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

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

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

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Read Next

General Election 2015: The SNP and an SMC (Salmond-Murdoch Conspiracy)

Matthew Norman
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station  

General Election 2015: Despite all the seeming cynicism, our political system works

Ian Birrell
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living