There’s been much discussion in mainstream circles about the so-called “hard-left”, but what actually is the hard-left?
What shade of “left”?
The hard-left to me conjures up images of Antifa in face coverings fighting fascists on the streets, but that’s not what the media mean by hard-left anymore. You see, in today’s context, hard-left refers to people who not too long ago would have just simply been left or even soft-left. The term has significantly shifted to the right. By which I mean, if you oppose neoliberalism in any meaningful way you’re now classed as hard-left.
Nowadays, we are faced with the ridiculous position whereby groups like the Trade Union and Socialist Coalition and Momentum are both considered hard-left. It is a tenuous argument, which really does not stand up to scrutiny and is designed merely to be lapped-up without consideration of reality. We are in a tragic situation whereby the broadsheets are employing the same tact as the red tops.
It must leave the old hard-left wondering what they are anymore, because they can’t be hard-left anymore. Perhaps they’re “Dalekanium left” now?
What does this mean for the left now? If we are to be labelled hard-left for returning Labour to its socialist roots, do we shy away from them and return to “moderate” New Labour ground or do we wear the label with pride? I’d hope for the latter, since those in the media are striving for the former.
If we are to embrace the term applied to us, we must change the way in which it is seen by the wider electorate. We must shift the narrative from “the hard-left are bonkers” to “the [hard] left is a viable alternative to austerity and divisive politics”. The real difficulty is how to go about doing this.
In my humble opinion, we do this by taking every negative attached to the term hard-left and turning it on its head.
Let us take economics as a starting point; we are told that Jeremy Corbyn (Mr Hard-Left as some would have us believe) and John McDonnell are clueless on the economy. One chief reason for this is their anti-austerity agenda. Clearly, if we are to believe the media, this agenda is bonkers because austerity is a necessity after the financial crash in 2008. So, how do we counter that argument? We state the uncomfortable truth: AUSTERITY DOES NOT WORK. A fact backed up by the International Monetary Fund.
In fact, the UK national debt has actually increased as a result of austerity
According to the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (Niesr), fiscal consolidation in the UK is likely to increase the UK’s debt burden. Or to put it in layman’s terms there will be ‘pain, but no gain’
This simple use of fact allows us to flip the argument. If austerity does not work, why is it being imposed on us? It is at this point we can inject socialism in and argue the point that austerity is ideological not economical.
We can do this with myriads of other issues as well; immigration, wage stagnation, progressive taxation, etc. We own the term hard-left by controlling the narrative and directing it away from the negative connotations that have been unfairly attached.
If the media are insistent on changing positions to suit their agenda, then we must play their game but play it better. Let them shift terminology, we will just adapt it to suit us. Let the established media play out their little linguistic games: it is after all what they’ve done for over 100 years.
I think one thing we can criticise Corbyn’s Labour for is the handling of the media. There has been an apparent lack of strategy with regards to the media. It seems a rather reactive strategy, if there is any strategy at all.
We need to be proactive in dealing with the media: anticipate rather than react. Have an answer to the question that is yet to be asked, because we should at this point be more than capable of predicting what the established media are going to ask. They’ve become almost as predictable as the old speaking clock.