Theresa May is clinging to power, but she must know the clock is ticking.
Having called a snap election with the aim of boosting her parliamentary support, she’s been left trying to scrape a majority with the help of the Democratic Unionist Party — a homophobic, anti-abortion party with a history of support for loyalist paramilitaries. The DUP, for their part, seem to be reveling in their role as kingmaker. They’ve taken every opportunity available to publicly humiliate May: contradicting her after she prematurely announced a deal, publicly calling on her to show respect and expressing dismay at the “level of negotiating experience” in her government.
Tory advisors will spend the coming months working out how to give the party a facelift. Conservative grandee Lord Heseltine has warned that the Tories’ older base are dying off at a rate of 2 percent per year. Every week that goes by, demographic changes make a Labour electoral victory more likely. Finding a way to appeal to younger voters will be key if they are to prevent Jeremy Corbyn from becoming prime minister.
But this is far from straightforward. Young people have been disproportionately targeted by spending cuts over the past seven years. They’re most likely to be in insecure, low-paid employment. Many consider owning a home an unrealistic prospect and are forced to hand over a large chunk of their income to unscrupulous landlords. Younger generations are less likely to consider capitalism a force for good and more inclined to believe radical economic change is necessary. It’s hard to see how the party of capital, which has treated young people with contempt for so long, is going to convince them it has to answers to their problems.
A Labour win in the next general election is now the more likely outcome. It will only take a few point swing to secure an outright majority, and a minority government propped up by the Scottish National Party and/or Liberal Democrats is more achievable still. A campaign with a left-wing Labour party starting as favorites would look very different to the recent one — but it is now eminently winnable.
But the British left can’t fall into the trap of waiting for this government to fall. It is weak, but the forces keeping it in place will be determined. The opposition to it must be built — not just in parliament but in every community. A constant campaign footing will be the only way to prevent the Tories restoring solid ground beneath their feet.