Sunday, July 12, 2015

Syriza's being exposed for its emptiness

Even some of those Greeks who voted for Syriza last year must have started to get a sense of reality emerging that for all of the bluster and bragging of Alexis Tsipras, he himself has capitulated to what he once thought of as "neo-liberal hegemony".  

Tsipras, and Varoufakis (the not so lamented "rockstar" Finance Minister, embraced by the airhead media) said they opposed "austerity" (a leftwing pejorative for balancing the budget), and were elected on the platform.  

However, now Tsipras (having removed Varoufakis) has gained parliamentary support for raising a lot of taxes, increasing the pension age, some modest spending cuts and privatisation of ports and airports to seek a third, yes third, bailout with Greece's Eurozone partners.  The problem for Tsipras is that other Eurozone countries are losing patience, and it is more the Finns, Slovaks and Baltic States that are fed up with Greece, than the Germans.  


Because many Eurozone countries don't trust the Greek Government.

The first bailout saw Greece granted loans between 2010 and 2012 of 107 billion yes billion, Euro on condition that Greece would get its budget deficit down to 3% of GDP by 2014.  Part of this deal was to end the practice of paying public servants two more months of pay a year every year.  Yes, public servants would get a bonus of an extra two months' salary every year.

The second bailout saw 50% of Greece's debts with private bondholders written off and the remaining debt on an interest rate of 3.5% (so much for the rhetoric about the evil foreign bankers profiteering), knocking 100 billion Euro off of Greece's debt.  Again, the Greek government was expected to cut its budget deficit, which it did, somewhat.

However, the extent of reforms of the Greek economy that were expected simply didn't happen. State pensions for "dangerous professions" such as hairdressing (yes really) were still paid out at age 50. Defence spending exceeded the 2% of GDP expected for being a member of NATO (and there was little scrutiny of where that money went).  In short, Greece maintained big government, corporatist for the centre-right, large public sector for the centre-left, but little welfare state besides pensions.   

Syriza got elected promising an end to "austerity" that was part of the deal for the two previous restructurings of public debt, but found no appetite at all to do this.  After all, why would other governments expect their taxpayers to pay for Greece to continue its corrupt, unreformed bloated inefficient state?

So Syriza embarked on two rather vile strategies to frighten the Eurozone.  One was to start talking about the war - World War Two that is - saying Germany hadn't compensated Greece "enough" for the war, and besides Greece wrote off some debt owed to it by Germany in the 1950s (as did most Western European states).   As a strategy to get the Germans on side, it was beyond parody and as a strategy to get European sympathy it was childish.  After all, was Greece truly saying that it, especially, should get some of that money back from Germans who were mostly not born at the time? Quite rightly, Eurozone member states that ended up on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain sniffed at this anti-German nonsense.  After all, they all spent 40 years under the yoke of the USSR and its local tyrants, and couldn't even consider demanding Moscow compensate them.

After German bashing backfired, Alexis Tsipras went to visit Vladimir Putin.  The implication was simple -  If the West doesn't support our unreformed bloated socialist/corporatist state, we'll turn to Russia.  The implication did cause a few ructions in Washington, as it could have meant Greece abandoning NATO, but even Putin didn't want Greece.  With global oil prices and EU sanctions hurting Russia, Putin smiled and knew not only that he couldn't afford Greece, but that such a move would be unnecessarily antagonistic.  So Tsipras ran back with his tail between his legs.

Now he has tried his latest trick.  He opposed a proposed bailout.  He held a referendum and convinced Greeks to oppose the bailout, then found out that the banks were running out of liquidity.

So the Greek government did the usual desperate move of any authoritarians.  It restricted the amount individuals could withdraw from their own bank accounts.  It effectively banned imports (within a customs' union and currency union!) by imposing exchange controls, and closed the banks for a week.  

Now he wants a new bailout, he is proposing tax increases to more than correspond with the deal he rejected, and other Eurozone countries (except the socialist sympathising French and Italians) are uninterested.  Countries with lower per capita GDP than Greece, with lower debt, and smaller states, that faced bigger economic challenges (with the collapse of their communist bloc economies) are uninterested in a government that lies, that blackmails and has no contrition that the main problem is past Greek governments overspending.

Having dug up the past, having flirted with Putin, having opposed budgetary responsibility and now apparently supporting higher taxes (which will hurt the economy much more comprehensively than cutting back the massively bloated public sector), and privatisation, but few are interested.

