General election 2017: what did it mean?

How did it come about that Mrs May's Tories should have ended up weaker than ever after the election they were supposed to win by a landslide?

Harpal Brar

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Harpal Brar, chairman of the CPGB-ML, gives an insightful analysis of the 2017 general election at a meeting of the Stalin Society in June 2017.

It was widely believed at the beginning of the election that the Tories would win a landslide, as Labour trailed 22 points behind in polls, and 80 percent of Labour MPs opposed Jeremy Corbyn‘s leadership, openly declaring, along with their colleagues in the Tory party and the bourgeois media, that he was totally ‘unelectable’.

Even during the election campaign the majority of Labour candidates refused to acknowledge or support Corbyn, and many openly opposed his manifesto. But Corbyn surprised his critics, fighting a dynamic and engaging campaign, winning the support of youth in particular with more new voters enrolling than in the Brexit referendum.

Despite this, Labour lost the election, but it increased its number of seats in parliament. The Tories, meanwhile, lost their majority and were forced to conclude a grubby pact with the Democratic Unionist Party, which even they find socially reactionary, though politically it is cast from the same mould as themselves.

Corbyn has secured his leadership of the Labour party for now. Despite all the talk of his being a rabid left-winger he fought the election on a moderate social-democratic platform akin to many across Europe, and he certainly has not threatened the economic workings of the crisis-ridden capitalist system, which is the root cause of the austerity agenda he claims to fight.

Meanwhile, the grass-roots ‘Momentum’ movement that has backed Corbyn’s rise from backbencher to leader of the Labour party continues to attract all the fake socialists who continue to believe in pie-in-the-sky solutions to capitalism.

The truth is that without overthrowing capitalism there are nothing but hard times ahead for the British working class, as for workers of all capitalist countries. The communists support every struggle of the working class to fight for improvements in their conditions, but this support seeks at the same time to convince workers of the need for proletarian revolution, not to lull them into the false but reassuring belief that their needs can be met within the framework of a ‘kinder’ or ‘fairer’ capitalism.

No amount of tweaking at the edges of economic or foreign policy is going to make this parasitic and dying system serve the interests of the working class or cure the chaos in which we now find ourselves. The programme of the Labour party is, at best, a prayer that the ills of capitalism can be solved within the capitalist system.

Our position is that, with the best will in the world, they can’t. Workers’ salvation lies not with Saint Jeremy or Stern Theresa, but with the workers themselves. Unpalatable as this truth may be, ultimately we will not be able to vote our way out of the crisis.

Either the crisis will lead the working class deeper into poverty and war, or workers will organise themselves to defeat the crisis by overthrowing capitalism and building a socialist society that is capable of meeting their needs.