Just like that: How the Tory magic trick was done.

In the aftermath of the UK election, the Labour Party have now started to rip themselves apart. With centrists crawling out the woodwork to reclaim the party apparatus, while political vultures pick over the still warm carcass. Many have used this election result to discredit any ideas of socialism in the near future and indeed this result may have sent shockwaves down the left side of the political divide. But to focus purely on this, would simply be sidestepping what actually occurred on Thursday the 12th December 2019.

There are clearly two distinct themes that are emerging; firstly Corbyn was deemed not trustworthy by much of the public and secondly people were totally consumed by Brexit. So the question must be asked; how did a party with one of the most progressive manifestos since WWII get so soundly beaten. I’m sure lots of people will suggest that between 2017 and 2019 Corbyn took a wrong turn regarding Brexit. This was seen in many eyes as a major change of position from supporting the outcome of the referendum, to one of fence sitting. Although, this may well be true, it also misses a key point. A better question would be, how did Brexit become so emotive, to the extent that people voted for this over well funded health care, education and public services.

Rationally this makes no sense at all, the idea that people would vote against their own best interests is hard to fathom, but this in effect is what has occurred. There lies a crucial part of the problem, Labour’s campaign was built on logic, whereas, the Tories tapped into people’s emotions. All the Conservatives had to offer was a slogan “Get Brexit Done”, no tangible policies, just 3 simple words. Clearly, this was enough to mobilise the masses who have been thoroughly convinced that this will solve the bulk of their problems.

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When encountering a potential Tory voter on social media or even in person it is noticeable that there is a distinct lack of critical thinking involved during any discussion. You are repeatedly hit with a barrage of short phrases which are very tabloidesque, such as; “we need our country back”, “it’s because of free movement” or “Corbyn’s a traitor”. If this fails, you are often told to shut up and respect their point of view, no debate just blind obedience. It rapidly became apparent that, the more Corbyn supporters hit back with stats, academic papers and 9 years of historical proof the more entrenched opposing views became.

Simply put, you cannot combat tribal inspired politics, driven by emotion with logic or reason. This has been recognised for over 100 years, starting with people such as, Edward Bernays and Walter Lippman, two of the main founders of propaganda. Their job was to elicit an emotional response for a particular goal to aid the ruling elite. Noam Chomsky described it as manufacturing consent in his 1988 book and this is exactly what occurred last week. The Tory campaign understood the importance of this much more than Labour. They quickly realised that Brexit was a powerful tool and had split the nation by more than geography, political party, education and class. This was an extra tear in the fabric of society that an unpopular and desperate government could utilise.

Brexit has dragged on for 3 years. If the government wanted to “Get Brexit Done” they could have, but they didn’t. They used this anger towards a lack of movement on Brexit as political capital, a situation which they had themselves created to fuel leave voters. Once Corbyn had decided to take the Labour party away from supporting Brexit in an effort to unite the people, the trap was set. The Tories had in effect created a huge tribe with one unifying goal, that was to leave the EU and nothing else mattered. This sentiment was cultivated by the Tories using the politics of fear, which was considered by the Athenians centuries ago as one of the three strongest motives for action.

A narrative needed to be created to invoke a sense of being under siege. This can be demonstrated by people who casually suggest that immigrants have taken their jobs, or that their presence in the UK has lowered wages for UK born citizens. None of this is true, as many academics have documented, but this didn’t matter for this election, it was the reaction of the people that was important, for the political right. The working class in many former industrial areas had a bogeyman to fight, created by the very people who had caused the problems, the neoliberals. Now this tribe felt they had an enemy whom they could vent their fury at, that being; the EU, people who supported it and immigrants.

The ruling elite diligently manufactured the consent of many of the working class, all to maintain the status quo. This is an establishment made up of billionaires and millionaires, with the resources to construct a sustained campaign to both create an illusion and discredit any opposition. Billionaires almost entirely own the media in the UK, while the BBC have generally colluded with any government narrative throughout this current Tory stranglehold. Noam Chomsky talks about the 5 filters of mass media; here’s a short film to explain this. As a bit of fun, try and pick out how many of these strategies you think were being used by the Tories and the media during the lead up to the election.

