The Guardian view on general election 2019: A fleeting chance to stop Boris Johnson in his tracks
Dec. 10, 2019
Britain has not faced a more critical election in decades than the one it faces on Thursday. The country’s future direction, its place in the world and even its territorial integrity are all at stake, primarily because this is a decisive election for Brexit. The choice is stark. The next prime minister is going to be either Boris Johnson, who is focused on “getting Brexit done” whatever the consequences, or Jeremy Corbyn, who with a Labour-led government will try to remodel society with a programme of nationalisation and public spending.
Both main parties are offering heretical gambles against the tenets of mainstream thinking. Both are asking voters to join their revolts. Both have also become less pluralistic and more sectarian. Many traditional Conservative and Labour voters have been estranged from their parties. A sourly introspective and inward-looking campaign mood is further curdled by political misinformation. There is still a deep longing for community, but how to give meaning to it without giving way to exclusion or xenophobia remains unresolved. A Tory decade of self-defeating austerity has produced average wages lower than in 2008. Tent cities and food banks have become ubiquitous. Despite the existential threat of the climate emergency, the UK is not on track to meet our carbon dioxide reduction targets.
A different electoral system and a more deliberative politics, allowing society’s losers as well as winners to buy into political decisions, might have helped. The Guardian has urged such an approach as part of a solution to Brexit. Instead, a struggle for power within both the main parties has shaped an election in which many wish they faced better choices. Britain needs modern parties to correspond to the range of people’s lives and concerns. In their absence, voters in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as large parts of England, feel cut off from Westminster debate.