This political moment began in Spain, Greece and the Occupy movements. A Labour victory would resonate globally, says Guardian columnist Aditya Chakrabortty
From this point in the coverage of an election, everything shrinks into minutiae. Whose campaign bus is hurtling into what marginal? Which niche of voters is being wooed by the small print on that policy? Whose poll lead is getting squeezed? What fun it is to play trivial pursuits! Yet it jars a little in this election, because this one bears such significance. Not just for the next five years, not only over Brexit and not solely in the UK. This election puts Britain at the frontline of the international political battle of our time. The votes we cast on 12 December will shape the answer to two questions of far-reaching importance.
The first is whether the new hard right can be beaten: whether our democracies can put a halt to the forces represented here by Boris Johnson, or around the world by Donald Trump, Matteo Salvini and Narendra Modi, to name just a few. If we cannot block these nationalist hardmen democratically, then they will deform democracy until it is unrecognisable and illegitimate.
The second big question is if the new left is yet capable of winning power. The generation radicalised by the banking crisis of 2008 and which camped on Wall Street and outside St Pauls cathedral, before marching against austerity and climate chaos now provides much of the energy for Labour, the US Democratic party and the European left. Post-crash politics has gone mainstream; it is yet to be seen whether it can go into government.
Since the summer, the UK has been governed by a prime minister who in the referendum of 2016 told 350 million lies to the public, and who after entering No 10 tried unlawfully to shut down parliament. He has bullied when he should have united, fibbed when he should have been straight, and he has undermined an already shaky constitutional settlement.
Just like Trump, he exercises power by outraging democratic norms. The links between the two are underlined by yesterdays leak from Jeremy Corbyn of trade talks between Whitehall and Washington. Those papers illustrate just what Jacob Rees-Mogg, Steve Baker and the rest of the hard-right headbangers behind Johnson mean by our global opportunities bargaining away workers rights, food labelling and drug prices. Ministers may not have prompted or agreed any of these compromises, but they are where the fever-dreams of the new hard right inevitably lead a country like the UK, shredding its already tattered social settlement.
One section of the leaked document shows US officials telling their UK counterparts they will ban any mention of greenhouse gas emissions in negotiations. If, as Johnson has claimed, this is pure invention, he has the perfect opportunity to deny it in public next week when Trump visits London. My hunch is he wouldnt dare.
Against Johnson and Trump, the liberal establishment has so far reacted with proceduralism with justified appeals to civility, with a blizzard of ingenious parliamentary amendments, with deep-voiced barristers in horsehair wigs. Yet this has had only limited success because its opponents demonstrably do not care about liberal norms. And so each failure has chipped away further at our democracy.