‘It was Harold Wilson who said that a week is a long time in politics. Seven weeks is a political eternity. Theresa May has taken a gamble that her 21% lead will hold. It is a gamble that she may yet come to regret.
There is only one direction that her lead can go and that is down. Once her lead falls then a snowball effect can take over. What is essential is that Labour marks out the key areas on which it is going to base its appeal. The danger is that Corbyn is going to continue with his ‘strategy’ of appeasing the Right and appealing to all good men and women. If so that will be a recipe for disaster.’
No election is guaranteed to be without its surprises. Theresa May is a cautious conservative. She is literally the product of her background, a conservative vicar’s daughter. Reactionary, parochial and small-minded, she is a bigot for all seasons. What doesn’t help is that she is both wooden and unoriginal. The danger is that Corbyn tries to emulate her.
People may remember that she was being lauded as ‘strong and stable’, a slogan that came back to haunt and mock her.
On June 3rd, five days before the General Election, when the Tories were still tipped to win an overall majority I wrote another article
‘I do not have a crystal ball. My initial predictions, that there would or could be a hung parliament was based on my assessment of the situation. This is still quite possible as the Tories are widely detested for their attacks on the working poor, people on benefits and the continuous privatisation of the NHS. They are seen as the party of a vicious class rule, which is what austerity is about.’
In last week’s Brighton Independent I had an article which suggested that Miliband was determined to lose. Of course he’d like to win but he refuses to break from the consensus behind austerity. Instead of boldly saying that austerity is the road to ruin and Labour is going to reverse the welfare cuts, tax the rich at 80%, reverse major privatisations and pay no compensation bar the price which was paid (minus profits taken), Miliband tries to present himself as the safe alternative to the Tories.
I predicted, not an overall Tory majority but that they would form the largest party. In the event they secured a small majority which Theresa May proceeded to throw away. So what is my prediction this time around?
The first thing is that the ruling class and their media are not going to be complacent again. Whereas the Labour Right and the Zionists did their best to distance themselves last time around from Corbyn I would be very surprised if some of these creatures, including the Labour Right, didn’t engage in direct attacks on Corbyn and the Left. Margaret Hodge and Ruth Smeeth for example. The far-Right Editor of the Jewish Chronicle set the ball rolling with a poisonous letter to readers, which he kindly copied to me. It read:
Dear Reader, Over the next six weeks we will discover if the British public are prepared to put an antisemite into Number Ten. The polling evidence to date suggests not. But that’s all it is – polls. And as we know from 2017, real voting can be very different.
Our splash this week is the unprecedented advice from Rabbi Dr Jonathan Romain to his congregants across 16 different constituencies to vote for whichever candidate is best placed to stop Labour. It’s a stark illustration of the atmosphere surrounding this election in our community: a tense foreboding lest Labour win.
The obvious step to take, their immediate disaffiliation has not even been contemplated yet when one thinks of how the most trivial alleged breaches of discipline have been rewarded with suspensions and expulsions, including that of Chris Williamson, then one despairs about the uselessness of the Campaign Group (which has remained silent) and what passes for Momentum’s leadership. By failing to take any stance whatsoever on the attacks on himself and the Left Corbyn has immeasurably weakened himself.
There are too many variables in this election to make a firm prediction but those who imagine that Corbyn is going to gain a majority are going to be disappointed. When you lose control of the narrative, as Corbyn has done over ‘anti-Semitism’ then the chances of regaining the initiative are slim.
Theresa May was an ideal opponent. Everything she did turned to dust for example refusing to debate Corbyn head to head. Johnson has no intention of making the same mistakes.
The other major failure is Brexit. Leaving aside the laughable Lexit, it should be clear to all that Brexit is a project of the nationalist Right. Trump, Farage, Rees-Mogg are not natural bedfellows of the Left. Brexit is the last throw of the Empire Loyalists who imagine that an independent capitalist Britain can survive on its own. What it really means is serious deregulation which will make the EU seem like some form of nirvana with its Working Time Regulations and Health & Safety Directives.
Of course that doesn’t mean the European Union is a socialist paradise. What it means is that European capitalism has laid the basis of a European unity that it cannot fulfil. That is where socialism comes in. To revert to the past is akin to what Marx said about feudal socialism in the Communist Manifesto. It is particularly appropriate today:
half lamentation, half lampoon; half an echo of the past, half menace of the future; at times, by its bitter, witty and incisive criticism, striking the bourgeoisie to the very heart’s core; but always ludicrous in its effect, through total incapacity to comprehend the march of modern history.
