This year was supposed to be the ‘Brexit election’ with the issue of the EU dominating every campaign leaflet, TV debate and radio interview.
Rather surprisingly Brexit has taken a backseat to more routine issues of debate such as the economy and health care.
In the run up to this election pollsters and pundits alike were eager to stress that the new battle lines would be nationalism versus globalism. Recently pitched as ‘anywhere versus somewhere’. Although I am certain that leaving the EU will influence the election this divide is not as prominent as many thought it would be.
Everyone is keen on the idea that there is a definite identity issue around Brexit. Similarly, in the years preceding this election ‘identity politics’ looked like it would take centre stage in any future political struggles. Particularly in America but also over here in Britain
Indeed Hilary Clinton’s whole campaign seemed to be pitched along identity lines- aimed at women, African Americans and Latinos. However as we now know the politics of identity was not a massive vote winner for Hilary.
Despite assertions that a different kind of discourse is redefining our political nexus I have heard very little about it recently. In fact when you read the Labour Manifesto there is remarkably little concerning ethnic minorities. >
The Labour slogan ‘for the many not the few’ adequately summarises Mr Corbyn’s campaign. He is running on an old fashioned Marxist platform. His key issues are a more distributionist economic system, living standards and the quality of public services. It is not until the penultimate chapter in their manifesto that the Labour party specifically addresses equality for minorities.
Whether this absence of identity issues in politics is an interlude or a permanent state of affairs is uncertain. I will also leave the reader to make up their own mind as to whether black lives matter, the new feminism and the LGBT movement constitute positive or negative forces in politics. I am merely noting the absence of these forces from our current debate.
Regardless of how this election pans out the contour lines or British politics are shifting somewhat. The extent to which this change will demolish older more established divisions is difficult to tell.