Saturday, 2 May 2015

THE MILIBAND MASQUERADE?

Milibang!

by Colin Liddell

Democratic politics always has had an ugly side, both in the types of personalities it attracts and the devious behaviour it encourages. The main reason for this is that it allows the broad masses to vote, lowering the audience IQ to a level that incentivizes the low-grade deceptions of unscrupulous politicians.

Ugly as it is, it certainly didn’t get any more aesthetically pleasing when Ed Miliband was elected leader of the Labour Party in 2010. With his robotic style and rubbery face, he evokes Mr. Bean possessed by the last of the Body Snatchers, or a piece of “Wallace and Gromit” claymation gone wrong.

For the present general election campaign, which will end on May 7th, a long, hard effort has gone into making “Ed” seem warm and personable – he was actually fitted out with a (rather ugly) wife shortly after becoming leader and was also designated as the father of her two children, although they clearly resemble their mother much more than their supposed father.

In an attempt to 'humanize' this unlikely leadership material he was also carefully coached on body language, facial gestures, voice, and positioning. The process has some similarities to a necrophile heating up the inamorata with which he has just eloped from the local mortuary.

One of the main problems with Ed is not his Jewishness (because British people, like all good people everywhere, have been taught and constantly reminded that anti-Semitism is a no-no), but rather his swarthiness.

This would be less of a problem in the Conservative Party, which famously had a Prime Minister in the Victorian era who was almost a spitting image of the popular Happy Merchant meme but it is definitely a problem for the Labour Party, which has increasingly become a sump hole for the non-White vote. Having Ed as leader makes the party look a bit too ethnic, something that has a subtle but powerful ethnicizing effect on British politics.

This is just one factor in the phenomenal rise of the SNP in Scotland, where it has displaced Labour. There is also a slow fuse burning in the North of England. Here the Labour vote is still holding up, but it must be remembered that this is the party that over the last two decades, oversaw the mass rape of the children of its bedrock Northern White constituents, with its only concern being the fear that somebody might think a nasty “racist” thought.

Who's the daddy?
Despite his enormous flaws and limitations, “Awkward Ed” has a fighting chance because his main opponent, David Cameron, is viewed negatively as (a) the lackey of the rich in a time of austerity, (b) a gay-marriage-promoting betrayer of ordinary conservative values, and (c) a useless bulwark against the power of the EU.

The fallout of all this is that this is the first election in which neither of the two main parties of government has a realistic chance of securing a clear majority. Yes, we are headed for a period of unstable coalition government and possibly several general elections within the next few months.

Both the main parties, Labour and Conservative, have benefited and still benefit from an electoral system that favours nationwide parties with support slanted in one half of the country more than the other. The Lib Dems, whose support has no real pattern of concentration, fare much worse. UKIP also fit into this Lib Dem pattern of lots of popular support but very few MPs.

Back in the 1980s, when the Lib Dems (then an alliance between the old Liberal Party and the new Social Democratic Party) had a surge of support, it ended up going nowhere, as they couldn’t translate their support into a comparable number of seats. Something similar happened in 2010, when the Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg came over best in several TV debates and boosted his party’s support on polling day to an impressive 23%, but ended up actually losing seats.

The Wrong Trousers.
But although there is a strong incumbency factor that serves the interests of the two main parties of government, there is also a perception that both parties have become increasingly hollowed out, with falling membership and lukewarm support. They now struggle to motivate their base and attract floating voters, and those who vote for them usually do so for purely negative reasons, because they loathe the alternative even more.

The challenge to the two main parties is embodied in the rise of UKIP and the SNP. While Conservative and Labour ostensibly campaign against each other, focusing as usual on contesting a number of key marginal swing constituencies that could go either way, they also have one eye over their shoulders at their potential nemeses.

While UKIP threatens the Conservatives, the SNP threatens Labour, but there are also important differences in both threats. The UKIP threat to the Conservatives is wider but more diffused. The SNP threat to Labour is narrower but more concentrated. At this election, the SNP threat will have more success. In Scotland there is a reasonable possibility of them winning all 59 constituencies (there are a total of 650 in the UK), wiping out 41 Labour MPs, 11 Lib Dems, and one Conservative.

"Look, I'm just like Nigel Farage."
A strong showing for UKIP will have a less dramatic impact. Because of the nature of the electoral system and the fact that their vote is spread too widely, they are unlikely to win more than a handful of seats. Instead they are more likely to simply draw votes away from the Conservative Party and weaken it in the swing constituencies it needs to win against Labour.

