General Election 2019

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15/12/2019 by socialistfight

By Turan Basri

People are commenting on how Labour and in particular, Jeremy Corbyn, lost the election, blaming single issues for this defeat. The main issues are Brexit stance, popularity ratings of Corbyn amongst the electorate, antisemitism, and the manifesto being unpopular, confusing and not costed, having bought into the ‘austerity’ narrative. The right of the party and the establishment MSM have wasted no time in in portraying this as Labour’s worse election since 1935, which is complete and utter nonsense. Looking at the election results since 2001, we can see that this is not true, it is comparable to the election defeats under Brown, Miliband and Tony Blair’s final election. There are various interpretations that we can take from the data:

2019 – 10,292,054, Corbyn – 203 seats. Vote share 32.1% (Labour’s share in England was 34%)

2017 – 12,877,918, Corbyn – 262 seats. Vote share 40.0%

2015 – 9,347,273, Milliband – 232 seats. Vote share 30.4%

2010 – 8,609,527, Brown – 258 seats. Vote share 29.0%

2005 – 9,552,436, Blair – 403 seats. Vote share 35.2%

2001 – 10,724,953, Blair – 413 seats. Vote share 40.7%

The obvious one is that despite an increase in the popular vote, this didn’t translate into seats for Corbyn and is indicative of the ‘first past the post’ (FPTP) electoral system. Proportional representation (PR) would provide more equal representation of how people vote, making their vote more valid and voters more likely to engage with politics and feel that their vote is not wasted. If these results occurred under a PR system, the Tories would have had only 285 seats, instead of 365, and Labour’s would have increased from 202 to 211 (see the first image). The Tory vote increased by 1.2% from the 2017 election, yet this small increase translated into securing an additional 38 seats from 2017, 67 seats if you include the lost majority.

This doesn’t excuse or disguise the structural reasons as to why Labour’s core working class voters switched to other parties, particularly in the Midlands and the North, the traditional industrialised manufacturing areas. This disenfranchisement and lurch towards nativism and Brexit has several dynamics to it and seems to occur in areas that have been neglected and amongst the older voters (see the second image). Brexit and populism has played a major role in this election and is a phenomenon that is not any different from what occurred with Trump’s acceleration into the US Presidency in 2016, the year that the Brexit referendum took place (see the third image). Younger more educated voters, those from a more educational based background or from immigrant and BAME backgrounds are more likely to vote towards the left (which can be seen in the additional images).

See here for data on Labour’s votes by demographics:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/…/artic…/pii/S0962629818304712

See here for the same analysis in US:

https://realclearpolitics.com/…/how_trump_won_the_midwest_1…

To understand the 2019 General Election see here how the mix of Brexit, Corbyn and Johnson amplified trends that have long been at work:

https://news.sky.com/…/general-election-the-map-of-british-…

The reasons for this switch will be open to much debate and will now have to be the focus within the Labour Party if it hopes to return these people to vote for the party. However, the simplistic reasons for Labour’s defeat are that…. too simplistic and are seen to be as follows:

Se here for data on Labour’s votes by demographics:

https://www.sciencedirect.com/…/artic…/pii/S0962629818304712

See here for the same analysis in US:

https://realclearpolitics.com/…/how_trump_won_the_midwest_1…

To understand the 2019 General Election see here how the mix of Brexit, Corbyn and Johnson amplified trends that have long been at work

https://news.sky.com/…/general-election-the-map-of-british-…

The reasons for this switch will be open to much debate and will now have to be the focus within the Labour Party if it hopes to return these people to vote for the party. However, the simplistic reasons for Labour’s defeat are that…. Too simplistic:

Corbyn’s popularity

This has been one of the major factor’s why people turned off, is this any surprise with the considering the absolute onslaught that both him and the party have had to endure? Over 88% of Tory advertisements were found to be inaccurate, therefore fraudulent. The MSM and their ‘journalists’ have deliberately put out misleading information, which has clearly been a deliberate misinformation campaign from start to finish. Deliberately done to prevent any real change with progressive politics to redress the social inequality that is rampant in this country. Laura Kuenssberg and the BBC have been instrumental in this, along with the Murdoch rags. Boris Johnson in the meantime was allowed free space to consistently lie without scrutiny, without having to face the same rigorous scrutiny under interview, even refusing to look at a photograph of sick child on a hospital trolley or hiding in a fridge to escape the press.

