British Conservatives win, making election Brexit referendum

This 19 June 2019 video from the British parliament says about itself:

Boris Johnson has been labelled ‘racist’ in the House of Commons by the Scottish National party’s Westminster leader, who said the Conservative leadership frontrunner was ‘unfit’ to be prime minister. Ian Blackford asked [then still Conservative Prime Minister] Theresa May if she agreed with Johnson that the Scottish people were a verminous race who should be ‘exterminated’, referring to a poem published in the Spectator when Johnson was the magazine’s editor.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 13 December 2019, when there were still only exit polls about the British election:

Brexit backlash hits Labour hard, exit poll suggests

EXIT polls have suggested a Tory landslide, with Leave-voting areas switching away from Labour according to predictions.

A visibly shocked [Labour party] John McDonnell told the BBC that “Brexit has dominated” the election.

Meanwhile, results have confirmed the predictions.

How did Boris Johnson’s Conservatives win more seats, giving them an absolute majority of MPs?

Not by increasing their number of votes. That was 43,6%, only 1,2% more than the 2017 election. And voter turnout was lower than in 2017. Maybe because of voters not turning up out of disgust about politicians talking for or against Brexit, Brexit, Brexit and very little else. Instead of about peace; of Conservative attacks on disabled and other poor people; about stopping racism and homophobia; etc.

The Conservatives won seats because Labour, after their biggest progress, with their new leader Jeremy Corbyn, in votes since 1945 in the 2017 election, lost. They fell back to 32.2%. Still more than their share at the 2015 election: 30,5%, under their then leader Ed Miliband, less leftist than Corbyn.

“We thought other issues could cut through and there would be a wider debate, from this evidence there clearly wasn’t,” the shadow chancellor [John McDonnell] said.

Sadly, true.

Labour’s bad result was

following its decision to campaign for a second referendum on EU membership. …

The Brexit issue is more complex than it seems. Both European Union Brexiteers and European Union Remainers really have two contradictory tendencies. Among Remainers, there are Thatcherite Conservatives, right-wing Labour Blairites and other champions of austerity, anti-refugee xenophobia and neocolonial wars all over the world. On the other hand, there is the ‘Remain and transform’ tendency. It says that, by staying inside the European Union, British socialists can transform the European Union pro-austerity capitalism to socialism (a task maybe only slightly less enormous than transforming NATO from a nuclear-armed warmongering organisation into a pacifist and socialist organisation. But that is another issue).

Then, Brexiteers. Boris Johnson won this election by saying little else than Get Brexit done. That seems to have appealed not only to hard-core Brexiteers, but also maybe to some people who are not strongly against European Union membership, but who are tired of politicians endlessly talking about up with Brexit, down with Brexit and very little else.

Johnson cleverly hid during the campaign WHAT kind of Brexit should be ‘done’ by the electorate. He and other right-wingers want a Brexit making Britain a hard-line Thatcherite country, slave to Donald Trump’s USA. When Trump visited Britain recently, Johnson, as a clever but hypocritical election campaign tactic, avoided Trump.

There are also many working-class people who helped Brexit to a majority in the 2016 referendum. Not out of love for Johnson’s Thatcherism. But because they don’t like austerity imposed by Brussels. Or don’t like European Union anti-refugee policies.

Unfortunately, the Remain and transform tendency was powerless against their ‘Remain and make the European Union even more capitalist and militarist’ ‘allies’. As unfortunately, in this election people who want to leave the European Union to make Britain more socialist, lost out to Boris Johnson’s Brexiteers who want to leave to make Britain more Trumpist capitalist.

Many working-class voters, it seems, especially in northern England, were so repelled by Blairite pro-European Union Labour MPs, millstones around Corbyn’s neck, that they stayed at home. Or, in some cases, even voted Conservative ‘to get Brexit done’. Unfortunately, not realizing that Johnson’s Brexit is not their Brexit.

Many are in the north-east of England, [traditionally Labour] constituencies which voted predominantly for Leave, such as historical mining constituency Blyth Valley.

The Labour party were not the only losers in this election. The most pro-European Union party, the Liberal Democrats, lost. Their leader Jo Swinson lost her seat.

All pro-European Union Blairite Labour and Thatcherite Conservative MPs who had left their parties lost their seats in this election.

Not all was gloom and doom for Remainers. In Scotland, there was a big victory for the Scottish National Party. An argument for Scotland becoming independent and thus remaining in the European Union.

In Northern Ireland, for the first time ever, pro-union with Britain parties like the DUP, lost their majority of MPs. Parties supporting a united Ireland, remaining in the European Union, won.

Mr McDonnell added that he had doubts “Brexit will be done as a result of this.”

“I think what will happen… people, I think, almost in despair, wanted to get Brexit over and done with because they’ve had enough of what’s been going on.”

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgeon also suggested that Brexit dictated the vote.

He Tweeted: “If, as it seems, this was a Brexit election then the next one won’t be given Johnson’s Thatcherite agenda.”

But he vowed to continue the fight against the Tories.

Mr McDonnell warned that the result would put “the most right-wing extreme cabinet that we’ve seen in our history” in power who would have the mandate to introduce “reactionary policies.”

Meanwhile, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced that he won’t be the leader at the next election. One should hope that his successor won’t be some Blairite. That would make Labour even smaller than the Liberal Democrats. Corbyn’s successor should be at least as left-wing as he.

18 thoughts on “British Conservatives win, making election Brexit referendum

  1. This is, I’m afraid, drivel. And most of your dates are wrong.

    For instance: “There are also many working-class people who helped Brexit to a majority in the 2015 referendum. Not out of love for Johnson’s Thatcherism. But because they don’t like austerity imposed by Brussels. Or don’t like European Union anti-refugee policies.”

