Skip to main content
CampaignsEqualityHousingEnvironmentGeneral ElectionSupport Our WorkFixing BritainMigrationEducationRaceCultureWorkGlobal

From darkness to light

Dark as this year has been, be cheered by the thought this is likely the last Christmas we'll spend under a Conservative government for a good long while. But this is a reason to get motivated - not complacent. 

December 23 2023, 09.17am

As twilight years of governments go, 2023 has been particularly bleak - darker even than the last years of Thatcherism, by some margin. 

Internationally, the ongoing Gaza war - which has claimed the lives of over 1,200 Israelis and over 20,000 Palestinians, over 1% of Gaza’s population - makes a bleak end to the year, together with its accompanying surges in hate crime further afield; from brutal attacks on Palestinian Americans to antisemitic assaults the world over. The UK is one of the less important arenas in the conflict, but whatever one thinks of the war, whoever one votes for, it’s hard to say either the Conservatives or Labour acquitted themselves honourably in that moment. 

At home, draconian new protest laws multiply. Anti-immigration sentiments, rhetoric and policies have skyrocketed, with the Illegal Migration Act making a mockery of Britain’s international commitments and scapegoating the most vulnerable people on our shores, including children. Even the modest progress Britain has made on climate change is being squandered, with domestic fossil fuel production let off the leash and climate policies watered down. And if these are meant to appease the far right, they’re having the opposite effect.

Meanwhile, on the economic front, the year that started with a cost-of-living crisis and a spike in people shoplifting for food is ending with the astonishing statistic of over 800,000 Brits being treated in hospitals for malnutrition. We’ve had Broken Britain for a while now. We now have Starving Britain on our hands. 

We know which party is to blame for both. And if there’s one good thing to say about the year that’s gone is that this is almost certainly the last full year we’ll live under a Tory government, for a good long while. Polls have rarely been that dramatic, that consistent, for that long. The trends in by-elections, likewise. Defections and resignations by Tory MPs and even ministers, likewise. It’s very probable our next Christmas email will be sent under a Labour government - perhaps at the helm of a coalition, but most likely one with a robust majority of its own. If ever there was a Christmas where the slow move from darkness to light felt almost inevitable, this is one. 

This doesn’t mean this is time to get complacent. A lot can happen between now and the General Election, whenever in 2024 it is finally called. Voter disillusionment is all too real, and poses a risk to the opposition as well as to the Conservatives. The same is true for activist disillusionment. After threading the most careful, muted and tightly controlled line imaginable, Starmer’s Labour is beginning to find its voice on the environment, on Rwanda and on housing, among many other issues. But we need a lot more from both Labour and from all other parties if the Conservatives are to be pushed and kept out of power for the foreseeable; and once in government, the Tories' successors will need to be much bolder in thought and deed if the centre of British politics is to be reclaimed from the far right. We hope to do our bit at The Lead.