As the dust settles on the aftermath of this month’s General Election in the U.K., it is clear that strange things are happening in British politics. Indeed it is not so much the settling of the dust on the recent election which should concern intelligent observers of the political situation in the U.K. as the likely fall-out which will follow in its wake.
The election was full of surprises, not least of which was the woeful failure of pollsters to accurately predict what would happen. Prior to the election, the self-styled “experts” predicted a very close race, with the likelihood of no party winning an overall majority. Many spoke ominously of the unsettling prospect of a hung parliament which would require a coalition of uncomfortable partners. Many thought that the Labour Party might form a government in coalition with the Scottish National Party, a “marriage” of two “partners” whose loathing of each other is only exceeded by their mutual loathing of the Conservatives. Far from being a marriage of convenience, this marriage of very reluctant necessity would be stormy at best, or at first, but would surely dissolve and descend into a nasty, messy and acrimonious divorce.
Another prediction of the pollsters was that support for the U.K. Independence Party, which had done so astonishingly well in last year’s European Elections, would collapse dramatically. For those of us who rejoiced in last year’s national uprising against the tyranny of the European Union, the prospect that this noble resistance to tyranny would crumble so ignominiously was a cause for despondency.
It seemed, therefore, to summarize the way that the “experts” were predicting the outcome of the election, that Britain would be ruled by an unholy alliance of socialists, the SNP being essentially as socialist as the Labour Party, with the hopes of a continued national resistance to euro-tyranny evaporating. It was not a pleasant or welcoming scenario.
In the event, the “experts” had egg on their faces as British voters failed to do as they were told (or polled). In defiance of expectation, the Conservative Party won an overall majority, gaining 331 seats. The Labour Party, winning almost a hundred seats fewer than the Conservatives, saw its share of the vote fall considerably. As predicted, the U.K. Independence Party failed to emulate its success in the European elections of the previous year, gaining only one seat in parliament, yet its overall share of the vote was higher than many had thought. The biggest surprise was, however, the meteoric rise of the Scottish National Party, which swept the board north of the border. The SNP won fifty-six seats, a dramatic rise from the meagre six seats that it had won in the previous election. It was in every sense a real landslide victory, with the Scottish Nationalists winning fifty-six of the fifty-nine seats in Scotland. The last big surprise in an election full of surprises was the cataclysmic collapse of the Liberal Democrats, who lost forty-seven of their fifty-five seats, effectively rendering them powerless.
With the dust now settled on this most surprising of elections, what are its ramifications for the future of Britain and for the U.K.’s role in the wider world, and what is the likely political fall-out?
Since the Conservative Party secured victory because of its success in winning back voters from the U.K. Independence Party, stealing U.K.I.P.’s thunder by promising a referendum on Britain’s membership of the European Union and hinting that it will tackle the problem of escalating immigration from the European Union countries, it is to be hoped that it will deliver on its promises. Since, however, the Conservatives have habitually made such promises without ever honouring them, seasoned political observers will remain skeptical that Cameron’s Conservatives will prove any more honest and honourable than previous Conservative administrations.
The fall in support for Socialism, at least in England (as distinct from Wales and Scotland), is of course most welcome. It is particularly heartening that Labour’s dismal performance was accompanied by the utter collapse of the even more ideologically radical Liberal Democrats. Since Labour and the Liberal Democrats are sickeningly and sycophantically supportive of the draconian European Union, their fall in support is a cause of particular joy for those seeking freedom from the euro-machine.
At the other end of the spectrum, the U.K. Independence Party, with its avowedly anti-E.U. stance, failed to emulate the previous year’s triumph, mostly due to the Conservative Party’s success in convincing voters that it would offer them a referendum on E.U. membership. Yet U.K.I.P.’s vote held up more than many expected and was much higher than its solitary parliamentary seat would suggest. It was the third most popular party in the country, in terms of the number of votes won, behind the Conservatives and Labour but ahead of the S.N.P. and the Liberal Democrats. Having received almost four million votes, but only one seat, U.K.I.P.’s leader, Nigel Farage, described the U.K. electoral system as being “totally bankrupt.” He has a valid point. The U.K. Independence Party received more votes than the Liberal Democrats but gained seven fewer seats in parliament, and more votes than the Scottish Nationalists but gained only one seat compared to the fifty-six won by the S.N.P.. How can this be described as representative government in any meaningful sense?
As any veteran of internecine political feuding could have predicted, the fall-out from U.K.I.P.’s perceived failure has been its descent into internal feuding, with demands from its members for a new leader, the consequence of which will probably be a further fall in support and possible fragmentation into splinter-groups which will render it politically ineffective. For those desiring a real opposition to the European Union, rather than the faux opposition offered (usually only at election time) by the Conservatives, this constitutes the most disappointing fall-out from the election.
After all is said and done, the most dramatic outcome of this election is likely to be the further weakening of the U.K., in the sense of its living up to its name as a “united kingdom.” The sensational success of the Scottish National Party represents an unequivocal desire on the part of the Scots for their independence from the U.K. and, more specifically, for their freedom from the “old enemy” south of the border. This could bring to an end the four hundred year marriage between England and Scotland, a marriage which, quite frankly, has never been the happiest of unions. As an Englishmen, who would like to see his own country free from its unneighborly neighbor north of the border, I wish the Scots a fond farewell.
There are of course problems attached to the S.N.P.’s plans for Scottish independence, not least of which is its dependence on the European Union to buttress its fragile economy. It seems to be a little ironic, not to say a trifle absurd, that Scotland demands its right to be free from London by tying itself ever more tightly to Brussels. This is, however, a problem for the Scots to address. For my part, I am happy that socialism was trounced in England, even if I cannot bring myself to trust the Conservatives, and I am happy that England might finally be free to call itself England again, casting aside Britain and its messy imperial heritage. I wish a fond farewell to Britannia, as I wish a fond farewell to Scotland, hoping that in the bitter-sweet parting of the ways we may see the rebirth of the Little England that I love and to which, under God and Family, I owe my allegiance.
Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore.