If we learned one thing today it is that the Fixed Term Parliaments Act is a dead letter.
What opposition Party would ever vote against a Government motion to call a General Election? Will any MPs do so tomorrow?
Whether or not Theresa May was influenced by the possibility of imminent legal action which could lead to the disqualification of enough Tory MPs to cost them their Parliamentary majority, she has acted now in the hope of increasing her majority.
The job of the Labour Party, under socialist leadership, is to present a clear alternative to the Tories – as we have been doing with the presentation of a range of radical policies over the last couple of weeks.
With the opinion polls against us – and Labour’s loss of our former Scottish heartlands (where the Party is still led from the so-called “mainstream” who do not lead us UK wide and is faring far worse than elsewhere in the country) seemingly set in stone, the ultimate goal of a Parliamentary majority does not feel close at hand.
Nevertheless, we have an opportunity to present popular socialist policies to the electorate and we must seize this opportunity with both hands. Every Member of Parliament prepared to support the interests of our class is an asset for our class.
We must also attend to two particular circumstances of this General Election which make it quite unlike any other.
First, the division over Europe which has split the Tory Party for decades has been temporarily resolved in favour of a so-called “Hard Brexit” of protectionism and prejudice, for which a victory for the Conservatives will be a mandate. This would shape our society in the direction of reaction for a generation or more.
Secondly, Labour is led, in a principled and consistent way of which we have no recent experience, from the left – and all those (including those within the Labour Party) who revile the prospect of transformative social change will hope that this General Election will bring to an end the period in which Labour has begun to offer such change.
The stakes have not been higher in my lifetime – and the importance or preventing, if at all possible, a majority for Theresa May in June 2017 cannot be overstated. Those of us who support democratic socialism may not (yet) be a majority (though we must do all we can to make socialists in the coming weeks) – nevertheless we deserve the voice which we have found.
We (and all those who would avoid what May’s Government will otherwise try to do to us) must consider how we relate to those who share our opposition to the goals of the Conservative Party though they may not share our goal to transform society. We do not have the luxury of leisurely debate – but we cannot avoid thinking about how we prioritise our activity in this election, in which there are clearly more than two parties in contention in many seats.