return to, the home of critical reviews

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

From:     p
Category: Art
Date:     02 June 2008
Time:     05:47 AM


Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: A lament for the death of the left as a political force
Most depressing is the sight of black and Asian Britons following the wind blowing Tories to victory

"The best champagne and the best people" I was told, celebrated the launch of Standpoint, a magazine aiming to "celebrate 
Western civilisation", to reassert its dominance, shaken up by the effrontery of 9/11. It is edited by Daniel Johnson, son of Paul 
Johnson, the leftie who turned rabid right. His other son Luke, a libertarian, presides over Channel4 as chairman. Enthusiastic 
guests included Sir Tom Stoppard, Sir Vidia Naipaul, Frank Field and Nasir Ali, Bishop of Rochester, who appears to want to 
compel us all to join his church.

The sun now rises on the right and those of us on the other side are left despondent as we anticipate a prolonged winter of 
discontent. We, who believe in fairness, equality, human rights and universal justice, are of no consequence. The fever of failure 
consumes our hopes and there is no relief as we witness the collapse of the British Left and the ideals that defined post-war 
advancement in this country, turning an obstinately class-riven, imperial nation into a model of progressive politics.

Local election results show the country lurching right, in some parts even embracing the BNP. Instead of condemning the scum, 
Britons are instructed to "understand" why these voters are "driven" to vote for neo-Nazis. We are simultaneously warned to 
show no such understanding of young Muslims who are seduced by hate-filled Imams. White resentment of "foreigners" is no 
more respectable than Muslim hatred of Westerners. Yet in our unequal world it is.

The coup was complete when Boris took over our London, world city, colourful home of mavericks, revolutionaries and 
monarchs, radicals and cultural conformists, money makers and penniless refugees, the hopeless and hopeful. And so power 
inexorably shifts towards authoritarianism, new imperial arrogance and design (bafflingly known as "liberal intervention"), 
fundamentalist Christian revivalism, enforced assimilation ("You WILL love and only ever praise this country"), racism and 
cultural protectionism, Anglo-Saxon privilege and unregulated capitalism which creates both appalling levels of wealth and 
poverty. The media serves the new master class and credo, with some notable exceptions.

How did we get here? Are right-wing ideas and policies irresistible to the British public (always more conservative than most 
European partners) and is this a return to the natural state of this nation? Or do we blame the wretched cowardice of the Left, 
which took power by surrendering its body and soul? Labour elected Tony Blair as leader knowing he was never a socialist; he 
continued Thatcherism, only with the zeal and underlying self-doubt of someone who felt trapped in political disguise. She 
stood as an equal to Reagan; Blair was a supplicant to Bush.

Meanwhile, Gordon Brown is too scared to be the authentic leftie he was believed to be and instead flaps around, allies himself 
with preposterously extreme measures, so extreme that Cameron, can, with easy conscience oppose them.

Banging up suspect terrorists for forty two days in detention without charge is exactly that kind of Big Boy gesture that reveals 
wobbly conviction, shaky commitment to those principles that make this nation a free and great democracy.

Almost more depressing is the sight of black and Asian Britons following the wind blowing the Tories to victory. Boris has 
recruited Afro Caribbean "leaders" who believe in physical chastisement and smart young Asians who deny the existence of 
racism and want an end to political correctness. The more old-fashioned Uncle Toms and their female equivalents are now 
expediently making themselves known to the Tories and right-wing think tanks.

For reasons I have yet to fathom, two weeks ago, I was invited to address a meeting at the House of Lords organised by the 
Conservative Muslim Forum. The room was full and the discussion on Muslim women lively. Many there were previously New 
Labour acolytes; others were young and ambitious and now devoted to the charismatic Cameron. To see such enthusiasm for a 
party whose members have always opposed our presence on these shores was a wake-up slap. All over now. The right has 
crushed the left.

By the time our time comes around again, I will be pushing up the daisies or dancing half naked in some home for sufferers of 
senile dementia, a blessing perhaps, to be lost in irreversible lunacy and never again to care about what happens to politics. 
Still, between now and then there will be plenty to moan about.

return to, the home of critical reviews