UK Election 2015 – The car crash of the chatterati against reality.
There is a very old expression which very accurately explains what happened in Thursday’s general election – there are none so blind as those who will not look, there are none so deaf as those who will not listen.
To tell you what happened, you might need some background if you happen to be one of those 75% of readers of this blog who’re not residents of Britain. In the weeks leading up to voting day, every opinion poll, every pundit and all the mainstream media outlets bombarded the electorate about how neck and neck the contest was between the Conservative party and the Labour party, who’d nominally represent the right and left respectively of the classical political spectrum.
Given that neither of the main parties could therefore expect an absolute majority, all discussion revolved around what political accommodations could be made with various fringe parties to cobble together some sort of administration. Of course, all the fringe parties started licking their chops and drawing up their list of suitably outrageous demands so they could be negotiated down to play king makers.
Last Sunday, we held our annual birthday BBQ and given the proximity of the election, it was inescapable to discuss the politics. Once you got past the dyed in the wool left or right winger, a lot of people were keeping very quiet. The only thing more unsettling than a threat in politics is an ominous silence.
What was confidently expected to happen didn’t – it was a political bloodbath.
The Conservative party won 331 seats in a house of 650 seats, nearly a hundred more than any other party and an outright majority. It didn’t just stop there though. Labour was eviscerated north of the border by the Scottish Nationalist party. They had company. The Liberal party, who were in alliance with the Conservative party in the previous administration, lost nearly fifty seats south of the border to end up with only eight. They’ll be going to Westminster in a taxi bus from now on.
The Labour leader has resigned, the Liberal leader has resigned and the UKIP leader has resigned, but more about that enigmatic party later.
There are two obvious questions to be asked; how did all the polls and pundits get it so massively wrong and what’s to be done to repair the shattered electoral prospects of the losing parties.
Taking the first one first, because it’s the easy one, the chatterati and their luvvie mates in medialand really wanted Labour to make a strong showing, so that’s what all the polls and informed opinions force-fed down the throats of the electorate. Does that sort of consensual delusion ring any bells with you climate skeptics out there?
Not a single opinion poll reflected what was actually going to happen and I’m sure they were 97% certain that the election was settled politics, so why bother to even vote. They should have walked around our BBQ and counted the silences from a lot of people who actually thought about their politics. As a tactical voter and someone whose politics on certain issues is very much left of centre, my alarm bells were going off because even I was offended at the sheer clumsiness of Labour’s offering.
The Labour offering stank of a musty political statism direct out of the nineteen seventies; vote for me and I’ll tax all the rich people and give all their money to the workers. The party wasn’t talking to anyone else but its own party faithful steeped in the glory days of class conflict that eventually led the labour unions of the working man to their own self-immolation in the eighties. Vote for me and you’ll feel really nice about yourself.
All that huge media pressure to vote for what Labour was good enough to be offering you, rather than policies which addressed your concerns was devastating. Voters looked at a geekish leader whose only claim to fame was stabbing his own brother in the back for the leadership (personal betrayal is never forgiven by an electorate), someone whom they could just see the old lefties loved as did the new ones who hadn’t experienced the political wilderness such policies led to.
People who were self-employed plumbers and carpenters listened to that message and knew who was going to get their ass taxed off; millionaires can afford to employ smart accountants to minimise their tax bill, they couldn’t. Labour were so delusional, so retro, so out of touch with white van man, they were making an appeal based on class war, rather than the across-class politics that’ve been the norm for the last four decades.
North of the border in Scotland, Labour’s not listening problem produced a disaster of epic proportions. A Scottish National party that had gone into the election with only six seats, won all but three of the fifty-nine seats up for grabs. Fifty six seats. Just like that.
When the Scots wanted to talk seriously about devolution, all that was being jammed down their gorge was again class war and as far as they could see, it was all being done indirectly from the fashionable parts of London by fashionable labourite luvvies with their hands jammed up the arses of the local Scottish Labour party puppets. Their perception was spot on. Labour did very well in the London area but once you got outside it, it was a wash of Conservative blue.
As promised, I’ll move back to UKIP or the United Kingdom Independence party. They would be the enfant terrible of the local political landscape. So many people whose politics were essentially centrist, and I mean by that both mellowed right and left wingers, felt themselves orphaned by the two main parties. If you expressed doubts about the transition from an economic union with the EU to a political one, you were somehow just a reactionary whose growing objections could be ignored.
You never got a say in that subtle transition and were somehow being handed a fait accompli. That rankled not only because your views were being ignored but serious local issues became subjects everyone was talking about but which the mainstream parties wouldn’t touch with a bargepole.
You resent handling sovereignty to a bunch of faceless and unelected bureaucrats in Brussels? You’re just a little Englander. You start to have doubts about an immigration policy that’s not only totally out of control but stopping your kids getting a job because the immigrants understandably were prepared to work for lower wages, and suddenly you’re being called a racist. Since when was caring first for your own kith and kin a political crime?
UKIP got those very real issues out from under the not to be mentioned pile and into the mainstream discussion of the election and certainly Labour’s refusal to make any commitments on those issues added to their unelectability. UKIP took 16% of the vote but only one seat out of 650. I rather suspect that demographic is not going to go away, not least because anyone who voted for it had to suffer a barrage of frankly shameful propaganda, not only from both sides of the political divide but pretty much every organ of the mainstream media.
I think being sneered at by the establishment not only hardened their vote but in a curious way made voting for it by the politically alienated under thirties an attractive fight back thing against da man.
Is the Conservative party any better? The short answer is no – they’re just not as inept as the Labour party. But, they saw a jugular and went for it and the general mood seems to be one of relief at no more coalitions. They really didn’t read the popular mood any better than Labour, but after the bruising experience of staying in power for five years, no longer live in quite as high an ivory tower as labour.
Let’s do that second question – what’s to be done to repair the shattered electoral prospects of the losing parties?
The ever smallish Liberal party, whose exact politics most people even if nailed to a barn door really couldn’t define beyond that they’re really nice people, are probably gone for a generation or two. They were always the irrelevant pygmy in the political landscape whose polices were really fragrant, uncosted and because there was no chance of them ever being in power, totally unrealistic.
Unfortunately, given a whiff of power in the coalition, they couldn’t implement a single one of them, broke some big pledges and in the election all their disillusioned luvvie supporters turned on them and devoured them like savage children who’ve suddenly discovered their parents actually have feet of clay.
Labour’s election strategist absolutely knows it was a fault in the messaging of their policies. If they can just improve their communications, they’ll grab power the next time. Again, as a climate skeptic, that rings certain bells. Unless they get their act together and realise it’s not the policies you want to enforce on the electorate but the policies you can offer them to realise their aspirations, they’ll spend another eighteen years in the wilderness until another person comes along who’s prepared to kick the party into electable shape and then go to the country for a mandate. Time will tell.
Learn to listen, learn to look. Voters shape parties, not the reverse.
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