“What do progressive liberals do best?” wondered progressive liberal Jane Merrick, in a recent column in the Times.
Where to begin? Here are some of the things which, progressive liberals, you do better than anyone else.
You foster division through the sponsorship of identity-based grievance politics, which leads to sectarian political “solutions” (the BBC is considering the broadcast of Friday prayers; Oh, that’s a good idea, you say.)
Identity politics lead ineluctably, when combined with your open-door immigration policy (the lyrics to Imagine make you weep), to the dissolution of any sense of community among the working-class towns and cities of your country; you know this, but don’t care, pretending – sometimes hysterically, in revealing moments of panic – that community fragmentation can be healed with more money, always more money: you don’t even notice how patronising you are being, when you tell voters that their dislike of “cultural diversity” is merely a function of waiting times at A&E.
In place of community, in the sense understood by our grandparents, you build “rainbow coalitions” of minority groups, whom you teach to feel alienated, disrespected, in need of special policies.
To make sure these groups understand their importance, you legislate to proscribe criticism of cultural practices, even when these are inimical to the liberalism you profess to be sacrosanct! (“We are going to make Islamophobia an aggravated crime” – Ed Miliband.)
Again, you never worry about the impact of such thoughtcrime on the working-classes who founded your party as a tool for their emancipation; they’ve nowhere else to go, have they? Only rich old white guys like Rowan Atkinson worry about stuff like this – that’s what you tell yourself.
A key skill of the progressive liberal is to pivot any discussion to your favourite bête noire. Take the EU referendum: who’d have thought it affected the number of curry chefs in the UK? But here’s a Labour MP demanding that more such chefs are admitted from the subcontinent, because of Brexit.
Some people might say Rupa Huq is indulging a client industry group here, an industry not renowned for the gender, ethnic and religious diversity of its workforce (a diversity upon which you’d angrily insist in any other situation.) But Rupa knows she’s not a vote-hungry hypocrite, because she’s a progressive liberal. Right?
Progressives make excellent leaders of organisations such as Stop The War, and, intermittently with that, the Labour Party, even though this makes of them fellow travellers with men who say things like “I’m in favour of gay rights but I am not prepared to have it as a shibboleth.” Other liberal shibboleths you are no longer prepared to have as, er, shibboleths include revulsion at gender segregation, anti-semitism, and so on.
Of course, progressive liberals have the intellectual, as well as the moral, high ground. “Everyone who voted for Brexit/Trump is some white bloke without a ‘college degree’,” you opine mournfully on Sunday morning talk shows, without pausing to wonder why so many white working-class boys don’t obtain this most modern of Left-wing fetishes, a “college education”.
Indeed, perhaps the liberal is at his or her most progressive in education. The Labour Party was formed to promote the interests of the working-class, and that included procuring educational opportunities for workers to match those the boss class took for granted.
Certainly, the progressive liberals who comprise the middle-class Labour vote maintain adherence to that objective. Of course, and naturally – progressively – that adherence is maintained only for their own offspring, not for anyone else’s. Grammar schools for working-class children? Over my dead body! you shriek, feeling so good, so evidence-based. Meanwhile your own children attend public schools whose annual fees are higher than the average working-class wage.
In fact the children of progressives seemed for a time more likely to end up on the frontline of one of Mr Blair’s wars, than they were to attend a bog-standard comp. Which is to say: not likely at all.
But perhaps liberal progressives are at their best in times of defeat. Occasionally, a critical mass of your country’s electorate (the ones you’ve ignored, apart from occasional signals of distaste: “bigoted woman”, “basket of deplorables”, “doesn’t even like Imagine”, and so on) vote to remove you from power.
During the election campaign itself, you poured scalding horror on anyone who wondered aloud about the robustness of the process. Ironically (in the non-ironic sense), vote-rigging abuses have been … I was going to say “covered up for decades”, but “covered up” doesn’t do justice to the blatant postal vote farms which have benefited your cause, and banana republics, alike.
And power doesn’t end at the ballot box, of course! Should a progressive liberal lose an election, they are very good at delegitimising the outcome. Release the celebrities!
“Comedians”, whose careers would end overnight, were Radio 4 a subscription service; posh girls who act chavvy, to mouth their way through mockney lyrics; transvestites, who’ve been alienating your core vote for well on a decade: all these titans — plus, of course, the entire subsidised theatrical establishment, and its old Etonian superstars — will rally to your cause, and shout “fuck” at audiences, and emote, noisily, and so on. This makes you feel virtuous, and you’re very good at that.
We don’t have space to describe your success in engineering a benefits system which penalises marriage, which has been such a progressively liberal way of ensuring that children get off to the best start in life (so long as they’re yours, of course; no child of Lady Nugee’s gonna drive a white van for a living, right?)
What you’re best of all at, of course, has been hijacking terms of cultural approbation – “liberal”, “progressive” – and implementing, under this umbrella of contradiction, a host of policies which are anything but: from banning Germaine Greer from campuses, to rioting when elections don’t go your way, to thoughtcrimes, to gender segregation at your own party’s meetings, to succouring homophobia and anti-semitism for the sake of farming votes, to bending over for unions to whose money you remain addicted, to basking in the praise of terrorists whom you are pleased to name as your “friends”…
Hating the people your parties were invented to serve is pretty… weird. Hating the (Trump, Brexit) electoral choices of those same people, whose interests you’ve worked against for decades: it would take Mary Shelley to explain that to you.