Election aftermath

davidcameronDespite many commentators’ predictions of a hung parliament, the outcome of the UK’s general election was a clear majority for David Cameron’s Conservative Party. It seems that on the whole, the people of England and Wales rejected the parties of the left, and embraced the party that promised to help “hard-working families.”

In Scotland, the picture was very different. The Scottish National Party won a landslide victory of 56 out of a total of 59 seats, a curious result considering that just 8 months ago, the Scottish people voted against Scottish independence. I have no idea what message that is supposed to send to the rest of the country, except that I suspect many Scottish people hoped the Nationalists would form a coalition with Labour, and that they would get a government with policies heavily favouring Scottish interests. That didn’t happen. Instead the SNP will be a small voice of protest among the opposition.

SNP conference 2013

The Liberals and Greens won very few seats, and The UK Independence Party was crushed, with its charismatic (but slightly bonkers) leader Nigel Farage resigning, leaving the party in disarray.

farage_laughing

The Labour Party lost a lot of seats, and also its leader. In fact, this is a long-term theme of British politics – the only Labour Leader who led the party to victory in the past 40 years was Tony Blair, and few in the current Labour Party seem to be interested in his pleas for the Party to embrace the centre ground of British politics.

miliband_1726276c_2355993a

On the whole, it seems that most British voters (excluding Scotland) rejected the divisive politics of the left. They seemed to realize that a government that doesn’t support wealth creation isn’t going to do anybody any good (perhaps especially the most disadvantaged in society.) Perhaps they don’t really identify with a 19th century mindset that portrays everyone as being either an oppressed worker or a toff. Or maybe they just couldn’t vote for the party that crashed the economy so spectacularly last time it was in government.

UK-deficit

It’s possible that even traditional Labour voters grew tired of the party’s endless whining that the Tories’ economic policies were failing Britain. Perhaps a sizeable proportion of the two million people lifted out of unemployment in the past five years were once Labour voters.

lms-july-14-gif.0

British voters are generally a moderate lot, tending to prefer the middle ground. We don’t like people advocating the politics of hate or division. Unlike many European countries (not mentioning any in particular), communists and fascists have never made any inroads into British politics. We seem to be pragmatic, not idealistic.

Concepts like freedom of speech and protest aren’t really very prominent in British political thinking either. Instead of a right to free speech, British people seem to prefer a notion of fairplay, where everyone is given a chance to say freely what’s on their mind, but not if they start to rant or sound like an idiot. Similarly, we don’t really go in for French-style protests, instead preferring people to keep their problems to themselves and not go shouting about them in public.

There is a problem of apathy in the UK, with a significant minority who choose not to vote and seem to have no interest in politics. But perhaps even this isn’t the huge issue that the chattering classes think. Perhaps these people instinctively understand that politicians can’t solve their daily problems for them, and that most of the issues that we have to face in life are really up to us to deal with, not some distant government.

There are a few people like Russell Brand making a lot of noise about out-of-touch global elites, but even he can just jump into his private jet and escape for a while if it all gets too much.

russellbrandprivatejetjpg

I’m not a member of the Conservative Party, and there are many policies in their manifesto that I don’t support. Yet like the majority of people in England and Wales, I voted Conservative. I don’t think David Cameron is a truly great Prime Minister (although I’m willing to be proved wrong), but I think that he’s a very popular and competent one, whose heart is firmly in the right place. I think he understands the British people a lot better than the leaders of the other parties, and perhaps many in the media too. He knows that the British people will vote for a leader with a proven track record of job creation and economic growth, and a strong commitment to decency and fairplay (that f-word again.)

And that’s why Britain will have a Conservative government for the next five years.

Personally, I hope that this will result in a period of strong economic growth, with millions more lifted out of unemployment, and with the majority of people left to get on with their lives without too much government interference. I’m hoping also for a more inclusive style of politics, with broad acceptance that wealth creation is the engine of the economy, creating prosperity for all of us, either directly through employment, or via the safety net of the welfare state, and without it we all lose. I’d like to see us moving on from some of the old battlegrounds, and tackling issues that really matter. And I’d like to see a government that will empower the people of Britain.

Who knows, it might even bring in a new golden age. That’s what I’m hoping for.

Advertisements

14 responses to “Election aftermath

  1. “Hariod, I don’t want to get drawn into a discussion of political parties on this blog, as it gets divisive, and anyway I don’t support any.” – Comment from your ‘Election Angst’ post.

    I could disagree with much of what you say here Steve, though suspect it would not prove to be of benefit to anyone. In my view it was largely Miliband that was rejected, rather than any party of the left, as patently there are none, with the possible exception of The Green Party.

    “. . . like the majority of people in England and Wales, I voted Conservative.” That seems a rather selective statistic if I may say so Steve, as 39% of all those who voted, voted Conservative, and 61% did not. Why quote a stat for only 2 of the 4 countries participating in the election?

    Sadly, I cannot share your optimism, but then I could not have shared anyone’s optimism had Labour achieved victory, they being similarly bound by forces beyond either their ability, or desire, to control. As to the myth of so-called Free Trade and its promise of “a new golden age”, then I think that fanciful notion was put to bed a long time ago.

    I do hope you will not object to me disagreeing with you Steve, and am sure that will not be the case given your support to the effect that “everyone is given a chance to say freely what’s on their mind”.

    All best wishes, and congratulations,

    Hariod.

