By Peter Arkell
Now what? It is unthinkable to lie down and acquiesce in the result of this election. So we have to analyse what lies behind the Labour defeat, and develop a perspective to bring down the Boris Johnson government.
Brexit, originally an issue only for the Tories, was foisted onto the whole country and became the means by which the Tory Party split the working class. With a manifesto very thin on policy detail, the Tories used the Brexit issue as a battering ram, to the exclusion of everything else. It was really their only policy (apart from vague promises), deliberately and ruthlessly exploited by Dominic Cummings and the shadowy figures behind Johnson.
So we have a rogue government, elected by means of a dishonest campaign against the people. Britain has now joined Hungary, Poland, USA, Brazil, India and others in electing extreme right-wing populist governments, dedicated to protecting/defending the corporations and the billionaires, and to destroying even the limited forms of democracy that still exist.
It is not possible for Johnson to lift austerity, raise living standards and return the NHS and the schools to their previous spending levels without raising taxes from the wealthy, the last thing Johnson will do. The world economic situation and the threat of another crash, as the large capitalist concerns borrow more and more money to compete and survive, make that kind of policy impossible in any case. Johnson`s talk of a one-nation government is, like most of his promises, a lie, a confidence trick.
So why did the working class centres in the North-East, the Midlands and Wales “lend” their vote to such a reactionary and dishonest outfit? Apart from Brexit, the main reason has to be found within Labour itself and its history. Labour was seen by the masses, the old mining communities, the former steel workers, the car workers and other factory workers, as little different from the Tories.
Indeed, under Kinnock and Blair there was little difference. Did Kinnock support the miners? No. Is Blair remembered with fondness in these areas? No. Hundreds of thousands of working-class families were betrayed and forgotten by the leaders of the Labour Party during these previous decades. These leaders had been wooed and won over to the ideas of new-liberalism.
Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were unable to convince the masses in these “heartlands” that the new programme, perspectives and policies of the party represented a real change. In large part this was because over half of the parliamentary party were hostile to these changes, so hostile in fact that some of them would have wanted a Labour defeat so that they could get rid of Corbyn.
MPs like Wes Streeting, Stephen Kinnock, Caroline Flint, Margaret Hodge and many others, have done little else in the last four years except work for Corbyn’s removal. Will they step forward to take the blame? Of course not. They will carry on, with the active help of the billionaire press, smearing any socialist leader that might emerge from the leadership election, in their campaign to turn the party back into a harmless centrist swamp.
As for the future of the Labour Party, there will be a war within it, but hopefully the project started by Corbyn and McDonnell, will be carried forward by the 600,000 members who have joined since Corbyn was elected leader. The party could even split, but if that is what it takes to uphold the new anti-Tory policies, that should be welcomed.
Far from accommodating their new voters in the North-East, the new Tory government will be forced to the right into authoritarian measures and towards dictatorship, whether Johnson wants to go that way or not. And they will be able to do nothing about the climate crisis, as to do anything meaningful would mean conflicting with their true base — the corporations and the billionaires who own them. To allow them to serve out a full five years would be a betrayal of humanity.
There are other actions, apart from those that take place in Parliament, for opposing undemocratic governments — such as the formation of a network of local assemblies to unite the people against the inevitable attacks by government on all the things that give value to the lives of working people.