British Labour After Defeat

British Labour After Defeat

Recent events in Britain offer little cheer for anyone committed to democratic socialism. After what was widely held to be Labour’s most effective election campaign in twenty years, Labour gained a share of the vote that was only 3.5 percent larger than in 1983 (31.5 percent compared with 28 percent) and only twenty-one more seats in Parliament, leaving the Conservatives with just over 42 percent of the vote and a huge majority of 101 seats over all other parties. While some, and not only socialists, had hoped that the radical right might have run out of steam after two terms of office, Thatcher, at the Conservative Conference in October, insisted that her program would continue at full blast. “Whose blood would not run faster,” she demanded, “at the prospect of five years of consolidation?” Sarcastically quoting Labour’s radical 1974 manifesto, she said of her pro- posals for “popular capitalism” that they would add up to “an irreversible shift . . . of power . . . in favor of working people and their families.”

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