Crisis of Political System Deepens as People Say No! To May
The result of the June 8 General Election has been a catastrophe for Theresa May and the Conservative Party as well as the ruling circles which are now left to pick the chestnuts out of the fire during the Brexit negotiations.
The Conservatives won 318 seats, down from 331 (including the Speaker), and eight short of an overall majority, while the Labour Party won 262, up from 232. The desperation of the ruling class is such that they have counselled Theresa May to stay on as Prime Minister even though the strategy she campaigned on to get a mandate for “strong and stable government” lies in tatters. With difficulty May is attempting to come to an arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) from the north of Ireland in order to form a government. This has in turn given rise to fears that the “Irish question” will once again cause havoc with the plans of the ruling class to pursue its anti-social, anti-national agenda in peace.
Parliament has reconvened and MPs are being sworn in along with pleasantries from both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn. It now looks likely that the Queen’s Speech will be postponed by a week, from June 19 to 26. Meanwhile, May is intent on giving the impression of carrying on with government as usual. She went to Paris to meet President Emmanuel Macron, having met the Cabinet earlier.
Some of the observations which have emerged from the election results include that:
– The vote against the Conservatives was a vote against the neo-liberal austerity agenda.
– The youth participated in the election and they voted against the Conservatives because of the austerity agenda.
– The metropolitan areas, particularly London, chose Labour.
– The Lib Dems made no headway on the promise to hold a second referendum on Brexit. They were rejected because of their sell-out when they formed a coalition with the Conservatives.
– Both the Scottish Labour Party and Scottish Conservatives made headway in Scotland at the expense of the Scottish National Party (SNP) which wanted to reverse the Brexit decision from the Referendum. Labour succeeded in making the issue one of the SNP not combating austerity, while the Conservatives succeeded in making the issue that a second independence referendum would be a diversion. The advance that the Scottish Conservatives made there contributed to buoying the Tory vote but was not enough to win seats lost elsewhere.
– In the north of Ireland, Sinn Féin and the DUP made headway at the expense of the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists respectively. This is also seen to represent support for an anti-austerity agenda.
– The referendum vote in favour of Brexit did not translate into support for May or away from Corbyn.
– Attempts to destroy the Labour Party on the eve of the election utterly failed. The gamble of those who organised the revolt of Labour MPs against Corbyn was as ill-advised as the gamble of those who advised May to call an early election.
– The consequences of the disastrous “gamble” that the Conservatives’ weak majority in the Parliament could be turned into a strong majority by calling an early election have yet to fully reveal what they have in store for May’s leadership and for the Conservative Party itself. What else lies in store for the ruling class, besides the utter mockery and derision expressed for May from all quarters, is yet to be seen.
– The Conservatives also ran a terrible campaign by one of the private firms which the ruling class hires nowadays to run elections. These private firms have replaced political parties as primary organisations which link the voters to the system called a representative democracy. They think that depoliticising the polity by making the character of one’s opponent the target of attack is the way to run successful elections, despite the people’s hatred for attack ads. The refusal of the ruling party to discuss substantive issues make it impossible to give the impression that the people decide the agenda of an election and provide a mandate for the next government. In this election, thanks to the presence of Corbyn who eloquently presented the need for an anti-austerity agenda, the people were able to express their rejection of this idea. There was also the matter of the Conservative Manifesto which was, to the chagrin of the Conservatives themselves, “peppered with arsenic” as a member of the Conservative Party put it. All of it revealed how detached the Conservative Party is from the concerns of the working people in Britain who found in Corbyn a champion for their demand to turn things around in favour of the working people, not the rich.
The Conservative election call has been a debacle for the ruling circles, including for the police powers used in connection with the Manchester and London Bridge attacks. Police powers are the lynchpin of May’s “strong and stable” approach but what came to the fore was its hypocrisy and irrationality. Meanwhile Corbyn used the situation to emerge as the champion of the police against cuts. Added to this, the revelations on how the security services actually trained these terrorist forces to intervene in Libya and Syria has shown how the state is behind these attacks in the first place.
Taken together, the election results show that the arrangements imposed on society in the mid-19th century keep rulers who represent the capitalist class in power who are not fit to govern and the people out of power. These arrangements are in profound crisis because they are no longer seen to provide a mandate which expresses the will of the people. The crisis in which the political system called a representative democracy is mired is such that it cannot sort anything out. It hasn’t given May a mandate for Brexit with “strong and stable” leadership, and has shown her leadership to be the opposite of “strong and stable” with a rejection of her appeal for a mandate. Meanwhile, another election is in the offing whose outcome is far from predictable.
A lot is being put down to the impact of personalities on the outcome, but such discussion is a distraction from the substantive issues. It only serves to disinform and depoliticise the polity. Instead of building institutions and arrangements which are under their control and engaging in democratic renewal, the working people are to believe in the courage and convictions of people like Jeremy Corbyn even though it is the system which disempowers them and requires renewal. The ineptitude of Theresa May only compounds the crisis in which the system of representative democracy is mired but is not its cause. Similarly, promises to reverse the anti-social offensive require an organisation which empowers the people. The electoral and governance system which claim to represent “the people” and the “national interest” when it fact they represent the private interests of oligopolies which operate on an international scale have to be replaced. The private interests are engaged in cut throat competition to control the assets of various states so as strengthen their global striving for domination. It is crucial to take this into account when working out a way forward which favours the working people.