Isn’t it so much easier to watch another country go through an election than it is your own?
Yesterday, pundits panted about the close British election. Prime Minister David Cameron was locked in a death battle for his job! It could come down to single votes! The Conservative Party might suffer a terrible defeat!
Except none of that happened.
It wasn’t that close and the Tories won a decisive victory. How great a victory? Political analyst Charlie Cook was in London, observing and here’s his analysis in a nutshell from the National Review.
We were supposed to wake up this morning to a fine old mess. Instead, we have perfect clarity. There will be no coalition building, no backroom deals, and no immediate constitutional crisis. Rather, the Conservative party will form the next government of the United Kingdom — this time, without the need of anybody else’s help. Ed Miliband, the leader of the Labour party, will resign. Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, will resign. Nigel Farage, the leader of the United Kingdom Independence party, will resign. At the end of today, David Cameron will be prime minister once again, and his agenda will remain intact. With this victory, he will become the first PM since 1983 to increase his majority, and the first since 1955 to increase his party’s popular vote. Nobody saw that coming…
All told, the Tories are not the only victors in town. As was predicted, the ascendant Scottish National Party has effectively turned Scotland into a one-party region. Remarkably, it now controls 56 of the 59 constituencies north of the border — a nine-fold increase in its share of Parliament’s seats. In the short term, this development has mostly hurt the Labour party, which has hitherto relied on Scotland as an electoral bulwark. In the long term, though, it is likely to serve as a strong blow to the integrity of the Union. As the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson observes today, the SNP now has 95 percent of Scotland’s seats on just 50 percent of the vote. As a result, Nelson notes, the unionists are now “seriously underrepresented: three MPs now speak for half a nation.” How this will work out in Westminster is anybody’s guess. But one thing is for sure: Talk of the recent Scottish independence referendum’s being “decisive” was decidedly premature.
As for the losers, well . . . it is difficult to imagine how the results could have been any worse. In the last election, Labour won 258 seats. Currently, they hold only 232 of those. Among those who have been lost, moreover, are the shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, and the shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, two bright lights who had been considered possible leaders. They will not prove easy to replace. Worse still, Labour’s disaster was not just regional. Certainly, the unexpected loss of Scotland has hurt the party’s fortunes considerably. Last year, when the electoral boffins were mapping out their campaign, such a wipeout would have been unthinkable. But it is worth recording that Labour did poorly in England, too — perhaps in part because the English worried that a vote for Labour would be a vote for an alliance with the Scottish nationalists…
Elections have consequences, as the old saying goes, and for both the Labour and Liberal Democratic parties, last night’s will augur nothing but ill fortune. The news was no better for the Liberal Democratic party, which has now been all but wiped off the map. Yesterday, the Lib Dems had 57 members of Parliament; today, they have just eight…
Elections have consequences, as the old saying goes, and for both the Labour and Liberal Democratic parties, last night’s will augur nothing but ill fortune. In fact, Sky News’s Faisal Islam observes this morning, both parties “would best see their current predicament as existential crises.” Why? Because the Conservatives now enjoy the power to redraw the nation’s outdated electoral boundaries, and thus to remove the artificial bump that the current configuration accords to both Labour and the Liberal Democrats. If Cameron can win a majority with the deck stacked so harshly against him, this theory goes, one can only imagine what he can do with a level playing field.
The saddest story of the day, perhaps, is that of the U.K. Independence party, which managed to win 3.5 million votes and to come in third overall, but secured only one parliamentary seat. In response, UKIP’s leader, Nigel Farage, made good on his promise and resigned from his role as the party’s frontman. He will play no great role in the future. UKIP as a whole, however, almost certainly will, for while its candidates were thwarted by the United Kingdom’s first-past-the-post electoral system, the party as a whole demonstrated neatly that there is genuine frustration about the European Union and about the U.K.’s broken immigration system that can simply not be ignored…
Ultimately, this general election was about domestic issues of the sort that do not play well to UKIP’s strengths: this time around, the favored topics were the economic recovery, the size of the deficit, the future of the health service, and the morality of welfare reform. In the next five years, however, deeper questions will inevitably intrude upon the public debate, questions relating to the nature of national sovereignty, to the wisdom or folly of federalism in a unitary state, and, eventually, to what the “U.K.” should look like in the 21st century. UKIP — or at least those who voted for them — will be prepared to answer them, and to answer them well. If, in five years’ time, the Conservative party hopes to find itself in a similar position to today’s, it will listen carefully to what UKIP chooses to say.
We can only hope that our 2016 elections also go well for conservatives. If you think the liberals here aren’t worried, consider this: Obama sent David Axelrod to Britain in the hopes of spinning his electoral magic there. It didn’t work, just like it didn’t work in Israel.
Perhaps even the “moderates” have seen the failure of liberalism.