Freedom News
Elections come and go, our work continues

Elections come and go, our work continues

Our whole political system has shifted rightwards, making solidarity and mutual aid as crucial as ever

We can’t be sure exactly what is going to happen on Thursday. UK voters remain volatile. Whereas they used to vote largely based on class and to stick with the same party throughout their lives, they now pick and choose depending on which party they think will help them the most. Or at least that’s the theory. One thing we can be pretty sure of is that there is a significant portion of the population, particularly in England, that is solidly conservative.

In one way this election is very easy to predict. All the polls show Labour significantly ahead. However, the polls indicate a very wide range of different possible results. Polls using Multilevel Regression with Poststratification (or MRP) claim to predict each and every seat but with very different results. The one with the lowest majority for Labour, conducted by More in Common throughout April, still gave them a majority of 114, a landslide in anyone’s book. Savanta conducted an MRP poll between 7th and 18th June giving Labour a majority of 382. A YouGov MRP poll released around the same time gave Labour a majority of 200. None of these polls are going to be exactly right. On election night there will be surprises.

Partly, this is down to voter volatility and the polling companies trying to predict what that might mean on election day itself. It’s also harder because of constituency boundary changes since the last election in 2019. Some constituencies have gone completely, and others have had bits taken away or added to them. These new constituencies are hard to compare with the 2019 results. What the polling companies need is ways of comparing like with like. They seek out people who can tell them how they voted last time and how they’ve changed, if they have. Comparing like with like makes this a whole lot easier. When boundaries change, it means that constituencies may have lost areas more likely to vote for one party than another. It becomes harder to model. On election night, there will be talk of “notional” 2019 results. This refers to the experts’ best guess about how many people would have voted for each party in a constituency in 2019, providing the boundaries were as they are now. To this complexity is added the number of people who are yet to decide how they will vote. There are many who don’t fully decide until they are in the polling booth itself, their pencil hovering over the ballot paper. The polling companies try to guess what they will do on the day.

There are even predictions that the Tories could be forced down to third place in terms of the number of seats in Parliament. I think the only thing we can do now is wait and see. In UK politics, it used to be the case that the most outlandish possibility could be dismissed easily out of hand. Voter volatility with Brexit, the collapse of the so-called Red Wall in 2019, the rise of Corbyn just a year and half earlier at the 2017 election—all make it harder to dismiss the unprecedented. Beyond a Labour win, there is one thing we can be very sure of: the UK, and particularly England, is still a very conservative place.

Conservatism continues to dominate our politics. The current BBC poll tracker which collates the polls and produces an average for the parties, shows the Tories on 20%. Reform is on 16%, showing how much harm they are doing to the prospects of Rishi Sunak’s party. A combined polling of 36% is obviously not a majority but we need to think about what the Labour Party under Keir Starmer has been doing these last four years. He has significantly chased conservative voters with a “pragmatic” attitude and an “unscary” stance on the economy. It will appeal not just to traditional Tory voters but also to those who switched from Labour to the Conservatives in 2019. His aim was to get that red wall back and more if possible. Under Starmer, Labour has also attracted the business community and normally Tory-supporting papers. The Economist magazine and Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times have come out in support of Labour, at least for now. Both have done so for the first time since Blair was leader of the party.

Our whole political system has shifted in a conservative direction. For anarchists, perhaps it means same old, same old. It means that, as usual, our political work doesn’t end on Thursday. Our work is community-based. It’s about helping people through difficulties by creating structures of mutual aid and solidarity where we can. Labour might make community work a little easier in some regards. At least they believe in society, which helps. But migrants will still be processed, and Labour is not against moving people to a third country to do so. Trans people will need support as the culture wars start being directed by a newly elected, supposedly progressive government. The economy won’t pick up overnight as Labour obsess over, perhaps impossible, growth. Hospital waiting lists won’t go down immediately. Your landlord and your boss will still carry on having the upper hand. We’re going to be busy, basically.

The left wing of the Labour Party will get a communal glazed look in their eyes about their fantasy of moving the party leftwards. Those business leaders though, those “friendly” newspapers and those new MPs elected to previous Tory heartlands, will all be urging Starmer to stay true his pragmatic conservatism. They will be ready to pounce with public criticisms at any hint of socialism. The MPs will be ready to rebel, safe in the knowledge that with such a large majority they won’t risk bringing their own government down if they do so. The UK will have a Labour government in name but not in action. Conservatism rules, and so we must carry on opposing the harsh realities of the state and the rise of the far right, and building a resistance that makes a real difference in people’s lives.

~ Jon Bigger

Tune in to our YouTube channel from 9:45pm on Thursday for our live reaction and analysis as the results come in.

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