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Nicholas Booth: We know socialists offer a make-believe world. Reality kicks in today  


It’s time for many of us to go back in the closet. Let’s face it, those socialist outfits make us look ridiculous

Don’t laugh, but I still want to be a socialist because it’s so, like, cool. Come on, who doesn’t want to stay young?

It’s a personal branding and lifestyle statement. Being socialist takes years off your brain and leaves you literally pounds lighter. (Terms and conditions apply – pounds may be subject to redefinition.) These days, there’s a no-contact form of socialism, where you don’t actually have to make sacrifices or help anyone anyway. All you have to do is sign petitions calling for people to be sacked and support the driving down of working class wages through imports of Slav labour. Neither of those really hurts if you’re sufficiently rich.

You never have to worry if the facts don’t fit, as there’s always an explanation on the Internet. Owen Jones will come up with something and the BBC’s Evan Davis won’t ask any tough questions. The Jones bill, having been airily debated on Newsnight, becomes fully fledged Social Media Law after review by Channel 4 News, a chamber full of posh unelected left wing peers. A formality, in other words.

If only real life was like Owen Jones’s world on the Internet, with its lack of intellectual and moral polarity, where there’s always a clear identifiable goody and an obvious Tory baddy. For lovers of diversity, the world is curiously black and white.

But even we would-be fashionable socialists know its different in reality. We all live in a world that has walls. Owen Jones’s bank account is pretty well secured at the borders. Russell Brand doesn’t leave the doors to his luxury apartment swinging at night. At Labour Party conferences, nobody shouts about discrimination at the limit on numbers crowding into the lift. The classroom sizes at the best schools are capped – much to the delight of parents like Diane Abbot, Harriet Harman and the Blairs. OK, the Blairs didn’t pay money to get their kids into private school, but they did use another currency, political influence, so that their son could come in from outside the catchment area and take the place of some poor kid who might have had a grammar school education.

All of us would-be socialists want those limits. If we didn’t, every Labour conference would feature at least one lift-cable snapping tragedy. So when it directly affects them, everyone who says they are socialist wants David Cameron on those walls.

Well, OK, not Cameron. Even I don’t want him. David Davis would be a lot better. But certainly not Ed Miliband.

So let’s not take the pollsters at face value. Since New Labour was turned into a brand, voting intentions have become a lifestyle statement. But, as with most marketing, there is a short shelf life and the public eventually wises up to the deals. Nobody is going to fall for ‘buy one get one free’ deals any more. The political consumer is being asked if they want to vote Labour and get the SNP bundled in. I think they’ll say BOGOF to that deal.

Besides, if we chose Ed Balls to handle our money and Ed Miliband to represent us abroad, at any age, we’d look bloody ridiculous.

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Nick Booth
Nick Booth
Nick Booth is a freelance writer.

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