Now that the EU referendum is behind us, we move to votes of a different kind. There will be a good few of them this autumn. The big one, to start with, will be for the Conservative Party leadership, which will confirm the identity of the new prime minister. Another big one will be the election for the Labour Party leadership, which will surely happen now Labour MPs have finally had enough of Jeremy Corbyn’s complete lack of suitability for the job. Finally, I believe strongly that there will be a general election. The final election is the one that concerns me most.
All three elections are closely linked together. Having destroyed the premiership of David Cameron, the neoliberal right of the Tory Party is moving in to take control. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, as part of the Leave EU group, ran a dirty, lying, racist and sinister referendum campaign. I know enough good socialists who voted to leave the EU for their own reasons but were very uncomfortable with the tone of the Leave group, which saw them peddling the hatred of foreigners. I predict Johnson will become the new PM with Michael Gove as his chancellor. Good luck to the British people with that one. Even if I am wrong, the new PM will be on the hard right of British politics.
Labour is trickier because the likelihood is that Corbyn would win a re-run in a leadership election, thus weakening the party still further. My guess is that things may become messy, with legal challenges and all the rest of it to determine who should be on the ballot paper. I would hate this to happen and would much rather Corbyn and his colleagues fronted up and admitted that Labour’s leader isn’t up to being a leader at all. Loved he may be with many Labour Party members but ordinary people do not share that love. The chattering classes who quite fancy a Labour government do not care that Corbyn won’t win because it won’t affect their lives. Many millions of other people, living in poverty or with illness and disability and those on poverty pay, relying on food banks, need more than just political purity from a once serious political party, now turning into a protest group. This leads to the general election itself.
Which party came third in the 2015 general election in terms of votes? The Liberal Democrats? The SNP? No, Ukip. Nigel Farage’s right wing party got nearly 3.9 million votes whereas the Lib Dems got 2.4 million and the SNP, admittedly only in Scotland so hardly a fair comparison, got 1.4 million. And where did Ukip get much of its support from? Why it was the Labour Party in its heartlands. Labour voters, in their millions, voted for a far right party concerned only with immigration and the EU. Now Nigel Farage has won his incredible victory in taking Britain out of the EU, all he has left is immigration and immigration is a massive issue in Labour heartlands. In the next general election, possibly as early as November, immigration will be a huge issue again.
Labour, weak and divided under its accidental leader, could crash and burn altogether if he puts himself above the Labour Party and, more importantly, the country. Quite apart from the simple fact that Corbyn says there should be no limits on immigration, his multitude of other weaknesses would be ruthlessly exposed in an election campaign.
The Conservatives are not loved in this country. They have not come out of the referendum campaign smelling of roses – more like manure really – and as the reality of Brexit becomes clear there will be some angry people out there, angry people who might just join up with Nigel Farage.
This perfect storm could, I believe, propel a coalition government into power. But not a coalition like, say, the Tories and the Lib Dems, but a hard right Tory coalition with Ukip.
Time is passing quickly and soon it will be autumn. From today’s weather, it feels like autumn already. As times passes, events become out of control, they gain momentum. The scenarios are many and varied, but the one about a Tory/Ukip coalition is the one that terrifies me and the one all good people should seek to avoid.
I worry that the genie is already out of the bottle, after the awful referendum campaign unleashed bewildering levels of hatred, bigotry and racism. A nation, now divided almost in two, is already in limbo with the years of uncertainty ahead and the economy starting to tank. And in times like these people get insecure and frightened. When the recession comes, when George Osborne’s next raft of public spending cuts hit home (remember we are not halfway yet with his cuts), with companies laying off workers and wages still falling and people realise that despite the referendum things are still shit, who will people blame?
We need strong leadership but we have a lame duck prime minister and an inept leader of the opposition who is little more than a cult figure on the far left. We need certainty and reassurance but now we get just silence and equivocation, with senior politicians kicking difficult decisions into the long grass.
A few assumptions here for sure, but nothing’s out of the question. Is there anyone out there who can give genuine leadership when the country most needs it? I’m worried there might not be but I am as sure as sure can be that Jeremy Corbyn can’t provide it and he should do the decent thing and resign now.
Labour should be a political party to change the country, not a protest movement talking to itself. And if Corbyn and the comrades continue looking inward, plotting how to take over the levers of power in the Labour Party instead of fighting for working people, what’s the point of it?