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Romantic sporting essentialism

So South Africa won the rugby. I didn’t watch it myself. Like many (though certainly not all) of those who congregate here I am more into reading a pleasantly dotty analysis of Rugby As A Class Phenomenon in the pages of the Guardian than watching however-many-it-is blokes run about a muddy field with a ball that isn’t even. No offence to those whose preferences run the other way, or to those who enjoy both – the denunciation of daft Guardian articles just happens to my way of directing my aggressive instincts into harmless channels. Here is said article:

“Rugby league is a rebel sport – its northern strongholds will never turn Conservative” writes Tony Collins, who is emeritus professor of history at De Montfort University.

In fact his account of the origin of the class divide between Rugby Union and Rugby League is fascinating. People like me who make jokingly derogatory remarks about sports because they were crap at them at school need to learn more about sports history.

But Professor Collins knowing a lot about the history of Rugby League in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries doesn’t necessarily mean he knows all about its fans in the twenty-first. And his apparent belief that Rugby League casts a permanent Protection Against Toryism spell is ludicrous:

The attitudes that gave birth to rugby league remain strong. Hostility to the establishment and suspicion of the ruling elite, whether in Westminster or in business, has not diminished. Indeed, the strong Brexit vote in rugby league-playing regions can be seen as a protest vote against a two-party parliamentary system that has continually let down the “post-industrial” north.

Or, allow me a little blue sky thinking for a moment, it could be seen as wanting Brexit.

Unlike Essex Man or Worcester Woman, Workington Man (Johnson’s consultants appear to be ignorant of the fact that women are also rugby league fans and players)

Cheap shot, Professor. As you as a historian of the sport know perfectly well, the overwhelming majority of Rugby League players and fans have been male.

has none of the advantages of living in the economic bubble of the south of England. While dissatisfaction with Labour also runs deep, it is unlikely that traditional rugby league areas in the north of England will fall to the Tories.

Although the Brexit party has picked up votes in these areas, Nigel Farage’s Dulwich College accent and golf club-bore demeanour is too great a barrier for him to make any significant breakthrough in areas where stubborn resistance to self-appointed authority is deeply ingrained.

While no one knows what the future may bring, the best means we have for estimating the likelihood of a region “falling” to the Tories is an opinion poll. By a happy non-coincidence an opinion poll to canvass the views of “Workington Man” (and Workington Woman too before anyone gets uptight) has just been carried out. Not a poll of Workington Man the archetype, a poll of actual human beings living in Workington. Here is my post about it over at The Great Realignment site: Workington Agonistes. If you want a TL;DR, the result was that by 45% to 34% Workington would fall to the Tories. Yet worse, 13% of Workingtonites would fall to the golfing side of the force and vote for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. That is not a high percentage but it is almost triple what the Lib Dems get. So much for Brexit being a protest vote against a two-party parliamentary system.

As one contemporary writer remarked about the 1895 split, northern rugby and its communities had rejected the “thraldom of the southern gentry”. There’s no reason to suspect that things will change in 2019. As Onward’s misunderstanding of rugby league traditions demonstrates, Britain remains two nations separated by huge class and cultural divisions. And few things illustrate that chasm better than rugby.

The “Onward” think tank may be misunderstanding rugby league traditions, but what evidence we have suggests that Professor Collins may be misunderstanding who plays the role of bubble-dwelling gentry here.

23 comments to Romantic sporting essentialism

  • bobby b

    I would suggest that Prof Collins is an ass.

    I played organized football (American) from age 8 to my junior year in college. (I was tough, played outside linebacker almost the entire time, even got on TV twice.) I wrestled from age 10 to my last year of high school. I rodeo’d from age 13 to age 20. (That’s my ultimate credential. Nothing is so down-in-the-mud brutal as rodeo.)

    Looking to my friends and acquaintances from that life, what stands out is the complete idiocy of any attempt to label them monolithicly as progressive or conservative or libertarian or idiotarian or whatever.

    If I had to characterize all of those people under one banner, it would be under the Gadsden Flag – and the motto “don’t fuck with me.” Living that life gives you a sense of your own strength.

