The 2019 general election is over, and despite my desire for an unlikely result, my suggestion that the outcome was unpredictable was nothing more than wishful thinking. Boris Johnson will be in Number 10 for the next five years. Life will go on. The campaign to Remain in the EU will not. It is, barring something quite extraordinary happening, over. There is no democratic pathway to victory, and that must be accepted. We will leave the EU in January. It is true that Remain/EURef2 parties won 53% of the vote. It is reasonable to say that the Conservatives will take us out of the EU against the will of the people. However, our system of democracy works on a First Past The Post basis. And I have some thoughts about that, the result, and the way forward.
First Past The Post
FPTP does not usually produce a parliament that is truly reflective of the electoral vote and this time is no different. There have been occasions when a party with fewer votes that their direct opposition end up with a majority and can form a government. In this election, the Liberal Democrats increased their vote share by more than the Conservatives, SNP and Greens combined but ended up with one MP fewer than they started with.
On the flip side, FPTP does mean that there are fewer coalitions, which I consider a good thing. It also means that genuinely extreme parties are usually kept out of parliament. UKIP, despite its large vote tally in 2015, won just a single seat - and that was a Tory who had defected. I have never argued against the FPTP system, so I cannot grumble now that it has worked against me.
His supporters are already claiming that the defeat of Labour was simply down to Brexit. It is true that Brexit played a significant role, not least because by refusing to choose a side, Corbyn alienated both Leavers and Remainers. But the truth is, people just don’t like Corbyn. They don’t trust him. He was toxic in this election. He is incredibly divisive. And that was summed up best by Corbyn himself, with his party slogan.
‘For the many, not the few’ sums up his entire campaign. It’s a slogan that people are likely to associate with his Marxist roots, and this is not a country that is remotely inclined to lean very far in that direction. It’s an ‘us and them’ message, which is by its nature divisive. Even then, Corbyn failed to properly and accurately define exactly who belonged to ‘us’ and who belonged in the ‘them’ camp. Allowing your opponents free reign to do that for you is political suicide.
And yet, despite the crescendo of boos at the final curtain, Corbyn is refusing to leave the stage. He is attempting to set the scene for the next election. If he is allowed to do so, he is setting up the Labour Party for further defeat.
The Liberal Democrats
I voted Lib Dem. The plea from those who ran tactical voting websites, plotting the best course to ensure that the Tories were denied a majority, was for me to vote Labour. I considered it. Right up till the last moment with pencil in hand, I was not entirely decided. But I could not vote for a party lead by Corbyn. Still, my vote for the Lib Dems was far from enthusiastic. You might think that their policy switch - from arguing for a second referendum to promising revocation - would sit well with me. It didn’t.
I believe in democracy. I am of the opinion that there should not have been an EU referendum in the first place. But there was. The electorate made a choice and it was (and still is) the duty of parliament to work towards taking the UK out of the EU. The only democratic means of reversing that instruction was through a second referendum. That was a poor call by the Lib Dems. And whilst they won my vote in this election, they lost me as a member of the party.
The UK will now leave the EU on January 31st. I am in no doubt the campaign to rejoin will start immediately. I won’t be aon that bandwagon, at least not for a while. Nothing will be achieved by stomping up and down, screaming blue murder on February 1st. Its also not reasonable to expect the EU to either want or allow the UK to jump in and out of the union every five minutes. The case to rejoin the EU will be made, or not made, further down the road. The case will be made on economic and social issues, and will include a new generation and a different demographic. And I will revisit the debate when the time is right. Exactly, when? I do not know. It could be two years. It could be twenty.
Until then, whilst I am not sure many people will ‘feel the heal’, I will enjoy the tranquility brought about by the certainty. And I will console myself that those who voted most fervently for Brexit are the ones who are most likely to suffer from the consequences, rather than myself. Indeed, when it all goes wrong and they come cap in hand for benefits, perhaps I’ll vote Conservative just to spite them.
My Inbox will be a more restful place now that I've unsubscribed from the Lib Dems, Open Britain and People's Vote. I wish Boris Johnson the best. He is what he is, and I've covered that ground before. Perhaps what is important is this: he isn't much of an ideological extremist. He isn't thick. He isn't really 'Britain Trump'. And thanks to his sizeable majority he will, one hopes, free himself from the ERG gangsters that have had the Tory party by the balls for the last several years. His post-election speeches clearly seem aimed at a new, wider audience than before. His narcissistic tendencies may well be our saving.