Letter from London 2 – Chris Trotter blogging election from UK

By   /   June 12, 2017  /   16 Comments

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The Tory base may be larger than Labour’s, but its vision of Britain’s future is limited, backward-looking and profoundly hostile to all claims of social solidarity and progress. By contrast, the Corbyn-led Labour Party’s radical manifesto, and its direct campaigning style, has drawn tens-of-thousands of young and formerly disillusioned voters into the thrilling business of pursuing political, economic and social change.

THE TEMPTATION to over-read the UK election result is very strong. On the left of British politics the sense of both relief and jubilation is palpable. Journalists close to the parliamentary Labour Party report that until the release of the exit poll at 10:00pm on Thursday night most MPs were anticipating electoral disaster. That Jeremy Corbyn has rescued the careers of so many of his bitterest enemies is only one of the many ironies thrown up by the voters. Still, the political realities remain stark. Although he has lifted the Labour vote to its highest point since 2001 and picked up 29 seats, Corbyn is still 57 seats shy of the Tories tally. The Labour Party wasn’t destroyed in this election – far from it! – but neither did it win.

It was the British Conservative Party that secured the most votes and the most seats on 8 June. Not enough to govern, it is true. Not without the support of the ten bigoted Ulstermen and women returned to Westminster for the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Nevertheless, amid all the raucous jeering and cheering that greeted Theresa May’s extraordinary discomfiture, it is easy to forget that the collapse of UKIP has pushed the Tories share of the vote to 44 percent. In the shires and suburbs, far from the political class’s pontificating, that curious combination of spite and fear which is the Tory voter remains in no doubt that theirs is the voice which, muted though it may have been by the Corbyn surge, remains the voice that counts.
That surge is, however, the key take away from the 8 June election. The Tory base may be larger than Labour’s, but its vision of Britain’s future is limited, backward-looking and profoundly hostile to all claims of social solidarity and progress. By contrast, the Corbyn-led Labour Party’s radical manifesto, and its direct campaigning style, has drawn tens-of-thousands of young and formerly disillusioned voters into the thrilling business of pursuing political, economic and social change. This Corbynista positivity is a far cry from the technocratic manipulation and cynicism of Blairism. Indisputably, the election has brought about an extraordinary expansion of political space on the left of British politics.
That expansion has been achieved in the face of the right-wing media’s unrelenting hostility. That Rupert Murdoch allegedly stormed out of the Times’s election night party in disgust as the exit poll revealed the ineffectuality of his minions best efforts to demonise Corbyn and his colleagues is one of the more telling details of the election drama. It may be too much to hope that the days of politicians approaching Murdoch’s throne on their knees are over, but there can be little doubt that his power has been much diminished.
Perhaps the best way to characterise Corbyn’s achievement is to argue that he has persuaded British voters to cease using their vote as either a weapon to punish their enemies, or as a shield to protect themselves from their opponents’ worst intentions. Instead, he has persuaded a crucial and expanding part of the British electorate to conceive of their vote as a tool: as a peaceful and surprisingly effective mechanism for creating a better world.
And that, most definitely, is a win.
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16 Comments

  1. David Stone says:

    A large part of the reason why the exit poll was such a shock was the manipulation of the polls going in.
    The pollsters all to some degree were adjusting their published numbers to account for a past tendency for younger people not to bother voting. This was pretty stupid of them this time as it was obvious that young people were turning up to Corbyn’s rallies in unprecedented numbers everywhere he went. It was time to exaggerate the youth vote not to diminish it.
    Also the general interpretation that UKIP’s vote went both ways I think is wrong. It went to the Torys as expected but the youth vote made up for it for Corbyn in most places.
    May should have resigned on the spot, for her own sake and for that of the Tory’s.
    D J S

  2. Cemetery Jones says:

    “In the shires and suburbs, far from the political class’s pontificating, that curious combination of spite and fear which is the Tory voter remains in no doubt that theirs is the voice which, muted though it may have been by the Corbyn surge, remains the voice that counts.”

