BY JAMIE FOSTER
Sometimes one wonders if losing candidates in elections would be better off remaining silent about why they thought they lost rather than speaking out and sounding bitter. Hillary Clinton in her interview with the Sunday Times this week decided to speak out and has confirmed if nothing else that she is out of touch with the voters she was trying to inspire. She blames a series of other people, including the Russians and Nigel Farage for her failure but doesn’t consider why she was personally so unpopular.
Farage is an odd target for her angst as his effect on the election can only have been marginal at best. Nonetheless he clearly got under her skin by going to the US to campaign for Trump. She objected to his attacking her and describing Trump as an alpha male and a silver-back gorilla. She also attacked anyone in Britain who voted for Brexit saying that it made no sense and was done from a small village mentality. It is hard to see how she is qualified to comment on the referendum but this doesn’t stop her having a go. She seems to misunderstand that she herself, as part of the elite, is part of the problem. People on both sides of the Atlantic voted against corrupt vested interest which she appears to resent. In this way she appears to form part of a pattern of losing factions unable to accept the effect of democracy. She seems to feel a sense of entitlement to the highest office which overrides any democratic mandate. It is odd that many leading Remainer voices fall into this same pattern.
Hillary is also convinced that the Russians had a huge influence on her defeat. She appears to believe that Russian social media was largely responsible for the outcome of the election. This would seem to be a very conspiratorial view of the way the election panned out. There is not much hard evidence of the extent to which the Russians interfered in the election at all, but this lack of evidence doesn’t appear to prevent certain factions from accepting that the Russians played a significant part. It is as if Hillary and her supporters need to find any alternative explanation to accepting that she was a hugely unpopular candidate.
It is ironic that Hillary’s inability to accept personal responsibility for her own performance in the election is part of the reason she is likely to have been unpopular. What is not in doubt is that, as Farage points out, Hillary is a sore loser. This again is in keeping with a new trend amongst losing factions. Corbynites appear to believe that Corbyn was the moral victor at the last election and should have been elected as a result. Remainers believe that their side also held the moral high ground and should have been victorious in the referendum. There seems to be no place for losing factions to accept defeat gracefully anymore and to accept that the popular will was against them. In an age of sore losers Hillary stands out as a poster child for bad sportsmanship. The moment that America elects its first female president will be a hugely significant one. It seems right that this honour was not bestowed on a woman who holds the electorate in such low esteem and is unable to take responsibility for her own actions.
There is a real disconnect at the moment between the electorate and the political class that has come to believe it is entitled to govern. This goes for America and Europe. Hillary is a perfect illustration of this disconnect. As a politician she makes no attempt to understand what motivates voters. She views voters as a mass of people who are influenced by dark forces to vote against her. She sees them as malleable and thoughtless, too stupid to make the right decision and sweep her to office. It doesn’t occur to her that this high handed attitude is noticed by the voters who turn against it instinctively.
If Hillary’s interview and the attitude that it exposes achieves anything it is to stand as a reminder to the political class that it is time for a new approach. Those politicians, like Trump, who are able to catch the public mood and appear to speak directly to it are likely to succeed. Those, like Mrs Clinton, who are unable to identify with ordinary voters and their concerns are likely to fail. No amount of whining afterwards is going to change that. It is just a shame that dignified silence is an approach that so few feel able to take. It might have worked well for Hillary, but in the end she chose sour grapes. It is hard to see how she sees this as advantaging her. C’est la vie, c’est la guerre, I suppose.