It was the best possible result. Labour didn’t win, but the result humiliated the dreadful, authoritarian Theresa May, virtually destroyed UKIP, and embarrassed all those Labourites who had refused to back their leader because he was ‘unelectable’. What they didn’t realise – as I did, or at least hoped – is that the discourse of British politics has moved on during the last twenty years, from all those control-freakish austerity-lite can’t-offend-the-tabloids assumptions of the Blairites, which understandably put millions of people – especially the young – off politics altogether, to a more direct and honest and, yes, socialist approach, represented by Jeremy Corbyn.
That approach also had the advantage of kindling enthusiasm, which Blair-Cameronism was never likely to do. Corbyn’s massive success, when measured against the powerful forces and special interests and vitriol ranged against him, will be the lasting spiritual legacy of the 2017 Election. Whether this translates into a material legacy – a Left-Labour government ultimately – remains to be seen. But it already feels like the beginning of the ‘revolution’ I half-heartedly anticipated at the end of my last post (my damned pessimism, again). Waking up this morning, with the sun shining through my bedroom window, I thought I knew how Wordsworth had felt on hearing of the French Revolution: ‘O bliss was it in that dawn to be alive!’ The tide is turning. Britain is becoming a place to deserve one’s patriotic loyalty again. Kajsa thinks so. I may rescind my application to become a Swede.
OK, Jeremy can’t form a government. (He might have done if his own MPs had been more loyal to him.) But that only means that it’s a Tory government that will be forced to carry out the negotiations with the EU which the ‘Brexit’ vote requires, and which are bound to be excruciatingly difficult. I can’t see any good or credit or popularity coming out of them. May, if she stays on, will be enormously weakened by the catastrophic judgments she has been making over the past few weeks, which could be repeated in the diplomacy to come, and in any case have damaged her credibility and dignity, not only in Britain but also abroad. Quite honestly, she’s a laughing stock. Then there’s the pact she’s having to form with the DUP devil: homophobes, creationists, and just as guilty by association as Corbyn was with murderous terrorists. Better for her, or whomever succeeds her (Boris?), to reap the opprobrium that the Brexit negotiations will surely bring upon her, than Corbyn. That’s why it was the best outcome possible for the latter to lose the election, but against all expectations, and only narrowly.
And who knows what might be the further implications? Ducking out of Brexit and getting back to normality may be one of them, if things go right. And contributing to the more global fightback against Euro-American nationalism and what I call proto-fascism, augured by Jez’s soul-mates in the USA – Sanders supported him strongly – and other forms of liberal resistance in France, the Netherlands and Austria, is another. There may be hope for the world yet. Who would have thought it, of this grey-bearded, gentle, vegetarian, allotment-digging throwback to the 1970s? That’s where true ‘strength and stability’ – May’s robotic mantra – lie.
Besides, I enjoy Schadenfreude. I know I shouldn’t; but May deserved it.
(Here’s Jonathan Pie’s commentary. Says it all.)
Bravo! Was looking forward to your commentary after minimal cable-news coverage here yesterday, all in terms of ‘puzzling result for PM established in power’.