The tactics of the big two are identical. They have concentrated on talking down both the 'upstart' parties that are challenging them, saying that they can only play a spoiler role, and that any votes for them will be wasted votes.

Cameron tells English voters that a vote for UKIP will weaken the Tories and thus strengthen Labour. This is actually quite true, but, given the fact that the Conservative Party and the Labour Party are nearly identical on most of the main issues that concern UKIP supporters, like mass immigration, gay marriage, and subservience to the EU, this is essentially meaningless. Nevertheless, many UKIP-leaning voters are likely to reconsider their vote in the light of this, concluding that this time a vote for UKIP would be a wasted one.

Miliband says something similar about the SNP, but here he has a much harder sell. The SNP is now so far ahead of Labour in Scotland that there are very few seats where Labour votes have even a chance of counting. Scottish voters know that a vote for the SNP weakens Labour, but it does not directly benefit the Conservatives in the way that a vote for UKIP in England benefits Labour.

With time running out, Miliband and his deputy in Scotland, Jim Murphy, continue to push the idea that a vote for the SNP will be a wasted vote, implying that they should return to Labour if they want to influence the type of government the UK will have. The projections however simply don’t support this narrative, so now Labour have resorted to stating that they won’t under any circumstances do a coalition deal with the SNP.

This may seem to be the equivalent to a mugger pointing a gun at his head and threatening to shoot himself if you don’t give him the money. Either he does it and you don’t care, or more likely he is bluffing – as why would anybody do anything so stupid?

The reason why voters are skeptical about this is that Labour and the SNP are both left-of-centre parties, with a great deal in common. Indeed, the reason the SNP does so well in Scotland is because it is actually better at being Labour than Labour is! In strict policy and ideological terms, both parties seem much more natural coalition partners than the previous coalition partners of the Conservatives and Lib Dems.

Surging Sturgeon: feisty SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.
But the main reason Milliband has to put on this show of refusing to contemplate a deal with the SNP is not to persuade SNP voters to return to Labour before May 7th – that is not going to happen on any significant scale – but instead to mollify English voters.

Because of the high statistical probability that Labour will need to do a deal with the SNP to secure power, many English voters are starting to see Labour as a party that will be held to ransom by the SNP. The Conservative have seized on this and have been using it to attack Labour. If Labour can be depicted as the dog that will be wagged by the SNP tail, then the Conservatives might be able to win enough MPs to form another coalition with the Lib Dems, or perhaps the Ulster Unionists, UKIP, or any combination of these parties.

But is Miliband simply electioneering when he rules out a deal with the SNP? Possibly, and people have every right to doubt such claims. But at a deeper level, the SNP is a very real existential threat to Labour in the way that its traditional opponents are not.

This is because, even though technically a civic nationalist party that goes out of its way to field ethnic candidates, the SNP represents the underlying trend of the ethnicization of British politics. Never mind the ripples and the waves, this is the way the tide of UK politics is flowing.

As shown above, the loss of Scotland to Labour represents a net loss of 40 MPs by Labour vis-a-vis the Conservative Party. When you are seeking 326 MPs in a multiparty democracy to have a majority this is a considerable set back. But there is another significant effect that the destruction of Labour in Scotland will have – it will make the Labour Party suddenly appear to be a much less White Party. In 2010, Labour won 68% of the ethnic vote to the Conservatives 16%. With the defection of its Scottish voters to the SNP, this perception will be strengthened, pushing it well beyond the tipping point where working class Whites in racially divided Northern towns like Rotherham and Bradford simply decide that it is no longer their party.

Flag Day in Labour-controlled Rochdale,
If Labour does a deal with the SNP, it will only confirm the value of the SNP for Scottish voters and make their return to the Labour fold ever more unlikely. It will be seen as the party subservient to the Scots, but even more negatively it will also be seen as the non-White party and the party of the Rotherham rapists.

In an England that is struggling to come to some sense of its own identity, that would likely prove fatal and prepare the way for UKIP to make the kind of inroads that the BNP once threatened to make in Northern Labour strongholds.

For these reasons, Miliband’s threats to spurn an SNP alliance may be more than a mere masquerade. Rather than opting for the easy convenience of a Labour-SNP coalition (assuming both parties get enough MPs), he may well wish to have another throw of the dice and return to the polls in the hope that Scottish voters will either return to Labour and help it to victory or else blame the SNP for any Conservative victory.

Miliband's maneuverings have all the characteristics of a man fighting a battle on the wrong side of history, attempting to stand against the rising tide of ethnopolitics that threatens to tear the Labour Party into competing ethnic blocs.




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