Monday, May 16, 2005

Thoughts On The British Elections

It's now 11 days since Bliar was given a bloody nose, time for some less celebratory thoughts.

One is that while more than 60% of voters voted for leftist ideas, what they got in essence is three conservative parties in Parliament.

Take the LibDems, who were surprisingly fast in proving the truth behind the "Yellow Tories" mockery, by distancing themselves from their social campaign promises:

Charles Kennedy has announced a wholesale review of the Liberal Democrats' policies that could pave the way for them to ditch their tax policies.

The party fears it lost support because of its plans to replace the council tax with a local income tax, worrying people on middle-range incomes, and its call for a 50p top rate of tax on incomes of more than £100,000 a year.

[elsewhere] The policy review will also focus on Europe and energy. The party may drop its opposition to nuclear power amid evidence that it could provide a way to combat climate change.

But Bliar is not to be outdone in pandering to the nonexistent right-wing majority. I was chastised by Dead Men Left for comparing New Labour to US Democrats, yet the following attempt to get BNP votes surprised even me:

Tony Blair says he will "focus relentlessly" on the public's priorities after securing a historic third term in government.

He pledged to tackle immigration issues and re-establish respect in classrooms, town centres and on Britain's streets.

Yeah, the public's priorities. Home Office minister Hazel Blears upped this with a proposal to put yobs to community service work in orange uniforms, in US chain-gang style.

Now, what about the government's priorities? As I predicted [not on this blog], the issue of building nuclear plants is back - that after several studies showing nuclear as a dead option, and just recently more problems with waste disposal. (And after global warming, confronting Peak Oil is the new false argument of lobbyists.) As for public health service, the creeping privatisation is bound to roll on - minister Patricia Hewitt 'promised' to double private services paid for by the NHS.

As a second post-election issue, the minor progressive leftist parties. They grew stronger, but...

When factoring in the number of seats contested, the Greens could accomplish only minimal growth over 2001.

As for Respect, I think the important story is not Galloway's win, but the strong showing of some other candidates - three of them finished second place. While this is much better than what I feared, it is less than desirable - the party hasn't progressed much above what it achieved in the European elections, and the election of at least one other candidate would have been needed to unmake the image of the one-man Galloway Party in too many people's eyes.

The Greens and Respect failed to stand together in this election, and many continue to blame the other side, so it remains to be seen if they can cooperate effectively on the upcoming battles over nuclear power and nukes. On the other hand, the third Bliar government seems to be set to give plenty of opportunities to form a united front of rejection.

3 Comments:

At 5:18 PM, Anonymous Phil Hunt said...

As for Respect, I think the important story is not Galloway's win, but the strong showing of some other candidates - three of them finished second place. While this is much better than what I feared, it is less than desirable

Realistically, Respect were never going to do better than they did. Under FPTP, it's very hard for small parties like Respect and the Greens to get MPs elected. People who want to see more MPs from small parties such as these (which IMO would be a good thing because it would increase the number of viewpoints represented in parliament) should have voted for the pro-PR candidate most likely to get elected; in most constituencies this would have been the Lib Dem candidate.

 
At 7:12 PM, Blogger DoDo said...

PR above FPTP is one of my hobbyhorses; that's one main reason I welcomed votes for the LibDems (here) even with my distrust for them both on the war and ideologically.

BTW, I wonder what the LibDems would have done in a hung parliament - a colaition with the highest bidder, outside support of a minority Labour government, or push for new elections a few months later in PR mode?

 
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