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The Tories and DUP 'A messy and weak parliamentary rule of the hard right flavour'

The British Labour party is on an upwards trajectory and its supporters will feel emboldened, writes Rob Winkel.

THE BRITISH POLITICAL system has been through an upheaval for the second time in just under a year. Most commentary told us that the election would not go this way: the Conservatives, remember, were supposed to get a massive majority, all but wiping out Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, and then form the biggest Tory majority in decades.

They ran the most stage-managed of campaigns, with the bulk of the UK media supporting them and refusing to apply due scrutiny. Theresa May wanted an election focussed entirely on Brexit negotiations.

However, Labour successfully shifted the focus to include basic social issues that affect people’s everyday lives.

Most polarised election in a long time

Commentators have been caught off guard. We have spent eight weeks hearing about how many seats the Conservatives will gain; in the end, they lost 13 while Labour gained 30.

It would appear that those claiming to have their finger on the pulse of UK politics are looking in the wrong places, ignoring the significance of street rallies attended by thousands in major cities around the country in the days running up to the election.

This was the UK’s most polarised election in a very long time. The Tory party moved even further rightwards under May, and at least one candidate ran on a “burka ban” platform in agreement with UKIP.

The Labour leadership moved back to its left-wing roots, a process which resulted in a radical manifesto which appealed widely and caused massive swings towards Labour in many constituencies. Crucially, Labour offered an end to the austerity that has torn British society apart for the last seven years.

The Conservatives campaigned in the only way they know how to: using the politics of fear and division. They spread fear about Brexit negotiations, the economy, Corbyn himself and terrorism following the London and Manchester atrocities.

Conservatives suffered a considerable loss

If we measure success in terms of how the result meets the expectation, the Conservatives suffered a considerable loss. They maintained their position as the largest party, but not their parliamentary majority.

Britain’s first-past-the-post voting system means that, while the Tories got just 2.4% more of the popular vote than Labour, they won over 20% more parliamentary seats.

Labour’s positive campaign led the party to increase its vote share by 9.6% in just over two years. This increase happened after the 21-month leadership of Jeremy Corbyn. Even Tony Blair did not increase Labour’s vote share by this amount in his 1997 landslide victory (and Labour enjoyed considerably more press support during the 1997 election).

Corbyn isn’t too left-wing for the electorate

The movement represented by Corbyn can celebrate their successes following Thursday’s result. They have created an enormous crisis within the British establishment. Several myths peddled continuously during the last two years have now comfortably been put to bed: for example, Corbyn’s policies did not make the party “unelectable”, nor were they too left-wing for the electorate. It would seem that the opposite was the case.

Poor poll ratings two months ago can almost certainly be attributed to the continuous assaults taking place on Corbyn and his team.

The Tories – having taken their support for granted and lost much of it – now have to call on the hardline DUP for support, in what is going to be messy and weak parliamentary rule of the hard right flavour.

The Labour party is on an upwards trajectory, and its supporters will feel emboldened following Thursday’s election. It’s undeniable that, at the grassroots level, a serious political shift is underway in the UK, which sees austerity and privatisation rejected in favour of properly funded public services, and a society run in the interests of the majority.

The British Labour left have every reason to be hopeful of their chances in any future election. And the Conservatives have every reason to feel uneasy going forward.

Rob Winkel is a freelance writer.

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