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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