The OffGuardian View – GE2019
Consider this a catch-all discussion thread on the UK General Election 2019.
A few readers have been asking in email and in the comments why we aren’t running daily campaign updates on this, ‘the most important election in decades’, or ‘the most important election of the century’, or since time began or whatever hyperbolic descriptive being used.
The answer to that is simple. We don’t think it is the most important election since any of the above.
We think that mantle goes to 2017, when, if Corbyn’s Labour Party had won (and they nearly did) it would potentially have significantly changed the face of UK, European and maybe even world politics.
You can tell this potential was there because the Establishment at that time united across its entire spectrum to denounce Corbyn & Labour as dangerous and unelectable. No equivocations (or barely any). Just wall-to-wall hate and fear porn.
Contrast with now. Take off your blinders and just see the diff.
The Guardian in 2019 running ambiguous ‘maybe it’s time for a change’ pieces, and even pro-Corbyn pieces from some of its resident Blairites, who were all hating on Corbyn or rooting for the LibDems two years ago.
The recent “leaked” documents, on both Brexit and the NHS, have certainly been a boon to Labour. Though some sections of the establishment claim it was “the Russians” (a warning Labour should heed – Russiabaiting is a two-edged sword), the more likely explanation is that was other sections of the establishment, keen (for whatever reason) to give Labour a bit of ammunition.
Some of you might think this means the Establishment had a change of heart and likes socialism now.
If that’s helping you feel engaged and optimistic, then sure – you go with that.
Others – OffG included – suggest what we’re looking at are clear signs Labour has capitulated on some vital issues, offered assurances to key people on key questions that make the Establishment feel able to back them as a safe alternative to the wildly unpopular Tories.
One key difference, of course, is that, back in 2017, Labour were still committed to honouring the 2016 referendum result and taking the UK out of the European Union. Now they have – for reasons no doubt good to them – all but signed up to Remain.
This will, of course, make them more appealing to the very powerful pro-EU faction in the Establishment.
And as an added bonus, if Labour does get in on its current ‘Remain in all but name’ policy, it will very likely render itself constitutionally unable to enforce its own manifesto of re-nationalisation, since EU laws expressly forbid any such ‘monopoly’ move (although this is a matter of debate).
That’s probably a nice reassurance for the chaps at the FT, too.
Then there’s the much-touted “Green New Deal”, an issue at the heart of the neoliberal agenda and which seeks to corporatise the environmental movement and net the wealthy elite billions of pounds in taxpayer’s money.
And of course, Labour has been demonstrating for a while its utter preparedness to go along with mainstream imperialist narratives on many aspects of foreign policy.
It leapt in eagerly to ‘condemn’ Russia’s perfectly legal military presence in Syria, and – like any good US poodle – made no attempt to distinguish between it and NATO’s utterly illegal invasion. Corbyn was also quick to buy into the totally data-free and implausible ‘Russia poisoned the Skripals’ narrative.
Not to mention the Labour luminaries clamouring for the release of the “Russia report” about how the Kremlin “interfered in the Brexit referendum”, and xenophobically decrying the “dirty Russian money” behind the Conservatives. (In this, Corbyn’s party have acquired some strange allies).
The FCO at least must be assured a Labour government will be on message for most of its future anti-Russ agenda.
All this – and any amount of other negotiating behind the scenes, of which we currently know nothing – could explain why Labour is currently getting a much easier time from the mainstream than it did last time.
Granted, there is much to support in Labour’s manifesto: re-nationalisation programmes (supposing they are possible), more money for schools and the NHS, scrapping tuition fees. If asked, we would have to tell anyone to vote Labour as, at least, the least bad option.
But realistically, we have to acknowledge that the above issues do not bode well for any future Labour government being much more than a watered-down exercise in Blairism, with a sidelined Corbyn as its purely nominal head.
Is this the intended outcome? Or is the establishment hedging their bets in the hopes of a hung parliament, with a cross-party ‘government of national emergency’ taking us just a bit further down the road toward fascism?
Another reason OffG has done relatively little coverage of the day-to-day of the campaign is that so little of any value has actually been said. This “most important election” is marred by a total disregard for the idea of rational debate, and complete collapse into binary factionalism.
Talk of policy is banished to the shadows, replaced with the ridiculous back-and-forth of identity politics and smears.
Sure, a few Labour die-hards talk of pensions and schools, but mostly we hear about “antisemitism” on the one hand and “Islamophobia” on the other. Corbyn didn’t listen to the Queen’s speech, Johnson said something rude about burqas. Corbyn is a commie, Johnson a Nazi.
Can the “most important election” be defined and decided by tabloid headlines? Should it be?
In the end, just to clarify – before we’re inevitably accused of being “anti-Labour” (since binary thinking is the mode du jour) – We do agree Labour are probably the only choice. Generally speaking, things are more likely to improve with them in charge. They, at least, have a few ideas and some kind of desire to at least try and change things for ordinary people.
Sadly, it looks as if they may be handed the reins of power, only on the understanding that under no circumstances should they try to steer.
Feel free to disagree wildly with all of the above in the comments below. Give us your own opinions. We’ll be keeping this on the front-page until polling day.
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