Stop this left-wing snobbery: we’re becoming everything we hate

Julia Sklar
Julia Sklar  /  30 Comments

Party politics doesn’t bring out the best in people. Perhaps they improve with age, but most political discussions I’ve partaken in to date have been a case of who shouts the loudest. Often literally. In this aspect, the Left undoubtably triumphed on social media. In between fear-mongering infographics and Russell Brand soundbites (with a few simple “FUCK TORIES” banners thrown in for good measure), not a single Tory voice was to be heard; if it was, it was swiftly shot down.

Social media carnage followed the Left’s defeat. Lots and lots of carnage, with caps lock firmly pressed down. Which is fair enough. But between reports of hysterical crying and plans for a revolution, emerged a toxic narrative from a certain liberal middle class student contingent.

Appalled by the Conservatives’ success, these people were unable to concede that the people voted for what the people wanted. They resorted to blaming the media for manipulating the electorate, or else blaming the electorate for stumbling blindly and stupidly into a Tory government without knowing what it entails. Two questions underlaid this reaction:  why did the “masses” (read: working classes) vote them in? Do they not know what’s good for them?

Here are their main arguments as to why the Tory government is bullshit, and here’s why those arguments are bullshit.

1) “But don’t the people care about equality/ benefits /  the NHS?!? Don’t they know that equality / benefits/ the NHS is going to be buggered?!?”

No. Stop. You do not speak for “the people”. The assumption that the working class exists as a homogeneous block is patronising and stupid. Furthermore, it’s entirely possible for supporters of the same ideals to vote for different parties. Means and ends and all that.


You don’t speak for ‘the people’

2)  The electorate was manipulated by a right wing media.

This is asserted by the lucky few, gifted with intellects powerful enough to penetrate Murdoch’s evil fascist designs. With grave generosity, they sift the miasma so we don’t have to. One Facebook commentator claimed the press had “scared middle Britain into submission.” But not them, presumably? Brave, clever them?


This narrative that Middle England and the working classes are hapless, brainless victims of Murdoch media has to end

This reeks of snobbery, and rests on the classist assumption that the general Sun or Mail waving public naively gobbles up tabloid journalism and asks the chef for more. This is a snobbery of the worst kind; even worse than the perceived snobbery of the Tories’ Eton-educated leadership.

3) First Past the Post is broken

Perhaps it is. But not half a decade ago the UK held a referendum, where the public voted overwhelmingly against the Alternative Vote. You cannot argue this line without again criticising the general public’s capacity to make decisions.  (Allowing, of course, that we have not yet voted on full blown Proportional Representation.)

Regardless of whether or not the Tories would have won as many seats under an alternative system (they wouldn’t have), they still won the largest proportion of votes: 37% to Labour’s 30%. I didn’t see anyone complain about FPTP when it meant that, despite gaining 13% of votes, UKIP won a single seat while allowing the Lib Dems to win 8 seats with 8% of the votes.


Stop being a paternalistic, ‘I-know-best’ twat.

The unfortunate truth is that Labour lost out because of an uninspiring election campaign, and by abandoning their core voters. In doing so, they lost Scotland- an ENTIRE BLOODY COUNTRY. And not to the Conservatives, but to the SNP: a group who actually bothered to cater to their core vote’s needs, rather than rest on their laurels knowing they rested in a “safe” seat.

This is what democracy looks like. It’s not great, and certainly not pretty, but it’s the best we’ve got right now. (I for one yearn for the day when we can vote on policies on our iPads and do away with party politics altogether.) You may be upset. That’s valid. Protest; march; riot if you must. But don’t criticise the electorate for making the wrong decision. Don’t make the Left endorse everything it stands against: the paternalistic, condescending tones of snobbery.


  • Anon

    Best article I’ve read on the SS. By a margin- actual realism.

  • Donald Donaldson

    No matter what. The facts of life remain conservative. Feel free to downvote me lefty twats.

    • Edgar

      Freedom feels nice

    • Tim Squirrell

      It’s good to see you adhering to the canons of tolerance set forward so well within this article.

  • About that electoral reform,,,

    We probably can criticise the general public’s ability to make decisions.

    Surely it’s not just a coincidence that Cambridge and Oxford (two areas with a high concentration of the university educated) were two of the very small number of voting areas to vote yes?

    • TrT

      The poor and stupid wanted to keep their elected MPs
      If only the poor would do as their betters tell them the world would be a better place.
      If only there was some system of government where a self selecting group of do gooders could rule absolutely…

      • Try responding to the point

        It’s not about people being poor and stupid, it’s about the average British person not thinking critically about electoral reform when it was an option, in comparison to, statistically speaking, groups of people who are more likely to engage with the repercussions of their choices.