    But that Gadsden motto is useful and germane under any political ideology.

    I have old friends who are in Antifa, and some who are living in compounds out in Idaho seeking the resurrection of the white race. Some are looking to protect their version of god from blasphemous man, and others serve our country in high federal office. It makes for interesting holiday gatherings.

    Collins seeks to harvest this moral strength and certitude for his own purposes, and in doing so disqualifies himself from its umbrella.

    People who have never had occasion to test themselves against the rest – and I’m not claiming this mantle only for rugby-like lives – never have the personal strength of conviction held by those who have. Collins would like to shelter under this aura. He pretends.

  • To those of our readers who are across the water or down under – or just down south, and so sharing Professor Collins’ ignorance of Workington (without, one trusts, sharing his arrogance), it may be worth explaining why Workington is being mentioned (over and above its comically apt name, of course 🙂 ).

    Workington is pure essence of old Labour. An elderly in-law who grew up there tells me it has been a Labour seat all her life. It is, one might say, British ‘rust-belt’. I have been there recently. I get the impression it is the chosen destination of relatively few immigrants, legal or otherwise, and that such few eager PC types as are there are rather followers than leaders of woke culture – the kind of followers who these days are always at risk of being cancelled for not keeping up. If the Tories can win Workington, then (as I titled a recent Great Realignment post) the times they are indeed achanging.

    To put it another way, the professor is explaining why Trump cannot breach Hillary’s firewall. Those eager for change sometimes overlook the possibility that things they rely on may also change – may be changed by their changes.

  • Rob

    You would be forgiven for being astonished, after reading this, that Rugby League has been ruthlessly professional (Boo! Money) for over a century. In other words, they play for money, corrupted by Capitalism and Greed.

    Had Rugby Union been professional all its life, and League amateur for most of it until recently, he would have used this as a weapon against Union and an argument extolling League, but the opposite is true so the embarrassing fact is discarded.

    And the idea of Rugby League in the Guardian…it must read like articles about the inhabitants of the Andaman Islands must have read to Victorians in the nineteenth century.

  • Rob

    The irony is that the current Labour Party is as ‘Southern’ as it is possible to be: London, Metropolitan, Internationalist. They despise the white British working class. Sooner or later Workington and hundreds of places like it will wake up and realise.

    The Conservative Party may not be aligned with their class interest, but at least they still believe in things like Britain, families, etc. What does the average person in Workington think about a Labour Party conference that is a mass of waving Palestinian flags, but thinks the English flag is a symbol of Fascism? Or a Labour Party loudly supporting the rights of men in dresses to use women and girls’ toilets and changing rooms?

  • pete

    I didn’t watch the rugby final either because I don’t become interested in a sport just because it is heavily advertised on TV and radio.

    Even after the BBC’s extraordinary barrage of adverts for the 2012 Olympics I didn’t watch any of the events on TV.

    As for rugby league being a rebel sport I note it is popular in areas which always vote Labour. Labour voters are notoriously loyal, not rebellious. They keep voting Labour when it is clear that the party does nothing for them, and even when it has become blindingly obvious that its comfortably off middle class membership and MPs don’t care at all about the working man or woman.

  • Chip

    “areas where stubborn resistance to self-appointed authority is deeply ingrained.”

    Right, so how does voting, repeatedly, for a party that promises to be the ONLY authority for the economy and society via the end of free markets and centralization of power somehow become resistance to authority?

    It’s remarkable how people who have convinced themselves of something emotionally – ie socialism and AGW – are utterly blind to discordant facts.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Right, so how does voting, repeatedly, for a party that promises to be the ONLY authority for the economy and society via the end of free markets and centralization of power somehow become resistance to authority?”

    Because there is no option on the ballot paper not to have a government. All elections are a choice between authorities. So it’s not a question of which self-appointed authority you actually like, but of which is likely to be least bad.

    “What does the average person in Workington think about…”

    They don’t care, either way. Those sorts of policies are not among their priorities, but they’re probably not massively against them, either.

