Workers looking for answers to deteriorating conditions of life and work, for jobs, health care and housing, and no more Grenfell Tower-style disasters, saw Corbyn’s bourgeois socialist Labour Party seek electoral support in more middle-class areas that had voted for the U.K. to remain in the EU.
Corbyn’s supporters then turned upon “stupid, backward” workers for rejecting Labour’s promotion of a “social Europe.” A section of the working class “deserted us,” Paul Mason wrote in the New Statesman. He claimed in the areas where Johnson took votes from Labour “there is now a toxic narrative of nativism and xenophobia.”
Such sneering anti-working-class contempt, in the mold of Hillary Clinton’s depiction of Donald Trump supporters as “deplorables,” goes back years in the Labour Party.
In 2014 Emily Thornberry, now a candidate to replace Corbyn as leader, posted a picture of a worker’s home with an English flag and van outside, labeling the resident “white van man.” Four years earlier in the 2010 election, Prime Minister Gordon Brown was caught on TV complaining to his aides about why a lifelong Labour Party supporter — a “bigoted woman” in Brown’s invective — had been allowed to asked him about immigration.
The revolt against Labour was also a rejection of this “wokeness.” Every time Labour attacked Johnson for an un-“politically correct” statement, the Conservative Party won more votes.
During the campaign Corbyn refused to apologize in a BBC interview for persistent anti-Semitic remarks by Labour leaders, an example of how Jew-hatred endures in capitalist politics today and won’t go away. Labour’s anti-Semitism was not a decisive factor in the election result. There has been a decline in anti-Semitism in the working class and many workers were repelled by Corbyn’s position.
None of this implies that the shift in votes to the Conservatives means workers are becoming more reactionary.
The government will honor its commitment for the U.K. to leave the EU’s political institutions on Jan. 31, but negotiations over trading relations with these rivals in the protectionist bloc have yet to begin. EU officials cast doubt on completing them in the 11-month “transition” period and make no secret of their plan to extract the most concessions possible. The new government will be effected in these negotiations by the U.K.’s long-term decline against its rivals.
The U.K.’s rulers have military bases around the world. But their armed forces have declined in strength, numbers and quality. The army totals 73,000 — down from 102,000 at the time of the 2003 Iraq war. The navy is less than half its 1990 size.
The economy has dropped to sixth in the world and growth has stagnated as profit rates and industrial investment fall. Without economic and military clout, the pound sterling is increasingly irrelevant as a reserve currency.
And the United Kingdom itself is under strain. Demands for a second Scottish independence vote immediately followed the Scottish National Party’s landslide electoral victory north of the border. And pressures toward a united Ireland are increasing. Johnson’s Brexit deal negotiated with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar and the EU drew a customs line down the Irish Sea just as all-Ireland economic, social and cultural life is increasing.
Johnson says workers ‘lent’ him their votes to get UK out of EU – The Militant