As the polls predicted, the Conservatives swept up the majority of seats in the 6 May elections. And predictably too, they won the Hartlepool parliamentary by-election. But this hardly means that voters are giving Johnson a warm handshake! Even if that’s what all the endlessly pontificating media pundits say.
Yes, apparently all of us - or at least the voters - have forgotten the tens of thousands of needless deaths due to coronavirus and the lies and ongoing corruption surrounding Johnson’s government.
The media’s story is that voters are rewarding Johnson for “his” magnificent vaccine roll-out, and never mind the bodies which he “let pile high”! Never mind either, his refusal to share the huge hoard of vaccines (which his greedy venture capitalism grabbed!), with the poor countries, where Covid victims are still dying in their thousands every day.
The truth of the matter is, however, that the turnout in these “bumper” elections was typically poor. In council elections the percentage was, at the very most, in the low 40s.
The exception was the Scottish Assembly election, where a 63.2% turnout this year was an all-time record! But that doesn’t say a lot! So more than 1 in 3 of the Scots electorate didn’t cast a ballot - and that is considered to be an achievement?!
In other words, once more, the biggest party in these elections - whether for Hartlepool’s new MP, (almost 60% didn’t vote!) for councils, for local assemblies, for mayors and police commissioners, or for the Welsh and Scottish parliaments - was the party of abstention.
Of course the main reason for this is the obvious one: the “lack of a credible alternative”.
In the name of “national unity” and solemn duty in the face of “war” (against a tiny virus!), the Labour Party has gone along with all of the government’s major policies over the past year, citing the “interests of business” even more vehemently than the Tories. And that means the party set up its stall (yet again!) very clearly against the working class.
As everyone joked, Labour’s only obvious difference with the Tories was over Johnson’s choice of wallpaper. So indeed, why not vote for the real thing?
Patronising the working class
After Hartlepool, all the politicians are now talking about the “working class” - or to be more accurate, they are talking about how to win “the working class vote”. Johnson claims to have got workers’ votes by “getting Brexit done”. And now Labour is trying to find suitable “working class candidates” to select for future elections in order to recapture workers’ support!
Labour Party spokespersons even propose that someone like Starmer’s deputy, Angela Rayner, should be given a more prominent role, because she worked in social care in her previous life and speaks like a “Northerner”! It says it all about Starmer that his reflex, after the election results came in, was first to sack her and then, when he realised how that looked, to quickly promote her!
That said, behind all this patronising nonsense, lies a real contempt for workers. As if working class people are incapable of judging policies or performance - and would be conned into voting for someone by their accent!
So yes, Labour politicians are certainly disconnected with what used to be their electoral base, no question about that!
The "bill" is for workers, unless we act!
So what next? On Tuesday 11 May, parliament reopened and the 95-year-old Queen read out the government’s “levelling up”(!) plans for the coming session.
These are mostly waffle, committing Johnson to very little. Some of the Bills mentioned are already progressing through the House, like the Crime Bill, which grants police even more powers, or the bill on immigration which removes rights from refugees. Yet on social care, which needs urgently to be taken back into public hands and integrated into the NHS (simple enough!), the government proposes nothing concrete at all.
There are also proposals which give the prime minister new powers, for instance to call elections, or for people to produce ID cards in order to vote. Opposition MPs presented this as Johnson’s way to secure another term as (they say) it would exclude the poor from voting! But this is a highly unlikely move from libertarian Johnson, who has every interest, on the contrary, to encourage electoral illusions.
Indeed voting - and the vote of the working class - is certainly the heart of the problem. Because there is nothing the ruling class fears more, than workers deciding to use their collective power on the streets, instead of a piece of paper in a ballot box, as a means to oppose the “Queen’s” laws.