    Voting labour is just a social signal to say you’d like better jobs and public services, please. Nobody believes in election promises, anyway. And Corbyn can’t even keep control of his own party, let alone take over the country.

  • The Conservative Party may not be aligned with their class interest, but … (Rob, November 3, 2019 at 10:59 am)

    Insofar as it is their interest to earn money rather than be given dole, the conservatives are better aligned with their class interests than Labour is (plus money for dole must fight with the rest of Labour’s spending plans, and money for their dole must fight with money for Corbyn’s Hamas’ friends’ dole, etc.). The idea that Labour, not the Tories, are for their class interests is all about feelings, rhetoric, impressions and memories. So while

    “What does the average person in Workington think about…” (Rob, November 3, 2019 at 10:59 am)

    They don’t care, either way. (Nullius in Verba, November 3, 2019 at 3:13 pm)

    has content so long as they think Labour is for them, it does its bit toward the suggestion that Labour is no longer for them.

  • Paul from Canada

    I recall seeing a documentary some years ago describing rugby in France, and how it clove to political lines there too. I can’t remember whether conservatives/reactionaries played league or union, but radicals/communists/socialists played the other.

  • Snorri Godhi

    As someone who has never watched a team-sports match except for soccer and ice hockey (and tennis doubles, if it counts) I’d like to ask: is there anything at all intrinsically more appealing to the working class in rugby league, as compared to rugby union? Vice versa, is there any reason why the gentry should enjoy rugby union more?

    (Added in proof: i did play volleyball and basketball — badly — in high school; but i never watched people playing them.)

    WRT the commenters who (correctly) pointed out that (in my terminology) voting for Labour is voting for the ruling class, not for the people: I agree, of course.
    Indeed, the working class does vote for the “”right”” (Thatcher, Reagan, Trump, Brexit) when the latter is led by someone who bothers to explain to them why it is in their interest to vote for the “”right””.

  • neonsnake

    Voting labour is just a social signal to say you’d like better jobs and public services, please.

    Fair point.

    And also, affordable housing and less student debt.

    Also, less food banks, less corporate welfare and Crony Capitalism, less blaming of the Fire Brigade for Grenfell, fewer Windfell scandals. Less bombs in Syria. Less hostile environment.

    Less bedroom taxes and disability benefit cuts.

    *shrugs*

    If you can’t see the appeal of Corbyn when we (or our parents, depending on our age) had all of those things, then you’re not looking hard enough at Mark From Purchase Ledger and listening to what he’s saying, and how he’s feeling.

    Corbyn isn’t talking about “seizing the means of production”.

    He’s talking about Social Democracy (NOT Democratic Socialism, which is a different thing), about making life better for the little man. And he’s doing a better job of it than “Boris” and “Jacob”, a more relatable job, as far as I can tell, to the kids that believe that an NHS and unemployment benefits (that we all enjoyed ourselves) shouldn’t be stripped away from them.

    In the marketplace of ideas…well, he’s got more marketable ideas, as far as I can tell, than Boris, to yer youth.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Corbyn isn’t talking about “seizing the means of production”.”

    Yes he is.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50046329

    I can see the appeal of Corbyn, but it’s not that he’s promising more welfare like it used to be, which labour have been doing for decades. His primary appeal is similar to that of Trump or Boris – that he gives the impression of expressing his real opinions honestly, rather than doing what most politicians do, which is to say whatever they think will avoid trouble, fit in with the crowd, virtually-indistinguishable-from-the-other-side, appeal to the middle-of-the-road median voter. He’s not going for the middle, he’s going for the base – and the base, who on all sides of the political spectrum have felt abandoned in recent years, are ecstatic.

    “If you can’t see the appeal of Corbyn when we (or our parents, depending on our age) had all of those things”

    People of our parents age remember the three day week, the general strike, rubbish piling up in the streets, power cuts, rationing, and 20% inflation. We remember when going to university was only for the cleverest, most working class kids would never even have the chance at degree, let alone have the opportunity to worry about ‘student debt’. When most rented, and expected never to be able to afford their own home. The older generation remember having only the most basic choice of food, of saving for Christmas, no central heating, no foreign holidays, no mobile phones, no computers, no computer games, no internet, no social media. Of crap rustbucket cars you had to repair yourself. Of hand-me-down clothes, and stuff your granny had knitted.

