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OPINION: COMMENT ON THE UK ELECTIONS

by: - June 10, 2017
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The results of the UK General Elections reafirms the fact that in a democracy people cast their ballots for or against a candidate or party for a multiplicity of reasons. The true test of democracy is the ability to accept the results. In our case the UWP has not been able to accept the result of 4 consecutive general elections since losing in 2000 and in every subsequent election. In the United States the Democrats cannot come to terms with a Trump Presidency.

In the UK Cameron made an election pledge in 2015 that if he won he would hold a referendum on Britains membership of the EU. Since he himself favoured remaining in the EU, he fully expected to get an overwhelming “remain” vote. The people however voted to leave. Were they right or were they wrong? In a democracy there is no right and wrong in how the people vote. They vote and the results have to be respected.

Comeron gambled and lost. He resigned and Theresa May became Prime Minister. Before that there had been a referendum in Scotland to remain or leave the United Kingdom that was another 2015 campaign promise. The Scottish Nationalists Party who had campaigned for a referendum fully expected a massive vote to leave, after all they had overwhelmingly won the 2015 General Election in Scotland and routed the Conservative Party and the Labour Party from Scotland for the first time. The Scottish people however who for all their fiestyness have been part of the United Kingdom since James IV of Scotland became James I of England, voted to remain by a narrow margin.

What was clear was the fact that the whole political climate in the UK was unstable with the country divided right down the middle on a variety of major issues.

Given the circumstances of her becoming Prime Minister, Theresa May would have a difficult time marshalling the Conservative Party into a unified position on BREXIT negotiations, bearing in mind that although the official government position was to “REMAIN”, several ministers of government having been allowed a free vote, campaigned to “LEAVE”. She needed a mandate which would draw the recalcitrant members of the Conservative Party into line thereby strengthening her hand in the negotiations. She therefore decided to go to the people for that mandate.

As was the case with the Cameron referendum this was not seen as a gamble but a sure thing. Jeremy Corbin was seen as weak and did not look like a formidable opponent. But Theresa May herself was untested as a party leader. She failed to inspire the electorate particularly the youth and made Corbin look good as a leader when compared to her, a sort of Bernie Sanders figure. It is always easier for the opposition to rally its supporters and new voters than it is for the government who will have to contend with disgruntled supporters. Labour was able to rally its supporters and made significant gains particularly among first time voters, taking seats away from the Conservatives resulting in the Conservatives losing.the narrow majority they held followi.g the 2015 election. Although the Conservatives increased the overall percentage of their popular votes, Labour however made greater gains both in popular votes and in parliamentary seats.

But there is a silver lining both for the Conservatives and for Labour and indeed for the United Kingdom and that is the results in Scotland. The Conservatives are now in their strongest position in Scotland in over 50 years and Labour has regained a foothold in Scotland. The real losers are the Scottish Nationalists who have lost over a third of their parliamentary seats. What it means is that talk of a second Scottish referendum on independence is now off the table for the foreseeable future. That is good for the United Kingdom and in a perverse sort of way good for the BREXIT negotiations as the government will not now have to be looking over its shoulder wondering what the Scotts are up to and whether they are seeking to make their own separate deal with the European Union for a future independent Scotland. It will nevertheless be a difficult road for Prime Minister Theresa May and there may well be calls from within the Conservative Party for her to step aside for a new leader and Prime Minister.