Roger Silverman comments from London on yesterday’s British election results
This is no time for glib slogans. This is a serious defeat; a disaster. It clears the way for the most brutal Tory attacks yet seen on our living standards and our democratic rights. It will destroy the last remaining vestiges of the welfare state established 75 years ago. It will at least for a period demoralise a generation of youth desperate for the chance of a future. And it puts at risk the huge advances made in the last four years towards the reconquest of the Labour Party as the party of the working class and the 99%.
In a lesser-known story by Lewis Carroll, there is a scene where the masses are rioting in the streets demanding: “Less Bread! More Taxes!”. In Victorian England, that was a piece of playful nonsense fantasy, along with the Cheshire Cat’s grin or the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. In 21st century Britain, the population have actually in real life elected a grotesque pantomime prime minister who could easily have walked straight out of Alice In Wonderland, promising exactly that very programme.
But let’s cut straight through the fog of misinformation and put this result in context. Just as the media lied outrageously and shamelessly throughout the campaign, displaying blatant bias, so still now they are lying through their teeth in their reporting of this result. Yes, this is a bad result for Labour. But their repeated description of it as “Labour’s worst result since 1935” is simply yet another outright lie. In terms of the total number of votes won, this is Labour’s second best result out of the last five general elections, winning 10.3 million votes, compared to 9.5 million in 2005, 8.6 million in 2010, 9.35 million in 2015, and 12.9 million in 2017. Even in terms of percentages, Labour’s result this time, at 32.2%, is not as bad as in 2010 (29%) or 2015 (30.4%). So the unremitting poisonous filth of the media in discrediting Corbyn haws continued beyond the election campaign. The truth is that under his leadership, Labour has twice in two successive elections won more than ten million votes – something that Blair failed to achieve in 2005, Brown in 2010, or Miliband in 2015.
What are the prospects for a Johnson government? This vain, pompous, lazy, incompetent, arrogant, racist buffoon and puppet of the billionaires will prove hopelessly incompetent in coping with the multiple catastrophes lying ahead for the British ruling class: the economic consequences of a “hard Brexit”, the onset of a new recession on the scale of 2008, the near-certain secession of Scotland, the very probable reunification of Ireland, even the possible collapse of the monarchy, the rapid diminution of England into a cheap offshore-island tax haven.
There will be plenty of opportunity to deal more deeply with these issues. Meanwhile, we can be sure that the mass of the population will not stay tame or silent: the pauperized zero-hours workers, the cash-starved pensioners and disabled, the migrants and the unemployed, the homeless and the hungry, above all the youth robbed of a future.
Under a Johnson parliamentary dictatorship, years of volatility, conflict and crisis lie ahead, erupting in an explosion of protest which could well bring it crashing to its downfall. In countries around the world, from Europe to Africa, the Middle East to Latin America, tens of thousands are marching on the streets, braving police bullets and in many cases overthrowing their oppressors. Britain is plunging into the turmoil that is already gripping at least thirty countries throughout the rest of the world. Let Boris Johnson chortle in his moment of glory while he can. He least of all will be equipped to withstand the era of revolution and resistance that is sweeping the world.