Monday, July 01, 2024

Election Thoughts

The exit poll will be wrong. Even if its close on vote share, translating that into actual seats won will be incredibly tricky. There are several seats which, in current forecast, are neck and neck between 3 different parties, not just two. 

Some projections are suggesting Labour won't even hit 40% of the vote. There has never been a UK government elected with less than 40% of the vote which has served a full parliamentary term with a majority of seats. It will be a landslide, but will it be a mandate?

The combined Conservative/Labour share is likely to be the lowest since 1918. What happens to Reform will determine whether this is a blip, or the start of a trend. 

The Libdems could end up with a lower vote share than Jo Swinson's disastrous 2019 campaign, but 50+ seats, and everyone will hail Ed Davey as a strategic genius. Fair play to him though, you'd never get me on a bungee jump. 

Though behind the comedy facade is a Liberal Democrat party who will sack you if you aren't hatey enough towards feminists. 

But too many seats and Ed will end up as leader of the opposition. This will be a challenge: there has been a blatant non-aggression pact between the Libdems and Labour for the duration of the campaign. For an opposition in waiting, they aren't doing much opposing. 

Campaign strategies in a nutshell: Labour - focus on 14 years of Conservative failure, make all the right noises but commit to as few specifics as possible, and don't answer any questions directly (especially about women). Conservative - started out by trying to set the agenda with a series of policy announcements, begging the inevitable 'why haven't you already done this, if its such a great idea?' riposte, ditched in favour of 'project fear' mode. Libdems - a stunt a day, tenuously linked to a policy proposal which they hope Labour will adopt once in power, studiously avoid attacking Labour.  

Farage isn't that far off the mark on the Ukraine war: recommended reading is the chapter on Russia in 'Prisoners of Geography' by Tim Marshall. 

If you're the only party that talks about proper control of immigration and border security, I guess its inevitable that you'll attract racists. 1.4m added to the UK population in the last 2 years is off the scale, its disappointing that Farage is the only leader prepared to say so.   

Reflecting on the election campaign, here are the headlines that float to the service: soggy announcement, Normandy, betting, dodgy candidates, dodging questions, supermajority/meltdown. Notable that none of these are about policy, or the future of the country, yet these are the things which have been fixated upon by our media. With one or two glowing exceptions, our mainstream journalists are too shallow, or too lazy, to make the policy debates the central feature of their coverage, and to inform the public about what we're voting for. 

And a deeper layer to that, the parties themselves aren't addressing the major structural and cultural issues we face, e.g. declining birthrate (linked to immigration, pensions, NHS, workforce, cost/size of the state, family policy, poverty), fatherless families (major contributory factor to criminality, mental illness, educational underachievement, poverty, gangs and youth crime), NHS reform (the NHS will absorb whatever money is thrown at it, and as new treatments become available, will carry on expanding as far as the government lets it. The work structure means that people can earn more as locums, or in the private sector, which in turn draws people away from NHS jobs, increasing reliance on locums/private sector in a feedback loop.)

There are parallels with the England football team. Our expectations are so high that governments are bound to underperform, and the pressure, structure and culture around politics is such that our politicians don't/can't perform to the best of their ability. Meanwhile people of genuine ability see how impotent politicians are, and how savagely they get treated, and quite understandably put their energies elsewhere. Dominic Cummings has been going on about this for a while. We look at the USA and think 'well at least we're not that bad'. Not yet. 

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