        And wait a moment, wasn’t the AV referendum a case of ‘the poor’ (read: average person) doing as ‘their betters’ (read: most politicians/media outlets/press) told them? i.e. voting no

        What we really need is better education, less biased media outlets and more interaction with the political system. Don’t try to make it out as though the first point was a simple case of upper-middle class condescension.

  • Anon

    Of course we can criticise the electorate! We can criticise the electorate for making a dicision (such as voting to keep first past the post) if that decision then turns out to be bad (as this election has proved) then we can criticise that decision all we like. The fact that lots of people made that decision does not make it any less of a bad decision. If 64 million people say a foolish thing it is still a foolish thing

    • Alsoanon

      Provided you qualify it with the statement, “In my opinion,” of course. Don’t forget to do that. Otherwise: well, it would just be foolish, wouldn’t it?

      • Colin

        Not necessarily. AV is demonstrably better (if only slightly) than FPTP at reducing tactical voting and giving more people representation in government. No opinion required. Not to mention, the entire no campaign was about as snobbish and condescending as you can get. “Oh, but it’s so complicated, you wouldn’t know what to do!” I think even the dimmest of us can write an ordered list of our preferred candidates.

  • Tom

    Not everybody is fortunate enough to have an iPad, Julia.

    • Julia

      what is tongue in cheek?

      - sent from my iPad

  • Colin

    On point 3), people have been complaining, loudly, about UKIPs embarrassing seats:votes ratio. Even those who hate them think it’s absurd that so many people can vote for them and then have virtually no representation in government. If you haven’t seen the complaints, then you have been wilfully ignoring them or aren’t as informed as you seem to think.

    I can’t really comment on points 1) and 2), since all you’ve done is say “stop being a snob” and haven’t actually addressed any of the legitimate concerns. Really, this article is a couple hundred words with no actual content.

  • Anon

    Whilst I agree the anger expressed has been at times over the top and unacceptable the specific points raised in this article miss some important aspects of the source of the anger.

    Point 1 implies it is the different means to the same ends which are being contested. In my opinion much of the anger comes from the disgust at the “ends” which have already been the consequence of welfare cuts, and the weight of evidence that further cuts will only lead to similar “ends”.

    All members of the public, me included, believe misconceptions about the world (https://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/3188/Perceptions-are-not-reality-the-top-10-we-get-wrong.aspx). When looking at this list it seems reasonable to me that representation in the media could be the cause of them. I don’t think all reasoning of this kind can be considered snobbery. Specifically I don’t see how thinking your opinion about something is more valid because you have more evidence can be considered snobbery.

    Whilst the calls for electoral reform may have been quieter before this result they were there, why else would we have had a referendum on the matter? That referendum was however on AV, not PR, a small improvement and thus a much harder one to argue for when the counter argument was essentially if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Further the renewed calls have very much focused on the UKIP/lib dem/ SNP situation at this election.

    The major thing the author gets right is that a major reason for the result was the failure of the labour party to create a coherent message. This indicates a problem with left wing theories, they often take more detail to explain. To take one example it is easy to see how cutting someone’s taxes will leave them with more money, much harder to explain how taxing them more and spending it on social provision will improve their life.

  • PastaX

    Brilliant, now I have to watch this article go viral amongst unthinking Tory-supporting Facebook friends, along with all the other articles whining about how hard the right have it on social media.

    Show me an article that explains why the gap between rich and poor isn’t shamefully wide and increasing. Show me one that admits it is, but explains how this can be a good thing, and bring about change for the better. Explain to me how cutting benefits to the poor and vulnerable improves their wellbeing. So far all I see are ad-hominem attacks on those who level criticism, as if having hurt feelings is a valid defense of your views.

    Social networks expose your opinions to the scrutiny of your peers. No wonder so few Tory supporters are willing to out themselves online. If you’re unable to defend your views in terms of wellbeing and fairness, then to do so is simply to raise a flag proclaiming your own greed and selfishness.

  • Jim Burnett

    This article just reads like a “come and get me” plea to the Murdoch empire. You should be ashamed of yourself!

  • Jim Burnett

    This article just reads like a “come and get me” plea to the Murdoch empire. You should be ashamed of yourself!

  • Asong

    Democracy would be if everybody in the country’s political beliefs were being recognised, whether they want to vote green OR ukip. You pretty much contradict every point you make, I don’t know how you admit that we have never voted on proportional representation, you admit that conservative would not have as many MP’s and more peoples beliefs would be voiced in parliament, and yet you still don’t understand the reasoning behind the riots? I also don’t get why you persecute people for bunching left wingers together, whilst claiming that WE are becoming what WE hate, when actually what we hate is the first past the post system which is undoubtably 100% responsible for the amount of toris in parliament.

