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What can we learn from Southend West? It's time we stopped laughing at the disaffected Right

A foregone conclusion. Credit: Getty


February 3, 2022   8 mins

Daddy Dragon’s Rally is in Warrior Square, Southend, opposite a blank-eyed Travelodge. It is a gathering of the English Constitution Party, which seeks secession from Britain, its oppressor, in support of its leader Daddy Dragon (or Graham Moore) in the Southend West by-election. This is a meeting of the alienated English, and it is desperate, tragic and gay. Before it starts, they blow a horn in the Viking style. They want to travel backwards through space, possibly to King Alfred’s time. They love flags. There is a St George’s flag, a royal arms of England flag with its golden lions, and even a red rose of Lancaster. You don’t see that very often these days.

This is where David Amess, the Tory MP, was killed last year at a constituency surgery. Due to this, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are not standing in the by-election today where they might, in other circumstances, have tried to dent the immense Tory majority. (Amess took 60% of the vote in 2019, in a Leave-supporting seat.) It wouldn’t happen though, and perhaps the opposition parties know that, and their politesse is also cynicism. If there is a Boris Johnson land it is here. This is Essex, the land of spurious self-confidence. Why else build a mile long pier into the mud of the Thames estuary, where no one wants to go? Because you can. The men of Essex have not lost their affection for Johnson because they are like him. When Johnson said “voting Tory would cause your wife to have bigger breasts and increase your chances of owning a BMW M3” — and it is, in retrospect, a very truthful manifesto, in that it is dreams — he was talking to Essex Man and the things he wanted and understood. And, so, when I ask people in Southend about Johnson and the parties, they either admire him or forgive him.

“I broke the [pandemic] rules,” says one man. “I saw my Mum. I wasn’t going to not see my Mum. The thing before the funeral [of Prince Philip]. That was a bit a naughty. God bless her.” But “Naughty” is an indulgence. It is not a critique. “I didn’t get caught but he did,” he says, “I don’t give a monkey’s.”

“There’s nothing wrong with Boris,” says another man, angry even at the insinuation that there might be. The only critical man is a fishmonger, and he only says, “Better the devil you know.” Fish are swimming in the estuary, he says, and customers are plentiful. Things are looking up.

I am looking for the parties to the right of the Conservatives. With Labour and the Liberal Democrats — and also the Greens and Reform — absent from Southend, they have the field to themselves. (The Conservative candidate, the barrister Anna Firth is, as is usual when defending a constituency in a by-election, so elusive as to effectively be a myth. I only email her campaign to exercise my finger joints.) You can learn a lot about what people think when you talk to what is called the far Right, because almost no one begins their political journey there. Something took them there. And sometimes, if you are unlucky, you can predict the future.

But not always. I meet Jason Pilley, the Psychedelic Movement candidate and party leader in the Utopia Coffee Shop off Southend’s main drag. He is wearing a pin-striped jacket. He was once a Green — “they hate each other,” he says, because he has no filter to speak of — and his candidacy is a piece of performance art, or scream. He speaks fast, like a man who is never listened to enough, and calls Southend, “heaven and hell. You can’t win in this town [as an MP] unless you are a Tory.” He says, “I’ve never gone into an election thinking I can win. There’s a couple I’ve thought: ‘I won’t come last’. I write novels and poetry and I kind of see politics as part of that.” He hands me his manifesto. He is for allotments and renewable energy and martial arts training for children and cannabis and LSD clubs “around Southend”. He would burn incense in all public buildings and would replace the Queen with the Christian stabbed at Speakers’ Corner last summer: Hatun Tash. He wants to make Tommy Robinson a peer. It ends: “RIP David Amess”.

As I read, he shouts at me because I criticised Tommy Robinson, and I have not read the Koran. Pilley is in politics for personal self-renewal, like the Corbynistas, and I leave wondering whether it is even responsible to interview him. He is very interesting, but he speaks for no one but himself. His policies are a collection of personal dreams, and prejudices, and I think he knows it.

I also speak to the English Democrat candidate Catherine Blaiklock by telephone because she is not in the constituency to campaign. I think she is too frightened. She lives in Norfolk, where she runs a B&B. Blaiklock left Ukip due to its links with Tommy Robinson under its former leader Gerald Batten. She co-founded the Brexit Party with Nigel Farage but left when Hope Not Hate publicised her anti-Muslim tweets. She has landed with the English Democrats. She sounds strained but pleased to be speaking to a journalist.

“Standing on an anti-immigration, anti-terrorism, anti-crime, Right-wing platform is a very unpleasant and nasty experience in Britain,” she says. “Anyone who has spoken out about illegal immigration has had to have protection and anyone who has spoken out illegal immigration and mass immigration has had their characters thrown through the mud”. She doxed herself, she says, by putting her address on public record and TripAdvisor customers posted fake reviews of her B&B. “Some of them were funny.” But it was hard to get them taken down, she says, which, when you consider the misery some migrants suffer, sounds slightly self-obsessed. Even so, “This should be a referendum about mass migration per se. Nobody has ever never had a vote on it. People are frightened and people are frightened to talk about it”. In her guesthouse, Blaiklock sounds as isolated as a woman can be.

