Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Maggie Thatcher, Jim Davidson, General Pinochet, Jimmy Savile… your boys took one hell of a beating. Well, no, not ultimately they didn’t but it was certainly a bloody nose for the reactionary and hateful among us. For two years, the progressive left have had mud and worse slung at it by all corners of power and came out fighting in the election campaign; fighting to the point that just another 3000 more votes in key marginal constituencies would have meant a working parliamentary majority for Jeremy Corbyn. That, frankly, is incredible when you consider where Labour were at the start of the campaign just 8 weeks ago.
There was much bitterness following election night with the spin machine going into overdrive. News presenters and comedy shows were still battering the Labour Party, trying to massage the result into an out-and-out defeat but 318 v 262 seats does not tell a whole story, despite what Ian Hislop and his ilk might think. Jeremy Corbyn’s party achieved the highest increase in votes for the Labour Party since 1945, and the most votes overall since the landslide win of 1997. It’s a peculiarity of our system that Corbyn achieved more votes in 2017 than Tony Blair did in 2005, and yet 2005 was a Labour landslide. Our voting system is broken; when the Green Party can get more than double the vote of the DUP but only have one MP to their 10 something is very wrong.
Some people have been gracious enough to accept they were wrong about Corbyn, people in his own parliamentary party in particular. Yvette Cooper, Chuka Umunna and like-minded MPs were quick to say they were wrong. However, Chris Leslie was stupid enough to say a different leader would have won the election and it is unlikely that the hateful Ian Austin will change his tune, despite the fact that left-Labour MPs, particularly Corbyn supporters, increased their majorities and Austin’s for example slipped from over 4000 to just 22; this has much to do with his own spiteful attacks on progressives, his cowardly attacks and threats on Labour members and his wholly unparliamentary approach being a representative MP. There is clearly some work still to do on the attitude of what out media like to call “Labour moderates”, who are in fact a hard-right faction.
The media too were contrite, even in the so-called liberal papers. John Rentoul, Owen Jones, Nick Cohen, Jonathan Freedland, Polly Toynbee et. al. were all dining out on humble pie after writing such scurrilous diatribes in the last year about the Labour leader. While apologies are welcome and will be no doubt accepted from the magnanimous Mr Corbyn, questions must be asked about these “pundits”; they were wrong at the 2015 election, wrong on the EU referendum, wrong on the American election and wrong again; why do these people (who command huge salaries in a dying industry) continue to be given the paper, not to mention TV breakfast sofas, to tell us about politics when they clearly have little more clue than Barry down the pub, and he has a tattoo on his neck. It’s not good enough; I’m a librarian – if I am shit at being a librarian I’ll be fired. Plenty of librarians have been laid off without being shit at it come to that. They apologise for being wrong and in the same breath tell us what to expect next; my advice would be to expect the opposite of what they say.
Little should be expected of the right-wing press going forward. We expected their virulent attacks in the final week of the election and they duly got stonking great hard-ons for putting pictures of Jeremy Corbyn next to terrorists and other undesirables to try and invent a connection between them. Thankfully much of the public saw through this, now standard Linton Crosby technique of playing the man and not the ball. Whatever happens, they won’t change because their guarantee for subservience to the Tory cause was no doubt a promise to not implement the more regulatory elements of the Leveson recommendations. Certainly younger voters are too savvy now for this level of contemptible bile; the new media age is here and what terrifies the press barons is that they have no power over it – cue the Tories and their surveillance measures. It sometimes feels as though Rupert Murdoch has been the de-facto prime minister since the early 1980s. Communication is changing, faster than the old methods can keep up with and with each passing generation they lose more of their power.
So now what? Currently we have a situation where Theresa May called an election to strengthen her majority in Parliament, she has utterly failed to do so and has in-fact lost seats which makes it a hung parliament. She claimed if the Tories lost just six seats she would no longer be prime minister, but here she is clinging to her crumbling nest like a dying fledgling on Springwatch. Yet more evidence, were it needed, that Theresa May is a liar; and a power hungry one at that. Like her predecessor David Cameron and his love affair with hubris, she thought she could arrogantly go to the country and tell them how to vote, and she, like him, was found out.
The parliament isn’t as hung as the numbers suggest with Sinn Fein not taking their seats and the speaker unable to vote, so we see this squalid, filthy exercise of doing deals behind closed doors with the bat-shit crazy DUP; a party who think women need the state in their vaginas, want to abolish love between the same sex and think beer has no place at a beer festival! The price they will extract from the Conservatives, from our Parliament and from British people can only be guessed at from behind a sofa.
The price the Tories may pay in a party political sense could be much greater. While the Tories are the nasty party, we’ve seen nothing yet, the DUP make UKIP look like Lib Dems. The British people are about to get a lot of exposure to the DUP and they will be horrified with what they see. Already a DUP councillor has put a doctored image on Twitter of number 10 Downing Street with the flag of the Ulster Volunteer Force flying above it – this is a proscribed terrorist group under UK law, but the DUP are staunchly loyal to it. There are many in the Conservative Party that will not tolerate a retrograde step on issues such as LGBT rights, abortion etc. Alan Duncan and Damian Green are proof that the Tories, and many of their voters have moved on; either they are fully accepting of LGBT rights or they understand it is a battle lost – the DUP want to drag us all back decades in this area. It won’t be surprising if they bring back witchfinders – throwing women in lakes to see if they float.
A week on we have already had a long delay for the Queen’s speech which is now scheduled for Wednesday 21st June and that will be the first real test of the robustness of this parliament. If it is in any way controversial it will be rejected by progressive Tories and it won’t take much to tip the balance of power away from their party as I would fully expect the prospective legislative agenda to be voted against by all parties other than the DUP, and Sinn Fein with their permanent abstention. If it fails, Jeremy Corbyn may be invited to form a minority government but it is unlikely there would be wide parliamentary support for radical reform; a general election would be the more likely outcome. Personally I hope Theresa May does survive for the time being, and I will enjoy watching the Conservatives tear themselves apart for maybe 12 months as the demands of the DUP become ever more outlandish and the fiscal woe of Brexit bites us further. We are already seeing wage growth lag far behind inflation and this shows no sign of letting up. This parliament is doomed to a failure out of its own control, let the Tories take ownership of the disaster they begun.