The Left Wins Almost Total Power in Britain. What Will This Mean? Is There Any Coming Back?

An interview with Gavin Ashenden

By John Zmirak Published on July 8, 2024

The historic elections in Great Britain last Thursday saw the collapse of the establishment Conservative Party, a massive win by a far-left Labour Party, and the surge of a new populist/conservative Reform Party led by Nigel Farage. To explore what this means, The Stream interviewed English theologian and political observer Gavin Ashenden, former chaplain to Queen Elizabeth II.

 

The Stream: From what we’re reading on this side of the Pond, the recent U.K. elections seem like a massive victory for a radicalized Labour Party which will give unprecedented power to the most anti-Western and anti-Christian elements in the country. Just a few years ago, those same elements seemed to have marginalized themselves in the person of Jeremy Corbyn. How did the Tories manage to squander power so completely?

Gavin Ashenden: The Labour Party won this election with a lower share of the popular vote than in either of the two previous elections, when it did not win. It gained only 34% of the national vote.

It’s worth pointing out that although the true conservative party, Reform, gained nearly 4.1 million votes, they only secured four parliamentary seats. The Liberal Democrats who are substantially on the left gained 3.5 million votes and were rewarded with about 71 seats.

Observers have concluded that this is the symptom of a broken democracy. It is likely to produce a growing anger for the substantial number of voters who chose Reform and who are not represented by Parliamentary seats won. All this bodes ill for the polarization of our society.

An Irreversible Revolution?

TS: How radical has the Labour Party become? What policies do you most fear it will implement, and how far do you think it will be able to go? Will it accomplish irreversible changes, such as a mass influx of immigrants likely to vote its way in future?

GA: It’s difficult to explain how the Tories squandered power. There has been an internal power struggle within the Conservative party for the last 40 years. The left wing (known as “the Wets” within the party) has triumphed and the right wing (known by John Major as “the Drys” or “the Bastards”) has been contained and marginalized. But in terms of popular support, it was the right wing of the electorate who provided the vote for the Conservative Party in sufficient numbers for it to win elections, not the centrists. It was a truism of right-wing commentators that the conservative government adopted the policies that were indistinguishable from the soft left. They completely ignored any mandate from the center right. The left wing of the Conservative Party (not easily distinguishable from the socialists in policy terms) increasingly lost touch with its right-wing base until the connection grew taut and snapped in this election.

The present Labour Party occupies a relatively extreme place on the left. We expect it to increase and intensify legal and illegal immigration — so placing impossible strains on the infrastructure, particularly the housing stock and the near to breakdown national health service, to the point of serious civil disorder. It will set out to ban honest and free criticism of Islam and also of progressive cultural issues. It will increasingly criminalize dissent. It is unlikely to practice fiscal competence, and given the fact that the UK economy is on a knife edge, may well tip it over into fiscal chaos.

Is Nigel Farage the British Trump?

TS: For Americans, the Tories seem like the “mainstream” Republican party that rallied against Donald Trump, with Nigel Farage and his Reform Party as analogous to Trump. How much of that comparison is accurate, and where does it break down?

GA: Comparing the Conservative Party to the Republican Party is sensible. They are both sterile, incompetent, and establishment political organizations that have become self-serving. They’ve become complacent and lost touch with their grassroots and natural constituencies. They have become an end in themselves, rather than a political means to a political end for those they represent. Comparing Farage and Trump also works. They are both independent political mavericks, whose attraction and power lies in the fact that they generally represent their constituency.

The comparison breaks down, however, because Farage has very little political power. His intention is to reconfigure a genuine popular right-wing political movement. But for that to happen, the conservatives needed to suffer more at the election. They’ve suffered a humiliation, but it’s not clear yet whether it was efficiently disastrous.

What Hope Is Left?

TS: Is this election potentially good news in the long run because Reform might replace the Tories and offer a real alternative? What might prevent that from happening?

GA: An optimist might see this election as good news in the long run. But the realist would say that the left-totalitarian trajectory that has been developing over the last ten years is going to intensify during the next five to the point where it becomes irreversible. The optimists’ case, tragically, depends partly on bankruptcy and civil disorder providing another opportunity for the political representation of the right to gain sufficient influence or power.

TS: I remember when Brexit gave so many of us hope that Britain was waking up and returning to its old self. How was the energy of Brexit dissipated, and the voters turned back to Labour?

GA: The energy of Brexit dissipated because politicians at the top of the conservative government were essentially Remainers. They were out of touch with the voters and prepared to compromise and dissimulate over the delivery of Brexit. They gave verbal assent to the project, but appeared to have almost no desire to deliver it. They squandered the economic opportunities Brexit presented, and voluntarily remained attached to the bureaucratic stranglehold that European legislation had injected into the British system. Tragically and unforgivably, Brexit appears to have produced the very worst of all worlds.

Will Britain Go Fascist Like Canada?

TS: Will the U.K. become more like Canada, more actively repressive of dissident ideas? How intolerant is the British left, and how likely to suppress speech and religious conduct?

GA: Yes, the UK will become more like Canada in the adoption of progressive pseudo-Utopian ideology. The British left is deeply intolerant of freedom of speech and has already indicated they intend to criminalize dissent. Ed West, in this week’s edition of The Spectator, quoted J. Sorel, whose summary was the following:

Everything about Keir Starmer’s life so far has taught him that his project – the defence of British society as it existed from 1997-2016 – can be achieved by simply illegalising all opposition. He openly avows this idea, and has never strayed from it.

His constitutional reforms, drawn up by Gordon Brown in “A New Britain,” will give the law courts broad new powers to strike down legislation; will create a “rights package” (including welfare payments to migrants) that is to be put beyond the power of Parliament to abridge; and will give Whitehall a statutory existence – meaning it will become virtually impossible to reform its workings or fire any of its personnel. Starmer will complete the process of franchising out democratic governance to independent watchdogs: energy policy will go to “Great British Energy”; low-level offences to “community payback boards”; much of the budget to an “Office for Value for Money”; and what remains of Westminster health policy to an “NHS mission delivery board.”

The planned Race Equality Act will tighten existing equalities legislation, which already does so much to constrain elected governments, and which has created what we now recognise as the DEI bureaucracy. It will further entrench the programme of state multiculturalism from which there is a direct line to the atrocities in Rotherham, Telford and Rochford. Outlets like GB News will almost certainly find themselves censored by a beefed-up Ofcom.”

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TS: On an unrelated issue, do you have any comment on the excommunication of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò by the Vatican?

GA: That excommunication of Archbishop Viganò is not an easy thing to comment on. It appears to be a sign of a deepening intolerance, impatience, and fear within the Vatican. Whilst most people find the intensity of Viganò’s language difficult, he nonetheless speaks for many Catholics of the profound disease and mistrust of the Vatican itself. His excommunication is a sign that he has touched a raw nerve. It also represents a further polarization of views between conservatives and progressives, which will not have a good outcome.

 

John Zmirak is a senior editor at The Stream and author or coauthor of 10 books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Immigration and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Catholicism. His newest book is No Second Amendment, No First.

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