There\’s an explanation for this Polly

A deeper lesson goes to the heart of the Blair-Brown years. They did all this good mostly by stealth, unsure that social programmes aimed at the poor would win re-election. They walked the walk, but talked the talk only to the party faithful. This government gets away with demolishing what Labour did because the social democratic idea behind it was never embedded in the national psyche.

The only place to cement social change is in the hearts and minds of voters. Blair and Brown were defeatists, convinced Britain was essentially conservative, individualist, imbued with Thatcherism. Confronted with the Mail, Sun, Times and Telegraph, the culture looked immutable, a force to be appeased. Not even when ordinary living standards plummeted as banks were bailed out did Labour seize the chance to make a stronger social democratic case. Ideas matter. Had Labour changed the political climate (as Cameron briefly thought), this government could not dismantle the social state. But like tumbleweed, Labour policies put down no roots to anchor ideas of collective provision and social protection.

England just isn\’t a broadly social democratic nation.

I\’m willing to agree that Scotland and Wales are more so, but not that England is. Which is your basic problem with the desire that we should be more like Sweden. We, the hoi polloi, just don\’t think that way, we\’re simply more individualistic. Nothing particularly right or wrong about our being so, we just are. And I have a very strong feeling that it\’s our desire that has to come first, we have to want to be socially democratic, redistributionist and all that, rather than have it imposed upon us.

I\’ll also agree that there are many who do desire that all embracing State. It\’s just that they\’re not a majority in England. And I think we can see that from our newspapers: which, recall, chase the prejudices of their readers, not form them. As you so often point out, the majority of the papers, the vast majority of sales of them, are of the \”right\”. That\’s reflecting, not causing, the basic opinions of the people. We\’re just not a naturally social democratic nation.

6 thoughts on “There\’s an explanation for this Polly”

  1. I know Polly doesn’t mention Sweden in this piece but she and the so called social democratic left really need to have a hard look at Sweden as is not the one they see through their rose tinted spectacles.

    This is a good start and is this BBC programme and it makes the point that Swedes are indeed individualistic.

    What’s so great about Sweden? The British left has long been obsessed with Sweden. Now the Conservatives are too. Little wonder: the country always tops the global charts for happiness and social cohesion; its economy is dynamic and its deficit is low.

    In this week’s Analysis, Jo Fidgen investigates the “Swedish model” and the British obsession with it. She finds the country is more conservative than people think, ……….

    My own view, probably racist in the eyes of the left, is that Sweden’s model is based on their society having being largely homogenous and this brings about it a higher level of trust. When immigration increases rapidly that level of trust trust breaks down, which is what we are seeing here.

    Not that immigration is wrong per se, just that it brings about change in society, some good some not so good. I think the not so good is driven by large scale immigration that doesn’t leave time for the immigrants to be assimilated or at least understood and we end up with a multi monocultural society rather than the multicultural society of the left’s wet dreams, which is what we have here in England.

  2. So Much For Subtlety

    SimonF – “I think the not so good is driven by large scale immigration that doesn’t leave time for the immigrants to be assimilated or at least understood”

    Even if they do have time to be assimilated and understood does immigration still have serious consequences? In the US, the Republican Party has basically become the party of the White Anglo-Saxon population. They can win power if they win over those populations closest to them – Northern Catholics. But they cannot reliably do that. And look at a population that has been in the US for a very long time – American Jews. Highly successful. The wealthiest group in America. Strongly interested in Israel. They should vote for the Republicans. They don’t. Historical hatreds go too deep. The next wealthiest is probably Japanese Americans. Again not notable Republican voters. These groups will vote *against* their economic interests rather than vote for the party of the small state and economic freedom.

    So Tim W is right. But so is Polly. One in four primary school children comes from a non-English speaking home. She only has to wait a generation and a half. The English will be a minority. And “social democracy” will consist of people of non-English origin voting to take money from people of English descent. But vote to take it they will.

  3. Polly, as do all left-leaning commentators, assumes that ‘social change’ is always left-ward and, therefore, always to be desired by them. Social change is, equally, rightwards, as change is change. Just because right biased social change does not chime with their world view, there is no reason not to acknowledge it for what it is. They should be asked to define their definition so that just using the shorthand ‘social change’, rather than the more truthful ‘socialist change’, can be more readily understood.

  4. “England just isn’t a broadly social democratic nation. I’m willing to agree that Scotland and Wales are more so, but not that England is…we’re simply more individualistic..”

    Eh? How so? It might be argued – and indeed I would – that the religious traditions of these two countries argue individualism far more than the Catholic/CofE English tradition of subjection to authority.

  5. not ‘the hoi polloi‘, please. ‘hoi’ is greek for ‘the’. So that would be “the the people”.

    Otherwise, agreed, naturally.

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