good faith pretend that communism was simply good for the masses. It was then the political subversion of academia began in earnest and by the mid/late 60s not only were students protesting for free speech and civil rights, they were proclaiming “Marx, Mao and Marcuse” as their intellectual leaders and inspiration. Throw in the Women’s Strike Equality Day in New York in 1970 and the seeds for political correctness were already taking root throughout western academia.

Steve Roberts

24th December 2019 at 9:24 am

Doyle gets this very wrong indeed when he writes that the reason for the GE result was “also” a rejection of wokeness. It is either wishful thinking or a pleading for this “left” to change its entire ideological outlook which is expressed in its political activities and positions taken.
The “left” he outlines will not change , surely he knows that, so why the pleading , its akin to all the labourists, left right and centre who are now enduring their worst political nightmares within the LP but cannot wake up and leave it?
These woke leftists are certainly regressive reactionaries and potentially dangerous and of course we should continually be aware of that, but it is also very important not to see this as only a problem with those that Doyle likely encounters frequently in his locality , work and social life, wokeness is also prominently supported by the entire mainstream , indeed it is imposed by legislation in many cases , financed and propagated by a huge industry of support networks by the state and other bodies.
This is not just some lunatic fringe, which is easily identifiable, but has support throughout the political class, we seem to be forgetting much of this as the “love in” with Johnson and the Tories seems to gather pace.
If Doyle had identified that the referendum result was also a rejection of the PC world ,of wokeness along with many other areas of political and social life that was rejected hence the demand for change, he would have been correct. But to see it as playing a part in this GE is incorrect, brexit , or the appearance from Johnson that he would deliver it was almost the only reason the CUP won.
I believe there is a common misconception that wokeness has any resonance among the wider public, it is imposed and needs fighting but it has gained little if any hegemony, in fact quite the opposite despite it all beginning in the education sector where our kids are indoctrinated.Remember it is a sector that has , with a few exceptions and mealy mouthed objections had the entire support of the established order, has been perpetuated by the political class of all persuasions not just the woke “left”

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 10:24 am

Hi Steve. Remoanering IS wokeness. It’s an expression of it.
So I think you’re wrong in saying that the election was all about Brexit.
Wokeness IS the Left now, and the election was an historic reversal for the Left and liberalism.
And this is just the start. The Left is finished when all this plays out.
See the brilliant post-election interview on YT with David Starkey for The Sun.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

24th December 2019 at 1:43 pm

Starkey just says controversial nonsense to get a rise out of his opponents. He is a rank hypocrite though: his party did everything to oppose gay rights for decades. It was ‘the left’ that fought for gay legal equality against Thatcher et al.

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 2:34 pm

Come again?! David Starkey is the most astute of the commentators on these issues, along with John Gray: they both know their history, in depth.

Michael Lynch

24th December 2019 at 9:24 am

The woke had purchase on much before the election, however, common sense has prevailed and won the day. We are now in for ten years of good old Tory pragmatism and if the Left want to survive it will have to move back to the center or suffer the consequences. This woke cobblers will then start to burn out eventually; we can see this happening already in business as those who have been stupid enough to base economical decisions on this wonky mindset are already getting their fingers burnt. Let the woke howl and screech as much as they like, most of us just aren’t listening anymore. Without their political champions, with real political power, they will start to turn on each other and argue themselves into oblivion.

Jim Lawrie

24th December 2019 at 9:59 am

Unfortunately Michael many contracts and subsidies are based on it with us footing the bill. The left always make sure that, propped up by the state, they pay no price for their mistakes.

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 12:07 pm

Well Michael’s right that it will implode. ‘Identity politics’ is so totally contrary to reality that to be sustained it has to continue in exponential mode so as to completely shut down any debate, but inevitably it turns in on itself and is outed for the malicious hatred towards the masses that it is. It is going to destroy itself and take down liberalism with it. We’re witnessing the start of the end of the Left. It could die pretty quickly, though it’s impossible to predict a time-scale and route in any detail, of course.

Jim Lawrie

24th December 2019 at 1:44 pm

I did not mention the vote for the Conservatives. The one size fits all slur of “you voted Tory ” no longer washes. It is an attempt to avoid the question of why did they vote Conservative, as the implied insult of having accepted capitalism. We have to play the hand we are dealt in the game we are in. New players will emerge.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

24th December 2019 at 1:51 pm

The Tories only won 43 percent of the popular vote, which hardly suggests an overwhelming mandate for anti-wokeness. It does, however, suggest that a number of commentators on this thread are extremely poor at maths. Only in the bizarre fantasy world of the UK electoral system can 43 percent be considered a majority.

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 2:40 pm

?! 43% is a huge vote in any multi-party system! And Boris’ vote produced 80 seats more than all of the other parties put together. Not only did he command a majority but one well spread across the country, this being an important check on the validity of voting to reflect opinion.

