Socialist Worker

Mainstream parties reap fallout of political crisis

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2656

Theresa May is leaving Downing Street

Theresa May is leaving Downing Street (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The European election results have underlined the political crisis in Britain and the wholesale collapse of the Tories.

This was not an electoral blip—it revealed a deep rejection of a whole way of doing politics.

The party of government took just 9 percent of the vote. It was its worst ever result in a national election, the lowest in almost two centuries.

They came fifth, behind the Greens, and they are now beginning a leadership contest that will divide them even further.

In any normal circumstances—with a departing prime minister, utter paralysis in parliament and a government that is so despised—there would be a general election.

There should be now, but the Tories will try to hang on because they know they would be destroyed.

As foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Tuesday, if the Tories now fail over Brexit, “It could lead to the destruction of our party system and the end of my own party”.

Labour’s crisis is not as deep, but it can’t be ignored. It took just 14.6 percent of the vote share, and halved its number of MEPs. It has no MEPs in Scotland and came behind Plaid Cymru in Wales for the first time in a national poll.

Labour came second in Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington, but also fourth in Sheffield, Norwich, Bristol and Brighton and Hove.

The Lib Dems took 21 percent and the Greens 12.5 percent. Ukip and Change UK were wiped out. In Scotland the SNP came first with a thumping 38 percent.

Humiliating election defeat for Nazi Tommy Robinson
Humiliating election defeat for Nazi Tommy Robinson
  Read More

Anti-racists rightly celebrated in North West England. After a campaign by Stand Up To Racism, fascist Tommy Robinson failed to be elected. He took just 2 percent of the vote and lost his £5,000 deposit.

The main gainer across Britain was Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.

It won almost a third of the vote, far more than the Tories and Labour combined.

Not everyone who voted for the Brexit Party is a racist, let alone a fascist. But racist Farage pulls in people who are angry at the political establishment and focuses them towards Islamophobic and racist solutions.

The Brexit Party’s gains will strengthen racism and right wing ideas.

They will also convince Boris Johnson and other Tory ­leadership contenders that the threat of a no-deal Brexit—spiced with racism—is the way forward.

They will see it as the only method to salvage something from the ­wreckage after Theresa May’s departure.

Everyone concerned and angry about the rise of racism should protest against Donald Trump in Britain, culminating in the national demonstration in London next Tuesday.

And there desperately needs to be more struggle as the crisis of British politics grows.

Stand Up To Racism forum—How can we stop Trump and the far right across Europe? Saturday 1 June, 2pm, NEU headquarters, Mabledon Place, central London

Final chapter of the story for cracked and broken Tories?

The Tory crisis threatens the party’s whole future.

According to an exit poll paid for by Lord Ashcroft, more than half of 2017 Conservative voters who took part in the European elections voted for the Brexit Party.

Only 21 percent stayed with the Tories.

Sometimes people cast a “protest vote” over a particular issue and then later return to their usual party. But sometimes they make permanent shifts.

The Scottish independence referendum of 2014 led to changes in voters’ loyalties that have not disappeared. It took many years for millions of Labour voters to overcome their revulsion at Tony Blair and the Iraq War.

According to the Ashcroft poll, only one in three 2017 Conservative voters who switched to the Brexit Party say they will back the Tories at the next general election.

Conservatives who switched to the Lib Dems say they are even more likely to stay put.

Overall, only 43 percent of 2017 Conservative voters who turned out in the European elections say they will vote Tory at the next general election.

They’ve been ‘ad

Social media matters, but it’s no guarantee of success or failure.

Ahead of the European elections, the Brexit Party spent less on Facebook advertising than the Tories, Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens and Change UK. It beat them all.

From 18 to 24 May, the Facebook ad spending per party was £30,000 for the Tories, Lib Dems £135,000, Labour £80,000, Greens £65,000 and Change UK £125,000. The Brexit Party spent £12,000.

The total Facebook ad spends for polling day by Remain and Leave campaigning groups was Remain £168,013, Leave £11,272. That’s a 14-fold advantage for Remain.

Big claims will fall flat

Lots of the Tory leadership hopefuls claim they will force the European Union to make fundamental concessions that will transform Theresa May’s deal.

They may not have noticed that the EU agreement to postpone Brexit until 31 October “excludes any reopening of the Withdrawal Agreement”.

Tories try to stop Boris

The depth of the Tory divisions can be judged from a Financial Times article on Monday.

It said, “Boris Johnson remains a divisive candidate.

“A group within the parliamentary party has launched a campaign known as ‘Operation Arse’ to prevent him making it through to the shortlist that will be voted on by the Conservative party membership.”

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