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  1. #161
    Call for a criminal investigation now too

  2. #162
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Yes, though I'd be staggered if that came to pass.

    Going to watch an hour or so of election coverage tonight before bed. Lib Dems expected to do quite well.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  3. #163
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    Can't lie - had a reaaaaal boost watching the results come in today, even if I feel like it doesn't really amount to all that much.

  4. #164
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    I suppose the question is how much does it amount to, in the final reckoning.

    I'm not sure the Lib Dems stuff is anything more than a historical corrective, but the Tory performance is monumentally, historically bad, when viewed in the full context.

    Labour is poor. Not really awful, but definitely a big worry for them.

    Green results might be the real takeaway from this in many ways, more significant than the LD Revival in a lot of respects.

    Could be a lot of internal pressure on the PM again after those results.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  5. #165
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    Is it a protest more than anything do you think, or is there anything in th swing towards explicit Remain parties?

  6. #166
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    I think Laura Kuenssberg said it best when she said it was undoubtedly both, but in what proportion, no one knows. So to be honest your guess is as good as mine.

    I know that the Greens improvement is based on local factors in several places and they've been grinding away in many places, so I'm reluctant to say it's a simple protest in some of those cases.

    So some of this was probably coming already, some might be hardcore remain voters swinging, and some might be a simple protest that you shouldn't read a lot into.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  7. #167
    Author of 101 WWE Matches To See Before You Die Samuel 'Plan's Avatar
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    That seems fair.

    I did immediately want to drive my head through a window when the first thing Leave politicians began spouting was essentially, "Everyone voting for explicitly pro-Remain parties is because they want us to get on with leaving." Then I paused and thought, actually, the way this country has gone, there's probably a small amount of inexplicable truth in that - given it's the same electorate that got us to this point.

  8. #168
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    I can't sleep, so I thought I'd do a big post in here with a bit of analysis on the local elections results.

    First, why is it such a disaster for the Conservatives - aren't local elections just a chance to kick the government?

    Well yes, in part. But the thing that has to be taken into account is the question of scale, and where the parties start from in the beginning. So to put it into perspective, in 1997 the local elections were on the same day as the General election. That boosted turnout and meant that Labour took a lot of seats that they wouldn't normally, because the scale of that landslide was massive. In 1999, they naturally came back down to earth and lost 1100 seats. That was the last time that a party lost 1000 council seats in an election, until this past week.

    What makes this more of an issue for the Conservatives is that they aren't starting from such a high position - to lose that kind of number from a relatively weak position means losing in all sorts of places that should be safe, true blue Tory. To be in such a position and to suffer the worst result since 1995, when the Tories were massively divided and basically unelectable, means this is a historically significant result and easily the weakest position a government has been in this century,


    Following on from that, why is it such a disaster for Labour, given they only lost 80 odd seats and the government are in such disarray?

    Well, the first answer is that they shouldn't be losing seats at all. In any typical political landscape, Labour should be making net gains from the Conservatives in a situation like this, and not just in small numbers. So to be down seats in the final reckoning is particularly worrying because it suggests that they just aren't on the way to power in the way that we might anticipate with such a weak governing party.

    But the other reason is that expectations were raised by recent polling. In the weeks leading up to the election, they were said to be waaaay ahead of the Conservatives - and while we weren't thinking they were going to be getting a majority they were certainly looking at being the biggest party, one that could be propped up by another party and take the country forward. They were supposed to finish 6 points up on the Tories and come within a few seats on winning an election. Instead, the local election results suggested they were essentially in a dead heat nationally. So they underperformed expectations going in, as well as not hitting what we'd expect in a more normal time.



    And with that, I'm starting to get tired. So I get this has worked. Perhaps more another time....

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  9. #169
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    So forgive my ignorance, but the who the heck is the election benefiting then?

  10. #170
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Three groups did quite well out of the election. The Liberal Democrats and the Greens, who happen to be the two main anti-Brexit parties (which may or may not be significant), are the first two. And then the third are the various collections of independents and local groupings, who either have direct local causes or have benefit primarily from a strong 'plague on all your houses' message being sent to the main parties.

