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Sunday, 11 June 2017

General Election of Losers

A long hiatus since my last post as I have been fully occupied with what has turned out to be the most surprising election I can recall, and election totally dominated by losers.

The main loser appears to be Theresa May, who managed to change the question the voters faced from "Who would form the best government?" to "Do you approve/disapprove of the Conservative Party?".  That second question is a far tougher ask just being better than the alternatives.  May managed to get the answer no by pushing for a hard Brexit that many people don't want, a robotic failure to go beyond empty slogans, a track record of failure in office and a suicidal attack on the key group that has supported the Tories, older voters.  As a result she has lost her majority and her personal authority.  I imagine she won't be in Downing Street much longer.

The Labour Party feels dangerously buoyant despite its third General Election defeat in a row.  Jeremy Corbyn successfully changed the Overton window so that mere survival counts as a kind of victory.  To be fair, he has also managed to get some extra seats by bringing in people who hadn't voted before as well as ex-Greens and Lib Dems.  I wonder, however, how sustainable this will be.  The more credible a Labour majority appears, the more scrutiny the Labour Party will get, and the more likely it becomes that people will demand answers on how to pay for things that they simply didn't this time round.  Effectively, he was able to get people to vote for a pressure group this time.  Next time he may well be asked questions that Ed Miliband and Ed Balls faced as a possible alternative government.  That is a far tougher bar.

The SNP also lost badly both to the Tories and to Labour, which will surprise some of my English colleagues who have effectively written off Labour's hopes in Scotland.

Even the DUP may find that their position is perilous, as they find themselves in the Big League with no sign they are prepared for it.  They are a firmly pro-Brexit Party that is hostile to one of the most obvious consequences of Brexit, a harder border with areas outside the UK, including the Irish Republic.

In time the complexities of that position may well lead to a greater interest in retaining membership of the Single Market, and perhaps the UK not leaving the EU at all. 

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