I go to the Daddy Dragon rally, which is filled with people on mobility scooters wearing the bright yellow sweatshirts of the English Constitution Party and listening to a history of England, courtesy of Daddy at the microphone and the enormous copies of Magna Carta which travel with him. Some people are here merely because their friends are here. They sit calmly at the café drinking beer. There is even a 75th birthday party for an ex-soldier called Nobby bolted on to the rally. The groups combine, fall apart, combine again. Nobby shows me photographs of his father, who was also a soldier, and I see a vaccine appointment card gleaming in his wallet. Splitter.

But there are true believers too. “Even though you are English, living in England, you are not actually English living in England,” a man tells me. They are all hungry to be listened to, and courteous, because they are used to be being despised. “You are just a British citizen living in Britain which actually makes no sense because there are four countries in the United Kingdom,” he says. His eyes widen, as if in pain. “I’m not Scottish and I’m not from Wales and I’m not from Northern Ireland. Everyone else has their culture pushed to the front and we’re not even allowed to talk about it in case you offend someone who’s just come over.”

I also meet a man with two greyhounds who runs a group called Mad Mick’s Conspiracies — alongside his own splinter group Mad Mick’s Resistance — who calls Covid, “the PLANdemic. None of it is real.” Why does he feel failed by conventional politics?” It’s in the words,” he says, as if giving me the key to a great secret, “they tell you themselves. The Left-wing and the Right-wing are two wings of the same bird. So, it doesn’t matter which one you vote for. You’re still getting the same bird in power. I don’t vote. I will never vote again.”

“We’re the last indigenous group that doesn’t have a parliament,” says the next from his mobility scooter. “We just need to get England recognised as a country, to get us sorted out so we can get some stalwarts of the community in parliament: every day working people like Graham, myself, yourself, anybody.” What he says is not extraordinary. This is the common disconnect between those who have power, and those who feel they have none. But that he weeps continually as he says it is extraordinary. “The politicians are there for themselves,” he says through his tears. “You pull my strings. I’ll pull your strings. You just can’t warrant it. We need to get in, take our parliament back, get our people right and look after ourselves. And get rid of the mainstream politicians, the judges and get them starting thinking English again. Because there’s a lot of people who believe in England.” I don’t know if he is aware that he is calling for an end to parliamentary democracy, and it will not be as sunny as he thinks. If he is, he does it weeping.

At the end of the rally, Kay Shemirani, a former nurse, now struck off, speaks her combination of conspiracy theory and health advice. “They think you’re stupid,” she says. “We are the slaves, the slaves in debt. A whistle-blower right from the very top [of the NHS] told me, ‘They are doing black magic, they refer to us as toilet rolls’”. I have been here an hour, and it doesn’t even sound strange anymore. This is a parallel universe, though it shares some elements with mine. I believe in their powerlessness, and their grief. I just don’t think it was immigration that brought them here.

I also meet the remnants of Ukip, sullen and dispirited. They have erected a gazebo in a park and have placed Ukip mugs and Ukip badges on a table. Vote Leave says one badge. Take Back Control says another. This is a campaign from 2015, when they came third in the general election by percentage points with 12.6%, and they know it. Some of them are self-aware and ask me, privately, how the respectable element of Ukip can divorce itself from the racism I hear that day.

The Ukip candidate, Steve Laws, is slender and pitted. He was politicised by illegal immigration. He likes to stand at the edge of Channel in Folkestone, where he lives, making notes of the number of migrant boats in the English Channel: “8,500 in the year 2020; in the year 2021 it was 28,500. This year I am predicting at least 50-60,000 will arrive, all at the taxpayers’ expense and all placed into hotels and then into social housing”.

Laws is a painter and decorator. “I believe immigration should be controlled because otherwise it affects the working class and ultimately housing becomes an issue,” he says, “jobs become an issue, wages remain low.”

I have followed Ukip for years and I have never seen them so bereft. It is, among other things, an education in getting your heart’s desire. When I find Laws at the end of the day, and ask him how it went, he says, “Nobody had much to say, not the people we met today anyway. A lot of people I don’t think are going to vote. But we don’t know until the ballot day.” Even so, “I haven’t been shouted at or abused which I kind of expected if I’m honest, being Ukip.”

Laws is an aggrieved man spending his life staring at the Channel when the true cause of his misery is behind him. I think that about all of them except Pilley, who speaks only for himself. The issues Laws grapples with — failing public services, housing, wages, the gap between rich and poor, the sheer disconnect — are not invented or untrue. They are real and they will get worse. Laws is right about everything, it seems to me, except the solution. That is, he sees the crime scene clearly, but he has no idea who the murderer is.

