Well, yes Owen, that’s your problem

Both Hackney in inner London and Doncaster are Labour heartlands. While nearly eight out of 10 Hackney residents voted to remain, nearly seven out of 10 Doncaster voters opted for leave.

Here is a town that played a critical role in forging the Labour party. Its older, working-class residents have a view of the world that is utterly different and in conflict with much of the next generation, particularly in big cities. How Labour overcomes such divisions and rebuilds a broader electoral coalition will determine the future of the party – and the country, too.

It’s not particularly Brexit either. It’s that Labour gains power, seats, as a result of the donkey fodder Oop North. And they have entirely different beliefs about the world than the metropolitan Labour who actually constitute the party and the MPs. The sort of screaming harpies who wibble about the patriarchy and waaacism in the party meets would be told they just need a right seeing to by the voting base.

It’s not obvious there is a solution to this problem.

57 comments on “Well, yes Owen, that’s your problem

  1. “[People who use food banks] One is Paul, a 49-year-old from Bentley, who has been found fit for work and moved from employment support allowance to jobseeker’s allowance, and found himself hungry while this was processed”

    Yep. Government bureaucracy is unwieldy and slow. Local charities can be nimble and quick and provide a solution to a temporary problem.

    If my brother was having such a temporary problem and I helped out, no-one would think it an issue but if I help out a stranger the Left screech that this is proof of the collapse of civilisation.

    In a perfect society such things as food banks (and charity in general) wouldn’t be needed but that’s not the real world.

    I swear they’d rather see people starve in a ‘worthy, just’ world than be fed in an ‘evil corrupt neoliberal’ world.

  2. @BiS

    I expect the Graun are worried that if there’s any criticism Owen would flounce out the office.

  3. diverse working-class communities live alongside cosmopolitan university graduates

    I am cosmopolitan
    You are diverse
    He is a racist

  4. The main reason people in Doncaster and other similar areas vote Labour is tribal loyalty.

    The bad news for Labour, according to the BBC Analysis programme How Voters Decide, is that people are becoming less tribal. Apparently politicians don’t like it because they have to work harder for voters.

    Good news all round then.

  5. I doubt that UKIP is going to win many, if any, of those northern seats from Labour, at least not under Nuttall. Farage and Banks seem to think that UKIP has served its purpose and that it should be replaced by a looser movement. So it seems likely that Labour will survive. Sadly.

  6. This is not the only way in which voting has fragmented and there is a solution. I, in common with many other, have come to the belated belief we must have some element of PR in our system
    With 4,000, 000 votes it is quite ridiculous that UKIP have one Douglas Carswell, and one Luca is insufficient for the Greens. 50 odd for the SNP is similarly a gross distortion and the Labour Party, with its grip inner City client seats is blocking the reconstitution of an opposition with calamitous results. Moderate sensible mature and rather handsome voters, like me, have no representation whatsoever. Outrage!
    We are currently heading in a direction set by some of the most deranged people in the Western hemisphere, the Conservative Party membership.

    My suggestion is that long overdue Lords reform should take the imbalance between England and modern voting patterns by creating an English PR second chamber .It would provide some of the checks and balances so fatally lacking Frau May`s Reich

    Time for a free market in ideas and representation for UKIP! Now surely if you nutty drooling bastards can see that would be good thing ( …..he said winningly .. )

  7. PR has defects… including (depending on the system chosen) weak governments, perpetual coalitions, undue influence by small parties, pluralist stagnation…

  8. It’s not obvious there is a solution to this problem

    Apart from two parties – a working class one for the working classes and an international socialist loony cult for all the Unison members, teachers, students, journalists, fruit juice drinkers and all the other rabble from the middle-class Left. They could be the explicitly anti-British party they yearn to be without having to look shifty denying it in public to keep the mugs on board.

  9. The solution is quite simple.
    “Wait for them to die.”
    Labour’s going to be out of power for years anyway, so the party just needs to bide its time and wait for all the Millie Tants at Bogbrush University to grow up.

    Re: Newmania
    My chief objection to PR was that it might have allowed the Liberals a say in government. 2010 torpedoed my argument and like you I am a belated and reluctant convert to reform. The only criterion is that we must formulate it so that we do not end up with cosy stitch-ups as they have in Germany and Austria at the moment.

  10. Newmania

    What Theo said – obviously I think there is now widespread agreement that the 1997 – 2010 government of Blair/ Brown was the worst in Britain or England since the Norman Conquest but the coalition certainly ran it close, and that was the first example of a coalition government for decades. If PR makes such an arrangement more likely then I cannot support it.

