Random rambling thoughts on the UK election

26 Apr

A general election in the United Kingdom is always a wonderful thing to observe. Even from afar. More entertaining than a French one. More dynamic than the US, more constrained than an Italian. It’s a thing of wonder. Even from afar. Is it important ? Does it matter ? I don’t know.

The ritualism is still alive, the mix of tradition mixed with slight modernity and innovation, it is simply the farmers market of elections. And this one in particular looks like it is providing more entertainment than normal. It is an election that gives leaders debates without leaders, where candidates who no one can vote for ( I know they are not candidates ) seem more relevant than many of the candidates you can vote for. An election where everyone knows the outcome but no one knows the result.

And yet , it’s all so tedious. Do elections matter ? Of course they dont…both in terms of power and interms of the actual result. Most people wont change their minds in 4 weeks if they havent over 4 years…and even if they do, even if the blue team beat the red team does it make a big difference.

But the election spectacle. I shall remember the 2015 UK election for one story and one story alone. The UKIP candidate investigated by the Police for selling sausage rolls at a meet Jimmy White snooker event fundraiser. This is the work of Chris Morris for sure.

Its odd now that the UK has debates. The last election the debates overtook everything to the expense of many traditional aspects of the leaders campaigns and from an outcome point of view added little. This time they have been nullified, run to ground, happened but not really. There was a 57 way bun fight where oddly Plaid Cymru were at but the Democratic Unionists werent. I’m sure there’s a story to it but what does it say ? The Nationalists did well from the debates but that’s another story. Nullification seems to be everyone’s strategy these days.

The general media story though is one of the potential coalitions. Maybe it’s because I remember 1992, but somehow I still hold out a small doubt, despite everything. Maybe one party Government is over…maybe not. This seems to be driving a unseemingly large amount of polls. There is a problem with measuring the same thing over and over, it creates its own randomness. There is simpleness to the polls that you overlook at your peril. The major parties have ground each other into a stalemate. Nothing is moving…yet.

The risk for Labour is that the Tories are trying hard to make this 1992, there is a constant fear factor put around about being held to ransom by the SNP. Just pause for a minute on that. 8 months ago these same politicians were desperate to keep Scotland in the union…and now they are calling the elected Mps out as immoral. Its democracy you idiots. Oddly Cameron would be home and dry if Scotland had gone..so the position is illogical on so many levels.

The other election from the past that gets bandied about is 1974. This isn’t 1974. The parallel that fits is the risk of a party not getting a majority , and also the most votes not getting the most seats. There is a major difference though. 1974 had 2 main players and one minor. The rise in votes for celtic nationalism was significant but not powerful. This time we have so many players at the table, the main parties seem to be unable to make a coalition without at least 2 or 3 others. Some of these are strange bedfellows. The Conservatives it appears will need the homophobic DUP, the party that hates foreigners who are ill in UKIP plus a party that espouses to be liberal and democratic…make that one work Dave ? Labour will need the Scottish Nationalists even though they opposed Scottish nationalism at the referendum. In 74 the parties had the option of another election, now this isn’t the case with the strange Fixed Term election act which went in under many people’s radar. We could have a change of Government mid term with no recourse to the electorate, rather like in Gladstone’s day.  There is also a feel that this election might break the system or reflects that it is broken. A second inconclusive election is dangerous, especially if say UKIP get 14% of the vote and the Lib Dems 12%, but between them they may only get 10% of the seats. A democratic issue whatever you feel about those two parties. Similarly the SNP , or DUP for that matter will be over represented. Someone should advocate for a change to the system ! Oddly the debate isnt surfacing, but it may well after the fact. This may be what keeps happening until people realise the system is broken.

This election does seem to be the first one to see the full effects of the devolution that occurred in the 90s. Now we have separate power structures. The Welsh and Scottish nationalists are well armed campaign machines. They have agendas and power bases they didn’t have in the past. They are playing multiple sources of power against each other….and the reaction sadly focusses on the fact that the two leaders are women and what they wear and sound like or look like. The media though seem apoplectic at this election. For a start they have Milliband, his father was an immigrant marxist, he used to work for Gordon Brown. What more do the tabloids need to dispose him. Oh apparently he didn’t marry his first or even second girlfriend ( this is 2015 remember !) which seems to have caused huge alarm.

The Tories to much amusement have released their 3 top weapons. First unleash the anti scottish brigade, then unleash the Johnson and finally unleash the Major. John Major, a man who never had winner written on him, to make a warning he made in 92,97 and 2001. Labour for its part seemed uncertain about the support of Blair. He still seemed a million miles away from the current leaders, our own Clinton. In oh so many ways. In terms of policy though there is nothing to excite just to consolidate. Non Doms, who even knew that was a thing. So much time seems to be spent on the SNP it’s almost a fetish.

But then there’s still UKIP. Not as stellar as it felt they might have been. Perhaps the spotlight is melting them. Farage is admitting to illness, his candidates have been poorly vetted and come out with all kinds of nonsense. However so does he. His Mps are reasonably quiet, we wonder why ? Farage likes old colonials more than east european. Mmm.

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