The People’s Decade


The People’s Decade

From Gillian Duffy to the Boris revolt — this is the decade in which the silent majority fought back.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill


So the 2010s have come to an end. And what a curious and enlivening decade it has been. Decades are rarely neat political categories. The Sixties, as a phenomenon, didn’t really start until 1963. The Eighties are misremembered as an era of free-market triumphalism, overlooking that PC, cultural relativism, post-colonial guilt and the end of the Cold War that had provided the West with a sliver of moral purpose all took place in that tumultuous decade, giving rise to years of Western self-doubt, even self-hatred, rather than the Thatcherite cockiness that historical illiterates see as the Eighties’ ongoing political ripple.

But the 2010s — this decade does feel neat. It feels like it has a story, an arc, in the British context at least. For this is the decade that begins with Gordon Brown insulting a northern working-class Labour voter as a ‘bigot’ and ends with the northern working classes revolting against Labour in their hundreds of thousands. It begins with the Gillian Duffy crisis, when Brown unwittingly exposed his increasingly middle-class party’s contempt for the lower orders by being overheard referring to this 65-year-old lady from Rochdale as a ‘bigoted woman’, and it ends with the mass switching of traditional ‘red wall’ Labour voters to Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party — and, by extension, to Labour’s worst drubbing at the polls since 1935.

From Gillian Duffy to the Brexit / Boris votes: if the 2010s tell a story, it is one of a peaceful, understated working-class revolt. Of ordinary people pushing back against elites that had come to view them as bigots. Of the long sneered-at and interfered-with and re-educated sections of the public rising up against their so-called betters and restating the case for national sovereignty and community values. Of the people reprimanding the powers-that-be and forcing them, via the ballot box, to respect the people’s will and the people themselves.

This has been a thoroughly democratic decade. The People’s Decade, in fact, in which democracy has done what democracy is meant to do: marshalled the wisdom of the crowd to correct the jaundiced, elitist, anti-democratic drift of the governing classes.

The People’s Decade really begins in April 2010. It was 28 April and Gordon Brown, gearing up for the General Election, was on a walkabout in Rochdale. This was Brown’s first General Election as prime minister, his having received the crown of PM from Tony Blair in 2007, in a stitched-up, court-like manner befitting of the New Labour machine. Gillian Duffy, a lifelong Labour voter and former council worker, was also out in Rochdale that day. She was buying a loaf of bread. Her path crossed with Brown’s, in front of TV-news cameras, and in that very moment Brown’s fate, his destiny as a shortlived and unpopular PM, was sealed.

Duffy asked Brown about various things. She asked him about the public debt and how he proposed to fix it. She asked about the decline of university grants and how her grandkids were expected to be able to go to Uni. She asked him about health and welfare. And she asked him about immigration. ‘You can’t say anything about the immigrants’, she said, wisely sensing that even raising this issue could see you branded a bigot. ‘These Eastern Europeans’, she said, ‘where are they flocking from?’. Brown smiled and said something jovial and even patted Mrs Duffy on the back, but really he was horrified by what she had said. As the nation would discover just moments later.

Prime minister Gordon Brown talks with resident Gillian Duffy on 28 April 2010, in Rochdale, England.
Prime minister Gordon Brown talks with resident Gillian Duffy on 28 April 2010, in Rochdale, England.

Unbeknownst to Brown, a Sky News mic attached to his lapel was still on. When he got back to his car he berated one of his aides. He demanded to know why they had put him on air with ‘that woman’, as he referred to Mrs Duffy. Asked by the aide what the woman had said, Brown replied: ‘Oh everything. She was just a sort of bigoted woman. She said she used to be Labour. I mean it’s just ridiculous.’ That woman. That bigoted woman. Words heard by everyone. Words replayed endlessly in the run-up to the election. The fallout was enormous.

It became, in many ways, the Gillian Duffy election. Brown went on a mea culpa media tour. He expressed contrition on radio shows. He apologised to Duffy in person. He started to wear that browbeaten look that has since become his everyday face. ‘I am a penitent sinner’, he said in one interview. He wrote an astonishingly contrite letter to Labour Party members, acknowledging that his insulting of Duffy had made their task of re-election far harder. It was all to no avail. Bigotgate overshadowed everything Brown said and did. It was held up as ‘an illustration of the way that Labour had lost touch with the concerns of the working classes’. It was proof, as one observer said, that Labour was ‘blind to public concern about immigration’. Duffy vs Brown has ‘torpedoed’ Labour’s election campaign, the Guardian declared. Sure enough, just over a week later, on 6 May 2010, Brown’s Labour Party lost 97 seats, winning just 258. David Cameron’s Conservative Party got the most seats, but not enough to form a government, hence we had five years of the Tory / Lib Dem coalition.

The Gillian Duffy affair, the start of this People’s Decade, was fascinating on many levels. Fundamentally, it revealed the schism in values and language that separated the elites from ordinary people. To the professional middle classes who by that point — after 13 years of New Labour government — had conquered the Labour Party, people like Mrs Duffy were virtually an alien species, and places like Rochdale were almost another planet. Indeed, one small but striking thing that happened in the Duffy / Brown fallout was a correction published in the Guardian. One of that newspaper’s initial reports on the Duffy affair had said that Rochdale was ‘a few hundred miles’ from London. Readers wrote in to point out that it is only 170 miles from London. To the chattering classes, it was clear that Rochdale was as faraway and as foreign as Italy or Germany. More so, in fact.

The linguistic chasm between Duffy and Brown spoke volumes about Labour’s turn away from its traditional working-class base. Yes, there was the word ‘bigot’, but, strikingly, that wasn’t the word that most offended Mrs Duffy. No, she was most horrified by Brown’s description of her as ‘that woman’. ‘The thing that upset me was the way he said “that woman”’, she said. ‘I come from the north and when you say “that woman”, it’s really not very nice. Why couldn’t he have just said “that lady”?’

