Jon Bigger muses on the outcome of the local elections and what it means for the Corbyn project.
This isn’t exactly a shock is it? Last week’s local election results have been pored over and analysed and the overwhelming verdict is that they indicate the British people are in love in equal measure with Theresa May’s Conservative Party and the social democracy on offer through Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.
Despite Labour winning the local election the mainstream media focused on how they should have done even better if they want to take power in a general election. The media depiction of the election was odd. They started the night explaining that it was very unlikely Labour would do as well as they had when these seats were last contested in 2014 and then spent the rest of the night and all the next day deriding them for doing about as well as they had four years ago. I was doing a live blog of the results and I spotted this trend as the night progressed. Had the UKIP vote collapsed rather than helping the Tories the media would have had a very different story to tell.
The analysis of the results suggests that Britain will have a hung parliament again next time around unless something major happens. The liberal wing of the Labour Party suggests that the only way to get more votes is through a soft Brexit policy. There is also a large section that thinks that would cost votes. The problem for Labour is that it probably is a winning formula in London and a hard Brexit policy would damage the party’s chances there. It is one of the places they performed very well in the local elections so they will be keen to avoid anything that upsets their position in the capital.
I would suggest that if Labour is to win an overall majority at the next general election it is not so much about the direction they take as what happens within and to the Conservative government. What a shambles they are, and yet still level pegging with Labour in the polls. They could collapse at any time leading to an election which would undoubtedly help Labour secure a majority. However that is unlikely. They will surely stumble on with nobody wanting to replace Theresa May as prime minister on the grounds that it’s a terrible job to be in charge of Brexit in a minority administration. It’s much safer to let her struggle on until a time when she can be dispatched more securely. Boris Johnson has proven that ministers can say whatever they like without risk of getting fired anyway, so why not keep doing that for a few months?
So if we have a hung parliament again next time around the current figures suggest that it isn’t conservatism or socialism that is likely to come to the fore but liberalism. It will be the Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats who are most likely to hold the balance of power and with it the dilution of the main parties’ political ambitions. What a prospect for those on the left who are working so hard for the parliamentary road to socialism. For they will find that their project becomes less and less radical than the manifesto they vote for or campaign on. If Labour continues to lose out to the SNP in Scotland then they could well be the party that act as King Corbyn makers. If Labour can eat into SNP support and diminish their presence in the Commons then the Lib Dems could be essential in giving Labour power. Their strong showing in Richmond last week indicates a revival in some places could be on the cards.
The Corbyn project isn’t doomed to failure but it now requires a major Tory fail to secure a majority. As a non-voter I fear all the permutations. I feel sorry for the people who have flooded into Labour in the hope of socialism though. I have no doubt that the policies of the current Labour Party could result in a transformation of society in some regards but I’m now wondering how long people will stick with left wing proposals if they get watered down to appease the SNP or the Lib Dems.
As always, if you want socialism you need to tear the power structures down, not try to get elected into them.