It is easy to laugh at Laws and Daddy Dragon and Mad Mick. I have laughed. I went to Ukip conference in 2004 and laughed. All the correspondents did. We laughed at their clothing and their speech and their manners. We laughed at their earnestness. We laughed at their class. We laughed at how they didn’t know how to conceal themselves for us, and how they always got everything wrong. We printed the laughter in newspapers, and we congratulated ourselves on the quality of our satire, and assumed they existed for nothing other than our satire. You know, of course, what happened next.


Tanya Gold is a freelance journalist.

TanyaGold1

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Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
2 years ago

Tanya wake up – most people in England feel this way. It’s not ‘far right’ to want to preserve your society and its traditions and values.

Scott S
Scott S
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Yep, another sneering piece from Gold. No surprise. She will never get it. She seems to be very adept at the ‘back handed compliment’.I normally avoid her articles, after reading a couple of her pieces in the Spectator. She seems very much in the ‘London bubble’.

Last edited 2 years ago by Scott S
Hersch Schneider
Hersch Schneider
2 years ago
Reply to  Scott S

I can’t wait to not read her next article

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Especially those of us whose roots go back many generations and who have nowhere else to go

Paul Scannell
Paul Scannell
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

I often misperceive things. But I see this piece as a well-written mea culpa. If anything she’s admitting the elite London click consistently unfairly judges anyone outside their bubble – increasingly to their own detriment.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Scannell

I read it more as “the people have spoke – the bastards“.

Last edited 2 years ago by Jon Redman
Aidan Trimble
Aidan Trimble
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Scannell

I doubt the author is capable of that.

Rick Lawrence
Rick Lawrence
2 years ago
Reply to  Aidan Trimble

Well I think you and John Redman want to believe your points regardless of the facts. I think Paul Scannel got it right.

mel.swan2
mel.swan2
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Agree totally; and I’m Scottish (and British!). Don’t know why I had to add that last bit; but needs must, maybe a sign of the times.

Jem Barnett
Jem Barnett
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Totally. This article ends with a slightly high-handed and condescending statement of charity — these people are basically laughable, but we probably shouldn’t laugh at them… this is the sentiment.
I noticed this bit about Katherine Blakelock’s business being targeted with fake negative reviews online:

But it was hard to get them taken down, she says, which, when you consider the misery some migrants suffer, sounds slightly self-obsessed.

Only a person financially insulated from the strains of running a hard graft business like the people she’s discussing would throw away those concerns so casually, or compare them to the misery of some abstract figure on the other side of the world. How is it Katherine’s fault that some people are poor and live in warzones? — should she shut up and accept a life of disaffected misery (or in this case persecution on political grounds) just because someone, somewhere is also poor? …the writer makes it seem so.
This attitude really explains a good chunk of the mess we are in, socially and culturally. This is not a good piece. It’s not insightful, as I don’t think she really wanted to know and connect with these folks. It’s just gentle condescension, and I don’t think the forgotten citizens need any more of that.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

I enjoyed parts of this article – I loved the depictions of the various people encountered. I particularly like humour in writing and in everyday life.
Where I found the disconnect is the author’s attitude to these people, because despite the final paragraph, she is still laughing – not in enjoyment and observation of diverse eccentric, rich characters who love their country, but in condescension. I’m happy for her to correct me if I got it wrong.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago

Genuine compassion rather than condescension, I thought.

Hersch Schneider
Hersch Schneider
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

You have a seriously warped idea of compassion my friend

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

I agree that there was some tenderness in her descriptions.

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

More like a little girl’s fascination at examining the tiny creatures you find under a large stone in the garden.

I don’t think she means those creatures any harm, but now she’s just going to put the stone back in place and return to admiring the pretty flowers.

hugh bennett
hugh bennett
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

Compassion – Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.
Nope- that doesnt define this bit of writing
Condescension attitude of patronizing superiority; disdain.
Closer
Taking the p-ss- to make a joke about someone or make someone look silly.>
Almost fits the bill.
Taking the p-ss condescendingly - To be essentially f--king with someone by implying that they are stupid.
Yes, that
s it … I think “Taking the p-ss condescendingly” describes this little piece the best

Last edited 2 years ago by hugh bennett
Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

This is a rewrite of my original reply which went to moderation, no idea why.
I agree with you, but the condescension only really appears in the last paragraph. I thought there was kindness in the descriptions of the people involved.
In the last paragraph it is finally made clear that the article is written for a Remainer audience only. Disappointing.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

I didn’t actually get that from her last paragraph. I’ve read it again and still don’t find it condescending, if anything she is being critical of those (like herself) who laugh at people who act/speak/dress/think differently. The fact that neither she nor the other journos present saw what was coming is a result of this not taking others seriously, and not engaging honestly with them.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

Re-read it and I think you might be right, thank goodness for that. If so my apologies to Tanya.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

I’ve had to come back to this because I’m just not sure what to think quite honestly.
I admit I might be mistaken but there’s something equivocating about this article. It makes me wonder if Tanya herself is not absolutely certain what to think. Old habits die hard.
This is in answer to Lesley’s reply below as well.

