Yesterday, there was a general election in Britain. As I write this, most, not yet all, results are known.
Since 2010, there has been a coalition government of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties. It had disastrous policies of warmongering and attacking poor vulnerable people with the bedroom tax etc.
One might expect politicians responsible for this to lose elections. In the case of the junior partner in the coalition, the Liberal Democrats, this happened indeed. The BBC predicts that the number of Liberal Democrat MPs will drop from 57 to eight. This is the reward for Liberal Democrat politicians for breaking their 2010 election promises about students, stopping nuclear weapons, etc.
However, the BBC predicts that the major party in the British government coalition, David Cameron’s Conservatives, will get some more MPs, very probably even getting a small absolute majority in parliament. How is that possible? For a variety of reasons.
First, the Conservatives had not, to the extent of the Liberal Democrats, made leftish sounding promises before the 2010 elections, then breaking those promises once in office.
Second: the new voter registration system in Britain. Wikipedia writes about this:
Individual Electoral Registration (IER) is the voter registration system which took effect from 10 June 2014 in England & Wales and from 19 September 2014 in Scotland. Under the previous system, the “head of the household” was required to register all residents of the household who are eligible. Under the new system individuals are required to register themselves, as well as provide their National Insurance number and date of birth on the application form so that their identity can be verified.
This means that many people, especially women, young people, and private renters are no longer registered automatically, and, in quite some cases, are disenfranchised now. So, Conservatives benefit by disenfranchising social categories where they are usually weak.
Third, and maybe most importantly: the Conservatives were helped by the state of the main opposition party, Labour.
Here, we have to go back to the history of Labour, at least since 1997, when Tony Blair became Labour Prime Minister.
Blair disgusted millions of traditional Labour voters with his bloody wars in Iraq, Afghanistan etc. and his economic policies increasing the gap between the rich and the poor.
After Blair resigned in disgrace, Gordon Brown took over as Labour Prime Minister. Brown, an admirer of United States neoconservatives, basically continued Blair’s policies. In spite of a microscopically small baby step to the left: weakening Blair’s draconian anti-democratic rules against demonstrating on Parliament Square against, eg, the Iraq war.
After Gordon Bown came Ed Miliband. Miliband took a few more baby steps to the Left. He admitted that Blair’s Iraq war had been wrong. However, he supported the Conservative-led government in spending lots of money on renovating Trident nuclear weapons. And in the basic principles of Cameron’s austerity policies.
Yesterday, the electorate made clear that baby steps are not enough to win back ex-Labour voters disgusted by Blairism. Symbolic for this is that Ed Balls, the main propagandist of ‘Conservative lite’ austerity in Labour, lost his seat as an MP.
Ed Miliband kept his seat. However, he announced today his resignation as party leader.
The losses of Labour were worst in Scotland. Labour used to be the biggest party there, winning 41 of the 59 Scottish seats in 2010. Now, in 2015, they have just one seat left.
Not so surprising if we see who the Labour leader in Scotland was (and still is at the moment): Jim Murphy. Murphy is not just a Blairite within Labour, but also a member of the extreme right Henry Jackson Society. The Henry Jackson Society is named after a United States senator who was corrupt, a warmonger and a racist. The Henry Jackson Society advocates torture.
With someone like Jim Murphy as Labour’s official face in Scotland, it is no wonder that the Scottish National Party won a landslide victory. They did not have to move to the political left for that. They just had to watch Blairites like Murphy making Labour pass the SNP to the right. What a pity that not just Murphy himself, but also Scottish Labour politicians with more decency than Jim Murphy or Tony Blair became victims of this.
The Conservative Party has won a narrow majority after yesterday’s General Election. With a projected 331 seats in Westminster, it will not have to rely on support from Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party or the Liberal Democrats, as some had predicted. The result owes nothing to popular support. The Conservatives polled approximately 36 percent of the vote, a small rise on 2010, but due to Britain’s first past the post constituency-based system it increased its number of seats by at least 22. This is an election that Labour lost rather than one that the Tories won: here.
Whoever forms the next government, the left will have to ramp up the battle to beat austerity, leading labour movement figures warned yesterday: here.