We are now on the eve of one of the most discussed and fractious elections in the last fifty years. We have a leader of the main opposition whose own party was trying to hound him out just four months ago . The sections of the electorate most likely to respond to the new ideological space are the old and the young – the two poles of the population most likely to be affected by any continuance of the status quo with the current government’s proposed law changes. Consensus politics is always most appealing to those whose lives are settled (and not given to major changes or the potential for sudden catastrophe.
And yet there have been three major terrorist events in our cities since the general election was announced. The last time there were three such events in quick succession / close proximity was back in the 1970s, and those events involved murderous protests against a divided Ireland by the UDF and the IRA. These interestingly enough did not become subjects in themselves within anybody’s election manifesto, unlike today where since 2001, global terrorists pose a nightmare threat, without any opportunity for dialogue. Also politics is suddenly sexy and the screens are busy with personalities and soundbites with more U-turns than Swindon’s Magic Roundabout. The art of Spin, originally cultivated by Bill Clinton’s Democrats and stolen and polished by Tony Blair’s New Labour, has had its day. Everyone has the internet. Everyone has Wikipedia. So now we have Facebook and Fake News. Or is that Fakebook and Face News?
Jeremy Corbyn has emerged as a serious contender for the role of Prime Minister because he has cultivated an air of integrity in all his pronouncements . He refuses to offer pretty promises or lip out clever sayings. He has a costed and considered manifesto to which he and his electoral team have stuck fastidiously since the election debate started. His solid positioning has increasingly forced the Tories and the Right Wing press into the kind of risible rhetoric that has marginalised their position as the party to be voted for. But will the electorate respond at the ballot box? Have they ever responded in a way that might promote such a huge change as Corbyn’s election would offer?
If someone had attempted in 1917 to provide a socio-economic perspective on the world, they might have reflected on the development of the telephone and its role in the removal of Tsarism in Russia and the beginning of what was to become the second Russian Revolution. The Great War was in its fourth year, with millions of soldiers already dead and a situation still eighteen months from its conclusion. A century later and a similar world change is around the corner. What might that signal?
Old politics is dead. All we have now is politicians playing politics. There is no vision embracing the changes coming to us in technology, climate change, wind power… Where is the vision to accommodate the future? Corbyn is the only UK leader who seems to have nodded in the direction of what’s up ahead. The age of Austerity is gone, but what will replace it? Blair, Brown and Cameron were the Butskillists of the noughties, but are reviled and gone. May is the thin piece of meat in a particularly nourishment-free interregnum sandwich that we have had to munch on, but what is on the other side if Labour win? And what is the New Politics? Corbyn has referenced the fourth industrial revolution. It is not a discussion you will hear in the corridors of the headquarters of any of the other parties, but it is being discussed among many economic commentators who see it as an essential part of a necessary modern political debate. Corbyn is a leader who will not turn against his core beliefs even if the situation may seem to demand it. The last British premier who had this kind of resolve was Margaret Thatcher, the only Tory Leader to win three successive general elections. Was any of her success down to her resolve? If so, Corbyn’s election tomorrow, should it happen, may be the beginning of a change this country has not seen for a long time, and it may be a change, along with the leaving of Europe, from which we never return.