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All right, guv, I put my ‘ands up to it, I wuz wrong…

Landslide Election in 2019

I was predicting a landslide Election, so I got that right. But I was thumpingly wrong as to which party would benefit from it.

I thought Corbyn might win or there might be a hung parliament. I thought the high turnout might benefit Labour. Wrong again.

So it’s a good thing I’m not a psephologist. If I was getting paid for this shit, I’d be in trouble.

Tory Majority

The sheer size of the Tory majority of 365 seats (they only needed 326) is deeply depressing in one way, fascinating in another. I have to say, I believe that this has been the real Brexit election and that Boris was right to use the slogan “Get Brexit Done!”

Corbyn – who has been a Eurosceptic for decades – offered what I thought was a very reasonable way out of the Brexit mess: negotiate a halfway sane deal, then offer it to the people in a referendum with Remain as the alternative option.

NO! bellowed the great English public. GET BREXIT DONE!

Crazy

The fact that I still think this is a crazy thing to do really doesn’t matter now – all right, it never did. The size of the Tory majority and the way the north crumbled to Tory makes it very clear. This was a huge vote for Brexit. I would be surprised if the percentage of the population voting for Brexit was not much larger than the pathetic little 52% at the 2016 referendum.

So it’s depressing that the English public are clearly far more enthusiastic for Brexit than I ever imagined. The old “give Cameron a good kicking” rationalisation doesn’t work any more.

But why are they so enthusiastic? I’m genuinely curious to know.

Bubble

Have I been living in a nice little FB bubble of Remainers and am I thus deluded? Probably. I need to find out what the English public find so attractive about leaving Europe.

Is it another surge of the normal English xenophobia – as I keep explaining to my European friends, the English don’t mind foreigners individually. Usually, they’re thinking “Poor things, how awful not to be English.”

However collectively, when dealing with any kind of foreigner in bulk, no matter what colour or nationality, the English really don’t like them. There are historical reasons for this.

Stronger

Do they think that England will be stronger or a better place to live if it’s outside the EU? If they think that, why do they think it? Blue passports hardly seem a fitting recompense.

Is it some great mystical idea about England and the English that is forcing them away from Europe? This has happened at least once before with the Protestant Reformation, starting in 1533 (see my blog The Very First Brexiteer). Mind you, it took England 150 years to recover from the fallout.

For instance, what if the SNP gets another referendum on Scottish independence – and wins. I could see a result where they and Northern Ireland form an alliance – the DUP in Northern Ireland has been outrageously treated by the English Tories – and set up a new country (Dalriada perhaps?) which goes straight back into the EU. That famous customs barrier could be along the old Anglo-Scottish frontier again, not in the Irish sea. If that happens, we’ll be fighting the Scots again in ten years.

Stranger things can happen, and did in Yugoslavia.

Confirmation bias

Will it all be OK a hundred years from now?

Maybe. Maybe not.

So what has my confirmation bias hidden from me? Everybody has confirmation bias – even Artificial Intelligence has it, because they learn as we do from absorbing data and finding patterns in it. I thought I’d got a handle on it, but clearly not. This result is too massive.

I want to know a lot of detail about this fascinating election.

I want to know if the under 35s voted as strongly for the Tories and Brexit as the over 35s clearly did (I’m tempted by the word “Trexit” to express this concept but am womanfully trying to resist.)

I want to know exactly what happened in the north where Labour lost so many old safe seats.

I would really love to separate the vote for Brexit from the vote against Socialism. Did people vote Brexit to avoid the terror of Corbyn’s Marxism, did people vote against Corbyn’s Marxism and get Brexit by accident or did they just want Brexit Done and didn’t really care what came with it? My money is on the third option, but what do I know?

Disgraceful

Were the voters really swayed by the disgraceful Tory social media campaign of lies – yes, they were lying a lot of the time, with character assassination of Corbyn, fake factchecking websites and ludicrous misrepresentation of the Labour Manifesto. According to First Draft who analysed the ads used by all parties in the first four days of December, Tory Facebook ads were 88% misleading, against Labour’s 0%. Was Labour wrong to believe that honesty is the best policy? It certainly seems so.

Boris Johnson

And Boris. Boris is strange. The first clue to the landslide (which I ignored, of course) was from a poll after the last BBC TV debate (6 days before the election) that found Boris was a better presenter/ more prime-ministerial than Corbyn by 52% to 48%.

Boris certainly has luck – Napoleon would have had him as a general. I’ll have something more to say about his accent in another blog, but his character is fascinating. He’s a con artist very much in the style of Trump, but with a brain: utterly unashamed, unfazed by disapproval. He’s a bare-faced liar who gives you a wink that says, “I know, it’s all nonsense, just go along with me anyway. Cos I’m cute.” He clearly has natural talent at politics whereas the dismal Theresa May had none.

Although it chokes me to say it, he has charisma, which Corbyn, bless his sainted socks, emphatically does not.

Is it just that the English prefer an entertaining Old Etonian bully with charisma, to a kind, principled, determined, but dull, Maths teacher?

Yup. Yes, they do.

