General Election 2017: Labour Perspective

Why has Theresa May called a General Election?

It was coming.

PM Theresa May sees this as an opportune time to increase her majority before things start to get really tricky. This is not an election for “the security of millions of working people across the country” nor an election to “secure stable leadership to see us through Brexit” but an act of pure political gamesmanship.

May is getting this election in before the EU negotiations get tough and Juncker and Selmayr deal their retribution in turning the screw on the British negotiators.

Nicola Sturgeon was upping the ante for a second Scottish Independence Referendum, which now takes an immediate back seat.

Labour are behind in the YouGov poll by 20 points, which has dropped to 18 points since the election announcement.

So this is a perfect time for May to call an election and attempt to increase her majority while the narrative of Brexit masks the disasters of her administration in failing the NHS, failing education and failing working class families across the country.

What does Jeremy Corbyn have to do?

Firstly, there is hope even with Labour 18 points behind in the polls. Polls are not reality until polling day. In the 2015 General Election David Cameron won his narrow majority with Ed Miliband ahead in the polls and most expected Hilary Clinton to walk the American election but an email scandal turned her campaign on its head.

Secondly, global politics is very polarised and has been since the 2008 crash. Syriza and Podemos won with progressive mandates in Greece and Spain, Bernie Sanders ran a close “openly socialist” nomination campaign against Hilary Clinton, while socialist Jean-Luc Mélenchon is running Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen close in the race to progress to the second round of the French elections.  Conversely the far right have gained power or mounted major election campaigns against centrist candidates in the US, Austria, Holland and now France with the rise of Marine Le Pen.

Corbyn needs to effectively change the narrative and re-frame himself as a strong and competent leader who will bring the positive change that many in the country are yearning for.

This is a hard but possible task, he needs to continue his media offensive, he needs to continue having a presence on the radio and television, he needs to write articles for publication in major newspapers.

Corbyn must mobilise the massive Labour membership he has built (a whole 300,000 more members than before he became leader in 2015), there are 528,000 Labour Party members who can be campaigning for a Labour victory.

Most importantly, Corbyn must build and maintain momentum in his election campaign over the next 7 weeks. Labour must keep pushing forward their progressive policies to working and middle class voters that have been squeezed by the Tories. Policies which are extremely popular and include:

  • ending tuition fees,
  • reinvesting in and saving the NHS,
  • nationalising the railways,
  • the building of 1 million new homes in 5 years,
  • £500 billion pound investment in infrastructure,
  • a green economy,
  • closing the gender pay gap,
  • ending Zero hour contracts,
  • protections for EU workers,
  • investment into an education system that has been failed by Theresa May.

BUT this is not a Presidential system and this is not just about Corbyn. This is about the Labour Party. The Party wins the election. So the party machine needs to unite around Corbyn.

Labour MPs that say they don’t want another X years of Conservative Government need to rise to May’s challenge, this is the time for them to show their commitment to the Labour Party and its members and regain power for the Party.

It’s time to get behind the Labour Party and support Labour’s election campaign in hope of a New Progressive, United Kingdom.

BBC World Service Interview with our writer @RavSRM on Labour’s chances of winning the 2017 General Election. Mins 17 and 50.

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