Unconscious thought works by certain basic mechanisms. Trump uses them instinctively to turn people’s brains toward what he wants: Absolute authority, money, power, celebrity.
The mechanisms are:
1. Repetition. Words are neurally linked to the circuits that determine their meaning. The more a word is heard, the more the circuit is activated and the stronger it gets, and so the easier it is to fire again. Trump repeats. Win. Win, Win. We’re gonna win so much you’ll get tired of winning.
2. Framing: Crooked Hillary. Framing Hillary as purposely and knowingly committing crimes for her own benefit, which is what a crook does. Repeating makes many people unconsciously think of her that way, even though she has been found to have been honest and legal by thorough studies by the right-wing Bengazi committee (which found nothing) and the FBI (which found nothing to charge her with, except missing the mark ‘(C)’ in the body of 3 out of 110,000 emails). Yet the framing is working.
First, the numbers. Despite Trump’s overt sexism and racism, he managed to win over many women and Latinos. White women, for example, voted for Trump over Clinton by a ten-point margin, according to CNN’s exit polling. Depending on which exit poll you believe, Trump may also have won anywhere from 19 percentto an astonishing 29 percent of the Latino vote, despite his virulently anti-Latino rhetoric. Clinton’s supposed bulwark among college-educated voters also failed: White college graduates backed Trump by a 4-point margin, including 45 percent of college-educated white women.
Contempt for Corbyn is rivalled only by disdain for the party that elected him. His critics argue that the membership is unrepresentative of the country as a whole. By definition most political memberships are, but that does not mean they represent nothing. In this case the Labour party membership represents two quite crucial constituencies. First, the group that will help select the Labour MPs and leaders. And second, the group that will knock on doors and staff the phones to fight for a Labour government. Those are no small things.
If Corbyn resigned tomorrow, the issues that he raised would still stand, and the Parliamentary Labour party would still have no coherent response to them. He did not create the dislocation between the PLP and the membership, he merely illustrates it. His critics say they want their party back. Their party may well say it wants Corbyn back. In the absence of any reckoning as to how that discrepancy came about and any idea what to do about it, his critics are going to destroy the party they claim they love to save it from a leader it prefers.
The outcome of the EU referendum has been unfairly blamed on the working class in the north of England, and even on obesity.7 However, because of differential turnout and the size of the denominator population, most people who voted Leave lived in the south of England.8 Furthermore, of all those who voted for Leave, 59% were in the middle classes (A, B, or C1). The proportion of Leave voters in the lowest two social classes (D and E) was just 24%.8 The Leave voters among the middle class were crucial to the final result because the middle class constituted two thirds of all those who voted. Continue reading
But even so, let me make three warnings.
We’ve seen ugly things happening up and down the country, and the license given to horrible, malign forces by the way the Leave campaign conducted itself. Notwithstanding those awful events: please let’s not think of the vast majority of the people I’ve talked about as stupid, or deluded, or bigoted or hateful. I don’t believe 17 million people are like that. In fact, I think I’m confident enough to say I know that.
If you woke up on Friday morning thinking the country was suddenly in the hands of a social tribe you didn’t know much about and you were suddenly terrified about the future, bear in mind: that is how millions of people in this country have been living for decades.
Please understand that the Labour Party has left a vacuum in these places which has been growing for ten or fifteen years. And if the result is denied, certainly while all of this is still raw, Ukip – with or without Nigel Farage, or maybe something even nastier – may well sweep through a lot of England and Wales, and the terrain for meaningful progressive politics will be destroyed. That’s how high the stakes are.
As Jeremy Gilbert, one of the crucial thinkers charting a new direction for the British left, points out, by placing general elections in the hands of a few middle-income voters in market towns, our system grants inordinate power to the corporate media, which needs only to influence them to capture the nation. A combination of a media owned by billionaires, unreformed political funding and first-past-the-post elections is lethal to democracy. Continue reading
As rallies of support for Jeremy Corbyn are held in Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance this weekend, Simon Parker writes an open letter to the region’s only Labour MP, Ben Bradshaw.
I address this to you, but it applies equally to Cimber, Casca, Brutus and the others. Let me say at the outset that I’ve always liked you, always admired your straight talking, your passion, your courage, your genuine interest in the underdog, your honesty. That’s why I find it so difficult to stomach your actions this week. It is with a heavy heart that I feel the need to take issue with our region’s one Labour MP.
