Thursday, May 6, 2010

UK: Three losers

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown captured d...Image via Wikipedia
The ballots in the UK general election have been closed for slightly less than an hour now. All the BBC can talk about, all they have in their hands, is their exit poll. An exit poll is, after all, a poll, not an election result. So it fits in well with our blog's stated purpose. Here it is:
  • Conservatives: 307
  • Labour: 255
  • Lib Dems: 59
  • Others: 29
At the risk of falling into cliché, if we take a minute to presume that the exit polls are close enough to take as an 'approximate' view of reality, the fact is that this remains an election with no winners but with plenty of losers.

There's no getting round the fact that Labour have lost: even if they can cobble together a coalition with the Lib Dems, they have certianly lost their mandate: they've lost any real claim to 'represent' the British people in any real way. There's no surprise there. Given that David Cameron looked like cakewalking to a majority just a month ago, it's tough to see a hung parliament as anything but a loss for the Conservatives as well - polls all long have shown very little enthusiasm for the Tories this time round: merely less antipathy than exists towards Labour. The biggest loss, though, has to be the Lib Dems, really: this exit poll shows them, amazingly, losing seats since 2005. While the Lib Dems can spin that scenario into a plea for electoral change, and while a hung parliament is very obviously exactly what they've been salivating for, 2010 was meant to be the real electoral breakthrough for the Lib Dems. Losing seats is a queer way to have a breakthrough...

No winners at all. No breakthroughs for nationalists, for Green, for UKIP either... one hopes, then, that the way forward here is humility. One hopes that all three parties will come forth and talk about their inability to have engaged the public's imagination or hopes this time round. Obviously co-operation is essential between the parties: not just for the for-the-love-of-God-stop-talking-about-them 'markets', but most importantly to stop the British public as a whole from falling either into a profound apathy or into the trap they appear to have avoided this time out of voting for far-right fringe parties.

Will that happen? Well, the optimist in me hopes so. The pessimist in me? He sees dark times ahead...

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