The Trotskyite game is a long one, not for them the limited opportunities provided by the occasional triumph in a general election, instead their vision is of a revolutionary transformation of society.
Forty years ago, prior to the electoral triumph of Margaret Thatcher in May 1979, the Trotskyite reading of the situation was that Labour would lose at the polls and that the rise to power of the Thatcherite neo-liberals would alienate working class voters and create a revolutionary situation. The departure of centrists from the Labour Party to create the SDP left the ground clear for a leftward shift. The civil unrest in the major cities in the spring of 1981 seemed to suggest that there could be a groundswell for radical change, change that could be brought by violent means, if necessary. Had the Argentine junta not decided to invade the Falkland Islands in April 1982, it is hard to imagine how history would have unfolded.
Forty years on, and among the Left there are those who believe the time is coming for the revolutionary transformation to which they have so long aspired. A minority Labour government would serve no useful purpose in their plans, it would allow a second referendum and Britain’s continued membership of the European Union with its requirements of deregulation and privatisation. The Trotskyites loathe the EU and its institutions, they believe it is a thoroughgoing capitalist organisation. They want the United Kingdom to leave; they want there to be a hard Brexit which causes severe hardship to working people; and they want to be able to blame the Conservatives for the austerity and shortages that arise.
The opinion of Jonathan Ashworth, a leading Labour politician, that the Labour Party had no prospect of winning the election, would have been encouraging news to those who are engaged in a long game. Boris Johnson provides a perfect bogeyman for the Trotskyite wing of the Labour Party, an opportunity for ad hominem politics that distracts people from the content of the Left’s electoral programme.
In the long game, the Conservatives will win on Thursday, preferably with a sufficient majority to carry through an unfettered version of Brexit. The ensuing deregulation and privatisation will delight the neo-liberal groups who have supported Johnson. The loss of employment rights and the introduction of the free market into healthcare will alienate the working class nationalists who have supported Brexit and Johnson. In the election after this, the Trotskyites believe that they will triumph and the transformation will begin. Jonathan Ashworth’s words will be welcome to them.