Prime Minister Theresa May’s monumental gamble was a spectacular setback. On June 8th 2017, the people of the UK voted in a ‘snap’ General Election called by May in a move she had hoped would greatly increase her parties majority. Instead of the consolidation of conservative values that she had hoped for, the resurgent tide was one of liberal rebellion. All across Europe with the French and German election results of May 2017, the people have shown that right-wing racist fanaticism had climaxed and is now spiralling down. May was oblivious to the rising sentiment among the youth electorate, which expressed disgust at a decaying status quo bent on empowering the one percent while playing to the close mindedness of beer-louts and skin heads masquerading as right-wing nationalist parties. A few months earlier, the never imagined Brexit debacle sent shock waves pulsing through the world’s financial institutions and rattled British society. May decided to ride on the coat tails of populist xenophobia. She curried favour with the UK Independence Party (UKIP) and other extremist fringes of British society.
The election results showed that the Conservative Party had won by 42.3 per cent, with the Labour Party coming in close with 40 percent, However, this resulted in a decrease of 13 seats for the Conservatives and a whopping increase of 30 seats for Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the left-leaning Labour Party. This gives him a considerable edge to derail many of May’s election manifestos. Opponents of Brexit couldn’t be more pleased, for even if a soft Brexit is unavoidable, then at least a hard Brexit is no longer possible.
But this is not the end of May. And she may live on to see many more Junes. The reason for this is two-fold. Firstly, the left, although having reformed tremendously in the past few weeks, is still not ready to govern. Labour party manifestos such as state control of businesses are left-over from failed policies of 50 years ago. Secondly, despite calls for May’s resignation from within her own party, there is no suitable candidate to lead Britain at the moment. Now, Britain has a hung parliament, one where May is still clinging to power but unable to make any real change.
May’s setback has very significant outcomes for the political sphere in the Western world. In France, the far-right National Front had earlier been gaining in popularity and in the USA, the Donald Trump victory brought with it xenophobic instigators to the White House. In the past few years, the power of the extremist alt-right and other nasty right-wing movements was poised to overrun Western democracies under the guise of fighting capitalism and stopping immigration. May’s defeat, the French and German elections, and UKIP’s stunning elimination, all point to the decline of the alt-right’s racist hard-core philosophies. Minorities breathed a sigh of relief having witnessed attacks on mosques and synagogues and personal abuse in public places, instigated by the alt-rights rhetoric. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party has a window of opportunity of shedding his Marxist past and standing out as the voice of the new youth, breaking from the West’s recent decline into xenophobia
In the long run, May’s current misfortune may work out as a big gain for the Conservative Party. The soft and gradual Brexit break-away—or possibly a somewhat watered-down marriage with Europe—will be in the UK’s best financial interests. The feared flight of capital from the city of London may now not happen and Britain could have the best of both worlds, on one hand not having to pay exorbitant European Union fees and on the other, still having access to Europe’s markets. All this will, of course, depend on how skillfully May can restore her reputation as a leader across political divides.
Can May race to the finish? Only time will tell.
By Shameelah Patel
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