Tuesday, June 06, 2017

UK General Election 2017: Pre-PostMortem

On the subject of distinguishing between real media and ‘fake’ news. My view of why we got the result in the UK General Election we got. In advance of getting it.
And my apologies for writing about tacky politics at this difficult moment in the land of my birth. But politics is the answer. And writing about it remains important.
Pretty much as I predicted when the election was called, Theresa May and the British Conservative Party will win an outright majority. But of no more than 40 seats.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time rehashing what everyone else is saying, or will say. I’m going to offer my own personal perspective.
First, what is different between my earlier prediction and this pre-postmortem? Answer: the Liberal Democrats.
Pretty much all that I said in the earlier prediction, especially the collapse of UKIP, and the opening that would offer the Tories, will come true.
But, the Liberal Democrats have also collapsed. Which means the Tories will pick up a few extra seats in the South-West I was not predicting on April 20.
The other major change is I do not think a low majority for May will be due to low turnout. It will be because she has turned out to be a manifestly awful campaigner. While Jeremy Corbyn has been surprisingly affable and effective.
Which is not to say May made a mistake calling a snap election. She didn’t call it for the health of her party, or the country. She did it to make the most of what she privately perceived as her own shortcomings.
I think Theresa May is a lot like Gordon Brown. Controlled. Controlling. Introspective. Shy. Insecure. With all the charisma of a soggy Margaret Thatcher 1979 tea towel.
Unlike Gordon Brown, I believe May was well aware of her personality shortcomings. Like Gordon Brown, she had a plan all worked out for maximizing her leadership in the first few months of her reign. Then, unlike Brown, she had the balls mercilessly to take advantage of her temporary popularity.
Plus, she was canny enough to look ahead, and realize that the Tory brand was waning.
May transformed the Tory Party, after her ascension, from Cameron’s touchy-feely tree-hugging to UKIP. Not UKIP-lite. No. Full bore UKIP. With devastatingly-effective and cruel manipulation, May took full advantage of all the emotional consequences of Brexit.
She wasn’t in the slightest bit interested in the future. She was interested only in this election.
I think the clever people around May. And they are very clever. Told her that, once Brexit was done, well before the chosen date for the next General Election of 2020, the voting public would have no reason to vote for the Tories other than their record.
And even the most fervent of Conservative blue rinses has to accept that the time for this version of Toryism is over. The sell-by date is past.
Electorates never vote out of gratitude. They vote for goodies they are going to get tomorrow.
Whatever folks may think about Tory claims that they rescued Great Britain from Labour excess and recession. That was all so five minutes and Nick Clegg ago.
People have had enough of being noble. Of being told they need to accept cut, and cut out and cut off, for the good of the country, their children, the world, someone over there.
It’s time for some sugar. The clever people around May told her that, by 2020, and with Brexit out of the way, the Great British voting public would be looking for a bit of Bert after all the Mary Poppins. A spoonful of sugar. And Tories don’t do sugar well.
It’s no good talking about nationalization, and price controls, and ceilings being a part of the failed past. No-one cares about the Seventies. Besides, people like to do their own failing. They won’t get warned off it by being told it’s going to end in tears.
If people paid any attention to history and causes, marriage counselors and bookies would have gone out of fashion a long time ago.
So. May knew 2020 was going to be a disaster for the Tories. Knew her best shot was now. Knew that those 20% polling leads would dwindle the moment she began to put her foot in her mouth. And so, she called her snap election. For herself. And for herself alone.
Now. To be fair. I suspect she knew her polling figures would take a knock. But not as much as they have. Very few punters predicted Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign. And let’s be clear, Jeremy has done more than cement his own position as Labour leader post-election. He has, in my humble opinion, made Labour favorites to win the next General Election.
Corbyn and Momentum made a conscious decision not to offer Tory-lite in 2017. They presented a coherent alternative economic and social policy. Based on assumptions which rang true with the current British electorate.
Again, it matters not if Tories and others whined that nationalization didn’t work last time. Neither party was offering anything all that new. There never really is anything new in politics and economics. It’s all a rehash of the past.
The only thing that matters is whether or not it is a rehash whose time has come. And Jeremy Corbyn, with his integrity, charm, affability and humor, created a space, entirely all his own, in which that rehash could be viewed positively. And I predict that will be a stepping stone to likely Labour success in five year’s time.
I’m not sure Corbyn will hang around for another election. But he will now likely go on his own terms. And I suspect not least because the more intelligent of those who opposed him will realize that he really was the man for the hour. There probably was not another candidate who could have done a better job of making Labour policy look so warm and fuzzy in 2017.
Oh. An even further look ahead in my pre-postmortem crystal ball? Unless May exceeds all expectations, and does in fact get a majority of at least 80 seats, she will be history by the time of the next General Election.

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