There is no other way of cutting it – this election result is an absolute disaster for Britain. We are set for five years of utter misery, with further cuts to public services and welfare, further privatisation of the NHS and our education system and further attacks on migrants, the unemployed and the disabled. The Tories have won and we are stuck with them.
While it’s important now to get angry, to get agitated and get organised, it’s equally important to look at the future with a degree of optimism to stave off defeatism. There are, through it all, small glimmers of hope. Our Co-Editor Chris Jarvis will, over the next few days be looking at some of them.
by Chris Jarvis
Although the Conservatives narrowly tipped themselves over the line to form a majority once all the seats were counted after polls closed on Thursday, the irony of the election is that the parliamentary arithmetic is actually less in the Tories favour than it was in 2010.
If you add all the MPs together who are likely to vote with the Tories on the majority of their programme, the number now stands at 350 — that is the combined total of UKIP, Liberal Democrat, Democratic Unionist, Ulster Unionist, and Conservative seats. After 2010, it stood at 371. That means that the combined weight of the progressive, or at least anti-Tory parties, are in greater number now than they were after the last election. Between the Greens, Plaid Cymru, the SNP, the SDLP, and Sinn Fein, there are 299 MPs, compared to 276 in 2010.
Therefore, despite appearances suggesting that the country has shifted further to the right, and that the Tories were overwhelmingly victorious last week, the reality is slightly different. The truth is that the decimation of the Liberal Democrats at the hands of both Labour and the Conservatives, which enabled the Tories to scrape together a majority, has given the illusion of a grand victory for the Tories and austerity. The truth is that our parliament has actually shifted a little to the left.
the illusion of a grand victory for the Tories and austerity
This is further demonstrated when looking at individual MPs who are taking up seats in parliament for the first time. Candidates from the Scottish National Party sweeping into seats in Scotland brings a new lease of life to the parliamentary left. Trade Union backed and self-confessed socialist Labour MPs winning their elections, such as Clive Lewis in Norwich South and Rachel Maskell in York Central, adds further strength to truly progressive voices in parliament. A contingent of newly elected parliamentarians will thus be joining re-elected veterans such as John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn, as well as the Greens’ Caroline Lucas.
Cumulatively, this means firstly that the Tory government is arguably less stable in the new parliament than it was in the last, and secondly that an authentic, strong left-wing voice will be ringing out of the House of Commons much louder than it has done since the 90s. Should the Tories lose support of a handful of soft-right backbenchers and the Liberal Democrats on some of their legislative programme, the government could easily be defeated in the Commons. The new grouping of progressive MPs from across the Labour backbenches, the SNP, and the Greens, offers a platform to a radical left of centre alternative that has been so clearly missing from our politics for a long time.
the Tory government is arguably less stable in the new parliament than it was in the last
It’s not worth holding your breath over. On the vast majority of issues, the Tories will be able to steamroll reactionary legislation through the Commons. But there will be instances where the block of anti-Tory MPs in addition to a handful of dissenting Conservative bank benchers, will be able to out vote the Government and temper some of the most offensive elements of their programme, and if we’re lucky — a splattering of by-elections throughout the parliament could see their majority hacked away at until it disappears.
A glimmer of hope.