If it ever existed in the first place, the “kinder, gentler politics” is long dead – kicked into a gutter somewhere and left to rot in the name of “the many”. That’s been evident on all sorts of fronts for a long time.
But sometimes the sheer vitriol and unpleasantness that is openly paraded on parts of the modern British Left retains the capacity to shock. The racist slurs flung at Sajid Javid since his appointment as Home Secretary are one example. He has been dismissed as an “Uncle Tom”, a “coconut”, and “the token coloured guy”, for example, by people who otherwise proclaim themselves anti-racist, politically correct egalitarians.
Such poisonous bile obviously comes from somewhere pretty unpleasant. Troublingly, it suggests that, for some, the rejection of racism is a principle that only extends to those they agree with; if anyone dares to differ from Leftist dogma then it becomes acceptable once more to deride them for the colour of their skin. Worse, it also hints at a sense of political ownership towards ethnic minority Britons; the language of betrayal used towards various ethnic minority Conservatives seems to be founded on an assumption that someone’s race somehow means that their loyalty is owed to, and owned by, the Labour Party.
Javid, of course, has dually sinned against the bizarre illogic of identity politics. Not only does he outrage those who believe that his race ought to dictate his politics, but he is also deemed to be guilty of a class betrayal.
His crime? The shocking, counter-revolutionary act of having been successful.
Consider this tweet from Richard Burgon, the Shadow Justice Secretary:
Burgon’s pose is as one concerned about (bogus) conflicts of interest – though oddly he doesn’t seem to be worried by his own reliable defence of trade union powers, despite his previous career as a trade union lawyer. Why specify, and even capitalise, the guesstimate that “Sajid Javid reportedly earned £3 MILLION a year”, though? Evidently he’s suggesting that this is in itself somehow scandalous, and seeking to play on the politics of envy.
Tellingly, when I asked what the problem was with a working class guy working hard and being hugely successful, before giving up a massive pay packet to enter public service, one reply came back over and over again from grassroots Corbynites. Far from being a positive story of opportunity in modern Britain, I was told that Javid’s success made him “ex-working class”, he had “pulled the ladder up” and “abandoned his working class roots”, et cetera, et cetera.
Success is itself a crime in Corbynite thought. One person’s extra pound must, they imagine, be filched from the pocket of someone else. If you have something, you must be undeserving of it: the act of possession is itself evidence of wrongful deeds. Property and guilt are one and the same. Toryism, of course, compounds the charges. In these terms, succeeding from a working class background, while in possession of non-socialist views, is the most unforgivable betrayal of all.