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Nina Power: "The UK election shows that decency is sweepingly popular"


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At The Baffler blog, Nina Power examines the hugely unexpected results of yesterday’s UK parliamentary elections, in which the Tories lost their majority and the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, made significant gains. As Power writes, the election shows that a large portion of the UK population rejects the Tory politics of hypercapitalist xenophobia in favor of decency and social solidarity. Here’s an excerpt:

Anyone who has been involved in left-wing campaigning over the past few decades knows Corbyn—even as he began to electrify ever-larger rallies, he will have spoken at their events, attended their meetings, put in motions defending their cause, given personal and political support, and sacrificed his spare time to help in any way that he could. He is a man of integrity and consistency, a man of the people, because he is a real person, kind, gentle and passionate, with his allotment and messy rose garden, and his sense of time for everyone. He and his many supporters and volunteers ran a hugely effective campaign in the run-up to the election, just by virtue of being human where their opponents stumbled, repeated, and collapsed, like extremely badly-programmed robots. When terrorist attacks in Manchester and London occurred, it was assumed they would consolidate the power of the Tories, the party of “law and order,” of “toughness.” But this didn’t happen: instead, people were angry with the government, not least because it had known about the attackers and had failed to act, despite reports from multiple reports from Muslims, themselves a frequent target of government surveillance (the Prevent strategy in particular) and often victims of anti-Muslim racism and Islamophobia stoked by a relentless and inhuman tabloid press.

How did Corbyn do it and what does it mean? When the snap election was called a few weeks ago, despair was palpable: the Tories seemed unassailable to pretty much everyone, supported by a vicious media and a mean-minded, pinched majority that cared only about keeping house prices high and immigrants out. But “unelectable” Corbyn’s “victory”—if not an outright one, certainly an astonishing turn-around in the wake of endless tabloid smears, and attacks from members of his own party as well as from the vast majority of all political commentators and pundits—demonstrates that a large proportion of the population do not want to live in cruel, deadly austerity Britain. Corbyn and his supporters mobilised the youth vote—#grime4corbyn being particularly successful in this regard—and the student vote, with the promise to abolish tuition fees and write-off some student debt. But Labour also ousted several Tories from “safe” constituencies, winning seats in both Leave and Remain areas, and raised its vote immensely across the country, taking votes not just for the Tories but from UKIP, the far-right anti-immigration party that May sought to emulate, but whose vote completely collapsed yesterday.

Image: Jeremy Corbyn, head of the UK Labour Party. Via Business Insider.