Notes from the front of 09-12-16
Liberal Democrats gain at expense of Tories on Brexit
The by-elections in England since the EU referendum, two of which have taken place this December, have seen Labour come under a new pressure from the Liberal Democrats.
The article below by Tom O’Leary provides an analysis of the recent Autumn Statement including the forecasts for growth and living standards that have been revised sharply lower by the Office of Budget Responsibility. A key point is that the OBR is clear: around 60 per cent of the cuts made to those forecasts are a result of the Brexit referendum vote. Brexit will make us poorer.
The Tory media and the Labour right will spend the next four months claiming that the most important question facing Britain and people within it is whether Britain stays in the EU or not. It is not. The most important question facing people in Britain is whether economic, social, and political policies are pursued which defend their living standards. This requires the rebuilding of social services, increases in wages, a state led investment programme focussed on green and other infrastructure, opposition to Britain’s wars, opposition to the forms of racism whipped up every day in the media and numerous other policies.
An historic moment in British politics
Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader is without exaggeration historic. It represents an unprecedented situation in British politics. The Labour government of 1945 passed progressive domestic reforms but it was a supine tool of the US internationally – Ernest Bevin and Attlee played a key role in setting up NATO. At that time both the British capitalist class and the US perfectly understood that the shattering effect of World War II and its outcomes necessarily required partial concessions - acceptance of the temporary building of a welfare state which therefore the first post-war Tory governments initially made no attempt to reverse. At that time the US and West European economies were also undergoing rapid growth which gave them economic room for manoeuvre.
The outcome of the British election produced a collapse of the classic ‘centrist vote’ represented by the Liberal Democrats and a polarisation to both the right and the left of the mainstream political parties. This is a new situation as the new formations on the right and on the left are substantial and are a significant factor on the changed political scene.
The outcome of the 2015 general election was a tactical triumph for David Cameron but it was achieved by destroying his own political allies the LibDems. For Labour this was a huge missed opportunity. There is now a Tory Prime Minister with a majority in Parliament with the lowest share of the popular vote ever, who presided over the longest decline in living standards, yet Labour lost seats. The rise of the SNP, the other big winner from the election, being due to the greater distance it places between itself and Tory policies.
By Jo Mullins
The Tory party is on course to achieve its lowest-ever polling in Euro elections and will receive a drubbing in the local elections held at the same time.
By Paul Roberts and Jane West
As expected Labour conference fired the starting gun for the 2015 election. What was not so anticipated was the Miliband leadership’s announcement of a series of popular policies that are widely perceived as constituting a shift to the left.
The strategy rolled out was for Labour to position itself as the party that defends the living standards of ordinary people. This was a shift in strategy and a welcome one. It is based on a correct understanding that the mass of the population is now more animated by contracting real incomes – the ‘cost of living crisis’ – than the ideology of ‘deficit reduction’.
By Nicky Dempsey and Jane West
It is little more than a year and a half until the next general election and already the main issues in each party’s campaign are being delineated.
Labour is still virtually certain to be the largest party after the next election as the long-term decline in the Tory vote will be further depressed by five years of austerity. Electorally the main question is whether Labour wins a majority – and of what size – or whether it is forced into coalition with the Lib Dems.
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