    • TrT

      Pr only makes sense if you believe political parties are homogenous blocks.

      Let’s say you want to give ukip extra seats, who would get them?
      Carswells ‘the plan’ libertarian faction or farages paternalist Churchillian faction?

  • Cabreada

    I’ve had this discussion plenty, never with a liberal middle class student. Most often with poor people, disabled people, unemployed people… The people at the food bank at the weekend were also largely in agreement - you’ll forgive them for seeing a hint of callousness in a tory vote. And no. They aren’t lazy, or looking for something for nothing. They do not need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps. They need people to stop kicking them in the face.

    Anyway, most of the bile is not directed at ‘the masses’ read as working class, it is directed at the masses who cite their reasons for voting conservative as ‘I’ll get a break on my inheritance tax/they’ll help ME buy x/y/z’. For those that vote trying to immediately intervene to save the lives of future IDS victims, that grates.

  • Anon

    Interesting piece, but I have to disagree with some points.

    Perhaps I am not part of the group she is discussing but I don’t assume that it is working class people who are voting Tory at all. That would be madness. I assume it’s mostly elderly and/or upper-middle and middle class people, many of whom, I have to assume, know exactly what is good for them, and either don’t care about or don’t believe in the horrendous impact the cuts are having on people who aren’t quite so well protected.

    The second point I think misses the fact that the cuts do, or soon will, affect EVERYONE, not just the working classes, so the left is not necessarily seeking to speak for the working classes, but simply trying to raise awareness. Additionally, the people who have died or been maimed by the system in the last 5 years can’t speak for themselves any more, but certainly shouldn’t be ignored.

    If people don’t believe the stories in the Sun and the Mail, at least to some degree, it does rather beg the question; why do so many people still buy them? Unless they are buying them ironically?

    And I think that explains why the Tories weren’t going mad on social media: history is written by the winners, and in this case the winners write the newspapers. Social media is therefore the outlet of the losers, the marginalised and the less well-funded.

    But the AV thing is a good point!

    • Cheska Alice Rycraft

      The Conservatives do in fact have working class supporters. It is not “madness”. Self-interest is not always the only motivator of a vote; sometimes people do what they see as being best for the country. However, the point about it being condescending to tell the voters what’s good for them because they are from the lower classes doesn’t really hold when you consider that many of the voters are not, in fact, from the lower classes.

  • Alex Salmond

    The SNP created a wave of hysteria and then rode it to victory. It turns out that some people are against austerity and the SNP were a viable protest vote the idiot austerity proposed by the Conservative party.

  • What the fuck

    You are effectively suggesting compromise and accommodation with the Tories - the same Tories who are killing millions of people in this country to pay for Trident and the fucking banker’s bonuses. If this is the kind of unprincipled Quisling you find in the Left nowadays, I don’t see what hope there is for oppressed people.

    • Harry Hart

      Killing ‘millions’? I wasn’t aware of such a mass democide. I also wasn’t aware of the direct link between this mass murder and the payroll’s of workers in multinational banking corporations that act in Britain.
      You called the people of Britain ‘oppressed'(!). Research the famine, corruption, civil war and poverty that exists in the world today have some perspective. Clearly our political system needs refining but that has always and will always be the case as technology and society develops - your sweeping claims are just absurd.

  • Howard

    Um.. Riot if you must? yeah. No.

  • Nial Westwood

    Ha Ha Oh my dear, I am one of those dreaded North London anti Tory Middle England, Murdoch and Daily Mail lefty snobs.
    The fact is really poor Ed Miliband lost five years ago.
    If the UK was called ( the tories favourite place of hatred) Hampstead and Primrose Hill-Ed would have won hands down.
    Also their is a lot of predicuice against of prople who are of Jewish origin in Middle England and with some narrow minded working classes.
    Either way only time will yell in 2020 and I would love Jeremy Corbyn to be Pm lol.

  • Philip Dutton

    If the press where not so right wing biased then maybe more people could have made a more informed choice? Get real, your argument is so right wing and false. WE ARE NOT IDIOTS!
    I just wish that the first past the post vote was held now, there would definatly be a very different outcome.

  • Philip Dutton

    …Also the turnout for FPP was very low.

  • Jack Henderson

    Do we come off as “paternalistic, snobby lefties”? Good, because I’m a student, and I’m not showing any deferrence to idiots who sold my future to Dave and the Bullingdon Boys for some abstract notion of economic growth.