Despite a lot of churn in the polls the final week of campaigning in the British general election looks set to end with the re-election of the current Conservative Party government on Thursday. The main question now, aside from the accuracy of the polling, is the possible size of the Tory majority in the House of Commons. Most educated observers seem to be betting on a margin of twenty to forty seats in favour of Boris Johnson, partly based on some interesting polls coming out of Wales and Scotland. In the Welsh constituencies, and as in the Brexit referendum of 2016, a major factor seems to be the influence of migrant voters from England, particularly retirees, which may be tipping the likely outcome for Westminster in favour of the Conservatives.
Of course this is a discussion that makes a number of people uncomfortable and for obvious reasons with the rise of more toxic forms of populist nationalism but recent studies have pointed towards the emergence of a distinctive English voting bloc in some parts of the Principality. Which bodes less than well in the forthcoming election for the Labour Party, Lib Dems, Greens and even Plaid Cymru – which had looked like it might benefit from growing restlessness over the normally somnolent constitutional question – as the Remain or quasi-Remain parties lose seats that they can ill afford to lose if the Tories are to be booted out of office.
There are similar worries in the Scottish constituencies, though the polling is more mixed north of the border. Boris Johnson’s party seems to be not just holding its own but might actually be gaining ground at the expense of Labour as pro-union, pro-Brexit voters abandon their traditional voting habits. I’ve seen widely different predictions of how the SNP might fare, from wiping the floor with the unionist parties to standing still or even losing seats. I’ll leave the predictions to others better informed about the electoral churn on the ground.
More generally, this seems to be very much Boris Johnson’s election to lose as he faces his biggest opponent: himself. If his handlers can avoid adding to his ever-growing list of egregious gaffs with the press and the public he should be best placed for a return to Downing Street. Meanwhile Jeremy Corbyn, besieged by an almost universally hostile news media and the odd obsessive celebrity with no appreciation of history or the truth, is unlikely to achieve his dream of taking high office. Which is not just a shame for Britain but also for Ireland as Corbyn and his deputy John McDonnell would have been this country’s two closest political allies to enter government in London. Here’s hoping that the polls are wrong.
Meanwhile, from the right-libertarian converts at Spiked:
When the IRA directed a campaign of terror across the United Kingdom, Corbyn empathised with their ‘plight’…
For those who remember the ideological origins of the online magazine, and the wannabe revolutionary personal histories of most of its editors and writers, this is hilarious in all sorts of ways.
“UK Polling Favours Boris Johnson And The Tories..”
Hardly a surprize considering that all major elections are rigged.
If you have yet to come to this conclusion you need to get on the ball.
As Stalin once mused “It’s not those who vote, but those who count the votes that matter”
Well elections in the UK aren’t rigged, beyond the normal biases of the press and the influence of big business interests. If they were rigged SF would never have established an electoral power base in the 6 Cos during the 1980s and ’90s. Like, why the Thatcher media bans on SF if the British could have simply rigged the votes? That is not deny the malign influence of certain political actors but generally UK elections are fair. Well, fair as they can be under the awful FPTP system. That should be the real subject of ire and debate. Why does the political duopoly at Westminster favour FPTP so much?
The UK elections are rigged at the candidate selection process.
Saying they weren’t rigged in the 1980’s or 1990’s doesn’t prove they couldn’t be now. Even if Thatcher rigged votes, I can think of a lot of reasons she might want to ban SF on British media. She likely viewed media coverage as a form of legitimization-something they hot to avoid. Sympathy in England, Scotland, or Wales were probably something she wanted to keep at a minimum-even if that only affect a small minority of the population. Anyhow enough time has elapsed since the 90’s for things to have changed a good deal in Britain’s elections.
As of yet, there’s no evidence of straight up tampering with voting machines or deep sixing paper ballots, but I wouldn’t rule out others things such as home grown and/or foreign based (Putin’s among others) Troll Farms, vote buying, or suppression.
As for the whole mj/pl voting system…..you’ve a bit of a hobby horse on that point. Britain might have deeper problems than that. For one thing, the British government and establishment and government has an unbelievable penchant for always going with “overdetermined-overdetermined and ol’ predictable”. In other words, to pick the course, of action where they expect very few or no surprises. Since they expected Brexit to more or less confirm the status quo-and it didn’t-they’ve nowhere to turn. They’ve painted themselves into the corner and have no real model for getting out. That’s British Empiricism for you.
