Election Shows Britain Needs Electoral Reform

View of the Houses of Parliament in London, England, December 21, 2011
View of the Houses of Parliament in London, England, December 21, 2011 (Ben Sutherland)

The outcome of Britain’s general election on Thursday underscores the need for electoral reform.

Support for the Conservatives rose from 42.4 to 43.6 percent, but in terms of seats they went up from 317 (48.7 percent) to 365 (56.2 percent) out of 650.

Martin Sandbu of the Financial Times argues this hardly qualifies as a landslide. Boris Johnson “played the electoral system better” better than his predecessor, Theresa May. Read more “Election Shows Britain Needs Electoral Reform”

British Post-Election Analysis and Opinion Blog

A policeman stands guard outside 10 Downing Street, the residence of the British prime minister, in London, England, November 28, 2016
A policeman stands guard outside 10 Downing Street, the residence of the British prime minister, in London, England, November 28, 2016 (Shutterstock/Dominika Zarzycka)
  • Boris Johnson has promised to lead a “people’s government” after winning the Conservatives’ biggest parliamentary majority since 1987.
  • Jeremy Corbyn has announced he will resign after leading Labour into its worst election since 1935.
  • Scotland’s National Party has won most seats in the region and is demanding a second independence referendum. Read more “British Post-Election Analysis and Opinion Blog”

What Went Wrong for Britain’s Liberal Democrats?

Jo Swinson unveils the Liberal Democratic manifesto at a party conference in London, England, November 20, 2019
Jo Swinson unveils the Liberal Democratic manifesto at a party conference in London, England, November 20, 2019 (Liberal Democrats)

Britain’s Liberal Democrats were polling as high as 20 percent in September, when it seemed just possible they might beat Labour into third place. The projection now is they will end up with 11 percent support in the election on Thursday, up from 7-8 percent in the last two elections but still a far cry from the 22-23 percent Charles Kennedy and Nick Clegg won in 2005 and 2010.

Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat leader, even lost her seat in Dunbartonshire East to the Scottish nationalists by a margin of 149 votes. It means her party will need to find a fourth new leader in five years.

What went wrong? Read more “What Went Wrong for Britain’s Liberal Democrats?”

Conservatives Learned the Lesson of the 2017 Election

Boris Johnson, then the mayor of London, visits Hampstead Heath, April 15, 2012
Boris Johnson, then the mayor of London, visits Hampstead Heath, April 15, 2012 (i-Images/Andrew Parsons)

Britain’s Conservative Party learned the lesson of the 2017 election, when then-Prime Minister Theresa May lost her majority on the back of some rather limp campaigning.

This year, under the more charismatic, if perhaps less reliable, Boris Johnson, the Conservatives have been in an optimistic mood, emphasizing hoped-for possibilities of economic, political and social renewal after Brexit.

The mantra of their campaign was to “get Brexit done” after three years of back-and-forth negotiations with the EU. The calculation was that this would appeal to working-class Labour voters in constituences that want to leave the EU. The exit poll released by the three major broadcasters after polling places closed on Thursday night appears to bear this out. Read more “Conservatives Learned the Lesson of the 2017 Election”

Conservative Landslide in British Election

  • Britain’s ruling Conservative Party is on track to win its biggest parliamentary majority since 1987.
  • The election on Thursday was the worst for Labour since 1935. Jeremy Corbyn has announced he will resign.
  • Scotland’s National Party is expected to win almost all seats in the region and demanding a second independence referendum.
  • The Liberal Democrats fell short of expectations. Party leader Jo Swinson even lost reelection in her own constituency. Read more “Conservative Landslide in British Election”

Conservatives Projected to Win Majority in British Election

Then-British foreign secretary Boris Johnson answers questions from reporters at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, June 18, 2018
Then-British foreign secretary Boris Johnson answers questions from reporters at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, June 18, 2018 (UN/Jean-Marc Ferré)

Boris Johnson could win a 28-seat majority in parliamentary elections on Thursday, according to one projection that correctly forecast the outcome of the last election.

