The UK general election 2019: What breaks a butterfly upon a wheel? (I)

The Labour decision to back a second referendum was a mistake from a campaigning perspective.

As a campaign, it signalled the following to Leave voters.

  • Labour could not be trusted and was a party of politics as usual.
  • It reinforced the personal smearing on Corbyn as someone who could not be trusted.

This article does a great job of placing both Corbynism and Brexit as products of the same dialectic.

Labour’s Brexit position, which appears in hindsight to have been the worst of both worlds. By remaining essentially neutral on Brexit over the past three years, Labour allowed Lib Dems and Blairites and other technocrats from the previous era to shape what Remain meant, presenting it as the status-quo option, opposed to the change people are desperate for.

There is a point that I think is worth emphasising here: Brexit while on the surface is a reactionary movement is, in fact, quite the opposite. It is a revolutionary movement that seeks to reject the prevailing neoliberal order by going back to the future.

Labour’s proposals could be summarised as a core argument: we will use politics to make your life better. But if people don’t believe in the political system, they won’t trust you. Corbyn should have raged against elite rule, and promised a new democracy, by the people, for the people. He should have tapped into the anti-systemic energy. It should have been ‘by the many’. He could have won.

I don’t want to oversimplify things here: it could well have been that the gap between the old Labour working-class vote and the new Labour voter (particularly over the issue of Brexit) was insurmountable.

While offering a different framing about how Labour should have approached the Brexit issue (and coming to a different conclusion), this blog post offers some valuable insights into the longer-term composition of the electorate, which compliments the previous post.

Corbynism is the first mass expression in English and Welsh politics of a new working class. Its features are the immaterial character of its labour, that is it produces knowledge, services, care, relationships, and subjectivities/identities, and it depends on our social capacities and competencies as social beings – skills that can only be parasited off but not directly possessed by capital…

As to what next, this sums it for me:

They will have to face the fact that the electorate did not abandon Labour for the centre. They went either to the far right, in England and Wales, or to the social democratic nationalist alternative, in Scotland. They did not go to the Liberal Democrats or back Change UK. Chuka Umunna, Dominic Grieve, David Gauke, Anna Soubry, Jo Swinson and Luciana Berger all lost.

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