by Christopher Gage
I must visit Twitter periodically to renew my sense of horror. For lurid anthropological enjoyment, Twitter offers a safari to those inclined. Twitter is most satisfying when reality intrudes upon those dedicated to unreality, the “my-truthers.”
Last week’s elections in Great Britain were such an occasion. “Fascists live among us!” cried the Woke, who call for the professional death and canceling of anyone who disagrees with them.
“The Labour Party is dead,” said the cerebral.
That’s not an improper assessment of the woes befalling the once great Labour Party. Last week, Labour lost, by a frightful margin, a “safe” seat it has held thoughtlessly for 62 years. That’s after a once-in-a-century pandemic claimed 128,000 lives in the U.K., presided over by an 11-year-old Conservative government. A sitting government has only twice before won what Americans call a special election. If an election were held today, Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party would snatch around 39 more seats from Labour’s old Red Wall heartlands. Seats like Hartlepool—seats where “Tory” just five years ago was a euphemism for a potent epithet that rhymes with “James Blunt.” Even Woke London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan struggled to reelection.
That which is amiss is not too deep an intellectual river to wade. It’s people on Twitter mistaking their digital sanatorium for a symposium. Go there to learn that Labour lost Hartlepool because Labour doesn’t talk the language of labor. Instead, they talk in Victorian parlance. Yet according to woke Twitter, Labour lost Hartlepool because voters are stupid, mince-headed parochials enthralled by the mystic forces of racism and sexism, and beguiled by the tabloid media’s hypnotic red ink.
Go Woke, Go Broke
As usual, progressives first discern the disease then poke around each orifice for the concomitant symptoms. They conclude: the lumpenproles who swung by 16 percentage points to the Conservatives are misguided, plain stupid, not worth the party name. That’s hilarious. The modern Labour Party seethes with sociologists named Hugo who wouldn’t know a wrench if it landed on their moccasins.
In reality, those who wear overalls and who understand basic biology, who value their country, its history—the achievements and the bereavements—are concerned with the malleable future rather than the imperishable past. They saw Labour’s leader, Sir Keir Starmer, last summer take the knee in fealty to Black Lives Matter. They hear the sniggering and the scoffing from their betters. They puzzle themselves over modish obsessions with melanin, the insistence that biological men have the right to steal Olympic gold medals from women, that the same men can get pregnant, and that anyone who questions such fashionable unrealities should lose their livelihood.
Ask any ex-Labour voter, and they’ll say: “Labour left us.” Labour has gone woke and has gone broke.
They’re not wrong: A survey of Labour members found them the richest, whitest, and wokest in the land. A land in which, statistically, such people are an exotic minority. They have private-schooled names like Jasper and “jobs” like “organic yoghurt farmer.” You know the type: their social media bios mention healing the world, yet if you mention reality, they’ll heal you out of a job and heel you with the underside of their vegan-leathered boot. They’re “free-thinkers,” until you think differently. This is the modern Labour Party.
Their folly is palpable. Labour’s candidate voted six times to overturn Brexit before running for a seat in which 70 percent voted for Brexit. Throughout the campaign, Labour obsessed over a “scandal” involving Boris Johnson’s wallpaper, and unfounded tittle-tattle accusing him of last year fuming he’d “let the bodies pile high,” over-ordering another lockdown. Seriously, in the past few weeks, I’ve learned more about the intricacies of home décor than I have about what the Labour Party stands for. One monkey-hanger asked: “How does some wallpaper make any difference to Hartlepool?” Like 52 percent of Hartlepool citizens, he answered his own rhetorical question.
“Red Tories” Win Votes
On Twitter, where originality douses itself in gasoline, calls its ex, and lights a cigarette, Boris Johnson’s choice of wallpaper and who might have paid for that wallpaper spelled the end of Boris Johnson. Dear reader, I’m sure you’ve heard the same shrill nonsense before. Nobody cared about Boris Johnson’s interior design. Across England, the Tories ransacked Labour on its own, once impregnable turf.
You’d think after losing the Red Wall in 2019, Labour leader Keir Starmer and Labour’s middle-class radicals would have taken notice. So far, just one member of Starmer’s cabinet has done so. Khalid Mahmood resigned, blaming the party’s “obsession” with identity politics, saying it had more in common with “Californian high society” than with Hartlepool.
You might learn more about politics carousing in a pub, than you will reading Machiavelli. But though Boris Johnson may have an Oxford degree in the classics, and can recite The Iliad in Homeric Greek; Boris also understands what animates the everyman and woman. His “Red Tories” have found the special sauce—economically center-left, and culturally center-right—a rejection of ruinous social and economic liberalism. They’re unafraid of fixing broken markets, they realize there’s an entire country attached to cosmopolitan London, and that softening themselves to placate the liberal elite is not worth the headpat.
The Red Tories are the everyman, and they govern accordingly. In the face of the woke mob, the Red Tories offer common sense. They’re not afraid to point out the Woke Left’s systemic fallacies, its endemic nonsense, or its moronic beliefs—the landmark race report is testament to that.
Having delivered Brexit and a world-beating vaccination campaign, Boris will apply the Red Tory formula to “leveling up” the divide between London and the rest. Schools, many now free from government interference, will push classical education, and many more will equip students with the technical skills for the high-paying jobs of the future, while government will funnel money into infrastructure and business.
It works. Conservative regional mayors Andy Street and Ben Houchen won resounding reelections last week with the trust of Labour’s former lifers. The Red Tories do what they say they’ll do. Boris? He’ll govern for 10 years.
What Republicans Can Learn
Ten years is much longer than President Biden’s own limited shelf life. Despite his larcenous win, Biden has until the midterms next year to write any legacy—the incumbent party loses an average of 25 seats—$6 trillion dollars doesn’t buy even one more day. Losing the House will accelerate Biden’s “placeholder” status. Given America is now a post-meritocracy, (any country which elects the shiftless Kamala Harris to the vice presidency qualifies) Harris will satisfy the Democrats’ world of appearances, its primitive obsession with electing “The First” on account of skin pigmentation and genitalia, and its Woke future. That future looks like the British Labour Party—the world’s largest and most lavishly funded critical theory book club.
The question is not whether establishment Republicans can take advantage. The question is whether establishment Republicans want to take advantage. Boris Johnson’s Red Tories alchemize muscular conservatism with true mass appeal. Yet, the Republican establishment pines for a time machine back to 1980, a time few Americans want to revisit, and in which America’s largest generation was still spermatozoa. Rather than hanker for the past, Republicans could mold the future—it’s in Florida, he’s currently governor of the sunshine state, and even near half of Florida Democrats approve of him. Ron DeSantis gets it. Like Boris Johnson, his conservatism is relevant, thoughtful, and it works. Like Boris, the desperate media cannot imprint upon either a lasting welt.
Meanwhile, the cult of Wokeness pulls toward it with cosmic force every leaf-cruncher, my-truther, grievance-monger, crystal-gazer, tarot-reader, Incel, hemp-wearer, hypochondriac, and oddball in America and Great Britain. At least for now, Twitter is not the real world.
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Christopher Gage is a British political journalist.
Photo “Vote Labour” by Evelyn Simak. CC BY-SA 2.0.