THE perils of predictive punditry are often proved by polling day. The elections which took place yesterday are the first serious litmus test of how far the Corbyn revolution has penetrated into the constituencies and structures of the Labour Party.
If you read any national newspaper other than the Morning Star over the last two months, you could be forgiven for missing the fact that millions of people are exercising their democratic right across three of our nations, London and 125 English local authorities.
What will the results mean for working-class people after tomorrow? The prospects for serious socialist and progressive advance prompt intense speculation.
What if the Tories overtake the Labour Party in Scotland, as some polls have indicated? Brexit and Scottish independence have dominated the debates north of the border rather than the austerity being meted out, albeit in smaller doses than for those south of Hadrian’s wall.
The SNP’s appalling record both in Holyrood and in local authorities has not been consistently and effectively challenged by Scottish Labour; its strategy has lost it more than 400,000 Scottish votes since devolution.
It is also a deeply contradictory state of affairs when a leader of the Labour Party which has inflicted defeat after defeat against one of the most unpopular and undemocratic governments is told not to campaign by his counterpart across Offa’s Dyke.
Winning the London mayoralty and fending off Tory-targeted local authorities in towns like Crawley, Southampton, Redditch and Dudley is not to be sniffed at but it does expose the unevenness of left advance.
For the two decades of New Labour, the “clear red water” between Westminster and Labour in Scotland and Wales protected working-class people in Scotland and Wales from some of the worst excesses of neoliberalism.
Now all sections of the labour movement have to take seriously the task of securing democratic advance in every nation of Britain.
The Housing Bill, Trade Union Bill and Education Act all have one common thread beyond the Tories pressing ahead with an agenda of enforced privatisation, marketisation and fresh assaults of workers’ rights. They represent the single greatest centralisation of decision-making away from any democratic control into the hands of ministers in a generation.
For the first time in a generation, we have a Labour leadership that is doing its job in Parliament. But socialism is not delivered through parliamentary decree, nor through the ballot box alone.
The first task of the labour movement is to bring this government down. There is no alternative to the slow, steady and gradual process of building struggle in our streets and at work. Connecting seemingly disparate campaigns and intervening in the battle of ideas is not the job of the Parliamentary Labour Party but of the labour movement.
Working-class advance is dependent upon advancing working-class consciousness. And the conditions are ripe. Millions of young people are looking for leadership and are being shown how our conception of leadership differs from that of our opposing class.
It’s the responsibility of every single labour movement activist to connect with this growing movement to support the interconnected struggles of teachers, doctors, nurses, disabled people, anti-austerity campaigners and the rest of the class in all of its forms.
The fightback is already underway. Whether or not we are successful is — as always — entirely in our hands.
This article appeared in The Morning Star, Friday 6th May