Simon Marcus was the Conservative candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn at the 2015 general election.
Ed Balls recently described Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour as a ‘leftist utopian fantasy.’ He was right.
History tells us that those who believe in utopian fantasies often gain power through bullying and intimidation, and deny the harm they do to others. So it is no surprise that Corbyn’s ‘momentum’ activists are now turning on mainstream Labour.
However, this civil war has not come about because Labour have let down many of their voters, but because those within Labour differ in their utopian views.
So whoever wins the leadership race, Labour will remain in denial, continue to lose their core vote, and aggressive intolerance of others will continue.
As the Conservative candidate for Barking in 2010 I saw these fault lines emerging almost day by day. Uncontrolled immigration had forced down wages and put huge pressure on local services. Local people felt their communities were broken and didn’t feel safe.
I heard these views a thousand times during that election, not just from the white working class, but also from immigrants of the ‘Windrush’ generation who now saw others getting a free ride. Most in Barking hadn’t gone to university, they were ‘Blue Labour’ and their world had changed for the worse.
In fact many were so angry, the British National Party were thought to have a chance of winning the seat.
I tried to provide a mainstream voice for local people, but some Labour activists thought that was the same as helping the BNP. Many refused to speak to me and their death stares told a tale. One of my helpers was aghast: ‘my god, they’re sneering at me’!
Then, in the last weeks of the election, the hard left flooded the area for their ‘Weimar’ moment against the BNP. We were in the crossfirewe came in for abuse from activists from a number of self-styled “anti-fascist” groups.
Kelly Maloney (then Frank), was the UKIP candidate and was bewildered at being called a fascist. He was from a poor, immigrant background and, as a Boxing Manager had given opportunities to many disadvantaged black youngsters.
Labour had abandoned their core voters and were in denial.
In 2015 I fought my home seat of Hampstead and Kilburn, an area with a tradition of hard-left activism, and since 2010 attitudes had hardened.
On many occasions militant left campaigners physically occupied my ‘personal space’, one of my helpers was assaulted, in some areas we were told we ‘shouldn’t be here’ and, when Boris Johnson visited Kilburn, Labour activists tried to barge us off the pavement.
I had anti-Semitic graffiti daubed on my billboards, and when campaigning outside a mosque one of my Bangladeshi friends was furious because a Labour activist was saying (in Bangladeshi) “don’t vote for the Jew”.
This behaviour, and worse, has now turned on the Labour Party and is tearing it apart. The explanation is much more psychological than political.
Many work for a better world, but for some this desire becomes all consuming and self-justifying, a weapon against others. They have succumbed to the delusion that only their vision can end poverty, injustice, suffering and in its place build a perfect world.
So in their minds, if you disagree you are not just wrong, you are evil. Wouldn’t you feel that way if you were building heaven on earth while others caused poverty, death, and helped the rich?
This is the underlying justification for the hate and aggression from today’s hard-left. Their beliefs find structure in the writings of Lenin, Trotsky and other revolutionary heroes for whom mass murder was simply the ‘ends justify the means.’
It is politics as religion and the ultimate bigotry. Equality and ‘smashing’ capitalism are still the gospel, with mass immigration as a recent but vital addition.
In Corbyn they have a Labour leader who shares their beliefs and lets them do their work, so Labour moderates are now under the cosh. But they are partly responsible. They said nothing when Tories were on the receiving end. Now they are ‘traitors’ and ‘scum’.
Which brings us back to the 2010 election. Remember Gordon Brown calling Gillian Duffy a bigot for complaining about immigration? The truth is that ‘New Labour’ wasn’t so different from planet Corbyn.
For years they saw their own voters as benighted thickos who didn’t understand the multicultural, politically correct, utopia that Blair, Brown and Balls tried to build. Corbyn and his zealots think New Labour betrayed them for not going even further.
Years of haggling kept things quiet. The ‘Blairites’ got their debt fueled bonanza and the hard left got a few class war concessions. But they all agreed on no borders Britain and still do.
So for many of Labour’s traditional voters, with disintegrating communities and stagnating wages, the Labour leadership election is really a contest between varying degrees of utopian fantasy and whoever wins, their core vote will continue to drift away.
They may not be the only ones. The recent grand vision of Britain in the EU also led to the abuse of people who wanted someone to listen. It seems the trend, at least within Labour, is set: utopian visions that don’t work are the norm.
But other political parties are willing to stand up for those whom Labour would ignore. Labour’s woes may mark not just the end of an era, but the start of something new.