    First, the Lib Dems. They had their best performance in local election history, at least going back to the merger between the old Liberal party and the SDP in the 1980s. Yes, they were starting from a low base. They got absolutely hammered when these seats were contested in 2015, when they were effectively punished for their role in the coalition by one group of their voters, while the others voted Tory, overwhelmingly, to ward off the spectre of a Labour/SNP coalition (if you believe what you read). Long story short, their vote here is, in part, a historical corrective to where they have been in the last few years, emblematic of them being somewhat forgiven for their transgressions and getting back to where you'd expect them to be in their traditional areas of strength.

    What makes it interesting, though, is that they are the most obvious bastion of pro-EU sentiment out of all our mainstream parties, so the question now being raised is whether or not that return to form in traditional areas, such as the South West, or their growth in places where they have a strong MP, like North Norfolk, can be read as in some way a public mood shift against Brexit, or whether this is a simple protest vote without much behind it. And there's no way to tell in all honesty - but what that means is that everyone fights over the message.


    Now, to the Greens. They are in a similar position to the Lib Dems in a sense, in that if you don't know that they are for the EU then you must not know much about them. They wear that on the sleeve proudly. But they are also - as the name suggests - the most environmentally conscious party, and they've had their platform in the news a lot lately because of the climate protests that have been going on in London and elsewhere. There are also significant local factors at work. They've been building and building up slowly in a lot of areas, aiming for second place finishes to try and get the idea that they are valid contenders into people's minds, and then to push on from there. It's an idea that has worked in some areas and has seen them win a lot of support in Brighton, including getting an MP there. Finally, there are plenty of places where councils are trying to build housing on green belt land, which is always something pretty unpopular and I suspect they are able to win over a number of votes from people on that specific issue.

    Still, the question of Brexit comes back into it here. People are reasonably asking could they and the Lib Dems have done that well if it really was all about Brexit? The Greens performance is actually even more striking in a sense, because though the numbers are smaller they start from a far smaller position as a party. They've actually more than doubled they amount that they have in this election cycle. They are up 194 councillors, but their total now is only 265, showing you were they were before.

    The final group are the independents, and the residents' associations, etc. The independent figure is actually staggering, with a net gain of more than 600 seats, even winning control of two councils in the process. Remarkable really. This one is simpler to interpret though, as it's quite clearly going to be a combination of local factors and dissatisfaction with the two mainstream parties. You can't really infer anything about the larger national and international issues safely in this case, because no one really knows what the councillors think about these issues and, more significantly, won't really have any credible platform that relates to those issues because they have no responsibility for them or involvement with the people that do.

    So those three groups benefit from the results quite a lot, but what that does to the national picture is, as you can probably gather, as clear as mud.



    The one thing that all the polling has been suggesting is that the swing voters who don't turn up for local elections but only for the main event have been breaking towards Labour. Whether that is true or not, no one can really be sure, though all the polling suggests anything from Labour being the largest party by just 10 seats all the way up to Labour coming within a handful of seats of a majority. The council election results thrown up naturally suggest more of an as you were, so who actually knows.


    But two things are in the mix that could change the complexion quite dramatically. One is that the European elections will happen if we can't agree a deal, and the two new parties are going to be on the ballot. What that will do is show much more clearly what the mood of the nation is, because the local issues question will be taken out of the agenda on one hand, and on the other there will be a party on the ballot known by the simple name of 'Brexit'. If the Brexit party do amazingly well, then these results will be written off as a protest. If they split the Tory vote but the Lib Dem/Green performance continues, or Change UK do very well (unlikely), then I think that would be taken as reflective of a major shift and would see some sort of change. So one way or another these elections will be much more indicative.

    The second thing that could change it is that Graham Brady, the unofficial leader of the Tory backbenchers, is meeting with Theresa May today to discuss her timetable for departure, and there's a lot of chatter around Westminster that if she refuses to go then they might take the unprecedented (and decidedly un-Conservative, as many have pointed out) step of amending the rules to their constitution so that they can challenge her again within the same year.