I wish you had come out with me on Monday evening. A group of us were gathered in the public hall of a workaday village in South East Cornwall for the regular meeting of Moorland Branch Labour Party. We are a small but growing group, united in our commitment to building a better future for our community, our country and our world. As well as Moorland, there are new and active branches right across my area – Torpoint to Tamar Valley, Lostwithiel to Looe.
This talk was given by John McDonnell on Wednesday 29 June at a Stand Up for Labour event in the George IV pub in Chiswick, West London. The transcript has been lightly edited to account for the difference between spoken and written language but the content is unchanged.
Let me just tell you where we’re at at the moment because it’s important that you know. I just want to go back a short while, I won’t keep you long.
When Jeremy got elected last year he got elected on 59.5% of the vote – the highest mandate that any political leader of this country has ever received from their own membership. It was overwhelming in individual members, the affiliated group and also the new supporters. In every category he won.
When we got back to Parliament he tried, in his own quiet way (I’ve known Jeremy 35/40 years and he’s one of the most caring, compassionate people I’ve met), to work with people, put them together. He created a Shadow Cabinet of left, right and centre, he tried to hold it together. And when he did that he tried to work with the Parliamentary Labour Party all the way through. But there’s been a group within the PLP who consistently refused to accept his democratic mandate and consistently undermined him in every way they possibly could. To be frank, I don’t know how he’s borne it. I’m just so proud of him, to be honest, for what he’s done.
Whoever emerges as Labour’s leader after the dust has settled will be dealing with a country riven by deep inequalities and divisions, and crying out for leadership and a bold vision of how to move on from here. McDonnell’s evolving economic plan has much that Labour should develop, whatever its future leadership, just as McDonnell and his team can themselves be seen as offering not so much a hard break from the Miliband era, but a further development of some of the best ideas, of using forms of predistribution to tackle the root causes of inequality, on which Miliband’s team had worked.
McDonnell has realized that, in the post-crash era of quantitative easing, in which macroeconomic policy is made as much by central banks as by finance ministries, parties of the left can no longer leave monetary policy to the technocrats. His commission examining the workings of the Monetary Policy Committee, chaired by former MPC member Professor David Blanchflower, should be central to Labour’s future economic thinking, and should not be ignored by any post-Corbyn leader. Similarly, McDonnell has asked Professor Prem Sikka to report on the future functioning of HMRC, and Lord Kerslake, a former head of the UK civil service, to report on the functioning of the Treasury, and to investigate the case for its future division into separate ministries of finance and economic development. This fundamental work will allow Labour to think more seriously about the future of a progressive macroeconomic policy.
As well as needing to reach out to the 48% of the population who voted ‘Remain’ and the millions, especially among younger people, who wished they had done so, Labour needs to speak to those who voted for Leave out of a sense of economic desperation. The sense of economic hopelessness that drove voters into the arms of the ‘Leave’ campaign in the northeast, south Wales, parts of Yorkshire and the East of England, and in many coastal towns, can be addressed only by an ambitious return to forms of industrial policy that direct investment towards areas that need to retool their economies. Plans for regional development banks under Miliband have been further developed under McDonnell, with the thinking of his team being much informed by the work of Professor Mariana Mazzucato, and her book on the Entrepreneurial State. Any future Labour strategy for regional economic development must also follow McDonnell in supporting innovative Labour councils, such as Preston City Council, which has looked for ways to develop the local economy through growing the cooperative sector, and using the power of procurement spending by the local authority and other local ‘anchor institutions’ in order to encourage an ecosystem of local enterprises to grow and thrive.
Corbyn was the strongest candidate for the Labour leadership last year, because only his campaign of the four seemed prepared to think at the right scale about the challenges of inequality and economic marginalisation. Throwing out the best and most popular features of Corbyn’s programme now would be self-defeating in the extreme, whoever is to be Labour’s leader into the next election.
Labour After the Earthquake
If the Blairites put forward a candidate to oppose him, Corbyn should stand on a policy of mandatory re-selection for all Labour Party MPs. He can position himself as the anti-establishment revolutionary who wants to put an end to career politicians using Labour seats as a lifetime ticket to the Westminster establishment club. Corbyn’s proposition should be that if Labour MPs don’t serve the interests of the people who elected them, the people who elected them can replace them with someone who will.