Last edited 2 years ago by Claire D
Harry Child
Harry Child
2 years ago

I got to the sentence ‘Essex, the land of spurious self-confidence’ and this hinted at the attitude of the writer’s scorn and false intellectual superiority that became evident in the rest of the article.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

It was also evident in the piece – pulling out all the trigger phrases and words like ‘plandemic’, without even a nod to the fact that words like this carry more weight after two years of conspiracy theorists being proven right.

Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
2 years ago

You’re right. It’s typical of wealthy, leftish and above all Remoaner journalists.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

We don’t even get condescension in the U.S., just cancelled.
If you love your country, work hard for 40 years, raise a family, pay your taxes, go to church and don’t agree that a man can declare himself a woman, or that overt racism is not a cure for racism, then you are destined for the dust bin.

Nick Wright
Nick Wright
2 years ago

I’ve always believed that I inherited a key British trait, which is to recognise the early signs of totalitarianism and react against them.

I also believe that I share this trait with many Britons (actual Britons; not British citizens labelled as such by the lazy media). As a result, since Blair came to power, I’ve been one of many voices expressing our fears about the direction the UK has been going in. We had a chance to rebel against the EU, but aside from UnHerd and a handful of other media outlets (The Times surprisingly increasingly becoming one), we don’t get to push against the march of soft totalitarianism, which pervades our ability to speak and often act freely.

For people like me, our greatest fear is that having seen this horror slowly unfurl in front of us, is it now too late to turn the tide? We thought that Boris might be the person who spoke for traditional British values, but he’s only served himself and traditional Conservative Party stakeholders. The people of Southend are not going away and will only get more despondent and even angry, so where does this all end? Brexit was a massive FU to the media and we’re ready to raise a finger yet again.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Wright

Always considered myself a liberal leftie. No longer. I bristle at the condescending shyte coming from the modern left. We are a people, with a history and a culture. Those who don’t defend it end up going the way of the dodo. kumbaya just doesn’t cut it. And I wouldn’t swap our history and traditions with China’s or Islam’s or Russian would you??

Terry Davies
Terry Davies
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

Very well said, Cheryl!

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

You’ve said all I’d want to – thank you and hear hear.

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

…but we are being served up a cold soup of that Christian-centric history and a bland desert of that culture; re-written as we speak. It starts small, perhaps with a revision of the dating convention, incrementally excoriating those more indigestible parts others care not to engage with. Just look at the school books.
How does the average dodo defend that?

Brian Burnell
Brian Burnell
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

!7 million upticks Cheryl.

David Owsley
David Owsley
2 years ago
Reply to  Nick Wright

“…the early signs of totalitarianism and react against them.”

Indeed, I have been on about this for a while and people look at me as though I am mad…however your words are EXACTLY what is and has been happening. Sinister times.

Paul K
Paul K
2 years ago

‘I don’t know if he is aware that he is calling for an end to parliamentary democracy, and it will not be as sunny as he thinks. If he is, he does it weeping.’
It looks to me like he is calling for an English parliament, which is not ‘an end to parliamentary democracy’ but more of it. It seemed to be fine when the Scots did it. And he is right – England is the only European nation without its own parliament, and its working people are treated like dirt when they are even noticed.
I enjoyed some of this, but there’s a curious wrenching tone to it. On the one hand, it seeks to hand out a lesson about how ‘we’ should listen to and not sneer at English working people. On the other hand, there is still a lot of sneering.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paul K
Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul K

I too sensed the ‘curious wrenching tone’.

‘I used to laugh at them. It was wrong of me to laugh at them. But, I mean, ya gotta laugh at them, haven’t you!’

Hersch Schneider
Hersch Schneider
2 years ago

Have I missed the point of this article? ‘It’s time we stopped laughing at the disaffected Right’ -then follows 19 sneering paragraphs depicting the clichĂ©d type of Englishman she clearly hates and looks down on.
Is Unherd’s idea of ‘balance’ these days chucking in a few articles that belong in the Guardian? Or is it just purely clickbait for us below the line?

Lord Rochester
Lord Rochester
2 years ago

The Guardian would never admit it shouldn’t have sneered, though.

hayden eastwood
hayden eastwood
2 years ago

Thankfully Tanya, you’ve all learned from that period of history. So, moving forward, you’re all going to demonstrate the lesson by screaming “raaaaaaacist” that much louder, because, obviously, if they’d just heard you last time, they’d all have gone, “blimey, didn’t realise I was such a despicable immoral thicko, defs going to vote for Jezza this time round…!”

Last edited 2 years ago by hayden eastwood
Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago

Gold is very anti-Corbyn


Jon Redman
Jon Redman
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

Presumably because she’s Jewish and he’s an anti-Semite – either that or through frustration because she agrees with him but the fool keeps letting the cat out of the bag and thus can’t get elected.