I’d be surprised too if a UK election was distorted so blatantly as direct interference with ballots. For a start there’s the issue with FPTP that seats become ‘safe’ for either the LP or Tories, or less often LDs. That is a huge systemic obstacle to other parties making any sort of gains and it doesn’t have to be rigged in the slightest – albeit I’d add ‘at this stage’. Still, I’d also agree that troll farms vote buying etc could be a feature in parts. I’d also somewhat agree with gendjinn – party selection processes etc are no picnic.
All that aside that’s some turnaround by the Spiked crew – one thing they were very consistent about until recently was support for Irish republicanism and the armed struggle. That they’ve retreated from that into tabloidesque language tells its own story, doesn’t it?
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It seems one solution to Britain’s “locked” districts, could be “slimming down” The House of Commons. 650 members is big enough to make for an unruly legislature. It seems to me that they could easily cut The House of Commons down to 500, 450 or 400 or maybe even as low as 350. That would mean that the population of each district increases by at least 1.3 fold. If they use a computer program designed to be fair in order to pick those district-to avoid gerrymandering-, that would probably mean most British districts become at least somewhat more ideologically and socially diverse.
Having talked to Britons and looked at a lot of commentary, one big problem British especially English politics is that they have an extreme aversion to sharing a political districts with anyone who isn’t socially, demographically, and ideologically more or less exactly like themselves or even has a different accent from their own in some cases!!! I’ve read some objections to more local govt, Federalization, English Parliament, or replacing the House of Lords with an elected body of maybe 50-200 officials. They always seems to complain about being placed in a district that mixes urban and rural, or about designating “regions” of England that are diverse (socially, economically, politically) and “have no historic basis” get placed together into political or Federal Districts!!!!
Of course, it’s unrealistic that a Federal Britain or England, or any future where English politics is anything but an extremely overdetermined end-run, is going to work out if they don’t get used to voting in districts or even persuading people who are NOT just like themselves.
That’s a really interesting thought Grace, id never considered that before, but I think there’s a lot in the idea of a need for homogenous communities etc in the UK.
I wonder if this belief in homogeneous communities and political units was the reason they partitioned so many of their colonies!!!!!! After all Gandhi’s response to the idea that Muslims needed a separate country was “All nations have religious minorities.” which apparently didn’t convince the British in the end.
They are completely unrealistic about that across the board. Britain has too many districts/constituencies (although Parliament’s quorum is bizarrely low) and England alone is probably too big not to be Federalized. However if you tell them-especially the English-that they might have to share a political district with people who may differ from them and their immediate community (primary employers, economies, urban/rural, political ideologies, ethnicity, religion and even flipping accents) they will howl like panicking dogs.
I know that as a denizen of a heavily federalized nation there is no way I can get politically involved on even the most local of levels without being up to my elbows in every kind sort of diversity (Socio-economic status, ethnicity, race, religion, occupation, biographies. Even the fact I speak Spanish is considered my most sought after skill despite years as an activist.) Why the English are so averse to anything but absolute homogeneity……makes them look sort of stupid and spoiled actually.
er…How would reducing “the House of Commons down to 500, 450 or 400 or maybe even as low as 350 … mean that the population of each district increases by at least 13 fold”? Why is “an unruly legislature” undemocratic? Surely a legislature that refuses to unthinkingly obey the government is preferable.
In fact many Parliamentary constituencies are made up of people who are socially very different from one another: Kensington, for example, one of the wealthiest constituencies, has a large number of poorer areas and returned a Labour MP at the last general election. The fact that many of the wealthy people are foreign kleptocrats unable to vote does have some effect, however.
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The answer is 1.3 fold not 13. Note the decimal point here. It’s fairly simply. Fewer districts means more people in each one. That way there’s almost guaranteed to be more ideological diversity in many of them. Making fewer “locked” districts. The fact that some districts have rich and poor (unavoidable in real world) doesn’t negate the idea that the UK’s too many districts is driven by aversion to diverse districts.
