Long, interesting piece on the British election


Corbyn isn’t the main reason C2DE voters have turned away from Labour, any more than Brexit is. Rather, they’ve both exacerbated a trend that’s been underway for at least 45 years, which is the fracturing of the “Hampstead and Hull” coalition and the ebbing away of Labour’s working class support.

Another, related phenomenon that’s been overlooked is that these “topsy turvey” politics are hardly unique to Britain. Left-of-center parties in most parts of the Anglosphere, as well as other Western democracies, have seen the equivalent of their own ‘Red Walls’ collapsing. One of the reasons Scott Morrison’s Liberals confounded expectations to win the Australian election last May was because Bill Shorten’s Labour Party was so unpopular in traditional working class areas like Queensland, and support for socially democratic parties outside the large cities in Scandinavia has cratered over the past 15 years or so.

Thomas Piketty, the French Marxist, wrote a paper about this phenomenon last year entitled ‘Brahmin Left vs Merchant Right: Rising Inequality and the Changing Structure of Political Conflict’ and it’s the subject of Capital and Ideology, his new book. His hypothesis is that politics in the US, Britain, and France—he confines his analysis to those three countries—is dominated by the struggle between two elite groups: the Brahmin Left and the Merchant Right. He points out that left-wing parties in the US, Britain and France used to rely on ‘nativist’ voters to win elections—low education, low income—but since the 1970s have begun to attract more and more ‘globalist’ voters—high education, high income (with the exception of the top 10 per cent of income earners). The nativists, meanwhile, have drifted to the Right, forming a coalition with the business elite. He crunches the data to show that in the US, from the 1940s to the 1960s, the more educated people were, the more likely they were to vote Republican. Now, the opposite is true, with 70% of voters with masters degrees voting for Hilary in 2016. “The trend is virtually identical in all three countries,” he writes.

In Piketty’s view, the electoral preferences of the post-industrial working class—the precariat—is a kind of false consciousness, often engendered by populist snake-charmers like Matteo Salvini and Viktor Orban. He’s intensely suspicious of the unholy alliance between super-rich “merchants” and the lumpen proletariat, and similar noises have been made about the levels of support Boris has managed to attract.

A little more on Piketty here. BTW, we don’t know what to make of all this fancy analysis.

Completely silly addition: where was KR in Genesis?

4 Responses to “Long, interesting piece on the British election”

  1. feeblemind Says:

    From the article:

    “Most people I know who used to be staunch Labour are now saying no way Jeremy Corbyn,” said Steve Hurt, an engineer. “It’s not our party any more. Same label, different bottle.”

    I imagine that’s it in a nutshell. Labor has moved too far left for their voters and isn’t listening too them because they know better than the proles what’s good for them.

    We’ll see if the same phenomenon is occurring here in November.

  2. feeblemind Says:

    BTW the KR picture is funny.

  3. feeblemind Says:

    Take Note, Democrats: The UK Election Was A Referendum On Progressivism


  4. feeblemind Says:

    Another post mortem:

    The Story of the UK General Election is not Brexit, it’s the Coming Breakup of Britain


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