Feature: The British Election
The United Kingdom has found its spot in the headlines lately. First, there was the grotesque bombing of a concert in Manchester. Britain has earned a second spot when the London Bridge was attacked. Now, Britain will find itself in the news for a third time – though this time it will be due to a peaceful election. Britain has been in a mode of constant elections; there was the Scottish independence referendum, followed by a general election, followed by the Brexit referendum, and now Britain will vote in a “snap election” called on by British Prime Minister Theresa May.
The primary justification for the election is Brexit negotiations. Mrs. May wishes to negotiate a “hard Brexit” – meaning she wants the divorce between Britain and the European Union to be as severe as possible, which she says she wants due to popular will. Mrs. May claims that she needs a majority to overpower the voices in parliament that wish to see a “soft” Brexit, or even a reversal of the decision – which has been voiced by some in the Liberal Democrat camp.
There are also other smaller reasons being debated in the election, such as the general issues that have divided the Anglosphere’s left and right - issues such as the expansion of public health care, the raising of taxes, spending on defense, and other miscellaneous issues that will continue to be a point of contention forever
Though the justification for the snap election was predicated on Brexit negotiations, one must not be blind to the more Machiavellian motivations. It has been theorized by mainstream publications that Theresa May is attempting to capitalize on the current weakness of the Conservative’s archenemy – the left-wing Labour party. Recent times have been hard to the Labour, who has not been playing the game of democracy very well.
Labour has a problem, and that problem has a name; Jeremy Corbyn. The rise of Mr. Corbyn to the rank of opposition leader came as a shock to many who were comfortable to the Blairian vision of the Labour party. His ascendance has been labeled a part of the so-called populist wave that has spotlighted figures such as Marine le Pen in France, Geet Wilders in the Netherlands, and Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump in the United States. Jeremy Corbyn is almost the anthesis of a moderate. He has defended Marxian economics, referred to the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro as a “warrior for Social Justice,” praised the government in Venezuela, and was a recently recipient of criticism when he refused to answer whether he would use a nuclear weapon as a defense in a recent BBC Q&A.
The British people have responded negatively to the direction Mr. Corbyn is taking Labour. In a recent social poll, only one demographic (young people) supported Labour. Even blue-collar workers now lean Conservative. In another recent poll, less than 20% of British voters said they want to see Mr. Corbyn at 10 Downing Street.
Though much more popular than Labour, Theresa May and the Conservatives have their weaknesses as well. Theresa May is a relatively un-conservative Tory. She has shown some hostility towards the same openness that once helped lead Britain atop the throne of maritime hegemony in the era of Pax Britannica. Mrs. May has been described as a “One Nation Tory” – that is, a pre-Thatcher Tory whom does not value economic liberalism and is willing to grab the wrist of the invisible hand that guides the economy.
Theresa May also likes to play the game of politics. Ms. May has terminated many of former prime minister David Cameron’s officials from their posts of power, and has installed her own people. This, combined with her ideological position between Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron has been a source of some contention for the current prime minister.
Aside from the Conservatives and Labour, there are other third parties, though they are only providing a tepid resistance. There is the Scottish National Party, but they are in a state of decline after almost maximizing their growth potential. There is UKIP, though they are on a death spiral following the fulfillment of their one purpose in life – Brexit. The strongest third party is the Liberal Democrats, which ideologically exists in the center to center-left.
The Liberal Democrats have attempted to capitalize and expand its power in the gap between Theresa May’s Conservatives a Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. There are voices in the Liberal Democrats whom want a reversal of the Brexit decision. The chances of a Liberal Democrat victory, and subsequently a Brexit Reversal, are almost nonexistent. Even in The Economist magazine, which recently published an editorial endorsing the third party (though they endorse fulfilling Brexit), have referred to the Lib Dem chances “dismal.”
As it has become a norm of elections in general, the polls in the British election has been subject to change, literally daily. When Ms. May called for the election, pollsters expected a Tory annihilation of Labour – with the former winning by 20%. It has been speculated that the Conservatives might even obtain a hundred-seat majority in the parliament. That is no longer the case.
Even with the despair associated by Mr. Corbyn’s leadership, the Conservative outright victory has decreased – with the race narrowing to the point where the Conservatives are now expected to skim by. This is of course a testament to Labour’s weakness, considering that the race has been defined by “how much will the Conservatives win by?” instead of “which party will win?” One would be remise not to point out that polls do not embody pinpoint accuracy, but the disadvantage Labour endures will be hard to overcome. The third parties are only a bleep on the radar.
It is the job of the media to sensationalize every issue to the most possible extreme. It would be irresponsible for a political writer to frame the British general election of 2017 as a groundbreaking event that will decide the West – it won’t. It’s an election between people and parties that are liked by some, but disliked by even more. That is hardly new. In mankind’s egotism, we all believe were living in revolutionary times – we are not. When Britain voted in the Brexit referendum, it woke up to a world in which a nation left an economic agreement. That is all. When the world wakes up after the British election, it will be the same Britain in the same world.