Things are pretty bad in Britain, aren’t they? The post-crash Coalition con; the Cameron austerity years; divisive and disastrous Brexit; tragically mismanaged pandemic; impact of the war in Ukraine; attacks on good governance; inflation.
Surely it is time for national unity? But the incumbent Tories, despite their catalogue of failed leadership, cling to a substantial parliamentary majority through which to pursue their own sectional interests. Public services? Not needed for the well-heeled, thanks. Workers? Cut their pay. The people? Let them eat cake, from the food bank. Hang on though: did that idea not lead to revolution?
We may (and some do) joke in private about barricades and tumbrils but, good idea though a revolution may seem, would it be, really? Deposing a hateful and useless government is one thing, but imposing something agreeable in its place by force has proven problematic throughout history. Even among revolutionaries, agreement as to the way forward is rare. Civil war is a far more common result (see England 1642-51; France 1789-94; Russia 1917-23), which is definitely not to be recommended.
In today’s UK, it is democrats who seek change, and democrats tend to jib at violence, as do the British generally. If that route is both unacceptable and unlikely, what else can be done?
Is there an alternative?
The late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was nicknamed ‘TINA’ by some in the media, an acronym for her saying: “There is no alternative”. Governing was her way or no way. Her Tory successors on occasion trot out this mantra, as if by doing so her fairy dust could validate their own choice of austerity over the last 12 years. But these are no Thatchers and these times are not like hers. In her time in office the nation’s finances were shored up by the newly tapped North Sea assets; in theirs they are in tatters. She had a plan; they do not.
Things are so bad today in this country that there must be an alternative, but there seems no immediate route towards whatever that alternative may be. The wreckage wrought to public services and to the economy as a whole will face whichever party wins the next election. Whilst it would be perverse for the electorate to grant the Conservative wreckers the job of repair, a new administration would, inevitably, struggle with the inherited mountainous mess before any vision of the future could be addressed. This is, though, not a reason for delaying a change of government.
Politics is about priorities. Those of the Conservative administrations of recent years have been shown to be divisive and self-serving: unlimited lucre for the wealthy and entitled; meagre scraps for the masses; continuing damage to the planet. In light of this, it is essential for the good of the country that priority is given as soon as possible to the provision of properly funded public services and reduction of some of the grotesque inequalities in society, including constitutional reform, so that our binary and unfair politics is replaced for good; and a greener agenda to adapt to the unstoppable climate crisis.
Proving TINA wrong
It must be plain that with the current voting system only Labour, with or without others, can form an alternative government when the opportunity arises; and that only by election of a Labour government can such redressing of priorities occur. For the time being, though, we must simply do everything politically possible to oust this venal and incompetent regime.
A Labour victory in a general election must be a sine qua non. However, the chances of ridding us of the adhesive Tories will be all the greater if, in every constituency, the greatest opportunity of victory for a non-Tory is taken. So it is not a question of Labour alone but of Labour where it can win; others where they can.
All progressives must do what it takes to achieve the defenestration of the Tories, restore the electoral system, the economy and trust in institutions, so damaged by the power-hunger of the Right. It is in the interest of ALL opposition parties, and all wings of the ever-factional Labour movement, that this occurs. Cooperation within and between all such parties before and after such a victory would indeed constitute a revolution – and prove TINA wrong.