Churchill

That kind of emotional lean doesn’t change easily. You can see it at work with Tony Blair (Gordon Brown not), Margaret Thatcher (John Major not), even Churchill (Chamberlain not), Lloyd George, Disraeli and Gladstone, and even more so with Lord Palmerston. There’s a story that an aide came rushing excitedly in to Gladstone and said, “I’ve heard that Lord Palmerston has just sired a bastard at the age of 83!” To which Gladstone’s reply was “For God’s sake, don’t tell anybody, or he’ll sweep the country.”

In which case, Labour had better find an entertaining bully with charisma bloody fast.

Scribbler

On the other hand, given that Boris came from nowhere and was a mere scribbler previous to getting the Mayorship of London, that says that pretty much anyone can be PM so long as they’re sufficiently charismatic. You clearly don’t need to be competent at anything like negotiation or indeed mastering a brief, just superlative at marketing yourself.

Maybe I should have a crack at it?

Raving

Yes, I’m raving. Or, hey, maybe Boris will be like Gorbachev: party apparatchik mugs and grins his way to the top, gets a massive majority and then… Ta dah! He whips off the Tory Mask of Chappishness and turns into a caring social-democratic greenie.

Forgive me if I don’t hold my breath. I just have more imagination than is good for me.

Consequences

The consequences of this election keep rolling out and rolling out.

So farewell then, NHS, UK and the Green Industrial Policy. It was nice to have you, but your day is done.

Austerity, xenophobia and billionaires will rule us now. And insulin will be £600 a pop.

2 Comments

  1. Stephen M Stirling says:

    The result was -precisely- that predicted by the polling average in the two weeks before the election.

    Labor support fell to less than 1/3 of the electorate — about the worst result since the 1930’s — and the Tories led them by about 12 points.

    Why on earth was anyone surprised? Unless they just found the visible facts emotionally intolerable.

    It was what I was expecting, though not quite so much.

    Boris proved to be a very smart operator. This summer, there was a real risk that the Tories might be destroyed by the Brexit Party; Boris saw this and took the necessary measures quite ruthlessly and fearlessly, purging the Remainer patrician element, telling their allies in the City to just shut up and sod off, and and making the Tories the Brexit Party in all but name — whereupon it was the Tories eating Farage’s party, rather than vice versa.

    Instead of the Brexit Party becoming the Tories’ nemesis, Boris turned it into a conveyor belt shuttling voters from Labor into the Conservatives.

    And it provided a refuge for those who couldn’t quite vote Tory, but were rightly furious that Labor was spitting in their faces and disregarding their votes in the Referendum.

    Just an example of the results — there is now not one Labor MP in Staffordshire, which is gobsmacking. Constituencies which had voted Labor for generations, including some that had been Liberal and then Labor continuously since -Queen Victoria was alive-, went Tory last night.

    All the people in the London bubble thought Boris’ gamble would have terrible consequences, because they spend too much time talking to each other.

    And it did — for Labor and the Lib Dems.

    The LD’s actually increased their vote share — by about 5% or a little less — but lost half their seats. They became the party of Remainers who couldn’t stomach voting for Corbyn’s gang.

    Corbyn is of course an appalling and repulsive mess, a sectarian zealot stuck in 1979 who associates with people even more vile than he, and even more incompetent than he is vile, He’s ‘brother’ to terrorists and scum. And he can’t grasp why this makes him hated.

    He -is- hated. He’s not just unpopular — he’s the most unpopular leader of a major party -since polling began-. He’s actively hated by enormous sections of the public.

    Note that British Jews, who used to be a reliable Labor voting block, gave Labor -less than 10% of their votes– this time. That’s right, over 90% voted for non-Labor parties, mostly for the Tories.

    When it comes to antisemitism, 90% of Jews cannot be wrong.

    And a basic lesson: nationalists win. Nationalism is the strongest of all political sentiments and has been for a very long time and will continue to be so. Human beings are inherently tribal. There is no “us” — no place to feel at home — except by contrast with a “them”.

    Labor need to get nationalist again. You can win if you’re nationalist -and- something else; the Scottish nationalists are social democratic as well. But you cannot win in opposition to nationalism, and you have to be sincere about it.

    1. Steve, you’re absolutely right about most of this mess. Certainly I was as beguiled by my nice leftie Facebook bubble as anybody, which is one reason why I’m not wasting so much time on Facebook any more. Those cosy algos are a menace because they beef up your confirmation bias.
      I realise that many Americans really hate the EU for its social democracy and the fact that it’s a useful competitor to the USA. But from this end, the election result is a major disaster for the UK economically, socially and culturally. And yes, Momentum have a lot to answer for in the way they picked possibly the worst candidate they could have to oppose Boris. And the way Labour sat on the fence for the whole time, not backing Remain. Had they come down hard for Remain, done deals with all the other anti-Tory parties and had a better candidate… Well, if wishes were horses all beggars would ride.
      And I agree that Boris was appropriately Machiavellian in the way he grabbed Brexit from Farage and the way he purged the party of Remainers too. Now we’ll see if he can be just as clever at getting us halfway decent trading deals with Canada and the EU, so we don’t have to go cap in hand to Trump and be destroyed as a nation. I don’t personally want the UK (or what’s left of it if the Scots decide to go for independence) to become the 51st state.

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