Corbyn’s dithering and indecision, his refusal to come out against Brexit and in support of the totally incomprehensible position of renegotiating Brexit and then putting it to a referendum, will appeal to no one. It is a simple fact that remaining in Europe is better than any form of Brexit and why should people believe Corbyn can renegotiate it anyway?
It is perfectly possible to approach working class voters in the North with the clear message that it was austerity, Thatcherism and monetarism which closed the mines, shipyards and docks not Europe. It is equally possible to point to the potentially devastating economic consequences of abandoning one’s largest market but to try and appeal to both Remainers and Brexiteers is a hopeless task. In practice Corbyn will end up satisfying no one, falling between 2 stools.
What Corbyn has done is to allow the Lib Dems, who experienced near death experiences in both 2015 and 2017 to come back from the dead. Led by Madam Austerity herself, Jo Swinson, they have gone from 7% to 20%. That is a direct product of Corbyn’s abysmal strategy.
What it means electorally is that Labour have gone down from the mid 30s to about 23% in the polls. No government can be formed with those figures. Whether Corbyn can pull it back with an attack on the elites without an overall narrative is questionable to say the least.
The Lib Dems will undoubtedly pick up Tory seats though how many is anyone’s guess. Despite Swinson talking of forming her own government I would suspect that 25-30 seats would be their realistic target.
The other unknown is, of course, the Brexit Party. Farage has stated today that he will contest every seat without a Brexit pact. We will see. I suspect he will come under enormous pressure not to let Corbyn in by default. If he resists then I doubt that the Brexit party will be much more than a minor irritant.
In Scotland the SNP are forecast to pick up 50+ seats at both Labour and the Tories expense.
It is a foolish person who makes a prediction at this stage but I would hazard a guess that Corbyn will do well to achieve the number of seats he did last time around. If the SNP and Lib Dems gain seats then I expect the Tories to fall back to around 290 with Labour on 250. However it is very early days yet.
Corbyn may pay heavily for his failure to support Open Selection which would have seen the removal of much of Labour’s right-wing. In the event of Labour gaining around 280-290 seats and being able to form a government with SNP support then we can expect a rebellion by those Labour MPs who, like Hodge and Smeeth, will never vote for Corbyn as Prime Minister.
In so far as Labour HQ are now vetoing Corbyn supporters like Jo Bird I have no great optimism, as I did in 2017, for the election
On a local level I live in Brighton Kemptown. It has always been a marginal constituency and has swung between Labour and Tory over the past half century. It was held from 1970-1997 by the Tories and from 1997-2010 by Labour. It was first gained by Dennis Hobden for Labour in 1964 by 7 votes and he increased that to 800 in 1966. During the period of New Labour Des Turner never achieved more than 5,000 majority before it returned to the Tories in 2010. In short it has been held by Labour for 21 years out of 55.
In 2017 the Greens stood down and Labour’s Lloyd Russell-Moyle had a majority of nearly 10,000, which was absolutely phenomenal and unlikely to be repeated. If the Green Party stands the seat will become highly marginal. The heaviest Labour ward, Hanover, was moved into the Pavilion constituency as part of the last redrawing of boundaries and Peacehaven was added on making it more Tory.
Why then was there such a massive majority in 2017? I have no doubt that Labour was seen as the party of Remain. Even in Rottingdean, once the safest Tory ward in Britain, my estimate is that Labour gained half the votes. That is unlikely to be repeated given Labour’s disastrous positioning such that it has managed to simultaneously alienate both Remainers and Brexiteers. Although Lloyd RM is an ardent Remainer people are more influenced by the national party than the local candidate.
Can economic radicalism by in and of itself win out? I fear that Boris Johnson’s populism and nativism may win out. I hope I am wrong but spending the last 2 years appeasing Labour’s racist Right and the Zionists coupled with a refusal to say niet to the Brexiteers may mean that the Corbyn Revolution is coming to an end. If so then Corbyn and his adoring fans will have themselves to blame for not having called the bluff of Tom Watson, Margaret Hodge and the rest of the corrupt and racist right-wing careerists who inhabit the PLP
In particular the decision at the 2018 Labour Party conference by Corbyn to reject Open Selection and clear out the right-wing rabble in the PLP whilst turning on people like Chris Williamson and also Kelvin MacKenzie may have consequences at the polling booths.
At the last election Momentum was seen as having contributed significantly to the result. This time because of its lack of democracy, in essence a plaything of its owner Jon Lansman, it is unlikely to be able to repeat the performance. It has lost at least one-third of its members and nearly all of those who pay a nominal subscription are paper members. No one has done more than Lansman to lose this election through his sectarian Zionism and his endorsement of the Israeli, US and British strategy of destabilising Corbyn.