The result of the UK general election of June 8th, 2017, is the beginning of a successful revolution.
The word “revolution” has been thrown around so liberally in recent years that it seems apt to quote the Oxford English dictionary’s definition before proceeding any further:
a forcible overthrow of a government or social order, in favour of a new system: the country has had a socialist revolution.
When Brexit happened and Trump was elected, the word revolution was misused extensively. The maligned working-class white voter had revolted against the ruling class, expressing their displeasure by voting in ways no one saw coming (except for all the people who did).
That’s not a revolution. There was no overthrow of social order, and neither vote was in favour of anything new. If pundits and political commentators felt that the social order had been overthrown, that was a manifestation of their ignorance of the world outside of their bubbles. Both election results were the logical conclusion of the current social order, and while both terrified and appalled liberals (myself included), they were hardly unpredictable.
What they had in common is that both unmasked the nasty underbelly that right-wing politics has been dependent on and the human desperation that so many people feel, and forced us all to stare it in the face. That experience was, and is, horrifying – and rightly so – but it is not a revolution. It’s the development of self-awareness on the cultural and sociological scale.
The first step to fixing any problem is acknowledging there is one. Brexit and Trump? Yeah. There’s a problem.
That said, acknowledging a problem isn’t a revolution. Social order was not overthrown, and certainly not in favour of a new system.
This election result, however, was. We are now living through a period of non-violent revolution in the United Kingdom.
As I have mentioned in previous articles, the entire world is currently governed according to the very particular point of view adhered to by American Patriarchal Capitalism. Within that social order are certain basic assumptions – assumptions accepted as facts by both the Tories and the Neoliberal Blairites of the Labour party (and the Republicans and Clintonites of the Democratic Party in the US).
It is these assumptions that were challenged, and the process for their overthrow has now begun, in favour of a new system that is clearly overwhelmingly popular with the people who will live long enough to be affected by it.
You know, young people: the driving force behind pretty much every revolution ever.
The idea that print media controls an election’s outcome? Gone.
The idea that you have to compromise on your principles in order to win with voters? Gone.
The idea that in the wake of terrorism fear can be exploited by the right? Gone.
The idea that conventional economic wisdom must be respected in order to win? Gone.
The idea that the youth don’t vote? Gone.
The idea that an individual vote doesn’t matter? Gone.
The idea that saying it loud and often and simple means people will believe it? Gone.
So how is this different to Brexit and Trump?
From the definition: “…in favour of a new system”, aka The Labour Manifesto.
A clear declaration of a completely different direction for the government, built on unlocking human potential. Part post-war socialism, part 21st century futurism, it is the recipe-book everyone who is actually going to have to live through most of the 21st century has been looking for. I mean, if in a year they said they were going to scrap Trident and start phasing in a Universal Basic Income to offset robotisation, would any of you be surprised in the slightest? Delighted, sure – but surprised?
Has it worked? At the time of writing, Theresa May is still Prime Minister. She’s partnering with the DUP, who basically sound like Ted Cruz’s Northern Irish cousins.
The thing about non-violent revolutions is they’re a little slower. The way British politics works, I’m skeptical of her being in power by the end of the summer. The optimist in me sees it as being surprising if she lasts the week. Her own party is out for blood. Her majority, including the DUP, is of 7. In other words, when she puts forward her Queen’s Speech, if seven Tory MPs out of 318 decide not to support it, that will trigger a vote of no confidence. She will have failed to form a government.
The DUP, among other things, oppose gay marriage. The head of the Scottish Conservatives is a woman who is engaged to an Irish Catholic Woman. The Scottish Conservatives abstaining would be enough for the other parties to defeat anything Theresa May puts forward. They don’t even all have to abstain. That’s assuming that none of the more socially liberal Tory MPs have any issues lining up next to people who want to send women to prison for getting abortions.
Why else would Tory MPs have reservations about supporting the alliance? Because the Good Friday agreement which brought peace to Northern Ireland in 1998 was only possible because the British government were able to play the role of neutral negotiator between the two sides. Jonathan Powell, who was chief negotiator in Northern Ireland from 1997 – 2007, has written an excellent piece on the way the alliance threatens peace and could well destabilise the region. I recommend reading it here.
While Theresa May seems comfortable gambling with stability in Northern Ireland in order to remain Prime Minister, I don’t think it would be particularly surprising if more than seven Tories had a slightly less debonair attitude regarding religiously-motivated territorial warfare.
Just because the world is currently an absurdist farce, it now also looks as though she deliberately misled the queen.
On Friday afternoon she said that she had reached an agreement with the DUP and had the Queen’s permission to form a government.
Except she hadn’t, and the DUP issued a statement that said as much. They hadn’t even met with her – they were planning to on Monday. Downing Street then backtracked and said they would discuss everything next week.
Meaning that when she told Queen Elizabeth II that she was ready to form a government, she wasn’t being entirely truthful.
So on top of everything else, it looks like she may have sort of lied to the Queen. (More on this here.)
She can’t win.
So, a vote of no confidence, she loses, there’s a leadership battle, and either Jeremy Corbyn gets his Queen’s Speech through (unlikely, though dare to dream), or there’s another general election called within a matter of months.
It’s currently legitimate to predict a Labour majority in the next general election. This means there’s a Conservative argument to be made to allow Corbyn’s speech through now when they have the numbers to stop a lot of his policies, rather than give him the chance to override them in a few months’ time.
Whether and Tories are convinced by that line of thought is another question.
Either way, a truly socialist government running the United Kingdom in the next year or so is now all but inevitable.
That may excite you, terrify you, or leave you utterly indifferent: but it is a revolution.