Friday 10 May 2024

Hostile Territory?

For more than 30 years, extremely right-wing Labour MPs and their hangers-on have been telling me that by definition, everyone in the Labour Party was "left of centre" or some such. Goodbye to all that. Natalie Elphicke has made Labour as the Conservatives were until Wednesday, a party in which a fringe MP wanted to open fire on the French Navy to stop the boats, but the people in charge were committed beyond argument to an economic model that depended on completely unrestricted immigration as one of many means of driving down wages and workers' rights. Boris Johnson and Liz Truss both tried to act on the latter position in absolute frankness, by abolishing controls on immigration along with those on everything else. Yet Elphicke backed them both. She is not very bright. Nor is the party that has let her in, although it has completely abandoned workers' rights, so with Elphicke's record on that, she is certainly in the right place now.

How is that economic model coming along? We are expected to dance in the streets that growth is 0.6 per cent, since at least we are not in recession. Yet the Official Opposition asks permission only to run the same thing with different faces, replacing the politicians against whom the voters had turned, but leaving the policies unchanged. The mere suggestion of the mini-Budget crashed the economy, but Labour pretended to oppose only one measure in it, the one that Truss had not included in her prospectus to Conservative Party members, while actively supporting all of the others. Look what those proposals did even without being enacted. Labour would enact them. The Times has lately gazetted, first that as "Labour's return to the political mainstream", and then a 30-point Labour poll lead that bore no resemblance to the votes that had just been cast. Its readers are assumed to be electorally decisive, and they have their instructions.

But when I tell you that there is going to be a hung Parliament, then you can take that to the bank. I spent the 2005 Parliament saying that it was psephologically impossible for the Heir to Blair's Conservative Party to win an overall majority. I predicted a hung Parliament on the day that the 2017 General Election was called, and I stuck to that, entirely alone, all the way up to the publication of the exit poll eight long weeks later. And on the day that Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister, I predicted that a General Election between him and Keir Starmer would result in a hung Parliament.

I have no plan to join the Workers Party of Britain, although nor would I expect to stand against it. But if it did not contest North Durham, then I would. To strengthen families and communities by securing economic equality and international peace through the democratic political control of the means to those ends, including national and parliamentary sovereignty, we need to hold the balance of power. Owing nothing to either main party, we must be open to the better offer. But there does need to be a better offer. Not a lesser evil, which in any case the Labour Party is not. We have made a start.