I always thought I’d be happy on the day that Cameron left 10 Downing Street, but that was because I imagined him leaving after a humiliating general election defeat to be replaced by a responsibly left wing Labour government. In reality, my pleasure was tempered by my fear of what will come next.
There was a lot that I did not like about David Cameron. Austerity has seen a huge growth in child poverty, rising inequality and the transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich. Homelessness is up, more people are in causal or insecure work and the number of people using food banks has grown from 41,000 a year in 2010 to over one million people in 2015. Unemployment and disability benefits have been cut and, to justify this, there’s been an increase rhetoric accusing the poor and disabled of being scroungers. Six years of Cameron as PM have been characterised by a return to recession, stagnation, economic uncertainty and declining living standards. While everyone else in the country became worse off, there were huge subsidies for the financial sector in form of RBS privatization - at a loss to the taxpayer of £22bn.
Cameron gambled the future of the UK on an EU referendum to placate the Right of his party. His loss will be his legacy. It will cause huge damage to the UK and may even lead to its breakup. This damage will be felt by the poorest and most vulnerable, while the rich denizens of the Tory shires will continue to grow wealthier. Cameron was a disaster for this country - and now he is gone.
The resignation in shame of an elitist Tory Prime Minister has not made me happy because the Tory Party is still in power. The agenda will still be to enrich the few at the expense of the many. For a few weeks the Tories looked like they might disintegrate into post referendum factionalism, but they have ruthlessly stitched their party back together. They have reformed from their shattered, desperate units into an effective fighting machine faster than the T1000 in Terminator 2. The Tories are getting comfortable with Theresa May as their new leader and Prime Minister. She will be pragmatic, careful, technocratic and, unfortunately for us, most likely very popular. I can see her winning elections and moving the centre of politics to the right. The Tories are stronger now that Cameron is gone.
Most of this strength and unity is because they have been given a free pass by the Labour Party, who have completely splintered into factional infighting. It’s embarrassing to watch Labour go to pieces at the point where the country needs them most. The Labour Party must unite and start fighting back against the Tories, who have already used Labour's divisions to get Trident renewed. This degree of infighting is seriously damaging to Labour and could ultimately cost the party its future.
Of course there is a lot debate within Labour about what form this opposition should take, hence the infighting. Agreeing with austerity and controls on immigration didn’t get Ed Miliband elected as Prime Minister, but neither did opposing Tory welfare cuts. Labour does not know how to win back its politically alienated base, how to reach out to new voters, what economic model would best replace neoliberal capitalism, or how to respond to the vote to leave the EU. If any faction within Labour had a convincing answer to these questions, it would crush the others. The debate about the direction of the Labour Party is important, but the party cannot be allowed to tear itself apart. A compromise must be found.
The Tories are emerging from their own infighting, uniting and getting back to the business of government. The country needs Labour to put on a united front to stand up to May. There is alot at stake, such as the Human Rights Act to defend and the ‘Snoopers Charter’ to oppose. The Tories cannot be allowed to dictate the terms of Brexit. We need the Labour Party to oppose Tory economic policy and fight for climate change legislation, increased NHS funding, steps to alleviate child poverty and electoral reform. None of this it can be achieved when party members’ primary concern is slagging off each other on Twitter. The country cannot afford for Labour not to oppose the Tories.
The Labour Party has become completely dysfunctional, and radical change is needed so that it can start being an opposition again. This could involve removing Jeremy Corbyn as leader, if Owen Smith can unite the party and restore it to functionality. I would prefer Corbyn to stay as leader, but not if Labour ceases to function with him in charge.
If Labour continues in the same vein, then the future will be a dystopian, oppressive, corporate vision of Britain. It will be the poorest who lose the most. This is the truth that Corbyn supporters need to accept. Middle class, metropolitan Corbynites can refuse to compromise with the rest of the party, but it is not middle class, metropolitan Corbnites who will feel the pain of a Tory government. It is the poor, the ethnic minorities, the immigrants and the disabled who will suffer under Prime Minister May. Are we willing to let these people suffer so that we do not have to compromise?
Cameron is gone, and good riddance to him, but May could well be worse, especially if she is not opposed. The Labour Party has been on a break since the referendum and has been thinking about itself too much. Break time is over. It is time to oppose the real enemies.