by David Dickinson*
1975: Labour government in power with very small parliamentary majority, having been elected a few months earlier with support of 28.5% of eligible voters.
2016: Tory government in power with small majority, having been elected a year earlier with support of 24.5% of eligible voters.
1975: Common Market/European Community referendum, having been called by Labour PM, Harold Wilson, to address split in his party and the country.
2016: EU referendum, having been called by Tory PM, David Cameron, to address split in his party and the country. Many on the left call it nothing more than a Tory Party civil war.
1975: Half of Labour MPs, vast majority of Trade Unions, and most of the radical left urge a ‘No’ vote.
2016: Vast majority of Labour MPs and almost all large Trade Unions urge a ‘Yes’ vote.
1975: Conservatives overwhelmingly in favour of a ‘Yes’ vote.
2016: Conservatives split on referendum.
1975: New right-wing leader of the Opposition, Margaret Thatcher, in favour of ‘Yes’ vote.
2016: New left-wing leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, in favour of ‘Yes’ vote.
1975: National Front appears poised to make electoral breakthrough. Opposed to EC membership.
2016: UKIP is 3rd most popular political party in Britain. Opposed to EU membership.
1975: Some on the radical left see referendum as a means to split the Labour Party and create a much larger radical left movement.
2016: Some on the radical left see referendum as a means of creating a much larger radical right movement.
1975: Some right-wing Conservatives see Economic Community as a means to stop rise of socialism in UK.
2016: Many on the Left see EU as a means to stop Conservatism.
1975: Strong Labour left has own economic programme – Alternative Economic Strategy – which includes exit from Common Market.
2016: Weak Labour left has no economic programme.
1975: 12 million members of trade unions. Strike action against cuts to pay and jobs a regular feature.
2016: 7 million members of trade unions. Previous 12 months have seen levels of strike action amongst the lowest on record.
1975: Junior doctors take industrial action over pay and conditions set out in new junior staff contracts. Doctors advised by BMA to keep to a 40-hour week and deal with emergencies only. An agreement was reached with Labour government shortly after.
2016: Junior doctors take industrial action over pay and conditions set out in new staff contracts. Agreement reached between Conservative government and BMA.
1975: Harold Wilson to retire within a year and replaced – without a general election – by James Callaghan, a more right-wing Labour leader.
2016: Leftists complain that one result of a Brexit could be the replacement of the PM – without a general election – of a more right-wing Tory leader.
1975: A year later, following IMF loan, Labour government imposes monetarism on UK, including severe cuts to public services and wage restraint to curb inflation. Labour left, trade unions and radical left opposed to austerity. Ultimately ineffective.
2016: UK is 6 years into a programme of severe cuts to public services and pay freezes/less-than-inflation pay increases. Small scale anti-austerity campaign ineffective. Labour Left and trade unions complain that more right-wing government will emerge after Brexit with a programme of cuts and wage restraint.
1975 onwards: Margaret Thatcher moves Conservative Party to the right, adopting a monetarist economic programme, including cuts to public services and wage restraint. Elected PM in May, 1979, and set to transform British politics.
2016 onwards?: The Left remains moribund and pessimistic about its prospects to govern in future.
We got this off James Heartfield’s facebook page and it is not entirely clear who wrote it, but it looks like Dave Dickinson.