Snap Election 2017 – Runners and Riders
And they’re off! The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland goes to the polls yet again on June 8th, delighting the electorate so much that GPs across the country have reported a 400% increase in furtive inquiries about antidepressants. Many opposition MPs are taking the line that the Prime Minister has her eye not on the national interest but on opinion polls which portend the kind of victory more usually associated with Roman legions against some primitive tribe armed with sharpened turnips – although they have been unable to explain why, then, all but thirteen of them voted in Parliament in favour of the Prime Minister’s proposal to go to the country.
The truth is far more simple: after the Scottish referendum in 2014, the general election in 2015 and the EU referendum in 2016, the political establishment has developed an addiction. No doubt there will be another vote in 2018 on the EU exit terms, followed by a general election in 2019 to confirm the referendum result, then the Scots again in 2020. Soon one might as well be living in Switzerland, where there are daily referenda on which day of the week it is. To save you the trouble of reading any of the wretched election literature, therefore, or even god forbid watching the party political broadcasts, here is the JWC’s guide to your main choices.
THE LABOUR PARTY | Do you like hysterical identity politics, tirelessly urged upon an indifferent electorate in the kind of meaningless jargon understood only by regular readers of the American Journal of Gender Studies? Do you like the sort of conspiracy theory where international bankers and the CIA and probably the Daily Mail are secretly controlling the Islamic State in order somehow to make money? Do you have a somewhat, er, ambivalent attitude towards Jewish people? Then this outfit might be the one for you. A weird alliance between emotionally compromised undergraduates and white-collar public-sector ‘professionals’, led by a claque of senile Marxists in regrettable jackets, they may not have anything to say about forging a post-EU national destiny or the housing crisis or the economy or Syria and North Korea, but they sure can make an anti-Trump placard and holler clichés about the National Health Service. You never know, they might even win a few seats. Not in the South, of course, which they lost in the 1980s; nor in Scotland, which they lost during the Independence Referendum; nor the in north of England nor Wales nor the Midlands, which they lost during the EU Referendum. But there are still a few university towns small enough for hysterical students be electorally decisive, and those bits of outer London infested by BBC radio producers, local government climate change strategists, executives of state-funded ‘charities’ and other tax-eating New Class functionaries so effectively taken apart in Ludwig von Mises’s The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality and whom house-price inflation has made into millionaires. Inspirational.
THE CONSERVATIVE AND UNIONIST PARTY | Led by a politician who once called it ‘the nasty party’, since taking the helm she has had extensive remodelling work done and reintroduced it to the voting public as the Boring Party. Unsurprisingly, the British electorate can’t get enough of it: the determined search for a severe but not quite lethal level of boredom is the highest ambition and indeed the life’s work of the British people. Go to any town in the three kingdoms and you will find a well-attended bell-ringing society, a birdwatching club, some amateur photography thing where you look at slides of other members’ trips to Düsseldorf, and of course the local historical society which proudly displays Victorian postcards of the Old Market Square. None of these things will kill you, but they will get you through a few hours without excessive adrenalin production. In Britain, therefore, a political party which promises to remorselessly grind out a series of unambitious policies with the least possible excitement is the electoral equivalent of one of those new medical technologies where the patient’s very genome is used to create a bespoke therapeutic solution. Opinion polls appear to bear this out: even in Scotland, where people are taught from earliest childhood that ‘Tory’ is a synonym for gonorrhoea, enthusiastic queues are forming outside Party events, wearing the confused expressions of ocean-loving salmon wondering how exactly they came to be so far upriver: somewhere at the most primal level of their British brainstems, a neuron is firing which says, “Hmm, these guys seem unexciting. Tell me more.” Tipped to win.
