Profundity of the Punditry: Oscillating Owen Edition

Every now and then, failed PhD student and amateur psephologist Owen Jones opens his laptop and attempts to explain to his Guardian readership what the Labour Party is doing wrong. Given that the party’s been polling in the gutter for quite a few years now, Owen has had plenty of time to figure out the problem and what should be done about it. Guido’s had a browse through the Jones archives, however, and it looks like he’s still having trouble making up his mind.

In 2019, Owen declared that for Labour to win, their manifesto had to “put rocket boosters under its efforts to convince the under-40s to trudge out of their homes in mid-December to polling stations.” According to Owen, Labour had to “turbocharge its offer to young people,” because “Britain’s fate depend[ed] on it”.

Two years and one historic election loss later, and Owen has decided that that was complete garbage. In his latest Guardian disquisition, he writes:

One of [the 2019 manifesto’s] main failings was that while it had eye-catching policies that excited many of the young, it failed to paint in primary colours its offer for older voters.” 

Go back further and a younger Owen was predicting the imminent demise of the Tories because working-class Toryism is dying and it’s taking the party with it“:

“Pollsters divide society into “middle-class” ABC1s and “working-class” C2DEs. It’s a crude and inaccurate measure, but it does give us a good indication of the state of play. According to YouGov, the Tories are on just 26% among the C2DEs: Labour, meanwhile, has almost exactly twice as much support. The Tories have almost as little backing from people in the North as they do in Scotland. Toryism faces an existential crisis, because it can no longer muster enough support from working-class people. …

The Tories are in a mess, and they will have to defy history to get out of it.”

Well the Tories defied Owen’s version of history and have, since he wrote those words, won three elections and an 80 seat majority built on the votes of those very same working class C2DEs. Pundits sympathetic to Labour now talk of an existential crisis for the now narrowly urban, middle class Labour Party. Owen’s solution, as always, is probably just ‘more socialism’.

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