It’s no exaggeration to say that should the Conservative Party win in June Britain will experience the most rabidly right-wing government ever as it enters the most fraught period of its modern history. For all that the Tories have no plan for dealing with Brexit – nothing remotely plausible or mature, in any case – they will go on a shock doctrine rampage, trying to reverse all the social, cultural and political gains of the last 70 years.
Corbyn’s speech on terror was considered and reasonable, and outside the slavish Tory press it seems to have been well-received. May’s attempt to misrepresent its content went so far beyond what is normally acceptable in political discourse that it exposed her as little more responsible than Donald Trump. If she continues on this trajectory over the next week she’ll end up demanding that Corbyn be locked up. The revelations of the last few days that her department overlooked the danger represented by the terrorist are now fair game and given that she was prepared to politicise the bombing in such a cynical manner, Labour should exploit them to the full. They took off the gloves and Labour is now (in theory at least) in a position to deliver a series of deft kicks to the chin.
The Tories are currently on the run as Labour enjoys a much more succesful campaign than anyone anticipated. From fox-hunting to social care, the Tories are increasingly recognised as the party of dishonesty and cruelty.
Still, the tangible shift in mood is probably not enough for Labour to win. The absolute priority now is to encourage people to vote against the Tories, even if they’re not enthusiatic about voting for Labour. What Labour needs now is people knocking on doors spreading word of its most popular policies and directly countering negative impressions of its leader. In doing so they need to stick to the script as defined by the leadership.
The Tories will be employing all the dirty tricks they used in the referendum. They are already flooding Facebook with individually-targetted ads spreading outright disinformation. Obviously such messages need to be countered online, but that is not where the election will be won. Those who instead of engaging in politics on the doorstep spend all their time whinging and gossiping in their social media bubbles are not helping the cause. Particularly useless – indeed, actively counterproductive – are those spreading puerile conspiracy theories about the Manchester bombing. Arguing that May’s department overlooked the bomber is absolutely different from claiming that they deliberately allowed it to happen, and anyone suggesting the latter should be directly challenged and condemned. They are just as much of an embarrassment to the party as anti-semites.
Labour’s slim chance of winning rests upon everyone who wants it to win canvassing, leafletting, and talking to real people – friends, colleagues and family. Clearly, anyone in a marginal seat or where Labour stands no chance, needs to grit their teeth and vote for the anti-Tory candidate. For those of us actively appalled by Corbyn’s atrocious leadership over Brexit, a resounding victory for the SNP north of the border will strengthen our case.
Almost unbelievably given the situation a few weeks ago, the Tories can be defeated, but those of us who dearly want that to happen need to join forces with those knocking on doors. Just voting won’t be enough, and ranting online is so close to useless as to make no meaningful difference*.
*I’m aware of irony, thanks.