    So long as anyone left of Ghengis Khan keeps telling them that they are fearful and spiteful for wanting out of the Europe which took their jobs and wanting rid of the terrorists which will even sink to the lows of suicide bombing or sexually assaulting their tweenage daughters, then they’ll keep voting for Ghengis Khan.

    You hit upon the reason though – those shires and suburbs aren’t just intellectually far from the pontificating of the political class – they are physically and factually far from them too. It’s been pointed out many times by the likes of Tommy Robinson that the middle class virtue signallers who call him a racist or a bigot on the internet or in their guest columns for the Guardian always seem to live in quaint little villages and satellite suburbs where everyone is white and wealthy.

    • WILD KATIPO says:

      Postman Pat ( and his damn black and white cat ) is a fearful and spiteful Tory then !

      I always knew there was something about him I didn’t like, dammit !!!

      Just something,… a bit too smug , smarmy and self satisfied or something… could never put my finger on it until now .

      • Cemetery Jones says:

        By now Postman Pat has been made redundant and replaced with a regional contractor who delivers two or three times a week, the Post Office was closed shortly after Mrs. Goggins retired, and Alf Thompson’s farm is running on fumes because under EU common policy, he’s basically being paid not to grow anything. Most of the Greendale shops are boarded up and has become a hot zone of knife crime and drug dealing. Granny Dryden was mugged for her pension, and when the kids who did it got let off, the now unemployed Pat Clifton joined the EDL.

        • WILD KATIPO says:

          Geez,…. sucker punched by their own tribalist loyalties…. almost to a man …. and his cat, no less.

          • Cemetery Jones says:

            Pat could never have guessed that the fateful Labour party conference where he (like so many others) voted for Tony Blair, would have had such dire social consequences and lead to the end of his career and imperil the existence of the quintessentially British institution which defined his working life.

  3. Mike in Auckland says:

    Yes, it pays to stay realistic, despite of the morale boost many of us feel we have received with UK Labour’s gains under Corbyn.

    They have merely returned to the kind of votes they used to get years ago, that is Labour in the UK, but it was necessary, and Jeremy Corbyn deserves respect and praise for having reversed the tide.

    If they would have MMP in the UK, Corbyn and Labour would now have formed a government, FPP is the one issue that stopped this to happen.

    But with the MSM not about to change there, nor here in NZ, the challenges remain, they are formidable, and the work has just started. We can see though, that despite of massive MSM bias, it is possible to have election outcomes that were not expected by them and many pollsters.

    On a sombre note, the modern times, where party loyalty is not so important to most, where we have the 24/7 news cycles, where social and alternative media are gaining in influence, and where everything is in more of a flux, things can change quickly, in one direction or the other, depending on the mood and often superficial impressions, vibes and thoughts most people may have.

    We have had the Brexit vote, we had the previous UK vote, that unexpectedly gave the Conservatives more seats than expected, we had the Trump surprise in the US, we had now the gains by Labour in the UK, and significant losses of seats by the Cons, it is all a sign of the times, very uncertain, more moody times.

    Look at France for a moment, where a totally different kind of trend is happening, where “centrists” or a slightly right of centre new President has managed to get his only one and a half year old ‘movement’ ‘Republique en Marche’ win a majority in their Parliament on the first go, it is another real upset there, that nobody expected.

    It seems voters make decisions that are less planned, less deeply considered, and not necessarily for the longer term. They vote parties, candidates and governments out, rather than in. They also may suddenly give new faces a go, but it is all coming with greater risks, and once disappointed, they may never give their votes to the same candidate and party again, who they initially supported.

    So anything seems possible now, it can be an opportunity, but also a curse, and hence it is now time for Labour in NZ to perhaps realise the opportunity, and change course, be bolder, present clear direction and policy, and stop trying to be scared by the MSM, by the government, by ‘centrist’ voters who may only want to get more into their pockets, stuff the poorer ones.