Jonathan Weil
Jonathan Weil
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

Certainly a bit of the former
 but the line in this article about Corbynistas entering politics for personal self-renewal shows me she’s got the broader vapidity and vanity of the man and his followers down to a T.

Ethniciodo Rodenydo
Ethniciodo Rodenydo
2 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Weil

Why might that be?

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago

This person writes like an effete snob looking down at the hoi polloi like a scientist looks at a petri dish, from.a position of maternal condescension at best and patronising superiority at worst. What is it about the left that they think ‘the right’ must represent everything ‘bad’ and that being working class with a bit of national pride is akin to Nazism, with gas chambers soon following, whereas of course slavish devotion to rabid identity politics and ‘minorities’, no matter their cultural allegiances or practices, is like wearing a halo leading to utopia?

Marcus R
Marcus R
2 years ago

The banking crisis caused by corrupt bankers. Politicians and their expenses scandal. The media bugging peoples phones. A police force that is no longer capable of preventing crime and in most cases not interested investigating crime. A criminal justice system that is failing ordinary people. Petty minded Councils run by a clique of “can’t quite make it as an MP’ bureaucrats powerless to affect change in the even smaller minded technocrats that manage the councils like their own little fiefdoms.  The systematic destruction of affordable social housing and well-paying jobs. All of these institutions are controlled and run by the middle and upper class elites. Yet you reserve your greatest scorn, your greatest condescension, your vailed hatred for the working classes whose only crime is to be vocal in their desire to preserve their identity and way of life. I suppose we should be grateful there was a small amount of contrition in this article.

Katy Hibbert
Katy Hibbert
2 years ago

Some of them were funny.” But it was hard to get them taken down, she says, which, when you consider the misery some migrants suffer, sounds slightly self-obsessed. 

Hardly. People shouldn’t be prevented from earning a living because they have perfectly sensible views about not wanting to be swamped with hordes of illegal Muslim immigrants, to pay for them with our taxes and to live in fear of terrorism and with knowledge of “grooming” that largely goes unpunished.
Tanya Gold demonstrates, once again, that there is no snob like a left wing snob, especially a Remoaner, which she is, naturally.

Last edited 2 years ago by Katy Hibbert
D Glover
D Glover
2 years ago

Tanya Gold never considers why there has to be a bye-election. She states that David Amess was murdered, but doesn’t consider the murderer, his faith, or any implications that that might have.
I finished this piece thinking that Steve Laws, on the beach, counting the migrant boats, might be seeing more clearly than Ms Gold.

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

Well said. Steve Laws and his ilk are doing what the paid authorities should be doing.

R Wright
R Wright
2 years ago

At least someone out there is recognising the English democratic deficit. As someone who hopes for either a British confederation or total independence for England the words of the weeping gentleman moved me. English identity has been suppressed for centuries.

Cheryl Jones
Cheryl Jones
2 years ago
Reply to  R Wright

English identity was expanded to be British identity. Now I have no problem with that, except it didn’t really extend to Scotland Wales or NI who maintained their individual identities and this was celebrated not denigrated because of misplaced guilt over Empire or something (forgetting the enthusiastic participation in Empire by all of them). If I had my way we either all separate back to our constituent parts and maybe have a British Isles free trade zone (which doesn’t include EU members), or we forget being English Scottish etc and just become a new country called Great Britain and we’re all British. Have done with it.

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
2 years ago
Reply to  Cheryl Jones

I always remember Hugo Rifkind remarking casually that Scottish nationalism was splendid and romantic, but English nationalism was disgusting, vile, racist.

Penny Rose
Penny Rose
2 years ago

Don’t include me in your ‘we’ Tanya. Not all of us automatically despise our fellow citizens when they differ from us.

Last edited 2 years ago by Penny Rose
Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 years ago
Reply to  Penny Rose

O, beautifully said, Penny – apply for PM, please?

Diana Durham
Diana Durham
2 years ago

Southend pier is long because it was originally built to allow passenger steamers to dock there. That was far enough out to ensure deep water when the tide is low.

John Smethurst
John Smethurst
2 years ago
Reply to  Diana Durham

Absolutely correct. There are also swinging moorings next to it, where I have anchored waiting for the tide to turn so we could make it up into the Pool of London.

D Hockley
D Hockley
2 years ago

‘’That is, he sees the crime scene clearly, but he has no idea who the murderer is.’’
 
I think he has it very clear who the (murder) murderers are. He feels the murders are the lily-livered and spineless liberal elites, who, with faux morality dripping from them like cheap chocolate syrup, keep forcing policies down the throats of native Britons that are ruinous and unsustainable and which undermine the British way of life.

Last edited 2 years ago by D Hockley
AC Harper
AC Harper
2 years ago

To many Leavers Boris is a hero for achieving the Brexit quest, and heroes are allowed their failings. It humanises them.
To many Remainers Johnson is a villain for ruining their lives, and villains are intensely scrutinised for failings, even trivial ones, to confirm their evil.
So in a constituency which strongly favoured ‘Leave’ why wouldn’t the Conservatives do best?

