We got it wrong on the turnout…

A few posts back, we predicted that there would be a low turnout at the general election: Election 2017 – some thoughts from outside the bubblehttps://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/election-2017-some-thoughts-from-outside-the-bubble/ Well…we were wrong on that one weren’t we?! The turnout was up, boosted by many young people registering to vote and then going on to exercise that right: Huge number of young people believed to be behind vote that rocked Torieshttp://metro.co.uk/2017/06/09/youth-out-in-full-force-as-72-of-young-people-vote-in-general-election-6696890/

A fair number of them voted for Corbyn’s Labour. It has to be acknowledged that despite Corbyn starting out from a pretty dismal position in the polls, the ensuing campaign energised a lot of younger people into registering and voting, making May’s campaign look wooden and stilted by comparision. Yes, regardless of our criticisms of Labour, we’re admitting that Corbyn has created a new force in British politics and that has to be acknowledged. The question is, what happens now?

We still stand by every criticism that we and our comrades have made of Labour, particularly the way Labour controlled councils in London are actively complicit in the process of social cleansing in the name of ‘re-generation’: Clusterfuck! Labour’s Shameless Council Estate Rip-offhttps://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/06/07/clusterfuck-labours-shameless-council-estate-rip-off/ However, we also realise that many of the people who were swept up by the enthusiasm of Corbyn’s campaign were not aware of the reality of what Labour councils in the capital are actually doing. Those of us who are calling these councils to task (Architects 4 Social Housing, Class War, Focus E15 to name a few) don’t have the reach or clout we would like to get the message across and we know we have to up our game in order to do so.

The election is over and we would like to leave the arguments within anarchist circles about voting or not voting behind us and start to look at the task ahead. If just some of the people who were energetically campaigning for Corbyn can get stuck into grassroots activism in the community, workplace, colleges and out on the streets, it really would start to make a difference: What now? Fighting austerity in a hung parliamenthttps://libcom.org/blog/what-now-08062017

Initial reaction…

Well, it looks as though we have a hung parliament: Election results live: Theresa May under fire as hung parliament confirmedhttps://www.theguardian.com/politics/live/2017/jun/08/general-election-results-2017-uk-live-labour-tories-corbyn-may-election-results-live-news-line As things stand, it’s difficult to see how a government is going to be formed. Whatever government is cobbled together as a result of shady backroom dealing, they will have little in the way of legitimacy.

Constitutional and political chaos has arrived and could well delay the start of the Brexit talks that are due to start later on this month. There is already talk of another election in a bid to clarify things – in other words, keep voting until the powers that be get the result they want! The one thing the City and the financial sector hate is instability – well, they’ve got that big time! The pound has already plummeted in reaction to the election result – if it stays down as the constitutional chaos develops, that will impact on the economy and inflation. The financial sector and the security establishment will be desperate for some kind of stability sooner rather than later, regardless of how it’s achieved. Suffice to say, we live in interesting, challenging and potentially dangerous times…

Obviously, the production of the next print edition of The South Essex Stirrer is on hold until we get a firmer idea of how the political landscape we operate in will shape up. Needless to say, whatever content does go in will be generic in nature as opposed to newsy – we don’t want to be saddled with hundreds of out of date papers as a result of fast moving political developments!

What is a concern is that if there is another election in the next few months, the time and energies of a lot of activists will be sucked into another push to get Corbyn’s Labour party elected to government. That in our view would be a waste of time and energy that should be going into grassroots campaigning on the estates, in the workplace, on the campuses, in our neighbourhoods and last but by no means least, out on the streets…

Election 2017 – some thoughts from outside the bubble

Being political activists, there’s a tendency to hang around with other political activists and end up getting sucked into a bubble that distorts the view of what’s really happening in the wider world. We do our level best to avoid that but even we end up getting sucked into the bubble of endless discussion about the forthcoming election and in particular, the hyped up predictions of the Corbynistas about how well they might do.

There’s an easy way for us to take a reality check… It involves switching the laptop off, leaving the house and walking round the streets where we live. Apart from a huge Tory banner on the side of a barn on the edge of town, you wouldn’t know there was an election on. Sure, we know the tradition of putting posters in your window to declare your voting intentions has been in decline for some years now but there’s now almost a complete absence of election posters on display in our town. Anecdotal evidence from comrades in London and other parts of the country confirms a near total lack of election posters on display.

