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Gathering Data Before an Election
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Membership of political parties UK

It already seems apparent that the Labour campaign depended on the enthusiasm and commitment of its supporters, and that prior to the election the Labour party had succeeded in getting many new members, most of them probably of university age. They formed an activist cadre out of all proportion to their numbers, even though they were already notable for being numerous.

I would have expected Tory strategists to have been very aware of this massive difference in Party numbers, and to have had solid grounds for rejecting the notion that it might influence the campaign. For example, considering and rejecting the notion that students might vote tactically, in either their home constituency or university constituency according to which would have the most impact.

Organize, organize, organize.

Meanwhile, my many contacts have sent on to me an intercepted message in which an aristocrat is seeking to reassure the middling sort of person that all is not lost. To put the matter into context, at times of national turmoil, when the peasants have revolted, shop keepers, traders and their like cannot turn to the unwritten Constitution for solace and instruction, because the whole point of an unwritten constitution is that it has not been written down. This gives plenty of wiggle room, of which our Saxon ancestors would approve. It was the Normans who made a fetish of inventories, though that was probably only because they were sharing out loot among themselves.

Anyway, although the middle class very occasionally meet a quiet person at a party with an interest in constitutional matters, they usually leave these matters to the aristocracy. Here is one Lordly briefing note doing the rounds among us middling folk:

Let’s do a little reframing exercise on the election result. Let’s start with the following observation, sure the result could have been better, but it could also have been much, much worse. Imagine if the Tories hadn’t even been able to break 300 seats – now that would certainly have opened the door to a possible Corbyn premiership. As it happened, they failed to get their majority, but not by much – the difference can be made up with the Democratic Unionist Party – who are far more ‘in tune’ with the Tories than the Liberal Democrats ever were.

Furthermore, the pro-Brexit Democratic Unionist Party will only talk to the Tories, and won’t deal with Corbyn on the grounds that he is sympathetic to the IRA. Also, don’t forget that a parliamentary majority is not the same as a working majority – to arrive at an estimation of the latter, we need to deduct 7 Sinn Fein abstentionists and 1 speaker from the mix – bringing the number down from 328 to 320. Add 10 DUP MPs to the Tories’ 318 MPs and we get a safety margin of 8 votes, so all in all, not so terrible – I don’t anticipate any issue in getting the Queen’s Speech through parliament for example. Finally, it needs to be noted that the Labour Party campaigned on a platform of withdrawal from both the EU and the single market. They also campaigned on ending free movement of people. This is how they were able to attract large chunks of support from UKIP voters. The odd noisome Remainer aside, I think you will find that there is more core agreement between the Tories and Labour on the ‘hardness’ of Brexit than there is disagreement (which seems to be restricted to peripheral issues, like how ‘worker-centric’ Brexit should be etc etc.).

In all, I do not think that anything of substance has changed. May has had her wings clipped, but has also been returned to power. Calling the snap election was a good idea, as, having inherited Cameron’s manifesto, she prima facie lacked legitimacy – much like Brown in 2005. She may have lost a handful of seats, but is (and will continue to be) PM for the foreseeable future. The knives are being slowly re-sheaved as she makes concession after concession to her newly empowered cabinet. It is dawning on the Tory leadership that to oust her from power at this point is to invite a second General Election, and consequently risk a Corbyn led government – not to mention impose an unacceptable delay on the delicate Brexit negotiations that are due to start in a matter of days. Tories are nothing if not pragmatic. They will absorb their loss, reflect on it and ultimately choose to act at a time when the national good can best be served in so doing. My suspicion is that May will not stand for re-election in 2022.

I cannot vouch for any of these matters, particularly since in the 24 hours since I was passed this missive the precise nature of any Tory/DUP deal is still in doubt, but this is how our betters deal with troublesome events, and they have survived.

As regards the afore-mentioned need for organization, I am not a member of any political party, but I am open to offers, and will not object if these are clearly to my advantage. Please make contact through the usual channels, discreetly.

 
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  1. dearieme says:

    What an odd mixture of sub-American usages and errors that piece is: his Lordship seems not to have attended Eton.

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  2. The vast increase in Corbynista LP members was dismissed by many LP old hands on the reasonable grounds that for most of them political involvement consisted of Facebook likes and Twitter retweets, not stuffing envelopes, knocking on doors and turning up to party meetings.

    Turns out that a canny retweet, especially of a link to voter registration or guide to tactical voting can be useful after all. I know one of my student offspring deliberately voted tactically in her urban uni constituency rather than her rural Tory home one.

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  3. TWS says:

    Perhaps she should have done something, anything proper in response to the terror attacks. If she keeps it up there’ll be no more Tories at all.

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  4. Organize, organize, organize..well said.That is exactly what needs to be done

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  5. dearieme says:

    My paper this morning suggested that it was people in their forties who unexpectedly voted Labour.

    Interestingly this was predicted in the Alex cartoon strip before the election: they are the age of people who dread the cost of putting their children through university. As usual, the “poets” are better on reality than the sociologists. And as usual people vote for ‘free stuff’.

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