The right response of the Eurozone is to say no.  To tell Greece that if it wants to save its banks, it needs to live within its means, default on privately held bonds if it wishes and expect not to borrow any more.  The xenophobic socialists that are governing Greece are the philosophical descendants of those who fought on the Soviet side in the Greek civil war.  Had they won then, Greece's fate would have looked a lot like Bulgaria and Albania to its north.  It would be nice if some in Greece realised how much they are to be grateful for and face down the rent seekers of the state that are holding their country back.  

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Take responsibility for Iraq, it may be time for war sooner rather than later

Regardless of the position you might have taken over the Iraqi war, it happened and in essence, the "coalition of the willing" took upon itself the responsibility of governing Iraq.   It did so because Saddam Hussein controlled Iraq was seen as being a threat to its neighbours and more generally. Removing the regime was to enable Iraq to become a friendly and stable friend to Western interests.

However, although it essentially let the Kurds govern themselves, it failed - utterly miserably - to establish law and order in the rest of Iraq, with a government that represented and granted rights and rule of law across all Iraqis.  Over 90% of those killed since the original invasion were at the hands of sectarian militia groups.  The sectarian Shi'a administration now in Iraq, is relatively weak and is one reason why some Sunnis have embraced ISIS in resistance to that government.

Iraqi President at the time, Nouri al-Maliki, bears some responsibility for the disaster, but the overwhelming responsibility lies with the US State Department, British Foreign Office and those of the "coalition of the willing", for simply they were the coalition of the unwilling.

The overthrow of Saddam Hussein created a vacuum, that the "coalition of the willing" were unwilling to fill - that is of strict law and order, border control and to establish a government that would apply the rule of law, objectively, and defend the rights of all citizens.  It's hardly surprising, for the sheer volume of forces needed to do that were beyond the willingness of any governments to provide (or afford).  Unlike Japan, which culturally was in a sense of shock and fear after its defeat, and Germany which saw occupation by powers already spending vast proportions of their GDP (and were near neighbours), Iraq was flooded with weapons, full of thugs who lost their power after the fall of Hussein, and had porous borders with a neighbour that sought to make it compliant.  

Iraqi Kurdistan is the shining exception.

The United States and its allies let Iraq down.  After the success of the late surge, it let a bigoted corrupt sectarian leader take over the country, and as a result those who he was bigoted against, and excluded, turned on the regime, and found allies, and the genesis of ISIS was created.

It is very easy to be introspective, and say the original war was a mistake, and to blame Iran for its remarkable efforts at destabilising Iraq (notice how the anti-war movement in the West has absolutely no issue with Iranian imperialism, as the anti-war movement is, in fact, a movement against Western civilisation and capitalism).  That effort is for academics, what policy makers need to consider is what to do now, particularly as ISIS is spreading, virus like across Syria and Iraq.

Iraqi Kurdistan is far from perfect, but there is a reasonable degree of rule of law, peace and governance that is far from disagreeable in the region.  It effectively is part of a separate federal unit from the rest of Iraq, and deserves to be defended, particularly given the relative acquiescence of the world after Saddam Hussein's chemical weapon attacks upon them in the 1988. 

However, the case for Western military intervention is much greater than being "nice" to the Kurds, there is a case of self interest here.  A failure to take on ISIS and defeat it has the very real chance of being dangerous not only to those the West once called its allies, and many thousands (and millions) of innocent civilians, but a base for terrorist action in Europe.

If ISIS captures Baghdad, with no significant Western military effort, it presents the possibility that Iraq will see genocidal actions against Kurds and Iraqi Shi'a, that ISIS will turn on Kuwait and use the oil wealth of Iraq to fund further expansionism.  It presents the possibility of Iran invading Iraq to prevent this, and without a doubt, such a takeover would be a clear indication that the West not only has abandoned the Middle East, but is willing to let ISIS have virtually free reign in its holy mission to establish a totalitarian Islamist Caliphate in the Middle East.

Some will say so what?  They'll say so what until an ISIS bomb explodes in the Coliseum, or maybe St. Paul's Cathedral in London, or Notre Dame in Paris.

