What a complicated system British parliament is. Although two parties generally collect most of the votes during a general election there is no limit to the number of parties who can field candidates and there is nothing to prevent anybody standing independently as the MP for their locality, nothing aside from the £500 required as a deposit when applying to stand.
In recent years the Liberal Democrats had something of a high watermark when it looked like they might break the two party dominance and become a third force in UK politics. Then they spent five disastrous years in coalition with the Conservatives, a party with whom they share very few ideological perspectives, and ruined their reputation with voters. The UK Independence Party rose like a vampiric gargoyle but appears to have sunk back down into loony token status now that the country has voted to leave the European Union.
So it’s back to the Tories and Labour to slug it out. Present tense. Yes I know there’s just been an election but no party gained a majority of the seats available which means that the Tories are desperately clinging on to power by default, and by attempting to ally themselves with the Irish Democratic Unionist Party whose archaic views on same sex marriages, on abortion and on the teaching of evolution in schools ought to have no place in modern government.
It’s more than a little uncomfortable for Theresa May to align herself with the DUP as she spent much of the election campaign painting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a terrorist sympathiser because he was one of the earliest to explore political discussions with the IRA in the days before the Good Friday Agreement was even a gleam in Mo Mowlam’s eye. Just as Sinn Fein is seen as the political face of a paramilitary organisation, so the DUP can be considered the political branch of another paramilitary group, the UDA.
Rather like Donald Trump, Mrs May appears to lack both a moral conscience and an awareness of her own hypocrisy. Despite losing seats and suffering humiliation for failing to outright win an election she seemed to think was a shoo-in from day one, she seems less interested in what is best for the country and more concerned with saving her own career and propping up her demoralised and damaged party.
She cannot believe that she is now the best person to conduct Brexit negotiations with the EU: without a majority she is unable to claim she has a genuine mandate to represent the people of this country. In terms of popular vote Jeremy Corbyn was only a couple of percent behind her and his campaign succeeded in gaining seats when Labour were actually expected to lose up to a hundred. His percentage of the popular vote was similar to that gained by a Tony Blair when he won the 2001 election. This is even more impressive for a runner-up in an election when you add in the fact that voter turnout in 2001 was under sixty percent of the electorate whereas Mr Corbyn’s result comes in an election which saw 72% turnout.
Statistics are not everything. If they were Theresa May would be held to account for the lie that Conservative austerity policies have decreased the country’s deficit. If they were Theresa May would have had to cost-assess her manifesto pledges just as Jeremy Corbyn did with his. If statistics were everything it would be clear that the political momentum in Britain is now with the left. Years of suffering at the hands of governmental decisions made in the interest of business, not people, coupled perhaps with a fear of falling into the same trap of believing the lies of a millionaire as many American voters did last year, has galvanised the left to rally behind Corbyn, an old school politician who shows genuine concern for the welfare of those most in need.
My hope is that the Conservatives death-throes-erection power-grab pushes the party further into disarray, further proves they are no longer fit to govern in the interests of the people of Britain, and we get another election by the autumn, one which will see Jeremy Corbyn become the true Prime Minister of the country. A year ago the richest centrists and right-wingers would have ridiculed this notion: now they’re too busy shredding tax returns and yelling at their accountants to do something just this side of legal to even muster a grin.