There never was a "progressive majority". Polly Toynbee is queen of an empty realm
Polly Toynbee, queen of "progressive" pieties gets a pasting from Harry Cole. The "progressive majority" never existed.
Last night I had the pleasure of a Newsnight debut, supposedly to talk about the death, or even the existence, of the so called “progressive majority”. Joining me in a scrap was Polly Toynbee of the Guardian, though sadly Jeremy Paxman wouldn’t let the conversation really move on from why only a smattering of places in the UK voted yes to the Alternative Vote (AV) model in last week’s referendum.
One thing is for certain though, the "Progressive Majority" did not show up last Thursday to sweep away first-past-the-post and usher in a new era of politics. Thirteen million people, three million more than voted for Cameron, united to reject AV.
What was telling was the areas that did say Yes: Oxford, Cambridge, Islington, Camden. Bastions of the liberal “intelligentsia”. These are the sort of places that you hear people use the word “progressive” with a straight face, but what does it really mean?
People like Polly Toynbee use the word “progressive” to describe their peers who genuinely think that they are the good guys.
Yet it is a fig leaf that thinly disguises the prejudices of a wannabee ruling elite and their desire to preach, nanny and raise taxes. They wander through the political desert trying to convince the Labour Party, or once upon a time the Liberal Democrats, to house them.
Those who live in these bastions of liberalism, with their £1.5 million houses, second homes in Tuscany, friends with super-injunctions, double media incomes and kids at private school, think everyone must be as “clever” and “right-on” about everything as they presume to think they are. But if that is the case, why did this “Progressive Majority” not show up anywhere else in the country last Thursday?
The obvious response is that these people are totally out of touch. If anything, there is a “common sense majority” in this country favouring lower tax, more freedom from the state, less interference in their private lives and fewer state busybodies: the progressives' idea of hell.
The Guardian represents a tiny, largely urban, self-appointed “elite” of voters, all talking to themselves on Twitter and at north London dinner parties, all deluding themselves that the country agrees with them and that if it wasn't for the Daily Mail or Murdoch or the evil Tor-eees we would all live in a social democratic paradise.
AV didn’t prove that the Progressive Majority was dead. It proved finally, once and for all, that it never existed in the first place. Tony Blair knew it, which is why he created his own breed of Conservatism to take over the country. And Nick Clegg knew it too, which is why he laughed the idea of a rainbow coalition out of the shop in May 2010.
Harry Cole is a writer and journalist and the news editor for the Guido Fawkes blog. He also writes for Total Politics Magazine.
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