    Until such time as there is a ‘Socialist tax’ to encourage Leftists to emigrate and measures whereby higher education institutions are forced to allow diversity of opinion (i.e right of centre academics) or lose funding the risk of PR is it puts the likes of the SNP, Greens and Libdems into Parliament in perpetuity.

  11. Newmania – when a change in the voting system was put to the voters in a referendum they soundly rejected it.
    You can copy the SNP and try again and again until you get the ‘right’ result. Or you can accept that you are in a minority still and you have not yet got support from the voters.

    Perhaps people voted the way they did in that referendum because they liked FPTP system.

  12. I’m with Theo and VP and that bloke who isn’t in Osterreich (the home of Rhineland ostriches) any more.

    PR is one of those things, like timeshares and sex on the beach, that sounds nice in theory but is an absolute, ball-chafing, sand-scouring nightmare in practice.

  13. I like the sub-heading

    “My trip to Doncaster in South Yorkshire made one thing clear…”

    Like it’s saying to Guardian readers, “I went to this far flung place to observe the natives, so you don’t have to”

  14. NewRemainia: Apart from trying to reverse what has already been justly put on you by the British people the only reason you want PR is that it would favour a well-off, middle/upper class, cultural Marxist, London bubble (scum) status quo for ever. Or at least until total collapse arrives.

  15. What has been happening for decades will continue. The working man will drift away from Labour and either stay home or vote for someone else. The process started before Thatcher (else she wouldn’t have got elected) and was interrupted by Blair who managed to present Labour as non socialist.
    When we get to the point that a Labour government is seen as less likely than a Lib-Dem one does now the Conservative party will split.

  16. I’m also a reluctant convert to Lords reform. As it’s been stuffed with failed politicians, party apparatchiks and party donors we may as well go the whole hog and formalise it with PR and party lists. At least we get some say in who gets to suck on our collective teat.

    I’d never support PR for the Commons.

  17. That grandeur of delusion though:

    Labour needs these Brexit heartland towns.

    Yes.

    And they need Labour

    No, they don’t. Maybe if he means “need” in a sarcastic sense, like they “need” a sexy party with Keith Vaz or they “need” to see MYRA HINDLEY: THE MUSICAL.

    But let’s be clear: nobody’s life is worse off for not having confused foreign heads of government rocking up at Number 10 and putting a few coins in Jeremy Corbyn’s hat.

  18. >I doubt that UKIP is going to win many, if any, of those northern seats from Labour, at least not under Nuttall.

    UKIP could have pinched a lot of those seats, except they couldn’t run a bloody jumble sale now Farage has left.

    >So it seems likely that Labour will survive. Sadly.

    There might not be an alternative for these voters to vote for, but that isn’t to say that they’ll vote Labour – more of them will just not vote at all.

  19. @AndrewC: “I swear they’d rather see people starve in a ‘worthy, just’ world than be fed in an ‘evil corrupt neoliberal’ world.”

    Do you think if people starved under their regime the MSM would tell us about it?

  20. “Why did towns like Doncaster vote to leave? “It’s people’s perception,” says Charlie. “If you’ve got a street that’s never had any foreigners on it then suddenly there’s a foreign family on it – suddenly you perceive it being overrun by foreigners.””

    One foreign family triggers this? One?!?

    “Jenny, a 41-year-old council worker who voted remain, tells me about a young man who moved with his family to a row of terraced houses and then felt isolated. “An essentially transient, largely male workforce from some of the factories round here decided to move to that street,” she said. “That wasn’t his desire: I don’t think he was expecting his family to be surrounded by these young guys from eastern Europe.””

    Ah. Not one, clearly. You can’t be ‘surrounded’ by one person (unless she’s Diane Abbott).

  21. JuliaM – You can’t be ‘surrounded’ by one person (unless she’s Diane Abbott).

    Muahahaha!

    Still, she was good in that 50’s B-movie where she destroyed a small American town.

  22. I suggest Owen walks the walk here.

    He could start by organising and leading a Gay Pride march through Doncaster to promote traditional Labour working class values.

  23. As a middle-class white male I don’t often experience overt racism – in fact the only time I’ve ever really seen it was on the streets of a rock-solid Labour heartland pit village, when with a Nigerian colleague of mine. All those lovely enlightened Labour voters seemed terribly concerned about the colour of his skin and the size of his penis.