ISIS has clear intent to go beyond Iraq and Syria.  It has embraced eliminationism with its conquests, demanding that people convert and submit, or get killed.  It has murdered children, taken women and young girls to be sex slaves and beheaded and otherwise executed men for any form of dissent, including being gay.  It seeks to eliminate Israel, to eliminate all of the hereditary monarchies in the Middle East, to make every Muslim dominated country into a dictatorial caliphate, and to expand this wherever it can.

So this is a terrorist group, seeking to establish governments, as a death cult, that celebrates when it commits genocide, that seeks to wipe out liberal secular democracy and wipe out civilisation in favour of its misogynistic Islamist pre-enlightenment nightmare.  It has access to oil as a source of revenue and is unafraid of using the technology developed under civilisation to turn against it.   It is the Taliban, with oil, with the expansionist interest of Nazi Germany.

The question is not if, but when there is inevitable conflict and if there is to be conflict, whether it will be with Arab and non-Arab allies, or whether the continued near isolationism of the West means that the Kurds, Iraqis, Syrians and others are just to be left to be slaughtered.

So what should be done?

ISIS should be attacked, first in Iraq, with the Iraqi military, as part of a concerted effort to recapture all territory from ISIS, attack bases inside Syria and secure Iraq from ISIS - which must also include the borders and ensure Iraq's government is of Sunni and Shi'a Muslims.  However, once Iraq is secured, the decision must be made to go into Syria and eliminate ISIS.  Yes, it will help the Assad regime, but it is not for that regime - and indeed a no-fly zone should be established to stop the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs.  It is to remove the virus of ISIS, it is to lance this boil before it establishes itself with power to project itself more than across immediate borders.

The US should lead this, with NATO and the Arab League, and Iran - yes, Iran. For Iran is positively moderate in comparison. For ISIS is a common foe, including a foe for Russia and I suspect eventually, China.  Defence of Iraq does not need a UN Security Council resolution, just support from the Iraqi government, but beyond that attempts should be made to get multilateral endorsement. Yet that should not be considered a barrier to intervening by whatever means is necessary, to wipe out ISIS.

For if this is not done, there will be innocent victims, not just in Iraq or Syria, but in Europe and the United States and beyond.  The Western leaders who are in charge if or when that happens, can hardly have been surprised, but should it take such a loss for action to be taken?

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Make me a cake or I'll call the Police

Before I start, for the avoidance of doubt, let's get three things clear:

1. I'm not a Christian, and I find some elements of Christianity to be not only irrational but also immoral.

2. I'm not gay.

3. I fully support two people of the same sex being able to get married, just like two of the opposite sex, and I find fear or hatred of people because they are homosexual/lesbian/bisexual to be both irrational and immoral.

So from a libertarian perspective, the Asher's Bakery case in Northern Ireland is an interesting one.

The long and the short of it is that a gay rights activist in Northern Ireland asked a bakery to bake a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan on it, and the bakery objected because the owners oppose gay marriage, because of their religious beliefs.

The court has ruled that refusing to bake the cake is illegal "discrimination".  What this ruling represents is a fundamental infringement on two rights:

1. Freedom of trade;
2. Freedom of speech.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Losers in the UK election

Well before I pontificate about the reasons to fear the new Conservative Government (and David Cameron has already given us one having said:
 "For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone".

Yep, just contemplate that one, alongside:

It's often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that's helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance...Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Democracy. The rule of law. Equal rights regardless of race, gender or sexuality. "We must say to our citizens: this is what defines us as a society. To belong here is to believe in these things"

However, isn't rule of law about the point that if you obey the law, the state WILL leave you alone?

More on that later, but what of the losers of the election?

Labour: 256 seats in 2010 to 232 in 2015.  When you remove the 40 lost in Scotland, Labour gained 16 seats in England and Wales, mostly from Liberal Democrats. To hell with them.  An atrocious result, losing seats in England and Scotland, with gains really only seen in London (albeit fewer than hoped).  Labour did not win the bulk of the Liberal Democrat voters it sought, it lost some voters to UKIP and a lot to the SNP in Scotland.  It was too leftwing for England, and although some say it wasn't leftwing enough for Scotland, what it actually lost on, was not being nationalist enough.  Nationalism taps into deeply held prejudices and fears, and the SNP milked that in a way Labour couldn't.  Labour now faces inexplicably trying to move away from class war in England, but tackling fears of globalisation and immigration in the north, whilst outflanking the SNP in Scotland.  If it can't take on the SNP successfully, then every single general election will see the Tories saying "Labour = SNP" as it is difficult to see Labour getting a majority without it, especially after the long delayed boundary changes that will remove the demographic bias that has emerged in Labour's favour.  Add the infighting over leadership in the coming months, and it's easy to see Labour looking rather forlorn.  Rising from 29% to 30.4% in the popular vote is not a reason to celebrate.

