In Britain, we see the two main System parties vie for public support. The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn was regarded, until a week or two prior to the 2017 General Election as a joke. Deadheads such as Diane Abbott and Angela Rayner were openly laughed at by millions. Many more disparaged the “anti-patriotic” political histories of Corbyn and his closest allies. The Conservative Party under Theresa May was generally regarded as a safer pair of hands, more patriotic, more electable. What changed in those final weeks and days before polling?
The Conservative Party election bubble burst when Theresa May made a policy announcement about social care for the elderly. I believe that that suddenly floodlit, for millions, what the contemporary Conservative Party is all about. Since 2010, the Conservatives (firstly as the “Con Coalition” during 2010-2015), demonized and attacked –in some cases killed– unemployed, disabled, sick, generally poor and/or marginalized people. Now, however (as I had in fact been predicting since 2010), they were going after the pensioners, but that alone (meaning also a backlash from pensioners or those nearing pensionable age) is not the whole story.
There was once a theory of government which said that the purpose of government was, in the language of today, defence of the realm, primarily: what we now call “defence” and, by extension, “national security”. External and internal defence. That was then. Today, in advanced countries, government is expected to do a great deal more than that. It is expected to care for the people in practical ways, either providing education, policing, health services, career opportunities, social assistance etc, or laying down the conditions in which those services etc can be provided by the private enterprise sector or the “charitable” or “non-profit” third sector.
This is the reason why Labour was able, despite all its flaws, to catch up with the Conservative Party: because Labour was at least offering (promising) help to the people, in circumstances where the only other party choice, the Conservative Party, was not.
The electorate, even in Britain’s notoriously unfair First Past The Post electoral system, is now in the driving seat. The people want things and services and they will not vote for any party which does not at least promise that the people will get what they want.
Labour is presently benefiting from this wish of the people that government provides help. Tomorrow, next year, in 2020 or, especially 2022, the wish may become a demand and the party benefiting may be one which, in 2017, does not as yet exist.