By Stephen Kangal
(who was in London for the British Elections)
June 15, 2017
She clearly wanted to strengthen her negotiating position on the Brexit foreign policy issue with with the European Union that is scheduled to commence on 20 June 2017. It will last for two years until 20 June 2019- one year before the then scheduled elections.
But a sudden unprecedented tsunami of the Labour supporting youth vote propelled by a Labour manifesto promise of free University tuition fees, affordable state housing and more police on the beat shredded the safe Conservative pre-election majority of 331 seats reducing it to a weak and wobbly minority of 318.
So that while Theresa May contesting her first election as Prime Minister laboured to make the Brexit foreign policy issue and the unsuitability of Jeremy Corbyn for No 10 pivotal to the election campaign, the electorate and other parties had other ideas. Domestic issues such social care, immigration, the economy, defence, internal security/policing, education and increased funding of the NHS assumed galloping importance and evoked more traction and resonance with the people.
The Conservatives/Tories conducted a Presidential type of campaigning making Mayism central to their appeal. Theresa May’s mantra of rifling Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn as being weak and wobbly and totally unsuitable for taking up residence at No.10 Downing Street on the basis of heading what May dubbed a potential Coalition of Chaos back-fired big time. Knives are being sharpened among the Tories for a successor in the medium term. She now heads a tenuous coalition of chaos.
The critical turning point in the election erupted in the period after the launch of the respective manifestos when the Conservatives proposed to increase the contributions of senior citizens towards their heath care by increasing the threshold to £100,000 and removing the cap. This evoked a runaway and rising crescendo of opposition and opened a Pandora’s Box the consequences of which PM Theresa May could not negotiate nor retard. It resulted in an opening up of the campaign menu list that worked to her electoral disadvantage culminating in her June 8 loss of her previous majority and unable to gain the requisite 326 seat majority. She has gone into an issue-by-issue accommodation with the Democratic Unionists Party (DUP)
Britain today is a divided society in the aftermath of this June 8 election. It is polarised at the level of geography, demographics, ideology and politics as reflected in the results of the elections producing a fragile and precariously poised hung Housed of Commons. The EU referendum reflected the first evidence of a bifurcated Britain.
The Prime Minister after painting herself with a veneer of strong and stable leadership during the campaign commencement stage disintegrated as weak and wobbly by polling day. Her decision to change her manifesto proposal on social care just after the manifesto launch was unprecedented and undermined her campaign providing a favourable wind beneath the sails of the political fortunes of Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn who received more than 40,000 votes in his constituency of Islington North.
Many Conservative Ministers have lost their seats among the 12 seats that the Conservatives lost while Labour gained an additional 30 seats especially many more in the Greater London area. Only the gains that the Conservatives realised in Scotland helped to temper the losses in the South of England. At the end Conservatives won 318 seats and Labour 262 both failing to mobilise the requisite 326 majority resulting in a hung British Parliament that has already adversely affected the value of sterling and investor confidence.
Incumbent Prime Minister Theresa May after having an audience with the Queen on Friday is in the process of forming a minority Government with the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that gained 12 seats. The DUP supports a soft Brexit and is ideologically compatible with the Tories.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) was severely affected by the loss of 21 seats to the Tories, Labour and Libdems placing its proposed second referendum on Scottish independence and opposition to Brexit in terminal jeopardy.
The likelihood of another election after holding three in two years is real. But the British electorate is election weary and Prime Minister Theresa might be deselected from leading the Conservatives again.
The rising stocks of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn based on his unexpected showing at the elections by gaining 30 new seats, 12,858,652 votes (41% of turn-out) and inflicting an electoral humiliation of Theresa May will act as the new amalgam and catalyst to unify the disparate factions of the Labour Party albeit with the Left in full control in the new Labour configuration of the House of Commons.