Inspite of winning the highest number of seats and votes on June 8, the Conservative Party came out as a loser in latest British general elections. Theresa May had been so assured of her victory that she campaigned with a thinly veiled contempt for the masses and refused to debate with her rivals. The Tories have ended up with a hung parliament with Theresa May’s leadership quavering. Within the Tory Party, the knives are now out for Theresa May with a public outcry for her resignation.
Tory government’s Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, until just months ago, quipped at Theresa’s tribulation, “She is a dead woman walking and the only question is how long she remains on death row.” One of the Tory icons in recent history, Michel Heseltine, blamed the election defeat and the crisis of the Conservatives on the 2008 economic crash, frozen incomes and increased deprivation. Brexit and the breakdown of the economic and political equilibrium reflect this crisis. Brexit or no Brexit, the organic crisis of capitalism is devouring societies the crisis and revolts are bound to erupt.
British Marxist Roger Silverman commented on Theresa May’s insolence in the run up to the elections: “After repeating time and again that she would not call a new election, May impulsively yielded to the temptation of an easy landslide victory, justifying her opportunist U-turn with feeble waffle about the need for a ‘strong mandate’ ahead of the coming Brexit negotiations. Lacking any clear programme and fearful of exposing her emptiness to the glare of public scrutiny, May then locked herself away in hiding, shunning public exposure, refusing to participate in TV debates, addressing only secretly convened ‘public meetings’ staged in front of sycophantic hand-picked audiences.”
Jeremy Corbyn, leading the Labour party, in reality sought a mandate for a socialist programme — the redistribution of wealth and power in the interests of a society and economy devoid of coercion and denial. We were told he would lead his party to calamitous defeat; he increased Labour’s vote by 10 percent, and the seat count rose by 29. For now at least, his party leadership seems secured. Corbyn was subjected to perhaps the most vicious campaign of slanders and attacks by Britain’s gutter media in the post-war history. Corbyn was termed as ‘Friend of the Hamas, IRA and other terrorists’, ‘Marxist extremist’, ‘a national security risk’, ‘crypto–communist’ etc. These issues were treacherously woven into questions in his TV interviews to trap Corbyn.
This result was also a shameful defeat for the right wing of the parliamentary Labour party. These Blairite MP’s undermined party’s elected leader with relentless treachery. It’s ironical that this ‘Corbynite surge’ by the youth saved their jobs as Labour MPs. They had spent the past two years trying to oust Corbyn from the leadership. Now most are falling over each other to eat their words and crawl to get the ‘blessings’ of potentially Britain’s next prime minister.
Corbyn’s campaign manifesto titled, “For the Many, Not the Few” found an echo amongst the youth and workers suffering a socioeconomic onslaught for a long time. It was the most radical Labour party election manifesto since 1945. The manifesto called for the re-nationalisation of Royal Mail, energy and water utilities and the railways. The vital public services such as the NHS and Education were to be revitalised through radical taxation on the wealthy elite. Increasing minimum wage, doing away with tuition fees and abolishing of student debts attracted students and the youth.
For almost three decades, the Tories or the Blairite neoliberal orthodoxies imposed anti-working class policies. For a whole historical period cynicism became the dominant force in British electoral politics. The working class and youth mass struggles and strikes although sporadic were dismissed by the reactionary British media and the political class as mere futile outbursts. The general ethics of the ruling class perceived morality and honesty for naivety and stupidity.
Theresa May’s new ‘coalition of chaos’ with the ultra-right DUP in Northern Ireland is a desperate gambit. It cannot last long. All it will take to bring the government crashing to defeat will be one parliamentary defection or one lost by-election
The elite’s mantra was that people were motivated solely by individualism and self-interest. These purported masters of society’s destiny assumed that principles, dedication and sacrifice for ideology had absconded modern society. Socialism and Communism were pronounced dead and the class struggle declared ended forever. These pundits insisted that ‘politics was the art of the possible’ and scorned at any system and society free of exploitation and deprivation being created. Such nefarious tendencies induced by the elite’s strategists and experts were not limited to Britain or the advanced capitalist countries. In countries like Pakistan this has been an on-going psychological and cultural onslaught from the moneyed politicians and media barons. Britain’s election results demonstrate a new resurgence of class struggle and ideas of revolutionary socialism.
May’s new ‘coalition of chaos’ with the ultra-right DUP in Northern Ireland is a desperate gambit. It cannot last long. All it will take is one parliamentary defection or one lost by-election to bring the government crashing to defeat. In the coming period, British society and politics will be engulfed by stormy events with enormous instability. This election has significantly changed the political and psychological perceptions in society. The slogans of re-nationalisations, anti-austerity, ending of tuition fees properly financing NHS and other basic necessities of ordinary people have shaken the consciousness and are awakening of the political consciousness of the working class has begun.
The struggles against austerity and the defence of people’s living standards will continue, perhaps in ebbs and flows, but the new period of class struggle seems to be dawning. New strike movements can emerge on the industrial plain. There will be many strikes, demonstrations, rallies and campaigns against the system. The impacts of these movements will be felt deeply in Europe, America and far beyond. After all this coercive system is creating harrowing conditions in society, making human lives hellish everywhere. There is a seething hatred and revulsion against capitalism across the planet. The Corbyn campaign has rekindled debates of challenging capitalism and renewed interest in ideas of revolutionary socialism — not just in Britain. The task is to create a perspective and a party to accomplish it.
The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at email@example.com