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The progressive's guide to coping with the general election 2017

Whatever the results, have a plan. 

YouGov says we’re heading for a hung parliament. ICM puts the Tories 11 points ahead in the polls. Labour’s bouncing back in Wales. So should progressives look forward to their liberation from Tory rule on 9 June, or make preparations for Eternal May?

Here’s what to do, whatever happens:

Tory landslide

On Wednesday, start sneezing. This is a precautionary measure, because if you wake up to a Tory landslide, the first thing to do is call in sick. Make sure your mobile is by your bedside so you don’t have to come out from under the duvet.

Resign yourself to experiencing the stages of post-election grief. The first is denial, which means not getting out of bed until at least lunchtime. The second is an outburst on social media (if you have placed your mobile by your bed you may remain under the duvet). The third is watching something from an era of political optimism that now makes you cry. The default option is Labour’s 1997 party political broadcast “Things Can Only Get Better”.  Obviously, things can’t.

At this point, start thinking about how old you’ll be in five years’ time and whether you qualify for a Canadian work visa. Donate your Jeremy Corbyn memorabilia to the local charity shop. 

Narrow Tory win

Repeat stage one of Tory landslide. When you can read the news without immediately shrinking into the foetal position, find out how many Brexiteers kept their seats. This may affect how long you stay under the duvet, and also whether you should dig out your grandfather’s birth certificate and apply for an Irish passport. 

While you are curled up pretending to be sick, Labour’s surviving MPs are likely to be calling for Jeremy Corbyn to resign, and the left-wing Twittersphere will resemble a bear pit. Channelling your rage and grief into attacking other progressives may bring you some catharsis.

Hung parliament

Go to your nearest supermarket and stock up on popcorn, biscuits, tins of spaghetti hoops and vodka. Cancel your weekend plans. Spend the next few days refreshing a live blog trying to find out whether Corbyn can lead a “rainbow coalition” into No. 10. 

There is, of course, a risk that no one can forge a deal and another election is called, resulting in another hung parliament. In which case, repeat.

Labour wins

Recover from your fake cold immediately. At work, tell your boss you’re really excited about Labour’s plan to bring back sectoral collective bargaining and scrap employment tribunal fees. Start planning what you’ll do on your four extra bank holidays. You and your EU national friends have a lot to celebrate!

Wake up. It’s all been a dream. Theresa May’s your new Prime Minister. 
 

 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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Our union backed Brexit, but that doesn't mean scrapping freedom of movement

We can only improve the lives of our members, like those planning stike action at McDonalds, through solidarity.

The campaign to defend and extend free movement – highlighted by the launch of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement this month – is being seen in some circles as a back door strategy to re-run the EU referendum. If that was truly the case, then I don't think Unions like mine (the BFAWU) would be involved, especially as we campaigned to leave the EU ourselves.

In stark contrast to the rhetoric used by many sections of the Leave campaign, our argument wasn’t driven by fear and paranoia about migrant workers. A good number of the BFAWU’s membership is made up of workers not just from the EU, but from all corners of the world. They make a positive contribution to the industry that we represent. These people make a far larger and important contribution to our society and our communities than the wealthy Brexiteers, who sought to do nothing other than de-humanise them, cheered along by a rabid, right-wing press. 

Those who are calling for end to freedom of movement fail to realise that it’s people, rather than land and borders that makes the world we live in. Division works only in the interest of those that want to hold power, control, influence and wealth. Unfortunately, despite a rich history in terms of where division leads us, a good chunk of the UK population still falls for it. We believe that those who live and work here or in other countries should have their skills recognised and enjoy the same rights as those born in that country, including the democratic right to vote. 

Workers born outside of the UK contribute more than £328 million to the UK economy every day. Our NHS depends on their labour in order to keep it running; the leisure and hospitality industries depend on them in order to function; the food industry (including farming to a degree) is often propped up by their work.

The real architects of our misery and hardship reside in Westminster. It is they who introduced legislation designed to allow bosses to act with impunity and pay poverty wages. The only way we can really improve our lives is not as some would have you believe, by blaming other poor workers from other countries, it is through standing together in solidarity. By organising and combining that we become stronger as our fabulous members are showing through their decision to ballot for strike action in McDonalds.

Our members in McDonalds are both born in the UK and outside the UK, and where the bosses have separated groups of workers by pitting certain nationalities against each other, the workers organised have stood together and fought to win change for all, even organising themed social events to welcome each other in the face of the bosses ‘attempts to create divisions in the workplace.

Our union has held the long term view that we should have a planned economy with an ability to own and control the means of production. Our members saw the EU as a gravy train, working in the interests of wealthy elites and industrial scale tax avoidance. They felt that leaving the EU would give the UK the best opportunity to renationalise our key industries and begin a programme of manufacturing on a scale that would allow us to be self-sufficient and independent while enjoying solid trading relationships with other countries. Obviously, a key component in terms of facilitating this is continued freedom of movement.

Many of our members come from communities that voted to leave the EU. They are a reflection of real life that the movers and shakers in both the Leave and Remain campaigns took for granted. We weren’t surprised by the outcome of the EU referendum; after decades of politicians heaping blame on the EU for everything from the shape of fruit to personal hardship, what else could we possibly expect? However, we cannot allow migrant labour to remain as a political football to give succour to the prejudices of the uninformed. Given the same rights and freedoms as UK citizens, foreign workers have the ability to ensure that the UK actually makes a success of Brexit, one that benefits the many, rather than the few.

Ian Hodon is President of the Bakers and Allied Food Workers Union and founding signatory of the Labour Campaign for Free Movement.