Elections in Britain: Three views

Dec. 2019 Corbyn (Matt Cardy:Getty)
Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, speaks at a campaign rally. National elections take place on Dec. 12. (Matt Cardy / Getty Images)

The choice: Labour hope or Tory Brexit racism


Socialist Resistance, an organization in solidarity with the Fourth International.

— Posted Dec. 9 — With just three days to go and the contest tightening, the election remains too close to call, writes Alan Davies. Everything remains to be played for. Whilst the polls are still predicting a Tory majority they are highly dubious. In 2017 they were still predicting a Tory landslide in the days just before the voting. They are likely to be underestimating support amongst young people for Labour and there remain a high number of undecided voters.

A last big campaigning push by Labour members and supporters in the next few days could be crucial. If the election is tight it could well be decided by tactical voting, which people are forced into by the outrageously undemocratic FPTP voting system, in around 50 seats where such voting might keep the Tories out. The Observer on Sunday published a full guide for this constituency by constituency.

Whilst all general elections are potential turning points, this one is in a league of its own. This time we are either going to have a Labour (or Labour led) government moving to the left, reversing years of brutal austerity and investing heavily in public services in a way not seen for
many years, or a populist Trumpian government led by a dangerous charlatan and inveterate liar bent on a free trade deal with the USA. The days of ‘I can’t tell the difference’ are over.

The deeply reactionary nature of today’s fully Brexitised Tory party was clear enough when Johnson, along with Farage, refused to take part in the party leaders debate on climate change – the first ever held in a general election in this country.

Labour’s ground army

Labour has a powerful manifesto and has run a good campaign. Many records have been broken by the huge teams that have turned to argue the case on the doorstep.

Holding the general election before a second referendum was always going to be a problem for Labour in getting its extensive domestic agenda across, particularly in its so-called red wall seats in the north and the Midlands where the politics of Brexit – English Nationalism and anti-immigration – cuts across Labour’s progressive agenda. This problem became more acute after the decision of the Brexit Party not to contest Tory held constituencies – in other words semi-collapse into the Tory campaign.

A recognition of this problem has shaped Labour’s approach to Brexit: i.e. negotiating a soft (less damaging) version of Brexit and then putting it to a popular vote with a remain option. How successful this has been in convincing Labour Brexiteers to stick with the party we will not know until Thursday evening.

Apart from Johnson’s ‘get Brexit done’ mantra – which is the biggest single lie of the whole campaign – the Tories have nothing to offer other than dog-whistle racism and the further brutalisation of the prison and criminal justice system. If Johnson wins, Brexit will not ‘be done’ on January 30. Britain will then enter the 10 month Transition Period out of which Johnson would rather crash out with no-deal rather than extending this period which is likely to become unavoidable.

Johnson hammered home the reactionary racist nature of the Tory campaign and the Brexit project in a Sky interview using language reminiscent of Enoch Powell:

‘I’ve said that what we want to do is bear down on migration, particularly of unskilled workers who have no job to come to and I think that’s what’s happened over the last couple of decades or more. You’ve seen quite a large number of people coming in from the whole of the EU — 580 million population — able to treat the UK as though it’s basically part of their own country…’

Labour activists are reporting that some people who previously voted for the party have been won over by this appeal to racism and nationalism. They have become so ground down by insecure jobs and unaffordable housing that they almost find it impossible to believe that an alternative is possible. This demoralisation and atomism of swathes of the British working class is the secret of the Tories’ success in winning their support. They are voting for racism rather than their class interest.

Along with racism and xenophobia, the Tories have relied on massive support from the media – in particular the tabloid press which has lifted political vilification to a new level in its treatment of Jeremy Corbyn and of Labour, with multiple pages of vitriol every day.

The BBC has not been much better, for example describing Tory spending plans as spending plans and Labour’s spending plans as giving away ‘free stuff”. Even the best of the broadsheets such as the Guardian and the Observer have regularly battered Corbyn on the completely manufactured antisemitism allegations that have been relentless pursued throughout this campaign. Yesterday’s Observer, for example, in calling for a vote for Labour only did so after accusing Corbyn of presiding over institutional antisemitism in his own party and backing up all the false claims of the misnamed Jewish Labour Movement – while ignoring the many voices of other Jews who take a completely different approach – i.e. backing Labour and Corbyn.

