“Oh Jeremy Corbyn, Oh Jeremey Corbyn….” was sung at the Labour leaders rallies and even by football supporters at premier league games. It was believed that he was creating a “youthquake” that would shock the Tories and ensure that Boris Johnson’s reign as British Prime Minister would be a very short one. Now, after the landslide conservative victory, it is more of a case of “Oh Jeremy Corbyn, what the hell have you done.”
Labour have lost the election just as much as the Conservatives have won it. Most of their gains came from Labour. Their failure to connect with the British public has ensured that Brexit will happen and has handed the right-wing Tories a huge majority.
This election was about Brexit. Labour took a ludicrous position on Brexit as in they didn’t have one. They wanted “to bridge the divide” between leave and remain camps. This was a dereliction of duty. It was also surprising as Corbyn has a history of taking principled stands. He often went against the grain and took the flak for speaking out for marginalized groups or causes. Corbyn was often critical of the EU, I suspect he is quite happy to leave, but his party is deeply divided on the issue. He needed to provide some clear leadership on the Brexit question, but instead, Labour MPs found themselves having to try and explain their non-position. In contrast, the Conservatives had a simple message of “Get Brexit Done.”
Corbyn also failed to provide leadership on the antisemitism within the Labour party. He failed to counter the misleading or untruthful Tory claims, although he was hampered in this by a media that hates his guts. Corbyn lacks charisma and failed to connect with the British public. Many Twitter feeds were predicting not only that he would have the support of nearly everyone under 30, but, also that there was a huge increase in the number of young people registering to vote. The “youthquake” failed to materialize, and as usual, the election was decided by voters over forty years of age.
Boris Johnson is often lazily described as Britain’s Trump. Although both men have blond hair and both have said outrageous and racist things in a populist way to gain power, they are very different people. While Trump is just being Trump-he is what he is- Johnson is a more cunning, devious, and cynical politician.
While Johson likes to give the impression that he is a bumbling British Toff who relates to the man in the street- think of the photo of him stuck on a zipline waving Union Jack flags, or, the videos of him playing rugby and soccer- he actually has delusions of grandeur and see’s himself as a 21st Century Winston Churchill. Unlike Trump, Johnson is well-read and can be very articulate when he wants to be while he is also a very talented writer. In many ways, he is worse than Trump because he is deliberately and knowingly tapping into the same forces that got Trump elected. Bojo is a nasty piece of work who has plotted and schemed his way to the top of British politics, whereas Trump was never a politician.
Boris Johnson’s first speech as Prime Minister was excellent. He spoke about hiring extra police and nurses and how he wanted to unite the country and how he was going to raise living standards by investing in public service. Johnson sounded caring and compassionate and spoke like someone determined to get things done. He delivered a speech that Trump never could. The problem is it was all lies, merely cleverly chosen words to win over the working and middle-class Labour supporters. Listen to his speech and then remember that this same man is now in charge of the Tory governments that have viciously implemented austerity in Britain since the 2010 election.
Johnson is not to be trusted- he wrote passionately of reasons why Britain should remain in the European Union, then sat on the fence for a while, before becoming the Brexit champion that he is now. His sole purpose is gaining and maintaining power. It was quite remarkable and rather shocking to see former mining areas vote for the Tories, the party that decimated those towns. The compassionate Johnson on display in that first speech went missing during the campaign when he made anti-immigrant comments, when he took a journalist’s phone, when he refused to do interviews and when he hid in a fridge. But it was never there. He has written disgracefully about Muslims, about single mothers, and about the Liverpool fans who died at the Hillsborough tragedy. Boris Johnson is no friend of the ordinary person.
The divide between rich and poor is going to increase under this Prime Minister. London will do fine- it is one of the great cities of the world- but the traditional Labour areas that voted Tory will discover what it means to be a Turkey voting for Christmas.