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Tomorrow, Wednesday, is the last campaigning day of the UK 2019 election. The vote takes place on Thursday, and the result should be known by the end of Friday. If the result is very close and re-counts are required, it could take longer, and not be settled until next week.

As already discussed, political polls are reasonable indicators of general intentions, but are subject to sampling errors and to late changes of mind, and useless for determining late emergences of mind. For many citizens it is the sight of the actual ballot paper which triggers a decision. An independent candidate with a jokey title may get their vote, but most will plump for apparent safety, or may be swayed by the last message received.

Uniquely, this election reflects the new power of social media. Facebook and to a lesser extent Twitter communications have got more attention than some of the TV debates. For better or worse, these media are more difficult to regulate. A lie/searing expose of truth can go around the world before truth/refutation or counter-lie can get its boots on. Pictures still have their power, and a photo of one child in a casualty department can have more impact than any reasoned discussion of health policy and funding options.

Uniquely, this election reflects a treble polarization.

1 Traditional political party loyalties have been unsettled by the Brexit referendum of 2016, so that “Remain” and “Leave” are new phantom parties, posing new opportunities and threats to ancient loyalties. Traditionally, the Conservatives were seen as the upper-class party, Labour as the working-class party. Now, because so many of the working class voted to Leave the European Union the Conservatives are said to have a following among lower socio-economic status, lower education voters, while Labour is getting the votes of professional class, Remain in the European Union, high socio-economic status, high educational level voters. It is all very confusing. Class is no longer political destiny.

2 The other polarization is age: the young disproportionately back Labour, the old vote Conservative. This makes the sudden burst of registered younger voters a wild card in predicting the outcome. It also means that any campaigning about historical events has little impact on younger voters: they simply did not come of age under previous Labour governments, so cannot see the relevance of the warnings they are given. Equally, older Conservatives may have little grasp of current problems faced by younger voters, particularly the costs of renting property, the difficulty of ever buying property, and the costs of commuting to work.

3 The final polarization may be the most profound: this has become a contest between the Conservatives and all other parties. That is to say, the Conservatives (318 seats in 2017 election) do not have to just win a majority over the main opposition party, Labour (262 seats). They have to win a majority over all the parties put together. This is a high bar to clear. Although the other parties are labelled as: Labour (262), Scottish Nationalist (35), Liberal Democrat (12), Democratic Unionist Party (10) Brexit Party, Plaid Cymru (4) Green Party (1), Brexit Party (0), they have the option of joining together to form a minority coalition. Note that the Scottish Nationalists do not want to be in the United Kingdom, and want another referendum in order to leave; Plaid Cuymru want Welsh independence; the Democratic Unionist Party very much want Northern Island to remain in the United Kingdom (though on their own terms, and not in any coalition with the Conservatives). They are none of them natural bedfellows, but the prospect of power, if available, is likely to lead to a coalition of convenience.

For once, commentators may be right to say that this is one of those famous elections which dominate the political landscape for decades. It may be the end of Britain as a market-led economy, and the beginning of a Government-led one. A lot is at stake. The election has been waged as a culture war, with the public either repelled or merely bored to death with it. Politics is not a popular sport here. Politicians are not held in high regard, and many voters are grimly searching for the least awful option. A pity. The political aims of Conservatives and Labour are worlds apart. Electors used to sneer that there was nothing to choose between them, and now that there is everything to choose, some are still complaining. There has never been a Manifesto like that put forward by the Labour Party, with widespread nationalisation, tax increases and heavy expenditures. The Conservative Manifesto is more cautious, but still promises much in the way of expenditure while saying that taxes will not rise. The Conservatives are matching some of the Labour offers, but Labour is proud of offering a dramatic changes toward a powerful State. This will end in ruin, Conservatives say, with historical examples aplenty.

Sadly, there is a lot of ruin in a nation, and Britain has a tradition of just plugging on regardless, but both the economy and the commanding heights of society itself may be changed more profoundly than in 1945, and how that will end no one can say at the moment

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  1. dearieme says:

    If you live in a constituency where only two candidates have a realistic chance of winning, hold your nose and vote for the less bad party.

    I’ve tried to think of a circumstance where the less bad party might be Krazy Kommissar Korbyn’s Kommunist Kike-baiters but I admit I’m stumped. They are just vile.

    • Replies: @LondonBob
  2. Good. About time.
    Pro-Ruin Party.

  3. 22pp22 says:

    Britain no longer exists. It is Third World overspill. I emigrated. As California goes, so goes the UK.

  4. ‘Choose’ – why?

    The probability that any individual vote makes the slightest bit of difference to the outcome of an election in a seat is as close to zero as makes no odds.

    But let’s say that there is one or more such votes (although there can only be 1 such vote in a seat).

    Let’s call them ‘magic’ votes.

    The probability that a ‘magic’ vote determines which party (or coalition[1]) forms government, is also small: to make a difference to the eventual ruling coalition, he ‘magic’ vote must determine the election in a seat that
    ① would not naturally be part of the majority coalition; and
    ② ‘flips’ the dominant coalition.

