This is a tough one and potentially controversial and I’m still trying to work out if I really think what I really really think I think about this.
A very noticeable shift in rhetoric of Starmer’s LP is towards an attempt to co-opt English ‘patriotism’ to the Labour cause. The way it is being done is pathetically and transparently politically empty and will convince no one, but, though it pains me to say it, I have to say that I think any LP, under any leader, that wishes to regain the ‘Labour Wall’ is going to have address the issue of how the left engages with patriotism and nationalism.
Many of the old school, old Labour, working class activists I met in the 80’s had served in WW2 are were very patriotic. Indeed, ‘patriotism’ is a very important working class value. Proportionally many more working class young people join the military than average and being English or Scottish, Welsh or Irish is a source of pride for many millions. Yet we on the left seem to despise our own birthright… especially if we are English. This arises of course from the left wing values of peace and anti-imperialism. Yet this pacifist, anti-imperialism is often read by working class people as a sort of hypocritical self-hatred and dismissing ‘patriotism’ as a sign of ignorance and stupidity has been a big mistake of left rhetoric since the mid 60’s. Continue reading