Labour’s obsession with identity politics continues to backfire. So far this year they have already suffered a row over the East Midlands Labour conference, at which attendees were offered discounts based on the colour of their skin, and there is a running battle underway between trans activists and some feminists over self-identification and access to All-Women Shortlists.
Now there’s a whole new dispute, this time over Young Labour’s “Equalities Conference” – which, it turns out, you cannot attend if you are (correction: define yourself as) a straight, able-bodied, white male.
Again this is a case of the left being hoist on its own identity politics petard. Equality, we are told, is an issue for everyone to take an interest in. Beneficiaries of ‘privilege’, which is hereditary by race or baked-in with gender, in particular must wake up, open their minds and listen to learn the realities of inequality. But when there’s an equalities conference, it isn’t open to all, and it’s explicitly those deemed to be privileged who are not allowed to attend.
There are different schools of thought on whether these stories make any electoral difference. LabourList believes it is a ‘nasty party’ topic for the Conservatives, while the New Statesman thinks it is simply ineffective – but I do wonder how it comes across to a lot of Labour’s traditional core vote.
If you’re a working class white man in one of the country’s poorer constituencies, without much in your day-to-day life that you would recognise as ‘privilege’, what is the impact of hearing left-wing students lecture you about the shame you ought to feel for your exalted position? It seems unlikely to endear many people to a Labour Party already suffering from the impression that it has been taken over by a fringe more interested in theoretical jargon than in the challenges of real life.