Editorial: The Aftermath
Contrary to expectations, there was no hung parliament and there isn’t a coalition government. Just a one-party Tory government with a small majority. No moulds were broken except of course in Scotland where there was a near clean sweep for the SNP which now holds 56 of the 59 seats there reducing the number of Scottish Labour MPs from 41 to just one.
The Tory victory means that there will now definitely be an in/out referendum on whether the UK should withdraw from the EU. In promising this Cameron took a big risk: that a majority might vote to withdraw whereas Big Business, whose interests the Tory party traditionally champions, wants to stay in. Given the prevailing mood of xenophobia which he helped to stoke up to try to stop people voting UKIP instead of Tory, he is going to have to prove to be an astute politician if he’s going to serve Big Business well and also avoid the financial and economic crisis that a No vote would provoke.
For socialists the issue of whether or not capitalist Britain withdraws from the capitalist EU is irrelevant from the point of view of those forced to work for a wage or salary. The EU is an intergovernmental arrangement between capitalist states the dominant section of whose ruling class perceives it to be in their interest to create a vast tariff-free single market for their goods with the same common standards; also to pool some of their sovereignty to be in a better bargaining position in negotiations with other capitalist states and blocs over trade and other economic matters.
It is true that some sections of the capitalist class in Britain – those producing mainly for the home market or mainly for export outside Europe – are in favour of withdrawal but they are a minority. It’s a dispute between two sections of the capitalist class. This is why as socialists we shall be urging people neither to vote Yes nor to vote No. Even so, as world socialists who stand for a world without frontiers we will be particularly opposed to those leftwingers who will be beating the nationalist drum for a No to EU vote.
Labour’s failure even to obtain more seats than the Tories led to Ed Miliband throwing himself into the dustbin of history, starting off a contest for the leadership of the Labour Party. All the candidates seem to have come to the same conclusion: that to win again Labour will have to become a nasty party like the Tories. One says that Labour lost because they weren’t tough enough on immigration. Another that they were too tough on business. A third says it was a mistake to have concentrated on promises to end zero-hour contracts and raise the minimum wage as these don’t concern most voters. It looks as if the Labour Party is going to get the Leader it deserves.
The only positive outcome of the election was what happened in Scotland. Not of course the vote for the petty-minded, subsidy-seeking Scottish Nationalists but a demonstration that it is possible for people’s political views to change dramatically in a relatively short period of time.