One reason Brown probably didn’t say ‘lady’ is because in the starched, aloof, technocratic world New Labour inhabited, and helped to create, the word ‘lady’ had all but been banned as archaic and offensive in the early 2000s. Since the millennium, various public-sector bodies had made moves to prevent people from saying lady to refer to a woman. One college advised against using the word lady, as it is ‘no longer appropriate in the new century’. An NHS Trust instructed its workers that ‘lady’ is ‘not universally accepted’ and should thus be avoided. In saying ‘that woman’, Brown was unquestionably being dismissive — ‘that piece of trash’ is what he really meant — but he was also speaking in the clipped, watchful, PC tones of an elite that might have only been 170 miles from Rochdale (take note, Guardian) but which was in another world entirely in terms of values, outlook, culture and language.

‘I’m not “that woman”’, said Duffy, and in many ways this became the rebellious cry of the People’s Decade. She was pushing back against the elite’s denigration of her. Against its denigration of her identity (as a lady), of her right to express herself publicly (‘it’s just ridiculous’, as Brown said of that very public encounter), and most importantly of her concerns, in particular on the issue of immigration and its relationship to the welfare state.

The Brown-Duffy stand-off at the start of the People’s Decade exposed the colossal clash of values that existed between the new political oligarchy represented by Brown, Blair and other New Labour / New Conservative machine politicians and the working-class heartlands of the country. To Duffy and millions of other people, the relationship between welfare and nationhood was of critical importance. That is fundamentally what she collared Brown about. There are ‘too many people now who are not vulnerable but they can claim [welfare]’, she said, before asking about immigration. Her suggestion, her focus on the issue of health, education and welfare and the question of who has access to these things and why, was a statement about citizenship, and about the role of welfare as a benefit of citizenship. But to Brown, as to virtually the entire political class, it was just bigotry. Concern about community, nationhood and the impact of immigration is just xenophobic Little Englandism in the minds of the new elites. This was the key achievement of 13 years of New Labour’s censorious, technocratic and highly middle-class rule — the reduction of fealty to the nation to a species of bigotry.

The Brown-Duffy stand-off exposed the colossal clash of values that existed between the new political oligarchy and Britain's working-class heartlands

One of the most important things about the Brown-Duffy affair, looking back at it today, is that it reminds us that the rot set into Labour long before Jeremy Corbyn became leader in 2015. Following Labour’s historic defeat in the General Election this month, it’s been knives out for Corbyn. Much of this is understandable. Corbyn’s ‘woking’ of the Labour Party, his embrace of eccentric identitarian causes, his betrayal of his own Eurosceptic beliefs, and his association with anti-Semitic, anti-Western causes have all made him unpalatable and unelectable in the eyes of many working-class voters. But for New Labour grandees and New Labour supporters to argue that the way to win back the ‘red wall’ defectors to Boris is by returning to the Blairite path is ridiculous. As the Brown-Duffy affair reminds us, Labour’s loss of its traditional support started back when Corbyn was just a mischief-making backbencher.

Labour has been losing working-class support for decades. In their book British Political Parties Today, Robert Garner and Richard Kelly argued that, over the past few decades, ‘the most striking feature of voting behaviour was the working-class desertion of Labour’. In 1966, 69 per cent of manual workers voted Labour. That percentage fell through the 1970s and 80s, until by 1987 only 45 per cent of manual workers voted Labour. The largest desertion was among skilled manual workers. In the 1950s, around 60 per cent of skilled workers supported Labour; by the mid-1980s only 34 per cent did. At the end of the 1980s, already, the academic Ivor Crewe could argue that ‘Labour’s claim to be the party of the working class [is] sociologically, if not ideologically, threadbare’.

There was a return of working-class voters during the Blairite buzz of the early New Labour years but, strikingly, it didn’t last. Fifty-eight per cent of working-class voters went for Blair’s New Labour in 1997. In 2005, however, when Labour won its third victory but with a reduced majority, it was mainly working-class voters who had withdrawn their support. Only around two per cent of Labour voters in the professional AB classes refused to vote Labour in 2005, while in social classes C1, C2 and DE around 20 per cent of those who had voted Labour in 2001 didn’t vote for it in 2005.

Labour was being sustained by the middle classes. Indeed, Labour has become a thoroughly middle-class party, in terms of structure, leadership, membership and, increasingly, electoral support. As The Economist described it last year, Blair and Brown oversaw the transition of Labour into a ‘party of the professional middle class — that is, university-educated people who worked with their brains rather than their hands and embraced the double liberalism of free markets and progressive morals’. The party’s apparatus was, in the words of The Economist, ‘taken over by identikit professional politicians who had been to the same universities (often Harvard as well as Oxford) and worked for the same think-tanks’. These ‘freeze-dried specimens’ now dominate every layer of Labour, says The Economist.

The end result is a Labour Party whose proportion of working-class MPs fell dramatically — from 37 per cent in 1951 to 13 per cent in 1997. And today, according to a study by Royal Holloway University, just seven per cent of Labour MPs come from a ‘manual background tradition’. There are now more MPs who have studied PPE at Oxford than have ever muddied their hands in a working-class profession.

It is not a mystery as to why New Labour turned off working-class voters. New Labour’s guiding ideology, its central motto, was to celebrate flux over tradition, global institutions over national integrity, and the top-down unilateral refashioning of cultural values over the cultural anchors that had steadied communities for decades. It was summed up by Blair in his party conference speech in 2005: ‘The character of this changing world is indifferent to tradition. Unforgiving of frailty. No respecter of past reputations. It has no custom and practice. It is replete with opportunities, but they only go to those swift to adapt, slow to complain, open, willing and able to change.’

