Skip to content

The UK Election, Dec 12 2019

by on 2019/12/08

The British Election, December 12, 2019


Many heads wiser than I have commented on the appalling state of British politics. The voters do not, however, have much choice on Thursday because we are still stuck in a country with a failed democratic system called “first past the post” which regularly produces governments elected by significantly less than half of the voters, and polarizes politics.  As we pointed out in the Introduction to the Norway-Scotland book a few years ago, “for Scottish voters (the first-past-the-post system) has meant many decades of effective political disenfranchisement in which the party in power in Westminster has not had a majority of votes from the Scottish people. Indeed, the only time when this was notthe case since the Union was the period of liberal hegemony in the late 19thand early 20thcentury.”

The situation has been made markedly worse since the Brexit referendum, when all regions of Scotland voted convincingly to remain in the EU, while voters in England and Wales voted by an admittedly small majority to leave. The two main UK (Westminster Parliament) parties, Labour and Conservatives both committed to respecting the English and Welsh voters wishes (but not, of course, those of the Scottish or Irish voters), which meant that the only effective opposition to Brexit came from the Scottish National Party MPs in Westminster. Although SNP holds by far the majority of Scottish seats, Scotland population and representation is only about 10% of the UKs as a whole.  It is therefore correctly argued that the Scottish people (yes we are a Nation, and not a region!) are being taken out of the EU against their will, whichever of the main parties is able to form a Government (albeit almost certainly with less than half of the votes).

Brexit is of course only part of the story. It is clear that the Conservatives, if they win, will seek an early trade deal with Trump’s USA, in order to help counter the disastrous economic impacts of departure from the EU. Equally clear from leaked papers as well as from the previous EU-US trade negotiations is that Trump wants the UK National Health Service to be opened up to US private firms, including insurance firms, and also to liberalise trade in food, including GMOs and chlorine-washed chickens, meat with growth hormones and antibiotics, a lower emphasis on climate action, etc. All of the denials of these priorities by Prime Minister Johnson and his cabinet and yea-sayers are lies.

The situation can only be saved by a radical shift in voting intentions in England, and by a clear vote for the Scottish National Party in Scotland. In England, the vote must go to Labour, because the Liberals cannot be trusted not to vote for the Conservatives in a hung parliament. After all, they were part of PM Cameron’s coalition that brought us the Brexit referendum as well as many regressive policies such as tax cuts for the rich, and the bedroom tax. Then the anti-Brexit parties might just hold the balance of power. This could lead to a new referendum on Brexit with clear statements of outcomes from the negotiations, or even a revocation of Article 50 and a return to the EU fold.

Either way, I have no doubt that Scotland will continue down the path towards independence, and Ireland will more ever more towards a united Ireland The Brexit debacle has made this more certain. Of course, it will make life more difficult for Scots and Irish people and businesses if England leaves the EU. But on the other hand the Irish will find a strong alliance with Scotland, and the Trade routes to Europe will move north. Both countries will naturally look east to their ancient links with the Nordic countries, the Netherlands and France. A border will unfortunately be necessary with England. None of us like that outcome, but it will have been forced upon us by the Conservatives in England.

One can of course hope for a different outcome, in which there will be radical constitutional change, with a shift to proportionate representation and real devolution to local levels, a flowering of more diverse parties, and more human and human representatives.  But all that seems a long way off at this point in time.

For us British Citizens living in the rest of Europe or indeed elsewhere, we are informed that if we do not have a UK residence, we will lose the vote after 15 years. At the moment I pay taxes in the UK, but they will no longer issue me with an EU health card. The Conservatives are also believed to favour some limitations on our pension rights, even though we contributed the same as everyone else while working. My understanding is that this is about protecting our pension from inflation, or not, as the case may be. There are other issues affecting us if Brexit proceeds in its unruly fashion, or even at all, that we cannot be happy about. Yet even if we can in theory vote in this election, many of us will not be able to do so in fact because of the slowness of modern (often privatized) postal services, or because of the 15 year rule, or because of registration issues.

This election will mark a watershed in British life, and politics. Everyone is elgible and able to MUST vote, and make it count. Making it count means tactical voting – in my view to kick the Tories out. I hope that Scots will make it clear that they want to leave the UK and become an independent nation in the EU, and preferably also in the Nordic Union, such as it is. I like Nicola Sturgeon, her anti-nuclear weapon stance, her social and climate policies, and her prioritization of people and welfare. She is certainly the best leader of any political party in the UK today, by far.


From → Rural policy

Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: