Election Reflections

Anyone using 20-20 hindsight to claim that they foresaw the scale of the Conservative victory is fibbing/lying - or to use a word in vogue - being mendacious.

So to the formulaic responses from the defeated major party. The primary one is that our policies were good but thet we did not communicate them well enough. This attempts to retain the purity of the ideology, something vital to the leftward-driven Labour Party, and to diffuse the opprobrium of failure.

Next comes blame on the mainstream media. But consider how far political voices will excoriate any broadcaster or journalist when their own faction is being criticised or held to account, but will behave differently when the other lot are under attack. In The Merchant of Venice Shylock acclaims Portia: 'Oh wise and upright judge", when she in her judge guise declares that he is entitled to his pound of flesh, but depairs when it becomes clear that the deal is flesh and no blood.

And there is the cry, familiar to those of us of a certain generation, that we need proportional representation. This probably comes out even more loudly when there is a stonking majority - Boris speak - as the Conservatives got 43.8% of the popular vote. There is a useful debate on this, but if Labour had gained a majority then the issue would not have been raised from their side, and perhaps those in favour should look at the paralysing effect of the alternative in countries such as Italy and Israel. Also, you don't have to go outside the UK to recall the fragility of the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition from 2010 to 2015.

So how did we get to this result? Better brains than I have cogitated on this, but I reckon that the telling factor is correctly or not gauging the underlying pre-campaign mood of the electorate, or perhaps moods as distributed around the country. Here the Conservatives divined the thinking of the so-called Red Wall Labour constituencies, and the strongholds crumbled as easily as Boris driving his JCB through polystyrene.

However, why on earth so, when individuals switched to the Tories after decades of family/community support? First answer: there is something visceral about the way many vote, and the sense of disillusionment from the Referendum vote not being seen as respected was key. Second answer, and this is not patronising the working class: if you have to manage your family finances carefully, you will be sceptical about the ability of a big spender government to manage the country's economy effectively. Third answer: traditional Labour voters care about national security, and Corbyn's ambivalent attitude did not work in his favour.

More broadly in the UK there was evidently some sense of needing to move on. Even if you had voted Remain, as I did, it felt as though the mood in the electorate was for getting Brexit done, despite worthy MPs advancing the argument that when we voted in 2016 we had little idea of the exact impact of a Leave victory and the detailed implications for the country. 

Yes, getting Brexit done, the phrase endlessly repeated, and nauseously so in the leadership debates. Yet again though it is the simple message that gets through, and sits powerfully alongside the bowl of spaghetti that was the Labour manifesto, or perhaps the manifesto was better described as spaghetti thrown remorselessly and confusingly against a wall in the hope that some of it would stick. 

Labour can have no complaints, though if you go on Twitter you will see the expletive-laden denunciation of those who voted Conservative. But the people are largely shouting to agree with each other, and maybe there is a wider theme here - Jeremy Corbyn loved the rallies of the adoring faithful, but Labour seems to have forgotten that there is more to the electorate than these people. Various folk have pointed out Labour's deficiency - it has forgotten how to win elections.

Finally, anti-semitism. Which is all about Israel and Corbynista anti-capitalist views. Corbyn does not do shouty extremist rants, and generally presents as the fount of reasonableness, which is why his anti-Israel views are more difficult to pin down. Why in all the leader interviews did he not get a question on whether he accepted the right of Israel to exist in some form? Cue some conspiracy theory that the Jews masterminded the Election result.

This is not a paean to the Conservative Party. Few are comfortable at this point with Boris as a leader, and I flinched when I saw the braying suited Tories celebrating at various counts. 

However, if I put myself anywhere it would be as a one-nation Conservative, so I just hope that the party delivers - it is going to be a tough ask.

 

 

 

Comments

Hi Colin, I appreciate your well measured response above. I did vote Conservative although it did little for me in the London Labour bubble. I believe that Boris one nation conservatism can and will work. I have met him on occasion whilst he was mayor of London and once afterwards. He has always impressed me as a genuine person and I wish him well.