    In other words, it has to be the deciding vote in a seat decided by one vote, that results in an election with a set of viable coalitions where there would otherwise be a tie.

    The dominant coalition must have one seat more than the second-best coalition. So if the magic vote results in a different winner, the prior situation must have been a tie.

    So even just considering ‘magic’ votes, the only ones that matter are those that that generate a dominant coalition (i.e., that break a tie).

    How many times has that ever happened? (Correct answer: zero).

    People vote for the same reasons that they buy lottery tickets: rank innumeracy (99% of participants), and/or an acceptance of the near-100% probability of loss, which is offset somehow by the ‘entertainment’ value of participating.

    Elections are the same as lotteries: they are a tax on stupidity. sadly, the tax is also applied to non-participants, which makes voting worse than playing lotteries.


    That’s only about 1% of the problem though: the other 99% of the problem is working out the probability that
    ① the resultant government fulfils its election promises at a cost strictly no greater than the cost that was attached to the promises;
    ② that the realised benefits of the promises were ‘as advertised’ or better; and
    ③ that the resultant government does not engage in unpromised conduct that the ‘magic’ voter would find reprehensible.


    The joint probability of those things being true is 0.000000000 .

    Caring which set of vile parasites controls the government, is stupider than being a soccer hooligan. It’s also more socially destructive because it gives the false impression that the vermin in the government have morally legitimate authority.

    A lot of soi-disant sophisticates think that having a nuanced position on politics makes them urbane. They’re also the sorts of people who brag that they don’t own a TV, and who look down on people who invest emotional energy in support of a sporting team.

    And yet their ‘urbane’ position on politics, predictably results in the death of very large numbers of children in faraway places.

    By stark contrast the soccer hooligan’s antics are shorter-lived and result in (almost) zero deaths of non-hooligans.

    If you vote, you’re dumber than a person who plays the lottery, and you do more social harm than soccer hooligans. (And also more harm than terrrrrrrrrists, who do almost no harm).

    [1] It’s always more useful to think of things in terms of a coalitional game; a situation where a party wins enough seats to form government by itself, is still a coalitional game – it’s just that the dominant coalition only has one member.

    • Replies: @LondonBob
  5. In Bridgend, I want to vote Plaid Cymru but I must vote Labour to block the Tory. As an experienced campaigner, sometime Parliamentary candidate, I will be in Brecon and Radnorshire (my home ground) tomorrow campaigning for the Liberal Democrats who are even more likely to win in South Cambridgeshire, my previous home in England.

    I am with Farage. The most likely and perhaps the best outcome will be a grand coalition for the purposes of holding a referendum on the terms of Brexit.

    The UK needs PR, a federal government in Manchester (more modern than York) and an unelected House of Lords appointed ex officio from colleges of experts. Bishops, lawyers, chartered professions, heads of charities, PLC’s and trade unions. Experts all. England can have the present Houses of Parliament after repair.

    In what world do we live that a man like Johnson (he makes Trump look like a puritan) is the Prime Minister? Trump is at least a Peace candidate who understands the unexpressed views of the working class.

    1.5% of the UK population is male homosexual. 0.75% lesbian. 3.3% various black. 7.5% various brown. Lack fractions of the blacks and browns are middle class conservatives anyway. In the Indian case by caste identity. (Khatris, Brahmins and Patels – no Labour votes there). Slavishly following the US Democrats, where the.equivalent numbers are far larger, Labour spends more than 50% of its energy on these issues of identity. 13.5% of the population at most, At most 10% Labour. Meanwhile, the former industrial working class, perhaps 30% of the voters are ignored or patronized (not just by Labour). Both the SNP and BXP have broken through with these votes.

    We were in worse trouble in the 1970’s. Oil and Europe pulled us out; oil exacted the price of our low added value manufacturing that kept so many employed but it paid for services. Oil is running out. We are committing suicide over Europe which has given our high level engineering and chemical industries a world scale home market. The grown ups have disappeared. The future is not bright.

  6. Oh. James is obviously too young to remember Michael Foot’s manifesto of 1983 (As a candidate in next door Merthyr, he invited me to his eve of poll speech. It was a huge rally). That was real socialism.

    Côrbyn is virtually a one nation Tory by comparison. 80% of the LD & Labour manifestos overlap in intent. Labour just wants to spend more. The Labour 20% extra is nationalisation and taxing the rich (to make them leave the country predict).

  7. LondonBob says:

    I live a highly marginal London seat, I will have to against the Lib Dems, they are awful. I used to live in a safe Conservative London seat so I could indulge my whims and have voted UKIP, English Democrats and not bothered.

  8. LondonBob says:

    Zac Goldsmith won by just forty eight votes last time in my constituency, with a very narrow Con DUP coalition the end result. My vote will count.

  9. Oh. James is obviously too young to remember Michael Foot’s manifesto of 1983 (As a candidate in next door Merthyr, he invited me to his eve of poll speech. It was a huge rally). That was real socialism.

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