    I suspect the fundamental reason the Corbyn is able to make a return today is precisely that the youth of today are utterly oblivious to what the past was like – and especially the bit of the past when the Corbyn-like Socialists were at their peak. They have absolutely no idea what an incredible climb to prosperity and wealth-beyond-their-dreams most of the the older generation have witnessed.

    What I expect they mean is that the older generation have those thing now. After 40 years of working, the old have accumulated wealth – itself something which a century ago would have been considered only for the rich. Just starting out in life, the young don’t. And they’re envious.

    The Socialists have a whole new generation of suckers, totally ignorant of history. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

    But I will say for Corbyn, he is (or rather, was) more honest and open about what he is and what he intends than most politicians, and that is in itself a refreshing improvement. I’ve noticed in recent times he’s started weaselling in order to avoid trouble and fit in with expectations, appease the coalition, although it’s still a sporadic and uneasy fit. The perils of leadership, I suppose.

  • neonsnake (November 3, 2019 at 8:38 pm), I’d appreciate more detail on where exactly Mark from Purchase Ledger got the idea that the NHS and unemployment benefit were about to be stripped away from him? (I mean, it’s not like Margaret Thatcher ever attempted such a thing.) Genuinely asking.

    1) If he gets it from hearing Corbyn tell him so, do we have a bit of a chicken and egg situation?

    2) Alternatively, do you think how he gets this idea relates at all to e.g. the following, described by Dominic Cummings (discussing the Brexit-dividend-for-the-NHS part of the Brexit referendum campaign):

    “I’ve spent years trying to ignore the NHS in elections, Dominic, and I’m not going to change now”, said many like Peter Bone. … Some people now claim this was cynical and we never intended to spend more on the NHS. Wrong. Boris and Gove were agreed and determined to do exactly this. … The opposite impression was created because many Tories who did not like us talking about the NHS reverted to type within seconds of victory and immediately distanced themselves from it and the winning campaign. Unlike Gove and Boris they did not learn from the campaign, they did not listen to the public. Until people trust that the NHS is a financial priority for Tories, they will have no moral authority to discuss management issues.

    3) Maggie was always determined never to lose an election because of the NHS, so she worked hard to keep it functional and not to let costs balloon – and Major did not much change this. Blair (and Brown) did immense harm to the NHS during Labour’s 13 years: they made it cost twice as much while making it work less well in some noticeable areas (and nowhere remotely near twice as well in such others as showed any improvement at all). I understand Cummings’ last sentence to mean he thinks that Mark from Purchase Ledger is more interested in who says the oftenest that they care the mostest about the NHS than he is in who actually cares enough about the NHS to think and do a decent job – and that Cummings accepts that as a political reality to manage, not ignore.

  • Nullius in Verba

    More details here https://www.ft.com/content/e1028dda-ca49-11e9-a1f4-3669401ba76f

    “But even the plans already announced are breathtaking in scope: the nationalisation of rail, water, mail and electricity distribution companies; significantly higher taxes on the rich; the enforced transfer of 10 per cent of shares in every big company to workers; sweeping reform of tenant rights; and huge borrowing to fund public investment.

    But this may be just the start. The leadership is also studying an array of even more radical ideas, including a four-day week, pay caps on executives, an end to City bonuses, a universal basic income, a “right to buy” for private tenants and a shake-up in the way that land is taxed to penalise wealthy landlords.”

    And let’s not even talk about The People’s Quantitative Easing…

  • Marius

    My late stepfather actually played rugby league for Workington Town. He was a Tory voter.

  • Paul Marks

    The idea that Jeremy Corbyn (with his wealthy background) or the other leading Labour Marxists are Rugby League people is absurd.

    These Guardian readers have nothing in common with Rugby League supporters.

