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On the Labour Defeat

There's the old saying: no matter who you vote for, the government always gets in. And they did indeed this time, with the biggest Conservative majority since the 1980s and the biggest defeat for the Labour party since the 1930s.

I rarely voted for Labour, but did in this recent general election specifically because of the persona of Jeremy Corbyn. Someone with that kind of grassroots activism background who was involved in street level campaigns against racism and nuclear weapons is a person I can respect even if I don't necessarily agree with every policy proposal. It was possibly the only point in my lifetime when there seemed to be a realistic chance to elect a socialist government. Also the pledge to abolish benefit sanctions is a high priority to me. The benefits system is very punitive and causes a lot of unnecessary suffering and premature deaths. It's the main reason why food bank use is as common as it is. People weakened by starvation will not fight for liberty. They become passive, resigned and averse to change out of fear of losing what little they have.

I think the Labour party lost for a few reasons. That the mainstream media were very biased against Corbyn was obvious. In the 2017 election they just considered him a joke and so there wasn't so much opposition, but this time they thought he had a real chance and so they threw everything they had at him. The second brexit referendum policy was especially unpopular and it would have been better if Corbyn had just chosen one side or the other and stuck to it. Also the Labour party took their traditional voters for granted and probably should have done a lot more to explain where the money was coming from for their various policies and exactly what effects new spending would have in particular constituencies (i.e. that it wouldn't just be frittered away in corrupt housing scams and gentrification). There was a sense that the policies were mostly ok but that at a time of extreme austerity when most people are completely broke and living precariously it was very unclear where the money was coming from and who it would be going to. By contrast before the last Labour win from a Conservative government in the 1990s they were falling over themselves to explain in excruciating detail how their plans were costed.

I expect that the Labour party will now elect a centrist leader and return to being politically radioactive. That's not because centrism is popular - the LibDem leader lost her seat and Change UK were completely wiped out - but because a centrist would have a much easier time with the mainstream media. The tabloids will potentially support a centrist under certain conditions if they make the right noises, look like a sharp-suited lawyer and don't eat too many bacon sandwiches or have a Marxist father. To win mainstream media approval they will need impeccable upper middle class credentials.

Parliamentary politics is of course only a minor aspect of politics and in the next few years it will presumably continue to be a largely irrelevant dumpster fire. The important stuff will be outside of parliament, organizing for survival, opposition to privatization, street level actions and building solidarity wherever possible. Technology will no doubt play some role in that, but mainly it's down to human factors.

Tags: politics, uk