“These were always going to be difficult elections for us. We’re not expecting miracles on Thursday night.”
Those were the words of Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy on Sunday—at the end of a week of scandal and crisis for the Tories.
The real miracle is that Johnson has survived at all.
It’s now taken as fact that he did shout “let the bodies pile high in their thousands” as coronavirus cases rose again last year.
That revelation alone should have been enough to finish him off—especially as it came just as he was mired in accusations of corruption.
Of all things, it was the question of who paid for curtains and wallpaper in Johnson’s Downing Street flat that really made it look as if he could go.
Yet this week that scandal had moved from the headlines. Johnson had survived again.
The Tories’ lead over Labour in national opinion polls had only slightly narrowed.
And according to a Survation poll published on Tuesday, they looked set to win the Hartlepool by-election by some 17 percent. It’s a seat that Labour has held since it was created in 1974.
Socialist Worker went to press before the elections, and polls can be very wrong.
But in any case, Labour leader Keir Starmer’s sympathisers have been getting their excuses in early.
Some say Johnson’s popularity is down to the success of the vaccine rollout, and that there’s nothing Starmer could do.
Others want to pin the blame on Labour’s previous left wing leader Jeremy Corbyn, more than a year after he stepped down. They say Labour is still being punished for his leadership.
Yet in Survation’s Hartlepool poll, just 22 percent of people said they view Starmer favourably—and 40 percent unfavourably.
For decades people in Hartlepool have faced an assault on jobs, pay and living standards.
For all that time Labour did nothing to stop it—and even oversaw it while in government.
That’s why Labour’s share of the vote in Hartlepool has been falling since 2001. The only exception to this was in the 2017 general election, with Corbyn as leader.
And there has been an appalling lack of resistance against this assault on working class people. Union leaders have failed to launch anything like the scale of fightback needed.
The people really leading the fight are those who have joined the Kill the Bill movement that has built on an undercurrent of anger at the system.
After the elections, the job of everyone who wants the Tories punished is to build the movements on the streets—Kill the Bill, anti-racism and demanding another Scottish independence vote.