Indifferent to tradition. No custom, no practice. Swift to adapt. These were the credos of Blairism. It is hard to think of a more polar opposite worldview to that held by communities in which people like Mrs Duffy live. There, tradition is valued. Custom is important. Cultural security and a sense of belonging are celebrated. To these communities, Blair’s arrogant applauding of globalisation and its indifference to your life, your culture and your prospects was nothing short of horrendous. The Blairites essentially celebrated cultural insecurity and then sought to mend the inevitable social problems caused by such cultural insecurity through nurturing a therapeutic state — the stakeholders’ society, their regime to control anti-social behaviour, nanny statism, censorship, and so on. But to Labour’s traditional working-class voters, cultural security, knowing you belong somewhere and belong there for a reason, was of critical importance. No, not because these people are old-fashioned or unchanging, but because they know the value and necessity of solidarity.

New Labour’s embrace of liberal cosmopolitanism ran counter to the traditions of work, solidarity and citizenship that defined the party’s traditional voting base. As Jonathan Rutherford has argued, progressive politics in the 1990s and 2000s shifted away from old notions of ‘membership that makes a claim on people’s loyalty’. Leftists came to view ‘the particularist loyalties of the nation state and inherited national customs and traditions’ as problematic because they ‘divided individuals from their shared humanity’. They ‘delegitimised English culture’, in particular, ‘as imperialist and racist, and by default those who value it’.

That is, New Labour’s sanctification of flux, its mockery of tradition, its embrace of the vagaries of globalisation, informed and emboldened a broader elitist attempt to re-educate voters away from the ideals of national loyalty and community solidarity and towards a worldview in which custom and practice do not exist but where there are numerous opportunities (if you are young, disconnected, quick to adapt, and slow to complain). And according to Blair, there was no point even debating globalisation. It was an unstoppable force. ‘You might as well debate whether autumn should follow summer’, he said, signalling the fatalist and anti-democratic nature of the new global technocracy.

Strikingly, New Labour’s embrace of mass immigration was fuelled by this same ideological indifference to tradition and the instinct to transform the UK from a nation state into merely a member state of the new globalist order — in particular, of course, of the European Union. As a Labour government adviser revealed at the end of 2009, there was an express political intent to New Labour’s decision to ‘open up the UK to mass migration’. There was a ‘driving political purpose’ — which was to make manifest New Labour’s goal of a ‘truly multicultural society’ and to allow government officials to ‘rub the right’s nose in diversity and render their arguments out of date’.

Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, enjoys a pint after his party's triumph in the European Parliament elections, on 26 May 2014.
Nigel Farage, leader of UKIP, enjoys a pint after his party's triumph in the European Parliament elections, on 26 May 2014.

In essence, mass immigration became a tool of political and social engineering. The aim was less to bring in migrants who were required to do certain forms of work, but rather to use migration as a means of underlining Blair’s brave new world of post-nationhood, indifference to tradition, and valuation of difference over citizenship and multiculture over British culture. Over time, anybody who questioned any of this, who stood up for the values of democratic solidarity, would find themselves denounced as a bigot. After all, part of the aim, as the government adviser confirmed, was to render such arguments ‘out of date’.

This is the setting in which Mrs Duffy and Mr Brown met at the start of this decade. Indeed, their clash was a distillation of the broader culture clash that existed between the new oligarchy and the people. On one side, a questioning of mass immigration and an expression of concern for the welfare and culture of the nation, and, on the other, the sniffy denunciation of such commentary as ‘bigotry’ — unfit for public airing, unbecoming in our new globalised post-nation, and unacceptable in a world in which the Labour government had made great efforts to ‘render such arguments out of date’.

‘I’m not just “that woman”.’ Mrs Duffy spoke for many when she uttered those words. And she captured the essence of a decade in which there would be a conscious public fightback against the new elites. First under Ed Miliband and then even more so under Jeremy Corbyn, Labour actually intensified the trends of Blairism. This is the great irony of the Corbynistas’ supposed stand against Blairism, or Toryism, as they call it: in truth, they continued to pursue the Blairite project. They, too, embraced post-nationhood; they, too, backed the globalist project of the EU; they, too, sanctified individual self-realisation over community solidarity (though they fashioned it in identitarian terms rather than the pull-your-socks-up idea preferred by Blair); and they, too, denounced Labour’s traditional working-class supporters as ‘bigots’. Indeed, on this front they went even further than New Labour, frequently saying out loud what Brown only said when he thought he was off-air — that the country is full of uneducated, unenlightened xenophobes.

Blair celebrated the flux of neoliberalism; the Corbynistas celebrate the flux of neoliberalism as well as the flux of wokeness with its even more insidious assaults on family, community and even such basic community building blocks as sex, gender and reality. It is not surprising that working-class Labour voters revolted throughout the 2010s. Following the devastating result for Brown in May 2010, there came the poor showing for Ed Miliband in 2015. During this time, many working-class Labour voters defected to UKIP, then led by Nigel Farage. As Labour’s vote fell, UKIP’s rose. UKIP provided a home for many working-class people tired of the New Labour project and Blairite indifference to national values and cultural security.

So in the 2014 EU elections, UKIP came first, winning a staggering 4,376,635 votes. And in the 2015 General Election, it won 12.6 per cent of the vote — 3,881,099 votes. Many of its voters were people like Gillian Duffy. Indeed, in 2014, in a newspaper interview, Mrs Duffy said Labour needed a ‘straight-talking, pint-drinking leader’, like Farage.

