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UK Election – thoughts from the wreckage

June 9, 2017

A few thoughts in the immediate aftermath of Britain’s general election:

First, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour did far better than expected. They ran an excellent campaign. But they benefited from the implosion of the Conservative campaign, and more specifically from Theresa May’s dismal personal performance. To use a sporting analogy, they took advantage of an unforced error by the other side.

I suspect that had Labour gone into the election with a leader who was not subjected to the virulent Corbyn-phobic messages churned out by the Daily Mail and other right-wing media, they would have performed even better. In other words, under someone like Yvette Cooper or Andy Burnham, Labour might actually have won a majority.

Second, the UKIP vote share was pulverised. Would it be too much to hope that Nigel Farage and his friends will disappear from our TV screens, from the mainstream media and from the social media? Will they fade away into the obscurity they deserve?  Unfortunately, though the BBC can’t justify giving him as much air time as before, Farage will no doubt be as busy on the social media as ever before as the self-proclaimed guardian of Brexit.

As for the opinions that UKIP drew upon in their previous success, they will be well represented by the right wing of the Conservative party, as they always were in the past. Plus ca change, plus c’est le meme chose.

But fat chance Farage will disappear unfortunately. Even as I write this, he’s already talking to the Beeb.

Third, once the exit polls showed the likelihood of a hung parliament, pundits on the BBC were telling us that the EU would prefer to negotiate with a majority British government, whichever party was in power. This will not happen, but we should be less concerned about the EU’s preference than by our own approach from here onwards. It’s pretty obvious that a minority government will have a hard time maintaining May’s “no deal is better than a bad deal” policy.

Watch out for some serious wiggling on the issue of our participation in the customs union and single market. Hard Brexit? Don’t bet on it. Referendum on the ultimate deal? Don’t bet on that either. But the chances are that the negotiations will be the proverbial bugger’s muddle, which will increase the chances of a deepening disillusionment across the electorate over the wisdom of continuing down the Brexit path. Hopefully.

Fourth, the Scottish Nationalist’s reverses would seem to have put the kibosh on a second independence referendum any time soon. Good news – the last thing we need is another bloody referendum on any subject other than Brexit.

Fifth, one of the most telling comments by David Dimbleby during the BBC election coverage: the Greens get 2% of the votes and one seat; the SNP get 3% and thirty-five seats. Fair? Equitable? That’s for you to judge. Time to revisit proportional representation.

Sixth, indications are that Theresa May won’t resign. Not surprising, given that negotiations on Brexit are due to start in less than two weeks, and the Tories wouldn’t be able to find a new leader in time. If she resigned, it would mean the postponement of the negotiations.

However, if I was in her shoes I would go. I would consider the outcome a personal failure. And if she was the CEO of a major company whose profits suddenly and unexpectedly collapsed, she’d be out on her ear in five seconds flat.

Seventh, the person I feel most sorry for is Nick Clegg, who lost his seat. He’s a decent man whose misstep on student fees was punished disproportionately. Theresa May’s U-turns during her tenure as Prime Minister puts Clegg’s “betrayal” into the shade. Good luck to him. He still has a career ahead of him.

It’s going to be an interesting few months. Get ready for another election soon. This parliament will not last until 2022.

From → Politics, UK

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