UK Election Chaos – Weak and Wobbly, Not Strong and Stable

Well that wasn’t supposed to happen, was it?

I hope your business risk analysis considered the option of more months of political and economic uncertainty. Only a few weeks ago, the Conservatives were forecast to win a huge landslide victory in the UK election. And now we have a hung parliament, with no overall majority and some real questions about whether any sort of stable government can be formed.

It did seem to be a very uninspiring choice this time round. Theresa May showed herself to have real problems connecting with people, and refused to get drawn into anything like a real debate about the big issues. Rod Liddle said that “Theresa May has the warmth, wit and oratorical ability of a fridge-freezer” - a little harsh maybe but one could understand what he meant.

Jeremy Corbyn came over well, but Labour’s plans would I believe bankrupt the country – there was so little real debate about the economy, the deficit and debt, and other vital issues, that the fallacies behind Labour’s tax pans were never really exposed. “The magic money tree” was a phrase though that I thought would stick with lots of voters.  I also felt nervous about the issues around defence and security and the track record / capability of Corbyn’s top team from those points of view.

So vote Tory? But my local MP is Michael Gove. I have respect for his intellect and desire to drive through change – he was doing some great things in Justice – but his blinkered views on education worry me. At a time when we face Islamic radicalisation, can anyone explain why “faith schools”, of any variety frankly, are a good thing?  Personally, I think this is one area where France has it absolutely right with their separation of church and state in the educational context.

The cynicism of both major parties was also worrying. Labour criticising a policy that would make very rich pensioners pay for their own social care was a low point. Does Labour really think the low-paid should subsidise a millionaire’s care costs? But the Tories previous policy of bungs for the old folks (triple locked pensions and TV licences), whilst ignoring the kids, wasn’t any better. There is some evidence that the young came out and voted for once – and not for the Tories.

In terms of Brexit, it may be that the voters didn’t see too much to choose between the parties really. I’ve seen no evidence May is a great negotiator but Corbyn up against Juncker and co does not appeal either. However, Keir Starmer on the Labour side (who would have led their negotiation team) is more impressive and a better negotiator one suspects than his Tory equivalents.

So, by a process of elimination, I arrived at my decision and was one of the 6,271 people who voted LibDem in Surrey Heath, not that it matters in this very deep blue constituency.

Back to the stunning result though. Much of this I think comes down to leadership. The public en masse are pretty smart and they saw that Corbyn for all his weaknesses and the implausibility of the manifesto did offer his own somewhat unusual type of leadership. He got out and about. He engaged, and he painted some sort of positive vision of the future, even if it was financially unrealistic.

May offered no leadership and no vision. Ducking public debate, not answering legitimate questions or engaging with the public. Basing the whole approach on just that message that “I’m better than Corbyn”. I think people did view that negatively and responded to it appropriately. There was no light, no grace, no wit, no vision in the Tory campaign and she personally did not come over as a leader. The country may not trust Corbyn to be Prime Minister but my goodness, we’re not sure about May either.

You wonder now - would the Tories have won with Boris, with Amber Rudd, even with George Osborne in charge? Because let’s be clear, this will go down in history as one of the most disastrous political campaigns on record. And Juncker and other folk on the EU side of the negotiations must be laughing hysterically over their croissants this morning.

A strong and stable platform for the Brexit negotiations?

“Mais non! C'est une vraie débâcle, un fiasco épouvantable!”


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Voices (3)

  1. bitter and twisted:

    The whole election was based on the delusion that Brexit is anything other than a massive disaster.

    The fact is we can have

    -a soft brexit that has the costs of being in the EU, but with less benefits.

    – a hard brexit that means economic disaster

    – various medium brexits that have to be paid for, basically the net outcome will be at best equivalent to the soft brexit above. And more likely worse, because of friction and bodge and random noise.

    But, since the tories and the labour part have stupidly nailed their nadgers to the brexit cross, we are screwed.

  2. Secret Squirrel:

    “You wonder now – would the Tories have won with Boris, with Amber Rudd, even with George Osborne in charge?”

    Amber Rudd was barely able to carry her constituency let alone win over a country.

    Very lucky not to be the Portillo or Balls of this election.

  3. Sam Unkim:

    BoJo has to step up now, or remain a joke for the rest of his career, IMHO.

    Wasn’t the money tree, found flourishing, in the Caymen Islands ?

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