These methods of course are not unique to one political side or another, but the Conservatives this time around utilised these techniques extremely effectively, while Labour attempted to communicate with the electorate using facts. The result ultimately was a landslide. Once the right wing created fear among the populace, they miraculously found a cure and that was Boris Johnson. Johnson is a right wing populist, this type of a politician tends to use rhetoric around restoring order be it, fighting crime, preserving a particular culture or as in this case “getting the country back”.

There is now reasonable evidence to propose that populism thrives when people feel a lack of political power or control, that life is unfair and at times when they feel they are not getting what they deserve. But for populism to work it requires two opposing factions, this was already established in the form of leave and remain voters. Opposing views and the formation of identities can occur rapidly in the age of social media, as people connect often with others they agree with, creating an echo chamber.

The curious thing about Johnson is, populist candidates generally portray their campaign as a fight against the establishment. However, Boris Johnson is a member of the establishment, he therefore, had to reframe the terms of reference. Firstly, he labelled the EU as a cruel regime, oppressing the people of Britain. This manoeuvre allowed him to position himself in direct opposition and declare himself as a heroic figure rescuing the nation from the tyranny of Brussels.

A further necessary component of this magic trick was to portray Jeremy Corbyn as a danger to society, a traitor and untrustworthy. Not only was this done by an eager mainstream media, but this image was further embellished by centrists within his own party. Daily lies about the Labour Party’s unfounded anti-Semitism, his baseless links with the IRA or any other terror groups has been ceaseless over a four year period. The media used their considerable power to wage the biggest campaign of persecution against a politician in recent memory. The reasoning was simple, at the time Corbyn was a huge threat to the elite and this had to be prevented at all costs.

Now the dust is starting to settle, the country is left with Johnson at the helm. He is an unlikely people’s champion, an Etonian who is related to half the royal families in Europe. Not only is he an improbable hero, he patently isn’t the saviour of the working class. Johnson’s remit was to motivate enough people in order to keep him and the Tories in power. Brexit was merely the vehicle for which to achieve this. The new Prime Minister will not be leading the people into any mythical promised land, rather they will be led like lemmings off the end of a cliff. The population of the nation now have more austerity, economic inequality, privatisation of the NHS and ever deteriorating public services to look forward to, led by a right wing, elitist, populist.

And “just like that“, the trick was done.

20 thoughts on “Just like that: How the Tory magic trick was done.

  1. Another fantastic post. I really am still gob smacked with the result. Once labour constituencies that were brought to poverty through Tory actions are now the very areas voting to get the Tories to help them. It’s like getting the wolf to babysit your grandmother while you go out shopping.

    The beast of Bolsover now chucked to one side after years of him in the battlefield of the commons fighting for his people. The Tories won’t fight for these areas. They won’t fight for poverty and they won’t fight for inequalities.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This too will pass but when those who lent their votes to the Tories wake up to reality, the worse possible changes will be made to the NHS and forget the Climate Crisis, the fossil fuel barrons will see to that.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great article, although I don’t think Corbynistas based their faith on logic, critical thinking or academic facts. More like a latter day David Koresh Waco sect following the messiah to the bitter end and never hearing any criticism of the great man.

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    1. Strongly disagree. The policies from an economic standpoint were back by 160 economists and academics. Most people were drawn by the chance of a different way of doing things. I actually think he is a decent, honest man and was savaged by the ruling elite, with no credible evidence to support any of their claims.

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      1. The economics were good, the messaging was very poor. And outside of London and one or two big cities and university towns, Corbyn was toxic. We had campaigners knocking on doors and people saying that they would never vote for Corbyn. The Labour campaign was almost presidential, built around the great messiah Corbyn. But Corbyn was shedding Labour votes. The economic policy was not getting out. It was all about Corbyn’s anti-Semitism. That was what people were hearing. Anc Corbynistas refused to acknowledge that it was there man that was costing them voters. They are still in denial. Looking for blame eleswhere.