These electoral revolts, in which large numbers of working-class voters defected to UKIP, were the first significant acts of popular pressure on the out-of-touch elites. They made it virtually essential to hold a referendum on EU membership. It is not a coincidence that when David Cameron stood on a platform of holding a referendum — in the 2015 General Election — he won the majority government that he failed to win in 2010. A year later, in 2016, the EU referendum took place, and the rest is history. The largest bloc of voters in the history of this country — a significant number of them from such sneered-at places as Rochdale — voted to leave the EU and break away from the globalisation dynamic whose instability and incoherence had been celebrated openly by the new elites, but which were viewed with concern and even contempt by vast numbers of ordinary people.

We all know what happened next. The elites launched the most reactionary campaign against the democratic will in living memory. They used every legal, parliamentary and propaganda tool at their disposal to demonise the electorate and delegitimise their vote. It made Brown’s off-air insult of Mrs Duffy look like small beer in comparison. In the past three years of elitist fury with the masses — especially the non-London, non-university-educated masses — establishment figures and their backers in the media have said continuously, loudly and with increasing hysteria the thing that Brown only dared to say in the back of a car when he thought he couldn’t be heard: that they are all bigots. All those old people, all those working-class people, all those uneducated people — bigots, trash, scum. What was once whispered behind closed car doors is now said in full public glare — a testament, surely, to the Last Days of Rome vibe of an elite that feels its eccentric and unpopular worldview is well and truly under attack by the people.

Indeed, it is the doubling-down of the elite on the ‘bigotry’ accusation that has been most striking in the closing years of the decade. Supposedly radical Corbynistas are even more contemptuous of the throng than Brown and Blair were. So we now have commentators like Paul Mason insisting that racist ideology has gripped many working-class constituencies and that the vote for Boris Johnson this month was a ‘victory of the old over the young, racists over people of colour’. Brown’s denunciation of a working-class lady seems positively quaint now in comparison with the explicit class hatred that infects the Corbyn-led Labour Party and its army of middle-class outriders and promoters.

In the past three years, the establishment and its backers have said, loudly and furiously, the thing that Brown only dared to say when he thought he couldn’t be heard: that the masses are all bigots

And so the People’s Decade ends with perhaps the most important electoral revolt of all: a clear, irrefutable working-class revolt against Labour and against the globalist, relativist, indifferent values it had come to embody from Blair to Brown to Corbyn. The massive ‘red wall’ vote for the Tories, in which former Labour voters in Wales, the Midlands and northern England switched en masse to Boris Johnson, is stirring for one very important reason: it represents a clear and vast reprimand of the elite and its low, cynical efforts to frustrate or even prevent Brexit. The victory of the party that promised to ‘Get Brexit Done’, a victory enabled by traditional Labour voters, is a ballot-box uprising against the indifference, the wokeness, the elitism and the anti-democracy of the early 21st-century elites. It is an attempt to build a new ‘wall’ — a wall of voters to protect the democratic ideal and the aspiration to solidarity from the ceaseless assaults of a thoroughly globalised political class. It is perhaps the most confident and determined use of the franchise since we first won it in 1918.

A quiet, peaceful war has raged in the UK, and elsewhere, in this decade. A war, first, of the elites against a people they viewed as stuck, stupid and too wedded to national values. And then a counterattack by the masses. An execution of the wisdom of the crowd against the destructiveness of our out-of-touch rulers. A restatement of the importance of national democracy, of community solidarity, and of traditions and values that anchor us and fortify us against the vagaries of life in capitalist society. The People’s Decade ends, Gillian Duffy has been avenged, Brexit has been defended, and the cults of globalisation and individuation are very much on the backfoot. All that remains now is to ensure that the 2020s are the Second People’s Decade.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

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



17th January 2020 at 10:56 pm

This is slightly off subject but is it legal to burn a Union Jack in this country and, if so, where can I get one? I think I’m only joking…


17th January 2020 at 10:53 pm

The ‘elites’ appears to be a metaphor for anybody with whom Brendan disagrees. It is interesting that Brexit rejection correlates so closely with level of education and intelligence: the more educated you are, the more likely you were to have voted remain. It seems Brexiters dislike learning for some reason. Could it be that reality is just too much for them? Perhaps that is why they cling so tightly to the flag, like a child’s security blanket. How utterly quaint.


17th January 2020 at 10:47 pm

52 percent is a small majority, barely more than half the electorate. If you think that’s a resounding mandate for major constitutional change then learn some primary school maths. Brendan is a little over-excited in this article given that nearly half of the UK population voted remain. By what absurd logic could nearly 17 million remain voters be held to represent the ‘liberal elite’? That is one mother of an ‘elite’?

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17th January 2020 at 10:40 pm


Nico K

1st January 2020 at 1:52 pm

What is a “People’s Decade”? I wasn’t aware that everyone lived under a dictatorship before 2016. 16 million people voted Remain, but I guess they aren’t part of the “people”. They were all just elites or something. Probably didn’t exist. Spiked still doesn’t want to admit that millions of ordinary, working class people might disagree with them. And that’s of course very inconvenient to the whole people worship. And that’s exactly the problem with using old populist terms like “People this” and “people that”, which date back to ancient Rome. It gives you a sense of moral superiority and legitimacy when you pretend that all decent common people agree with you, but when someone disagrees with you, you have to pretend that they are not part of the “people”. They are just elites or something. Maybe even subhuman.

In reality there are no such thing as “the people”, only individual humans with different opinions.

Don’t get me wrong. I actually agree with Spiked on many things. I just don’t like how they often use old populist tactics, instead of arguing like an intelligent person. Or how they worship democracy, but ignore people who inconveniently voted the wrong way. Democracy works both ways. Some day the allmighty people will elect someone Spiked disagrees with, and this site will work full time explaining how it’s actually a giant elite conspiracy, because “the people” can never disagree with Spiked. They are just digging a giant hole for themselves.

