This has undeniably been the most bizarre, unexpected and for the left traumatic election result since 1992. Out of this miasma of despair though, there is hope – because here are two views on the election from the Great and the Good team (most likely, more will be added by the end of the day).
Last night was undeniably a humiliating defeat, and signals the start of a dark five years, with austerity further biting into the poorest and most vulnerable, welafre collapsing and the possibility of not just an EU exit but an end for the Union.
However, there’s still hope for the future.
I greatly respected and admired Ed Miliband, and had real faith he would be (and would make a great) PM, and his performance in the campaign outstripped Cameron. However, his leaving gives us the chance to send the Labour Party in a new direction. In response to the exit polls last night, I joined the Labour Party, and the fightback will start with the election of a new leader – hopefully one who can forever put to bed the “tory lite” myth by putting Labour back on a track to socialism.
Now, don’t for a second imagine I thought myself that Labour were acting like “red Tories” this election – far from it – but there’s a problem if the party fails to put properly radical policies on the table and tries to pander to demographics who’ll never vote for it anyway (I’m thinking particularly of Labour’s dodgy immigration policies). What this election has taught us is that there’s something wrong with Labour’s approach. By failing to back anti-austerity economics Labour was shooting itself in the foot – we could never properly argue against Cameron if we’re, in the eyes of many, just offering the same but watered down.
On top of this, there wasn’t a chance in hell that any concessions would be made in Scotland if with a pro-austerity message – though the SNP are mainly powered by nationalism, not reasonable thinking, their arguments would’ve had far less traction if Labour had been positioning itself properly on the left.
This failure therefore opens an opportunity to us, as party members, to start actually pushing for what we believe in. For too long the Labour leadership has been woefully out of sync with Labour’s members on issues such as austerity, renationalisation, nuclear disarmament, electoral reform and more – this election however can act as a lesson to our leaders and kick up the backside for members to properly mobilise and support a real alternative to the Tories and neoliberalism in the upcoming leadership elections.
The next five years are going to be dark years – for Labour and for the people of Britain – but at long last, we can start to build towards a better future beyond 2020, and a new and better Labour Party will be ushering it in. Though fear won this election, there’s still a glimmer of hope.
So, this has been a dark morning for us lefties. The people of the UK have shocked themselves by voting in the Tories so decisively. I don’t think that many realise the full implications of what we’re voting in. We’ve voted in the continuing erosion of the welfare state: another five years for the government which gave away thousands of schools for free, and sold the postal service at a knock off price. People vote conservative on the understanding that they protect the UK as it is, but this time round, they will only destroy it. They promised more cuts than any other party, and I am sure they will deliver them. As a country, we should be proud of the welfare state, which ensures that no-one has to pay for education or healthcare, which protects the elderly and the poor. So why have we voted for the party which will damage it the most?
The party which promises Conservatism will lead us into an age of unprecedented change. English votes of English laws will hurry the collapse of the union and unfairly bolster the power of the Conservatives. The EU referendum could not only throw us out of a positive community, it could see UKIP rise even further, just as the independence referendum in Scotland helped the SNP. Meanwhile, we will keep the House of Lords, which continues to dirty our political system with its undemocratic ways. The dirty smear campaign against Miliband and the unfair attacks on the possibility of a Labour-SNP coalition have, it seems, paid off. The result was that Labour lost all its seats save one in Scotland, and additionally lost out in England and Wales. It has, in short, been a disaster.
Perhaps labour can learn some positive lessons from this. First off, choose a better leader. Ed Miliband is intelligent and I am certain he would have made an adequate Prime Minister, but he was always unpopular. Labour needs a leader who can inspire people once again. But for the while, Labour is in a very bad place. If Scotland becomes independent, it will be in an even worse place. Labour will be confined to a country where it traditionally fares worse than the Tories. The success of the SNP should teach Labour a lesson. Even if the SNP are not fully committed to their anti-austerity rhetoric, they doubtless won over many voters by appearing more truly left wing than labour. I believe that Labour would do better if it were to follow suit and reject austerity.
Talk has already begun to turn to the future of the electoral system: is it not unfair that the SNP have such a small proportion of the votes but so many seats? UKIP has already begun to talk of introducing a proportional representation system, since they are a party who would benefit very much from such a system. In spite of a fairly high share of the votes, they will only have one seat. But I doubt that a conservative government will ever make such a move, particularly after the FPTP system proved that it can still save us from coalition politics. Poor old Clegg, all he wanted and argued for was coalition politics, and he hasn’t even got that. If we labour supporters feel bad, at least we can remember the Lib-Dems have got it worse.
Well, what a disaster.
Short of a UKIP- BNP coalition or the death of a relative, this it pretty bad.
Much like a botched action movie, we saw an ending that appears to make no sense coupled with the disappearance of many well-known faces (watching Vince Cable lose his seat was like watching Dumbledore’s death at the hands of Voldemort). We could go on about it for ages, complaining bitterly about the return of Cameron and his trusty, well-oiled forehead, but at this point I believe it’s far more important to look at the election as a whole, and just like at the end of one of Aesop’s Fables, there are several lessons we can all take away from this, three of which are:
Firstly, the Lib Dems suddenly thought they had become Derren Brown and could make memories of a party without a backbone disappear – it didn’t work. Nick Clegg’s resignation will no doubt prompt the Lib Dems to evaluate themselves and develop in the future to a party that can remember its promises, and indeed its own political standpoint (Clegg voted in favour of Tory motions more times that ol’ Dave himself). Lesson? Don’t backstab your core voters.
Secondly, the SNP have put a spanner in the works of the socialist machine. Like an obese toddler at a birthday party, they’ve cheesed everyone off by taking a bit too much off the all-you-can-eat platter. Ed warned us before the election that ‘a vote for the SNP is a vote for the Tories’ and he was right. What will happen to Scotland and other members of England’s 21st century empire? Who knows, but whatever does happen, I’m not sure that inhibiting Labour was really worth it.
Thirdly, Labour have succeeded in proving one thing: putting someone who is not media friendly in a job that has a considerable amount of contact with the media loses you votes. What is perhaps more of an achievement is that they have managed to prove this twice in two consecutive elections. It is certain that the involvement of Ed Miliband has discouraged voters from a noble cause, and members ought to think more carefully about who they elect as party leader to avoid another catastrophe. At the end of the day, the next five years should allow labour breathing space to completely redevelop into something less tragic. Labour needs to decide what part of the generic term ‘the left’ it’s really on, and perhaps it’s only with a crisis like this that they’ll be able to do so.
So what have we got to look forward to? Very little if the prospect of a Britain slowly breaking apart and an exit from the EU doesn’t quite tickle your fancy. So what do I think? If we put aside our prejudices, we can accept that a Tory government will benefit the economy (the pound rose against the dollar as soon as the exit polls were released), but nothing more: not the NHS, not housing and certainly not the ‘working man’ that they lead so many to believe was their main concern. Brace yourself for superficial statistics and the continuation of an era of tactical avoidance of crucial questions.