Thoughts on the 2017 UK General Election
Politics is a controversial and emotive subject. It’s also something that a lot of bloggers are very wary of writing about sadly, because it’s seldom debated with any wisdom or civility. You’ll find my thoughts on the poor state of UK politics in this previous post, so I don’t need to reiterate them here. On this occasion, I would like to venture a few opinions on the General Election that was held in the UK this week, the interesting results and the potential fallout. I’m not here to champion any party, ideology or dogma, as I’m a floating voter without any major affiliations. I just merely want to express what I have observed and some of my hopes for the future.
First off, the election has cost the UK tax payer approximately £142million. Despite what the Prime Minister said regarding establishing a mandate from the electorate regarding Brexit, there was no pressing need to call this election due to the fix-term parliament act that was introduced in 2010 by the coalition government. Theresa May prior to June 8th had a working majority of 330 Conservative MPs, which although not substantial, broadly allowed her to push her party’s agenda through the House of Commons. The UK electorate were far from spoiling for another vote, as election fatigue and political exhaustion are very prevalent of late. Brenda from Bristol pretty much summed up a common sentiment when her vox pop with the BBC went viral in April. Theresa May was more interested in quashing dissent in here own party as she had been challenged by back benchers in recent months. The election was simply called out of hubris and party-political gain and had nothing to do with gaining mandates. The country is divided over Brexit so there is zero chance of getting any sort of majority consensus on the matter.
The Conservative election campaign was ill conceived and poorly run, opting for populist, lightweight TV appearances, rather than public debates and discourse. The Prime Ministers absence from any meaningful discussion with her political opponents just came across as arrogant and just plain rude. The latter is something the UK public still broadly abhors. The repetition of vacuous soundbites and meaningless buzz phrases has finally worn thin and is now being perceived as an insult to the electorate. Also, some of the Tory manifesto, seemed to strike at the very party faithful that usually unquestionably supports their party. The so-called “Dementia Tax” was a staggeringly short-sighted idea that bit the very hand that feeds the Conservative party. The shameless pursuit of UKIP voters over the traditional political middle ground was also a costly error.
Now I’m not saying that the other political parties ran perfect campaigns. Far from it. There were mistakes and faux pas from all quarters. However, the Labour party focused very much on mobilising grass roots campaigners and getting out on the streets and knocking on doors. Jeremy Corbyn was also very much front and centre in the run up to the election. His non-confrontational style and unsophisticated passion for his beliefs, actually seem to chime with those he meets. Furthermore, the continual barrage of petty and spiteful calumny from the UK tabloid press seems to have been rejected by a large share of UK voters. People are fed up being told what to think by a handful of newspaper editors with their own agenda. These papers have effectively made Jeremy Corbyn in to an underdog. We don’t like bullies in this country and it’s funny how the public will turn and champion a person or cause if they feel that spite and malice are involved against them.
The overall turnout for Thursday vote was 68.7%, the highest since 1997. Much has been made about the youth vote and I am very glad to see the young engaged and getting involved with politics. Democracy is something we live and breathe every day, not something that we briefly enthuse over for a few weeks. There is a very clear difference in mindset and political outlook between the old and the young in this country and although I have a lot of love and respect for the baby boomer generation, too many of its political and cultural imperatives are obsolete, born of a by gone era that will never return. Brexit has clearly highlighted this. In numerous comments sections of various news websites, I’ve seen regular statements about the young’s alleged lack of “wordly experience”. It’s a trite, ad hominem argument that doesn’t wash. Wisdom does not come with age by default. Plus, there is no universal life experience to be had. History shows us that the young have built nations. Their views deserve no less consideration than those of their elders.
Whatever your personal loyalties and views, I think it is fair to say that UK politics just got a lot more interesting in the last forty-eight hours. The electorate have been taken for granted for too long and many are fed up with the status quo. Perhaps we’ve moved on from simple protest voting and are now considering tangible and practical change. Look what happens when we do. Whether you wanted Brexit or not, it’s a reality that needs to be addressed. If it is the most challenging issue this country has faced since World War II then perhaps it should be tackled jointly by all parties. Perhaps it is also time to firmly reject the tabloid press and their shameless interference in UK politics. May be politicians need to cultivate some courage and actually engage with the average voter. If they’re not prepared to do so then show them the door. I sincerely hope that voters of all persuasion are finally going to demand more from the political classes. The tail does not wag the dog and on Thursday the electorate reminded the Westminster of exactly that.