LABOUR’S hopes crashed to earth in the just-concluded council elections. The eve of poll predictions of the Tories losing Wandsworth, Westminster and then Kensington and Chelsea failed to materialise, as did the forecast that this rout for the Tories would end the May leadership, and bring about a general election.
Even in Kensington and Chelsea, where the Tory councillors are held in absolute contempt by the working class over their role in the Grenfell Fire disaster, and May is despised because of her reaction to the inferno, and where for the first time Labour got an MP, Emma Dent-Coad, elected in 2017, Labour did not manage to take the council.
None of the great expectations came to pass, despite the fact that the Tories are in utter disarray, devastated by their ‘Windrush crisis’, their crisis over the NHS, where Health Secretary Hunt has just had to apologise for up to 270 early deaths, and their crisis over the fact that food banks have become permanent features of society.
The Tories went into the council elections fearful of the outcome, with Labour celebrating its gains in advance. Now all are astonished at the survival of the Tories, and Labour’s anti-climactic experience. The reason for it is that Labour has abandoned the General Election Manifesto with which it fought the 2017 general election, especially its pledge that it supported leaving the EU, the single market and the customs union, and has refused to mobilise along with the trade unions to bring down the government. The minority May government has been tolerated.
In a key vote last Monday, the House of Lords voted through a reactionary amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill that means that Parliament will have a ‘meaningful’ vote on any Brexit deal, with the option of rejecting any deal and Brexit itself to remain in the EU. This amendment provides the basis for a parliamentary coup to dump Brexit and remain in the EU.
The House of Lords’ vote last Monday was welcomed by Keir Starmer, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary. He said: ‘If Parliament votes down the Article 50 deal, then Parliament must decide what happens next. Under no circumstances can the Prime Minister be given a blank cheque to crash the UK out of the EU without a deal.’ This is exit Brexit talk! He added: ‘I would urge the Prime Minister to accept this cross-party amendment and recognise that there is no majority in Parliament or the country for a no-deal Brexit.’
In Thursday’s council elections, the UKIP vote collapsed and went, not to Labour, but to the Tories. Labour paid a big price for its change of policy and the ditching of its general election manifesto.
Overall, the Labour Party, instead of leading a national campaign to boot the Tories out and bring about the earliest possible general election, has been convulsed by the continuing campaign by right-wing Blairite MPs to get rid of Corbyn, humiliate him at every turn to the point of launching campaigns that he is an anti-Semite, or even a Russian agent, and have made it clear that they are much closer to May than they are to the Labour Party leader, and would welcome an anti-Brexit alliance with Tory, Lib Dem and SNP ‘Remainers’.
Such a party, with such a civil war taking place inside it, will have the greatest difficulty persuading millions of people that it is ready to form a socialist government. This civil war meant that many of those sections of the working class that want to get out of the EU voted Tory, rather than Labour. All that happened is that, as the UKIP vote collapsed, they lost 92 seats and rather than those votes going to Labour, the votes went to the Tory Party. The right wing of the Labour Party would actually prefer keeping the Tories and Theresa May in power, and sabotaging Brexit with Tory Remainers than having a Labour government with Corbyn as the leader, carrying out socialist policies!
Corbyn and the Labour leadership must reinstate their 2017 general election programme and launch a massive campaign to force a general election now. In this process, it must see to it that all of the Tory-loving Blairite MPs are deselected so that they can join the Tory party at their leisure. A Labour Party fighting to break with the EU and fighting for a workers government and socialism is the perfect answer to the crisis of capitalism!