After Labour

General Election Results this Decade

2010 (29,687,604 votes on a 65.1% turnout)

  • Conservative Party: 10,703,754 votes (306 seats)
  • Labour Party: 8,609,527 votes (258 seats)
  • Liberal Democrat Party: 6,836,824 votes (57 seats)
  • Scottish National Party: 491,386 votes (6 seats)
  • Green Party: 285,616 votes (1 seat)
  • Democratic Unionist Party: 168,216 votes (8 seats)

Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition Government

2015 (30,697,525 votes on a 66.4% turnout)

  • Conservative Party: 11,334,226 votes (330 seats)
  • Labour Party: 9,347,273 votes (232 seats)
  • United Kingdom Independent Party: 3,881,099 votes (1 seat)
  • Liberal Democrat Party: 2,415,916 votes (8 seats)
  • Scottish National Party: 1,454,436 votes (56 seats)
  • Green Party: 1,111,603 votes (1 seat)
  • Democratic Unionist Party: 184,260 votes (8 seats)

Conservative Majority Government

2017 (32,204,174 votes on a 68.8% turnout)

  • Conservative Party: 13,636,684 votes (317 seats)
  • Labour Party: 12,878,460 votes (262 seats)
  • Liberal Democrat Party: 2,371,910 votes (12 seats)
  • Scottish National Party: 977,568 votes (35 seats)
  • Green Party: 525,665 votes (1 seat)
  • Democratic Unionist Party: 292,316 votes (10 seats)

Conservative Minority Government with support from DUP

One thing these results show is the hugely disproportionate power the Scottish National Party in Scotland and the Democratic Union Party in Northern Ireland hold in the UK Parliament on a handful of votes. In 2015 they had 1,638,696 votes between them, about 5 percent of the total vote, which gave them 64 seats, nearly 10 per cent of the UK Parliament. Yet the Liberal Democrats, with 2,415,916 votes, half as much again, held just 8 seats, one-eighth as much. They also show how much depends on voter turnout. Labour would have formed majority governments after both the 2010 and 2015 elections with Corbyn’s vote in 2017. Once again, though, the Liberal Democrats have the worst of it, with about two-thirds of the Conservative vote in 2010, yet less than a fifth of their seats. Of course, proportional representation cuts both ways, and while the 1,111,603 votes for the Green Party in 2015 warranted far more than 1 solitary seat in Parliament, so did UKIP’s 3,881,099 votes, a third of the Conservative vote, but 1/330th their seats. Anyone who thinks this electoral system represents the political will of the people — even within the limitations imposed on that system by Parliament, the political bias of the media industry and the grossly unequal financial backing of the major parties — should look again at these figures.

2019 (Final predictions as of 10 December)

  • Conservative Party: 339 seats
  • Labour Party: 231 seats
  • Liberal Democrat Party: 15 seats
  • Scottish National Party: 41 seats
  • Green Party: 1 seat
  • Democratic Unionist Party: 8 seats

Conservative Majority Government

I would guess that, on Friday, after the results are in, or perhaps on Monday after a weekend’s reflection, Oh Jeremy Corbyn will announce his resignation from his four years and four months leadership of the Labour Party. With the largest mandate from the membership of any leader in Labour Party history, against the most disunited, badly-led Conservative governments in living memory, that instigated the most divisive referendum in UK political history, over a decade that saw the lowest public expenditure of any country in Europe, the greatest attack on the living conditions of the working class in decades, and that has resulted in the widest gap between rich and poor of any Western nation, Corbyn’s failure to form a Labour government can only be described as an abject failure without parallel in modern times, surpassing even that of Neil Kinnock in 1992.

So, what will happen? Without Corbyn’s wobbling head to front it, will Labour drop the mock-socialist rhetoric with which it has tried to conceal its unshaken commitment to Neo-liberalisation, marketisation and privatisation? Will it decide that: ‘Well, we tried that, and the electorate didn’t bite, so it’s back to New Labour Take Two’? Will the ideologues of what was ludicrously called ‘Corbynism’ fade back into their jobs in the liberal media with red faces and a fat pay rise, and the smart new kids of Momentum start wagging their heads sagely about the Overton window, how it’s no good having idealist policies if you’re not in power, and that the important thing now — they will say, as if nobody has ever said this before in the history of UK politics — ‘is to get rid of the Tories’?

