After The Local Elections

No one believes opinion polls. So they say. The only polls that matter are the ones where real voters push real ballot forms into boxes. You can’t argue with those numbers.

And the numbers, at least as national projections, were 38% Tory, 27% Labour, 18% Lib Dem,  5% UKIP, and others 12%. Those others include bigger parties, with a national profile, like nationalist and Green parties, as well as a rag-bag of others.  As many have pointed out, this means a clear balance of opinion in the country between the Right and the Left, broadly defined.  The Tory-UKIP, or Brexit Party has 43%, and the Labour-Lib Dem Party has 45%.

So in most other countries, this would be a neck-and-neck battle to see which coalition could form a government.  But not here.

The forecast is of a Tory landslide in June, with a projected majority of at least 60 seats, and possibly a hundred or more.

Today’s Daily Telegraph sums it up well. “The Right Unites”.  Or as someone on Twitter said, UKIP lost all its seats and took control of the Tory Party.  However you look at it, the right has played a blinder.  They forced a referendum.  They won it through audacity and mendacity in equal measure.  Now they have united to maximise their assets in a FPTP electoral system in order to take control of the state for another five years. Brilliant work.

So could this strategy work for the broad left? Uniting around the things we share in order to establish a basic programme of shared policies and principles?  Progressive Alliance, even?

On paper, the numbers are clear.  45% even in these difficult circumstances, and that’s not counting the Greens (on side already), and even the nationalists, who might acquiesce when it came to supporting a left-liberal government in Westminster.

Yet we know that there isn’t a cat in hell’s chance of cooperation.  Instead, we are fractious, bad tempered with one another, quick to defend our heroes, and quick to abuse our potential colleagues.  We nurse grudges which ought to be buried.  As Marina Hyde observes in today’s Guardian, after a couple of years of Corbynistas yelling at other members of the Labour Party that they ought to “fuck off and join the Tories,” the voters have taken the hint.

Even shriller are, as is often the case, converts.  In this case, converts to the Lib Dems abusing anyone from Labour, or thinking of voting Labour, as ‘supporting a pro-Brexit party’.  A nonsense, and profoundly unhelpful to the anti-Brexit cause.

A fantasy currently doing the rounds on social media, and also in sections of the press, is a longing for a British Macron.  We’re about 5 weeks out from a general election in which   voters who favour left-liberal positions are about to be slaughtered.  We can’t afford fantasies.  We have to work with what we have – against the enemy we have.

That, alas, also looks like being a fantasy.  Some of us will vote tactically.  Many more of that 45%+ of the electorate who don’t want a Hard Tory-Brexit government, and who fear for the state of our public services, and who worry about the prospects for their children, and care for their parents, and who want fairness in the workplace, and decent homes – these people aren’t hearing about how to vote to get those things.  And so they’ll get the opposite.  The Brexit cliff edge off which we leap, or are pushed, into a hollow state, without welfare.

After the local elections? More of the same.

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