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      2. How naive of you, Corbyn was embraced by the fashionable left wing middle classes in the U.K, who I would argue are mostly closet Conservatives anyhow. The Labour Party as per usual tear themselves apart, and tragically the party has the white middle classes to blame for its rapid decline. Fashionable socialism is to blame here- not Conservative rallying, Labour gave the Torys everything they needed as per usual..and as per usual the left sink into victim mentality…learning nothing of themselves and the infantile dross they spew in the process. And round and round they go..doomed to repeat themselves. I was once a lefty, thankfully I woke up.

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      3. Thank you Obi Wan. After your enlightening message, I’ll endeavour to learn from the error of my ways. Here was me thinking the ruling elite had used a 3 word slogan wrapped in thinly veiled nationalism to elicit an emotional response from desperate people primarily in the north, thus elevating voting for an abstract concept such as Brexit over better health, education and fairer taxes for all. The white middle classes incidentally don’t really want socialism, they want capitalism with lashings of identity politics in order for them to feel morally superior, while still being able to be relatively well off. I’m not sure financially comfortable people, really want the workers to control the means of production, especially as many will own businesses.

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    2. watching the Noam Chomsky video illustrates perfectly why Corbyn was mistrusted in UK, there are many of us in the Labour Party who agree with the membership created policies and believe that Corbyn is a great socialist but comparing him to a messiah, no

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      1. A Big factor in Boris Johnson’s ability to hoodwink the public into voting for him, is that a great portion of the English public are gullible (thick).

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    1. I actually don’t have a rosy view of the EU at all. I know it’s neoliberalism either way. My previous articles have discussed this at length and the plight of the working, plus why they vote that way. My actual stance is one of ambivalence. Practically it doesn’t make too much of a difference. The world runs on capitalism, so the nation would have been isolated either way. See other current and historic lefty nations for details. I wanted to focus on the use of emotion to elicit a desired a response, Brexit was just the means of doing that.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s even simpler. The fundamental “British character” is individualist: selfish, miserly, xenophobic and racist. Collectivist ideas are tarred as “Marxist dogma” and suspiciously regarded as “a penny in someone else’s pocket is a penny stolen from me”.

    So the majority of the electorate just voted for the candidates that they would most like to be if they had the chance – the liars, sycophants, philanderers and cheats, led by the biggest one of all. It was as clear as it could be, “the people” had had enough of inconvenient truths and wanted the comfort of being told what they wanted to hear, no matter how transparently false. In fact the bigger the lies, the bigger the cheers. And so, here we are … with the government we deserve.

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  5. Remember that Cameron and Osborne were both remainers and 𝙋𝙧𝙤 EU and shall we say under encouragement from the EU. they introduced the con that was austerity as has happened in Greece too a greater extent in fact Greece was cited as what we would end up like if we didn’t have austerity. The EU were complicit in austerity and l guess imposed economic conditions on the U.K. unless austerity was brought on the U.K. did they? As I’m just a largely uninformed or maybe disinformed voter who like all voters had to make a decision on whom too vote for with only limited and fake news to decide. It was obviously fake news about Labour & Corbyn that influenced many too vote Tory.

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    1. I certainly don’t hold a candle for the EU. I agree it was them who started austerity. Which kind confirms my point that the EU is a sideshow. It’s neoliberalism that’s the problem, be it directed from the EU (Greece) or the UK government (austerity).

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  6. As an Immigrant to NZ, from the “mother land” can I just say how disgusted it has become in the UK.
    I came here with my Kiwi partner in 01 , we’d be planning a return to Europe, to live and retire in France as we own a cottage near Vannes. That’s all totally fucked up now obviously. We were in France in 2018 and made a trip across the channel to visit the un-UK and where horrified with what we found. People we’d known before coming to NZ we’d always thought to be decent and welcoming people had turned into these vile creatures who spouted the worst of the UKIP and Tory BS.
    We cut out visit back to the minimum and returned back to France

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I haven’t returned to the UK in 9 years, but I lost a lot of friends, some I went to Bosnia with, due to exceptionally myopic, nasty views. I’ll be staying in here in Whangarei, where life makes more sense.

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