John Lee
John Lee
2 years ago
Reply to  AC Harper

I am a Leaver for whom Boris has become a villain.

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 years ago
Reply to  John Lee

Yes, his failings have made this country an international laughing stock. Average Joe’s haven’t. I don’t see the comparison.

David Owsley
David Owsley
2 years ago

What a shame, I am currently aboard and saw the title thinking (hoping) that one of the very slightly centre right parties had pipped a win in a by election I had somehow forgotten.
The ‘disaffected’ Right is where most of the people I know are…and I do not live in a bubble.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  David Owsley

There are also some of us here on the “disaffected” Left.

Mike Michaels
Mike Michaels
2 years ago

You may view yourself as the disaffected left but to your former comrades you are now “Tory Scum”.

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Mike Michaels

You’re probably right there, but you might be suprised at how many there are of us just longing for a decent left-wing political party which doesn’t look-down on those who don’t agree with them, don’t hate our country, and who realise how much damage to our society is being wrought by those on the “progressive” left.

Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
2 years ago

…….and that makes a decent job of opposition.

Frederick B
Frederick B
2 years ago

Try the SDP

Linda Hutchinson
Linda Hutchinson
2 years ago
Reply to  Frederick B

I have looked at their website, but I’m still not convinced, and to be honest I don’t think that they have a cat in h*ll’s change of forming a government. I don’t want to vote for a “protest” party, I want a party with a chance of being in power and getting things done. By the way I was a member of the SDP when it was first formed, I was young and ever hopeful.

Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 years ago

The warmest of welcomes to you…

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
2 years ago

We laughed at how they didn’t know how to conceal themselves for us, …

In that phrase, what a revealing thing the author has told us … about herself, about her own mental processes, and the way she believes people should present themselves to others.

Now, did she intend it to be revealing about herself? If so, praise is due for the self-insight and the admission.

Or was that accidental? If so, praise not due. No, not at all.

Dustin Needle
Dustin Needle
2 years ago

Tanya – perhaps if you thought for a moment about the reason there was a by-election at all, then you might have a better understanding of why Steve Laws is so focused on channel crossings. The murderer’s parents found shelter here from Somalia. David Amess was a Friend of Israel and a supporter of Iranian dissidents. His selection for slaughter may not have been a random act.
There are amusing eccentricities in any English town or city, but there’s plenty for the outsider with an open mind and ears to understand as well.
Steve Laws is also a source of information on the number of crossings daily, statistics we rarely get off the regular news. That same media will at the same time highlight any data it can on Covid to alarm a public whose tendency overall is still to believe the news. See Sky’s laughably hysterical and misleading headline on the increase in Covid deaths the other day. This was rightly called out by others for the scare-mongering it was, but by then the lie had already got it’s boots on and was on it’s journey.
People are worrying themselves sick over uncontexted, misleadingly presented data – maybe not “sneers” a Plandemic – but in my view an Extremely Bad Thing. As a journalist yourself, you might even have some sympathy to that view.

Last edited 2 years ago by Dustin Needle
Douglas H
Douglas H
2 years ago
Reply to  Dustin Needle

Try getting journalists to understand statistics! Easier for them to find the sensationalist angle and get their story noticed, liked, tweeted etc

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
2 years ago

Tanya, how do I fit into your picture? I use words like Plandemic, Global Elites, Neo-Feudalism, Neo-Marxists, Post Modernists, Post Structuralists, tell my (true) outrageous stories of my years of Drifting, of drugs, Quote the Bible, and sometimes quote non-woke Poets, Of Banking, the IMF, The WHO, and how the World Economic Forum (Davos – same place as the book, (Thomas Mann), ‘The Magic Mountain’ – which featured here as a book review is set) is out to make the world under one Government of the Elites in ‘The Great Reset’ and we will own nothing – and how all of you out there reading this are sheep……

But it all sounds so reasonable as I write it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Galeti Tavas
Marcia McGrail
Marcia McGrail
2 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Please finish the WEF sentence ‘you will own nothing….’

Tamara Perez
Tamara Perez
2 years ago

You’ve learned nothing. You’re still laughing and – what’s that expression?- you’re still punching down.

Ian Wray
Ian Wray
2 years ago

A poor article, which contrasts very much with an interesting one by Paul Embery:
https://unherd.com/2019/12/the-town-that-should-shame-our-politicians-2/
I think Tanya Gold needs to ponder his book ‘Despised’. I also think that she should seriously think about the issue of psychological projection when she writes about other people whose opinions differ from hers. especially when she writes comments such as: “His policies are a collection of personal dreams, and prejudices”.

Drahcir Nevarc
Drahcir Nevarc
2 years ago

What if “these people” are right, Tanya?

Stephen Easton
Stephen Easton
2 years ago

I am from Southend with a working class upbringing but left and have lived in various countries and other parts of England since.

Similar to other commenters I liked parts of this article but in many areas it seems deeply unsympathetic to the people. It seems to sneer at them.