    Now, if May goes the Tories short term electoral chances probably go up somewhat. But the overall picture doesn't become any clearer without a shift in the electorate or in parliament, so you wonder what it'd mean for any successor long term.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  11. #171
    The Brain
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    Obviously you've still got a mess on your hands over there, but as an American who has only know the two party system it's very heartwarming to hear how many other parties can get into the conversation on your side. I'm sure we have our fair share of Green Party and Libertarians occupying small positions in certain areas but it doesn't really penetrate the public consciousness at all, except for exceptions like Sanders.

  12. #172
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    You know, that has a reasonably interesting history in itself, because for years the amount of the vote going to the smaller parties has been growing. In the 1950 General Election, the main two parties won effectively 90% of the vote. In 1979, it was 81%. By 1992, that'd fallen again, to 76%. Even as Blair's electoral freight train gathered steam, that number actually dropped in 1997, and it would carry on gradually diminishing until the end of New Labour in 2010, when it was down to just 65%. There was a marginal rebound in 2015, but the number was hovering around the mid-60s. Long story short, the Conservatives had won only one majority since 1992, and that was a bit of a fluke - Labour lost a huge amount of votes and seats in Scotland in 2016. With the two main parties pretty evenly matched and their total vote share now only around 2/3 of the electorate, most of the talk was about the end of the two-party system and a lot of compromise and coalition in the near future.

    Then, 2017 came along, and out of nowhere, they shot back up to 82.4% again - so there were then a lot of conversations about whether or not that was all premature talk, and maybe they were going to come out of this just fine. But then these local elections tell a whole other story, so if anything the impression is that 2017 might be an outlier, for all kinds of reasons.



    Interesting couple of days in politics. May has refused to rule out leaving before Phase one of Brexit is complete, risking the ire of her backbenchers. Johnny Mercer has effectively resigned the whip, saying he'll vote with the government on Brexit but on everything else they can go and whistle (over what he sees as the government's treatment of veterans) - in short, the government's minority is nearly at the end of its rope. And finally, in the event of a leadership contest, Esther McVey has said that she'll run.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  13. #173
    The Brain
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    Could read a book of this stuff by you Pete, truly.

  14. #174
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    In that case, I'll speculate a little. Bear with me, we're going into a land of guesswork.

    So, my thinking is that the general drift away shows a basic failure of the two main parties to appeal to broad enough sections of the public. In times of great political polarity, you get the argument that it's because you have two diverse camps that force people into political pigeonholes and that actually, most people are down the middle and that you want a moderate party to come in and hoover up the votes (giving rise to the SDP in the 1980s and Change UK recently). When Labour were mimicking the Conservatives, the criticism came from the flanks, and the argument was that there was not enough difference between the two parties to mean that there was enough to vote for - that people were dissatisfied with the range of opinions offered by the main two parties, effectively. That was the common argument of some left wing parties, particularly the hard left like the Socialist Worker's Party and the like.

    In 2017, I think Brexit is the main reason that everyone comes back to the main two parties, even though it wasn't really a major electoral issue for either of them because they were - on paper at least - in a rough kind of agreement on it. But what I think happens is that the Tories winning over their skeptics on the right wing that had been voting for UKIP puts a huge boost onto their numbers. The UKIP vote fell by almost 11 points, and with the Conservatives co-opting the single issue that motivated that single-issue party, it's likely that they all went there. I think the knock on effect is that the polls for the Tories were so strong, that everyone who opposed the Tories (especially those who had been out to the left of Labour from 1997-2015) all came into the Labour camp. So even though they weren't actually being pro-European, they ended up getting a whole bunch of votes just from the need for everyone else to club together to prevent a Conservative landslide - which became much more of an issue as the Tory campaign limped on. It was so uninspiring I've heard it suggested that they were one more week of campaign away from Corbyn in number 10.

    So, where does all that leave us after these elections, and with both parties losing support again? I'm minded that parties tend to bumble along for the most part, but that the birth and death of parties tends to come in the fire of the huge issues. And Brexit could well be one of them. I could talk about the formation of the Liberal party in the aftermath of the repeal of the Corn Laws, but the truth of the matter is that the best parallel I can think of here is the 19th century American divide over slavery, where both Democrats and Whigs were parties with both pro and anti-slavery camps. The Democrats were able to ride it out but the Whigs disappeared from history, while the Republicans formed and were actually able to do quite well because they better reflected the issues of the day.