It seems clear that this coup would have been launched irrespective of the referendum result. Anyone who thinks remain would have won the vote if Jeremy Corbyn had told traditional Labour areas that all was well with the EU and with globalisation is living in a dream world. It is easier to do that from an oligarch’s yacht or a bank boardroom than it is in our de-industrialised cities and towns.
In fact, Corbyn was honest and straightforward about a complex question. There is no more sense in blaming him than there is in blaming Margaret Hodge for the fact that her constituency was one of the very few in London to vote to leave the EU.
For six years now, often with my colleague John Domokos, I have been travelling around the UK for our video series Anywhere But Westminster, ostensibly covering politics, but really trying to divine the national mood, if such a thing exists. I look back, and find all sorts of auguries of what has just happened. As an early warning, there was the temporary arrival of the British National party in electoral politics from 2006 onwards, playing on mounting popular anger about immigration from the EU “accession states”, in the midst of Gordon Brown’s “flexible” job market, and a mounting housing crisis.
A few years later, we met builders in South Shields who told us that their hourly rate had come down by £3 thanks to new arrivals from eastern Europe; the mother in Stourbridge who wanted a new school for “our kids”; the former docker in Liverpool who looked at rows of empty warehouses and exclaimed, “Where’s the work?”
For this to happen three rather difficult but not impossible things have to happen. The first is that the Labour leadership need to stop talking about ‘respecting the will of the people’ and focus on how the Leave side are already owning up to their lies and false promises. The second, and perhaps most difficult, is that Labour need to form a united front on the basis of a Remain ticket, involving the LibDems, Greens and SNP. This is the only way the Conservatives and most of the tabloid press will be defeated. Third, the new Conservative leader has to be forced to hold a general election before Article 50 is invoked.
Since 1976 a lot of Britons who do not live in London (or not the nicer parts) have been doing very badly. The economy is trash if you aren’t connected to the various London money spigots because Britain insisted on de-industrializing.
So, we have a very large number of people who have done very badly for 40 years. They were given an opportunity to vote against the status quo, and they did so.
Now, I am going to tell you a very big secret. It’s a secret that the great sages and the sensible people have been telling humanity for thousands of years.
The secret of living in a good society is leaving no one behind.
Strategically the instinct Corbyn has followed is right: Labour’s new heartland is millions of progressive, liberal minded, globalist people, especially among the young and in the salariat. Forging an alliance between them and the old, manual working class is the challenge — because these are different political “tribes” with sometimes divergent values. But it’s doable, because radicalism on the economy can unite them.
However in the next 10 days we have to change the minds of a much wider group of people, not necessarily Labour voters, who are sick of seeing their own communities blighted and neglected by successive Labour and Tory governments (and councils) alike.
Wrongly they see migration as the main reason. And subtextually they are seeing Brexit as a way of “getting one over” not just on the elite but the liberal middle classes in general. This group does not only include white workers: it includes some black and Asian voters too.
Labour should say:
In 1950 UK wide turnout was 84 per cent. In 1997 it was 71 per cent but it fell to 59 per cent in 2001. It crept up to 66 per cent in 2015, but only 24 per cent of the electorate voted for the Conservatives, 20 per cent for Labour, 22 per cent for other parties and 34 per cent didn’t vote. Some 7.5 million eligible adults no longer bother to register to vote and registration is being made harder as people more often have to rent privately, move rented home more frequently, and have to register individually at every move. A growing number of people are not eligible to vote at Westminster elections because they were born elsewhere in Europe. The true proportions of adults living in the UK who voted for either Labour or Conservative in the general election of May 2015 will be far less than 40 per cent. It may be as low as a third when all those not allowed to vote are included.
In 1950 only 25 per cent of the electorate did not vote for either the Conservatives or Labour. Furthermore, almost everyone who could be registered to vote was registered. We still had identity cards. Now a majority, 56 per cent of the electorate, do not give the two main parties their vote, as do millions of others who are not registered to vote but could be. The majority of UK voters were dissatisfied with the status quo in May 2015. The UK electoral stage is now set for other possibilities. Continue reading
The days of a meaningful mandate under FPTP have gone. Even a new New Labour project is impossible to assemble against the backdrop of an economic system that’s isn’t working for a growing majority. The vast bulk of the party has decided irrevocably to turn away from the politics of compromise beyond purpose. But a single Big Tent of the left is equally impossible. The social, cultural, regional and nation tensions are too great for one party to hope for a monopoly of the progressive vote. Continue reading