(Photo by Chris Bethell)
Let's face it: May wouldn't have announced this election if she didn't think it was going to mean a massive Tory victory, with still more endless years to follow of the Tories being in charge. The Tories are cartoon ghouls and May is the absolute worst of the bunch, a dour headmistress stepped out of the nation's collective anxiety dreams to rule over us for several eternities. And the people of Britain? Absolutely bloody love it.
Failing hospitals! Collapsing railways! The continued destruction of the welfare state! Despite pretty much every aspect of how the Tories are governing, our undead rulers are doing brilliantly in the polls.
Even with their current, very slim majority, the Tories are already effectively governing like they're in charge of a one-party state. Parliamentary oversight with regards to Brexit has already been largely revoked; meanwhile, the "Great Repeal Bill" that the Tories are planning to pass to accommodate what was previously EU law is likely to hand still greater powers to the executive branch. This election is part of a Tory coup, but the coup was already underway with Brexit. So far it's been a great success.
So can we find grounds for hope? If the worst case scenario is already upon us, then it stands to reason that things can only get better. And perhaps, with this general election being called, the left might even have been provided an opportunity.
A MELÉNCHON MIRACLE
For months the far-left wing French presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melénchon was sluggish in the polls. But in recent weeks – fuelled by a strong performance in televised debates (as well as a video game in which you get to shake down rich people for money) – Melénchon has surged in the polls, to the point that it is not inconceivable he will feature in the run-off.
What if Jeremy Corbyn was able to accomplish something similar? The public are dismissive of him right now – but most of their contact with him is mediated through hostile reports in the press. During the 2015 leadership campaign Corbyn started out as a no-hoper as well, but then he appeared on television with the other candidates. They all seemed like robots, blaring out soundbites (including, in the case of Andy Burnham, soundbites about how he didn't do soundbites). Corbyn seemed warm, decent, human. Going up against Theresa May – who, whenever she's faced with another live human being, always seems frazzled and dimly aggressive, like she wants to crack open their skulls and drink the delicious goo within – Corbyn might just be able to achieve something similar.
The big caveat here of course is that this scenario would also probably require Labour uniting behind Corbyn – which is far less likely, because the Labour backbenches are full of traitorous slugs.
'HOPE' IN THE LIB DEMS?
The other "hopeful" scenario that we can imagine would be if pro-Europe sentiment in more affluent marginal constituencies causes the vote there to coalesce around the Lib Dems, who these seats often went to before the coalition years. It could well turn out that the Tories' massive support overestimates how many seats they're going to get, since this support could be too unevenly distributed: May has surely routed the Labour and UKIP vote in Tory safe seats, but if the SNP continue to dominate in Scotland, and Labour hold on to their base, then a bigger than expected Lib Dem swing could conceivably mean she loses her majority.
Of course, Tim Farron has already said he'd happily go back into coalition with the Tories, so I wouldn't place too much faith in him delivering us from evil. But given the way things have gone since 2015, it's increasingly clear that the Lib Dems did more than just nod Tory policies through – they kept a lot of their worst instincts in check. If they managed to do the same over Brexit, then perhaps the Tories will be unable to so radically transform the country in their own image. And that, at least, would be better than nothing.
The coalition was bad, Nick Clegg was bad, the Lib Dems are… probably too inoffensive to be bad – but that has its own special sort of badness to it. Mind you, at least the badness of the coalition years was the slow grind of austerity, not the wild-eyed jingoism that's fuelling the Tories now.
So what should you do? Same thing you're supposed to do at any general election, I suppose. Think about what, in your constituency, would be the optimal likely outcome – and then do everything in your power to make it happen. Register to vote. Actually get up the morning of the election to bother to vote. Cast off all pretensions of edgy, cynical cool and put up posters, canvass doorsteps, share openly party-political memes. Work together. Beat the Tories. What small hope we have left for a better future probably depends on it.