Letters from an encouraged Corbynite #10:

Sometimes, in one frothing paragraph, the chatterati of the better-off suburbs of London Town demonstrate their gob-smacking ignorance of the politics of the people across the UK.
Today, in the Observer, the home stable of getting the last General Election absolutely wrong, Nick Cohen fulminates: “Last week, the British Election Study concluded voters fled to Labour because they thought Jeremy Corbyn was offering a soft Brexit. A day of judgement will come when gullible Labour supporters realise the far left is more concerned with defending the power of tyrants in Venezuela than the jobs of British workers in the single market.”
This is a net of inchoate Guardianista prejudices held together by a frustration that Labour failed to succumb to the electoral annihilation every sub-Macronian curmudgeon wanted. If Cohen were to examine some of the polling evidence, he would have discovered the balancing evidence that a tiny sliver of Labour voters actually thought Brexit the most important issue. It was austerity. He might have examined the polling evidence from a slew of council by-elections this week that showed Labour on the march in Kent and West-Sussex, extending their influence in Tory and UKIP areas.
I think I am on pretty safe ground in saying that I knocked on rather more doors than Cohen during the election campaign. I was out every day for three weeks in three different constituencies, my own Liverpool Walton, the safest Labour seat in the UK with 85.7% of the vote, Wirral West which we transformed from a marginal to a 5,000 Labour win and Crewe, which we won by a whisker. How often did Brexit come up unsolicited? Four times. That’s right. Four. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter. It does. But for most working people, Brexit was the prism that refracted poverty, poor pay, exclusion and frustration at seven years of ideologically-fired Tory austerity. You can see that in the poor performance of the very pro-remain Lib Dems and SNP.
I was once in a ‘far left’ organisation, leaving in 1996, so I am the kind of guy who would know lots of the people Cohen attacks here. (Good to see Nick prioritises attacking the Left during a summer when the Tories are in meltdown, by the way).
Are my Labour friends and non-Labour socialist friends transfixed by all things Venezuela? Actually, the commonest attitudes are firstly, that it is a distraction tactic by the Tories, trying to divert attention from their infighting and their press-ignored U-turn on energy pricing, and secondly, that the situation in Venezuela is sobering, but highly complex and much more to do with the historic fault-lines of politics in the United States’ backyard of Latin America than Labour CLPs jumping on the ship to form a new International Brigade. Venezuela needs patient, nuanced analysis, not sloganeering.
Finally, of course, Cohen lets the cat out of the ideological bag, squealing that Labour doesn’t care about the jobs of British workers when jobs are actually the prime focus of the party in its flexible approach to Brexit. Cohen is not trying to shift Labour policy. It is not his concern. He doesn’t have a practical, principled and flexible approach to the concerns of the working class because he doesn’t live among it or campaign on behalf of its interests. That is the job of people like you and me. I spent my Friday night with Labour friends discussing how to prepare our organisation for an election victory and collecting supplies for our local food bank. I will be on the ISS picket line in Liverpool next week. What will you be doing, Nick? Maybe you will be insulting ordinary Labour voters, all intelligent and discerning people, as ‘gullible’ in you column.

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