Vivien Johnson

2nd January 2020 at 3:26 am

It was uncanny to read about the decline and decay of British Labout, seeing how there is an almost exact parallel with what has happened to Australian Labor. They lost the May 18 election in a landslide to the LNP after nearly a year of constant predicting that they would win. And, our equivalent of the northern industrial town revolt was Western Sydney who abandoned a Labor party who took them for granted. They were also a contemptuous elite, devoid of any care of working people, obseesed with global warming, flood-level immigration,multiculturalism, gender upheaval etc. And they have paid the price. We have no equivalent of UKIP, or any other third party unfortunately. The Greens party are too insane ever to form a government. The L iberald will have to work hard at holding all those new voters.

Al Hepburn

4th January 2020 at 6:16 pm

You didn’t read the article, did you? All your points are addressed, every one, only from the other point of view. Maybe we should tweak the democratic process so that the side with the fewest votes is the winner. Would that suit you?


17th January 2020 at 11:00 pm

Al, why don’t ‘the people’ overthrow the monarchy, then? If ‘the people’ believed in or understood democracy that is precisely what they would do. It seems they are content to be ruled over by floppy-haired Etonian opportunists and unelected billionaires of German descent (ironic that).


Marvin Jones

31st December 2019 at 11:14 am

Since Gordon Brown ducked, dived and sneaked like a slithering coward and signed the “Lisbon Treaty, not daring to even read it, in case it said “now your soul belongs to us”, the little helpless plebs and peasants have been frothing at the mouth to have just one chance for a say in the matter.
Hence the 2016 referendum result, which shook up the planet, and this last election result in which Corbyn and his imbeciles still think that their ideology and asinine policies were correct.
Thank heavens for the brave people of this country who saw through this sewage.

Ken Dodds Dads Dogs Dead.

30th December 2019 at 1:21 pm

Come now…the peoples decade? Forgive my recalcitrance, for want of a better term, but on what authority did you come up with that gem. It sounds remarkably like a Blairism, the people’s this, the people’s that, it’s a complete pile of steaming faeces. The people, whatever that means, don’t matter, it’s as it ever was, who ever owns the gold makes the rules, however, there appear of late to be no rules, we are, and it couldn’t be any clearer, at the Hobbesian state of ‘bellum omnium contra omnes’. Politically, no one is represented the political class represent themselves, to the nth degree. In the words of Liddle we have surpassed peak w**k and society fell w**king to the floor. It’s the people decayed, more pointedly.

Eva Prior

30th December 2019 at 3:42 pm

I completely agree. The Political battle since Blair has become ‘Toffs light’ vs ‘Toffs heavy’. The working classes have not had a party representing their interests for a long time. The working class voters are just the fodder being used by all sides.

It’s like Mr. Jones the farmer vs Napoleon.

Ken Dodds Dads Dogs Dead.

30th December 2019 at 1:19 pm

Come now…the peoples decade? Forgive my recalcitrance, for want if a better term, but on what authority did you come up with that gem. It sounds remarkably like a Blairism, the people’s this, the people’s that, it’s a complete pile of steaming faeces. The people, whatever that means, don’t matter, it’s as it ever was, who ever owns the gold makes the rules, however, there appear of late to be no rules, we are, and it couldn’t be any clearer, at the Hobbesian state of ‘bellum omnium contra omnes’. Politically, no one is represented the political class represent themselves, to the nth degree. In the words of Middle we have surpassed peak wank and society fell wanking to the floor. It’s the people decayed, more pointedly.

Eva Prior

29th December 2019 at 10:19 pm

Another issue that Labour will also need to redress if it wants to reconnect with the working class voters is that it is now seen as a ‘broad mosque’ not a ‘broad church’ party. This issue is also at the heart of its anti-Semitic problem.

Dan Jarvis as the new leader supported by Lisa Nandy as his deputy could succeed in bringing back Labour voters who’ve lent their votes to the Tories because of brexit and the reasons stated in this article.

Jonnie Henly

29th December 2019 at 11:19 pm

” it is now seen as a ‘broad mosque’ not a ‘broad church’ party. This issue is also at the heart of its anti-Semitic problem.”

Ie: when people attack Labour for “antisemitism”, they’re really just using it as a disguise for their own Islamophobia.

Eva Prior

30th December 2019 at 3:18 pm

Putting aside for the moment the issue of ‘islamaphobia’ vs islamaphobia. That’s a totally separate debate.
My comment was not trying to either attack or seeking to explain why people ‘attack’/attack the Labour Party. I was commenting on why the previous staunch Labour voters withdraw their support at the recent general election.
So in the context of what my comment was actually about, do you agree or disagree with my assertion that in addition to the reasons stated in the article one of the main problems for Labour is that it is now perceived as a ‘broad mosque’ party instead of a ‘broad church’?

Jonnie Henly

30th December 2019 at 5:28 pm

I couldn’t agree less personally. I think that sort of issue, Islamophobia v antisemitism, Mosque v church etc is one that gets plenty of media coverage but has little relevance in most voters minds.

A Marshal

31st December 2019 at 5:28 pm

not really. It’s actually an attack on Corbyn’s cynical electoral caculation. i.e. There are 10 times more muslim votes than jewish votes in the UK. How do you get those muslim votes? Attack Israel. QED.

Jonnie Henly

2nd January 2020 at 6:13 pm

That attack is based on the assumption that most Muslims are inherently anti Semitic, or at least strongly anti Israel.

And such generalised assumptions are themselves bigotry towards Muslims.

Eva Prior

3rd January 2020 at 9:20 am

Such a defensive response to any criticism or perceived criticism to Islam will prevent Muslims examining their religion and ironing out the many problems it has. Most religions have had to take a long hard and painful look at themselves to evolve.

