The Labour Party’s members are out on the doorsteps as another General Election might be called sooner rather than later. That’s the feeling amongst many Labour activists. Brexit and the increasing divisions within senior Tory ministers will topple Theresa May, therefore the party must be ready.
A Very Weak Prime Minister
Brexit is destroying the Conservative Party and the “dead woman walking” might be facing a leadership challenge from Boris Johnson. Yet, the prime minister isn’t able to get rid of Johnson as she has no authority left whatsoever within her party.
Even worse for the PM, she is seen as unable to control her own government. The French daily newspaper Le Monde who described the Foreign Secretary’s intervention as having “a nationalist tone”, warned that the PM risks reviving the war on Europe within the Tories and weakening her already difficult position as prime minister, not only on the domestic level, but in the negotiations with the EU itself. In other words, Le Monde considers May has no credibility left and has mortally damaged her own Brexit negotiation strategy.
May will travel to Florence on Friday to give a speech on the future of Brexit negotiations. The address is expected to be her biggest intervention in talks since her Lancaster House speech at the start of the year. However, it is evident that this government is rapidly losing all legitimacy and Labour is getting battle-ready for an election, whenever that election may be.
Meanwhile, Momentum, the core of Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters, are hitting the doorsteps, targeting seats of prominent Conservatives including the home secretary Amber Rudd and foreign secretary Boris Johnson. And with them, the entire Labour Party is fighting every council by-election as if it were a general election. But who can blame them? The Conservatives have become an easy target since Labour’s glorious impact at the British general election in June.
Since May’s disastrous result in an election she called in order to strengthen her hand in Brexit talks, she needs the backing of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to pass some key legislation.
Therefore, Brexit will require a series of votes and as Corbyn has moved Labour policy and advocated continued membership of the single market after we leave the EU in 2019, this will appeal to Tory Remainer MPs who want to stop Johnson’s leadership quest and other supporting Tory Brexiteers. This situation could kick-start a Tory party civil war.
On the other hand, Johnson with his 4,200-word essay in the Daily Telegraph, to revive the lie that leaving the EU will allow the UK to spend £350 million a week on additional NHS funding, was nothing more than a rallying call for all Conservative MPs who have still not accepted the loss of their party majority in June.
But all the PM had to say about Johnson’s attack on her own leadership was that her government is driven from the front and that they were all going to the same destination, wherever that might be. Not the answer you would expect from a ‘strong and stable’ prime minister.
A good year for Corbyn, Momentum and Labour
Just months after many of its own lawmakers had written the party off, Labour seems particularly united behind its leader since the General Election in June. If many Labour MPs were opposed to Corbyn, the majority of them would agree to say that it has been a good year for Labour.
If the next General Election is set for 2022, Labour is already getting ready for power and this question will be front and centre of Labour’s annual conference starting in Brighton on Sunday 24 September.
Before June 2017, Corbyn and his supporters were accused by some Labour MPs of hijacking the party, steering policy and ultimately making it unelectable. Yet, today Momentum is growing in influence and many of those who have been the most vocal in their opposition to Corbyn, have now joined Momentum, the group set-up to support Corbyn’s leadership.
John McTernan – a previous staunch critic of the Labour leader, and who called on him to resign before June’s general election, branding the MPs that nominated Corbyn for the initial leadership ballot as ‘morons’, has since joined Momentum.
The truth is, that under Corbyn’s leadership and with the help of Momentum, the Labour party’s influence has grown significantly amongst young and disenfranchised voters after years of government spending cuts. But the party has also expanded online rapidly and developed software, allowing its hundreds of thousands of volunteers and members to work together not only online, but also on the doorsteps by sharing cars to drive to battleground seats for a day’s campaigning during the June election.
With a manifesto that will be seen as mainstream social democratic policies in continental Europe, Labour has been transformed into a political insurgency war machine, that has badly wounded Theresa May and her party.
Labour started the year with horrific opinion polls, defeat in its old stronghold of Copeland, a narrow victory in Stoke-on-Trent, a not-so-good local election result and a permanent state of civil war. In the end, Labour took its biggest share of the vote since Tony Blair’s landslide victory in 2001 and managed to get the Tories to fight with each other in a Tory minority government.
So Labour may not have won the 2017 General Election, but the party is getting ready to win the next one with its 575,000 members: a record number since 1980.