Liberal Democrats:  56 seats in 2010, 8 in 2015, the worst result since the Liberal Party merged with the SDP, and before that since 1970.  In popular vote it is a cull from 23% to 7.9%. The contradictions of a party that was once of the centre, that swung left, then propped up the Conservatives in government have come to swallow it up.  Those who swung left went to Labour.  The environmentalist misanthrope vote, went Green.  The residue of genuine small government liberals, went various places (or stayed home), and the Liberal Democrats who won, did so because the alternatives were thought of as much worse.  Good. There should be space in British politics for a party that is both socially liberal and economically liberal, and defends civil liberties. However, none of the main three parties are socially liberal when it comes to confronting Islamism, the Conservatives are mildly economically liberal, and the Liberal Democrats mildly defend civil liberties.  Either the Liberal Democrats drop the "Democrats" become the Liberal Party of old, shed the Green anti-scientific anti-reason authoritarianism and the corporatist/welfarist instincts, or it's time to bury the party.   However, there is little reason to think that the rump of the Liberal Democrats has the instincts to move that way, rather it seems like, once again, being the non-union party of the left.   Meanwhile, Nick Clegg is political history and likely doomed to limp on as the MP for Sheffield Hallam, for the fear that if he resigned causing a by-election, the Liberal Democrats would likely lose, culling the total from 8 to 7 seats.  Expect not a lot out of Liberal Democrats for a while.  

UKIP: 2 seats entering the election, 1 after. The "People's Army" voted and came second in over 100 seats, the majority of which are Conservative held ones.  With one MP, it was not a triumph as it would appear that in the three other most likely winnable seats, voters rallied behind the Conservative candidate to defeat the UKIP one. That polarisation, largely driven by the rhetoric around immigration, means it is difficult to see how UKIP can break through when Labour supporters would rather back a Conservative over UKIP. Clearly, campaigning from the Conservatives, supported by Conservative backing newspapers, saw UKIP sympathising voters switching Conservative to stop Ed Miliband.  Such is how First Past the Post works.  As an aside, Nigel Farage resigned as leader because he didn't win South Thanet, he apparently is now leader again from acclamation by the party Executive.  It clearly believe he is the party's greatest asset.  He may well be, but he is also its greatest polariser.  The single MP, Douglas Carswell, may find his own, admirable, libertarian credentials stretched to breaking point, as he battles the egos behind the scenes buoyed up by UKIP coming third in the popular vote with 12.6%.

SNP:  From 6 seats in 2010 to 56 today, only one MP lasts from Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats to stop the SNP from making Scotland a one-party state.  Its nationalist socialist agenda wont go far though, as it has little power in the absence of backing up a Labour government, although it will be consulted on further devolution (which it has a strong interest in).  Expect the SNP to use its seats as a platform to moan about the "hated Tories" not representing the will of the Scottish people, even though again First Past the Post delivered so many MPs (56 out of 59) due to plurality, given 50% of the popular vote in Scotland was not for the SNP.   The SNP will see the next five years as feeding its campaign for another referendum, which it dishonestly says is "up to the Scottish people", code for "if they vote for us in the Scottish elections, we will say they have chosen one".   My expectation is that within these 56 MPs are some right lunatics or rent-seekers, who will prove themselves to be embarrassing and thus temper the overall support.  Bear in mind, with the third largest group of MPs in the House of Commons, they appear formidable, yet only gained 4.7% of the popular vote (up from 1.7% in 2010), reflecting its decision, of course, to only stand candidates in Scotland (where it got 50% of the popular vote).

Greens: 1 MP in 2010 and 1 MP now, the Green surge was seen in membership (over 50,000), and its vote went up from 1% to 3.8% of the popular vote.  The true anti-capitalist, misanthropic lunatic left continue to have a voice, although the Green leader, Natalie Bennett came a distant third in the seat she contested (Holborn & St Pancras) and the sole MP, Caroline Lucas increased her majority.  Of course, this doesn't stop the misanthropic enviro-left from polluting the policies of Labour or the Conservatives.  Both supported a law that binds the government to emissions targets (who is going to enforce this?).  Both embrace raising the cost of energy to meet such goals.  

