UK elections wrap-up and commentary
Jumping right in, I feel especially bad for Jo Swinson, who impressed me greatly with her character and her hopefulness. Here’s her speech from last Friday:
Other voices I will be sad not to hear in the next parliament include:
Dominic Grieve (Conservative)
Chuka Umunna (Liberal Democrat)
Luciana Berger (Liberal Democrat)
Sarah Wollaston (Liberal Democrat)
Sam Gyimah (Liberal Democrat)
Anna Soubry (Independent Group)
These people were brave truth-tellers, and I’m sentimental about their loss. I would say that like Jo Swinson, they’re victims* of the Tory steamroller, which is fashioned from equal parts big money, big media, and big lies. (There’s a Peter Gabriel song in there somewhere.) What a travesty that Swinson was frozen out of the big ITV debate. Unlike Johnson, she wasn’t hiding in a fridge, but seeking to emerge from one. (*This is not to gloss over the weaknesses of some individual candidates/party manifestos.)
Voters also bear some responsibility for casting out MPs who showed surprising honesty and reasonableness in a time of politics gone mad. It’s true that voters were heavily propagandised, but they could have done more to listen to their better angels. Punishing MPs who had the courage to defect from the two main parties sends absolutely the wrong message for the future.
Just in case you slept through the UK elections or were dead drunk, here’s the major takeaway, delivered without all the pomp and circumstance by me old mucker Basil Brush:
Are there any silver linings on this cloudy morning after? Well, the comedians will have a grand time perfecting their Bojo imitations: freestyle, x-rated, at the dinner table, etc. And maybe the Labour party will re-form as a centre left party that can actually garner popular support in the Northeast again. (Unless the Corbynistas somehow manage to stay in power and pick a Jeremy Mini-Me as their new leader). As for mining communities voting Conservative, I believe it was an SNP chappie who once quipped: “The turkeys aren’t just voting for Christmas, they’re putting the stuffing up their own backsides!” (Might have been Pete Wishart re: Labour MPs voting for Brexit.)
Nothing is completely bad, so we can only hope and pray that Boris Johnson will manage to do good, perhaps by pivoting to the centre and opting for a soft Brexit. But it’s difficult to overcome one’s karma. I fear he will play the role of the lovable buffoon, and turn on the money spigots for awhile, but long-term his government may continue to pursue policies which favour the rich, and deliver the proverbial lump of coal to those most in need.
It’s a hollow victory for Johnson — indeed, what I fear is that he will continue to hollow out the UK so that it’s all bright and shiny with PR glitz on the outside, but inside, the institutions which ideally make the UK a caring society are gutted — strangled by underfunding.
This is purely anecdotal, but recently on James O’Brien’s call-in show on LBC, a gentleman who works with troubled youth told the story of how he called the emergency number for those who attempt self-harm — and got an answerphone. The man was in tears. That’s what I mean about the hollowing out of services meant to make the UK a caring place. All too often, nobody’s home.
Meanwhile, you can be sure the Tories will quote statistics claiming that self-harm is down by x percent, and answerphones are cheaper by y percent. Flying flamingos, Batman! I should really heed the perennial advice of John Bercow: calm myself, meditate, and take some soothing medicament. Undoubtedly, I shall be the better man for it. (Parli won’t be the same without Bercow! This bercow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby bojo…)
The psychedelic tie worn by Bercow in the clip is typical of his outrageous colour sense.
Scot Nats did quite well on Thursday, and I look forward to them actively heckling the Tories in inimitable style, with japes, puffery and performative outrage, as on July 25, 2019:
They’ve often taunted Boris with the line that he’s the “last prime minister of the United Kingdom,” meaning that if he and Brexit are voted in, the Scots will vote out. How does this go down? Scotland calls a second referendum on independence; Westminster says its illegal; the Scots hold it anyway; the vote is for Leave. What then? English troops in Edinburgh? Another Anglo-Scottish war? Tell me how this ends well.
Also a casualty of Thursday’s election was tactical voting — a good idea meant to challenge the primacy of the first-past-the-post system, but badly implemented this time round. Here’s the main vote count for Cities of London and Westminster constituency, where Chuka Umunna was running:
Vickie Aiken (Conservative): 17,049
Chuka Umunna (Liberal Democrat): 13,096
Gordon Nardell (Labour): 11,264
Zack Polanski (Green): 728
As you can see, had Labour and Lib Dems truly cooperated, they could have stopped the Tory candidate, who ended up winning with only 40% of the vote. Sigh…
Part 2 of this series is titled “The search for truth in politics…” and will delve into the problem of lying politicians, as well as the nature of truth itself. In the meantime, please do enjoy these seasonal posts (or ghosts) from Christmas past:
Christmas Music: The Rare and the Beautiful
Jesus is Born – in a World of Many Faiths
Simple Gifts, the Christmas Truce, and Benjamin Bowmaneer
Christmas, Childhood, and Cable Spaghetti
The Twelve Days of Trumpster
‘Twas The Night Before Brexit
The views expressed are my own, and do not represent any other person or organization.
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