Not since the Second World War has Britain experienced such political turmoil as this last week. Faced with a hung parliament, the conservative party under Theresa May has managed to wipe out its majority seats, and with Brexit negotiations set to kick off in the next few weeks, a huge cloud of uncertainty hangs over Westminster this weekend.
The Conservative party went into this election with a “strong and stable” mandate which, while promising to get the best deal in Brexit negotiations, also attempted to sneak by some austerity measures, such as a dementia tax, but, alas, like every dastardly plan, it was foiled by the good guys, in this case a revitalized Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. Now this morning, May wakes up to the prospect of few alternatives for staying in government with only one real option coming from the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) in Northern Ireland. Before you we could even discuss this option, she went out and grabbed her life jacket without hesitation and now seeks to form a government based on an arrangement with the Northern Ireland unionists. It’s not exactly a coalition – more of an agreement of mutual consent, or something like that, but we all know what it is – a no option choice that has its limitations and consequences, and is a result of short term panic rather than the promise of stability and strength.
The island next door
It now seems that Northern Ireland, so forgotten in the Brexit referendum, has now played a crucial part in this proposed Conservative government. The DUP has won ten seats and with it, coalition of a sort with the Tories. There are questions, however, mainly what will be the impact of this set-up back in Northern Ireland. Going into government in Westminster will be a red flag to Sinn Féin who will see this as unworkable in terms of the power sharing executive and will no doubt mobilise themselves to ensure that their ultimate goal – Irish unity – will be pushed to the forefront of both Irish and British politics.
The other drawback is that the Conservatives will have to make considerable concessions to the DUP, mainly in funding, which will be costly, especially considering that they wanted this election to be the opportunity to cut spending rather than increase it.
On the other side, Sinn Féin are now under pressure to decide on taking their seats in Westminster, something which has never happened before and is a pillar in their overall manifesto to take away the power from London. The game has changed and Sinn Féin are staunchly against Brexit, so in theory, they should be more than willing to enter into something that could prevent it from happening, right? Wrong. Sinn Féin have already come out and said no to any possibility of sitting in Westminster and it’s my belief that unlike a lot of the other parties, Sinn Féin are playing longer game and hoping that Brexit will be such a disaster that the prospect of United Ireland will be the only real answer to the closed border scenario that nobody wants.
The comeback King
They wrote him off as being a closet commie, stuffy or just too damn old, but Jeremy Corbyn has bucked all the negative press over the last few years and emerged as a pretty credible leader and now a possible candidate for future Prime Minster. Who would have guessed that? But it’s easy to see when you look back over the last few weeks. Corbyn held the camera like a pro, with honesty, humility and intelligent replies to tough questions all aided by the simple fact that he actually turned up for debates, unlike his rival May. Now this morning, Corbyn says he is ready to lead and while that is now not going to happen, there is a real chance that he will be the man to do that, as there is a strong possibility that Britain will be going to the voting booths again in a year or so.
Looking elsewhere, it seems that Nicola Sturgeon must be pulling her hair out this this weekend. She went into this election as a confident leader of Scotland, secure in the knowledge that the SNP held a huge majority, and that based on this, a second referendum was in no doubt. However, this has been a terrible election for the SNP with them loosing 19 seats and now facing Scottish electorate that may be not so keen on independence after all. Despite that fact that they did have a better set of figures this time round, it seems that shadow of coalition with the Conservatives in 2010 was still a deciding factor in the decision of the people when considering a vote for the Lib-Dems. Gaining at least 5 extra seats is a success, but they are not the party of the 48%, that’s for sure. It was thought that having Remain policy the Greens would gain one or two seats, but unfortunately they have not done as well as expected. It just seems that in the current climate (excuse the pun), the Greens’ issues don’t seem too high on the agenda. And now on to our buddies in UKIP. It has to be the case that after today this bunch of hoodlums, who for too long now have had far more exposure than they ever deserved, will be erased from the political map for ever. They have been the centre piece in this disastrous period of political turmoil, and hopefully now, the British public have had enough of their racist rants, in house fighting, defections, over exposure, lack of any policy and downright ignorance, and informed them that their services are no longer required.
The real game begins
The next few days will be incredibly interesting with a merry dance being done by all parties to gain as much room in the club as possible. While this election was as much about everyday politics as it was about Brexit, nevertheless Brexit has caused the current status of politics in British – the centre is gone, replaced by clear left and right politics. The once strong and stable Britain has taken ill and may require long term hospital stay in order to recover. It’s still in a critical condition and is under threat from various risky infections, such Irish unity, Scottish unity, and a bad Brexit deal.
Britain is now today’s sick man of Europe and while its neighbours on the continent are in remission, they offer no help in terms of a learning experience, because all of Britain’s problems are a cause of its own system and society.
Great article, Ken 🙂 Sums it up 🙂 I just wouldn’t be so sure that UKIP is completely dead…they have just entered the soul of the Conservative Party and their voters might have voted strategically as a lot of others did… as soon as the Conservative Party would move from the very political right back to the middle and as long as Farage is around they might rise quickly from the dead…in addition: i found your headline very good…didn’t came to my mind yet to describe Britain as the sick men of Europe but it is pretty convincing….Greetings, Oliver 🙂
Thanks Oliver. Looking forward to reading some contributions from you soon.
I’d agree with the above re UKIP , they are the face of an ideology , if this section of British society feels Brexit is under attack they will dance again to the tune of Farage and the right wing press .
great article Ken. sums up nicely, exactly how fractured our situation in this so called UK is. the tories have made inroads in Scotland through their promises to the north east fishing communities which they will never keep. they have on the other hand been found out by huge parts of England. they also thought the welsh valleys would swing to them, but it’s still all to play for in my opinion for the SNP.a year or so, and we will all be at the ballot box again. shambles
Turbulent times ahead no doubt.
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