But enough about Labour. UKIP also put in some strong performances in the three Westminster polls last night, scoring two second-place finishes and one third place on a night when the Lib Dems sank to an astonishing EIGHTH and the BNP outpolled the Tories in the same Rotherham seat. The truly disturbing thing, though – speaking as a current resident of England – was the total absence of a single viable party of the left.
The turnout in all three elections was dismal, with two of them barely scraping past the 25% mark and the most popular just managing to get a third of voters out. And it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that at least a significant part of the reason for that may be the near-total lack of meaningful choice available.
Not only were all the major parties (though with an average vote across the three seats of just 994, including the Lib Dems in that classification now looks more and more of a misnomer) standing on basically-identical platforms of centre-right neoliberalism, the vast majority of the no-hopers were even further to the right. The much-vaunted Respect candidate Yvonne Ridley beat the Tories in Rotherham but still trailed in behind the BNP, and a lone Green in Croydon North suffered the humiliating indignity of actually getting fewer votes than the Lib Dem.
We’ve been documenting England’s gradual shift towards being a one-ideology state for some time, but last night’s results threw the phenomenon into sharp relief. A geographical and urban/rural divide has become entrenched, with the Tories abandoning pretty much every city north of Coventry, safe in the knowledge that they’ll hoover up enough votes in the south and the countryside.
But when Labour stands for nuclear weapons, nuclear power, handing billions of pounds to private companies to build infrastructure for obscene profits, wasting billions more in a failed attempt to introduce ID cards, creating thousands of new crimes, cramming the prisons and trying to lock people up for months on end without trial or charge, inflating a property bubble while abandoning social housing, doing nothing to revert Mrs Thatcher’s curbs on trade unions, talking tough about immigration, presiding over a huge increase in the gap between rich and poor, and demonising the unemployed and the sick, it’s easy to see why the Tories aren’t too bothered about Labour holding onto a few cities.
The politics of England are ever-increasingly right-wing. Last night’s results, which stretched from the north of the country to the south, were a glimpse of a chilling future, where hardly anyone bothers to vote because whoever gets in will pursue the same ideology, whatever the colour of the rosette they were wearing. And by sheer overwhelming weight of numbers, England will drag the rest of the UK with it. The headline of this piece will be true forever. For everyone who’s still in the UK, that is.