Last Thursday’s UK election produced some unexpected results but perhaps the strangest were when we watched jubilation among those who had no reason to celebrate and despondency among those who had every reason to celebrate. So look for the real winners and losers.
Following the recent precedent of the European Union Membership Referendum the electorate showed that, when much is at stake, voters will turn out in large numbers. This can only be healthy for democracy and credit should be given to Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party Leader, for this his only clear achievement of the campaign.
The United Kingdom:
Scottish Nationalist and Plaid Cymry losses and the revival of the Conservative and Labour Parties in Scotland and the latter in Wales have seriously strengthened the Union and may well have driven the first substantial nail into the coffin of United Kingdom Devolution arrangements. I’ll cover Northern Ireland separately later.
THE DEMOCRATIC UNIONIST PARTY.
Beneficiaries of the arithmetic of a hung Parliament, the DUP, who gained 2 seats to make their total 10 of Northern Ireland’s 18 seats now have the power brokering position they have dreamt of for so long. They undoubtedly employed some dubious tactics which would preclude me ever voting for them again. Some of their candidates received endorsements from Loyalist Paramilitary groupings and their canvassers were pedalling the myth that, after the election, a Border Poll would be dependent only on the relative number of DUP and Provisional Sinn Fein votes. However, they are to be congratulated on their achievement. By agreeing to support a minority Tory Government the DUP are copper fastening the prospect of a proper BREXIT. There has been some reluctance by a few Tories in GB to join forces with the DUP because of the latter’s view on social policies such as same sex marriage. It is true that the DUP do like to sniff around other people’s bedrooms seeking evidence of deviation but their Parliamentary Party in particular have a greater sense of priority than to let so-called moral issues cloud their judgement as to what is best for the country.
My former party failed to win a single seat. This is not at all surprising following last Autumn’s disgraceful antics when the newly elected leader was driven out by a small clique who thought they owned the party. The fiascos of the second leadership election and the parallel chaotic NEC election left the party close to unelectable. To cap it all the party management’s clumsy attempts to stifle social media campaigning doomed UKIP to obscurity just when there was an electoral open goal before them. A sad state of affairs since those who wanted a radical voice in Westminster turned to the Labour Party for compensation. A new radical mass movement is needed now. I have joined Demos Direct and hopefully we will soon hear something concrete from Banks and Farage as to what they see as the way forward.
Scottish Nationalist Party:
The SNP were expected to lose a few seats after reaching their peak in the General Election in 2015 but they did not expect to lose nearly 40% of their Westminster seats with the Conservatives as the biggest beneficiaries. Although the SNP still have a big majority in Scottish Westminster seats the future of the Devolution Experiment in Scotland must now be up for review.
Rapidly becoming an irrelevance in Wales after a poor performance. A question mark is beginning to form over Welsh Devolution.
Devolution in the United Kingdom:
The obvious setbacks suffered by the SNP and Plaid Cymry (see above) have, as mentioned posed the question of Devolution being really necessary. However, less obvious blows to Devolution are the twin successes of the DUP and Sinn Fein in gaining Northern Ireland seats. Between these two they now occupy 17 of the 18 seats (the 18th is occupied by a left of centre Independent Unionist who had her majority slashed). Provisional Sinn Fein are an abstentionist party and won’t take their seats at Westminster reducing the target for an overall majority to 322. The DUP will almost certainly have an informal arrangement with the Conservatives providing an effective majority of 7 seats. This will hopefully end the perpetual so-called “Peace Process” in Northern Ireland and kill off the Good Friday Agreement. Northern Ireland can then set about reintegrating itself fully in the United Kingdom.
LOSERS WHO THINK THEY ARE WINNERS.
The Labour Party:
Because Labour under Jeremy Corbin gained many more seats than had been predicted that party has been trumpeting their performance as a victory. However, it must be remembered that, despite huge success encouraging their supporters to actually register to vote and despite sprinkling uncosted electoral promises to this mostly young group, Labour once again failed to come even close to winning a majority of seats even with a once in a lifetime opportunity to form a coalition with many disparate groups. Labour has peaked and now runs serious risk of becoming politically irrelevant.
Provisional Sinn Fein:
Having once successfully used the weird rules which govern Devolution in Northern Ireland to topple the Executive and Assembly Provisional Sinn Fein now seek to repeat the operation and keep Northern Ireland in a state of uncertainty. They also seek to disrupt the will of the majority of the British Electorate to leave the European Union. They were doing quite well with this until the DUP were suddenly propelled into holding the Balance of Power at Westminster. Provisional Sinn Fein have suddenly become irrelevant.
The Liberal Democrats:
Slightly recovered from their crash in the 2015 General Election but not enough to of much importance.
WINNERS WHO THINK THEY ARE LOSERS:
The Conservative Party:
The loss of some English seats was worrying for the Conservatives but their astounding successes in Scotland point to a much brighter future.
UKIP’s demise has left a large gap where radical libertarian politics should be in the United Kingdom. In my view, the Tory/DUP partnership may well limp on until BREXIT occurs in 2019. The DUP will hopefully use their position wisely to prevent over compromising of the BREXIT position and ensure that Northern Ireland remains firmly welded to the UK. Now is the time to encourage our neighbours in the Republic of Ireland to seek a referendum to extract themselves from the yoke of EU tyranny.
All in all, the election results are not as bad as first feared.