.Click here for Part 2: Tories and Brexit Party
…here for Part 3: Labour and Lib-Dems
…here for Part 4: SNP, Plaid Cymru and conclusion.
I have been saying for quite some time now that Brexit will never happen. And guess what? It still hasn’t! Nor is it much closer to happening, although of course that could change after the General Election on December 12th. there is only one result that makes Brexit really likely to finally occur, namely a proper Tory victory, with a proper majority, no depending on the DUP, let alone the Lib Dems. This is, however, not an especially probable result, despite the current polling.
Why is this not likely? I’m going to outline the situation with this election, mostly for the benefit of interested observers who are not intimately familiar with the tangled cluster-fuck that is British politics at the moment, though I hope Brits find it useful too.
Most important election since forever
We’re not in 2005 anymore. This election matters. A lot. No one can plausibly say now, as they could then, that both the main parties are more or less the same, especially on macro-economic issues but also more broadly with their weak-tea combinations of soft-xenophobia and odds and sods of social liberalism.
Brexit is, obviously, a big deal, and whether or not it happens at all and in what form are a part of why this election matters so much. If the Tory’s win, they will implement Johnson’s deal, which amounts to a pretty hard Brexit. This will render a shitty trade deal with Trump both possible and in some ways urgently necessary, given the much reduced access Britain will have to the EU market. They will also have free rein to parlay the post-Brexit 'adjustment' into further deregulatory destruction of the British welfare-state.
If Labour, alone or with other parties, form a government, a new soft-Brexit deal will be negotiated and put to a referendum against remain. Soft-Brexit is pointless Brexit for sure, so its possible leave voters would boycott any such vote, meaning remain wins and the issue continues to fester. In fact, it will surely fester for a long time whatever happens. If leave wins, the UK will stay in the EU for practical purposes but without any internal voice over its arrangements.
But the bigger reason this election matters A LOT is that Britain is in pretty dire straits after a decade of austerity. The figures on foodbank use, child poverty, homelessness, NHS waiting times, in-work poverty and much else paint a horrendous portrait of one of the world’s richest societies. A broad and visceral sense of societal decay is inescapable outside of wealthy areas.
Another 5 years of Tory government will only accelerate and exacerbate this slow-motion social disaster. And only a Labour victory promises to turn it around. Because the biggest, most important thing about this election is that there is a real left offer for the first time since…1983? (I’m not familiar with Labour’s 1987 manifesto but I’m guessing it was pretty meh…).
This also means the election has broader, international significance. If Labour under Corbyn can win, they will set a marker for every other western democracy, and maybe elsewhere too. Victory would provide an inspiring model for established and newer left parties across the world, from the USA to Spain to Australia. A Labour victory would mark the first time since probably Miterrand in France in 1981 that a ‘proper’ social-democratic left party has formed a government in one of the large, rich countries, rather than the barely-left-at-all versions we’ve had since the 90s in, for example, the USA, UK, Germany, France and Spain.