After years as a social affairs journalist and campaigning for the environment, I have come to a new term for the politics of today: the politics of hopelessness. Labour, in their decision to cut the pledge for £28bn to support the green economy today, has crystallised this in my mind. 

Thesis of the Politics of Hopelessness

Jeremy Corbyn’s politics were one of hope. There would be a fully functioning NHS, and the environment and green economy would benefit. That those on less-than-living wages would be on enough to thrive. He offered this politics of hope to millions who had bore the brunt of austerity. 

In my years working with national tabloids and social sector magazines, I saw just how awful austerity was. I knew people who went to funerals every week as their fellow activists died due to welfare reform. I visited homes where the occupants told me they knew when “it is cold as there is frost on my mobile phone screen.”

Even now, I know people who work obscene hours just to maintain a modicum of comfort in their lives, with their public sector unions being beaten back in 2023’s strikes. Even while in social housing, they need to work 60+ hours a week in 5+ jobs to go on holiday a couple of times a year. 

So yes, in the two paragraphs above, you see just some of the privations people suffer at the hands of those in Westminster and those who support them. They want you to be hungry and desperate enough not to oppose them.

Now the environment? We hear almost daily that the climate is being heated beyond all reasonable hope. We think the storms, firestorms, and heatwaves are bad even now. We haven’t seen the good stuff yet – the atmosphere responds to greenhouse gases as many as 30 years after they are emitted, and we’re already set to surpass 1.5 °C.

The Green Economy

Through my current work as an industry analyst, I’m all too aware of the green economy. How competition is brewing among developed and developing economies to come up with net-zero solutions in everything from steel production to heavy transport. 

This is the most frustrating thing I see in the Labour backtracking. In backing down from the investment pledge, the party is backing away from the UK becoming a leading net-zero economy, with tens of thousands of jobs being created to help us back away from turning the planet into a Venusian nightmare. Once again, Starmer is turning to old money and rejecting calls from the left to move forward. 

Old Money: The Politics of Envy?

If Rishi Sunak had the stones to say half the things he does in the House of Commons in front of a group of the 11 million people in the UK living below the poverty line, I’d be surprised if he walked away in one piece. One week he was talking of the ‘Politics of Envy’ where he thinks those 11m hate him as he is rich. The other day, he attacked trans people in front of a mother whose trans daughter had been brutally murdered. 

The Politics of Envy he speaks of is actually the Politics of Hopelessness, the very hopelessness that Starmer is banking on to get elected. Sounds strange? Speak to any diehard Labour supporter that hasn’t been alienated by the purge of the left in the party, and they will tell you ‘Anyone’s better than the Tories’. But that’s precisely it – that exactly sums up Starmer’s politics. Vote Labour as they can’t be worse than the Tories – no one can. 

Vote Starmer and get:

More austerity

Growing food bank use

An NHS just as bad if not worse than it is today

Public sector pay as bad or worse

No reversion of anti union laws

No reversion of anti protest laws

Welfare just as bad

More warmongering with Russia

The same glib support of Palestinian genocide

Protest? Forget it!

I can’t honestly see a chance that the laws on protest will be liberalised anytime soon. Where Corbyn was basically a Leninist within his party – a true democrat who ruled by consensus, Starmer is closer to a Stalinist. He doesn’t like democracy within his party at all. 

Given the party’s behaviour towards the left within it, I can’t believe for one moment that we’re going to see a reversal of anti-union laws or anti-protest laws. Dissent is not something that our Knight of the Realm can tolerate. 

I’ll be OK. I Could Just Let You Lot Rot

I know I’m not part of the clique that runs Dorset’s protest movements any more. I’m not a Bolshevik let alone on the old Politburo that quietly runs things behind the scenes. I’m blocked by dozens on the left and have killed off my Dorset Che profile. It doesn’t mean I don’t care though. 

Here I sit in my armchair where I work part time for a full time income in my home I own outright on inherited money. I could sit quietly and say truthfully I’m making a real effort for the green economy in my professional role. That you the unwashed left can go rot. 

Once you’ve been bitten by others’ injustice, if your conscience is tweaked then it doesn’t leave you. I’ve had to struggle in my time at some personal cost. Had to stare down impossible odds to win fights I should have just given up on. 

So yes, here I write. I write because I care. I care about the politics of hopelessness and wish others to come up with solutions. I can’t see those solutions coming from the ballot box….

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Richard is a West Dorset based commercial content marketer, community activist and all round change seeker.