The ‘red wall’ has fallen. Brick by brick. Almost every bit of it. Seats held by Labour for decades have been seized by the Tories. To me, this is the most exciting thing in this extraordinary election. It feels almost revolutionary. Working people have smashed years and years of tradition and laid to waste the nauseating, paternalistic idea that they would vote for a donkey so long as it was wearing a red rosette.
The ‘red wall’ results are staggering. In Bolsover, held by Dennis Skinner since 1970, the Tories now have a 5,000+ majority. Former mining towns like Bishop Auckland and Sedgefield — Tony Blair’s old seat — fell to the Tories.
Caroline Flint lost Don Valley — a shame, given Flint was one of very few Labour MPs who sensed that the party’s betrayal of its working-class, Brexit-voting communities would cost it dear.
Blyth Valley has a Tory MP for the first time in its 69-year history. Dehenna Davison, a Sheffield-born, Hull-educated 25-year-old, is Bishop Auckland’s first Tory MP in its 134-year history. She has a majority of nearly 8,000.
And on it goes. Stockton South, Darlington, Wrexham. Seat after seat that Labour bigwigs presumed for decades would naturally vote Labour — because that’s what working-class people do, right? — have turned blue. Get this: former Welsh miners and the northern working classes trust an Eton-educated bumbling eccentric more than they do the Labour party.
It’s worth letting that sink in. The plummy culture warriors of Momentum and the Corbyn-loving sections of the Twitterati constantly played up what a toff Boris is. Eton! Bullingdon! That voice! He is utterly out of touch with normal people, they said. And yet now we know those normal people felt far more distant from the performative bourgeois radicalism of Labour’s new woke set than they did from a Boris-led Tory party that at least said to them: ‘Listen — we will respect that important, meaningful vote for Brexit that you cast in 2016.’
That’s the thing. For all the naff, sixth-former ‘eat the rich’ posturing of the Corbyn cling-ons, most voters don’t really care what accent or background a politician has. They care what he or she says. And Boris, in his posh, bumbling tones that will sound so alien to the people of Blackpool South and the Vale of Clwyd — more new Tory seats — said he would uphold Brexit. That’s what millions wanted to hear.
Did the ‘red wall’ crumble because of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership or because of Labour’s betrayal of Brexit? This debate has started in earnest and it will rage for weeks. It is likely to have been a combination of both. Surely one incredibly important lesson the political class will learn from this is that if you disrespect people’s democratic votes — as Labour did with its promise to cancel Brexit and hold a second referendum — then people will punish you. Denigrate democracy and democracy will have its payback.
The insults of the ‘red wall’ inhabitants will fly thick and fast. The over-educated middle classes who make up the membership base of Corbyn’s Labour party will say these people were hoodwinked by tabloids or brainwashed by Bozzer.
Class contempt of Victorian proportions is already being visited upon these good people, in fact. Enraged Corbynista Paul Mason is describing the election result as a ‘victory of the old over the young, racists over people of colour, selfishness over the planet’. These people seem blissfully unaware that it is such seething contempt for ordinary voters that turned so many people off the newly woke, post-working-class Labour party.
Key Corbynista Ash Sarkar wrote in the Guardian a couple of days ago:
“‘It is a myth that Labour has lost the working class.’
That hasn’t aged well. Across the country the working classes have abandoned Labour, because Labour abandoned them. It sneered at their vote for Brexit; it looked down its nose at their cultural values; it called them racist and xenophobic for being critical of the European Union and concerned about mass immigration.
Labour embraced an agenda of identity politics over community values, EU neoliberalism over British patriotism and radical virtue-signalling over the ideals of family, work and togetherness. And its working-class base said no, no, no.
This is a warning to the entire political class. Do not take voters for granted. Do not insult them. Do not demean their democratic voice. Because, whatever you might say to the contrary, they have minds of their own, and they will soon make up their mind that you are a patronising git who may no longer represent their community.
Nobody should mourn the collapse of the red wall — it is one of the best things to happen in the political life of this country for decades.