If a week in politics is a long time, then the June 8 general election is very far off. All sorts of imponderables could be waiting for us between now and polling day. As the quotable Tory Harold Macmillan (purportedly) responded to a journalist who had asked him what is most likely to blow incumbent governments off course – “Events, my dear boy, events”. Who knows what could derail the government party over the coming weeks? We can speculate, but we can’t know.
However, there are three things we are currently certain of:
- May was always going to opt for this snap election, despite the naïve complacency of many – left and right – who should have known better. We can take the PM’s own explanation with an unhealthily large pinch of salt – ie, that she settled on it during a short holiday, wrestling with the options as she wandered lonely among the Welsh hills. So, the blather about the difficulties of working with a narrow parliamentary majority or the need for a reinvigorated mandate for Brexit need not detain us long. In fact, and at the risk of outraging the Merseyside readers of this bulletin, The Sun (April 19) calls it right: the election and the anticipated Tory landslide will be a “blue murder” intended to “kill off Labour”.
So, the coming general election is an expression of the Tories’ relative strength, not their weakness. Our more delusional comrades on revolutionary left who are telling us that May has actually been forced to call this election “because of the government’s weakness in face of a rising tide of anger in British society” perhaps fool themselves, but very few others outside their own ranks.
- Evidence that a Labour electoral culling is a realistic outcome is provided not simply in the dire poll results, but also ‘pitter-patter-splash’ noises of a small swarm of rats vacating HMS Labour. 13 Labour MPs have announced that they not be standing again on June 8. Some have given blandly neutral explanations. But, let’s recall the carefully choreographed resignation of two thirds of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet in 2016 and the same year’s 172-40 ‘no confidence’ vote by Labour MPs in the man’s leadership. Are these treacherous elements now happy to fight for Corbyn as this country’s next prime minister? What on earth are they going to say when a question along these lines is put to them by some reasonably astute media hacks?
Whatever energy Corbyn brought to the launch of the campaign, the party he leads is fatally split and the acid drip of rightwing criticism continues. Lord Kinnock has told BBC Radio 5 Live (April 21) that he is “gloomy about my prospects of living to see another Labour government” and a member of Corbyn’s front bench, John Healey, has “refused to say whether he would mention the leader in his election literature”!The calamitous result of this wrecking operation is likely to be evident in the result of the May 4 local elections, where Labour is expected to lose around 125 council seats. Ominous omens abound for Corbyn.
- The Corbyn-McDonnell strategy of conciliation of the party’s right wing, supplemented with the occasional plaintive call for unity, has been an unmitigated disaster.A one-sided war rages in Labour. Leftwing activists are suspended and expelled on trump-charges of anti-Semitism or support for other left parties deemed verboten, their rights as party members flagrantly trampled over in the process. Meanwhile, the Jon Lansman-coordinated coup in Momentum (actively abetted by the likes of Corbyn, McDonnel and Abbott) has demobilised, demoralised and scattered precisely those forces who could have been deployed to counter-attack in the party. Unsurprisingly, reports reach this publication of dramatic declines in the numbers attending Momentum meetings nationally and at the national organisation’s damp-squid Birmingham “inaugural conference” in March. (Unequivocally stamped by LPM’s Carla Roberts as “without doubt the worst leftwing event I have ever attended.”)