Of the others, the Welsh nationalists Plaid Cymru won the same number of seats as it did in 2010, despite record television coverage for its leader, Leanne Wood (who touted the same lunatic nationalist socialism as the SNP, with a bit less hysterical passion).  The same proportion of vote was obtained.  In Northern Ireland, unionists/protestants gained a seat at the expense of the Marxist nationalist/catholic Sinn Fein, and the secularist/liberal Alliance.  However, Northern Irish MPs will still have little influence at Westminster.   George Galloway's RESPECT Marxist/Islamist party finally got defeated as he was unseated by a large margin.  Whilst the once feared white supremacist BNP collapsed as it went from around 564,000 votes in 2010 (5th largest popular vote) to less than 1,700 votes, Monster Raving Loony Party gained more than twice that.  One guess where the BNP vote largely ended up.

So the UK voted against socialism, but it hardly voted for much less government.  Labour fondly told the public that "extreme Tory cuts" would see state spending shrink to around 35% of GDP, as if people should fear that.  Hopefully this will come to pass as a bare minimum, but it's not that which I fear from the Conservatives.

It's the approach to  national security, law and order and free speech - which, by the way, would have been worse under Labour...

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

It wasn't a jump to the left

Hell yeah. 

What a relief.  All but one of the opinion polls indicated a dead heat between the two main parties. The bookies saw a Labour minority government (propped up by the SNP and Liberal Democrats) as most likely.  The broadcasters were convinced that the odds of the Conservatives forming a government, a minority government, with the Liberal Democrats and maybe UKIP and the DUP, were not good.

Meanwhile, the hated Lynton Crosby had kept David Cameron on one message, and Cameron kept saying that the Tories only needed to win 23 more seats to govern alone.   Yet, with all of Labour's rhetoric about how awful the economic recovery had been for so many, and calling itself the "party of the many not the privileged few", it seemed inconceivable that with the sinking lid of spending cuts, that the government wouldn't lose seats.   325 seats is a majority, and it was thought that if the Conservatives got 290 seats it would be a good night for them.

Then it came at 10.02pm on Thursday night.  Exit polls predicted not only that the Conservatives would be the largest party, but would be two seats short of a majority.  So it was to be that this was too "conservative", and an overall majority would be won with 331 seats.  Why?

1. Ed Miliband, even those his net negative poll ratings improved in recent weeks, never remotely came close to David Cameron as preferred Prime Minister.   Cameron may be a professional spin doctor, he may have no strong philosophy, he may be (as Labour didn't tire of pointing out) a posh boy who went to Eton and belonged to the Bullingdon Club, but then Miliband was not so different. With the exception of a short guest lectureship at Harvard, his entire career had been to work for the Labour Party or be an MP.  He is a millionaire, who inherited an expensive home in one of the most upmarket parts of London (Primrose Hill), and was a Marxist academic.   Any accusations of Cameron not being "in touch" were easily redirected onto Miliband.

2. The economy, stupid:  With a drop in unemployment of 2 million, inflation at around zero, average wages growing above inflation, and the economy having grown faster than any economy in Europe in the past five years, the story the Conservatives could sell was positive.  By contrast, Labour had remained far behind in credibility on the economy.  Yes, the crash was a banking crash, but when Ed Miliband said that Labour hadn't spent too much when it was last in government, on BBC Question Time, the audience laughed at and ridiculed him.   If Labour couldn't show contrition for wasting money before, how could it be trusted now?  By contrast, the Conservatives had cut spending, albeit modestly, and the economy grew, rather than flatlined (as Labour said it would).  The state had shrunk from 45% of GDP to 40%, and Conservative plans to cut further, which Labour scaremongered over, didn't scare many voters.  

3. Classwar? No thanks:  Labour went on about a recovery that worked only for the wealthy, but for the 2 million who got jobs that wouldn't ring true.  Labour's rhetoric was constantly a refrain that was against wealth-producers, that rarely talked positively about business, that claimed the Tories were supporting the "privileged" few, unlike Labour, didn't wash.  After all, if the Tories were only for the rich, how could they attract support of at least a third of voters.