  2. Harriod, thanks for your comments. I know that you intended to vote Green, so I wasn’t expecting you to agree with me on any political questions. This blog is a vehicle for me to get things off my mind, and I’m not really expecting many likes for this post, especially as most of my readers are American and will no doubt withhold any judgement. I don’t really mind if no one likes or comments. I am glad that you chose to make a comment rather than to “unlike” my blog, as we have many things in common that are of interest to discuss, and politics, as I have indicated, has little impact on much of what we do and think.

  3. Thanks for the schooling on UK politics. I feel better informed, although I could probably use a point/counterpoint argument from the Liberal side. One curiosity though. You open by saying that people voted for the party “that promised to help ‘hard-working families.'” In the U.S., ALL parties promise to help hard-working families (and one is left to figure out for oneself which party is serious about it). Is this not so in the UK?

    • Others may have different opinions (see Hariod above if you want a counter-argument), although for once I find myself in the mainstream of thinking, and not on the fringe 🙂

      “Helping hard-working families” was the Conservative’s election slogan, and I do of course use it firmly with tongue in cheek. There was, alas, no party promising to do its best for lazy good-for-nothing families.

    • Just on this point you guys raise about the ‘mainstream’, it is worth here looking at the actual data:

      Total eligible electorate: 46,425,386
      Total voting Conservative: 11,334,920
      Increase in Conservative vote this election: 0.8%
      Conservative as %age of electorate: 24.41%
      Electoral turnout: 66.1%

      Clearly, if there is ‘mainstream’, it is not a Conservative one. In fact, the ‘politically apathetic’ [i.e. non-voters] are the single largest bloc, representing 33.9% of the total eligible electorate.

      Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election/2015/results

  4. Congratulations (or condolences) on your entry into the mainstream! I would guess that Labor made similar claims although it sounds like Conservatives got the slogan. Here, again, both major parties claim to “fight for hard-working families,” while one party is accused of using that claim to support lazy parasites at the bottom of the wealth spectrum and the other party is accused of using that claim to support lazy parasites at the top of the wealth spectrum. And many “hard-working families” would say both accusations are correct!

  5. The English people voted for the Conservatives probably because they were worried about a Labour and SNP coalition.

    I am not a conservative but let us both hope that Britain will have a more brighter and prosperous future!

  6. Speaking as an outsider here, I’m struck by how wrong the polling was on this election. I’ve seen a fair amount of speculation that last minute statements made by the SNP, and the prospect of a coalition between them and Labour, caused a lot of English and Wales voters to switch to the Conservatives. Other speculation was that British voters simply didn’t like admitting to pollsters that they planned to vote Conservative. I’d be curious to know what Steve or any of the other Brits here think of those theories.

    • Yes, I’ve heard both those theories. Both sound plausible, and as a scientist you know that I would want them to be tested, so find out whether there is a systematic left-bias in such polls. If there was, I would have thought that it would be a known factor in previous election polls.

      • Thanks. Yes, bias is pretty tough to eliminate in polling. Apparently projections from polls involve a lot of assumptions based on past elections, such as the propensity of certain demographics to vote. Shifts in those propensities can throw the projections off. So, I guess the theories are really special cases of 1) bias in the polling vs 2) last minute changes in sentiment, factors that exist in every election. And, of course, there’s always the possibility that the published polls themselves had some effect.

        Anyway, it sounds like the UK has some major turning points coming up (Scottish independence again?, UK membership in the EU, etc). Best of luck. I hope it all works out for the best.

        • Yes, the Scottish Nationalists say they won’t be pushing for another independence referendum, but you know politicians. As for UK membership of the EU, I’d be very surprised if the British people voted to leave. Hopefully, the referendum will simply lay this issue to rest for a while.

  7. You said, “broad acceptance that wealth creation is the engine of the economy, creating prosperity for all of us”. Were this a tautology, economists would have been out of a job a long time ago. Unfortunately for us (but fortunately for them, I guess), it really isn’t. Wealth creation alone doesn’t ensure prosperity for all. You only have to look at the old feudal systems to realise that. As for Labour “crashing the economy so spectacularly” the extent to which they did that was, in large part, due to their continuation of Thatcherite Conservative economic policies with regard to corporations, the housing bubble, and the top earners in the country. The government borrowing was excessive, but wasn’t sufficient alone to cause the economy to crash – had it been so, the recession wouldn’t have affected other countries before affecting the UK. I’m sorry, but that kind of economic analysis is plainly naive.

    You talk about trickle-down economic principles as if the welfare state really will act as a safety net when it is being severely undermined in a variety of ways by the current government. Without even getting into a discussion of how trickle-down economic theory is highly flawed in and of itself, the idea that creating wealth will result in the welfare state continuing to be funded is a completely baseless assumption.

    As a fully paid-up member of the middle/upper-middle classes, it seems pretty obvious to me that wealth creation coupled with increasing inequality is only going to make civil society worse for most of us instead of better for all. That’s why I didn’t vote Conservative – I want people to pull their weight, but I don’t want a free-for-some that means others don’t have a chance. And that’s very sadly what the current Conservative government stand for. Cameron is Baldwinian One-Nation-Toryism in mere rhetoric alone. His actions while leader speak very differently.

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment in such detail, Sarah, however I actually disagree with almost everything you said. It seems that the Labour leadership candidates also want to move the party more towards the middle ground and away from the old-style politics of Ed Miliband.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s