The Cruel Election

The Independent has reported that Jeremy Corbyn may very well try stay on as leader of the Labour party even after Labour suffer the inevitable hammering on June 8. In lieu of this information, it is outright essential that the Labour party suffers such a humiliating defeat that those who support Jeremy Corbyn can have no option but to admit that they are wrong. They must accept that Jeremy Corbyn is an utterly incompetent “leader” whose main accomplishment was to cripple, and potentially kill, the Labour party and ensure that the left would be admonished from being anywhere near the leverages of power for two generations at the very least.

However such a coarse of events is thwart with dangers that I personally find utterly repulsive. The first being a hard right Conservative government dominating British politics in the absolute with any opposition being dismissed as treacherous dissent in both parliament and the media. Britain will become a demagogic democracy ruled by an incompetent politician whose chief distinction from Margaret Thatcher is the miraculous ability to perform u-turns. Napoleon said, “I would rather have a general who was lucky than one who was good”. Theresa May is an exceptionally lucky Prime Minister who is greatly lacking in talent. She’s in a strong position because she has exploited the fact that committed Leavers are united in ensuring Britain does deliver on leaving the EU and those wanting to remain in the Single Market are both fragmented by party lies and divided between those who want to accept the referendum result and those that want to remain in the EU.

The second is that if Labour isn’t decimated enough it may not head what needs shoving down the party throat, even worse it may end up in a weakened enough state to not be able effectively rebuild itself like it did after the disastrous defeats in the 1980s. Yet it may stay strong enough that no other party could replace it as an opposition. This raises the possibility that we lose our adversarial democracy which is the central pillar to British democracy, we would end up being a one-party state. The electoral dynamics make this a distinct possibility because it will be difficult for any opposition party to win enough seats in parliament while they are excluded from having access to Scotland, the only viable opposition to the Tories in Scotland is a party exclusive to that region of Britain.

The third is that it is decimated so much that it is impossible for it to recover, yet another party is unable to gather enough support to ever become a viable alternative to the Conservatives to attain power. Again the one-party state option but this time it won’t be a self-indulgent labour party protected by the FPTP electoral system. The alternative options currently are UKIP, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens. We can dismiss the first and latter immediately for differing reasons.

The Conservatives are aiming to squeeze UKIP out of existence now thats its influence on British politics has led to Britain leaving the EU. UKIP will most likely still exist as a right-wing protest party which will gain popularity among the right-leaning when the Conservatives inevitably become complacent and more inept over time. If the Overton window in UK politics shifts dramatically to the right then it is also possible that UKIP could act as a steering window directing the future ideological outlook of the country, in a similar fashion to the Liberals between 1918-2010.

The Greens could get a boost in support among hard-left Labour members, especially if they lost control over the Labour party. Whether the Greens would appreciate the new support is a whole different matter, it would immediately leave the Greens languishing with no future possibility of saving the environment from too much carbon pollution. It would be tarnished by gaining supporters who are very unpopular with the rest of the population, plus Green party supporters could resent the new recruits who were so incompetent in challenging the Tories in the first place especially if they tried taking over the mechanisms inside the Green party.

There is the Liberal Democrats who are the most promising alternative to Labour for holding the crown of being HM Loyal Opposition. They are sufficiently distinct from the Conservatives, especially on the matter of Europe, to be an opposition party. As a result of entering a coalition with the Conservatives, they do have experience of being a party of government. They also are the only other non-regional party outside the big two to have won enough seats in the House of Commons in the past to upset the power of balance between the Conservatives and Labour.

The coalition also created a big problem for the Liberal Democrats, many voters despise the party and distrust it fellow politicians. The issue of tuition fees was the killer for the Lib Dems, if it hadn’t renegaded on that promise it could have had a core young vote on its side which the party could use as a base to expand from. Instead it lost the trust of many younger voters, who are more likely to be pro-European, and the families of those effected. It signalled to voters that there pledges meant nothing and they easily became the fodder for the blame for eery perceived negative caused by the coalition both from the left and the right of the political spectrum.

There is also the problem that Labour is a tribalistic party whose core voters are less likely to consider voting for a party that aligned itself with the Tories. If these obstacles can’t be addressed the Liberal Democrats will struggle to build a platform that could eventually lead it to becoming an opposition party that can remove the Conservatives from 10 Downing Street.

We also can’t ignore the problem the electoral system which heavily favours the big two parties over minority parties, unless they’re the SNP. This will make it difficult for any of the above parties, as well as potential new parties, to break the status quo.
Which leaves me with a very difficult conundrum of what I want from this election. It’s clear that the UK isn’t voting in a government that wants to remain in the Single Market. It’s also clear that a hard-right Conservative government is going to take power with a significant margin. Ideally, the Labour party needs a bit of shock treatment to be applied to it. The shock could destroy the party, in all likelihood a civil war would erupt between moderates and the hard-left. Neither faction is in a clear position to win such a contest, in which case the party could implode leading to some high-profile defections to either the Liberal Democrats or an alternative Labour faction. There is also the chance that Labour will get its house in order and begin acting as an opposition party again. Whatever happens an opposition worthy of the name must be begetter from this cruel election in which I can only hope for the pyrrhic victory of the emergence of a blossoming opposition.

Gareth Mawer
I consider myself a left libertarian committed to promoting the philosophy of liberty, even though I do not always support proposals that are normally considered libertarian. Georgism and mutualism have had profound influences over my beliefs, though I'm not afraid to digress from them were necessary. My mains interests are politics, economics and philosophy.