An autopilot response of ‘bigot or islamaphobia’ is not protecting Islam but preventing it from being fit for the twenty first century.

Marvin Jones

31st December 2019 at 11:06 am

Jarvis and Nandy? does intellect about how the world works ever matter? does a contender ONLY need sentimental sobbing about the increasing numbers of people who are an incessant drain on society and the economy? the one’s who will never manage to provide for themselves, but continue to bring children into a life of instant guaranteed poverty? adding to these figures, is never ending mass migration of people who will be dependent on the state for life?

Eva Prior

31st December 2019 at 3:49 pm

Yes, Jarvis and Nandy! Both are able to speak clearly and confidently in public. Jarvis will appeal to most of the underclass communities and Nandy to the young student voters.


29th December 2019 at 5:44 pm

The mob are almost as stupid as the PC types. A plague on both your houses…

Tommy Lust

29th December 2019 at 2:45 pm

I still don’t understand what makes the working class so important. I came from this class, worked hard and escaped. I cannot tell you how much I hated being working class. It was not a great time. My mother today still lives in the same working class area. It’s even worse than before, an area made up of the lazy and sadly alcohol and drug dependent…generation after generation of disappointment…this is the sad story of today’s working class. The only people who add anything to the area are the recently arrived immigrants who try to be better and generally succeed. People like Brendan have no respect for the working class…he just uses and abuses them and their gullibility. Right, back to the 1st test from South Africa😃

Chris A

29th December 2019 at 4:43 pm

Snobbery is bad from wherever it comes. Brendan’s polemic skewers the snobbery of the globalists, as they skewer the snobbery of the working class. The working class has plenty of snobbery. I was glad to watch “I’m alright Jack” on tv the other day – devastating picture of a complacent country. Skewering is easy work, perhaps.

Ken Dodds Dads Dogs Dead.

30th December 2019 at 1:37 pm

The working class are extinct actually. All that’s left is ubiquitous consumerism. The consumables of which are all made by slave labourers in some third world galleon.

Al Hepburn

4th January 2020 at 6:25 pm

Big difference between “working class” and “underclass”, mate. Working class people go to work. Underclass live off the taxes of the working class.

Jonnie Henly

29th December 2019 at 12:41 am

All this talk of the “new elites” leads to one very important questions that Brendan does not answer: namely, whatever happened to the “old elites”? Where are they now? How did they lose their power? What influence do they still hold?

Because one of they key facts about the establishment is that it’s very entrenched, very resistant to change and very hard to get rid of. Yet Brendan talks as though it were swept away in a matter of years during the 1990s with little fuss.
How on earth did this particular revolt happen?

Or could it be that when Brendan talks of “the elites”, he’s really just referring to anyone he disagrees with, and lazily attempting to make himself look more radical in the process?

Ken Dodds Dads Dogs Dead.

30th December 2019 at 1:38 pm

Hear hear…

Marvin Jones

31st December 2019 at 10:55 am

The “old elites” are dozing in the HOL’s, safe and content to fill their pockets with our money, so wasted by our gutless establishment who one day will be filling their pockets till oblivion calls.
The “new elite” are the career politicians who have very little intellect about how the world turns, but are totally comfortable with their coffers swelling as long as they can hang on to remaining in the EU and obeying every rule demand made upon them.

Jonnie Henly

2nd January 2020 at 6:15 pm

Now… tell me what’s so different about the two elites? Because I’m struggling to see it.

Jonnie Henly

29th December 2019 at 12:35 am

“the flux of wokeness with its even more insidious assaults on family, community and even such basic community building blocks as sex, gender and reality.”

What are these “insidious assaults” exactly? Is it letting gay people get married again? How does anyone cope with such heinous assaults on themselves!

Jonnie Henly

29th December 2019 at 12:30 am

“‘the particularist loyalties of the nation state and inherited national customs and traditions’ as problematic because they ‘divided individuals from their shared humanity’.”

That sounds like a cry for greater solidarity, not less. So when Brendan argues for “national identity”, he’s standing directly against any solidarity and shared sense of purpose between people.

Jonnie Henly

29th December 2019 at 12:28 am

“The Blairites essentially celebrated cultural insecurity and then sought to mend the inevitable social problems caused by such cultural insecurity through nurturing a therapeutic state”

The thing is Brendan, the only way to maintain “cultural security” is through a technocratic, authoritarian state. Cultural security tends to be delivered via brutal autocracy, rather than any open, democratic mechanisms.

Defend your tradition and solidarity all you want, just don’t pretend you’re standing on the side of liberty and democracy in the process.

Jonnie Henly

29th December 2019 at 12:22 am

“the word ‘lady’ had all but been banned as archaic and offensive in the early 2000s.”

No it hadn’t.

Stef Steer

28th December 2019 at 10:00 pm

And to do that Brendan I hope we take the lesson away that it was democracy that really made the elite tremble but it was direct democracy where people genuinely believed they had power. I would love spiked to look at direct democracy, to look at the swiss model, I would love to see a future in the UK where at a local, county or national level we could demand a vote on anything we choose and those in power would have to allow it. That would be a wonderful future for this country.

Michael Lynch

28th December 2019 at 8:56 pm

Neat article. Labour, sit up and take notice.

sally morrison

28th December 2019 at 8:50 pm

Fabulous article. I have been watching you on The Bolt Report in Australia and have become a big fan. So appreciate your work, I’ve donated. Keep it up!!!

Meaty Beaty

29th December 2019 at 11:21 am

Totally concur – even to the point of donation!


28th December 2019 at 2:44 pm

A Democratic Rebellion may have secured Brexit (If it happens) Do not rule out the possibility that in the future the “elites” will seek to disenfranchise the gammon working class to prevent further rebellion.

