Quotes of the day 31st May 2021

"I believe everyone who held a senior position in Labour between then and now deserves some share of the blame for what happened on 12 December 2019. 

Here’s my confession: other than the occasional by-election, at no point in the decades that I spent advising Labour did we ever consider running focus groups or polling in any of the Red Wall seats. Their reliability was seen as a given – quite frankly, they were taken for granted."

(Deborah Mattinson, former Labour advisor and author, from her book "Beyond the Red Wall" (p. 12).

She also wrote, on the subject of the gulf in understanding between "Remainers" and "Leavers"

"My focus groups at the time illustrated the depth of this divide. I was taken aback by the degree of contempt that each group showed for one another’s opinions. 

"Leavers thought Remainers were ‘out of touch’, ‘politically correct’, ‘superior’ and ‘stuck up’. Leavers were angry and resentful and felt that they were being looked down on. They were not wrong.

"Remainers described Leavers as ‘misguided’ at best and would often go to some lengths to explain how easily they had been hoodwinked. This would always imply, even if not overtly stated – and it often was – that Leavers were ‘ignorant’ or ‘stupid’. 

Sometimes Remainers would go further and condemn Leavers as ‘racist’."

Mattinson refers to what Arlie Russell Hochschild described as an ‘empathy wall’ in her book, 'Strangers in Their Own Land' 


A wall that is an obstacle to deep understanding of another person, one that can make us feel indifferent or even hostile to those who hold different beliefs.’


"Brexit was a symptom, not a cause: exposure of these stark cultural and ideological differences had been a very long time coming." 

She called her first book  "Talking to a Brick Wall" because 

"I believed that Labour in government had gradually lost the knack of listening to voters,"

For the avoidance of doubt I am quoting this because I think Mattinson gives a useful warning to anyone aspiring to a leadership position in politics whatever their party and not just as a criticism of the Labour party - the mistakes made by Labour need to be avoided by everyone else too. 

The votes of electors in "Red Wall" seats like Copeland and much of the rest of Cumbria are on loan to the Conservatives and we would be just as unwise to take them for granted as Labour was.


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