  • JohnK

    Marius:

    As you say.

    My grandfather enjoyed Rugby League, which he still called Northern Union, which was its original name.

    He would go to watch Salford one week, and Manchester United the next (people tended not to go to away games back in the day), and enjoyed a day out in London for the Challenge Cup Final at Wembley.

    He never had a passport, a driving licence or a bank account. The only time he left the British Isles was to fight Rommel in the desert. And he voted Conservative all his life.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Nullius in Verba, you quoted that FT article as listing “the enforced transfer of 10 per cent of shares in every big company to workers” as one of Corbyn’s proposals. When discussing this topic with left-wingers, it is always worthwhile to point out that what is proposed is not to transfer ownership to the workers, it is to transfer ownership to the state and chuck the workers a bone in the form of a maximum of £500 from the dividends of the confiscated shares, a tiny fraction of their value. For most workers the dividend would be far smaller than that.

    As your link says later:

    It was at that same conference that Labour unveiled its most daring initiative to date: a plan to seize 10 per cent of the shares in every large company in the country — whether public, private or foreign-owned — and hand them to employees. In reality the workers would not entirely own the shares but would simply be eligible for up to £500 a year each in dividends, while the remainder would be taken by the exchequer.

    Calculations by the FT and Clifford Chance can today reveal that the policy, called the “Inclusive Ownership Fund”, amounts to a £300bn raid on shareholders, albeit gradually over 10 years. “It’s the biggest stealth tax in history,” says one former member of Corbyn’s office.

  • neonsnake

    Yes he is.

    No he’s not 😉

    What he’s talking about is:

    Fracking/climate change/green housing x 10
    The NHS x 17 (generally referring to Boris selling it to Trump)
    Fair working conditions (specifically referring to Asda, but with some other bits about big corporations) x 4
    Grenfell x 2
    Tv Licences x 2
    A second referendum
    And general “party for the people” stuff, with some stuff about Boris being bankrolled by the super-rich, lots about inequality, that kind of stuff.

    I’ve fudged some of the categories a bit, so the above probably isn’t exactly correct, but you get the general gist – that’s his facebook page since the election was announced.

    My expectation – I might be wrong – is that he’ll quietly drop the bits about the 10% of shares (I’d actually forgotten that!), and concentrate on the NHS, ending zero-hours contracts, etc. The references to nationalisation will probably stay, focusing on the railways (because there’s a lot of appetite amongst the public for re-nationalisation), always referring to them as “Utilities”, and garnering a lot of support from those who never had to miss a school trip to the Natural History Museum because of the union strikes in the 80s.

    As to the rest – yes, I agree. I remember the very early 80s, wearing my brother’s hand-me-down flares (in the era of drainpipe trousers) and my Nan’s knitted jumpers. Happy Saturdays with my grandparents while Dad worked two jobs, happy Sundays helping him fix the car, and happy school holidays visiting what felt like every butcher and green-grocer in the borough searching for the cheapest produce. All of which I thoroughly enjoyed, because they made sure I never knew it was out of complete necessity. By the mid-90s, of course, we had four cars on the drive, a telly in each bedroom and one in the kitchen for good measure. I wonder what changed? 😉

    the older generation have those thing now

    I don’t think it’s quite that – although of course that’s part of it. The biggest difference, in their eyes, between my generation and someone 20 years my junior, seems to be that my generation had a head start (vs theirs), that there was this point from, say, 1998 (probably earlier) to 2003, where you could come out of university with little or no debt, and buy a house with a mortgage that was far less than rent would cost, with a deposit that you actually could afford with a bit of savings, a bit of help from Mum and Dad, and so on (I put down a £5k deposit on my first house, my mortgage payments were about £200. I think it was 1999, maybe 2000).

    So the promises on student debt and affordable home ownership are going to get significant cut-through, I think.

    And the thing is, whilst I might know what the early 80s were like, and my Dad told me what the 70s were like, most of these kids have parents roughly my age, maybe a little older, and so all they remember were the advantages that we appeared to have, and they (the kids) don’t have now.

