Mark Steel: Turn left (and then left again)

It's as if the left has a self-destruct button, and can't stand being popular

Share
Related Topics

Poor Gordon Brown has arrived at that point where his life is one long sequence of disasters. The moment Jacqui Smith left his office he probably went "Hang on, I can smell something burning. Oh no, it's the Spanish Minister of Trade, I must have pushed him onto the barbecue as I dropped a pickled onion down Jacqui's cleavage. And now a parrot's shat on my speech to the CBI."

And yet there's little sense of enthusiasm for the Tories, the way there was for Thatcher or Blair before they were elected. Instead it reminds me of kids picking teams at the start of a PE lesson, with Brown and Cameron as the last two left that no one wants, and the country muttering "Oh we'll have Cameron I suppose".

Nothing the major parties do seems to make them popular, because they both worship the ideals of the super-wealthy that have become hugely unpopular. This ought to make it an ideal time for socialists to win support for radically transforming society, in favour of the majority at the expense of the duck-island owning class. Certainly Tony Benn has become extraordinarily popular, packing huge theatres, and he'd have probably won Britain's Got Talent if he could have made a speech about the Suffragettes while playing the spoons.

But while individual socialists attract an audience, no socialist group or party could win more than a tiny vote. Whereas in Europe, new socialist groups have become credible enough to become a pole of attraction for a wide layer of people, and in Germany a group called "The Left" has quickly risen to 10 per cent in the polls.

The difference here must be partly that the left in the Labour Party are unmovable in their belief they should remain members, no matter how humiliated they become. If the next Labour leader was The Joker from Gotham City, and he sprayed the world with deadly laughing gas, the last choking gasp of the Labour left would be "Nonetheless Labour is the traditional party of socialism and I will remain loyal although I urge any survivors to raise this matter at the next constituency meeting".

But also the attempts to start new socialist groups have gone spectacularly haywire. George Galloway's Respect tore itself apart in a feud about nothing that anyone can work out, and it would have made more sense if one faction had issued a statement that they were leaving because the other lot snored. The Scottish Socialist Party achieved seven per cent of the total vote across Scotland, then went to war with itself over the issue of how to respond to the News of the World, when it accused their leader of going to a swingers' club.

It's as if the left has a self-destruct button, and can't stand being popular. The next time a socialist group appears to be doing well, they'll end their party political broadcast by saying "That's why we think you should vote for us. Now to finish, let's see what happens when I put a kitten in a microwave".

But the cheery note is that the Green Party has attained credibilty while retaining its principles, and seems to be the home for many people who opposed the Iraq war, oppose the rule of bankers and private finance, and feel it might be worth looking at doing something about the fact the planet's about to melt. So I'm voting for them tomorrow, and if they implode in a petty row about nothing I'm obviously a jinx and I'm joining the bloody Tories.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...

Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Director - London - £70,000

£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive - Nationwide - OTE £65,000

£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Ice skating in George Square, Glasgow  

How many Christmas cards have you sent this year?

Simon Kelner
 

Al-Sweady Inquiry: An exercise in greed that blights the lives of brave soldiers

Richard Kemp
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need
Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Torture: It didn't work then, it doesn't work now

Its use is always wrong and, despite CIA justifications post 9/11, the information obtained from it is invariably tainted, argues Patrick Cockburn