Douglas Carswell

22 NOV 2016

Why the left is finished

I was quite struck by Will Hutton's review of all the Brexit books in the Guardian. Not because of what it says about the inside story of the referendum campaign – I got to see most of that first hand. But because of what it reveals about the sorry state of the left.

Ex-Observer editor Hutton has been an influential figure in the Labour party for decades. He was chief executive of the Work Foundation – whose mission is to "transform people's experience of work".

So it's striking just how much contempt his review displays for the millions of working-class Brits who voted to Leave.

At every point in the review, Hutton seeks to diminish and belittle those he disagrees with.

The Leave coalition, he writes, is "a malign alliance of obsessed constitutional nationalists and far right-wing populists."

Remain's failure to make its case for the EU was, he modestly claims, "what happens to countries in irreversible decline".

Brexit, he mourns, is "going to transform the country into an unpleasant, illiberal and inward-looking island."

Hutton sees the whole campaign through the prism of people with ulterior motives putting party before country. Nowhere does he acknowledge that there were people – on both sides of the debate – who passionately believed in what they campaigning for.

This is the reason the British left is in existential decline. Its leaders are so convinced of their own moral superiority, they have no sense of self-awareness.

The majority of the electorate voted Leave. Labour's base is abandoning the party. But its representatives never seem to ask why. Every loss for the left is seen as a dastardly manipulation of people who can't be trusted to know their own best interests.

It never seems to occur to these savants that maybe voters can think for themselves. Or that, just perhaps, they're fed up with sneering condescension from those who claim to represent them.

"The liberal centre, derided as the establishment, could not muster the matching energy, conviction, unity and passion to fight back", Hutton concludes. "Nor, as matters stand, is there any sign it has learned its lesson."

Well, quite.

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