Antisemitism

This was a deliberate attack on the party, which actually started under Ed Miliband’s stewardship of the party, who himself is Jewish. The attack on him with the famous ‘bacon sandwich’ debate and his father, who fled the Nazis, was appalling. This started because of Labour’s stance towards protecting the Palestinians, and merely increased once Jeremy Corbyn became the leader of the party. His gentlemanly conduct and the refusal to rebut these accusations aggressively just attracted the attacks even more. I suspect that he was also isolated at the top within the party, which provided the image of weakness. Capitulation to adopting the IHRA and the suspension of members who had a track record of fighting racism had the opposite effect of placating the accusers, it merely increased the attacks and was weaponised by the Tories. Johnson on the other hand had free rein to call Africans ‘piccaninnies’, describe Muslim women ‘letterboxes’, describe black kids as ‘hoodies’ and infer that they were likely to be criminals, and accuse Europeans working and living in the UK legally as ‘treating the UK like their own home for far too long’. These are people who may have set up home, run a business employing people and possibly married to British citizens with British children. This dog whistling to the right, along with his antisemtism written in his book ’72 Virgins’ and his celebration of Lady Astor’s statue, a raving antisemite and supporter of Hitler, was given a complete overlook by the Chief Rabbi and the press. The Chief Rabbi finding his racism towards other minorities acceptable, so much so that instead of speaking out, he congratulated his appointment as leader and intervened in the election by ‘endorsing’ him in a two horse race. Antisemitism has been so successful in preventing an orientation towards the left, it is now being used as a weapon against Bernie Sanders in America, someone who is Jewish and whose family perished in the Holocaust..

Brexit

Labour was always going to be squeezed between a rock and a hard place, particularly as 65% of its voters voted to remain the EU referendum and for the reasons previously outlined. However, the party’s strategy was to remain ‘neutral’ in the hope that it could achieve a better negotiated settlement and which ran a risk. Neutrality is not unique in the European debate as Harold Wildon did the same in the 1975 referendum. This position alienated both leave and remain voters. Pinning a strategy on a hard leave vote may have kept some seats in the North but this is merely speculative. This would have also gone against what the majority in the UK actually want, it is very clear that many have changed their minds and want to remain within the EU. Having a position of neutrality and letting the people decide with another referendum seems to be the most democratic option having an electorate with all the facts in place, and a vision as to what leaving actually means, instead of the ‘wish list’ that they were promised in 2016. Labour’s position of negotiating a customs union and regulatory alignment is no different that the relationship that the EFTA members (Switzerland and Norway) and Turkey have with the EU. Brexit meant more than leaving the EU, we see this in Len McCluskey’s outrageous ‘dog whistling’ when he complains of not listening to ‘traditional’ working class people and for the reasons outlined previously. The two common drivers of the Brexit debate and result was ‘sovereignty’ and immigration, again this is a desire for nativism and populist politics. The working class blaming their austerity on immigration and ‘interference’ from outside, not the austerity driven politics and the crisis in capitalism caused by neoliberal economics, foisted onto them from the capitalist class that promise them the land of milk and honey once the UK leaves the EU.

Manifesto

Many complained that the manifesto was undeliverable, that it was not costed, too radical. All accusations that are false. The manifesto, far from being radical was sensible, it seeked to address some of the inequality within the UK, with nationalisation of some industries and infrastructure (which is popular with the electorate) and for reinvestment. While not radical from a Marxist perspective, it offered hope with a Keynesian economic programme. This programme was endorsed by 163 economists and fully costed with a ‘Grey Book’, unlike the Tory manifesto, which was vague and had no real coherent plan. Yet, the electorate bought into the austerity narrative, questioning how Labour could deliver, that their manifesto was unrealistic. Again, McClusky and those on the right of the party who are meant to be representing the working class and their members, attacked Corbyn for providing a manifesto that was too detailed. Complete and utter nonsense, this is designed to prevent any real left politics being introduced and to keep the same bourgeois status quo.

Brexit

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