Roger Silverman writes from London:
There really shouldn’t be any doubt about the result of the British general election.
After all, Labour is offering the most radical manifesto since 1945, including a green industrial revolution; a zero emissions target by 2030; a four-day working week within ten years; a £10 minimum wage; renationalisation of electricity, gas, water, railways and the post office; free broadband; free medical prescriptions; free lifelong education; free lifelong social care; an end to student tuition charges; a guaranteed universal right to justice… and so much more.
And what are the Tories are offering? Brexit, Brexit, and again Brexit. A continuation of zero-hours contracts, hunger and homelessness. And for prime minister, a vain, pompous, incompetent, arrogant, racist puppet of the billionaires.
And yet the world has become so extraordinarily volatile that even the result of a British general election in one week’s time is completely unpredictable. So I’ll delay my prediction until the morning of 13th December. Yet some things seems self-evident.
Not another 1983
First, despite the malicious propaganda of the Tory media, it won’t be another 1983, when Labour won its smallest vote for decades. Its vote plummeted then because the newly-formed SDP, in alliance with the Liberals, had hijacked a big portion of Labour’s vote. This time their successors the LibDems are unlikely to make spectacular gains, and much of what they do make will come from pro-Remain Tories. Unlike any of the other parties, Labour has thousands of energetic canvassers out campaigning on the doorsteps every day. Four million new voters have registered since the election was called, two-thirds of them young people likely to vote Labour.
Second, despite the hopes of Labour activists, it won’t be another 1997, when Blair’s right-wing “New Labour” clique swept to power. That regime enjoyed lavish donations from big business, and an endorsement from the press emperor Rupert Murdoch. This time, on the contrary, the ruling class is desperate to avoid a Corbyn government at all costs. It has launched an unprecedented barrage of monstrous poison against him, daring even to brand this lifelong anti-racist campaigner an anti-Semite.
If generations of corrupt Labour bureaucrats hadn’t already wiped out Labour’s previous rock-solid hold on Scotland, then a Labour victory could be well within our grasp now. But for now the Scottish nationalist SNP is in control.
So what does that leave us with?
The Tories could achieve a working majority. In that case, the combined effects of a “hard Brexit”, a new 2008-level recession, and repressive Tory laws, will fuel such discontent that we’ll see an explosion of protest which could well bring even a majority Tory government down..
If, against the odds, Labour does get to form the next government, it will almost certainly still have to depend upon the conditional support of unreliable allies (the LibDems and SNP). Even so, the formation of a Labour government on a left programme will inspire and embolden the working class and open up a new era.
Perhaps the most likely possibility is yet another “hung parliament”, with no party having a majority, as in seven of the last nine years: 2010-15 and 2017-19. This is almost unprecedented for Britain, with its traditional two-party system. It would mean a prolongation of the impasse of British capitalism, with the prospect of yet another election in two or three years’ time, making it the fifth in twelve or thirteen years (and the fourth since the passing of the Fixed-Term Parliament Act, which was supposed to guarantee stability!).
Whatever the outcome of this election, in any case there are years of polarisation, crisis and instability ahead, rapidly plunging Britain into the turmoil that is already gripping at least thirty countries throughout the rest of the world, from Europe to Africa, the Middle East to Latin America. Britain can no longer withstand the era of revolution and resistance that is sweeping the world.