4. SNP: Polling for months had increasingly indicated Labour was going to lose a lot of its seats in Scotland, as a result a key plank of the Tory campaign was "vote Labour get SNP" given it was difficult to envisage Labour winning enough seats elsewhere in the UK to make up for the Scottish losses AND gain a majority.  As the SNP's policies were so clearly Scottish focused, and to the left of even leftwing Labour.  Even though Ed Miliband said "no deals" with the SNP, and at one point said he'd prefer a Tory government to doing a deal with it (which didn't help him in Scotland), nobody believed him that if the numbers stacked up, he'd do it and English voters saw a vision of a government beholden to handing Scotland more money, or another independence referendum.  The pro-Tory press (Sun, Mail, Telegraph and Times) all supported this.  Of course, with Labour losing all but one of its seats in Scotland to the SNP (and the Conservatives keeping their sole MP), it helped, but Labour + SNP is still only 288 seats.

5. End of the Liberal Democrats:  While the Liberal Democrats lost a significant number of its voters to Labour and the Greens (Labour had counted on winning the majority of them), the Conservatives hoovered up a fair share of the Liberal Democrat seats as well, including all of those in the southwest. Whilst the Liberal Democrats argued they would give the Tories a heart and Labour a brain, voters who leaned one way or the other simply decided to vote for one of the main parties.  Whilst Labour did gain from this, it lost due to...

6.  UKIP took from Labour.  The conventional view of Labour (and the Conservatives) was that UKIP would largely hurt the Conservatives, being, by and large, a mix of old fashioned Conservative resistance to the EU and immigration, and a scepticism of nanny state type solutions.  However, in the final weeks, the Conservatives successfully campaigned in their heartland to convince many UKIP voters to vote Conservative to keep Labour out.  This is what cost UKIP Rochester and Strood (which it had won in a by election), and stopped Nigel Farage winning South Thanet. This didn't work on UKIP supporters who had come from Labour in the north, who saw a party that talked to them in the way the Conservatives never could.  Labour lost seats due to UKIP, because its class war "metropolitan elite" rhetoric and narrative seemed fake, unlike the gaffe prone but straightforward talk of UKIP.

7. The polls worked for the Tories:  With almost all polls showing a very close race, there was genuine fear of a Labour government (not really a genuine fear of a Tory government) causing economic disruption.  Turnout was higher this time than in 2010.

8.  The shy-right:  One theory is that a reason polling looked low for the Conservatives compared to the actual result, was that many who hold "right wing" views keep them to themselves.  They are not activists, and those who are leftwing activists make it very clear how much they hate those who may support the Conservatives or UKIP, and are willing to vandalise, occupy or otherwise do violence or threaten those who disagree with them.  People are more hesitant to publicly support the right, than support the left, understating the views of the right.

So, a sigh of relief?  Yes.  Joy? Not really, except for the schadenfreude of the demise of multiple politicians, which is ALWAYS a joy.

To see Ed Miliband discover his party is more of the few than the many.  To see Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (and former right hand man of Gordon Brown when in government), Ed Balls removed from office, after his predictions of a flatlining economy, and that the Conservatives cut "too far and too fast", was glorious.  To see the odious felcher of dictatorships, George Galloway, ousted by a large margin, was delicious, as was removal of the anti-Jewish Liberal Democrat David Ward in the neighbouring seat in Bradford East.  To see oodles of green religion worshipping Liberal Democrats disappear, especially the arch-interventionist "Business Secretary" Vince Cable and subsidised renewables fanatic, Ed Davey, was wonderful.

Of course there is the claim that the Conservatives didn't win because the proportion of the vote won was far short of 50%.  This is true, but then had the UK had a form of proportional representation (noting voters rejected 3-2 a shift to a moderately more proportional system in 2011, by referendum) much would have been different.  Parties would have campaigned everywhere, not just the marginals. The SNP would have become much less relevant a factor.  More voters might have gone for smaller parties, and who knows how many voters it would wake up in "safe seats" who finally thought their votes would matter.  Regardless, adding the Conservative and UKIP vote would reach around 50% of seats, and adding a few Ulster unionists of both stripes would create a majority.   The left can't claim a majority.

In NZ the great fear of the "right" (I use the word liberally) was that MMP would mean permanent leftwing government.  In fact it has, but not by leftwing parties, rather the National Party moving towards the statist centre to occupy the majority ground.

So yes, there is a Conservative majority, it was won by a mix of sheer economic results, and fear of the left spending too much, interfering too much and wanting to take from some to give to others. There is reason to have some hope for the UK, but what of the parties that lost?