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...

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