Once you step outside of the activist and media bubble, it’s pretty clear that this election is leaving people feeling distinctly underwhelmed. Even with Theresa May’s reputation as the ‘strong and stable’ candidate looking distinctly tattered after a string of gaffes and no shows leading to a narrowing of the Tory lead, out here, there’s still widespread cynicism about the election and the self serving reasons it was called.

We’re sticking to our original prediction that out of the total electorate, the number of people who chose not to vote will be greater than those voting for the ‘winning’ party. In other words, whoever forms the next government will have little in the way of meaningful legitimacy. Given that May’s reason for calling the election was to have an overwhelming Parliamentary majority to back her up in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations, if she only achieves a slim majority on the back of a low turnout, she will have sod all legitimacy.

If a weakened Tory government is perceived by the other EU nations as having little in the way of meaningful legitimacy, it will make the Brexit negotiations ‘difficult’ to say the least. It could well mean more instability and the prospect of the UK crashing out of the EU without any kind of a deal. Suffice to say, there is a lot of turmoil to come as the political and economic system we live in becomes ever more crisis prone. Looking beyond electoral politics to a future of instability, it’s stating the bleeding obvious that there are dangers ahead but also, if we as activists can get our act together, there are opportunities to start to push the project of fundamental system change…

Election ‘fever’

Campaigning for the general election taking place on Thursday June 8th has resumed. An inept election campaign from Theresa May which even has the Tory supporting Spectator voicing its concerns: This is the worst Tory election campaign everhttps://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/05/this-is-the-worst-tory-election-campaign-ever/ and: Could Theresa May blow this general election?https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2017/05/theresa-may-blow-general-election/ is leading to excitable talk from the Corbynistas in the Labour Party that a win could well be possible. It would seem that for many on the left, any political activity that’s not devoted to the election of Saint Jezza is a betrayal of the ’cause’. As for us here at the Stirrer, we can’t wait for this diversion to be over and for the focus to return to resistance on the estates, in the workplace and the colleges and last but by no means least, out on the streets…regardless of who wins…

Regardless of who wins…because even if by some weird fluke Corbyn scrapes a narrow victory, as far as the housing activists we know in London are concerned, there’s going to be no honeymoon period. Unless every so called ‘re-generation’ scheme (a.k.a. social cleansing) that’s currently been set in motion by Labour councils such as Lewisham, Southwark, Lambeth, Hackney, Haringey and Newham to name just a few of the culprits is halted with immediate effect by a Corbyn government, then not only will resistance continue, it will intensify. So bollocks to any talk of letting Saint Jezza get his feet under the table before a decision is made on calling in the social cleansing schemes that London Labour councils have been complicit in!

As things stand, it’s most likely that May will scrape back in but not with the significant majority she was hoping for – Karma coming back and biting her on the bum… Which means there will be an enormous army of demoralised Corbynistas at a time when we warned that we’ll be needing activists prepared to carry on and escalate the real resistance against a system that’s broken: Three more weeks of hot air and then what?https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/05/18/three-more-weeks-of-hot-air-and-then-what/

What do we mean by real resistance? Here are just a few examples… Architects 4 Social Housinghttps://architectsforsocialhousing.wordpress.com/ who have consistently exposed the role of Labour councils in London in facilitating social cleansing through ‘re-generation’. Focus E15https://focuse15.org/ who have harried Newham Council at every opportunity over their dismal record on social housing, social cleansing and allowing three tower blocks on the Carpenters Estate in Stratford to sit empty for over half a decade while they await the right offer from a developer. United Voices of the Worldhttps://www.uvwunion.org.uk/ – a grassroots union empowering marginalised workers who are often on zero hours contracts to fight for better conditions and pay. The list of groups and organisations offering real resistance at the grassroots goes on…

If you want to go out and vote on June 8th it’s your decision, whatever the justification. All we ask is you recognise that fighting for a better world involves a heck of a lot more than putting a cross in a box every few years. It certainly involves a lot more than putting all of your trust in one politician to sort out the problems of the world – Corbynistas, please take note!