    While it's obviously a very different issue, in pure process terms this could be a similar situation. The parties will have to reform the internal coalitions by which they work to better fit the electorate and the issues that we face today, because if they can't there's a decent chance that they'll cease to exist - and the Brexit Party and Change UK, never mind any of the others, already offer two ready made groups that could take their place.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  15. #175
    The Brain
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    I'm all for the changing of parties. Something fresh in politics is often a very good thing. Really interesting stuff, Pete! Feel free to speculate any time!

  16. #176
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    So the Brexit party polled very well ahead of the new European elections and that has got a lot of people reacting. They outperformed the Conservatives in that poll. Not much of a surprise though, given these are being called the 'ultimate protest vote'.

    But if that were reflected in a general election (HUGELY unlikely but go with it) they'd have a seat count in the 40s, which would make them the fourth biggest party in Westminster. Perhaps even third depending on the SNP's results. That eliminates any chance of a majority in the new parliament, you'd think.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  17. #177
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    I find it weird that people are voting for a single issue party who are against the idea of the EU, yet if elected the candidates will be taking a seat in the EU parliament.

    Like, none of these votes will actually help the process of getting the withdrawal through Parliament. It's Farage and his crones just using a populist message to secure themselves a free meal ticket on the EU MEP wages again.

  18. #178
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    I suppose they are thinking that if they can pressure the Tories into sticking to a hard Brexit kinda path through inflicting an embarrassing result on them here, they might get what they want down the line. At least, that'll be voters thinking. In practice, you're right - nothing really can be achieved by this (unless you consider sending a load of wreckers to the EU as an incentive for them to want rid of us at any cost) and it will, in practice, just mean Nigel gets another term (or as much of it as we're still in the EU for) on the expenses train.


    The EU elections are going to go very well for them, I imagine. But the general election is a different kettle of fish. For one thing, polls always swing back towards normality in the run up to a general election, and so this won't stick. Many people deserting the Tories will return once the 'scary Corbyn' rhetoric starts to dial up. Second, Theresa May isn't likely to be in charge, and whether you have a sympathetic or condemnatory reading of her position I think we can all agree she's an electoral millstone around their collective neck. And third, first past the post actively hinders new parties, so they can't just do well to get a big number of seats - they have to go out and surpass each and every candidate. A big ask, in a lot of places in Britain.

    Now with that said - if the goal isn't 40+ seats but is just getting to be big enough to compare with the Lib Dems, that's absolutely on the cards if they can leach away enough of the Conservative vote. The downside is that if the Labour vote stays fairly strong and there is reason to believe the Brexit Party vote will come disproportionately from the Tories/UKIP bloc, then it almost guarantees giving power to their political opponents, albeit in a ridiculously fractious coalition.

    Because here's the thing. The 'left' in Britain, broadly conceived, is always fragmented between different parties, whereas the right is smaller but holds together through it's political cohesiveness. But while the left is fragmented, there's one big block, and then a lot of little, smaller parties that take a share. The Brexit party threatens to turn that on its head, not only by smashing the political cohesiveness of the right wing but by creating two blocks of roughly equal size - neither of which is big enough to win nationally.

    What that means is down the line the two will have to come back together, in one form or another, but for the time being god only knows what that will mean for our politics. It could be 'out of government for a generation' territory, if the rift really blows up and is prolonged.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

  19. #179
    May is gone in a matter of weeks by all accounts

  20. #180
    Administrator Prime Time's Avatar
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    Might be for the best for the Tories. Should point out that the poll is bullshit for all sorts of reasons, but say for arguments sake it held up - and it was a poll of Westminster voting intentions rather than for the European Parliament - then the results would be seismic.

    We're talking Brexit party picking up 90 seats, Tories worse off than they were in 1997, and Labour the only party with half a chance of forming a government.

    As I say - these numbers have a chance of holding somewhere in between 0-1%, but even so, they are reason enough for anyone wearing a blue rosette to think that a change is needed solely to avoid a bloodbath.

    "The worst moron is the one too stupid to realise they're a moron."

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