    I don’t actually know how to address the complaint without reverting to “yeah, but you didn’t have to wear your brother’s hand me down flares, did you?”, or a long history of home-ownership percentages since the war.

    1) If he gets it from hearing Corbyn tell him so, do we have a bit of a chicken and egg situation?

    100% this, Niall. It’s the echo-chamber effect. Unfortunately, it appears to me that Corbyn is having more cut-through – amongst the young, anyway. And what I think we’ll get is not the Social Democracy that he’s positioning himself as, nor even the Democratic Socialism that he (used to?) identify as, but the full-on old-school Socialism that McDonnell espouses.

    But I think Boris and co need to offer a more positive vision than at current – something more than “vote for us and we’ll get Brexit done”, which appears to be their current strategy.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I’ve fudged some of the categories a bit, so the above probably isn’t exactly correct, but you get the general gist – that’s his facebook page since the election was announced.”

    Oh, well, if you meant what he’s been saying to the media, rather than what he’s been proposing to actually do, (let alone what’s likely to actually happen) then sure.

    “I don’t actually know how to address the complaint without reverting to “yeah, but you didn’t have to wear your brother’s hand me down flares, did you?”, or a long history of home-ownership percentages since the war.”

    On the price of housing, they’re absolutely right to complain. (Although Corbyn isn’t proposing anything to solve it, as far as I know.) On student debt, the way to answer it is the same as for a lot of other tax-and-spend policies: – who the hell did you think was going to pay for it? Education is funded by taxes which is funded by taxing high earners which as a university graduate means you. You were always going to end up paying for it. The only difference is that this way you can see it happening. And ‘taxing the rich’ doesn’t let you escape paying the price either, because of tax incidence theory. You do know about tax incidence theory, with your smart university degree, right?

    Increasing university attendance from about 5% of the population in 1960 to 35% today – a massive benefit to the young our generation didn’t get – was always going to have a massive cost, and there was nowhere else the money to pay for it was ever going to come from other than the population itself. You was always going to pay the price of it, like you always pay the price for everything the government hands out. There is no magic money tree. You pay for all the so-called ‘free’ stuff. What kind of firkin university degree doesn’t teach students how to do basic maths?! Back in my day…

    I doubt telling them this would have any effect in the short term, but at least if you try then they might remember what you said and one day in the distant future the penny may drop.

    “But I think Boris and co need to offer a more positive vision than at current – something more than “vote for us and we’ll get Brexit done”, which appears to be their current strategy.”

    If he’s targeting labour voters, maybe. The problem is, a lot of that stuff doesn’t look so ‘positive’ to Conservative voters. If you’re trying to go after both sides simultaneously, then perhaps the less said about policy besides Brexit the better.

    Although it seems that the conservatives have given up on the small state, reduced spending thing, and are now in competition to try to outspend labour. So maybe not.

    But in the meantime, it appears student views on Corbyn have changed recently…

    https://www.youthsight.com/blog/labours-vote-share-and-jeremy-corbyns-popularity-drops

    Any speculations as to why?

  • Julie near Chicago

    Nullius:

    “Increasing university attendance from about 5% of the population in 1960 to 35% today – a massive benefit to the young our generation didn’t get – was always going to have a massive cost, and there was nowhere else the money to pay for it was ever going to come from other than the population itself. You was always going to pay the price of it, like you always pay the price for everything the government hands out. There is no magic money tree. You pay for all the so-called ‘free’ stuff.”

    Tell it, Brother!

    (Except there’s some question as to how much of a “massive benefit” the run of college kids are getting today, over here anyhow. I get the impression that entering Kindergartners know more than graduating college seniors.)

  • neonsnake

    Any speculations as to why?

    Some – but only speculations, and only “at a glance”, as it were.

    Broadly (very broadly), students are Remainers, and Corbyn’s umming and arring about it hasn’t impressed them. The upswimg in Lib Dem would appear to support this.

    I’d guess that the anti-Semitism attacks on Corbyn have harmed him. Only a guess though, I don’t think I can back that up with hard data.