This is a deeply unfortunate aspect of our culture that is increasingly composed of a self anointed metropolitan elite seeking to control the lives and police the thoughts of others.

Bob Pugh
Bob Pugh
2 years ago

Why else build a mile long pier into the mud of the Thames estuary, where no one wants to go? ” Shocking misunderstanding of history. When the pier was built in 1829 there were no railways and the fastest way to get from London to Essex or Kent was by steamer. Services were well used and popular untill the railways came along.

Hugh Eveleigh
Hugh Eveleigh
2 years ago

Well I suppose I have to put myself in the array of those mentioned in the article although not in every respect. I do feel we are not being served particularly well with our current government – broken assurances, net zero, levelling up, porous borders, Northern Ireland, inertia in respect to moving the country forward and away from EU interference etc. But I am not from Essex live nowhere near the coast and will definitely vote.

Angelique Todesco-Bond
Angelique Todesco-Bond
2 years ago

This feels a bit mean-spirited, although the author seems to be saying ‘we the M25-bubble misjudged’, I came away feeling as if somehow she was still sneering in a slightly condescending way.

Zorro Tomorrow
Zorro Tomorrow
2 years ago

Many years ago, in debate with a lefty friend on the subject of ‘England. I used to remark that Brittannia ruled the waves once but now, when anything goes wrong the Welsh turn their backs and said they were busy mining coal for the Imperial Fleet. The Scots were wiping their hands on a piece of cotton waste in the engine room of a tramp steamer off Argentina. The Irish? Potatoes, Cromwell and William of Orange who ‘forget’ it was the Tories of the time who set up soup kitchens while their own ripped them off for a loaf of bread. They can’t have a bad memory, just a selective one.
Now, the disaffected are disorganised. There’s never been a better time for a fourth party and where are they? Too poor, lazy or ill to emigrate with nowhere really any different to go.

Peter 1961
Peter 1961
2 years ago

Lurid travel writing about your town must always be intriguing – it doesn’t happen much to Southend – and presumably people often say: this is as reflective of reality as Rick Stein’s Cornwall is of the economic circumstances and political opinions of St Austell. Which is to say, not very much, and nor is it intended to be. Although even Rick got to a china clay pit and talked to a couple of Methodists about urban regeneration.
But in UnHerd there must be some correspondence with reality otherwise why would the writer go there at all?
In this case, it looks like she didn’t: she went to the tacky bit of Rochford and Southend East, and therefore she can’t tell whether and how what she saw answers her own implied question about Southend West. To be fair, she did talk to a fishmonger and the only ones I can think of in the area are in Leigh and therefore in Southend West. But did she really get back on the train at Southend to go three stops and walk up the hill to the Broadway to talk to the fishmonger? When she had dinner at the Delaunay to get back for? No, I bet that like any Martian she actually talked to the fish and chip man in Southend High Street under the impression he’s a fishmonger in the right constituency.
It’s not as if it would have been difficult to talk to people actually in Southend West about politics and try to answer the question in the article’s title. She could have talked to a real-life fishmonger and then walked along Leigh Broadway and talked to any passing OAP or mum or truant child or painter and decorator. She could have walked along the queue for tickets on Thursday morning at the station – fewer season tickets now in the age of hybrid working – and talked to the commuters going to work in the world’s second largest financial centre. She could have gone to the golf range or stood outside Waitrose. She could have walked into any number of hairdressers or charity shops or pubs.  She could have sat in one of the cafes under the arches on the seafront. She could even have talked to a fish and chip man. This is Essex: they would mostly have been friendly, amusing, open, quotable, and well right of centre.
She could have talked about the Conservative party’s choice of candidate, the decision by the other main parties not to contest and whether David Amess would have disapproved or been secretly chuffed and why, Partygate and Boris (she did get in a couple of questions about that but they didn’t say quite the right thing did they), the future of hybrid working, Ukraine, electric and gas prices and net zero, Rishi Sunak and tax, knife crime, house prices, the state of the NHS, Islam, the future of tertiary education, social care, the new timetables on the C2C, anything. Fresh fish supply post-Brexit. Michael Gove.
But she didn’t. She talked about national identity and immigration with a clump of hopeless and disgruntled extremists who later netted the square root of minus stuff-all in a poor turnout and got them to sound like the people Benedict Cumberbatch goes to see in a mobile home when he’s trying to look clever and populist. She moved the debate on from Goodhart by a whole zero inches. 
I don’t know to what extent snooty and lazy journalism contributed to the strengthening of the right in Anglosphere politics over the last decade and a half. My bet is it’s much less than they think and it was much more about the failure of multiple progressive policy areas since the end of the Cold War. If not the First.  But it’s not for the want of trying is it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter 1961
Terry Needham
Terry Needham
2 years ago

Tanya Gold, Dripping with condescension as always.