    There is no evidence for this. Austerity in the UK was *not* “imposed by Brussels” but was a political choice of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition.

    As for working class Brexit voters opposing the EU’s “anti-refugee policies”, this is wild fantasy. All the evidence (eg the Ashcroft polls) shows that the Brexit vote was driven by anti-refugee and anti-immigrant sentiment.

    By the way, the referendum was in 2016, not 2015 and the present year is 2019, not 2012 – but that’s the least of your errors.


    • Hi Jim, thanks for correcting my 2015 and 2019 dates. I have corrected them now; reminding me that I should not write too fast.

      In spite of Conservative pollster Lord Ashcroft whom you quote as an authority:

      many working-class voters, Brexiteer, Remainer or whatever, oppose ‘anti-refugee’ sentiment. Human rights organisations trying to save refugees’ lives in the Mediterranean accuse the European Union of ‘murdering refugees’. Would you claim that capitalists share that judgment, and working-class people don’t?

      The first thing Jeremy Corbyn did after being elected Labour leader was addressing a very big pro-refugee rally in London. That did not in any way prevent Labour in getting the biggest increase in votes since 1945 at the next election.

      Some of the working-class voters who voted for Brexit in 2016 may have been driven by anti-refugee sentiment indeed: those voters who had voted Conservative all their lives. But I doubt very much if that was true for life long Labour voters who voted Leave.

      The European Union fully supported Blair’s and Conservative and Liberal Democrat austerity policies. It imposed them on Greece, Portugal and Spain with ruinous results.

      And now, European Union politicians are happy with Johnson’s victory:

      You give a bit of an impression that you consider the working class hopelessly racist; and pro-capitalist pro-Remainers like Tony Blair, Amber Rudd and Theresa May anti-racist.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You are completely wrong, on every count: The idea that there was an otherwise-politically-neutral pro-Brexit electoral constituency waiting to be corralled by either left or right is plainly nonsense: it radically underestimates the extent to which nationalists ideas have taken root. People so deeply committed to Brexit as a political idea, presented in explicitly hard-nationalist terms, were not going to vote for a “Labour Brexit”. They wanted the fully leaded version.

        Is the British working class (as you put it) “hopelessly racist; and pro-capitalist”? No, not all of them. But the pro-Brexit element certainly is. Even so, we must not turn our back on them: they’re *our* class and must be won over by patient argument.

        Arguing the issues honestly is not a magic answer. But it is the only answer compatible with serious politics: the only answer compatible with building a movement that wins trust and the right to a hearing.

        Lots of us hoped Labour might break through because of disgust with austerity (the 2017 phenomenon). But Brexit was always going to dominate because of the preceding three and a half years of stalemate.

        Labour lost because the present leadership chucked in the towel on Remain after the referendum and arrogantly decided that the political division on Brexit had nothing to do with change in society and therefore their ability to win against the Tories.

        Labour are not presently a party deeply rooted in working-class communities. They are a mass paper membership party which has an effective machine to mobilise only for short-term efforts. That’s not good enough for confronting big social and political issues. The task is to reassert class politics and basic, internationalist socialist culture. That’s a task for years, decades – maybe generations – to come. There are no shortcuts and there can be no concessions to the backwardness of nationalism and xenophobia: the Stalinists and little-Englanders who would pander to Brexit and all it represents must be fought every inch of the way.


        • So, according to you, not all of the working class in England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland with their pro-Remain and anti-United Kingdom majorities are different) is hopelessly racist and pro-capitalist; but you think the majority are. But we are talking about voters who voted Labour all their lives; then voted Leave in 2016 (the less money people have, the more Eurosceptical they tend to be; also in countries which for much longer than the UK, have been members of the predecessors of the EU). Jeremy Corbyn’s first action as Labour leader was addressing a massive pro-refugee rally (were most of the demonstrators there capitalist? Or were they working class?). If, according to you, not only life long working-class Conservative voters, but also life-long Labour voters who voted Leave are hopelessly racist and pro-capitalist, then one might expect that at the 2017 election, they would massively have deserted Labour and voted Tory. It did not happen. Labour had its biggest increase in votes since 1945. In membership it became the biggest political party anywhere in Europe. It is true that they are too concentrated on parliament and not enough on extra-parliamentary action; including political strikes like are happening in France now. One of the reasons for their 2019 defeat.

          Other issues than up with Brexit, down with Brexit, like austerity, the threatening climate catastrophe, nuclear weapons, neocolonial wars are millions of times more important than politicians in their London bubble quarrelling about Brexit. They should have decided the election. But Boris Johnson cleverly chose a slogan. He did not say Hip hip hooray for Brexit. He said Get Brexit done. And that reflected how many people, whatever their views on Brexit, thought. While many life long Labour voters were disgusted by the alliance of Blairite MPs with Iraq war liar Campbell, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and the Confederation of British Industry for Remain.


          • ” not all of the working class in England and Wales (Scotland and Northern Ireland with their pro-Remain and anti-United Kingdom majorities are different) is hopelessly racist and pro-capitalist”: correct. the key words being “not all” and “hopelessly”. the first is correct, the second (“hopelessly”) incorrect, and the diametric *opposite* of what I’m arguing.


            • You argued that not only Conservative working class pro Brexit voters, but also life long Labour voters who voted for Brexit did so all because of being racist.

              Hopeless: you wrote it would be ‘ decades – maybe generations’ before it would be possible to convert traditional Labour voting pro-Brexit voters from the racism from which they supposedly all suffer (including the pro-Lexit Indian Workers Association?). In decades, maybe generations time most of the readers of this blog will be dead (maybe all humans will be dead forever then, because of the issues, far more important than Brexit, of global warming and nuclear war). So, that is certainly hopeless for these blog readers.


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