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British Perspectives 2015
British Perspectives 2015
21. While increasing numbers of working class people dismiss all of the three big parties as 'the same', there is still another layer who will vote Labour hoping that they will at least be a little bit less brutal than the Tories. It is probably still more likely that hatred of the Tories will mean that enough workers will 'hold their noses' and vote Labour for it to come out of the general election as the biggest party. However, this is not guaranteed. It is likely that the Tories will try to find a few election bribes for the March budget; although they are severely constrained by the way doing so would undermine their mantra about the need for endless austerity. It is not this but Labour's weakness that could still allow the Tories to edge ahead, but a Tory majority government is not on the cards. If the Tories are again the largest party, any government they form will be extremely unstable. There will be little left of the Liberal Democrats who - having lost more than half their seats - would be even weaker partners within a new coalition. In order to try and avoid complete electoral disaster the Lib Dems are increasingly openly attacking the Tory party. Even David Laws, who Tory Cabinet ministers say was to the right of them in 2010, has now described Osborne's Autumn Statement as a 'political suicide note'. This will increase the already strong mood in the Tory party that it would be better to be a minority government, propped up from the outside by the Democratic Unionists from Northern Ireland and UKIP, than to join another coalition with the Liberal Democrats giving them only a handful more votes in parliament. Cameron has promised Tory MPs a vote on forming a new coalition; a failure to deliver this could lead to an immediate split in the fragile Tory Party, with more MPs leaving for UKIP.
22. The parliamentary Tory party dreams that a government without the Liberal Democrats would allow them off the leash to implement Osborne's Autumn Statement and to escalate the already vicious attacks on trade union rights carried out by this government. Attempting this - as they would try to do - however, would lead to huge class battles which would be likely to force the government from power. The call for a 24 hour general strike is an important part of our programme. How prominent it is has waxed and waned, depending on the development of the struggle. Another Tory-led government would immediately put it centre stage.
23. This would be a far weaker government than the current coalition, not only in parliamentary arithmetic but also in its social base. In 2010, there was a section of the middle class, and even some workers, who accepted Cameron's propaganda about 'caring Conservatism'. That is long since gone. Even now, however, there are a few who hope that the pain they have suffered was a necessary precursor to renewed prosperity. That illusion is being shattered. The inability of the Tories to reach significant sections of the population has worsened during the last five years. Not only in Scotland but also in the North of England, the Tories have been wiped out. There is not a single Tory councillor in Manchester, Newcastle, Liverpool or Sheffield. The same can be said for numerous London boroughs.
24. If Labour comes out as the biggest party they would prefer a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, to take some of the flak for their continued attacks on workers living standards. This would no longer be seen in the way it would have been in the past, given the change in the class character of the Labour Party. On the contrary, it is possible many workers would initially welcome it as a means to keep the Tories out of power. However, keeping the Liberal Democrats in power despite their likely dramatic loss of seats would not be without political consequences and it is far from certain that the numbers for a Lab-Lib coalition would add up. On current polls, the SNP will have more MPs than the Liberal Democrats. The SNP has ruled out a coalition with the Tories. It is possible they would join one with Labour but it is more likely they would prop up a Labour government from outside. Without doubt, the SNP would demand concessions in return, in particular on significant more devolved powers - Devo max - over and above those already agreed through the Smith commission. Without major further concessions to Scotland the question of a new independence referendum will be on the agenda, sooner rather than later. There will be no easy options for Labour if it emerges as the largest party.