Cue a rash of New and Improved Labour Policies all but indistinguishable from those of the Conservatives, but headed by a new leader. Because from now on, with absolutely no distinguishable difference between the policies of Neo-liberal parties within an Overton window that has collapsed to an arrow-slit, what’s important is personalities. Identity will be the politics of the 2020s, as it has promised to be throughout the 2010s, and where ‘Boris’ is an old, male, white, straight, privately-schooled, Oxbridge-educated relic of the past, Brand New Labour’s brand-new leader will be a young, female, black, gay, state-schooled, provincially-educated symbol of the future. Who will fit this role remains to be seen, but behind her glowing image Labour — to the relief of Tony Blair, Alastair Campbell, Michael Heseltine, Sadiq Khan, the Jewish Labour Movement, and every Labour-run council in London — will return to its true Aims and Values, as laid down this year in Clause IV of the Labour Party Rule Book 2019:

‘A DYNAMIC ECONOMY, serving the public interest, in which the enterprise of the market and the rigour of competition are joined with the forces of partnership and co-operation to produce the wealth the nation needs and the opportunity for all to work and prosper with a thriving private sector and high-quality public services where those undertakings essential to the common good are either owned by the public or accountable to them.

‘A JUST SOCIETY, which judges its strength by the condition of the weak as much as the strong, provides security against fear, and justice at work; which nurtures families, promotes equality of opportunity, and delivers people from the tyranny of poverty, prejudice and the abuse of power.

For those of you who can’t remember what the original Clause IV said before Tony Blair rewrote it in 1995 — and which Oh Jeremy Corbyn hasn’t seen fit, in his four years and four months as leader, to revise:

  • Where the 1918 original sought to ‘secure the full fruits of industry’ for the workers, the current one aims to ‘prosper in a thriving private sector’;
  • Where the former sought ‘equitable distribution’ of those fruits the latter aims for ‘equality of opportunity’;
  • ‘Common ownership of the means of production’ has been replaced by the ‘enterprise of the market’;
  • ‘Best obtainable system of popular administration’ has been replaced by the ‘rigour of competition’;
  • ‘Social and economic emancipation of the people’ has been reduced to being ‘accountable to the public’;
  • ‘Control of each industry’ has been fobbed off for ‘justice at work’;
  • And ‘those who depend directly upon their own exertions for the means of life’ are now dismissed as ‘the weak’.

So perhaps, after all, the change back to Brand New Labour will not be so different after all. Perhaps it will merely be a case of the Labour Party running for office on what it stands for, what its MPs believe in, what it intends to do in government, and what it is already doing in office in our councils and town halls, rather than the web of dissemblances, half-truths and promises contained in the 2019 Manifesto.

Labour has never been a socialist party, or anything resembling one, and it has only been forced to adopt this charade because of a quirk of electoral fate in its leadership race and the resulting popularity among its membership of Oh Jeremy Corbyn, which itself has risen on the growing unrest of the liberal middle-classes at the decline in their standard of living, and the sheer helplessness of a working class without any political representation in Parliament. Hopefully, after Labour is annihilated at the ballot box tomorrow, and the party pulls down the jolly roger and starts flying its true colours again — which, as its declaration of Aims and Values clearly state, are those of Neo-liberal capitalism — that working class will start to build a party of and for the working class. If it doesn’t, we’ll go the way of dozens of other satellite states of the United States of America. But if we do, and we begin to build what this country has never had, we must do so with our eyes wide open to the reality of the Parliamentary system that the illusion of Labour’s ‘socialism’ has made clear:

  • That the political establishment is committed to capitalism no matter what the consequences for the working class, the environment or the countries we invade to sustain it;
  • That there is not, and never can be, a Parliamentary road to socialism;
  • That the annihilation of the Labour Party as an electoral option is the necessary condition upon which a working class political movement in this country will be built.

Too much time, energy, trust and hope has been wasted on the illusion that the Labour Party under Oh Jeremy Corbyn represents or will act in the interests of the British working class. The consequences of that waste is that, even under all the conditions through which we’ve lived this decade, on Friday a Conservative party will form the Government of the UK for the fourth time in ten years. The weekend will be a time for liberals to drown their sorrows. But after four years and four months of indulging in the bad faith of Labour’s dream of a reformed capitalism ‘for the many’, which has directly resulted in this catastrophic state of affairs, the real political action begins Monday. ASH will contribute to the direction that action must take by publishing our programme for a socialist architecture.

Simon Elmer
Architects for Social Housing

Postscript

As the whole country knows, things turned out even worse than the polls predicted:

2019 (31,897,334 votes on a 67.23% turnout)
  • Conservative Party: 13,941,200 votes (365 seats)
  • Labour Party: 10,292,054 votes (203 seats)
  • Liberal Democrats: 3,675,342 votes (11 seats)
  • Scottish National Party: 1,242,372 votes (48 seats)
  • Green Party: 864,743 votes (1 seat)
  • Brexit Party: 642,303 votes (0 seats)
  • Democratic Unionist Party: 244,128 votes (8 seats)
  • Sinn Fein: 181,853 votes (7 seats)
  • Plaid Cymru: 153,265 votes (4 seats)
  • Other Parties: 700,440 votes (3 seats)

Conservative Majority Government, with the largest majority since Margaret Thatcher in the 1987 election, and the worst defeat for Labour since Clement Attlee in 1935.

