Snap Election?

Tom Watson thinks there may be a snap election in May. While I think it would be a very close run thing at the moment (with the distinct possibility of a Labour victory)  it would nonetheless be a potential disaster for the left. If the Tories got in unaided, there would be a mandate to continue this fiction of ‘necessary emergency cuts’. If Labour won, the best we could hope for might be something akin to Brown’s premiership, with craven obsequiousness to the City and some concessions to the next-least-poor (where the Tories only like the occasional Oliver Twist to make the grade).

Instead, the broad left needs to exert a lot of pressure on the Labour party – both in terms of political discourse but also on the streets. I don’t have much hope that a Labour government would deliver anything more than a more gradualist version of Tory neoliberalism but as an opposition party there is still the potential to provide the umbrella for what David Harvey calls the alliance of the alienated, discontented, dispossessed and deprived. That pressure should first be targeted at Alan Johnson, not so much for his widely-reported incompetence but for his slavish endorsement of the cuts agenda. If Labour squeak back into power with Johnson blocking the slowing/lessening of cuts then that would be no victory at all for the left.

It’s all conjecture at this point. Worth bearing in mind though, for all those who are rather complacent about Ed Miliband’s commitment to progressive policies.

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Published in: on January 12, 2011 at 10:36 am  Comments (3)  

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  1. Interesting – I suppose it would make more sense for the Tories to try to seek a mandate now than in a year or two years’ time when everyone belatedly wakes up to their ruinous policies. You say that a narrow Labour victory might be likely – well, another hung parliament would be just as likely, with Labour the largest party seeking support from the remaining stump of Lib Dems (probably around twenty or so). This all depends on whether it is more likely that leftish Lib Dem constituencies (Burnley, Redcar, any of the student seats – Bristol NW, Leeds NW, Norwich) go back into the red, or more rightish LD constituencies (Dorset Mid, Eastbourne, Cheltenham) revert to their natural inclinations. I would hazard that the first is more likely.

    Not sure that the Conservatives can ever get a sizeable majority again – they have been dead in Scotland for fourteen years. They will, of course, gerrymander as much as possible – await the boundary changes in May. Meanwhile, there’s Oldham & Saddleworth tomorrow…

    • You’re absolutely right, and at this stage anything could happen. It would be deliciously ironic if the left-ish rump of the Lib Dems ended up being a coalition partner with Labour and preventing their more authoritarian leanings…


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