Friday, May 8, 2015

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Upset In Britain (update)

With final vote returns counted, the upset in the
British elections was big and historic as the
Conservative (Tory) Party, led by Prime Minister
David Cameron, won a clear majority of seats in
parliament. Cameron will no longer need to form
a coalition to run the government.

Virtually all opinion polls and most of the English
commentators had predicted a close race, however,
between the Tories and the leftist Labour Party.
Predictions that the Liberal Party, a partner in the
current government with the Conservatives, and
led by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, would
lose most of their 58 seats, turned out to be true,
as did the prediction that the Scottish National
Party (SNP) would sweep the election in Scotland
at the expense of Labour. Anticipation that the 
rightist U.K. Independence Party (UKIP), led by
Nigel Farage, would receive 20% or more of the vote,
and deny the Conservatives any gains, did not take
place as UKIP won less than 13% of the vote and
only one member of parliament. But UKIP was
successful in moving Cameron to a more euroskeptic

In the wake of the results, Mr. Milliband, Mr.
Clegg and Mr. Farage each have resigned as leaders
of their parties.

The leader of the SNP had said the Scottish M.P.s
would join with Labour to “shut the Conservatives
out,” but this offer was obviously now moot.

In a pattern similar to both the domestic and
international press coverage of the recent Israeli
elections, most of the domestic British media and
pollsters, as well as much of the international media,
had it very wrong about the electorate. Considering
that most of this media is biased to the left, this
emerging pattern is no surprise. U.S. media also
underestimated the size and scope of the Republican
victories in the 2014 U.S. mid-term elections.

Voters in North America and Europe, however, seem
to be ignoring media commentators, and resisting
accurate polling. An egregious example in the British
election was, despite one set of exit polls showing
the Tories doing better than expected, the pro-Labour
London Mirror newspaper insisted (an hour after
voting ended) that their exit polls showed the popular
vote to be close and the Tories far short of a majority.
(There must be some red faces at the Mirror this
morning. Pun applicable?)

Two notable Tory winners were charismatic London
Mayor Boris Johnson (a possible future prime
minister) and Bill Cash, the long-serving M.P. who is
a leader of the U.K. euroskeptics who oppose the
political unionization of Europe. Mr. Cameron had
promised a national vote on European Union (EU)
membership before the election, and now that vote
will take place. Both the Labour and Liberal Parties
are pro-EU, but each of those parties were badly
defeated in this election.

One of the consequences of the British election,
therefore, will be the probable necessity of new
concessions from EU countries to try to avoid a
“no” vote in the United Kingdom on its continued

Milliband and his Labour Party had campaigned
promising higher taxes for wealthy Britons and
increased government social spending. This was
clearly rejected by UK voters at the end of the campaign.

Actual control of the British parliament requires
323 votes (since five M.P.’s traditionally don’t vote),
not an absolute majority. With at least 330 seats
won, and new much tighter rules for dissolving the
parliament, Mr. Cameron and his party are likely
to be in charge for the next five years.

Copyright (c) by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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