British politics will change

Politics in this country, however, will not be the same after this election whoever wins. If it is Johnson, he is likely to lead an unstable government still battling for the foreseeable future to ‘get Brexit done’. In fact he could win this election in the short term but destroy the Tory party (even in its Brexitist form) in the medium to longer term. To win Brexit is to own it and face the consequences as the effects of it become increasingly clear – in particular as the union, which the Tory party was created to preserve is destroyed in the process.

The task for Labour, on the other hand, if faced with a Tory majority must to preserve the huge gains that have been made since Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader as leader of the party, most crucially the radical left alternative that it has developed so effectively, the mass membership it has recruited, and most importantly the new generation it has brought onto the scene and on which the future depends.

If Labour wins a majority or is in a position to form a minority government, then the vitriol that has been poured thus far on Corbyn and the party will be as nothing. The need to defend the achievement of defeating the Tories, combat media opposition and implement the most radical manifesto ever produced by a political party seriously vying for government means there will be little time to draw breath. At the same time there will be the need to push for even more radical – and controversial– policies such as support from a second independence referendum in Scotland and for PR in Westminster elections…

Meanwhile the only way to stop Brexit is either a Labour majority government, a Labour led government, or in a hung parliament where a Labour led coalition of opposition parties could force a second referendum through against a Tory minority government.

Whatever the outcome of the election on the 12 December, Labour’s new manifesto has radicalised and mobilised large number of people, in  particular under the age of 35, who are actively helping the election campaign. A left social movement has been created which will not disappear. Labour’s manifesto has also shifted the debate on economic policy to the left. The recent large demonstrations and the school students strikes against climate change will intensify as the next COP climate summit will be in Glasgow in December 2020.

Finally the campaign for independence for Scotland will continue as the Scottish National Party is on course to win a big majority of seats north of the border with England.

Meanwhile this means winning every possible vote for Labour candidates in the short time that is now left.

On the stance of the Left in the upcoming elections


Antarsya UK, an anti-capitalist group established to organize solidarity with the movement in Greece and with Greek immigrants in Britain, and to participate in social struggles in Britain.

— Posted Dec. 10 — The general election in the UK comes in a time where the political debate is heated, thus its results will show division on actual facts and policies. The conservative party manages to maintain a high percentage of total votes, which is still critical, since an increasing number of remain voters, mainly represented by the LibDems, are prepared to vote tactically, in order to prevent a Tory government.

The Labour party comes second in the polls and their supporters have been campaigning feverishly during the pre-election period across the country. Comparing to the previous elections where Corbyn was the LP leader, in this one, there is a vast list of policies that seem to be in the radical side of the typical agenda even for a social democrat. Speaking of free movement, the green new deal, support of the NHS and the struggles in education sound all like a melody to a working class that lives the Tory realism for far too long. And rightfully poor constituencies prefer Corbyn, young voters and neighbourhoods where national minorities are highly present support strongly the LP.

It is more than clear that the Labour party’s goal is merely a system reform. But no answers will be given to the real problems of the working class through the parliamentary way. Capitalism will still be exploiting people’s labour, discrimination against women, migrants and other minorities will still exist and the bourgeois class will continue to reproduce itself. Not to mention the absence of any analysis and critique to the EU’s role on immigration policies and the country’s participation in the NATO alliance. Change in our views comes with organising from below, in the workplace, the union, the university and the community to challenge bourgeois power in its different forms. It is the working class and its oppressed allies that can deliver change, when given command of their own lives.

British politics suffer by another element that is fundamentally the same as the above; Internationalism. It is not McCluskey’s racist comments on immigration that typically run through the whole of society and it comes from a deep conservatism that is primarily fault of the LP. It is the total lack of communication with the rest of European politics that leads to this faith in social democracy with a certain delay.  With a disturbed belief in national sovereignty that supposedly other countries don’t have, British left wingers think that the LP will not be a farce as it was all over Europe in its latest version just because in their country the will of the people is taken more seriously.

Sadly, it is the market that guides politics and not the other way around, and it is the same in the UK as everywhere else. The financial crisis caused a coordinated reaction in the European population. The neoliberal parties that took the initiative to recapitalise the banks lost support and the population gradually turned to alternative parties of the new Social Democracy. This has happened in France, Spain, Portugal and Greece. In fact, the Greek example was enough for the population of the Spanish state and France to lose trust in their similar parties, Podemos and France Insoumise respectively.