  24. “The sort of screaming harpies who wibble about the patriarchy and waaacism in the party meets would be told they just need a right seeing to by the voting base.”
    Priceless just priceless.

  25. All those lovely enlightened Labour voters seemed terribly concerned about the colour of his skin and the size of his penis.

    Would it have killed him to wear trousers?

  26. “I’m also a reluctant convert to Lords reform.”

    Me too. But rather than further enriching professional politicians, I’d go for randomly selected members of the people. This has its own problems, of course: but what approach hasn’t?

  27. “He could start by organising and leading a Gay Pride march through Doncaster to promote traditional Labour working class values.”

    Tut, that happened 35 years ago. Don’t you watch the movies?

  28. Martin said:
    “when a change in the voting system was put to the voters in a referendum they soundly rejected it”

    The referendum was on STV, not PR.

    I voted against, but I’d have voted for a decent PR system (if only for the fun of watching the LibDems heads explode when Farage and Griffin became MPs).

    Not sure how many voters would agree, but it’s not “copy the SNP and try again and again until you get the ‘right’ result”, it’s asking the question they should have asked the first time round.

  29. As for the Lords, going back to the hereditaries only would be better than the current system.

  30. NewDribbler: “We are currently heading in a direction set by some of the most deranged people in the Western hemisphere, the Conservative Party membership.”

    The Tories have 17m members?

  31. “My trip to Doncaster in South Yorkshire made one thing clear…”

    That I should never have got on the fucking train?

  32. I would go back to the hereditaries but without the bishops and judges, because they are just nutters.

    I would prefer a selected house with, say, the heads of the TUC, CBI, IOD. Members to represent the universities and fake universities. A selection of secondary and primary school heads. Rupert Murdoch and the chief of the BBC. Someone from the MCC, the FA, the RFA, the R&A, plus Dave Brailsford to get some decent incremental corruption in place. The heads of the livery companies. And a sex worker or 50. That should give a nice cross section of society. It would not comprise 800 wankers like the current chamber.

  33. “I’m also a reluctant convert to Lords reform. As it’s been stuffed with failed politicians, party apparatchiks and party donors we may as well go the whole hog and formalise it with PR and party lists. At least we get some say in who gets to suck on our collective teat.”

    Not going to work. The moment the ‘Lords’ get elected is the moment they try to become a shadow government. Then the whole thing becomes a complete nightmare. Nothing can be done, because whoever has a majority in the HoC is extremely unlikely to have a majority in the HoL as well, so you would get whats happening to Brexit in Lords in spades on everything.

    It was far better to have the totally unelected AND hereditary HoL because they knew they had no democratic legitimacy, so knew they couldn’t ultimately stand in the way of the HoC. Their role was purely one of ‘Are you really sure? Really really sure? Ok, on your head be it.’ The current mess is between the two, because its all ex pols who still think they are more important than both elected pols AND the public, so are more likely to cause trouble, but ultimately know the HoC has the power because of votes. The moment the HoL get votes as well is the moment they start challenging the power of the HoC.

  34. Oh and anyone with an avowed or overt party affiliation would be banned. That might make it tough to get teaching representatives in place but reforms are urgently needed in that area

  35. Scrap the current HoL and replace with an elected PR system. Having one FPTP and one PR means we can have the advantages of both systems (and hopefully cancel out the failings, he said wistfully). At the moment it is full of self interested political placemen and isn’t fit for purpose.
    Though I don’t have a good idea at the moment for solutions to the problems that will cause – namely the constitutional implications. What will their role be? Will the HoC still be superior? I would say so, but with the HoL being elected, they can also say they represent the will of the people…
    We could end up with a system where the two houses block each other and nothing gets done.

    On second thoughts, that sounds pretty good…

  36. Damnit. Jim posted while I was typing…

    Still like the idea of a government that can’t do anything much.
    Didn’t Hungary survive for over a year while they tried to form a government, but couldn’t because of PR system?
    Think it was Hungary.
    *toddles off to check*

  37. Diogenes said:
    “I would prefer a selected house with, say, … The heads of the livery companies”

    No! That’s mean the Left take over the livery companies as well, to get into the Lords. It’s bad enough already.

  38. I don’t like pure PR. A system that says “your party got 22% of UK-wide votes, therefore you get 22% of seats in Parliament” essentially makes the UK a single 650-member constituency, and to avoid ballot papers having 7000 boxes on them you end up with party lists with the parties in control of who gets elected, and you lose any local link, you have MPs for the UK, not MPs for your locality.

