Today, I, a Guardian journalist who is also very clever, went to the North to see why poor people – who should vote for the pissweak version of Labour that chinstroking liberals like me think is just socialist enough without being frighteningly radical – are turning to Ukip and voted Leave.
It turns out it’s Very Real Concerns. Jack, 53, who smokes and smells but whose accent I can kind of understand a bit, is walking through his horrible estate that overlooks chimneys or something, manufacturing decay, whatever. “It’s them fucking blacks and that,” he says, and I nod along. “They’ve gone and taken all the fucking jobs, and the Poles too.”
Everyone I see on Jack’s estate is white. He is white. Everyone I meet is white. But here, they have Very Real Concerns about immigration, which the stupid elitist left-wing Labour party of Jeremy Corbyn and his dickswinging antisemites, has ignored for too long.
“It were when Gordon Brown called that bigot a bigot for being bigoted,” says Jack, and again, I nod along and hmm and hah in the right places. “Fucking Labour, don’t understand anything about working people no more.”
In the social club, which is probably like something out of Phoenix Nights or something, but I’ll just add the detail later, Jack’s friend Mike takes up the thread about why these isolated communities have Very Real Concerns about immigration and feel abandoned by Labour.
“It’s them fucking blacks and that,” he says, and I nod along and sympathise. “Jeremy Corbyn needs to come up here and see the queues of Poles and Romanians down the benefits office.”
Mick, of course, is right. True, I haven’t seen any Poles or Romanians during my time in the North, but they are here, and almost definitely putting pressure on local schools and housing and something else. It’s why people like Mick and Jack will never vote Labour again.
You see, you might think these are racists, but I’ve learned something different, because I’m cleverer than you. These people are a world away from your pampered north London existence of artisan breads and some sort of generic peasant foodstuff that I’ll make out to be a marker of upper-middle-class elitism. These people are Labour’s heart, and they are dying away because we are not listening to them.
“I’ve never fucking voted Labour anyway,” says Mick, over a pint, probably some beer or something. “BNP every time for me, fucking blacks and Asians.” And I nod and tell him I’ll edit that bit out because it’s kind of ruined the thread a bit for me.
What do these brave ruddy-cheeked working men feel about Europe, I wonder? “Fucking Europe,” says Jack. “Fucking blacks and Asians coming over here,” he adds. And I nod and can only feel sympathy for these abandoned communities.
On the train home to the correct and proper place where I live, which happens to be north London, but from which I distance myself in order to pretend that north London is actually where all those elitists, of whom I am not one, live, I reflect on what I’ve learned. People in the North might seem to be racist, but that would be to misunderstand what these brave, salt-of-the-earth Labour heartland voters are saying. They are crying out for a Progressive policy against immigration. As Mick said to me, “Send them all fucking back.” And if ever there were a timely condemnation of Jeremy Corbyn’s luvvies and their purity politics, that was it.
Whether Labour ever listens is another matter.