Some quick thoughts on ‘Super Thursday’

Britain voted, I hapzardly analyse.

THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS NEED TO REALISE WE ARE STILL AT RISK OF EXTINCTION

Yesterday was a novelty for Liberal Democrats. The public voted and we came away in a better position than we were before. We not only gained councillors (and a council) but our absolute gains were more than anyone else’s. And there were some impressive wins in the constituency section of the Scottish Parliament. The sense of near elation at not being battered by the electorate again is palpable.

However, these results do demonstrate that the end of the coalition will not end the damage it did to the Party. We have gone from being Britain’s 3rd party to one of a number of minor parties. We are now only the fifth largest party in the Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and GLA.

It would be tempting to think we’ve turned a corner. And we may well have done but yesterday could also simply be a stay of execution. While the good outweighed the bad, there were some depressing results too: notably big losses in the Welsh Assembly. And things could quite easily start getting worse again. We faced Labour and Conservative Parties that were both unpopular and divided. If they get their acts together we could be in trouble.

I’m also concerned that renewed successes for our old approach of burrowing in and building at a local level may lead us to neglect building a brand that resonates nationally.

SADIQ KHAN IS NO OBAMA BUT HIS WIN IS STILL INSPIRING

With so much of European politics currently revolving around Islamophobia, the fact that the continent’s largest city now has a Muslim mayor is encouraging. That London’s voters chose him despite a Conservative campaign that sought to remind everyone that Khan was a Muslim and that Muslim’s are all scary extremists, makes it more heartening still.

After 16 years of big egos using the Mayoralty as a platform for their clowning, it’s actually rather refreshing that London now has a rather average machine politician as it’s Mayor.

WE MAY HAVE BEEN LEARNING THE WRONG LESSONS FROM THE SCOTTISH REFERENDUM

A trope of discussions about the ‘Remain’ campaign’s tactics is that ‘No’ to independence was too negative and calculating. The argument is that frightening people about the consequences of breaking up the Union stopped people voting ‘yes’ but energised no one. That set the stage for the freshly fired up nationalists to sweep all before them in the subsequent General Election. Their new political dominance will eventually lead to independence. The moral apparently is that ‘Remain’ can’t just warn about the consequences of Brexit, it needs to make people feel good about the EU.

Yesterday was a blow to that theory. The SNP is not unstoppable. It lost its majority at Holyrood. Independence may not be inevitable after all. Of course, Brexit will be inevitable if ‘Leave’ wins the referendum as polls suggest it very well might. Stopping that should be our priority and if raising valid concerns about its results is the way to do it, then let’s do that.

THE RISE OF THE SCOTTISH CONSERVATIVES IS AMBIGIOUS FOR THE INDEPENDENCE DEBATE

On the one hand, the fact that the main unionist voice in Scotland is now the Conservatives makes it easier for the nationalists to equate opposition to independence with support for Conservatism. But the fact that the Conservative Party is winning elections in Scotland makes it harder for the SNP to present it as an alien force imposed from London. Expect them to try anyway.

JEREMY CORBYN’S LABOUR PARTY IS THE KIND OF LABOUR PARTY THAT LOSES SEATS TO THE CONSERVATIVES IN GLASGOW!!!

During an episode of Have I Got News For You from week of the first elections to the Scottish Parliament, Angus Deayton turned to the camera and reminded viewers that ‘this program is being recorded before the announcement of the results. So we cannot tell you how Labour, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, Greens or Scottish Socialists are doing. However, we can tell you the Conservatives have done extremely badly.’

How times have changed.

Scotland was supposed to be the proving ground for Corbynism. The voters who’d rejected Blairism for Nationalism would supposedly be won back with red blooded socialism. To say the least, that’s not really worked.

More generally, I find the notion that because these elections were not quite a total disaster for Labour they were therefore a vindication of Corbyn’s leadership rather mystifying.

Opposition parties with new leaders basically never lose seats in the first round of local elections of a parliament. Given that the Government has a) split over the EU referendum and b) inflicted the junior doctors strike, academisation and an unpopular budget on itself, Labour slipping backwards is even more damning for Labour.

THE CONSERVATIVES MAY NOT QUITE BE BULLETPROOF

An understandable inference for a Conservative to draw from these events is that as long as Corbyn is Labour leader, they can do whatever they want without electoral repurcusions. That’s probably true up to a point. If their splits on Europe develop into schisms or they elect a leader even less qualified to be PM than Corbyn (*cough* Boris *cough*) then trouble could lie ahead.

UKIP ARE NOT DOING AS WELL AS THEY THINK

UKIP IS FULL OF IT

You know how UKIP loves to go on about corruption in the EU? Do you think this reflects an honest disdain for corruption or knee jerk Europhobia?

Well if they actually wanted clean politics, then they’d want nothing to do with Neil Hamilton. He is after all the personification of the sleaze that engulfed John Major’s government; the man who took money for asking parliamentary questions. But he’s now in the Welsh Assembly under UKIP colours. Which is all a bit yucky.

THE GREENS ARE CAUGHT IN A WEIRD FLUX STATE

My reading is that the fate of the Greens is in Labour’s hands. If Corbyn survives or is replaced by somebody like himself they’ll struggle. If the Labour moderates reassert control of their party, then there will be a lot of seriously pissed off lefties ripe for the taking.

Until Labour choses what direction to go in, the fate of the Greens is likely to be ambigious.

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