Brian Delamere
Brian Delamere
2 years ago

The second Unherd article in as many days, and I’ve never got past the first sneering paragraph on either occasion

D Hockley
D Hockley
2 years ago

Hold a minute. When I first read this article, I laughed out loud many times. I thought it was written in an auto-satirical way….that is to say, that the article was taking the P out of itself. I did not read it as a person looking down their nose at the ”silly fools” on the right wing, but as a broader commentary on the society on which we live, full of despair, misunderstanding and frustration on all sides—-The final paragraph, seen through my original lens, is particularly funny…

The only sentence in the entire article which (on my original reading) jarred and grabbed my attention was. ”That is, he sees the crime scene clearly, but he has no idea who the murderer is.”, which I have already addressed in an earlier comment.

Now, having read all the other comments, I am thinking that maybe my initial take was wrong and that the author really is what she seems to be— rather than someone extracting the Michael.

Oh dear!

UPDATE: I have read the article 3 more times and she is clearly mocking the situation….she is having a laugh. This is pure satire and I find it very funny.
Proof: Why else build a mile long pier into the mud of the Thames estuary, where no one wants to go?
No one other than a moronic ignoramus could have written that sentence outside of the bounds of satire.

She is taking the P….Honest!

Last edited 2 years ago by D Hockley
Adrian Maxwell
Adrian Maxwell
2 years ago
Reply to  D Hockley

DH your analysis cannot be right. The author had made the comment that Essex was a land of spurious self confidence. That is insulting. She followed that with what she thought was proof – a dismissive and incorrect assertion that no one wants to go (a mile) into the muddy Thames Estuary. In summer alone hundreds of thousands of strollers walk that route into the Estuary along one of Brunlees finest creations. The author doesnt know about what she is talking.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
2 years ago

Sneering piece. One very real problem for these voters IS much too high levels of immigration in itself; that is not a proxy for anything else, though they may well have other economic concerns. It is indeed the case that the British people have never been asked whether they wanted whole areas subject to enormous demographic change, often to people with completely different cultures. It would be a perfectly practical proposition which is in fact the policy the majority of non Western countries follow, Japan as an obvious successful example.

It’s a shame that Tanya Gold does not examine her own Left wing assumptions.

Alison Tyler
Alison Tyler
2 years ago

As an English Celtic hybrid born in Shropshire, with grandparents from North Wales Glasgow and Cork who all met in Liverpool, I am in favour of a more federal UK with a collaborative elected central governing group dealing with non devolved issues.

Last edited 2 years ago by Alison Tyler
Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
2 years ago

Excellent piece: England is so much more ” tribal” than politicians, petrified of the racism gestapo, will admit, or in the case of the Conservatives, actually know ( outside of the ToyliTory Kent ruling HKLP ( ” Hold knife like pen’) tribe…

SIMON WOLF
SIMON WOLF
2 years ago

When she writes ‘all the correspondents laughed at UKIP members at the 2004 conference’ -substitute UKIP for the disgruntled alt right and has anything changed in 17 years? At least Tanya is being honest and that is worth respecting

JR Hartley
JR Hartley
2 years ago

And how is reducing the rate of population increase not the solution to low wages, housing shortage and infrastructure collapse?

C M
C M
2 years ago

.

Last edited 2 years ago by C M
Jonathan Sidaway
Jonathan Sidaway
2 years ago

I voted for Brexit for purely democratic reasons and am not surprised that not much has happened since; our votes can now affect The Powers that B – and that’s good enough for me. The ‘identity’ politics of the folks described here are embarrassingly like those of trans activists, unstable and tendentious. The best and worst things about the English are what they have done and what they (will) do.

Douglas H
Douglas H
2 years ago

Nice article, thanks Tanya. It reminded me of the journalism from New Society way back. When I read it I saw empathy and compassion, not condescension

Peter Hamilton
Peter Hamilton
2 years ago

ï»ż

Peter Hamilton
Peter Hamilton
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter Hamilton

“To effectively be a myth” employs a split infinitive.

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
2 years ago

The only answer to the question which is the title to this piece is “absolutely nothing”. Everyone loves By-elections don’t they the press attention, the ranks of crackpot candidates, spurious opinion polls media and the razz-ma-taz.
As there is no serious challenge the Tory Candidate is spared the task of defending the Prime Minister for which she must be grateful
What tend to be missing of course are the voters. Even in a by-election contested by major parties turnout is way down and almost always below 50%. There will be a by-election soon which we may well call the “was Brexit really worth it” by-election, but that will come in a couple of years.

John Hicks
John Hicks
2 years ago

Thank you Tanya. Suspect you have also had experiences that permit observations of this kind – nobody starts life on the far right. They have had a journey to get there. Great insights (and well told) about both the joyful and often burdensome roads we travel. Delightful reading!

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
2 years ago
Reply to  John Hicks

The people described in this article are hardly ‘far-right’, though. I worry that this label is being broadly applied to anyone who thinks differently to the media and education establishment who engage in prescriptive thinking. Ironically, labelling others negatively and perceiving yourself as the ‘good guys’ is a distinctive hallmark of ‘far-right’ thinking.