Jim Lawrie

28th December 2019 at 1:09 pm

Mass immigration as a fait accompli assumes that “What’s done cannot be undone”. We will not be a nation again until it is. Are Spικεd tentatively acknowledging that immigration against our wishes will be corrected by democratic mandate, just like any other dictat from on high?

Linda Payne

28th December 2019 at 1:07 pm

It might be the people’s decade but some of us dont feel part of society at all. If your mentally ill you are fit to work but no employer wants you, you do years of voluntary work only to find all the paid jobs have already gone to others, then they get rid of you as you are no longer useful and they are paying someone else to do the job you’ve been doing for nothing for the last 5 years and if you get ill there is no help because you have a diagnosis that basically says ‘fuck off and die’

Alan Smith

28th December 2019 at 12:26 pm

Of course, for a lot of the people who support tradition and identity this is also bound uo with support for our system of constitutional monarchy. Does your support for the people extend to that or do you only support “the people” when they agree with you?

steve moxon

28th December 2019 at 11:34 am

Well might I claim to have preceded Gillian Duffy by another half a decade and more?
I ‘blew the whistle’ on Labour’s mass immigration fraud in 2004 when I worked for the Immigration & Nationality Directorate within the Gnome Orifice. This I reckon marked the beginning of the decline of Blair’s New Labour project, as it was uncovered to be a Left ‘hate the people’ project, as concretely later shown in the Gillian Duffy debacle on the very topic of mass immigration.

Stephen J

28th December 2019 at 10:19 am

That is a long piece Brendan in which you make the Labour Party resemble something that maybe once had a purpose, but no longer. I do not believe that it ever had a purpose since it was founded on a misunderstanding of what it is to be a human bean.

We are social animals that live in families (somewheres), not individuals that are only interested in career (anywheres). The fact is that most people are conservative by nature, understand the concept of family and do not expect or wish to see it being replaced by an unproven economic theory, namely…. globalism.

The ideas put forward by the Brexit Party and Farage’s version of UKIP are far more radical than anything that the Labour party ever came up with.

Jim Lawrie

28th December 2019 at 1:29 pm

“We are social animals that live in families ” That part of us that had to be crushed according to the founders of Spικεd. I remember reading a film review by one of their leading lights where he absolutely savaged the family and called for its utter abolition. He has since fled the multi-racial inner city for the comforts of family life and a white, middle class, satellite town. Most of them have. As portended by Peter Hitchens.

Ven Oods

28th December 2019 at 9:48 am

A good article; but the jury’s still out on whether the People’s Pushback will actually be honoured by BoJo.

Michael Lynch

28th December 2019 at 8:58 pm

He has little choice if he wants a second term. The Tories have lost London, they have to go North now.

John Marks

27th December 2019 at 11:47 pm

Good title for the decade.
The Scots voted to stay in Britain.
The British voted to be free of the EU.
Eventually, and still with moans from the losers, the people got their way.
Democracy was saved.

Jack Enright

27th December 2019 at 11:04 pm

There was an even earlier unwitting and gigantic foot in mouth moment than Brown’s “that woman”.
Tony Blair and his ‘Cool Britannia’. That oxymoron proved beyond all doubt that he has as much awareness of working class people and their values as I know about the political philosophy of Ming dynasty China.

bf bf

27th December 2019 at 11:00 pm

university-educated………………..err university indoctrinated.

bf bf

27th December 2019 at 11:06 pm

Why do you think B-liar wanted as many children to go to university as possible. (and to drop the voting age to 16)

Jonnie Henly

29th December 2019 at 12:46 am

You mean people who you disagree with.


17th January 2020 at 10:54 pm

Right on. These flag-waving nutters dislike challenging opinions.

Andrew-Paul Shakespeare

27th December 2019 at 10:31 pm

I remember “biggotgate”. I watched the whole interview on TV. I thought Brown actually handled it very well. He gave good answers to all Gillian Duffy’s questions, handled himself well — and she actually left smiling and wishing him well!

And then he blew it! Spectacularly! Poor woman. She was only doing what voters are supposed to do, seeking to understand the issues. The look on her face, when the journalists caught up with her and played back what Gordon Clown had said in the car, can only be described as “mortified”. She’d done what she was supposed to do, had a good conversation, made him look good on TV — and that was the thanks she got!

Brandy Cluster

27th December 2019 at 9:41 pm

Put an American accent on this writing and you’ve got all the reasons for Trump. If he didn’t exist he’d have to be made up.

All this isn’t new, of course; Orwell wrote about the bourgeois left in “The Road to Wigan Pier” when he said the Left disliked the poor and hated the rich. But there’s a difference now: it’s the Left which has become educated and rich. Ironic isn’t it; for centuries the Left fought against the tyranny of the ruling classes now only to morph into that same ruling class itself. Reminiscent of the Bolsheviks who engaged in the same games. The upturning of the hour-glass, with the bourgeois Left now at the top and the former establishment at the bottom.

It’s the story of modern America too. Please read Tucker Carlson’s “Ship of Fools” especially the chapter entitled “Shut Up, they Explained”!!!

Jack Enright

27th December 2019 at 11:07 pm

Brandy Cluster – “the story of modern America, too”? It certainly is – and, just as it is here, your left wing rabble is just as oblivious as our as to why everything has blown up in their faces.
As you say on your side of the Pond – “There ain’t no cure for stupid!”

Michael Lynch

28th December 2019 at 9:01 pm

Or as Forrest Gump put it – stupid is as stupid does!

Jonnie Henly

29th December 2019 at 12:45 am

“The upturning of the hour-glass, with the bourgeois Left now at the top and the former establishment at the bottom.”

We see right wingers push this line all the time, yet none of them have even the slightest explanation for how the left were able to achieve this extraordinary revolution, both politically and culturally, so easily.

