This election campaign may go down in British history as both the most unnecessary and surprising of recent times. Not only have the majority of British newspapers been forced to change their predictions (along with their oh so fickle loyalty), but what was initially seen as the death knell of Jeremy Corbyn, may in fact be the making of a serious political contender.
Since Corbyn’s election to leader of the Labour party, the “popular wisdom” has had it that he is “unelectable”, “unable to campaign”, and of course, “a liability in an election”. The reality has, unfortunately been quite different. He has not behaved like a “mutton-headed mugwump”, but rather a fairly consummate campaigner who has engaged a lot of young and/or undecided voters. In fact he has ran the kind of campaign that Nigel Farage was attempting to get UKIP to run (similar to Beppe Grillo’s % Star Movement, a lot more online activism).
It is the Labour Party that has let him down. If it had not been for the truly obnoxious Shadow Cabinet, he may well have won this election. Diane Abbott’s appalling behavior and ignorance, Keir Starmer’s utter disdain for the will of the electorate, and of course the complete lack of a plan or even a position on Brexit in general.
But what of Mrs. May? She has not been the election winning machine that many in the “Conservative” party had hoped for. She has flip-flopped, obfuscated and prevaricated at every turn. The only thing she has been totally clear on is that her plans to combat terrorism involve restricting the freedoms of every citizen of the United Kingdom. She has tried to emulate UKIP policies at almost every level yet has failed to inspire the passion that many UKIP voters feel for the party. This is because the Tory Party is not an ideological party…It is a party of special interests that resembles more a weathervane than a Storm.
And though a convincing win still looks to be on the cards, it is not inspiration that will have drawn the voters to her party, it is desperation…Which was of course her plan all along. She prevaricated just enough to cast doubts on the certitude of Brexit, and then called an election to allow her to shore up the UKIP and undecided Brexiteer vote. If voters were confident that Brexit would go ahead (a REAL Brexit), then natural UKIP voters would have cast their vote for the party that (on occasion) inspires them…not tactically.
And UKIP? Although the votes have yet to be counted, and despite almost constant media predictions that “The Party” will finally be over, there remains a good chance that even if the vote share shrinks, a couple of key seats may be won (think South Thanet, Clacton and Thurrock). This will neither be the end nor the rebirth for UKIP, it will be an opportunity to define who exactly we are and where we want to be heading in the future. Do we want to be a protest party, a party of stalwart defenders of freedom or a mathematically precise electoral odds calculator?
This has been an election for the press. They have reveled in the ups and downs and the slings and arrows. Every new trend or prediction has been chased down and analyzed by almost any talking head that could be found. Regardless of the result, the future sales of newspapers and online subscriptions are all but assured. They will either protest the “arrogance of Theresa May” or mock the “naivety of Jeremy Corbyn”; the public will be the real losers.
But this should have been the most important election since the Second World War. The UK is in a crisis that we have never experienced before (during the Troubles we knew who, why and where), and our future and freedoms are facing a new risk. The political leaders should have been talking about their vision for dealing effectively (and of course fairly) with the new terrors that have come upon us, but they didn’t. And what’s worse, is that the media did very little to encourage them in this. Instead the BBC was filled with the triteness of opinion that it has been at every election. Leaders went unchallenged, politicians stayed out of the firing line, and we are no closer to understanding what our new government will be doing to protect us. (Paul Nuttall was the exception who made his position very clear).
We will soon discover the new landscape in which we must live, let’s hope it is one that allows us the freedoms that are so hard won.