As I watched this historic victory for the Conservative party unfold, I felt a mixture of emotions: disbelief, incredulity and anger, soon overcome by a wave of despondency. Sitting here in a cold dimly lit room in the early hours it was easy to become hopeless, imagining oneself alone and in minority.
Yet, despite romping home with a thumping Parliamentary majority the Tories don’t have a majority of the electorate. They were backed by a minority of electors across the UK (43.6%). They won in England and Wales because of our first-past the-post election system. A majority of the country still oppose their policies. That point should be remembered.
The platform the Labour Party stood on was a progressive one that made sense and seems to have been well received. However, its changed Brexit stance was unpopular in its northern heartlands.
What have we learnt?
My initial takeaways from this are the following:
- This ‘Brexit’ election was a freak and those in Labour heartlands who voted Tory this time around will regret their actions when they realise they’ve been conned by Boris Johnson, one of smartest, most deceitful politicians in British electoral history. (Disraeli, eat your heart out).
- The Labour right wing will try and reverse the progressive moves made under Corbyn. This must be resisted. Labour didn’t lose because its social, economic and climate change policies were unpopular. It lost because a large chunk of voters in its traditional heartlands in England & Wales didn’t like its Brexit stance.
- Scotland has spoken out as clearly as England & Wales: it wants the SNP and to have an independence referendum. That has to be respected. All progressive people should support this wish as Boris Johnson will try and avoid doing so. Indeed supporting the right of Scotland to have a democratic independence referendum is a touchstone for every progressive. Scottish resistance in the event of the Tories refusing to allow an Independence Referendum should be fully supported.
- We must change the electoral system to some form of Proportional Representation, as the current system isn’t fair. I’d be saying that even if Labour had won a majority.
- Re. climate change, I doubt Boris Johnson will do what needs to be done. Time is short, so mass civil peaceful disobedience has to be one means to push for change in the future. Again, progressives should fully support these actions.
- We need to develop our own media to communicate progressive ideas to the masses. BBCNews and the mainstream media is effectively controlled by the establishment. It was able to effectively influence this election.
Remain is now dead for England, Wales and Northern Ireland. That has to be accepted. But resistance to the policies that penalise the poor, increase division and racism in our society should be resolutely opposed.
This morning Labour is down as are the Greens and Lib Dems, but never out. Millions are relying on Jeremy Corbyn and his successor to continue to resist the forces of oppression and neo-liberal economic policies as they fight against climate change.
Resistance isn’t futile, it’s crucial if we are to get progressive change. That’s what enabled people to win the vote from the grasping hands of the establishment.
This is a battle lost but the fight for a fairer, more environmentally-friendly world must continue if we are to win the war.
I am sure Jeremy Corbyn knows that much better than me.
Personally, I’d like to say thank you to him for staying the course and putting up with an unprecedented vilification campaign. He’s the reason I rejoined the Labour Party after disillusionment over the the Iraq War. He is a wise man.
Remember, resistance isn’t futile: it is crucial. We must keep fighting for what we know to be right.