How did the former establishment become so weak and disposable?

Jerry Owen

27th December 2019 at 6:44 pm

We’ll written piece.
So here we are once again, two ruling parties neither representing working class people, how history repeats itself. BJ has a unique opportunity to absolutely destroy labour .. if it isn’t already, by representing those northern areas that have given him a blank canvas to work from. However I cannot believe that the elites can ever allow BJ to unite the people of this country, as ‘the people’ (duffyites) are at odds pretty much totally with the establishment.. and just who is Boris?
We have had a great few years for sure, but this isn’t over by a long way. The elites will regroup, democracy may well be suspended (BJ could go to prison don’t forget).we have fought off the EU for a short time but they will regroup. Climate change is the new bigger world wide battle field , the new onslaught against working people, we need to be waking up to it way quicker than we are. The elites fight on numerous fronts all linked together ultimately, we need to fight back likewise. Identity politics is clearly our enemy.

Jack Enright

27th December 2019 at 11:29 pm

The elites will regroup? The ‘elites’ are still in total denial as to how it all went wrong for them; how can they regroup if they pig-headedly refuse to even admit to their own failings?
“Democracy may well be suspended” – HOW?
“BJ could go to prison” – for WHAT?
“We have fought off the EU for a while but they will regroup” – HOW, and with WHAT?
Boris Johnson is now in the position of being able to tell the EU “Offer us a fair deal, or we’ll walk away – and if you start a trade war with us, you’ll find there is NOTHING you want to sell us that we can’t make or buy elsewhere just as cheaply, if not cheaper.”
If he holds to that line, and restores us to absolute sovereignty, he’ll be hailed as a hero by his party members (regardless of what Tory Remainder MPs think); he’ll be seen as ‘the man who kept his promise’ by those who voted Leave in 2016; with the power he now has to push through the boundary changes before the next election, he’ll be assured of a clear win, and an even bigger majority – and he’ll go down in history as the equal of Margaret Thatcher.
So, tell me, Mr Owen – what possible bribe can the EU offer, or what threat can they make, to make him into a puppet of theirs? What politician with any ambition would turn his nose up at the raft of opportunities that Johnson now has, in favour of being written off as ‘yet ANOTHER Judas who sold out to the EU’?
On the EU’s side, far from being in a position of strength, they face a seas of troubles. France in political uproar and economic stagnation; Italy leaning ever more towards pulling out of the Eurozone; Hungary and Poland flatly refusing to comply with EU diktats as to how their countries should be run; Germany sliding into outright recessions, and desperate to keep their export sales up; the EU faced with a massive budget shortfall when our contributions end; and, hanging over the entire Eurozone, the trillion Euro bad debt of Target 2 – which will, when it inevitably collapses, make the credit crunch of ten years ago seem like a ripple on the sea.
“The elites fight on numerous fronts all linked together . . . ”
Really? As I recall, when Boris Johnson lost the vote of ‘no confidence’, the ‘elites’ couldn’t even agree who should be the ‘caretaker’ Prime Minister, could they?
On the contrary, from the moment the exit poll result was announced, and they realised how decisively they had been defeated by a solid force of patriots, the only ‘fighting’ the elite embarked on was in-fighting, back-stabbing and vilifying each other!
The ‘elite’, you call them? As anyone who’s visited a sewage farm can tell you, it ain’t just the cream that rises to the top . . .

Jerry Owen

28th December 2019 at 10:38 am

You seem able enough to answer your own questions it appears.. questions that bare little in relation to my post.
Clearly you haven’t a clue as to how the EU operates , past or present. Educate yourself before you start asking questions that suit you answers.
The latest EU threat btw is to bar the City of London from operating within the Eurozone.
Do you really think this is over?

Jim Lawrie

28th December 2019 at 10:41 am

” … if you start a trade war with us, you’ll find there is NOTHING you want to sell us that we can’t make or buy elsewhere just as cheaply, if not cheaper.” Given the social security overheads of employing people in the likes of Scandinavia, France and Germany, and the cost of ending an employment contract all over Europe, that is a great point well worth hammering home. Those countries depend enormously on overseas investments in businesses that in turn rely on sales in the UK and elsewhere. Indeed, the fresh produce sold to the UK represents make or break for the industries a s a whole in countries like Spain, already teetering under the recent competition of home grown produce in recent years.

To re-establish us as an economic force and an independent country, the Conservatives must tackle our underemployment, our skills deficit, and re-establish the can-do attitude that has been quelled by the nanny state.

Colin Elliott

31st December 2019 at 12:29 pm

Jack Enright, I agree with much of what you say and am more optimistic than I have been for many years, but it is as well to be alive to the risks. For example, Jerry Owen warns that the City may be barred from the EU. I’m certain that this will be used as a lever, and there will be some, perhaps many, in the City who are able to lobby for concessions. In contrast, our fisheries industry has declined enormously, whereas those of other EU states have flourished, so there are few to lobby, and those may prefer status quo. The reason for decline is partly because many trawler owners were bad, and because of Iceland’s success in the cod wars, but mostly it has been because of the CFP. It now contributes a small part of our GDP, allowing civil servants to ignore it.
As it happens, I believe the City is most at threat while within the EU, vulnerable to destructive actions by the covetous EC/EU/Eurozone. It is more likely to flourish outside the EU in competition with New York, Tokyo, Zurich, etc.. And if it diminishes while fisheries strengthen, that is to the good, while the marine environment under the control of the UK can be better protected from vessels from Spain, Denmark etc. over which we exercise negligible control.

John Reic

27th December 2019 at 5:57 pm

What a great article , anyone ever wanting labour elected again should shoe this to A credible labour leader
Take note Lisa Nandy or Dan Jarvis, please,

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