Around May 7th, I saw a curious uptick in Google search impressions for the term ‘pasokification’, all pointing to the various blog posts where I’ve written about it.
You see the same thing generally on Google Trends.
This isn’t a line of total hits, only the distribution for that time period, still, there’s a clear spike on May 7th.
The spike coincides with a set of bad results for Labour in local elections, losing 8 councils, 327 councillors, and an MP in Hartlepool. To top it off this was immediately followed up by a botched attempt to remove Angela Rayner.
If you’ve come here from Google and want to learn more about this phenomenon, I can recommend my own outdated article, or this recent article in Jacobin by Costas Lapavitsas and Jon Trickett.
It’s obviously uncomfortable to see the Labour Party doing this to itself, even as a matter of political strategy it should be obvious that bland managerial centrism is not a big vote-winner. As it is now, the Labour Party is an ideological void, if the leadership does have a plan or a vision, they’re not talking about it. Around 40% of the electorate consistently votes Tory, and unlike the Corbyn years the Labour Party is no longer backed up by a social movement. Nobody likes this situation, not least those of us who really had hope in the Labour Party after 2015.
It’s a familiar narrative that sometime in the last decade, history started happening again. The ascendant middle class is no longer ascending. Living standards have fallen off the tracks. The world in which the New Labour project was possible, that world no longer exists… and yet the dominant section of the Labour Party appears to be politically anchored in 1997.
The latest episode of ACFM with Jeremy Gilbert on the long ’90s gives a good alternative take on this.
Rather than just criticising the centrist dads, it’s worth really getting into why we’re living through the weird Blairite afterlife, to try to understand the right-wing of Labour on its own terms. Here’s what Jeremy Gilbert says:
The centre of that centrist dad cohort is people a bit older than us really, people in their 50s who were at university in the second half of the 80s. [Their] political, historical, experience was the total defeat of the left in the 80s and on a global scale the defeat of communism in the Cold War… They got decent jobs, professional jobs, they benefitted from the wide effect of the tech boom, and they’ve basically been insulated from any of the trauma which has affected other social groups during that same period. They haven’t suffered the economic dislocation and impoverishment of people in the post-industrial regions. They haven’t suffered the inability to get good jobs or homes as you see with younger people. And their whole political experience was constant Tory victory apart from under Tony Blair… and New Labour represented the limit of actual reform that anyone has ever been able to implement. So it’s understandable that they’ve internalised this idea.
And so now these guys are 10-15 years away from retirement, they’ve got houses, they’ve made loads of money. There’s absolutely no motivation for them to ever reflect upon the fact that, apart from anything else, the whole New Labour project massively benefitted them, but it didn’t benefit a lot of other people nearly as much as they think it did. And there are all these constitutencies out there… who were never really given much by that project, and were left nothing by it once it finished.
So if you want to know the appeal of Sir Keir Starmer, this is a pretty good explanation.