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A brief observation on identity politics

From the BBC:

"Culture Secretary Ben Bradshaw has said "a deep strain of homophobia still exists on the Conservative benches...Chris Bryant, another gay minister, said: "If gays vote Tory they will rue the day very soon...Foreign Office minister Chris Bryant said he was concerned that a lot of gay and lesbian voters would "bank" the reforms brought in by Labour, such as civil partnerships and a lower age of consent, and vote Conservative".

Or, in other words, do not vote Labour on the basis of what they might do for gay people in a fourth term, or what they might do for the population in general, including gay people (who, after all, participate in the economy, use the NHS, worry about crime etc etc) in a fourth term, but rather vote out of gratitude for what has been done.

That, just for starters, is staggeringly patronising and looked at from parallel angles is also profoundly foolish. Would a Labour activist be able to keep a straight face if giving an asthmatic the smoking ban as the reason to vote for them, or someone with connections to the sub-continent the abolition of the primary purpose rule etc etc. Or, indeed, going further back, the Lib Dems citing David Steel's piloting of the legalisation of abortion, or the Tories that Churchill's Conservatives had stewarded the nation during the greatest existential threat the nation had faced in a millennium? Perhaps Bryant thinks that voters who had bought council houses, profited from privatisations and so forth were 'banking' those gains when they voted Labour in 1997, not that I have heard him calling them miserable ingrates.

When political parties treat functional and other groups within the nation as a client vote, they inevitably end up taking them for granted, and if thus they irk enough of them, they end with a Gotterdammerung on polling day.

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Anonymous Tom Paine said... 9:09 am

...but what is the point of identity politics if you can't buy the loyalty of the client group? Of course it's hard to tell whether Labour owns or is owned by its client voters. I suspect each thinks it owns the other. This, and the game of entitlement whist (in which each privileged group claims to trump the others), is what will eventually bring the whole edifice down.  



Blogger Croydonian said... 9:18 am

Wise words as ever, Tom.  



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