    It is time to take a risk, a great risk, and follow the example of Jeremy in the UK, and give the MSM the middle finger, if need be, use alternative channels of communication, use the street, the market places, the squares, the halls, the internet, social media and much, much more, it is all possible.

    Time to get cracking, with REAL alternative policies, the immigration policy today was half baked, as Labour and Little are again too scared by the establishment and business, with much money behind them, and does not dare upset them too much. That is wrong, stand up, stand tall, speak out, shout it out, and fight the fight of your lives, to bring the damned overdue change after 9 years of marginalisation and endless BS that many of us got from Key, now English, and the whole rotten government, that has destroyed the fabric of New Zealand.

  4. Afewknowthetruth says:

    Even when the most socialistic government in Britain’s history -the one that established the National Health Service and nationalized key industries- gained power after World War Two, the money lenders remained firmly in control.

    Only when the corrupt financial system collapses will there be any prospect of all the things that matter not being made worse by the day.

    Corbyn’s success is just a tiny step in the right direction, and ‘the powers that be’ will continue to block all movement towards fairness and sustainability, promoting and protecting their Ponzi schemes (which wreck everything in the long term) instead.

  5. Grant says:

    I think this Corbyn led Labour Party have now irreversibly changed things.
    Corbyn has the Tiger by the tail and ain’t letting go.
    The final flapping and floundering of neo-liberalism in the U.K is playing out before our eyes…
    ‘Zen Corbin’ has created the new zeitgeist.
    The Tory attack lines, like a lot of the media focus, was on who could deal with Brexit best and how ‘hard ‘it should be.
    That lazy one dimensional message became the ‘door left ajar moment’ for Corbyn to exploit with his far superior campaigning skills and charismatic caring authenticity.
    In actual fact the broader Labour Party Manifesto, with it’s simple but clever cover graphics, was far more in touch with the real issues concerning a large part of the populace, and has there ever been a better line than ”For the many , not for the few”.

    The record numbers of the young that he has managed to get politically engaged will ,via social media , only grow and the young will start talking to their parents and so it goes on
    A poll asking “if an election were held tomorrow which way would you vote,”now shows Labour 3% points ahead of The Tories.
    With U.K m.s.m now almost rendered impotent, the thin veneer that has always given the illusion that Tory equals the’ greatest economic managers’ and ‘strong and stable’ has been exposed.
    Their shambolic state there now for all to see…snookered and disshevelled.
    Checkmate is imminent.
    The U.K are lucky to have finally discovered a once in a lifetime politician.
    The Oxford dictionary has now rewritten the definition ot the word
    ‘Hubris’ and the term ‘Group Think’……it just simply says…..U.K. Conservative Party.

    What is unerneath is shambolic

  6. Kim dandy says:

    All I can say is that ‘ karma’ sure came back to bite May.
    Of a labour government May’s line was ‘ coalition of chaos’.
    Of Corbyn, May’s line was ‘IRA sympathiser.’
    May now has managed both of these achievements herself.
    Truly an own goal.

    • SpaceMonkey says:

      I keep thinking how prophetic a warning it was, whoever whispered it… “beware the Ideas of May!”

  7. Andrewo says:

    Chris, it’s odd that you should describe the Conservatives as backward looking when it is Corbyn that wants to take Britain back to the 1960’s and thinks in terms of 19th century class war.

    • SpaceMonkey says:

      Well, you see… everything moves in cycles. We wouldn’t need to think in terms of 19thC class war if “the few” weren’t working to recreate a Dickensian style feudal society in the first place.

  8. Guerilla Surgeon says:

    So here you are! 🙂 Yes, I too get a little frustrated at people describing this as a “triumph”.

  9. Mike in Auckland says:

    You should have mentioned this too:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZsYvkTw4Rg