Some observations on the general election results of last night:
- The electorate hasn’t really shifted since 2010. The share of left-centre votes vs right-centre votes is very similar. The results cannot really be understood in terms of a rightwards shift.
- The two big losers, Scottish Labour and the Liberal Democrats, share one thing in common which no other parties do: they were seen to have teamed up with the Tories (in Better Together or in Government). The Tories are the second most hated brand in the UK, beating Ryanair and Marmite and beaten only by UKIP. People’s positive feelings towards their own party are nothing to their hatred of the Tories. Sadly I think that this is more to do with brand identity than ideology.
- The two big winners, UKIP and the SNP, again only share one thing in common: nationalism. Clearly their policy platforms could not be more different but they share in common a belief that the problems in society come from outside the nation: the EU or Westminster. I am not saying that the two parties should be considered in the same way – the SNP is of course vastly preferable to UKIP – but the reasons behind their support are not a million miles apart. If it were true that the SNP’s rise was simply an attack on Labour from the left, we would have seen a significant difference in the results for left-wing Labour MPs like Katy Clark, or an SNP manifesto much further to to the left of Labour’s. We didn’t.
- Left-of-Labour parties continue to have no success under first past the post. The #Greensurge resulted in no additional seats, despite mobilising tons of activists and securing a better media presence than ever before. The Labour Party continues to be the only way that we can defeat the Tories.
- The fight in the Labour Party in the coming months is going to be incredibly important. The Labour Right will argue that Miliband was too left-wing, particularly on immigration, ‘the market’ and public services. The Labour Left have to make the case that politics is not won or lost on this consumerist basis. We have to argue that class politics is the only thing that can defeat nationalism and individualism, and that over-turning 35 years of neoliberal hegemony takes time.This needs socialists to fight for their ideas, and the trade unions to fight for their policies to be taken up by the party.
If you agree with this, especially points 4 and 5, then you should join the Labour Party and join the fight.