British Election for Dummies: Churchillian Reflections from Afar

British Election for Dummies: Churchillian Reflections from Afar

…In which an igno­rant Yank with a slight remem­brance of his­to­ry pon­ders the impli­ca­tions. (Friends in Hert­ford­shire write: “What an elec­tion. Let’s hope now we can move on and sort this coun­try out and become Great Britain again.🇬🇧“) Elec­toral map image repro­duced under the Cre­ative Com­mons-Share Alike 4.0 Inter­na­tion­al license. For a detailed map with results by name or con­stituen­cy, see Bloomberg News.
Piers Mor­gan on ardent anti-Brex­it actor Hugh Grant:
“Hugh’s sor­ry now. Corbyn’s celebri­ty fans weep into their almond milk lattes.”
Note: Even Grant approved Johnson’s cam­paign ad, spun off of Hugh’s charm­ing film “Love Actu­al­ly.” This must be the best polit­i­cal ad of the year.

Election Impressions…

The first thought that occurs is that a nation whose politi­cians assured us was fatal­ly divid­ed was not so divid­ed after all. Not at least in the way it vot­ed. The notion of a big rur­al-urban divide is also sus­pect, giv­en the vast Tory vote in urban Midlands.
Elec­tion polls pre­dict­ed a Con­ser­v­a­tive plu­ral­i­ty between 45 to 86 over all oth­er par­ties com­bined. They end­ed up with 80. The media pre­dict­ed as low as a bare major­i­ty or a hung Par­lia­ment. Some hoped this would allow Labour Par­ty leader Jere­my Cor­byn to call in enough chips from the splin­ter par­ties to form a coali­tion. That was the night­mare sce­nario that caused vot­ers to give Labour its worst beat­ing since 1935. (More about 1935 later.)*

Colo[u]rful Candidates

My favorite Vic­to­ri­an, Jacob Rees-Mogg, was said to be in dan­ger in North East Som­er­set after an ill-judged remark about the 2017 Gren­fell Tow­er dis­as­ter. He net­ted 28,360 votes, 3000 more than Labour and the Lib­er­al Democ­rats com­bined. I hope Prime Min­is­ter John­son feels strong enough to leave JRM Leader of the House of Com­mons, a dab of colo[u]r amidst the sea of grey.
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British pol­i­tics is such fun! In Jere­my Corbyn’s Isling­ton, “Nick the Brick” of the Mon­ster Rav­ing Loony Par­ty got 236 votes. In Uxbridge, Boris John­son con­grat­u­lat­ed the MRLP’s Lord Buck­et­head, who got 125. Alas Ed Balls (Lab.) and Mark Reck­less (UKIP) were not run­ning. The for­mi­da­ble grey wolf Den­nis Skin­ner, “Beast of Bolsover,” lost his seat just short of 50 years on the job. We are real­ly going to miss Den­nis at his worst, er, best.

Election Anomalies

Labour near­ly van­ished in Scot­land, and omi­nous patch­es of Tory blue appeared in the Mid­lands and Wales, where in some places they hadn’t elect­ed a Con­ser­v­a­tive for 100 years.
Nigel Farage‘s Brex­it Par­ty‘s ear­ly bid for seats evap­o­rat­ed as vot­ers came to accept Boris’ pro­posed EU deal might be as good as it gets, despite much to be nego­ti­at­ed lat­er, like fish­eries. But the Brex­it Par­ty had enough resid­ual hard­line votes to cost Labour wins in some once-safe con­stituen­cies. Farage’s deci­sion not to con­test Tory con­stituen­cies, says The Guardianwas a “mon­u­men­tal” con­tri­bu­tion to Johnson’s sweep.
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North­ern Ire­land is an inde­ter­mi­nate soup and the DUP union­ists lost their lever­age. (In the pre­vi­ous Par­lia­ment their coali­tion with the Tories sus­tained Johnson’s gov­ern­ment.) The Scot­tish Nation­al Par­ty didn’t take the 50+ seats pre­dict­ed but got 48 and dom­i­nate Scot­land. Vot­ing SNP is a trib­al thing in Scot­land. It will be so until Scots real­ize it costs them influ­ence. Mr. Johnson’s oppor­tu­ni­ty is to con­vince Scots that get­ting out of the Euro­pean Union is bet­ter than get­ting out of the UK. Tall order. But Mr. Trump has already promised a US-UK trade deal as soon as Britain is free. That will help. At least they don’t have to “go to the back of the queue,” per Mr. Obama.

Brexit Implications

Great Britain’s depar­ture from the Euro­pean Union by the end of Jan­u­ary is now vir­tu­al­ly cer­tain. But a man­date this big caus­es the EU to tread more light­ly in nego­ti­at­ing Britain’s depar­ture. No longer can they count on a frac­tured, pro-Remain Par­lia­ment to cause a prime min­is­ter to come a-begging.
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Con­verse­ly, the land­slide vote gives John­son a bet­ter chance to bar­gain with the fail-safe spec­tre of a no-deal Brex­it. Oooo, scary! That should help him end up with more of what Britain wants and less of what Brus­sels wants.

* Now about 1935….

In 1935 the Con­ser­v­a­tives took 387 seats, com­pa­ra­ble to today’s 365. Prime Min­is­ter Stan­ley Bald­win right­ly fan­cied this a man­date. But he wrong­ly thought he could waf­fle and bum­ble and not pay much atten­tion to the people’s busi­ness. In the next election—despite the most charis­mat­ic prime min­is­ter since Dis­raeli—Labour won 393 seats and the Tories took their worst drub­bing in 40 years.
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That charis­mat­ic prime min­is­ter was Win­ston Churchill, who said, “Trust the peo­ple.” He also said:

“Let not the slothful chortle.”

5 thoughts on “British Election for Dummies: Churchillian Reflections from Afar

  1. Only from the Mas­ter of English! 

    British pol­i­tics is such fun. Check out this 2017 blind date between Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson’s sister!

    Imag­ine that between Nan­cy Pelosi and Don­ald Trump. Incon­ceiv­able. Eliz­a­beth War­ren and Jim Jor­dan? Pre­pos­ter­ous. Niki Haley and Pete Buttigieg? Well….maybe. Churchillian col­le­gial­i­ty still exists in pockets–more over there than over here.

  2. I nev­er thought I would read a sen­tence that con­tained both “chor­tle” and “sloth,” let alone a 5-word sen­tence! And, a Par­lia­ment with­out “Reck­less” and “Balls” defies the the nat­ur­al order of things. Lev­i­ty aside, a won­der­ful take on what it all means!

  3. Pos­si­bly the best sum­ma­ry I’ve read today. Not too shab­by for an ‘igno­rant yank’! ;)

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