The financial crisis has affected British politics, as well. Corbyn himself is not a personality that radicalises the generalised mistrust to the ruling class. He is merely giving a parliamentary battle, soaked in pragmatism. He is often depictured as the closest you can have to a politician that is also a union leader, yet this is the role of the unions that the social democracy wants; a stand-by role that fights for small demands, while the real politicians ‘’take care’’ of politics. Even more, the radical left organisations that are so keen on defending the LP policies and reforms are nowhere near to have say on them. They are silently taking the role of the observer of the LP and use their activism only as alibi for not doing so, since they cannot describe any hope outside of the LP. But, being an observer in such a struggle leads to being an observer of anything that goes on around you.

Most anticapitalist organisations in the UK left drop the typical argument about the LP and tend to push the discussion to an argument about Corbyn as a person. This tactic shows, apart from a total retreat on the issue of the LP, the lack of any kind of plan for the next day in the political spectrum. There is no intention of a political front of radical left organisations and individuals. Of course, something like that demands that these organisations work first together in movement and through that build relations, but someone would expect some frontal policy even as an empty word. Under this lack of plan the vast majority of the organisations of the Left fall in the plan of someone else, and in this case, of parliamentary, reformist, old-school social democracy.

To be clear, voting and supporting a party that pursues to have parliamentary representation, is a different thing to a party that claims to gain power and implement policies. Even more when talking about one of the strongest states in the world, which leads its own commonwealth and is the right hand of the American imperialism, with such an important place in the Middle Eastern crisis. After all, it is worth to mention that during the recent political debate, Brexit is presented as a certain framework and not a policy by itself, letting some space for discussion on individual issues like public healthcare and education.

To rephrase Dante, “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”. Intentions do not suffice; we need to fix the problem and capitalism can’t be fixed.

After a false hope comes a real depression; it is crucial for the forces that align themselves with the working class and the oppressed in this struggle to see the dynamic in their hands and look for political solutions that allow them to participate evenly and open the road ahead for future victories.

Vote for Corbyn and build the fightback

Socialist Worker, organ of the British Socialist Workers Party

Socialist Worker urges everyone to back Jeremy Corbyn and vote Labour on Thursday. In the hours left of the election campaign, we call on everyone to argue for the biggest possible Labour vote.

The boss of Datapraxis, one of the polling firms, said on Sunday, “We have never seen as many undecided voters this late in the campaign.

“As many as 80-90 constituencies are still up for grabs. A much larger Conservative landslide is still possible—but so is a hung parliament.”

Let’s drive out Boris Johnson’s government of lies and fakery. Let’s at last break from the Tories’ cruel regime of austerity, racism and support for Donald Trump. If Corbyn becomes prime minister, it will be a fantastic rejection of decades of neoliberal assaults on working class people. It can reverse the sense that our side is battered all the time while the Tories get away with murder.

Every activist, and the millions who have backed Corbyn, would go into work or college on Friday morning with a smile on their face. Every racist and Tory supporter would feel crushed. Imagine the delight of seeing Johnson become the shortest-serving prime minister since 1827.


Most importantly, a Labour win could be a spur to struggles in the workplaces and on the streets. That’s why our rulers fear it, and why throughout the election campaign we have backed Corbyn. But we also know that even winning a majority Labour government would be far from the end of struggle.

For a start Corbyn would be surrounded by over 100 Labour MPs who hate everything he stands for. He would face the relentless opposition of an overwhelmingly hostile media. The Tories would encourage sabotage by their backers. Crucially, the bosses and the bankers will use their economic power to try to hold onto their privileges and their cash. This has happened to every previous Labour government. It’s what happened when the Labour-type social democrat Francois Hollande was elected French president in 2012. After a brief period of reforms he was squeezed by interest rate rises on the bond markets. He collapsed into pro-business, anti-worker “reforms” and further racist laws.

In Greece, Syriza was elected in January 2015 as the hope of a continent that wanted an end to austerity. It crumbled in the face of the power of the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the Greek bosses. Behind the bosses stand the police, the army and the spies.

Two weeks ago, Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of MI6, said Corbyn was a “present danger to our country”. “Do not even think of handing this politician the keys to Number 10,” he warned. Dearlove was one of those responsible for the “dodgy dossier” that was used as the main justification for the 2003 Iraq war.

None of this means it’s worthless to vote for Labour. But it does mean that the future will not be decided on 12 December. The real struggles will be fought in the streets and the workplaces. Labour compromises and retreats because it puts parliament and votes first. To make struggle as effective as possible means building a movement independent of Labour, and a revolutionary socialist party focused on resistance outside parliament.

We fight climate chaos, austerity, racism, war and police violence. We want an end to capitalism and are battling for socialism. If you agree with us, then join the Socialist Workers Party.


Leave a Reply