    I’m not surprised about “Boris” having such low favourability scores. Prima Facie (and so very different from when he was Mayor of London), it’s difficult to pin on him a principle, a sense of what he stands for. I think that’s a problem for them, long term. Tricky, because (only anecdotally) he enjoyed a fair amount of popularity as Mayor of London, due to being reasonably “liberal” and a bit of a laugh, lovable good egg, to us cosmopolitan Londoners.

    Today, it feels like he’s being painted as “Boris”, not Boris. As in, people are tired of his positioning himself as a man of the people, and are starting to think of him as Alexander de Pfeffel, and his preference for “Boris” is an affectation that is becoming tiresome. It’s the same problem that Jacob Rees-Mogg and “Nige” have, amongst the younger lot. They’re not offering a positive vision of a future that appeals, and the majority of that is just that they’re shit at PR with respect to the young.

    PR isn’t about facts and logic, it’s about capturing imagination and feelings. Thatcher had that (for some), so did Blair (for a different some).

    I’ve not seen that since. That’s what we’re missing, in my view, is a passionate defense of politics (left OR right). Corbyn is coming closest, and came close in 2017. I don’t think he can pull it off again. I could be wrong, but he’s got some hard work ahead of him to do it.

    What I really want to see, were it up to me, is an impassioned offence against Crony Capitalism, an impassioned defense of free markets and the benefits it has provided to the worst off amongst us, and (because I’m pragmatic), an overhaul of welfare that continued to provide welfare to those in need, but stopped punishing people in the welfare trap.

    Aside: peripherally, I have a group of friends with ME, because reasons. One of them has a business doing cross-stitch patterns. She’s reached a stage where if she’s any more successful, then her benefits are cut drastically. She needs to either not sell more, or increase her sales by 108% overnight, or she is worse off financially (I’m the guy doing her math). Yay! She’s fucked. Good stuff. But the Daily Mail paints her as a scrounger.

    In the long term, we need someone bolder, someone with principles. I don’t think its Boris, it’s certainly not Jacob Rees-Mogg or Farage. It needs to be someone relatable. God knows who though.

    Long term, there’s a role here for us, offering a more positive vision.

    Short term, maybe not. I don’t know.

  • What I really want to see, were it up to me, is an impassioned offence against Crony Capitalism (neonsnake, November 5, 2019 at 8:27 pm)

    Here are a few quotes from Dominic Cumming’s post-Brexit essay.

    SW1 is full of people who think they’re ‘defending markets’ but are actually defending the opposite – corporate looting. In the 1930s Britain put people in jail because of what happened in the 1920s. We should have done the same after 2008. …

    We aligned our campaign with those who were furious with executive pay / corporate looting (about 99% of the country). We aligned ourselves with the public who had been let down by the system. Mandelson regarded this as ‘sheer nerve, sheer chutzpah’. It was obvious. The hard thing was sticking to it despite the sensibilities of many of our own supporters. One of the most effective TV performances of the campaign was the day Boris hit the theme of corporate looting in a market square. No10 were rightly panicked and in response pushed out Heseltine a few hours later to make a very personal attack on Boris. This made sense tactically but was a strategic error. All such personal attacks helped persuade Boris to up the ante. …

    It doesn’t occur to SW1 and the media that outside London their general outlook is seen as extreme. … Make us – living on average wages without all your lucky advantages – pay for your bailouts while you keep getting raises and bonuses? Extreme and stupid – and contemptible.

    An issue here is “despite the sensibilities of many of our own supporters” – this undoubtedly helps prevent cut-through. There is also the issue that loads of people think they know who the Tories are and Boris, being ‘extreme’ must be more (what they think of as) Tory. But the media have worked hard to portray Cummings as Boris’ evil genius and the above is what the man is saying. So I think you, neonsnake (the kind of guy who could naturally choose to read Cummings long article), can hear a reasonably impassioned offence against corporate looting, though I quite see that Mark from Purchase Ledger will not until it appears elsewhere. (Any views on where and in what manner?).

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