An unruly legislature has nothing to do with free thought. It has to do with having an unmanageable size. Indeed Parliament in the UK (even compared to other Parliaments that have largely copied it) is set up so that when on party is in power that part is in power. Members of that part get little latitude, and the opposition party gets little beyond its beyond opportunity to interrogate the Prime Minister-few chances to get an input or compromises on legislation.
How does more people in each district guarantee “more ideological diversity in many of them.”? It’s likely to guarantee more people, who are no more diverse politically, Proportional representation of one kind or another, would enable eideological diversity, but the British public resoudingly rejected it.
An unruly legislature has everything to do with freedom of opinion. If Johnsin had had a ruly legislature – which he is trying to get in the next parliament – he would never have needed to dissolve parliament at all. It is the fact that members of his party had and exercised their latitude that stymied him.
An unruly legislature is one where there are simply too many members for productive debate. Once a House or Assembly ends up with more than 550 people it tends to become a problem.
Indeed if a district has more people it might mean that they can’t confine these districts to a very homogeneous cross section-or at least can’t do so as easily.
UK BALLOT PAPERS ARE RIGGED
UK ballot papers have a registration number that can be traced to the person who voted,
“Today, to prevent fraud, every ballot paper carries a Serial number as well as a unique official mark. This means that, although the ballot in UK elections is supposed to be secret, it is theoretically possible to trace each vote to the voter who cast it. It is, however, illegal to do so.”
During the ’60s and 70s this surveillance was used to trace in particular UK civil servants who voted for the Communist Party.
They talked about having the same registration on ballots as well in Ireland( great to track subversives?) back in the day but the Constitution is clear on the anonymity of the Irish ballot paper and election process.
Wouldn’t any such number contradict the idea of “Secret Ballot”?
“During the ’60s and 70s this surveillance was used to trace in particular UK civil servants who voted for the Communist Party.”
I think that’s an urban myth – it was introduced to prevent personation, especially when people who have died but are still on the electoral register are used as electoral fodder.
In Britain, unlike the North, you don’t need photographic I.d to vote. Just saying. Be that as it may, it should be obvious a sizeable amount of labour folk are voting Tory due to brexit. Some people have their beliefs and can’t be faulted for sticking to them I.e they likely agreed all those years ago with Corbyn that being in the EU was wrong; they can’t help still believing that despite Corbyn flipping. If Corbyn had honoured the brexit result today’s results could’ve been all so different.
PR is a scam by politicians to give themselves jobs for life. The electorate know that PR is a formula designed by politicians for their enslavement. The sudden and public execution of FPTP suits the English mentality: but it is not so popular with politicians.
The genius of FPTP is the instinct that it inspires in politicians: that of survival and saving their own necks in the face of government unpopularity and to act in a way that any PR system wouldn’t.
With PR we would never ever get rid of the troughers. PR systems deliver the least public accountability, little if any local accountability, the most control by party machines, the weakest governments, the worst type of pork-barrel politics and governments which are always held hostage by minority groups.
Which is why FPTP won – and will win again.
interesting piece – guido well worth reading: his mother was a Cronin incidentally.
Met Guido years back, late 00s. He was actually quite proud of his Irish associations. No fan of his politics but give him his due, he’s an intelligent guy even if massively partisan to the conservative right.
Staines is a fascinating character, lived on and off here for some years and one of those Britnats who is enthusiastic about Brexit while safe in the knowledge that his Irish-EU passport is in his back pocket. His Irish reporting of recent years has been pretty obnoxious, encouraging a lot of extremist rhetoric in his UK readership. But like you say, intelligent guy and a real blogger-activist.
Yeah, deeply obnoxious re Ireland. It’s an odd one.
Staines started off in right wing politics of as a employee of David Hart. Hart was a Thatcher worshipper who played a important part in breaking the Miners Strike. He ran the Committee for a Free Britain and was a willing tool of the Security Services.
Ah yeah, Hart. He was something else, had those black lists of employees, etc.
Well done to Boris he has done more for a United Ireland than any British politician in history. I see little Jeffrey has refused to back his party leader so I guess Arlene is on her way out. Hopefully the DUP will pick someone like Gregory Campbell or Edwin Poots as her replacement. Well done to Mr Farry in North Down I didn’t think the good people of the Gold Coast would lower themselves into the gutter by electing a DUP MP. Never seen so much talk of a United Ireland in the most unlikely of places in my life. But I still think Scotland will go first.
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