by Nick Wright
This election is a sign of Tory desperation. May’s majority is tiny, she is threatened by a damaging series of court cases that could convict a clutch of her MPs and party functionaries for electoral fraud, Her party remains deeply divided over its strategy to exit the EU with powerful sections seeking to neuter the Brexit vote and maintain the essentials of the relationship that big business and the banks desire.
There is little public enthusiasm for the kind of military adventure that could displace economic worries in the electoral calculation. Tory seats in parts of the country are threatened by a Liberal revival of sorts, There is little to be won in Scotland and her best chance of edging up the Tory vote lies in cannibalising the declining UKIP vote and the bonus that the divisive disloyalty of the Labour right wing has bestowed her.
Hence the ‘cut and run’ election. Her blatant hypocrisy and screeching U turn over the election — just days before she was denying the possibility of an early election — is eroding her credibility already. It is a calculated risk.
Labour has everything to fight for.
Corbyn’s increasingly impressive array of policies — designed to mobilise sections of Labour’s natural base that has become disconnected by years of Blairite and Brownite neo liberal policies — is beginning to win attention and respect despite the unceasing negative media coverage of his leadership and the duplicitous behaviour of many in the parliamentary Labour party.
Some of these must be relieved that the narrow time-frame means they are unlikely to face reselection by their increasingly discontented local parties.
On the downside, elements in Labour’s apparatus – hostile to Corbyn’s team – still operate as a largely unreconstructed Blairite machine, often in thrall to a tactical game plan that relies on finessing opinion poll quackery and media-conditioned positioning rather than clear campaigning and is already talking up a defensive, cautious strategy based on holding a limited number of safer seats.
Look across the channel. Jean-Luc Melenchon has doubled his polling numbers, taken the largest chunk of the youth vote, mobilised millions (aided by the impressive apparatus of the Parti Communiste Francais) and is now eating into the discontented, alienated, angry and dispossessed voters of France’s industrial regions run down by the decades of neo liberal policies that drive the EU.
The parallels between the French electorate and ours are striking. The Front National has made advances in precisely the kind of place where UKIP demagoguery gave them votes in de industrialised parts of Britain. These voters cannot be mobilised by cautious campaigning of the kind that lost Labour the last two elections.
Even though I voted for him in the Euro election I don’t much like J-C Melonchon. His ego is as big as a planet and he is burdened by a history of opportunism and duplicity. He has taken the PCF leadership for the fools they sometimes appear to be when making concessions to their allies and his erratic manoeuvring betrays his trotskyite past. But it is undeniable that he has captured, even stirred, the spirit of revolt.
Labour could learn something here if it trumps the media offensive with the insurgent spirit that has swept Jeremy Corbyn twice to leadership. There is noting to lose and everything to gain. A clear policy lead on the issues that affect millions of working people could break through the cosy consensus that unites right wing Labour, Theresa’s tendency, City and big business, the Lib Dems and the deluded EU fans in the Greens, Plaid and the SNP.
Labour’s right has its own game plan based on weakening Corbyn’s leadership, undermininhg the clear commitment to a Brexit based on enhancing workers rights and positioning Starmer as an alternative centre of authority.
Their can be no return to the kind of consensus politics that characterised the post war boom period. Capitalism is in a constantly recurring crisis and no one, either among the ruling elites or even among the remnants of social democracy, think that the system can make the kind of concessions that previously bought the working class in the developed capitalist countries into the system.
It has never been more true but either the rich must cough up and profits take a hit or they will take it out of us. All of us. Only Greek workers have suffered a bigger drop in real wages that workers in Britain. Profits or wages is the choice and only a combination of strengthening union power and workers militancy and firm government action by a people’s government can make a difference.
We have to face facts. Even with a Labour majority in Parliament, with this current crop of MPs we will need a mass movement of millions to hold them to a progressive policy platform. So this election cannot be fought on the traditional basis of circulating around an imaginary centre ground, chasing a highly volatile and wafer thin stratum of swing voters. Labour needs to mobilise its natural constituency built around millions of working class voters, many of whom have become detached from Labour and politics generally and unite its loyal core of more class and politically conscious workers with sections of the progressive middle class.
We need a Labour and trade union movement geared up for constant pressure on employers and the State. A Labour movement with sufficient power and authority to command its elected representatives to do its bidding.