THE LIBERAL DEMOCRATS | An intriguing example of the difficulty of completely eradicating things like Japanese knotweed and bedbugs: if even the smallest quantity survives the attentions of the pest control blokes, it rapidly blossoms anew and leaves you with the work to do all over again. Reduced to only eight MPs at the last election, at which they stood on a platform of being left-wing on everything except the economy, they are now targeting Tory remainers on a platform of being right-wing on everything except the European Union. This, mark you, from the first party to call for an in-out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, and the first party on the morning after the vote to call for the result to be disregarded. No doubt the decades to come will see any number of equally entertaining transformations by the Liberal Democrats, as their bloody-minded will to survive impels them towards Cornish nationalism, abolishing trans fats, union with Ecuador, invading France or whatever else is determined at the time to be most likely to get ‘em through the next few months. Right now, however, they are essentially the party of the European Commission in the United Kingdom, which will at least win them hearty support from readers of the Financial Times. Pass the sick bucket.
THE UK INDEPENDENCE PARTY | A well-known political phenomenon in the history of decolonisation in the twentieth century was the tendency for the party most closely associated with the struggle for independence to dominate the post-independence political establishment for decades after its sole raison d’être had apparently been accomplished. One thinks of Congress in India, those unspellable parties in Ireland, the ANC in South Africa, Zanu PF in Zimbabwe, and so forth. It is no doubt with some indignation and resentment, therefore, that UKIP’s leadership sees the bulk of its four million voters drifting away following the admittedly remarkable success of its twenty-year campaign to secure Britain’s independence from the European Union. Fifty-odd years in power would have been plenty of time for them to enjoy the exhilarating slide from complacency to corruption to dictatorship so wildly popular in other newly independent countries, not to mention the opportunity to fill Swiss bank accounts with Unicef money. Alas, the hard-nosed British voter is resolutely of the ‘Yeah, but what have you done for me lately?’ school of thought, leaving UKIP as something like the Anti Corn Law League after the repeal of the Corn Laws. If their manifesto launch is anything to go by, this has reduced their policy platform to something about burqas. We suppose that if you really don’t like burqas they may be worth a punt, but we suspect that the market for an Anti Burqa Party may prove to be somewhat niche.
THE SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY | Our guilty little secret here at the JWC is that we rather respect the Scottish National Party. They are effectively the Opposition in Parliament, which they appear to take seriously, and in national political discourse they are a far more effective voice for what they choose to call ‘progressive’ than the useless and annoying Labour Party. And anyway, why the bloody hell shouldn’t they demand independence if they want it? This isn’t China. So, there are several sound reasons to vote for the SNP: (a) you are Scottish, and you feel that any event up to and including the closure of a kebab shop on the Garscube Road demands that the nation be re-balloted on independence; (b) you are Scottish, and can not bear the thought of independence, so you desire to make Scotland even less independent as a member of the post-UK European Union than it is now as a member of the post-EU United Kingdom; (c) you are Scottish, and regardless of the Union question you want the most glass-chewingly mad left-wingery in the English-speaking world, the kind that would make Jeremy Corbyn back away slowly, murmuring about a prior engagement; (d) you are Scottish, but you hate the place so much that you are keen to see the SNP’s weapons-grade incompetence in the management of Scottish public services continue indefinitely. That should probably cover about half the electorate up there.
RICHARD BRANSON, TONY BLAIR AND GINA MILLER | None of these is actually standing in the election: the first is a billionaire with diversified interests in trains, aeroplanes and exploding spaceships; the second is a millionaire property speculator well-known in Baghdad and elsewhere; the third is one of those people like Kim Kardashian who has become a permanent feature of public life without anyone being sure exactly how or why. It is not entirely obvious why the opinion of any of these three should be remotely interesting to the electorate. Nevertheless, they have announced that they will firehose private money (no doubt 100% guaranteed to come from entirely irreproachable sources) at any constituency where there is a realistic chance of thwarting the overall national democratic outcome on a tactical basis. Apparently this is legal.
THE MONSTER RAVING LOONY PARTY | No longer required: see ‘The Labour Party’ above.
So there you have it. Vote early, vote often.