My two ha’pennies worth…
From the perspective of someone whose tribal heart belongs to Labour but who these days feels more inclined to vote Green in the absence of a socialist alternative, I expected to be in mourning today. As it happens I’m no more melancholy than usual. The UK has its first Green MP in Caroline Lucas and the Tories failed to get a majority, so not all bad.
So here are some random thoughts on the UK election, in no particular order and without coherent narrative thread or argument.
It’s been a bad day to be a party leader, that’s for sure. David Cameron at the start of this election looked a certainty for No.10. An election in the middle of a huge recession, facing an unpopular incumbent and he couldn’t achieve a majority. He (and many others) must be scratching their heads. After all, his chief opponent, Gordon Brown, is reportedly loathed by the country, pilloried by the press, gaff-prone and lacking in all David’s telegenic qualities. David’s other younger rival looked like trouble for a couple of minutes but Clegg-mania turned out to be a bit media wishful thinking. And still Cameron couldn’t clinch it.
I’m sure there are a lot of dyed in the wool Tories and Thatcherites looking at the hung parliament and ruminating upon how the Boy Wonder didn’t achieve a landslide. All that effort spent on trying to pretend to like homosexuals and give a toss about the environment, and for what? A potentially unstable administration propped-up by Nick Clegg, trying to guide its way through choppy economic waters that will probably leave the team at the tiller unelectable for a generation. I’ve already heard a few Tories on the radio saying things like ‘I’m not criticising David but…’ I seem to recall that the Tories are pretty ruthless about getting rid of losers.
It’s been a bad day for another leader, Nick Clegg. Those tricky voters told all the pollsters they would vote for him and voted for another.
Actually I’d hate to be Nick Clegg: if he backs the Tories he will demonstrate that he is no ‘progressive’, something which will surely anger a large section of his party who see themselves as a party of the Centre-Left. If he backs Labour, he may be cursed in the eyes of the electorate for rescuing Brown and come the next general election (surely not far away, whatever happens) he’ll get a hammering, even if he secures electoral reform. In short, he’s fucked, isn’t he.
And then there’s Nick Griffin, leader of the BNP. He got ‘smashed’ in Barking. According to the BBC , Mr Griffin said the “hugely high” turnout of 61.8% counted against him. Spoken like a true democrat. If only those pesky voters had stayed home, eh Nick, you’d have walked it?
And what about Peter Robinson. Led his party to another victory but somehow contrived to lose his seat.
Meanwhile Peter’s unionist rival SirReg Empey will be contemplating his future. He must have thought he was backing a winner hitching himself to David Cameron, even though his Unionists lost their only MP in the process. Still what you lose on the swings… well, it seems you never get back. Lady Sylvia romped home in North Down. Even worse for Reg, if his mate David does get into No.10 by some chance, those Leftie Scots might not fancy being ruled by English Tories and decide it’s time to haul down the Union Jack good and proper this time. And then Reg will be the first unionist leader who committed himself to partnership with the one party capable of doing the sort of damage to the United Kingdom that the SNP and Plaid Cymru can only fantasise about. Pure political genius.
Actually, when you think about it, the only leader who’s had a good day is Gordon Brown. He lost an election but he’s the guy with his feet up by the fire in Downing Street tonight.
Meanwhile I hear that the markets have reacted badly to the democratic outcome of the election. How bloody careless of the electorate not to be decisive. Isn’t democracy a real drag. Why can’t we just have free-markets without the bother of democratically elected governments like they do in China?
…now that I come to think of it, it would appear you don’t actually need to win an election to still be PM, so maybe we’re closer to the Chinese model than I thought.