Displaying all the loyalty with which they have backed Corbyn since he became leader of the Labour Party in September 2015, Labour MPs and other grandees have universally joined with gleeful Conservatives in identifying Labour’s leader as the primary reason for this historic defeat, rather than their economic policies. Voters, however, don’t read manifestos, and their perception of a party’s economic policies is guided by the same forces that determine their view of a party’s leader: the press and media. Since just about all our papers are right-wing, including The Guardian, which led the way in the assassination of his character, it’s not surprising Corbyn’s leadership was reduced to a terrorist-sympathising, anti-semitic, unpatriotic, hard-left Stalinist. The real destruction of Corbyn’s character, however, came from his own party, which undermined him at every step of his four-and-a-half years as leader. Labour — as will soon become apparent to even the most one-eyed Corbynite — is a right-wing, Neo-liberal party, and it was never going to support a social democrat like Corbyn.

That said, I’ve watched Corbyn very closely over his career as Labour leader, as ASH has been almost contiguous with his leadership; and I can’t think of a single decision he made that was the right one. But his biggest wrong decision, undoubtedly, was not to make a left-argument for Brexit on which his promises to renationalise the NHS, our railways, water and energy services relied, and to prevaricate on and finally reject the Brexit vote of Labour’s core voting base.

When I think about Corbyn, the images that spring to mind are of him at Glastonbury listening to that idiotic chant, or of him in Trafalgar Square at yet another rally, or of him looking stupid beside a transsexual equalities advisor; never of him standing beside working men in the North. I can’t think of a single image of Corbyn that the working-class voters in the North on which Labour relies for electoral success could identify with. Corbyn’s Labour was distinguished above all by its appropriation of the spectacle of street protest to its Parliamentary ends and the social media platforms it used to spread that spectacle, and I think Corbyn ended up believing in that spectacle. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve seen social-media posts of huge crowds listening to Corbyn’s platitudes and arguing that this somehow guaranteed Labour’s electoral success. But after a hard week’s work in an underpaid job, the working class don’t waste their Sundays going to marches, which has emerged over this decade as the favoured weekend activity for middle-class liberals. And as many people have observed, refusing to back the Brexit vote of your heartlands, and then accusing anyone who did vote for it of being racist, is not a way to convince the working class that you have their best interests at heart.

Corbyn was so surrounded by the infamous London ‘bubble’ of perception and the middle-class cheerleaders of Momentum, Novara Media, Owen Jones, Paul Mason and other liberals that he forgot who actually elects a Labour government into office. He was a weak, indecisive leader, who at the first sign of pressure from his Party recanted his life-long commitment to Palestine, who never even tried to bring his estate-demolishing councils under control, who made his decisions based on their popularity on Twitter, who surrounded himself with politically-correct but utterly incompetent appointments (Dianne Abbot as Home Secretary being only the most catastrophic), and who botched every major decision he had to make. That hundreds of thousands of Corbynites still believe he was a strong leader shows how divorced from reality and cocooned in their social media echo chamber they are. He did his best, but he was never up to the job, and deserves a long rest; though sitting on Labour’s back-benches as the most hated man in Parliament as he watches Boris Johnson sell the country down the shitter is not the retirement he deserves.

Theres no denying that the landslide victory for a Conservative government under Boris Johnson is a disaster for the unemployed forced onto Universal Credit, for the disabled forced to attend Atos examinations, for single mothers claiming child allowance, for workers on zero-hour contracts in the gig economy, for the victims of Conservative austerity cuts administered by Labour councils, for the growing millions who survive on food banks, for whats left of our National Health Service, for working-class immigrants and for the British working class; but there is a glimmer of hope in the descending gloom.

After four-and-a-half-years of socialists, anarchists and even the odd communist flirting with the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn, that farce is finally over. It will be interesting to see how many of the tens of thousands of self-proclaimed socialists who joined the Labour Party in September 2015 will work now in the face of defeat to build a movement of and for the working class outside the suffocating embrace and cynical betrayals of the Labour Party. And, in particular, whether well see, in what was once called the housing movement, a return to the open opposition to, and direct action against, the estate-demolishing Labour councils that we saw before Corbynism and Momentum reduced it to passive voters. This is a terrible result, but one full of hope.

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