Brandy Cluster

24th December 2019 at 8:53 am

My sister (61) brags about being “a progressive” and that because we read the mainstream conservative papers, eg. “The Australian” that we are ‘extremists’. She supported Hillary, Corbyn and hates Boris Johnson – well, he’s male and that’s his first problem for her. My sister supports gender reassignment and when I last tried to talk about this with her in the room she stonewalled me by saying “I’m a progressive”. She’s a single lesbian with multiple failed relationships and, honestly, I think she despises conservatives because she projects the reason for her ‘failures’ onto them. I regard it as a badge of honour.

H McLean

25th December 2019 at 1:58 am

It helps to understand how the left went from progressive to regressive – i.e. holding back and undermining the rights of one group in order to preference and privilege another group – and the heavy cost it brings to society.

“The Regressive Left” is a six-part video playlist by an Israeli philosopher called Zarathustra’s Serpent, and it really is a first class exposition on the origins and failings of political correctness. You can find it on YouTube. It might take a miracle to get your sister to actually sit down and watch it but you may find it useful regardless.

I’d recommend it to anyone hoping to understand How We Ended Up Here.

Brandy Cluster

25th December 2019 at 9:59 pm

Thanks for this; I’ve already watched the first one. I was amazed, however, to see that the USSR, North Korea and China had been airbrushed out of the ‘regressive left’ exemplars. Serious credibility problem already.

Ven Oods

24th December 2019 at 8:20 am

“There was even a comedy club in London that posted a statement that the UK is ‘literally Hitler now’ and that Tory voters were no longer welcome at their shows.”

You must admit that their use of the word ‘literally’ was indeed pure comedy.

Michael Lynch

24th December 2019 at 9:32 am

I wonder how they will vet customers; will people be required to wear red armbands or submit to some sort of interrogation at the door?

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

24th December 2019 at 1:48 pm

Words change their meaning over time. ‘Literally’ is now frequently used as an intensifier , like ‘very’ or ‘really’.

Neil McCaughan

24th December 2019 at 2:27 pm

No. It’s just a display of ignorance, typical of the woke.

Cedar Grove

28th December 2019 at 2:44 pm

Words can be, & increasingly are, used incorrectly. That doesn’t count as a change in meaning, and even if it did, it would be regrettable & should be opposed.

For instance, if we did conflate “uninterested” and “disinterested” we make the concept of behaving fairly and objectively invisible. We lose it as an idea when we eliminate the word.

Philip Humphrey

24th December 2019 at 8:03 am

The problem is that much of academia has been taken over by advocates of “critical theory” that is the underlying way of thinking behind “wokeness”. Their entire world view is dominated by dividing humanity up into different racial and gender identities and seeing them eternally in conflict, arbitrarily assigning some groups as “oppressors” and others as “victims”. Of course it tells us little or nothing useful about the real world and makes no useful predictions. But if you see the world through that particular distorting lens, it is easy to use confirmation bias to convince yourself it’s true.
And what starts in academia spreads into politics. The article is correct that “wokeness” alienates voters and loses elections. It is also divisive and perniciously racist and sexist in its own right. Labour’s anti Semitism problem is one of the fruits of it in my opinion.
The article suggests that Labour and the left ditch “wokeness”. That’s going to be more difficult, it’s their entire thinking and world view. My guess is that they won’t and that will keep them in opposition for the foreseeable future.

Ven Oods

24th December 2019 at 8:27 am

“The problem is that much of academia has been taken over by advocates of “critical theory” that is the underlying way of thinking behind ‘wokeness’.”

When the number of universities is expanded as suddenly as it was, it created a need to recruit lots more ‘academics’. Probably inevitable that this sort of driftwood ended up in positions of responsibility.

David Webb

24th December 2019 at 2:29 am

Andrew, you support all the anti-racism, anti-sexism, gay rights stuff and just claim to oppose the manner in which these causes are promoted today. Actually, the sneering at the plebs in the woke agenda is the only way these causes can be promoted. It amounts to a victory for the politics of the likes of Andrew. Amazing that he does not see it. He would do better by explaining why things like anti-racism are just wrong — we have the right to our country and don’t have to become minorities, for the same reason each of us lock our doors at night and don’t allow all and sundry in our homes. It’s not just the woke that are wrong, but people like Andrew who plug the same causes.

Ven Oods

24th December 2019 at 8:24 am

Not sure what DW is driving at here. He thinks that Andrew is as guilty of being as against pointlessly-discriminatory attitudes as the woke lot, and therefore just as culpable? Because DW believes anti-racism is wrong?
Confusingly-argued comment.

David Webb

24th December 2019 at 7:12 pm

Ven Oods,. there is no such thing as “racism”. This is just a far left meme. We are entitled to have our own country – just like everyone else. Is it “prejudice and discrimination” when you lock your front door? Do you “hate tramps”? or “hate everyone not in your family”? The whole concept of “anti-racism” is wrong, and yes Andrew Doyle is wrong to support immigration and to condemn people who oppose the presence of ethnic minorities in our country.

