Sunday, 11 June 2017
The truce can only be temporary.
Whilst waiting for a bus in Shaftesbury Avenue yesterday afternoon I could not help but overhear the conversation by the others standing there about the general election. All participants obviously from different countries and none with English as their first language. They seemed confused as does much of the activist class on the left to be honest.
Jeremy Corbyn did a lot better, much better than anyone including myself was expecting. Theresa May did appallingly badly. A contest that went from the cult of the personality around Corbyn to one with no personality with May.
Corbyn still lost though, no matter how either he or his supporters want to spin it.
However no matter how one looks at the result the Conservative Party blew it big time and the electorate were not impressed.
The polls got it wrong except for the last one. The Exit Poll predicted a hung parliament and that's what we got.
So what happened and why? That the Prime Minister has decided to continue, at least for now is unsurprising and given the parliamentary arithmetic was the only choice. A rainbow coalition of Corbyn and all the others would not have been enough, especially with Sinn Fein refusing to take up its seven seats.
Enter the DUP, an Irish political party founded by the divisive figure and self appointed Reverend Ian Paisley. In essence a very right-wing and dangerously religious formation thats politics consist of the bible and a soft brexit. Their MP's are like so many religious maniacs anti-gay marriage , anti-abortion and pro-creationist.
I'd almost say god help us but I'm an atheist!
Labour has lost the third election in a row but there has been a return to the seventies, the early years with a hung parliament as Mrs May faces the same problems Edward Heath did and the country has seemingly returned to a two party system with over 80% of the electorate voting for one of the two main parties. The Liberals are seemly buggered for now and that's without another Jeremy...
The big swing to Labour was from young voters whose abstention during the referendum cost them their future in the EU. This time and via social media and particularly in University towns the under 25's surged to support Corbyn based on promises of free education and lots of other free stuff.
The Labour Manifesto made promises that attracted people. The Tory Manifesto just pissed voters off. Dementia Tax? Forget it. No deal over Brexit? No thanks.
But herein lies Labour's problem for the future. Corbyn's Manifesto was written on the basis of a "wish list", one that would not need to be implemented. It was based on the premise that the party would lose and only "the fight", the campaign would matter. It's easy to make promises that won't need to be delivered.
One wonders what would have happened had Corbyn actually walked into No 10.
There will be another election in due course. Theresa May will not survive for long. The knives are already out for her scalp. The deal with the DUP will only last so long and is only a "confidence and supply" arrangement. Government will of necessity be pragmatic.
The Tories will regroup learn from their arrogance and mistakes and return with a new leaders, a new strategy and will not shirk the televised debates. Their manifesto will ditch the controversies and the protection of the pensioner base will return.
A new leader is likely to be more "business friendly" than May turned out. Soft Brexit will be the aim. Jobs first.
Then Labour buoyed by its seeming resurgence will realise that a new manifesto will need to take into account political reality because if it doesn't they will like Clegg before them permanently alienate so many supporters who have been energised by the Corbyn cult. Much of Labour's manifesto is blatantly undeliverable though many of the young will not relate to reasoning why.
To the young (and I remember my youth well) it's a question of "right or wrong". Grey areas are not considered. As the Corbynistas return to the politics of the past I am reminded of something else I noticed during my journey yesterday. Young people do not seem to read newspapers, just us oldies whose habits die hard.
More to the point the use of social media tends to exclude those with whom they disagree. Memes and shared posts to reinforce perceived outlooks are the order of the day. And a local Momentum Organiser dared to accuse me of being brainwashed by the Daily Mail, a paper I do not read. The Times is my paper of choice. It just informs me. I use other sources, albeit on-line for different views and oddly I seemed to read far more of the left's sites than he did!
The country faces an uncertain few months and years ahead. Just like the seventies. Except the threat is not IRA bombs (for now) or Communism (though that's open to debate) but from Islamist terror and Russian imperialism. Same threats from different quarters.
For now Corbyn is secure and his supporters will take advantage. Those moderates who held their noses and /or campaigned for Labour with so many Labour MP's disowning Corbyn had better watch out. The left are still waiting in the wings to purge.
The truce can only be temporary. Corbyn's promises will motivate for now but when he does not deliver what happens then.
The mainstream left/centre must be prepared for the inevitable. Politics is indeed "out of the box" as old Steptoe likes to tell us but in my view this will hopefully be his ceiling and the future remains an unwritten page.
Organise against Corbyn and Momentum for the future. Unite the moderate factions before it is too late.