YouGov, which accurately predicted no party would win a majority in 2017, gives the Conservatives 339 out of 650 seats, up 22, with 43 percent support.

Other polls show similar support for the ruling party: 42 to 45 percent.

YouGov’s 34 percent for Labour is on the high end. Other polls giving the second party in the range of 32-33 percent. That could give Jeremy Corbyn 231 seats in Parliament, down 31. Read more “Conservatives Projected to Win Majority in British Election”

Liberal Democrats Are Least Bad Option in British Election

Jo Swinson unveils the Liberal Democratic manifesto at a party conference in London, England, November 20
Jo Swinson unveils the Liberal Democratic manifesto at a party conference in London, England, November 20 (Liberal Democrats)

British politics hasn’t given liberals hope in recent years.

In 2015, we called for another Conservative-Liberal coalition. When the Conservative Party won an outright majority that year and veered to the right, embracing Brexit with a gusto, we switched to the Liberal Democrats. We still supported Ruth Davidson’s Conservatives in Scotland in 2017, but she is gone and with her any hope of moderation on the right.

Boris Johnson, who once described himself as a liberal, has made common cause with the reactionaries in his party to take power; forced out 21 principled moderates who opposed his Brexit policy, including ten former cabinet ministers, two former chancellors and one former deputy prime minister; and unlawfully suspended Parliament in an attempt to prevent debate on his Brexit deal, which, for all his bluster, is essentially the deal the EU offered two years ago.

Worst of all, Johnson frames this election as a choice between “the people” and Parliament. That is the sort of insidious rhetoric which paves the way for the erosion of liberal democracy. Read more “Liberal Democrats Are Least Bad Option in British Election”

Britain’s Health Care Debate Is Broken

London, England at night, February 14, 2012
London, England at night, February 14, 2012 (Warren Chrismas)

When it was revealed last week that the British government had not ruled out giving American pharmaceutical companies more generous patent rights under a post-Brexit trade agreement with the United States, the opposition Labour Party was up in arms, accusing the ruling Conservatives of putting the National Health Service (NHS) “up for sale”.

The Conservatives rushed to deny it.

“The NHS is not on the table,” said Health Secretary Matt Hancock. “We are absolutely resolved that there will be no sale of the NHS, no privatization,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

The episode was emblematic of the British health care debate: Labour mischaracterizes any proposed change as a step toward privatization while the Conservatives, rather than make the case for choice and competition, try to convince voters they care about the NHS even more. Read more “Britain’s Health Care Debate Is Broken”

Corbyn’s Extremism Is Why Labour Will Lose Again

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a meeting in Highbury, North London, January 8, 2018
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a meeting in Highbury, North London, January 8, 2018 (Catholic Church England and Wales)

Few British voters outside the Conservative Party trust Prime Minister Boris Johnson, a one-time liberal who opportunistically embraced the reactionary cause of Brexit to advance his own political career and who shamefully besmirched Parliament to get his preferred version of Brexit through.

And still he is projected to win the election in December with support for the Conservatives trending toward 45 percent. Labour, the second largest party, is at 25-30 percent in the polls.

The reason is Jeremy Corbyn. He has pulled Labour so far to the left that middle-income voters no longer trust it.

Corbyn’s net approval rating is the lowest of any opposition leader since counting began in 1977. Just 16 percent of British voters have faith in him. Read more “Corbyn’s Extremism Is Why Labour Will Lose Again”

Corbyn Could Learn Something About Coalition Politics from Spain

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visits Telford, England, November 6
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn visits Telford, England, November 6 (Labour)

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has ruled out forming a coalition after the election in December, daring smaller parties to back him or risk another Conservative government.

“We’re not doing deals with anybody,” Corbyn told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday.

Asked specifically about the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) demand for an independence referendum, Corbyn said:

The SNP will have a choice: do they want to put Boris Johnson back in with all the austerity economics that they claim to be against or are they going to say, well, a Labour government is going to deliver for Scotland.

This is the same mistake Spanish Socialist Party leader Pedro Sánchez made after the election in April and the reason we had another election here in Spain last week. Read more “Corbyn Could Learn Something About Coalition Politics from Spain”