Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Local Elections Portend the Death of the Labour Party

by Oliver Clark

As we approach what will likely go down as one of the more bizarre General Elections in recent times, it can be said that the Local Election campaign got lost in the frenzy of ‘Strong and Stable Government’ and Diane Abbot’s mathematical prowess. However, I still managed to trudge down to the local town hall  on May 4th so as to cast my democratic vote, a privilege that many still fight and die to obtain across the world. After the final results were published, Jeremy Corbyn stated that his party were, in spite of all the odds, ‘closing the gap’ on the Conservatives. This level of alternative fact would even make the Donald Trump Presidential Campaign seem tame. By the end of May 5th, the Tories had upped their number of councillors to a staggering 1,899, a figure not seen since the 1980s with a total net gain of 563. They had also picked up astounding victories in Metro Mayoral Elections in the West Midlands and Tees Valley.

 The vast shift in power was evidently helped by the droves of former UKIP voters who, having seen their Eurosceptic desires being fulfilled by Mrs May, realised the redundancy of the party (leaving Paul Nuttall with just one, single councillor to ‘hold the Government’s feet to the fire over Brexit’). Under Ruth Davidson’s excellent leadership, the Tories are now also the second biggest party in Scotland, demonstrating once more that Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP does not represent the view of the Scottish People. It was a disappointing day for the Liberal Democrats, as their Anti Brexit appeared to fall on death ears to everyone who believe in this thing called ‘democracy’.

Meanwhile, Labour dogged by the biased media, the inaccurate polls and Diane Abbot’s media appearances, saw a net loss of 382 seats and 7 councils (including Glasgow, where Labour has gone virtually unopposed for decades). There were some positives for the party, including holding the Cardiff Council, and seeing 4 Metro Mayoral victories, however, it was far from a champagne occasion. This was certainly the impression given by new Manchester Metro Mayor Andy Burnham (long time Corbyn critic), who, as Corbyn celebrated the victory in the city, failed to show up to his own welcoming party. This was also the case for the local MP for Manchester Central, Lucy Powell, however, her reason for non attendance was arguably even more bizarre, as she was not even invited to the event by the party chiefs. However, to quote John McDonnell, it has not been, ‘the wipeout that some people expected’. I am not quite sure how not having a said ‘wipeout’, in addition to falling 19 councils and 747 councillors behind the party in government, equates to ‘closing the gap’ in any way, shape or form, but I guess this really does demonstrate the new low depths of Corbynism.

The philosophy that Corbyn, McDonnell and co are advocating can be summarised as the basic inability to see people voting for somebody else as people who who have voted for somebody else.  The media is clearly unrepresentative, biased against the Corbyn agenda and so how on Earth does the poor bloke have a chance? The polls putting the party as much as 25 points behind the Tories are unrepresentative, and so are the numerous surveys putting Theresa May as four times more popular than Corbyn. We now appear to be being told that these local elections are unrepresentative of the national mood, with many claiming that the slim holds of some longstanding Labour Councils make Thursday a ‘success’, and that the party will ‘come out fighting’ going into the GE in just five weeks time. Soon, I fear, we will be told that the General Election Result itself is also unrepresentative, a tone already advocated by the ever blundering Dawn Butler, who claimed that Theresa May’s decision to hold this snap election demonstrated a ‘rigged’ system. I am unsure how the upcoming democratic vote can be considered in any way ‘rigged’, but I am sure that Ms Butler knew what she was on about, even if no one else did. The Labour Party’s woes appear to all be down to the whole establishment being against them. 

They clearly have nothing to do with the fact that the Leader of the Opposition is someone who considers the terrorist groups Hamas and Hezbollah to be his ‘friends’, someone who attended the funerals of numerous leading IRA members and someone who wishes to get rid of our nuclear deterrent against the will of his own party, as well as the majority of the poplualtion. It clearly has nothing to do with the fact that the Shadow Chancellor gives speeches in front of the flags of the Stalinist Movement and the Assad Regime, who has signed letters calling for the shutting down of MI5, and someone who appears to want to vastly increase public spending across the board with money generated from one single reversal of Capital Gains Tax cuts. It clearly has nothing to do with the Shadow Home Secretary referring to everyone who voted for Brexit as ‘racists’, making nonsensical claims of sexism and racism against David Davis early this year, and claiming that the Party intended to fund 2,500 (or was it 250,000?) police officers with somewhere between £300,000 and £80,000,000 a year (equalling a salary in the range of £30 and £8,000 per officer per year). Nothing to do with any of this. Nothing. At. All.

I would be lying if I claimed to not be looking forward to the sight of the sea of defeated Labour politicians on the morning of June 9th, but I do appreciate the need of a strong opposition. The Government should not be able to get away with substance-less one liners as an election platform. Theresa May should not be able to go unchallenged throughout the next 5 years. Although I am encouraged by her no nonsense stance on Brexit and the recent exploits of Jean Claude Juncker, she has shown tendencies of indecisiveness (Hinkley Point), sloppiness (Phillip Hammond’s National Insurance U-Turn) and is generally poor in an unscripted media environment. It is not normal to be unchallenged and it is not healthy. What worries me is that the likes of Paul Mason, Owen Jones and Eddie Izzard will continue to spout the same rhetoric of sticking together behind the current regime, in spite of the regimes complete decimation of the her Majesty’s Opposition.

There is no sign of Corbyn or McDonnell stepping down, nor does it look as though a credible challenge to his leadership will emerge from the increasingly bland set of backbenchers. I feel sorry for the likes of Lisa Nancy and Chuka Amuna, young, fresh faced politicians fighting behind the true Labour cause. They do not deserve to be forced to serve behind the extremist political ideologies of their leaders. The sort of politics that was once regarded as a small, left wing extremist minority within the Labour Party is now running the Labour Party. The Local Elections are just a precursor to the impending fall of her Majesty’s Opposition, as the country soundly rejects the views of Corbyn and his band of economic fantasists. The Tories continue to talk up the threat of a potential Labour government through gritted teeth, wishing to ensure that all potential voters do go out and put their cross in the box (and hence gaining as big a majority as possible), but they know the outcome of June 8th. We all do. What is frankly most worrying is that Corbyn and McDonnell likely know the impending death of the Labour party too. They just don’t care.

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