The Establishment wins again

What a big surprise. The blob has engineered another colour revolution. Nominally the leader of the blue team, Rishi Sunak, conceded defeat to the leader of the Red Team, the charmless Sir Keir Starmer of Davos. If you only watched the BBC, ITV or Sky News you might be forgiven for thinking Starmer had been swept into 10 Downing Street by a whirlwind of popular discontent with fourteen years of Tory mismanagement. Now at long last, we’d have a caring government in power that would reverse the austerity the nasty Tories imposed on us. Once again Britain would welcome newcomers from around the globe with open arms, as the country realigns itself with the European Union, builds a high-tech green utopia and joins NATO’s progressive forces in their battle to spread the joys of drag queen story time to Eastern Ukraine. No sooner had Sir Keir settled into his prime-ministerial home than he elevated lockdown king and former head of research at GlaxoSmithKline, Sir Patrick Vallance, to the House of Lords and then gave him a cabinet post as Minister for Science, Innovation and Technology. By sheer coincidence, last year Sir Paddy Vallance had accepted a role with Tony Blair Institute.

Yet despite favourable media coverage and a massive online advertising campaign, Labour failed to win over many hearts and minds, except as fallout from widespread disillusionment with the SNP in Scotland and with the Tories in England. Only a couple of months ago, Sir Keir Starmer’s Party was riding as high as 46% in the opinion polls. Yet in the event, only 59.9% could be bothered to vote, including postal votes, and only 33.7% of those supported an official Labour candidate. Indeed under Sir Keir Starmer, Labour got fewer votes than it did in 2019 under Corbyn and yet it won more than twice as many seats owing to the distortions of the First Past the Post system.

YearPopular votes% of voters% turnout% of electorsSeats
199713,518,16743.271.330.8418
200110,724,95340.759.424.2412
20059,552,37635.261.421.6355
20108,609,51729.065.118.9258
20159,347,32430.466.420.2232
201712,877,91840.068.827.5262
201910,269,05132.167.321.6202
20249,704,65533.759.920.2411

If we drill down, a different picture emerges. Labour only gained in two areas. In Scotland as former Labour voters return to the fold after lending their votes to the SNP over the last decade. Central belt voters have distrusted the Tories since the Thatcher era. The Scottish protest vote went largely to Reform despite its association with British Unionism with the SNP getting just 9 seats with 30% of the vote and Labour winning 37 out of 57 seats with only 35.3% of the vote. In the southern English shires Labour’s share increased marginally helping it to unseat many Tory MPs with as little as 26.48% of the vote as the remainder was so even split among the Conservatives, Reform and independents. Labour only regained its traditional Red Wall seats because many who lent their votes temporarily to the Tories to get Brexit done either stayed at home or voted Reform. Indeed, Reform did best in some of the most economically deprived areas of Eastern and Northern England.

One of the biggest surprises came from the cosmopolitan urban constituencies with large Muslim populations. This is where Labour did best under Jeremy Corbyn. Although George Galloway lost in Rochdale, five independent candidates won on a Pro-Palestine ticket. In Luton South, Labour’s share declined from 51.8% to 35.4% shedding votes to an independent and a Workers’ Party candidate with 14 and 8.1% respectively and both standing on a pro-Palestine ticket. Sir Keir Starmer himself lost around 18.9% to Andrew Feinstein and the former Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, won as an independent.

If we had proportional representation or even a French-style two round contest, the outcome would have been very different. Labour won with 40% or less in 122 constituencies and in 175 constituencies the combined Conservative and Reform vote share would have beaten the winner, but to be fair we may have to add the LibDem votes to Labour’s.

However, this assumes the traditional left-right paradigm that places Reform on right and the Worker’s Party on the left. A more honest appraisal would be rank parties by the social class of their supporters. The Conservatives may still have a bedrock of support from affluent boomers in their 60s and Labour still do better in urban areas among the managerial classes, but the Greens and LibDems did best either in posh neighbourhoods or places with large student or post-graduate populations. A top-to-bottom spectrum might look more like this:

LibDems and GreensTrendy upper middle classes, students and business leaders
LabourBillionaire bankers, media moguls, conformist managerial classes, social workers and some welfare-dependents via postal votes
ConservativesConformist suburban and rural middle classes and property traders
Workers’ Party & IndependentsRebellious working classes and some and small business owners
ReformRebellious working classes and some maverick business leaders

When it comes to transferring more power to remote technocrats at the World Health Organisation, rejoining the EU, transgenderism in primary schools, clamping down on free speech, raising green taxes on the lower middle classes or going to war with Russia, another pattern emerges. Upper middle-class Labour,  LibDem and Green supporters are much more likely to support these policies, while Reform and Workers’ Party supporters are more likely to oppose them. Only on Israel and mass migration do we see distinctive tribal loyalties come to the fore among Britain’s disparate lower classes and only on Israeli war crimes do the Greens still take a firm stance against the Military Industrial Complex.

By now it should be crystal clear that there is no grassroots support for extreme centralisers who have embedded themselves in the UK government with the full blessing of the Tony Blair Institute.