James Knight

24th December 2019 at 12:19 pm

White nationalists are also woke identitarians. Peas in a pod.

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 2:53 pm

There aren’t any “white nationalists” other than a tiny number of weirdos.
Ordinary people do not ‘identify’ as ‘white’ or ‘nationalist’: that’s in the dumb ‘projection’ of the political Left ‘identity politics’ totalitarians, unaware that this is their own hatred towards the masses. That’s how dumb they are.

K Tojo

24th December 2019 at 1:28 am

Regardless of the election result the broadcast media still largely belongs to the “woke” elite. While that situation prevails so will their agenda. They pretend to be the guardians of democracy by bleating about popular causes such as the underfunding of “our NHS” but the what really concerns them is the tiresomely familiar block of PC causes they hammer home day after day.

Michael Lynch

24th December 2019 at 9:45 am

I agree that the media is full of woke operatives, but it hasn’t worked out for them. The media did their best with their subliminal messaging, but it went over the heads of most of the electorate. Proving, once again, that ordinary people aren’t stupid and simply won’t be manipulated. The ‘Russian’ theory is now in ashes. The election result has delivered a huge tectonic shift and its effects will be far ranging. This is only the beginning of the turn.

Ven Oods

24th December 2019 at 3:43 pm

“The media did their best with their subliminal messaging, but it went over the heads of most of the electorate.”
That ‘over the heads’ looked a bit of a put-down. More like they’re just resistant to what they recognise as an ‘agenda’.

Jonnie Henly

24th December 2019 at 10:55 am

“Regardless of the election result the broadcast media still largely belongs to the “woke” elite.”

Well that is very obviously not true.

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 11:03 am

Completely wrong, as ever, is Jon Hen here: all media has bought into ‘identity politics. Sure, some more than others, but it’s ubiquitous — not merely “largely” as K Tojo claims: he actually understates the situation!

K Tojo

24th December 2019 at 2:26 pm

Mr Henly, beware of the reckless unthinking use of that word “obviously”. I used to have a staunch Left wing friend whose conversation was peppered with it. The word spared him the mental effort of defending his beliefs with reasoned argument – because they were true “obviously”.

Excessive use of the word exposes not only lazy prejudice but also a vulnerability to groupthink (ie. “it’s obvious, so we’re all agreed”).

Mark Williams

24th December 2019 at 12:17 am

Well said, Andrew. Please bring the tour to Australia. We aren’t far behind the UK and US madness.

Brandy Cluster

24th December 2019 at 8:54 am

Totally agree, Mark. It’s repressive and suffocating. These useful idiots haven’t yet realized that the Left is on the run POLITICALLY the democratic world over.

Michael Lynch

24th December 2019 at 9:47 am

Well put. The Left is indeed on the run now and if they don’t return to the center then they will spend many years in the wilderness.

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 10:30 am

The Left is exponentially ‘woke’ — ‘identity politics’ is inherently a runaway phenomenon. The Left is finished when everyone wakes up to just how appalling malicious is its basis: the denial of own natuiral status-seeking and ‘projecting’ it onto everyone else. Pretending to be egalitarian when being the opposite washes only for so long, and when eventually it ceases to wash, you’re toast. Very burnt toast.

ZENOBIA PALMYRA

24th December 2019 at 1:45 pm

You Australians need to develop a culture first before you can even think about being ‘woke’.

steve moxon

24th December 2019 at 2:48 pm

Evidently you haven’t been to Australia and/or you unguardedly wear your fascist-Left hate-mongering nonsense on your sleeve for all to see.

Brandy Cluster

24th December 2019 at 3:12 pm

That’s certainly an ‘argument’ – about almost anything EXCEPT woke culture and the Left. So typical of Lefties; they’re mostly hollow people and they think their repeated iterations of some tired old canards and bromides based upon victimhood will forge them an image of ‘caring’ and ‘compassion’. Jordan Peterson says about this cohort that their compassion only thinly conceals hatred and that they’re the very last people you want on your team when push comes to shove.

You’d have to hate people when you attempt to force your own shallow ideologies on them, assuming that they’re not smart enough to develop their own. Big news: they ARE smart enough, they always were and they’re kicking wokeness and its shallow advocates from the Left to the kerb. The Left was never the sharpest set of tools in the shed and now, more than ever, is this patently obvious – especially to people who once saw the Left as an intrinsically necessary mainstay of the polity because it forced government to consider the needs of the working class.
But an entire cohort of the working class became educated and rich. Ergo, wokeness; their badge of ‘respectability’ which confers membership of an exclusive club. Just keep that club out of government and everybody can live with it.

Michael Gilday

24th December 2019 at 5:59 pm

A little cutting as a remark even if it was meant as humorous. What I am impressed by is how much more pleasant and intelligent are respondents are on Spiked in comparison to the Guardian. I would hate to see the standard lowered, by personal digs, which have no place in sensible discourse.

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