    From modelling it at local government level I’d accept STV with small seats. STV needs seats of at least 6 or 7 to be proportional, but to avoid party lists that means a ballot paper with maybe 40 boxes on it. Also, at Parliamentary level that would mean the entirity of Scotland north of Falkirk being a single seat.

    STV with three-member seats is not fully proportionaly, but is more proportional than FPTP, and ballot papers would typically have about 12 boxes on, same as many council elections. But, the main advantage I see with it is not the “vertical” improvements but the “horizontal” improvements, areas that under FPTP are one solid colour with a 60%-70% vote for one party with the 40% minority pissed off and often ending up not voting, instead you get a few islands of representation for that minority. If Doncaster votes 80% Labour, yes, go ahead, have three Labour MPs. But if 5-member Sheffield votes 50% Labour why should that result in 4 Labour MPs?

  39. “The referendum was on STV, not PR.”

    No it wasn’t, it was on AV not STV. But is was run as a referendum on Nick Clegg.

  40. The big advantage that the House of Lords used to have, is that the members weren’t elected.
    They were a fairly random selection of characters who tended to have real world experience and were beholden to no one.
    They knew they were an anachronism and were there by the grace of god. Few wished to stick their neck out too much to make political points, lest it be chopped off.

    Their role was always to be a revising chamber, there to correct or amend things that the cretinous politicians did in haste and to say (as already has been mentioned), “did you really, REALLY, mean to do that?”

    As soon as you decide to elect members to the second chamber, then you get a self selected group of people running for it that you rather wouldn’t go near the levers of power, ie. politicians.

    Then you start having issues regarding which chamber has power to do what. You will have the bureaucratic disease of expansionism where everyone seeks to create their own little power blocks and spheres of influence.
    Then you have everyone on a permanent reelection footing, more concerned with not getting replaced rather than getting on with the job. This is without even considering outright corruption, cronyism, remuneration and expenses etc. etc.

    It’s a bad, bad idea.

    There are only two real options that I can see, both flawed, but conceptually better than an elected chamber:

    Revert back to Hereditary Peers

    Or select new Peers based on some sort of random selection similar to jury duty.

    Of the two, I prefer a random selection of people who (hopefully) are fairly well representative of the population as a whole. There can be a weighting to favour selection of those with more legal or business experience, or for others whos expertise may be required to scrutinise legislation properly.

    Either way, as the House Of Lords has been gamed by politicians of all parties, I think it high time that something is done to remove political influence from the second chamber. Doing nothing is no longer an option.

  41. Any system which incorporates lists is a no-no. They are designed so that the obnoxious fixers who wouldn’t get fifty votes if they had to face real voters get into Parliament.

    A proportional system with party lists would have Murphy in parliament and maybe in government. I cannot think of a more rousing condemnation of PR than that.

  42. @Richard

    No! That’s mean the Left take over the livery companies as well, to get into the Lords. It’s bad enough already.
    To my amazement the Chartered Accountants’ Company has already been infiltrated. A surprising number of them thought that Brown was a good Chancellor and not because he was good for business but because of his political views

  43. I’m reliably informed that, as a rule of thumb, in the Scottish Parliament the constituency MSPs work much harder than the regional MSPs. The former have a constituency to keep happy, the latter just have to stay on the party list.

    PR for the HoC? No thanks.

  44. To clarify my position – I’d only support PR for HoL on condition that it is made clear it is a revising and advisory chamber. I’d die in a ditch fighting against PR for HoC.

  45. Here in New Zealand we have some sort of PR system. (I have not been here long enough to work it out yet). We have an election every 3 years and the campaigning seems to be happening all the time. There are directly elected MPs and there is a party list so all the useless ones who know where the bodies are buried get seats.There is also some sort of deal where the Maori have their own seats . There is no second chamber, it was abolished a long time ago . There is no need for a second chamber as the system results in a coalition which provides its own revising process as everything done seems to be a compromise.
    How I miss FPTP.

  46. The referendum was between FPTP and AV.

    No-one wanted AV for itself. You were either for FPTP or you were for AV as a potential stepping stone to something better. If you were for proportionality you’d be conflicted about AV, because in some circumstances it’s less proportional than FPTP.

  47. ukliberty said:
    “No-one wanted AV for itself”

    I think the LibDems did; they thought they would actually get more MPs than proportionate to their vote, assuming many people would vote Tory or Labour first and LibDem second.

Leave a Reply

Name and email are required. Your email address will not be published.